To create the ultimate guide to location-independent freedom, we picked the minds of fifteen bona fide location-independent workers, full-time adventurers, and entrepreneurs, to ask them how they earn money, and to learn how others can do the same. Each person has a remarkable story, and shares some wonderful insights on how you can “break free” and create the life you choose, anywhere you like. Enjoy!

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The Bushman turned Businessman

Mike Spencer Bown, one of the most traveled men in history.

Mike Spencer Bown, one of the most traveled men in history.

“I’ve never worked for anyone but myself. I like to say, I’ve never had a problem with money, and money’s never had a problem with me.”

Mike Spencer Bown

Travel Resume: Traveled continuously for 23 years straight; often called the “world’s most extensively-traveled man.” Visited every country in the world.
Income Source: Discovers entrepreneurial opportunities while traveling

Note: to listen to our full podcast interview with Mike, click here.

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

The world is deeply interesting to me, and I can’t get enough of experiencing it: if I float down the Amazon from the Andes to its delta on the south pacific, then I’ll be wondering what it would be like to travel up the Nile and explore the Simien Mountains. If I’m in the Atacama desert, said to be the driest, I’ll want to have felt all the other deserts, and gain an understanding of how different cultures deal with the challenges of such an environment.

I suppose you could say that the more I learn about the world, the more curious I am, and the more I want to learn. I travel to educate myself, and try to understand the human condition. I’m a full-time free-style traveller.

When did you start traveling and why?

Early nineties, and I’ve been traveling non-stop since then, living out of the same backpack. I hit my stride in backpacking after coming off many years of mind-bending bush-time. I’d been living alone in the wilderness, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest person, living off the land by snaring birds, fishing, and eating nuts and berries.

I’d gone 86 days without speaking at one point, before an hour long conversation, then 40 more, and regularly I’d do 6 months with only the most intermittent and cursory human contact. I was interested in what the wilderness could teach me about human consciousness, and I learned enough to gain an affinity with hunter gatherer tribes and insight into aboriginal dream-time.

But this kind of life is lonely, and the wild animals were dangerous… I was attacked by a mountain lion, and had to shake off my fair share of bears, and starved once. After I got sick while alone like that, I decided to re-focus on something new: exploring our world, and I discovered that my bush-craft came in handy, in the many out-of-the-way places on our planet.

How do you fund your adventures?

In some ways, I’m an excellent business man and entrepreneur, but I have only part of the package. I notice a business opportunity, say, people cutting down coffee trees in Java that have grown too big to be efficiently harvested. I bought the wood at firewood prices, practically nothing, took it to Bali where I knew a furniture making shop, and asked the guy to make several designs of tables from this wood, all designs that are low to the ground, which in North America is called a coffee table.

Then, while they make thousands of these tables, I’ll travel around Asia. When it’s time to ship them, I zip back and send them off, then I’ll travel around while the ships carry the containers over to North America, arriving just in time to wholesale them. This involves getting a truck, and driving around with samples, showing them to various shops and chains of shops. When they say, “it’s a nice range of coffee tables, Hmmm, what are you asking?” I say, “they are not just coffee tables, they are coffee coffee tables, since they are also made out of coffee wood.” Sold 500 in one go. In no time, I’d have sold them all, and be back traveling, with a dog-choking wad of cash to show for it. Whenever funds ran low, I’d do a scheme such as that, but always something completely different, depending on what opportunities I’d notice.

But I’m a rubbish business man in many ways, since I never try to repeat an idea, or set anything up for the long term…. it would hinder my travel and tie me down, so I fold the business and carry on backpacking. I’ve never worked for anyone but myself. I like to say, I’ve never had a problem with money, and money’s never had a problem with me.

“Hitchhiking around Iraq in 2003 was interesting…. it was an adventure every day, just trying to survive, for the most part. I’d dress as an Iraqi, and the idea was to pass unseen in the crowds by not speaking.”

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

I enjoyed a trip a few years back (once I got around the U.N. who were trying to stop me, saying i’d be instantly killed), hitchhiking through the Rworenzori mountains, and past the genocidal Hutu rebels. I went 1,000 kilometers deep into the Congo basin, following a Chinese built dirt road on a motorcycle, to hike into the rainforest and live with the Bambuti Pygmie tribe, in leaf huts, hunting antelope with spears and nets.

Also, hitchhiking around Iraq in 2003, during the “operation iron grip” phase of the gulf war, was interesting…. it was an adventure every day, just trying to survive, for the most part. I’d dress as an Iraqi, and the idea was to pass unseen in the crowds by not speaking. This worked like a charm, and when it didn’t I got a good story out of it.

Being the first tourist in Mogadishu since the fall of the central government was interesting too. Traveling through Puntland, the so-called land of pirates was more fun, once I’d talked my way out of detention, where two guys with machine pistols were guarding me. I spent some time, inevitably, in military prisons, being interrogated as a suspected spy or terrorist. Iran was fun too… I went to check out the underground party scene, and ended up having lots of fun seeing that ancient and often misunderstood land.

Mike Spencer Bown, the ultimate backpacker.

“Don’t gather any possessions, at all. You don’t really need them, and a slathering of possessions will ruin your travel plans. All you need is your health and a backpack, to see the world.”

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

For surviving dangerous countries, you should rely on a well-honed intuition. I got mine from mental changes associated with extreme bush-time… it’s so interesting when you finally have human contact again. You can really study the ways of a human face, and what it tells you about the trustworthiness of the faces’ owner. You hone your intuition from there by treating every rip-off or attempted scam as a lesson in recognizing the worst parts of human nature, and after a while, you’ll know who is a basically sound person, or a nasty person.

