Ever since I posted my article: ‘5 Job Types That Allow You to Earn as You Travel the World‘, I have been overwhelmed by the positive response from new and old readers alike. For example, I received several messages written by people from different parts of the globe as they told me how I have given them the inspiration to jumpstart and fulfill their wanderlust. Hearing these kinds of sentiments really made me happy, that’s why I would like to take this chance to thank all of you for your kind words and for your support!
Now, much like Kim, I also had other people not only from the Philippines, but also in other parts of the globe who asked me the same questions regarding my past and how I started a work-and-travel lifestyle. I could understand how you guys are asking such things because my blog posts are actually not in chronological order and not even ALL of my experiences are here yet (since I do tend to be too caught up with my travels; eep, sorry!)
So to answer you all, I will try to be as detailed as possible in this post in order to give you an idea on how my journey began.
THE PAST: Who I Was before I Quit My Office Job
— Click the ‘+‘ sign below to see the hidden section; I’ve made this expandable so it would be easier to instantly go to the ‘5 Steps’ section.
My detailed story from 2007 to 2011 (Click to expand this section)
Society had long instilled in us that there is a distinct natural order to things when it comes to your career: you have study for years and then you have to get a 9 to 5 job. If you happen to be indecisive about your career path, someone will decide your future for you.
This, is what happened to me in 2007 to 2013.
2007 : At 15, I didn’t know what I want to do — what I did know was that I enjoyed doing a LOT of things: journalism, music, computer, art, business, finance, science, etc. You could say that I was a ‘jill of all trades and a master of none‘ kind of person… nothing seemed to fit me and I wasn’t brave enough yet to choose for myself. And so, the inevitable happened: my mom made the choice for me (this is also what usually happens when you come from a ‘traditional’ Asian family).
End result: I was enrolled to a prestigious school in Manila under a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy. I was all: “Meh, okay. I love numbers so it will be fine! And it’s a good school too. Yep, it’s gonna be fiiiineeeeee.”
NOTE: It’s not that common by the way for Filipino students to start college at the age of 15. It’s commonly around 16-18. And no, my family is not ‘filthy rich’ for having given me the chance to study in DLSU. I’ll have you know that there are middle and even lower class people who have managed to study there, and for my case, it’s all thanks to my mom’s hard work that she was able to put me to this university!
But after my freshman year, I discovered my intense, blood-curdling hatred for anything related to numbers. I was also frustrated, thinking that I would do the same act of balancing sheets etc., over and over again. So I thought:
“No, I’m not gonna do this to myself.”
At this point in time, I was starting to gain more independence and awareness to the things that what I want for myself. After a lengthy discussion with my mom, she finally let me shift courses. (Whenever I retell this story, I often joke about how I had to cry to her just so I can change courses — and well, that was true! *laughs*)
I actually wanted to enroll to a computer-related course but since I was in the College of Business, shifting to the College of Science was too expensive, that’s why I settled to the next best thing: business. I figured that I needed this skill later on in life anyway, especially if I want to set up my own enterprise — which I hoped, at that time, I will.
So, after a rigorous application, I managed to get in to a new specialized business program of my university which additionally involved a year’s-worth of internships.
2009 to 2010, I already had a taste of the corporate life with companies such as Siemens, Nestlé, and Unilever as I ‘dipped’ myself into the fields of communication, marketing, and human resource.
Hungry for more life experiences, I also decided to move out of my parents’ house during early 2011. This, was another uncommon thing for Filipinos to do, but my desire to live independently was strong. I really wanted to see how life can be once I look after myself and not depend on anyone else.
(Again, moving out of my parents’ house was another matter that my mom and I had to talk over for a long while. I really tried my best to convince her, and I did good! Thank you mom for eventually giving me the freedom to make my own big and impulsive choices.)
Mid – 2011: At 19, I graduated university. Much like what I said about the natural order of things, I had to find a 9 to 5 job a.k.a. corporate/office job. Plagued with the fear of unemployment, I jumped in on the first company that sought to employ me: Deutsche Bank.
As an investment bank, the job offered to me involved hardcore finance and trading knowledge. So yeah, I know what you’re thinking… I shouldn’t have jumped in, right? I hate anything related to numbers, right?
However, this happened just less than 3 months after my graduation, so at that time, I thought that I was already one of the lucky ones: a big company wanted me in for their graduate trainee program while most of my friends haven’t managed to find a job yet. So in my mind, why not say YES? And so I did — even if a part of me felt like I was making the wrong choice.
I just convinced myself that I needed to reinforce my knowledge about finance and that I will use it as a ‘leverage’ for my future career — “It wouldn’t hurt to do so.” And besides, I wanted to prove that even if I shifted out of Accountancy and have come to hate numbers, I can still take on such a field and be strong in it.
I told myself, 1 year and then I will proceed to what I love the most.
2012: A year has passed, and yet I was still there doing trading books. How was I?
…Burned out. Miserable. Stressed.
I was the best performer in the team despite being a fresh graduate, and I was even earning enough money to live by myself (bills, expenses, etc.) I had a possible promotion too, and an overseas transfer was expected. The icing to the cake? I became an Employee of the Month.
