A common question that we get asked while travelling is “how do you afford to travel for so long?” and “how do you work while travelling?”.
The simple answer is that we can afford to travel because we work while we’re on the road. The main source of income is from freelance graphic design work, affiliate marketing and online advertising on my design blog Just Creative. My wife and I are not millionaires, far from it, but we’ve found that we can live on an average of $40 per day, per person. This is a hell of a lot cheaper than living in NYC.
For those not so computer literate, you can still make a dime on the road by working in bars, fruit picking, working at a hostel in return for a bed and food, or even busking. It’s about diversification and adapting to what’s available that fits your own skill set.
With this all said, you still do need some savings to go travelling and emergency backup money too. Although we can live on $40 a day each, this does not include travel expenses, insurance and all the essentials you need to travel with (see our packing list here).
So what’s it’s like to work on the road and what’s the schedule like?
The freedom to work for yourself, where you want, when you want, is no doubt a very fortunate thing, however, there are still drawbacks. You are never fully “off work” or on vacation. Management is a continuous battle, from maintaining an Inbox Zero (is there such a thing?!?) to keeping clients happy while you navigate different time zones and wifi availability.
As for me, I tend to work about 15-20 hours a week with an average of 1-2 hours a day of emails and on occasion, a full working day to really get shit done. This would include design work, social networking, blogging and sending out email blasts. All of this is also dependent on where I am, the WiFi speed and the number of projects I have at any present time.
On top of this, Emily and I also write our travel blog posts such as this one when we are on transport or have downtime in our hotel.
Tools I use on the road
To work on the road I maintain a “mobile office” which consists of the following:
- MacBook Pro 13″ – For design, photo editing, emails, blogging, etc.
- Logitech cordless mouse + mousepad. This comfortable mouse helps for the heavy design or email days.
- Universal converter (Skross) – A converter that works in all countries.
- External hard drive – To back up client files and photos.
- Backpack – A carry on backpack with laptop storage. To carry all of the above.
- Dropbox – For an in the cloud backup of client photos and photos.
- Skype – I don’t give out my cell phone number because it rarely is in service so I use Skype to call my clients. It works anywhere with WiFi.
- Gmail – I use Gmail Apps for my email provider and I have a permanent auto-responder letting clients know that I am travelling while working and that my clients take my full priority – which they do – as they are the ones funding my travels!
- iPhone – I’m always connected to social media and my email, as this way so I can maintain my steady inflow of clients and an online presence.
- WiFi – I use an app called WiFi Map Pro to gain access to WiFi hubs all around the world. It’s a community that shares passwords for WiFi access found in restaurants, hotels, cafes etc. Cheeky, but very handy!
Ultimately all of this travel would not have been possible if I did not have a solid foundation to stand upon, that being my blog/business that I’ve been building up since 2007. And of course, a loving and very organized wife to keep my head screwed on.
For further info, see this post on how to be a successful freelancer while travelling.