Never put your trust in anyone who is not a good person, if at all possible. As for travel to more peaceful or easy countries, remember that a rolling stone gathers no moss, and also that a stone under a thick layer of moss is not going to roll. Don’t gather any possessions, at all. You don’t really need them, and a slathering of possessions will ruin your travel plans. All you need is your health and a backpack, to see the world.

The Wandering Stock Trader

Ryan Trapp, jetsetting traveler, in Mongolia. Ryan earns 6-figures while only working a few weeks a year.

Ryan Trapp, jetsetting traveler, in Mongolia. Ryan earns 6-figures while only working a few weeks a year.

“There may be a lot you can do (which you enjoy) that can provide the income and freedom you need that you are unaware of.  Don’t be afraid to change paths and have faith in yourself in a new venture.”

Ryan Trapp

Travel Resume: Began traveling at 19 with a trip to Jamaica, traveled to 136 countries since.
Income Source: Buys and sells stocks online

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

30-something that loves to travel and wants to at least see all of the UN countries of the world in my spare time.

I normally work stocks devotedly four times a year for 6-7 weeks at a time during quarterly earning season, where I find you can make the bulk of your yearly income goals. I space out trips in between those times.

When did you start traveling and why?

Born and raised in Juneau, AK, which is an isolated capital city only accessible by boat or plane. I felt really sheltered growing up there for 19 years.  I took a Spring Break 1998 trip to Jamaica and traveled all over the island and fell in love with how different places were from where I grew up.  At 19 I moved to Miami alone and started taking road trips all around the US as my first goal was all 50 states, then blossomed into traveling to new countries, too.

How do you fund your adventures?

I worked in mortgages during the heyday of “anyone can get a loan” days of 2001-2008 and made a lot of money.  Once mortgages went belly up, I got into the stock market and have invested my own funds with success ever since. The best time to trade is during the quarterly earning seasons when major companies release their earnings reports. In general, each earnings season begins one or two weeks after the last month of each quarter.

A company will report their earnings and one of two things will happen — it’ll go down or it’ll go up.  You do your homework and look at their potential and put on the trade to capture whatever movement the stock you have your eye on makes.  Case in point is LinkedIn: reported earnings once the market closed (you can still buy or sell after hours).  They exceeded expectations and shot up from the close of $180.64 to a high of $203. That’s a $22.36/share gain.  Had you had only 200 shares of that before close, you’d have made $4472.  Keep in mind, when you trade online you have a margin account too.  So if you start your account with $50k, you’ll have a trading power of $100k.

Ryan Trapp in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Ryan Trapp in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Sometimes I do 30 day holds if I think something is oversold, but when too many geopolitical things are going on it means that if something horrible happens overnight you can wake up with a massive loss due to sell off’s and investors scared and cashing out. You just have to determine if the risk vs reward is worth it to you before you put on a trade.  If the reward far outweighs the risk, you can have a home run.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

I have been traveling pretty much non-stop. I just returned from a road trip covering 2318 miles round trip from Minneapolis thru Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. Before that trip I was home one day from Central America where I was 3 weeks traveling overland thru Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Corn Islands. Before that were short trips to Colorado and Wyoming and Oregon and Washington and a Pacific trip in Fiji, Kiribati, Banaba Island and Christmas Island.

Most fun thing I have done recently was the 3-day trip to the Corn Islands, located 43 miles off the coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean (about a 90 min flight from Managua on a single prop).  It’s a rustic place with pretty beaches and a road that circles the island.  I rented a 35-MPH golf cart over both days and crisscrossed the island several times (including every beach trail I could get on).  It gave me a true sense of freedom and fun in a place few people have heard of.

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

Make it a goal and assess your strengths.  There may be a lot you can do (which you enjoy) that can provide the income and freedom you need that you are unaware of. Don’t be afraid to change paths and have faith in yourself in a new venture.

The Student of Life

Suchen S K, globetrotting traveler from Malaysia.

Suchen S K, free-spirited globetrotter from Malaysia.

“I got kicked out of my house by my dad which till today I say is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Suchen S K

Travel Resume: Traveled for over a decade, visited 43 countries and lived in nine. Income Source: Jack of All Trades: finds work as he travels, always leaves a country with more cash than he arrives with. Self-styled “photocrafter.”

 How would you describe yourself and what you do?

I’m an individual who believes in myself and am also a perfectionist. I look, see and understand the world in my own way and don’t expect anyone to understand me. If they do, great 😉 I don’t believe in following society and don’t conform to one.

When did you start traveling and why?

I first left home in 1997 to further my studies. Which was actually an excuse for me to leave the country and I always wanted to see what living and life outside of malaysia was like. (maybe also coz I got kicked out of my house by my dad which till today I say is the best thing that ever happened to me)

“When I first left, I had almost zero cash, just enough to pay rent. So the first few months was rough and I literally lived on bread and butter on week days. Instant noodles was my luxury on weekends.”

How do you fund your adventures?

When I first left, I had almost zero cash, just enough to pay rent. So the first few months was rough and I literally lived on bread and butter on week days. Instant noodles was my luxury on weekends. I then looked for work to pay my rent and survive. My first job was working in a dodgy club in Kings Cross in Sydney as a door man… hey it paid the bills and put food on my table so i was not complaining. Later on i got a job in Planet Hollywood Sydney and also another restaurant in Sydney. After finishing my degree in Music Production in Sydney, I realized that the world was my oyster. It was now time to get a degree in life.

I went on a working holiday to New Zealand and then moved on to Europe for 7 years. Basically I would get a job, cover back what I spent to get there, save up and then move on to the next country. I realized I could keep doing this for the rest of my life. I would look for any kinda jobs, from construction, bartending, picking fruits, cleaning boats, teaching English to name a few. I never cared what job it was, if it paid, I would do it.

