Updated: Nov 1, 2019
The short answer is “Yes!” (read below how...)
Can you afford to travel long-term or relocate internationally?
Yes! You probably can, if you are willing to either work remotely (with some tools I’ll show you later) or use your savings.
Let’s start with the easy option. Obviously, if you’ve saved enough money to take time off from the rat-race you can use your savings to finance a period of long-term travel or living abroad.
If you are like us and don’t have the savings but still want to explore ways to continue to generate income – whether out of necessity (likely) or purely out of keeping your mind and mental health sharp – please read on!
We are fortunate to live in the age of the internet. The internet provides us free connectivity and unlimited access to free knowledge. The power of the internet can transform anyone into an earning digital nomad.
In the 1800s, if you worked as a carpenter or a shoemaker, you were inextricably tied to your local shop in your village. In the 1900s, if you worked as a secretary, you could relocate, but ultimately you were tied to your office desk. Today, equipped with a laptop and a WiFi connection, you can do secretarial work as a virtual assistant from anywhere in the world while earning the same or an even higher income than you would in an office, since productivity tools enable you to do more with your time. You can work with and for businesses around the world, calling vendors on Skype or emailing them to set up meetings while sipping Pina Coladas in an exotic country and living like a king.
Sounds like a fantasy? Well, it isn’t! Take my wife, for example.
My wife, Michelle, is a speech therapist. When we lived in California, she would earn $48 per session working with speech-impaired children. Every morning, she got into her car, drove to four different locations to work with kids and came back home after 8 hours making, on average, $192 a day.
Today, Michele is conducting the same four sessions remotely online from our rented villa in Bali. The huge difference is that she makes $600 for just 4 hours of work, and that income allows us to save $300 a day ($6,000 a month) since living expenses in Bali are significantly lower than California. For example, our rent is $850 (vs. $4,600 in California) for a villa with a private pool and daily cleaner. Not that we need a daily cleaning service, it just came with the house. I know, I know.
Michelle’s quality of life has improved three-fold:
She’s removed about 3 hours of commuting per day: now she simply turns on her laptop just before a session begins!
She now charges $150 per session since she is able to reach many more clients around the world than the ones located within driving range.
She is able to save due to the cheaper cost of living.
Some will say, “Hey, that’s great for her, but I’m not a speech therapist and can’t do my job online!”
Fair enough. The good news is that, nowadays, there are many jobs that don’t require your physical presence. In the last several years, I’ve worked with dozens of people that I never once met in-person. But we were able to work together remotely from across the globe. With the ubiquity of the internet and recent improvements in internet calling, messaging and video conferencing, the need for face-to-face interactions is waning. Why spend company funds on a two-day trip to another office to meet a colleague when you can tap on your phone and have the same visual and audio interaction?
So here’s a short list of things you can do to make a living (if you know of more, please suggest them in the comments below!):
1. Transition your current job to a remote position. If you’re working for a company, ask your supervisor if you can continue to do your job, but remotely. If you are valuable to the organization, they won’t want to lose you and might be amenable to allowing you to work remotely. If needed, you can even offer to take a pay cut to enable you to maintain a steady income while traveling. Many times, it’s easier and more economical for organizations to allow you to work remotely and, potentially, retain you as a full-time employee once you return, rather than try to recruit a replacement and risk having a vacancy in that role. So don’t be afraid to ask!
2. Get a remote job. There are many different services who need people to do work for them remotely for a fixed hourly rate (which ranges from about $16-50 an hour). Many of these jobs can be done by anyone, at any time and from anywhere, so you can definitely do them from wherever (even next to a pool drinking margaritas) and earn decent income to support your lifestyle. To get the full list of sites and services you can easily do online (without any pre-qualifications or collage degree) get the Ultimate Guide. If you travel and work remotely, you'll need a medical and travel insurance. We recommend a cost-effective travel and medical insurance. It's just $37/month and the best part, kids under 10 are free!
3. Become a consultant/freelancer and charge your own rate based on your expertise. Do you like posting on Facebook and Instagram? Then you can be a social media manager for small businesses for a living! Do you know some graphic design? Offer your graphic design services from $50-$150 an hour and work on your own schedule. Do you have unique domain expertise? Companies are willing to pay for insight.
4. Write a blog/vlog. If you like to write about a niche subject and can provide exciting and fresh content, you can create a blog or YouTube channel with your content. Word of caution, it takes a long time to build a follower base that you can later monetize, so research well before you go all in on this route.
5. Sell online - affiliate marketing. I met a 24-year-old guy in Bali who makes $1,500 a day selling baby clothes online. He set up a simple e-commerce store and runs Facebook ads to promote and sell items on his site. Once a purchase is made, the product is drop-shipped (i.e. sent to the customer by the manufacturer in China) without his involvement. He spends two hours a day on his laptop just watching the ad spend and making sure that the cost of the Facebook ads is lower than his profit from selling the cloths. Hmm… not bad as a side gig.
“There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” - The Matrix
There are multiple ways you can earn income using online affiliate marketing with just a laptop. You can download The Guide For Affiliate Marketing Income to make your first step.
6. Trade Stocks. Trading stocks or options is not for everyone. But if you have the discipline, willingness to learn and the mental ability to stomach some losses along the way, trading stocks can be an interesting way to earn an income for a lifetime. As I mentioned in a previous post, we met a family of four that is traveling around the world for SEVEN years! How? The father is trading options for a couple of hours a day. If you are interested in learning his trading tactics, check out this site to learn more. There are myriad ways to make an income as a digital nomad. If you stay stationary, you’ll always be limited by how much you can make based on your local wage prices, but when you put your expertise online, you can benefit from the “income arbitrage”. That is, earning in high currency and spending in low currency. If you take advantage of the income arbitrage, you can live with a high quality of life, save and have time to enjoy life.