It was absolutely great, but what I always had in mind was: is this all there is to it? What good is in these things if I am this unhappy? If I am counting every hour until I could get home? If I am counting the days until it’s the weekend? If I am always waiting for vacation, holidays, or long weekends? If I am wasting almost 5 hours of my day in traffic? If I am plagued by overtimes and unnecessary meetings?
That was how I lived every day: I wake up uninspired and I was on a countdown of my life.
I was also gaining weight, mind you. I wasn’t healthy (when I get stressed, I don’t get thin — I get fat).
And then there are those conversations… When people start asking how my work is, I keep a straight face and tell them exactly how I feel: that it was an interesting and challenging environment, but I wasn’t happy. Once I finish, they always say that they feel the same way with their jobs, but then they quickly tell me that I was going to be fine: I will be getting a raise soon and I was one of the best, so it will all be worth it in the end.
For some reason, we seem to convince one another that it will all get better. But in the back of my mind, I know that it won’t. It was a rat race — an endless, self-defeating, and pointless pursuit. Well of course, I know that this office work/profession seemed to work for others (it was their passion anyway) but for me… it just didn’t work at all.
So after a while, I started voicing out my ideas for resignation (I wanted to try doing online marketing) or going on a break (because I have always wanted to travel around). But again, people much like the rest of society — made me hesitate. They said that:
- I should cling on to what I have, I am already ‘secured’
…was I? I can get fired when the economy goes down
- Times are getting hard. I’d be needing money, and I probably wouldn’t find a good opportunity anywhere else
…do I lack the skills to try something else? I don’t think so? :(
- Traveling is very expensive and can always be done when a long holiday comes
…the waiting game again? Those ‘long holidays’ rarely come and I think traveling should not be painted in that light
Even if I had those thoughts, I couldn’t say a thing because I was being fed with fear. I was told to settle and wait.
So I couldn’t do it… I was too conditioned to hesitate, that I just couldn’t do it. BUT I told myself that for the meantime, I should at least make ways to make my life a bit better until I can find an exit. To cope up with the stress, I decided to continue blogging and be a bit serious about it — and guess what? It was a good choice! It was so fun to do and it was the one thing that kept me happy and inspired.
Blogging: I slowly succeeded in this and gained a bit of a ‘name’ for myself online in the Philippines. I often had invitations from establishments and resorts to visit and review them for free. (TRIVIA: Previously, this website was on Blogspot and primarily centered on lifestyle activities in Manila, and I also handled a successful food website: www.foodiefromthemetro.com that reviewed restaurants).
But then again, blogging required traveling and taking absences at work… which was almost impossible for me to get! With this, surely my resolve to quit my job was strengthened as I realized more and more how much better it could be if I can control my own time and if I didn’t have to ask someone to get some time off.
(Do you realize how ridiculous that was? That you actually have to ask someone just to have a break!)
I was no longer thinking of quitting and finding another job in a field that I like; I was thinking more of quitting the corporate scene altogether because I know that having an office job will never help me achieve such ‘freedom’.
The only looming question though was: HOW? How can I start and sustain a life of travel and work without a corporate job?
As if life heard my plea, through blogging, I started meeting people outside of my circle as well as folks from abroad — they were backpackers, entrepreneurs, or nomads who were traveling the world as they do the things that they LOVE. Naturally, these people inspired me because that’s exactly what I wanted to do!
We exchanged stories a lot and I started to get envious of their lifestyle and experiences in a very positive way. When it was time to talk about me, other than the other interesting stories of my life (LOL) I told them how I felt about my 9 to 5 job. I answered them truthfully, much like how I answer everyone else, and what happened next… was amazing!
ALL of them advised me to quit if I really want to, and they even gave me ideas on what I can do afterwards as based on my interests and passion.
It was… REFRESHING!
Finally, I have met people who did NOT feed me fear and who did not make me hesitate, instead: they encouraged me to embrace fear, to be different, to be released from the concept of ‘security’, and to take the leap!
This was also the time that I met my best friend, Jonas, who was already a digital nomad himself. To add some more ‘pizzazz’ to our story, it was actually because of him that the nomadic chapter of my life was finally ushered into motion. It was a funny moment though… but all the same, unique (at least for me).
One day, we had a very serious conversation and Jonas asked me how I truly felt about my job. For the first time in months, I couldn’t keep a straight face.
(…To be more accurate, I bawled my eyes and heart out like a child.)
It seemed like every emotion that I was keeping inside of me finally leaked through and it hit me that:
“This is it! It’s enough. It’s time to STOP.”
You see, I’m not much of an emotional person. I know that if I cry because of a negative topic, it means that it HAS already reached a level of extreme seriousness! (Remember how I had to cry to my mom just so I can shift courses?) That’s why this time around, I figured that it had reached this point because I was already too frustrated, and meeting people like him who have full control of their life while following their passion made me see how I can do the same; yet I was too scared to do it! So I was somehow angry at myself for being like that.