Whenever I went out job hunting, I would usually find something on the first day. I was never picky, as long as it paid I was happy. I always printed out copies of my resume and walked into every bar and restaurant or looked in the papers and just walked in. It’s always easier to walk in and ask for a job then to call or email and so on. People generally prefer seeing someone in flesh then emails, phone or whatever.

In most other countries I just entered as a tourist (without a work visa) and looked for any kinda odd jobs. I’m usually not there long enough for them to figure out I don’t really have any proper papers plus I was doing mainly blue collar jobs so most of them didn’t really care and they were just happy they had someone to work for them. Rule of thumb is, don’t get yourself in trouble and be nice and you will be ok 🙂

Suchen S K, free-spirited globetrotter.

 “I left home for 10 years, covered 43 countries and lived in nine. If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

Coolest place I would say was Amsterdam. Most fun thing was always going out with the locals everywhere I went.

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

Anyone can do it, just don’t be picky on jobs. Don’t spend before you start a job in a new place, always allocate a savings target and only spend on unnecessary things if it exceeds it. I left home for 10 years, covered 43 countries and lived in nine. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

The Wayfaring Writer

Carlo Cretaro, owner of Next Stop Who Knows.

Carlo Cretaro, adventurer and freelance writer.

“I’ve never been a person who saw the need to have to commit to a 9-5.”

Carlo Cretaro

Travel Resume: Traveled to 30+ countries since he discovered his passion for travel at the ripe age of 27.
Income Source: Freelance Writer, owner of Next Stop, Who Knows

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

Easy going, open-minded, young at heart and free spirited. My views on life are that we’ve only got a short period of time on this planet, so why hang around waiting until the ripe age of 60+ to “enjoy life”. I’ve never been a person who saw the need to have to commit to a 9-5. I did it for a few months when I graduated from college but after that I’ve been more or less doing it my way – whatever that may be.

When did you start traveling and why?

Up until I was 27 I’d no real interest in traveling. I’d only been to a handful of countries and the appeal of backpacking or pretty much anything to do with traveling just didn’t resonate with me. I was the least traveled of my circle of friends.

In 2005 I started playing poker and Las Vegas was somewhere that I’d always wanted to visit – I headed there for 2 weeks alone. It was during that trip that I discovered my first taste of the desire to travel. I don’t know what it was, but I remember one day walking along the strip and thinking to myself that I was going to go and see the world over the next few years.

How do you fund your adventures?

I manage two freelance writing businesses online where I work with a team of writers to produce content for websites, blogs etc. Basically anything that needs content of some sort. Currently I’m traveling/working around South America for the rest of the year. I spent the previous year in S.E Asia, so I enjoy the whole location independent thing. My clients are mainly marketing and digital companies interested in SEO (search engine optimization). I find these clients through Google by searching for “marketing companies,” and so on. Sometimes I’m contacted by small businesses directly by referrals as well – and these can be anything from plumbing to dentist businesses.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels? Hmm. There’s been a few of them over the years, but I think buying a motorbike in northern Vietnam last February and riding down the whole length of the country over a month’s period was pretty cool. It was also one of the craziest things I’ve done, because the traffic is just nuts there. I had a minor accident as well while on the motorbike around the half-way stage. It was epically cool (the trip), but ridiculously dangerous at the same time.

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

Two of the most effective ways to travel for as long as possible are 1. Teaching English and 2. Working online. Before I found a way online to make money, I was going to go down the teaching English route. Both options are definitely two of the most popular ways to keep the travel journey going for as long as you like.

The Backpacking Brand Ambassador

Justyna Śnieżek of One Penny Trip

“As long as you’re not stealing or hurting people, there’s no bad way of funding your travels.”

Justyna Sniezek

Travel Resume: Traveled solo through the UK, Germany, France, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda. On a mission to visit at least one new place per month.
Income Source: Public Relations, Blogger at One Penny Trip, and Writer

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

I always think about myself as the one who can’t stay in one place for too long, but I don’t really like expression ‘nomad’. Now everyone is ‘nomad’ and this word kind of lost its meaning. I’m a girl in her mid-20s, who loves traveling and enjoys her independent way of being. Less than 2 years ago I started travel blogging as my way of expressing myself and collecting my memories in one place – 7 months later I officially run one-penny-trip.com where I’m editor, photographer, designer and hold every other function needed to keep the blog alive. Everyday I learn something new.

When did you start traveling and why?

Travel is something I’ve enjoyed since I was a child although my parents never traveled much. In fact, my real passion for travel began when I was grown up enough to plan my own trips, when I realized the freedom I had. Back in 2012, without any reason, I made a promise to myself that in 2013 I’d visit one new place each month. I began this plan starting in January and ended up visiting 16 destinations while maintaining a full-time job. What’s more, in just that first year since I left home, I was working and living in 3 different places. Now it’s already been 4. To me travel is something you try once and you never want to stop. I started it with no big reason – I just felt like I want to taste life in different countries, meet more people, get inspired and collect memories.

How do you fund your adventures?

I usually find jobs while traveling – I’ve been working in Warsaw, Vienna, Munich and Dusseldorf within the last 16 months, as well as realizing freelance projects. As long as you’re not stealing or hurting people, there’s no bad way of funding your travels. Some of us are well-established freelancers not needing any other source of income, and some do office jobs abroad, save money, hit the road, and repeat the pattern. Personally, still being pretty new in the travel blogging world (2 years is nothing in comparison to those doing it for 10-15 years), I try to mix those two ways and slowly build my own brand.

