One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from readers is how I am able to afford to travel so extensively and for such long periods of time.
How I Afford Nonstop Long-Term Travel
I was wandering through the quaint, quiet city of Šibenik when I stopped to take in the breathtaking view and reflect on how far I’d come since I first began my travels.
Croatia was one of several hidden gems I stumbled across while backpacking. A place I could lose myself in, just as I always imagined. I had completely fallen in love with the country. That was when I finally began to realize that I was actively making my dreams of traveling the world, going to see places I never thought I’d go, a full-blown reality.
This had to be one of the most amazing cities I had ever laid eyes on. Šibenik, and Croatia in general, is a magnificent place that I’d certainly plan to revisit someday.
I share this snippet of my life with you to grant you insight into the life of a digital nomad.
As someone who travels extensively, I fully recognize that I am very fortunate to be able to do what I do.
But the cool thing is that you can do it too!
That’s why I’ve written this guide.
To answer as many of your questions as possible, I will explain in great detail precisely how I have managed to afford traveling overseas for months at a clip.
I’m going to tell you how I paid for everything from food and shelter to excursions and experiences. I want you to understand how it is possible to work and travel so you, too, can experience what I refer to as having “mini-lives” in different cities all across the planet.
To be perfectly transparent, I want to establish a few things right up front so we’re both on the same page about how this works:
- I have never fallen into debt while traveling.
- My travels weren’t funded by my parents or relatives whatsoever.
- All traveling is paid 100% through my own work. (More on this soon.)
- I barely had any money to my name before I left to go overseas all alone.
I share this information with you not to boast or to brag but rather, I want to impress upon you that you do not need to have a lot of money to your name to travel.
With that said, let’s dive into how I made all of this possible and why.
Why I Travel Slowly
How It All Started
Why I Travel “Slowly”
I have come to realize that long-term travel as a lifestyle is my favorite way to travel.
Why, you ask?
In my experience, when you travel slowly, you have enough time to appreciate the more subtle aspects of life in a foreign country. You begin to discover the smaller details that tourists who are passing through quickly might never even get the chance to notice.
How It All Started
In 2018, I made the decision to grab a backpack, fill it with clothes and some electronics, and bounced around from country to country for the rest of the year. In 2019, I traveled “even slower” than the year before and spent essentially all of 2019 living in Spain.
It became a passion. Or an addiction. Whatever you want to call it is fine by me.
In case you’re new to my blog, I’m an American who loves to explore unfamiliar places.
A lot of weird things happen to me. Those… situations… are why I first put my blog together. To share stories about incidents like the time I was left stranded at the White House because my tour group forgot about me, or to explain how I met a homeless man who grew up in the same town as me while backpacking in Poland, or to discuss the time a child attempted to rob me in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Shockingly. Weird. Stuff.
I’ve also fallen madly in love and moved to another country without plans to ever return home purely because I wanted to follow my heart. It felt like the right thing to do.
This blog shares my life story and teaches people about what I’ve learned throughout all of my ups and downs.
While I’ve spent a lot of time recently traveling throughout Europe, I’ve also been to Asia, South America, and a bunch of other places too. It wasn’t unusual for me to spend more than 30 days “living” in a country before moving on to another.
It is my belief that we can learn something new from everyone. We should seek to discover what we do not yet know. For me, I love to travel because it is how I discover new ways to think about things. It is how I learn how to do things differently. And perhaps how to do things better. Not to be overlooked, travel shows us our similarities as well. It brings us together and makes us well-rounded people.
For more on where I’ve been, you can check out My Travel Map.
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How to Become a Digital Nomad & Make Money
How? Simple, take a look:
Traveling costs money. We all know that.
What people sometimes don’t realize is that it is possible to make money while you travel. You don’t have to be born into a rich family or work for years to save up for it. In fact, I left to travel the world with almost no money saved. All I had, to begin with, was a dream and a plan.
As a digital nomad, I primarily earn most of my income in two ways:
1. Active Income
2. Passive Income
This is the stuff that gets me really excited to talk about and teach.
Is that lame? I like making money… Don’t you?
Since I have a background in finance, I feel inclined to take a moment to explain the differences between these two different ways to earn in case you are not 100% well-versed on the distinction.
Active income refers to wealth received from the direct labor you have performed. Usually, this means trading time for money in the form of wages, tips, salaries, commissions, and in some cases, from businesses where you’re still actively involved.