Now of course, like I said above, the idea of resigning and applying for a marketing position in another company had crossed my mind since a marketing job will probably keep me inspired (as per my previous training with other companies, etc.). HOWEVER, the thought that I will be kept inside an office again, working for someone else, and serving a 9 to 5 job (possibly with even more hours) suffocated me. I’ve already experienced enough of it and having been exposed to an existence of a life of travel had already made the corporate life pale so much in comparison — especially because I was fired up with the idea of working for myself.
In the end, I told my self that:
- I don’t want to hate myself or my life anymore.
I want to love and enjoy life.
- I don’t want to live in constant fear and waste away my early 20s.
I want to have the courage to live boldly and to live each day to the fullest.
- I don’t want society or anybody else to dictate what I have to do.
I want to follow my own desires.
- I don’t want to settle.
I want to get what I deserve and what I want.
- I don’t want to work for someone else or slave myself for a corporation just ‘to get by’.
I want to work for myself and not be led by ‘money’.
I voiced out my thoughts to my mom and much like any big life choices that I have made before, this one was a struggle for her. You see, in our culture, decisions like these almost always have to go through one’s parents because you kind of need their ‘blessing‘ as a sign of respect. I am just so glad that my mom found it in her self to let me go and not be angry about it — I will be forever thankful for her.
Though actually, if she objected to these plans, I think she knows perfectly well that I would have done it nonetheless; so, I guess a part of her was just thankful that I told her!
I took the steps to gain a lifestyle that I want, I had my resignation in, and finally: I was FREE!
I started as a digital nomad too: I offered my services online which were graphic design, web design, SEO management, and online marketing. These were all the things that I found interest in doing but never had the time to do so. It’s also important to note that I wasn’t so adept in these areas at first because they were not taught to me in my college courses nor in the past corporate jobs that I had.
So how did I learn it…? All by myself, online! There’s just soooo many free resources that you can take advantage of!
After a while, with my set of skills, I snagged a stable job with an online Swedish company that paid double than what I earned before. But after a year with them — learning all their processes and seeing how profitable the business was — I pitched the idea to my best friend to adapt their kind of business. He was interested; so I ended my contract and dedicated our time to learning more about how things worked as we decided to launch the business together as partners.
…After a successful launch, we now have our own brand: Adalid Gear! (This was all done while we were traveling around Asia and Europe. Currently we’re selling to US and UK, and we’re surely looking into expanding to other areas around the world!)
…Even before our joint business venture started, working online as a freelancer had already given me the freedom to travel and earn at the same time. But of course, having this business now made everything even more comfortable and secured. That being said, life has truly been a bliss once I started doing what I always wanted to do. ♥
I guess my past and current situation is, somehow, a perfect embodiment of this quote:
“Do what you love to do. Forget the money. Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time.You will be doing things you don’t like doing, in order to go on living doing things you don’t like doing… Which is STUPID! Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.
Just do what you love to do and you’ll see… the money will come. If you really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually become a master of it.”
– Alan Watts
By the way, if you want to know how to start an Amazon business like ours, we will be launching a coaching course soon! But that will take a while to be finished; so if you want to stay updated with me, sign up for my monthly newsletter!
UPDATE: I just found out that there are Amazon courses online that can already teach you the basics of selling on Amazon. Check out these Udemy courses: “How to Private Label Products for Amazon” and “How to Sell Online on Amazon FBA“. I haven’t tried them myself, but looking at the course outline, even if they are not as comprehensive like the mentorship that I’ve gone through as well as the course that we intend to offer, it should at least give you an idea of the business (especially if you already are in a rush to know how Amazon selling works). Good luck!
Now… how can you make a similar lifestyle possible?
“Do you have to be rich?” NOPE. Because I’m NOT rich nor did I come from a rich family. They have never given me money for these travels either, and I have never asked money from them ever since I started working.
(BUT, guess what…? I am VERY rich in love, support, and skills! :P )
But yeah, you really DON’T have to be rich. You just have to take these steps:
The 5 Steps I Took to Start a Life of Travel
Know if this what you really want. Know what kind of life you are getting into.
This step is vital because even if I encourage everyone to enter into the same lifestyle that I have, it is still and always important to be informed, open-minded, and perceptive about this for as much as possible.
YOU have to make sure that this is something that you want or are passionate about, or else you’ll just end up hating your life again (and you must avoid that kind of cycle). You also have to ensure that you are not using this as an ‘escape’ when in fact, what you might actually just need is a different kind of job, field, boss, or company.
Think about this very well, and if your answer remains to be “Yes, I don’t want to work a 9-to-5 job anymore because I want to travel. Travel is my passion and I want to find a way to make it happen and then work remotely at the same time beyond the confines of an office cubicle” …then that’s great to hear!
The next thing that you should do is to dedicate a bit of on reflection. If you are internally troubled about something, remember that you’ll be carrying those issues with you and if you don’t handle those issues NOW, it could create a snowball effect that you will regret later on while you’re on the road. So try to understand and know yourself better as a person so you’ll know if you can handle the lifestyle change that you’ll be doing.
Besides, though a traveling nomad’s life is exciting and fulfilling, it still involves hard work and responsibility — hard work because you have to start on something from the ground up, and responsibility because you have no one else to rely on but yourself. It will also take commitment, consistency, and motivation from your part. In a way, like I’ve said, it’s important to assure that this is your own desire and purpose. You should never do this for someone else or for appearances because that will just make all of this meaningless. At the very core, you should do this for yourself because of your desire to grow and experience.