I’m Polish but although I can speak English really well, people are often surprised by how quickly I find jobs abroad. The truth is, it’s super simple, ESPECIALLY if you’re NOT a native English speaker. English is widely used across the globe – almost everyone uses it more or less and often companies don’t bother to hire foreigners for English speaking positions, since they can often find a local fluent in the language. The situation changes with people who speak less-popular languages. People from Central-Eastern Europe, Asia or those using other less significant languages have a huge chance of being hired because they speak niche languages that not many people know. That’s my biggest advice when it comes to searching for a job on the way – use your natural talents. It always worked for me.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

All my travels are fun 🙂 But if I have to name an activity or place, I’d say I really enjoyed my stay in Palestine where with my Couchsurfing host, we pitched a tent on the hills in Beit Jala (close to Betlehem) and spent the night. You can’t imagine how much fun we had, how many stars we saw on the navy-blue sky and how tasty were the figs eaten directly from the bush in the morning 🙂

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

I’d say don’t simply look at other people who travel and do what they do. Find your own golden mean, the way of earning money you like and find appropriate for you, which covers your needs and fits your knowledge and abilities. There are so many ways of making money on the way – doing translations, having an online business, teaching languages, doing office work in any field, working in a pub/bar and many others – find what works for you.

Girl on the Go Around the Globe 

Viktoria Urbanek

“I don’t know where I’m going, but I promise it won’t be boring!”

Viki Urbanek

Travel Resume: Traveled to over 25 countries by the ripe age of 21. Lived in Venezuela, Canada, Mexico, China, Spain and Austria. Travel expert and owner of Chronic Wanderlust. Last spotted traveling in Mexico.
Income Source: I make my money from three sources: I’m working for an awesome and cool Austrian company, which for me is a location-independent job. We focus on search engine marketing and it’s a lot of fun! My second source is my job at my great university, it’s partially location-independent; they are fine with me traveling. The third one is fun too: I visit high schools and talk to students about my experience of living and studying abroad in Spain.

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

There’s this quote that captures me pretty well: “I don’t know where I’m going, but I promise it won’t be boring!” I’m traveling the world, work and study Industrial Engineering, which gets me a lot of vacations to pursue my passion and chase my dreams.

When did you start traveling and why?

I started traveling a lot in 2009, since then I kept on going! I simply love to move around – I’m losing and finding myself at the same time when I travel.

How do you fund your adventures?

I save up my money from three sources: The first is a location-independent job, which makes it easier to travel more. The second is my job at my university and they are fine with me traveling. I had to take some time off still, they wanted my work to be done and I did that – so no problems J It worked out fine too when I studied a year abroad in Spain. The third one is really fun: I visit high schools and talk to students about my experience of living and studying abroad.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

Wow there are so many: I went skiing in Mexico (in summer), taught Viennese Waltz in Central Park, … Right now I’m doing my Dive Master in Playa del Carmen, Mexico – I’m having a blast!

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

“When planning a trip take half your clothes and twice the money.” Stay within your budget: I know it is really hard sometimes, but if you want to travel as long as possible that’s the only way. Talk to the hostel staff and agree on a deals like helping them out in exchange for a free night. Try to convince your boss to work some hours from abroad, so you can still make some money while you are on the go!

The Nomadic Teacher

Chris Backe, owner of One Weird Globe.

“I was bored at work one day and doing some searches to see what else there was out there. After finding a job (and getting interviewed literally the next day), the visa paperwork got done and I found myself in Korea.”

Chris Backe

Travel Resume: Bought a one-way ticket out of the US, with no plans to return. Lived in Asia for the last six years. Author of over a dozen travel books and itineraries. Travel blogger at One Weird Globe.
Income Source: Teaches English, writes and sells books online, and shows other authors how to self-publish

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

Call me a nomadic traveler, first and foremost. I’m from the US, but left in 2008 and have no plans to ever return for good. Lest that sound rather drastic, there’s just too big a world to see to stay in one country!

I’m a travel blogger, first and foremost, but I’ve also written over a dozen books and itineraries. I’m married to an awesome Canadian lady I met in Korea. Beyond that…? I’m a geek… a Trekkie.. a night owl… and AWESOME at swing dancing.

When did you start traveling and why?

I got a job teaching English in South Korea – I was bored at work one day and doing some searches to see what else there was out there. After finding a job (and getting interviewed literally the next day), the visa paperwork got done and I found myself in Korea in March 2008. From the very beginning, I made it a point to visit one new place or event or festival every single week.

How do you fund your adventures?

A lot of different ways – my books and itineraries bring in some revenue… I do some freelance writing and photography every now and then, but helping people self-publish their book is the big one. (If you’d like some expert advice, the website is publishinghero.com)

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

Oh man – so many to choose from. I suppose one of my favorites were the sex parks on Jeju-do, an island south of South Korea. Those posts are on the NSFW side, but they’re still awesome. Search my website (One Weird Globe) for those.

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

Plan ahead. Have a goal for it all. And enjoy the ride – you really never know where it’s going to take you. On a more practical note, keep some savings somewhere you can always access – running out of money is perhaps my greatest fear… There’s also the matter of playing things cheap – so much easier in places like Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and so on.

The Broccoli-Cutting Business Backpacker

Jonny Blair, owner of Don't Stop Living.

“I’ve backpacked through Antarctica back in 2010 having saved up a load of money cutting broccoli. The truth is if you want something in life and believe in it enough, you will do it.”

Jonny Blair

Travel Resume: Left home of Northern Ireland 11 years ago and been on a journey around the world ever since. On a mission to visit 100 countries. So far visited over 600 cities and towns, all seven continents and over 90 countries. Travelled extensively through South America, China and the Middle East.
Income Source: Since leaving school in 1997, I have had over 50 different jobs, some of them not even remotely related to each other. The jobs include: barman, ice cream seller, telephone banking adviser, English teacher, PR rep, broccoli harvester, pyrethrum planter, ferry steward, and a load more. I’ve earned money in so many different ways down the years, these days my focus is on travel writing and planning itineraries. When in Asia I also try to teach English for extra cash.

