Whenever I met anyone new and the “what do you do” question comes up… I hesitate. It can be a little hard to explain exactly what I do and then most travellers are very interested in learning more about it so they can do it too.
When I first set out traveling, I fell in love. I fell in love with the movement, the amount of life I could cram into days on the road, the types of people I met – both fellow travellers and locals – and what I learned from them. I knew within days of starting my first solo trip that I wanted to figure out a way to do this longterm, without limitation, without expirations.
For quite some time I was traveling on a budget. A real budget. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as I grew older I felt happy that I was able to travel, but a little sad that financially I was not moving forward. I wanted to be able to travel now, without compromising my options and financial security for the future.
So how did I go from perpetually broke, shoestring traveller to someone who can afford to travel indefinitely while saving some decent coin?
Unfortunately there were no lotto wins or massive surprise inheritances.
The Job That Never Happened
My money started to run low in 2011. I was in South East Asia and had applied and was accepted to be an English teacher in South Korea. From all the research I’d done, I would be able to save a considerable amount of money and make some dents on my student loan. I hadn’t thought much further than that.
But for some reason, there was a big part of me that really, really didn’t want to go. I can’t explain why, I just knew it wasn’t the right move for me.
So I moved to the Czech Republic and became an au pair. It was a chance to have some breathing space. To not have to worry about money or bills for a while. I was supposed to stay for 3 months, but loved the family so much that I wound up staying for six.
During that time I started this blog.
Originally I started this blog to tell my family what I was doing and also because I had so much free time. I was mostly interested in having a platform for showcasing my photography, but as time went on I fell in love with writing. Some friends told me I was good at it and I really enjoyed it, so I started thinking about how I could make it work for me.
I also read a book: The Four Hour Work Week and my mind was opened up to concepts I’d never heard before. Like taking short retirements right now rather than waiting for when you’re older. I read about how people were earning considerable sums of money online with great freedom and independence and I wanted that for myself too.
I continued to work on the blog. For months and months I wrote and wrote with no returns. I had friends commenting, new followers appear and it keep ticking away.
Then I went to Coachella, home to New Zealand for a visit and was an au pair in Spain. During that time money was tight and I started casually looking into freelance writing on Elance. I slowly built up some clients and within a few months I was earning a pretty good salary, more than I’d ever earned in New Zealand.
The ‘problem’ was that I was working full time. How do you enjoy traveling when you’re busy glued to your computer smashing away at your keyboard for the majority of the week.
During this time I had a few advertisers approach me to advertise on my blog and I took them up on the offer. After some time I traded contacts with friends and everything grew from there. Now I earn enough from advertising on my blogs to sustain my travels full time. It wasn’t a logical path and when I first started this blog, it wasn’t to earn an income although I was open to the idea.
I would not suggest that anyone starts a blog just to make money, it’s so much work! If you’re passionate about writing, have a voice you want to be heard and genuinely love starring at your computer for hours on end, then maybe start. I spent hundreds of hours working on my blog for free and while now I’m reaping the rewards, there are probably more efficient ways to make money.
So there we go, that’s the story of how I went from budget shoestring traveller to earning a decent salary and galavanting around the world.
Let me know if you have any questions, I’m most happy to answer them.