Once you settle that thought, you should now try to scrutinize the kind of life you’re really getting into. How? Simple, by looking into the lives of the people who are doing a life of travel.
You’re actually doing this because you’re reading my blog — so yay, good job! But other than my blog, try to read other similar blogs too so you will know the different kinds of lifestyles that we lead depending on the types of jobs that we do. I say this because there are just so many different types of ‘traveling nomads’ out there. Obviously, I am asking you to do this so that:
- You can lower down any expectations that might be overly-romanticized
- You can find out what your daily routine or life might become if you follow the same path
If you ask me, I categorize all of us into these groups (other than ‘digital nomad’, the rest are ‘terms’ that I made up):
- Corporate Nomads – those who are allowed by their companies to work from home. I have heard of people who get to work for half a year, have a 6 month leave afterwards — and repeat.
- Traditional Nomads – they have the ‘conventional’ careers that enable travel sprees such as being a tour guide, a cruise ship crew, a flight attendant, a pilot, etc. The downside to this however, is that it still requires a lot of hours (sometimes fixed).
- Offline Nomads – they jump from one country to the next depending on the opportunities available. These can be jobs or activities on the road (big or small, volunteering, etc.) in order to earn just enough every day. It’s usually a bit of a strict-budget-lifestyle than those nomads who have stable businesses or work of their own, but it’s a fulfilling journey nonetheless!
- Digital Nomads – they depend on technology or the internet to earn (blogging, freelancing, etc.) and typically, they earn a good amount. There’s customarily a few hours in a day dedicated for working and the rest is left for traveling and whatnot.
- Phase Nomads – the ones who just graduated from university who intend to travel around for only 1-3 years, just to take advantage of what they can do with their youth (sometimes called a gap year). Afterwards, they go back to their home country to get a job.
- Rich Nomads – these are the ones who have a lot of money saved up from the start and they use that to launch their traveling journey (the money may be from an inheritance, from a high-paying career, from selling every possession they had, etc.) They may or may not work anymore while travelling, but most of the time they don’t.
- Chill Nomads – they may be a different kind of nomad before, and currently, they manage to earn more than the ‘average’ (maybe even waaaay more) due to a successful business start-up or reputation. They don’t work as much and they often travel from one place to another at a slower pace in order to take in a country’s culture and lifestyle for a longer period of time.
Of course, depending on the skills or situation that you have, you can be any of the above (and there are nomads who can be a mix of types; for example, I am a mix of a digital and chill nomad ★) so it’s best that you open your eyes to these realities so you know what can happen or will happen to you.
To illustrate this further, let’s say you have a really high-paying corporate job… Surely this lifestyle wouldn’t replace your current salary right away especially if you go for low-paying ‘nomad’ jobs like volunteering (if that were possible then everyone will be doing this in a heartbeat). It will take time of course and you need to learn some skills first, but during this transition, you will be achieving 100% freedom in exchange! You will lead a simple yet fulfilled life as you now work for fewer hours (on a beach for instance!) and doing what you love the most. How about that! So again: “forget the money. Just do what you love to do.”
As you can see, it’s NOT always as glamorous as you think. It’s not like everyone instantly goes to 5-star hotels once they become a traveling nomad — even if they do, the adventures, experiences, and stories are the real golden treasures that NO money or 5-star whatever will ever compare.
Reinforce your desire to travel and work remotely
I guess now you’re absolutely sure that this is the lifestyle that you want or it’s one of the means to start doing what you love! AWESOME. What now?
As you might have noticed by now, inspiration played a humongous role in my life: it was the main driving force that helped me become who I am today. This totally makes sense of course, because in this kind of life, it’s important to stay committed, consistent, and motivated especially when you’re starting out — this is for the reason that a LOT of things will try and make you hesitate to do what you want to do. (Fear, rejection, failure, etc.)
So what can you do to stay inspired and motivated?
- Keep your plans secret; but if you don’t want to keep it a secret, make sure that you surround yourself with supportive, inspiring, and positive people
Of course if you’re planning to quit your job it’s important that you keep it a secret from your boss and coworkers… What I’m referring to though is keeping it as a secret from those who are close to you. Why? Because such an action can be VERY helpful if you’re the kind of person who can’t handle social pressure. I say this because, chances are, once you tell them of these plans, they might keep bombarding you with questions of “How’s it going?” etc. that you might end up putting too much stress on yourself and end up abandoning your plans of working remotely. (BUT if you’re the kind of person that becomes even more productive when under stress then take advantage of that!) On the other hand, keeping it secret could be a good step if you think that you’ll be met with negativity on your decision to turn your life around. Besides, sometimes it just works best if you announce your plans only at the time that your travel fund and back-up plans are already taken care of so that you have a stronger argument to present to make your family agree with your goal.