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

I’m a backpacking Northern Irishman who is eager and hungry to see the world. I travel as much as I can, I share as many stories and tips to help other travelers and I want to earn enough money to continue this lifestyle for as long as it excites me.

When did you start traveling and why?

My first trip without my parents was in 1991 to the Netherlands. I loved the freedom of it all. These days it’s the excitement that every day is a new adventure. I hate routines and being stuck in the same job all the time.

Jonny Blair, business backpacker working on the move.

Jonny Blair, business backpacker on the move.

How do you fund your adventures?

I have worked in many different countries along the way including farms in Australia, ferries between England and France and schools in Hong Kong. I have always had at least one job on my travels. At the moment I work on the move and do a lot of online work.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

I’ve backpacked through Antarctica back in 2010 having saved up a load of money cutting broccoli. I’ve also spent a month in Uruguay learning Spanish and a month traveling all over Iran. More recently I attended the World Cup Final in Brazil, which was always a dream of mine.

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

The truth is if you want something in life and believe in it enough, you will do it. Those who want to travel for as long as they enjoy it, will do it. All you need to do is work hard and live out your dreams. My main point is always have at least one source of income at any time. Ever since I left Northern Ireland I have been earning money in some way and I will continue to do so to fund my lifestyle. If you keep earning money, you’ll always have enough to travel!

The Lifestyle Guru

Sarah Hughes, owner of Live, Dream, Discover.

“We made a decision to sell everything, quit our day jobs and create a location independent life and income.”

Sarah Hughes

Travel Resume: My partner and I have been to over 25 countries with our most recent trip being eight months traveling through Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. We are now officially nomads with no fixed address and our own location-independent business so we plan to grow that number as there is still so much we want to see!
Income Source: We have two websites that we are working on. One is a travel blog called Live, Dream, Discover which is not yet producing much of an income but we are working hard on that. The other is an online personal training site which is where the bulk of our income comes from. We also try to find work wherever we are and we offer personal training and boot camps, plus I do some freelance writing and hope to eventually add teaching English to our repertoire. We generate income from several different sources…you have to get creative when you travel full-time.

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

We are a fit, fun and friendly couple who love to travel, explore and experience life to the fullest but we also believe in balance. Whether we are traveling or staying put for a few months we always strive to live a balanced life of work, play, health, and fitness. We live simply and travel slowly both because it is more cost effective and also because it allows us to really get to know the places we travel to and the people we meet.

When did you start traveling and why?

We have both been traveling for years, as often as work and finances would allow but one year ago we packed it all in and started living a full time travel life. Being in our mid 30’s/40’s we have had time to live a more “normal” life including buying a home and building a career but ultimately we found that it just wasn’t the way we wanted to live the second half of our lives. As we love to travel and experience new things and are not at all tied to our possessions we made a decision to sell everything, quit our day jobs and create a location independent life and income.

How do you fund your adventures?

We sold everything and saved for two years before we started our travel life. This gives us a safety net and helps cover big expenses but we also earn as we travel as I mentioned before. We each spend at least 40 hours per week on our two websites and although we can’t yet support ourselves fully on this income we are making progress and have high hopes that we will be generating enough to live on and fund our travels in the next 2 years. We also house sit which has the dual benefits of saving money and allowing us to really live in a community. We wrote a post giving more detail on this about four months in to our travel life.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

There’s been so many but if we narrow it down to our most recent trip I would say that it’s a toss up between swimming with whale sharks and baby seals in Mexico, and exploring the caves and pools of Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

1. Research and plan but be prepared to change those plans when things don’t go right or when you find a better way of doing it. 2. Create a detailed budget spreadsheet to avoid over spending by keeping yourself accountable and on track. 3. Be prepared and willing to sacrifice. When you are considering buying that new jacket or indulging on a bottle of wine ask yourself if it will affect your future travels. Small purchases add up over time and can end up shortening your trip if you’re not careful. Try to make sure the sacrifices you make are the right ones.

The Endless Summer Seeker

Chris Stevens, of Backpacker Banter.

“My surfing has spurred on my traveling and I’ve visited a whole heap of crazy places which I’m sure I wouldn’t have even considered without it driving me.”

Chris Stevens

Travel Resume: After spending a year in Australia living in a van in 2009 decided to see more of the world. Hiked the Inca Trail, landed dream jobs as a surf instructor in Ecuador and then again in Morocco, lived in the surf mecca of Australia’s Byron Bay, sailed around the Galapagos Islands and learnt to SCUBA dive, among hundreds of other adventures along the way.
Income Source: Blogger, surf instructor, photographer, nudist documentary extra

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

I’m Chris – a surfer, photographer and travel writer from Devon in the UK. I juggle a few jobs on the road but mainly blog over at BackpackerBanter.com and run an online travel agency EpicGapYear.com.

My surfing has spurred on my traveling and I’ve visited a whole heap of crazy places which I’m sure I wouldn’t have even considered without it driving me. Combined with my photography degree its sent me off on an eclectic mix of trips which result in a mash of cultures, landscape and beautiful blue waves – with heaps of chaos, calm and banter in equal measure!

When did you start traveling and why?

Solo long trip wise it was back in 2009 with a years working holiday visa in Australia. I’d always wanted to go there and the surf is a big drive for all my travels really. After that year was up I knew I wanted to do it longer and see more, so I came home, saved again and hit the road…that was back in 2011!

How do you fund your adventures?

A few things really. I think the key is to have a few options open to you! My main income is through Backpacker Banter (ads, product partnerships etc) and Epic Gap Year (an online travel agency I launched) but I also work as a surf coach, and a photographer…actually I’ll pretty much do anything to stay on the road! Hahaha!

