“How do you afford to do all these trips? You never seem to work..(You bastard)”
This is a question I have put to me a great deal these days and I find it somewhat tricky to answer. I’ve therefore decided to put together a little post to answer that question and direct all future inquiries to.
While I don’t travel full time, I’d say in a typical year I would make 2-3 trips abroad for a total of 3-4 months. In addition, I often take 4 or 5 days at a time to go and do a trek or little getaway somewhere. In that sense, I’d say I work roughly 6 months of the year. When I’ve traveled in the past, I haven’t been working AT ALL. Nada. No income flowing in, just expenses pouring out. That has now changed as it was an incredibly unproductive way of doing things.
I’ve worked solely to support this lifestyle of extended travel and as such, have mostly worked for myself. Freelance if you will. It’s hard to hold down a full-time job when you’re taking off after a few months. In fact, I’ve never held a 9-5 job and have barely worked as an employee at all…
So, how do I do it?
To give you an idea, these are most of the ways I’ve earned income over the past few years to fund my life of travel:
- Business Consulting
- Social Media Marketing
- Sponsorship (for 2 of the 7 Summits)
- Worked as a business development manager
- Worked in a warehouse
- Built Websites
- Article Writing
- Delivered Flyers & Pamphlets (Self-Employed- with employees)
- Delivery Service- Furniture etc.. (Self Employed)
- Walked Dogs (Usually combined with other stuff)
- Sponsored Blog Posts
- Focus Groups
- Online Market Research
- Organised Cleaning Work (self-employed- marketing manager ‘officially’)
In addition, I’ve also raised enough as part of my fundraising project to improve the education of 150 kids in Nepal. For that I…
- Organised fundraising events
- Held swap-marts with people’s donated goods
- Sold Calendars door-to-door
- Dropped off collection tins in local businesses
Yeh, it’s been a pretty interesting couple of years. Now would I recommend this path for everyone? Probably not. It takes constant hustle- not only the work itself, but the sourcing of the work. In fact, that’s probably the hardest part. Having said that, I love it. It’s the ultimate freedom and at the same time, keeps me creative and switched on.
Here’s a Few Tips for those of you looking to pursue a similar style of living;
No, I don’t mean sell your body, although that’s a perfectly viable option if you’re willing to tread that path. It may come to that for me in the near future…(Everest is fucking expensive). You have to be willing to put yourself out there and sell whatever is you are willing to offer. Whether that means advertising on the local online classifieds, posting on your Facebook page, cold calling or knocking on doors. Nobodies going to know about it if you don’t put it out there.
This is something I certainly struggled with when I first started the 7 Summits project. In order to raise money and get sponsored, I realised I needed to self-promote, a concept that was completely foreign to me at the time. I didn’t even have a Facebook page! Though it’s still something I don’t really enjoy, it’s something I’m a lot more comfortable with these days, as I’m sure you’ve realised by now… You have to view it as a means to an end and not as an act of pure narcissism (unless it is of course).
Creativity is an essential element to pursuing a life of travel, particularly where producing cash-flow is concerned. Do things that others aren’t or perhaps aren’t willing to do (don’t take that the wrong way). Think outside the box. Seek inspiration from those in developing nations. Look at all the creative stuff they’re doing to earn a living. They have to. You probably do too. Follow their lead.
To give you an example of this, I’ll explain the first item on my income list; business consulting. When I was 19 years old (the glory days) I started my first business; a commercial cleaning business to be specific. I grew it and evolved it slowly into an energy consulting hybrid that was eventually sold in 2012 (this funded a 3-month stint in the U.S.A where I proceeded to blow most of it on ill-advised activities). Well, over the last couple of years, I’ve used that experience to help others start their own businesses. I’ve offered consulting to a few different sectors, though the cleaning area is where I’ve mainly focused. From this consulting service, I’ve obtained work as a marketing manager, built websites for my prospective clients and received income from additional ‘follow-ups’ and ongoing support. All of it has come from free advertising and hasn’t cost me a cent.
Be Willing to Hustle
When we got 1,000 calendars printed for my fundraiser, we actually sold very few initially. We’d used local ‘models’ (not really models) in the photos, with the idea that they would flog a few calendars of to their family and friends. Only a couple actually did so. As a result, we were left with a shit-ton of unsold goods. I decided to go door-to-door. I managed to sell 400 or so of the damn things before I ran out of time (trip to South America was on the cards). People were, much to my surprise, incredibly receptive. As I did the rounds I usually hit a conversion rate of 50%, meaning 1 out of every 2 people I spoke to bought a calendar. Who the hell uses calendars anymore? I think people appreciated the fact that I was going around doing something that many were not willing to do. The fact it was for a good cause certainly helped of course. Point is, you have to be willing to hustle if you are doing things for yourself.
It’s not that difficult to get income flowing in. What may be a little harder is making sure it doesn’t flow straight back out. If you’re someone who travels a lot, you’re likely going to be a bit of an experience junkie, always chasing a new adventure in some capacity. This doesn’t just turn itself off when you’re at home working. As you’re trying to save, therefore, it’s important to find hobbies or pursuits which aren’t going to be a huge drain on your income.
For me, this is fitness related stuff. I need to train hard anyway, with the challenges I’ve set myself. By focusing on events such as Ironmans, Ultra Marathons or 15 hours on a treadmill, I stay disciplined and give myself a focus that satiates my adventurous appetite just a little. It’s also a great way to stay off the booze, perhaps the biggest hindrance to saving known to man.
I still have to work out how to control my budget when I’m on the road..
That’s pretty much it. It’s not overly complicated, it just takes a combination of the elements listed above. Hope you get something out this post and feel free to hit me up if you have any questions. Be sure to leave a comment below if you have anything to add… Cheers.