BONUS: If you can find another person who’s also in the same process, then it becomes greater! Because now you have a ‘transition buddy’ with you! *I hope my blog here can become a platform for you to meet fellow people who want to make the same change*)
Ultimately, you shouldn’t care much about what others think. Your family’s opinion matters of course and that’s a different matter altogether, but for other people like your friends, colleagues, etc. you shouldn’t pay too much heed to what they say. This is a VERY important life skill that you should try to develop by now because you’ll just be wasting your time trying to to mind other people when you could just focus that energy into quitting your office job to travel the world. Going back to what I said in point #1 — you are doing this for yourself, NOT for others. This is not something that you should aim for if you just want to impress your friends or ‘followers’ on social media.
(★ For my case, I didn’t keep my plans a secret because I certainly want my parents and my best friends informed of my coming life changes. And oh, for some reason, I told my boss about it too and she was so cool with it haha! She was so excited for me! But I advise that you DON’T do the same if you’re not close with your boss.)
- Read inspirational books, stories or movies
★ Other than inspirational people (like my best friend Jonas and the other digital nomads I’ve met), inspirational books also helped me during my transition. One of my favorites is Tim Ferris’ book: The 4-Hour Work Week which has been on The New York Times Best Seller list for 4 consecutive years and has sold over 1.3 million copies. (He is also a digital nomad himself).Why do I love this book? Though it has superfluous parts that have to be taken with a grain of salt, it still gives you a lot of resources and ideas on how you can maximize your life in the long run. Tim also has a way with words to really inspire you to get out ‘there‘, so I say take it and read it nonetheless!
Basically, you have to keep this in mind: ALWAYS jump on opportunities or resources that will feed your mind with excitement so that you can fall head over heels in love — over and over again — with the idea of freedom, doing a job that you enjoy, and working for yourself.(Other resources are blogs, like what I mentioned in point #1. You can also try watching this amazing inspirational video for a start:)
In summary, below are the books that I recommend. If The 4-Hour Work Week is going to help you ignite your desire to leave your 9 to 5 job with some business sense + tricks, The $100 Startup will give you more ideas on how you can use your passion to create a new future, and then Laptop Millionaire will teach you more of the opportunities online.
- Join communities and network with like-minded people
There are a lot of free communities out there that can give you in-depth advice and support when it comes to travel and working remotely. Of course I am already here to act as your ‘guide‘, BUT I am not knowledgeable about EVERYTHING so you still need other people’s collective or specialized advice. For example, let’s say later on you figured out that you want to teach English overseas; certainly you shouldn’t be asking me about this since I haven’t tried that out yet.
So how can you find relevant groups? Google. Otherwise you can try Triberr, InterNations, Couchsurfing.org, Google+ Groups, Facebook Groups, etc. For example, since I wanted to help newbie travel bloggers and wannabe travelers, I created a community called as UTG (Ultimate Travel Group) and in here, you can definitely connect with like-minded individuals to make your dreams a reality. Otherwise, if you want to become a travel photographer, this can be your go-to place, and so on, and so forth.
- List down the reasons that are keeping you from travelling
I need you to list down all the ‘excuses’ running through your head that are possibly holding you back from being totally immersed in doing a life of travel. Why? Well, chances are, those excuses are invalid and are only preventing you from gaining that inspiration/motivation to take the leap. Possibly, some of the things that you’ll be thinking of are:
- “I can’t afford it; I don’t have money.” You can and you have. If you really want to prioritize this dream, you are capable of making a way and I’ll discuss how you can do so later on in this post. Just don’t let yourself use this excuse if you managed to get a freaking iPhone 6 for yourself in the past month. But then of course, there’s the topic of ‘privilege’. A sample of a concern is: “What if I’m supporting my siblings or parents?” I can understand how difficult of a situation this can be since it’s a common occurrence, for instance, in Asian countries like my hometown, the Philippines. But still and the same, there’s a viable option for you: finding a better job where you can compete and gain a salary that’s not within 3rd world standards — which is what I’ve done and which I’ve achieved. With that, I know that you can do something similar as I’ve managed to do it so with maddening perseverance. But of course, this post does NOT cater to those who are poverty-stricken because I am rather obviously catering this to people like YOU who at least have the chance to access the internet — a vast area where you can gain a LOT of opportunities to uplift your life’s situation. After all, access to the internet alone should already show you the reality that with that kind of ‘privilege’, you CAN already turn your life around if you dearly will it so.
- “I’m afraid to travel alone.” Actually, when you travel, you are NEVER alone. You’re bound to meet people along the way. You’ll be making friends on the road who can turn out to be your best friends for life. So take this as a challenge for yourself; it’s time to stop being dependent, and I’m telling you, it’s not so scary to travel alone abroad as long as you stay street smart and know where to go. (For a start, you can try going on a small solo trip for a couple of days to some nearby city, just to get a feel of this, and I’m pretty sure, you’ll be fine.) Besides, the world isn’t such a scary place at all like what the media says. Believe me when I say this.
- “I’m taken right now. I can’t leave my bf/gf.” Then travel together! If you do, the two of you can save together and it will make things easier and more achievable. However, I understand that some partners wouldn’t want to do the same… so make them read blogs like this and maybe they’ll find out that it’s their passion too! :P But that aside, I guess it’s time to make a bit of sacrifice. If you’re still young, I strongly advise that you don’t give up your dreams for someone else.