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

Ooooooo tough one! Freediving between the continental plates in Iceland was freaking epic! Diving with whale sharks in Thailand always springs to mind, as does hiking the Inca Trail….I’ve done too much so far don’t make me pick! Hahaha! I will however say that Byron Bay in Australia and Montanita in Ecuador are my favourite places on the planet!

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

Be open – and it isn’t always about making money, it’s about saving. Work for accommodation is a great way to sit tight and not spend much, I do it all over the place. It’s also a great way to get to know everyone in an area and network for other opportunities!

The Traveling Dutchman

jasper

“I started listing my apartment in Amsterdam on Airbnb. I realized the income potential and researched how to make the most of my listing and quickly saw the returns go up and was able to fully support myself.”

Jasper Ribbers

Travel Resume: traveled full-time for fours years, visiting over 50 countries
Income Source: Rents out his Amsterdam apartment on Airbnb, eBook sales, travel blogging

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

I’m an ex-finance trader who travels the world full-time, doing the things that I’m passionate about, such as scuba diving, learning languages and experiencing different cultures. I developed a passion for writing and have written two books. In addition, I chronicle my journey on my travel blog and sometimes write articles for magazines or other blogs and I co-host a podcast about Airbnb hosting.

When did you start traveling and why?

I started my journey back in 2010 after I quit my finance job in Chicago. It had always been my dream to be completely free to explore our planet and learn about new cultures and countries. At the age of 32, I realized it was now or never. Although it wasn’t an easy decision to give up my lucrative career, I didn’t want to grow old with regrets of never having tried to live the life that I wanted to live. 

How do you fund your adventures? 

The first few years I was living on savings and making a little money on the side with several online businesses. After two years, I started listing my apartment in Amsterdam on Airbnb. I realized the income potential and researched how to make the most of my listing and quickly saw the returns go up and was able to fully support myself. I recently launched my book on Airbnb hosting which I sell through Clickbank and Amazon and I intend to release more Airbnb related products in the future.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

There are too many to mention, but some of my favorites were:

  • Scuba diving in the Similan Island in Thailand on a liveaboard
  • Going lobster hunting in the Bahamas
  • Hiking a glacier and a volcano in Iceland
  • Driving the Pacific Coast Highway in California
  • Celebrating New Years on the beach in Brazil

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

There are several ways to do this, here are a few options:

  •  Limit your travel expenses by using couchsurfing and housesitting sites to find free accommodation
  • Rent out your room or house on Airbnb
  • Use sites as Elance and Freelancer to find jobs that can be done from anywhere in the world using a laptop and internet connection
  • You can do volunteering work in exchange for free accommodation
  • Travel to low-cost countries where living expenses can be as low as $1000 a month, for example Thailand, Colombia and The Philippines

Here’s some links where you can find more information about me and my work:

My travel blog: The Traveling Dutchman
My Airbnb book: Get Paid For Your Pad
My travel book: Ten Small Steps, One Giant Leap

The Italian Ballet Teacher

Clelia Mattana, owner of Keep Calm and Travel.

Clelia Mattana, full-time “digital nomad,” in Palawan, Philippines.

“It takes a lot of courage and sacrifice to leave a steady job to follow your dreams. All I know is that it’s worth it. At least for me.”

Clelia Mattana

Travel Resume: I left my parents house when I was 19, first traveling all around Italy ( I moved to Turin for 7 years and Rome for 3), then London for 6 years . During my time in the UK I traveled as much as I could in Europe and I also went to NYC once.

In 2013 I started my long term trip through South East Asia. I’ve visited more than 30 countries so far and I’m planning to cover South America and Africa very soon. I’m currently in Italy and my next stop will be Sri Lanka and Thailand, where I’m settling down for a few months to work on my blog.

Income Source: I left my 9 to 5 job at Burberry London and my main source of income is now my Travel Blog. I make money through affiliate marketing and sponsored posts. I wrote ​a comprehensive article on how I made it possible here.

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

I’m stubborn, adventurous and very open minded. I always try to see the bright side of every situation and being a travel blogger is the most incredible thing I’ve ever done in my life. It truly represents who I am and what I love the most. I consider myself very lucky because I was able to somehow turn my biggest passion into a job. My dream job. It is not perfect as many think. It takes a lot of courage and sacrifice to leave a steady job to follow your dreams. All I know is that it’s worth it. At least for me.

When did you start traveling and why?

The real trip​, the one way ticket trip, started the 10th of february 2013. I took the decision when I realized that I wasn’t happy with my life anymore. I was living someone else’s dream, definitely not mine. Everyone though that my life was perfect. I had a prestigious job and a very good salary, yet I wasn’t happy. So I decided it was time to stop complaining and actually do something about it. I always loved to travel and write, and that was exactly what I was going to do. I saved enough money for 6 months and I quit my job for good. I never looked back. I don’t have a single regret. This was the best decision of my life.

How do you fund your adventures?

​In the beginning I used my savings, but to be able to stay on the road for a long period (whilst working on my blog), I decided to stay put for a while in Thailand where I became a part-time English and Ballet teacher ​in a remote village with no tourists in sight. I was, together with my ex boyfriend, the only foreigner in the village. I also worked as a semi-professional photographer for hostels and hotels in exchange of money+free accommodation. At the moment the money I earn with my blog allows me to live in Asia (still not enough for Europe, but I’ll get there eventually) so my “working abroad” now translates into being a “digital nomad”.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

​Well, in 1 and a half year of constant travel I could write a book: I climbed a waterfall with a rope in the Philippines (probably risking my life!), I got “engaged” to my room mate in Bali, including the ring and the honeymoon (without the wedding part, as it was a semi-joke/crazy thing). I tried rafting, caught​ jellyfish with my hands, got stranded on a deserted island with a tent for 3 days and so many other adventures that it would take me forever to list them all. Life on the road has been a roller coaster ​of pure emotions for me.