- “I’m too old… It’s too late. I have kids.” Nope. It’s never too late. I’ve seen a lot of traveling nomads who are in their 50s or even 70s, and their kids are traveling with them too. Sometimes, we are just making up these excuses in our heads when in fact, everything is almost possible, for as long as we kick out the fear and well… the ‘excuses’.
- “I might not get a job once I finish traveling.” Will you really want a job again once you get back? Okay, maybe you will, especially if you plan to be an ‘offline nomad’ for most of the time. But hey, you can still get a job in the future depending on your skills; in fact, well-traveled people are in demand nowadays. Other than that, if you have managed to establish your services online, that’s already your career. And who knows? Along the way, maybe you already have managed to make your own business!
- “I don’t think it’s the right time.” Newsflash: there’s NO right time. You just do it and make time for it. It’s as simple as that. We are never ready for anything anyway — may it be love, studies, or moving to a new place. It just happens if you let it happen.
Plan your trip while continually doing the pointers in #1 + #2
Yes. It’s finally time to plan! Aaaand nope, it’s not time to quit your job yet, but we’re getting there. (We will get there!)
First things first: I need you to plan because not only do we want to know when and where you’re going, but we also need to figure out your travel fund.
★ NOTE: I actually didn’t quit my job with the goal in mind of first achieving a travel fund; I rather quit my job once I managed to establish my work online which enabled me to earn double than what I was earning with my corporate employer. It was only after I left the company that I started saving up for a travel fund for myself. However, if earning a higher salary elsewhere proves to be a hard thing for you, just continue reading below to determine the ‘travel fund’ that you need to work for while you’re still in your job so that you can eventually say adieu to them very soon.
- Think of the places that you want to go to
List them all. Go wild. But do choose your destinations carefully!
- Research for the basic details
The cost of living, the weather, the internet speed, the flight time difference, the average flight cost, time zone difference, etc. These are all important! For instance, you can figure out how much money you will be needing and what things you need to bring for the road. A good resource website for this is Nomad List. They have come up with a veeery good list of the best cities to work in, along with the details that I mentioned. Otherwise, you can also try Lonely Planet to see the practical information for each city or country. (For the cost of living, it’s a good practice to add more than what’s stated because chances are, some cities can be surprisingly more expensive).
- Research the Visa requirements, border fees/requirements, travel insurance, and vaccinations
Very important, of course. Take note of the fees or costs for each. For Visas, there are some that you can get on the road, while some, you need to get from your home country. For insurance (which is a must!) check out World Nomads since they have the best coverage and rates! For vaccinations, to know whether you need any for certain cities, check by this website. Other than these, it’s important to also know whether some cities require their visitors to have an outbound ticket upon arrival; a lot of countries usually require this when you’re at the immigration (so they can have the assurance that you’ll be leaving the country by the end of your stay).
- Rank them according to TOTAL cost
…with the cheapest country at #1! (Do be reminded that if you’re from Asia, as much as you might want to go to New York, it’s impossible for you to head there directly if you don’t have a lot of money saved up yet… especially because the cost of living there can be crazy expensive for a starter nomad like you. Going to countries that have a lower cost of living will give you more free time, more extra money, and more value for your money — that eventually, you will manage to land into the city of your dreams.) Now once you have ranked them, pick the top 5 or 10 countries (depends on you) and spread them out in a span of months:
- Some nomads make plans for 3-6 months or even a year and this is totally up to you as you determine how long you want to stay in each country.
- Some nomads simply pick one country and base their travel fund on that alone; they have the idea that they will just work on the next cities along the way. This is a nice spontaneous plan if you want to do the same. (★ For me, I somehow started like this. I don’t like to confine myself into too many intricate plans; I just let things happen as they happen.)
- Meanwhile, some nomads don’t plan or save up at all! This is the highest level of spontaneity! But I don’t recommend this if you don’t have that much knowledge of traveling. This often happens for those who live in a big continent wherein they can just hop on the car to cross borders, get to the next city, etc. (Otherwise, for those who plan to go to another country that is like seas away, of course you will need to save money to purchase your flight tickets; don’t ever believe those bloggers who claim that they didn’t save up at all because they did have to get some money first for that airfare — unless they won it or it was given to them.)
- Find out the airfare costs
when you jump from one city to the next. Mix and match every city as possible; sometimes, a certain route can be cheaper than another. Though if possible, take trains/buses/cars as they are more affordable than flying. (Some people hitchhike but I don’t recommend this much). At some times, you also have to check the dates since you might get better deals on other months, etc. (The date for the start of your travel actually depends on your capacity to come up with the total fund for your trip, it might also depend on when your company is able to completely let you go — ★ for example, I had to stay in my company for 2 months after I handed over my resignation).
Photo by Roman Betik / CC
- Figure out where you want to stay
If you check by my article here, I have stated some ways of getting free accommodation if you don’t want to shell out extra money for a stay in a hotel or hostel. Couchsurfing, house or pet sitting, and the like are just some of the ways that you can have a free place to sleep in for a longer period of time. Otherwise, you can try and ask a friend or relative — that’s living in a city that you want to go to — if they can possibly take you in for a while. But if you really want to try looking for great cheap deals on hotels or hostels, try Agoda or HostelWorld. For more information…
- Identify your skills. Will you get jobs on the road or work online?