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

​I could give many types of travel advice but I think the most important of all is to travel slowly. You spend less, you got to know the place and the people better and you have all the​ time to look around for a job (part time-full time, whatever suits you the best). This way you will really be able to stay on the road longer but most importantly you will truly grasp the essence of a place. I’m not a huge fan of “hit and run” travel just for the sake of saying that I’ve been everywhere. Also, try couch surfing, ask around if you can work in exchange for free accommodation and food and be open minded. With the right mind set you can really achieve whatever you want in life, such as traveling as long as you wish!

The Corporate Escape Artist

Raymond Walsh, corporate escape artist and full-time traveler.

“I started traveling full-time because there’s a great big fat world out there and I wanted to see it. I knew I was never going to get that opportunity with the three weeks of vacation I got per year.”

Raymond Walsh

Travel Resume: I’ve been to 49 countries with number 50 on the horizon for next month. Most recently I lived in Oman for two years (on a tourist visa no less). Currently based in Portugal for the next little while.

Income Source: Sponsorships, advertising on my site Man On The Lam, freelance writing, photography sales, & rental income.

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

On the surface I’m the quirky one — mostly because I write about offbeat adventures and strange attractions. But I’m basically just your run-of-the-mill cubicle-escapee. I worked in the corporate world for many years as a trainer and learning consultant, but my wanderlust outgrew my money-lust, so I decided to take a stab at a freelance life. Along the way I found out I liked weird sh*t.

When did you start traveling and why?

The first time I went anywhere was to Quebec City with my high school French class. It wasn’t the greatest experience since a few of us had a knife pulled on us after a hockey game. My first time abroad was to Europe after university. That’s where I found my groove and developed the travel bug in earnest.

I started traveling full-time because there’s a great big fat world out there and I wanted to see it. I knew I was never going to get that opportunity with the three weeks of vacation I got per year.

How do you fund your adventures?

I make some money through advertising on my blog, but I also do some freelance writing and lately I’ve been able to sell some photographs. I have a rental property back in Canada too so that ensures I don’t starve.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

Celebrating the millennium at the Pyramids in Giza, Egypt was probably the coolest. Learning aerial acrobatic maneuvers in a plane over Vegas was probably the most fun.

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

Don’t be afraid of “slow” travel — renting a place by the month is cheaper than by the week, and you’ll get more work done if you’re not changing locales every few nights.

Find multiple streams of income if possible. That way if one dries up, at least you’re not going to be eating out of a dumpster.

But most of all, don’t be afraid to take that first crucial step. Just because you can’t see the path ahead doesn’t mean the ground won’t support you. If you want to make it a reality, there are always ways you can align your life to make it happen.

The Roaming Remote Worker

Austin Gil

Austin Gilius, traveler, remote worker, and owner of Abatures.

Austin Gil at the Songkran festival in Thailand.

Travel Resume: I’m probably not as well traveled as most others on the list, but I’m working on it. I started with a trip of about 5 months to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. More recently I just returned from another 8.5 month trip to New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Philippines. In November I’m heading to Italy and Czech Republic for about a month then flying over to Beijing. Looking forward to that!
Income Source: Recently I have been able to fund a lot of my travels while on the road. I earn money through my web development company. That has been nice, but mostly I still rely a lot on the tried and true work hard and save money then go travel.

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

Well, I see myself as a constant learner and self improver. I love showing others the little tips and tricks I’ve found. I also tend to make myself sound really snobby and a bit of a douche. Haha. Mostly I’m just like the next guy trying to find his way through life the best way possible. I just want to make sure I take advantage of as much of what life has to offer.

When did you start traveling and why?

I started traveling in 2012 as a late college graduation celebration. My buddy had done some traveling and felt like he was due for some more. At the same time I was feeling the need to see the world.

How do you fund your adventures?

The way I see it, there are 3 ways to fund travels: 1) Work hard and save up, then travel. 2) Travel for a while then stay in places and work whatever jobs you can to save up enough to move on. 3) Find a way to take your work with you while you travel. I’ve done all 3, but my favorite, and the one I do today is number 3.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

This is definitely the worst/hardest question anyone can ask of a traveler. Its so broad and subjective and it all really depends on who you were with and what your passions are. Any traveler can fill up a book with cool things and awesome places they have been. Every day is really a peek experience. But for me, the one country that stands out as far cool things that I like to do and that offers a very broad range of it is Indonesia. You get some world class diving opportunities, climbing volcanoes, checking out Komodo dragons, all sorts of different types of transport, and all types of new foods and people.

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

Plan well, budget hard, and the number one tip I can give to anyone trying to go long term is to just be open to every other option and new opportunity that comes your way. You will be surprised just how far you can go into the unknown. There are tons of different ways to travel for less, and tons of different things you can do to save or even earn money. What it all comes back to is your priorities. I would rather spend 1 month in hostel dorms than 2 weeks in nicer private rooms.

The Absentee Advertising Consultant

Danny Flood, at Iguazu falls in Brazil.

Danny Flood, at Iguazu Falls in Brazil.

“I’ve had various creative ways of funding my travels, but none of them have ever involved working at a traditional job. I don’t think I’ve ever held a job for longer than two months.”

Danny Flood

Travel Resume: Been living out of a backpack for most of the last 4 years. Traveled to over 30 countries and lived in 7. Location-independent, able to work and live from anywhere.
Income Source: Marketing Consultant, Freelance Web Designer,  Aspiring Author

How would you describe yourself and what you do?

I’m the kind of person who defies labels 😉 In a word, I’d call myself an “experimentalist.” I’ll try anything once, just to say I’ve done it. Work-wise, I’ve experimented with a ton of different roles and activities; a few work but most don’t. Try and fail – err on the side of action – that’s my motto. I fail a lot more often than I succeed, but I’m continually progressing forward. No one ever sees the failures. They just see the end result. 