DON’T underestimate what you know or can do. After reading my articles here and here, decide on the skills that you can do and the job/work that you will be doing to sustain your life of travel. (Note: Tim Ferris discussed in his book, the 4-Hour Work Week, a plan on how you can try and negotiate a remote work arrangement with your company. It’s worth a shot if you want to keep your job that you love.) On the other hand, if you don’t want to work while on the road, your travel fund should take this into account.
- Once you identify your skills, lay out a plan on how you can do it
Start looking for websites that you can offer your services to (if you want to be a digital nomad). Start looking for schools (if you want to teach English). etc. etc. etc. Investigate the job market in order to know how easy or how hard it can be for you to get work.
- Banks, method of payment, withdrawals, etc.
Find out if credit cards are widely accepted (if it is, ensure you have a credit card), or if a debit card is enough or if it’s better to have cash (in far-flung areas, this is often the most important things to have since NOT a lot of places have ATM machines etc.). Be informed of the bank fees for overseas withdrawals and transactions too (it’s always best to have an online bank account). Meanwhile, with regard to your work, figure out how your clients can pay you; if PayPal is needed, go set it up, connect it to your bank account or card, and so on. Personally though, I prefer using TransferWise because it has lower conversion and transfer fees compared to PayPal.
- Mind the exchange rates
Do the math for this in advance.
- Allot an emergency fund and/or a safety fund
Apart from the costs for traveling, it’s important to set aside an amount for possible emergencies (example: you suddenly need to fly back home, etc.)
- Figure out the things you’ll be needing
It’s always best to have a good backpack especially if you’re going to be on the road a lot; if you don’t have this, put it in as a cost of the travel fund that you’ll be saving up for. Other than that, go and figure out the other essentials that you’ll be needing not only for ‘living’ but for working too (nope, most likely you won’t need more heels, okay?). If you’re going to be a digital nomad like me, it’s always good to ensure that you have a backup hard drive and some anti-theft software.
Put your plan into action: start saving and working
By now, you should have a rough estimate of the amount of money that you’ll be needing in order to support and start your life of travel. To come up with this money, take advantage of your current reliable source of income: your job.
- Discipline & a change in values
Keep away a certain percentage of your salary and put it in your travel fund. Every ‘deposit’ that you make is a step closer to your dream lifestyle — and all it takes, what it just really takes, is a sense of control on your part.
- Change spending habits
One way you can go about this is to track your spending; where is most of your salary going to? Is it from eating in expensive restaurants during lunch break? Is it because of your shopping sprees whenever you feel stressed out from work? Go ahead, list everything and once you’re finished, identify all of the unneeded ones and cut them out. It may seem hard to believe at first, but you can really keep a lot of cash if you really separate your wants from your needs and then cutting out the unnecessary costs in your ‘wants’. It really takes some sacrifice for this, but imagine: after it’s all done with, you’ll have more freedom than before and you can say goodbye to your unhealthy lifestyle.
Other than those, here are some other options for quickly saving up:
- Slowly sell/rent your possessions
When you’re going to start your nomadic lifestyle, you won’t need that TV in your apartment. Really. Well actually, some people have done the extreme, like selling their house and apartment to keep a traveling lifestyle for the rest of their life. It definitely sounds like a plan… but if you’re not ready to do that kind of thing, or if you still want to have a place to come back to, then at least get rid of the stuff that you won’t be needing or might only stay unused for months or years. Actually, you can also opt to rent your place if you happen to own an apartment/house; or even your car. (TIP: If you ever need a place to store your other valuables that you can’t part with, don’t pay for a storage place. Try asking your parents or friends if they can keep your stuff for the meantime).
- Start ‘working’
You’re going to kill two birds with one stone on this one. I’m not talking about your office job because you’re already doing that… what I am rather talking about is the possible work that you will be doing once you start to travel the world. So in case you want to be a digital nomad: start developing your profile/reputation online, start proactively looking for jobs wherever you can, and start doing work whenever you have a free time. With this, not only will you save faster for your travel fund, but you will also be fueling your future of ‘working remotely’. (★ Like I mentioned above, this is actually what I have done; right from the moment that I decided to become a digital nomad, I worked online whenever I had some time off from my job at the investment bank).
Now other than saving up, start working on the other plans that you’ve made in #3. My tips:
Start scouting for couchsurfers, home stays, etc. that can take you in on the dates that you desire. Better be prepared beforehand!
If there are flight tickets that you need to purchase, go and sign up for websites/newsletters that can prompt you when there are promo fares.
Remember my points in #2. While you are putting all of these plans into action, it might take some months. Given time, it’s likely that you might lose your focus and drive in doing this. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN. Ensure consistency, stay determined, and get rid of self-doubts. Keep yourself inspired, daydream about your bright future, and always remember your goals. Remind yourself what you are working for: freedom.
Quit your job and start your life of travel!
THIS IS IT! It’s time. Your travel fund is ready, your plans are checked. What’s left to do…?
QUITTING. YOUR. OFFICE. JOB.
START. TRAVELLING. AND. WORKING. REMOTELY.
(…or not work, that’s up to you, haha)
You’ve finally reached this stage so go and celebrate by hitting the road or flying away! Do yourself a huge favor: enjoy, travel to your heart’s content, and have the best time of your life! You’ve earned it.
You really did!
And while you are traveling, remember these:
- Be flexible
I know that I did make you plan for the cities that you’re going to; however, it’s possible that you would need to change your initial plans as you go along. So don’t go crazy trying to fix yourself into your schedule. Relax. Chances are, you will be loving a certain city/country too much that you might decide to stay there longer than you wish, and that’s perfectly alright!
- Don’t be scared, just be careful
Stay safe and be ‘street smart’. Always be aware and careful. There’s no need to fear; foreign countries and people are not so scary as you think. (Also, do embrace the idea of going alone every once in a while, even if you are traveling with someone).
- Take advantage of countries that don’ t need Visas
Because Visa procedures and applications can be such a pain, so if you can avoid it, then by all means take advantage of such a chance. Example, if you’re from the Philippines, try going to South America. They have countries there that are visa-free for Filipinos like Brazil and Colombia to name a few!
- Try to learn the language
Not only to impress the locals, but it’s a good way to interact with them and eventually befriend them. It also helps you navigate your way through foreign territories better — add the fact that it develops your brain power. But I guess, ultimately: it will completely transform your travel experience!
- Make friends, network/socialize, try a LOT of things, and eat a LOT!
Indulge the joy and luxuries of traveling! Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Go ahead and socialize with the locals or fellow travelers. Soak in all the culture and be open to new experiences. And when you do meet all these people, remember to be understanding. A lot of the people that you will meet will have different views or habits, so it’s important to refrain from making quick judgments — but actually, you will learn this yourself, because I believe that travel makes you look past the black-and-white side of things. It’s a natural effect: the more people you meet, the more understanding you become of others’ quirks and flaws.
- Save up and try to look for other ways to gain a more stable income for yourself and to secure your future – THINK LONG TERM!
Amidst all the fun, try to always keep this in mind so you can live a sustainable life of travel (forever!). Following your dreams is fine and dandy, but I advise that you keep your head together and think of your future still. For my case, I managed to find a way to make an online business of my own and you can do the same, or simply set up your own services of teaching English abroad, building your reputation as a dance/yoga instructor, etc.! I’m pretty sure that along the way, you will find an idea that will help you earn a reasonable sum that can last you for the rest of your life.
- Start a travel blog!
There are a LOT of benefits to blogging, other than the fact that you can earn money, you can also meet a lot of like-minded individuals! You could even have the chance to partner up with big travel brands, hotels, and resorts in the long run to further help you fund your travels! …Don’t know how to start one? Don’t worry, just read this guide that I made:
I tried to be as detailed as I could… I really hope that this answered all the questions!
(Whew! This took me days to make!)
Just always remember that starting a ‘life of travel’ like mine is NOT impossible. You really don’t have to be rich; you don’t even need to be ‘lucky’! Because I’m neither of the two! I always believe in this quote: “Lucky is the word lazy people use to describe people who work hard.”
And I don’t consider myself lucky.
I made this lifestyle happen.
I had to persevere and make full use of the opportunities and innate skills available to me.
I had to make changes and sacrifices to get to where I am today.
I had to make do with the little resources that I had in order to make it day by day.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I talked a lot about how I didn’t enjoy a 9 to 5 job. Please be mindful that I am saying that out of MY own experience since my past just happened to be a discovery of how that kind of life wasn’t a perfect fit for me. So of course, I wholly recognize the fact that there are some people who enjoy their corporate/office jobs (I know some of my friends who do), some people also enjoy just staying at home as a stay-in mom, etc. etc. and in NO way am I putting them down; because in a sense, they are just doing the same thing that I am doing: pursuing things that they love to do. I wholly respect their kind of work but it’s just not my preference; therefore, this post caters to the people who are going through the same path or mindset that I had back in 2011, and are now wanting to make a change in their life given how they have the same passion as me.
Now, to end this entry, I leave you with this amazing quote in hopes that it would keep you motivated in making the MOST out of your life.
As cliché as this might sound: we only live once. It’s a waste of time and effort to do work that you hate or dislike, purely for the aim of just making money. Please try to make the steps of abandoning conformity and fear. Don’t hesitate anymore. Don’t mind what society or what other people may say. This is your life. NOT theirs. So take control and make that change.
JUST. DO. IT.
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Hey there! I am Aileen Adalid.
At 21, I quit my corporate job in the Philippines to pursue my dreams. Today, I am a successful digital nomad (entrepreneur, travel writer, & vlogger) living a sustainable travel lifestyle.
My mission? To show you how it is absolutely possible to create a life of travel too (no matter the odds), and I will help you achieve that through my detailed travel guides, adventures, resources, tips, and MORE!
NEW READER? START HERE!
CURRENTLY BASED IN: The Philippines
TRAVELING NEXT TO: South Korea, New Zealand, Russia
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