When did you start traveling and why?

I have been traveling, on and off, since 2009. After college, I was really struggling to figure my life out. I wanted to do great things, but I just didn’t know what role I should take. What frightened me most was the idea of finding a boring office job, and having my soul sucked away through a 9-to-5 cubicle grind. 

Unemployed and broke, I turned to books for answers. I read several books a week, mostly related to business, because I wanted to be an entrepreneur, like my dad. I read a book called the “4 Hour Work Week” which changed my life because it opened my eyes to the idea that I could work and still have freedom and also create a type of life that really appealed to me.

So I started out with a small trip – spending a summer living in Mexico. My reasoning was that even if something went terribly wrong, I could always drive home. It was a paradigm-shifting experience, and provided the basis for the life I would pursue thereafter.

How do you fund your adventures?

I’ve had various creative ways of funding my travels, but none of them have ever involved working at a traditional job. I don’t think I’ve ever held a job for longer than two months. Instead, I’ve experimented with other different ways of earning money. In college, I started a party promotions business called “Magnum Promos.” Twice a week, I would work to arrange limo buses to downtown San Diego night clubs. The buses seated anywhere from 12 to 65 people, and I’d earn $10 for each person. I skipped class whenever I could. Running my own business was more exciting. I also developed valuable sales skills as a promoter, hitting the phones every week. I collected the phone numbers of lots of women.

I used some of the money I earned to start making small trips around the United States. I visited San Francisco for my first time since childhood, and had a wonderful time. After I became burnt out promoting parties, I renovated my grandparent’s old house, which had fallen into disrepair. I began renting out three of the rooms, and used the rental money to live in Mexico for a few months, which was a litmus test for international adventures which would follow.

Around the same time I was kicking off my post-college freelance career, and through a lot of hustling, networking, and over-delivering on projects, I was able to lock down some pretty good clients who hired me on a retainer to manage their marketing.

Basically, I had figured out something really important. Here is what it is: It is far better to focus only on a few profitable clients than to establish a large client base. Chasing after too many leads to become clients is exhausting, and time-consuming. You only need 4-5 clients to earn a full-time income. So I stopped prospecting for new clients, and instead increased my skill-set and services to offer to existing and past clients. Then I created a merchant account on Authorize.net to process recurring billing. I booked a ticket to South America, where I spent several months living and traveling, and didn’t look back. I’ve taken four trips abroad (each 3-6 months long) since.

Danny Flood at Miniloc island near El Nido.

What is the coolest place/most fun thing that you’ve done during your travels?

Songkran – the Thai New Year festival, was an unforgettable and wild experience that I’ll never forget. Millions of people hit the streets throughout Thailand armed with water guns, hoses, and water balloons and it’s a massive free-for-all for three days.

Island hopping in El Nido, Palawan and swimming solo through crystal clear lagoons with mystical limestone karst rock formations all around. Training in Muay Thai in Bangkok. Midnight tango dancing in Buenos Aires. Crossing all of Vietnam on a motorbike. Climbing the tallest mountains of South America. Chartering a boat down the Amazon. Sailing around solo through the South China Sea. The list goes on and on. 

Any tips for those who would follow in your footsteps?

Realize the full range of options that are open to you. Most people remain ignorant in this area. They believe that travel is only about staying at the Four Seasons or requires buying expensive travel packages that cost a fortune but only provide you a 4-day or 2-week (“too-weak”) vacation.

It is extremely easy to travel for less than you spend on living at home. Here are just a few ways you can travel to different places for virtually nothing:

1. Couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org)
2. Homeswapping (lovehomeswap.com)
3. Housesitting (mindmyhouse.com)
4. Garden Camping (campinmygarden.com)
5. Volunteering (workaway.info)
6. Warm Showers (warmshowers.org)

All of these options are covered with detailed guides in my forthcoming book. Join my mailing list and you’ll receive info about how to get the book for free – just enter your e-mail at the top of this page and click “Subscribe Now.”

You can also cut your transportation costs to virtually nil by being creative. You can hitchhike, rideshare, or even cycle. I covered most of Baja California, Mexico through a combination of cycling and hitchhiking – over 1,100 km. It was an epic trip. I also rode a motorbike across Vietnam – almost 2,000 km – from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. I bought the bike from an American I met through CouchSurfing and sold it to a Dutch backpacker after the trip had ended, recouping my entire investment.

Use Matrix ITA (matrix.itasoftware.com) to view calendars of cheapest flights. Use low-cost airlines like Air Asia and Ryan Air to explore around different regions. Travel slowly, and you’ll be able to see and do a lot more even on a limited budget.

15 Responses

  1. sarah

    I love this post…and not just because I’m featured in it haha. I love it because it gives me inspiration and makes me feel like a part of an amazing world wide family. There are so many great stories out there and reading them makes me want to do and be so much more which is a great thing. Thanks so much for sharing some of these stories Danny!
    sarah recently posted…Diner En Blanc Vancouver 2014My Profile

    Reply
    • Danny Flood

      Thank you Sarah! Yes, this long-term travel thing can be quite lonely at times… it’s great to feel plugged into this amazing international group and hear about all the different personalities and unique stories 🙂 Hope to meet you in person somewhere, someday!

      Reply
    • Danny Flood

      Thank you Raymond for the awesome 11th-hour contribution! 🙂 Hope people check out your blog, you’ve some really interesting travel tales!

      Reply
  2. Marie

    Such great post. Gave me ideas for other travelers that made it successfully. You could really tell that they all are adventurous people. Hope someday I can travel on the places they’ve been.

    Reply

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