Passive income is frequently described as money you earn “while you sleep.” While a lot of bloggers try to sell you the *dream* and portray that money flows in with little to no effort, that it is a misrepresentation of the truth. It’s not magic. Passive income is a recurring stream of earnings that continues to flow in on an ongoing basis from front-loaded labor. There is still “work” involved, usually. (Unless you’re extremely lucky and win the lottery or inherit something.) Most of the time, you simply have to do the work upfront. You build your passive income stream once and reap the benefits from it for life.
(Tip: If you like learning about this stuff, here is a great book I highly recommend.)
How To Teach English Online & Travel the World In the Process
My first full-time digital nomad gig was becoming an online English tutor.
Teaching is Active Income
You might not expect an online tutoring gig to grant you as much freedom and flexibility as this one did. But it did. It almost felt like one of those “too good to be true” type situations, but rest assured, it’s completely legitimate.
I’ll tell you more about it below. If you’re already hyped over the sound of it, you can apply to work for the same company by applying to work for them using the button below. Submit your basic information and you’ll kickstart your own application process.
Note: For this company, you must be from the United States, have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, and some form of experience working with children in the past. You don’t have to know how to speak Chinese. Classes are exclusively taught in English.
I personally offer to coach each of my referrals as much as you need to ensure you have the best possible shot at getting hired.
I’ve had many applicants successfully get hired.
My referral code is ROCKY0001.
Use my direct referral link to apply.
Some of my successful new hires:
I’ve compiled a completely free guide to walk you through the application process step-by-step.
Need help with your application? They used to share your e-mail contact information with us but everything is private now. So if you want my help, e-mail me! [email protected].
Why I Loved Teaching English Online While Traveling
If teaching is something that appeals to you, this could be a great way to make money while traveling slowly. The work meshed with my lifestyle extremely well while I was traveling and teaching overseas.
It was fun! It wasn’t terribly difficult either. To top it off, the pay wasn’t all that bad for something that is 100% remote.
The lesson plans are generated for you so you just log on to facilitate, entertain, and educate the student one-on-one.
I made close to $26/hour teaching English online in this way.
In the early stages, I published Income Reports. You can view them if you’d like to see what is possible while you’re getting started. My income from them is higher now but my teaching business is also more established than it was when I first began in 2017.
Because the work is exclusively online, it’s an ideal opportunity for aspiring digital nomads.
With this company, there also happens to be a large community of teachers all over the world who run their businesses overseas. If you think you would benefit from getting in touch with all of us, reach out to me and I can add you to the Facebook groups that we all communicate and network in.
It is a wonderful thing to be able to teach when you want, where you want.
How to Break Into the World of Lifestyle & Travel Blogging
Another topic I receive a lot of e-mails about is blogging.
Readers ask me questions about how I first got started, or why I decided to make a blog, or how I find the time to write while working and traveling, and so on.
Blogs Can Generate Passive Income
Blogging is one of the best ways to create wealth in the era of the internet where people immediately turn to Google to solve every unique challenge they face in their lives.
It is a feasible way for you to generate massive passive income.
If you don’t know how to build a blog, I have put together a fantastic guide to help you accomplish that goal.
The Free Guide walks you through exactly what I did to create my blog: The Rocky Safari!
While my personal blog happens to cover multiple topics, there’s no doubt that traveling is a huge part of my life. What’s especially awesome about that is that my blog funds my travels too. This is what I was referring to earlier when I first mentioned passive income.
To create a stream of passive income, blogging has been one of the most rewarding endeavors I have ever embarked on. I started it more than seven years ago and I never dreamed I’d get to where I am today because of it. When I first started this website, I was a high school student. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know that blogs could make money. In college, I realized what an oversight that was.
There’s never been a better time to be online than right now.
Whether you’re hoping to make money or not, having a personal brand and portfolio of your work is a great idea. Creating a blog has allowed me to earn passive income in so many different ways. Sometimes aspiring bloggers think they’re starting too late in the game, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
New blogs have more opportunities to make money today than they ever have before.
How Do Blogs Make Money?
There are a ton of ways. Here are the first that come to mind:
- Affiliate sales
- Paid courses & webinars
- Selling digital products
- A drop-ship e-commerce store
- Selling a physical product
- Promoting your services
- Speaking engagements
The list goes on and on.
A lot of your success with blogging will depend on which “niche” or audiences you’re appealing to. Even if it is multiple, you will need to take great care to cater your blogging strategy to your unique audience. If you treat blogging like running a business, you’ll allow yourself the greatest odds at achieving success.
What Didn’t Work For Me
A lot of people think blogs need to be bloated with advertisements to generate income. Not knowing any better, I trusted that advice and focused solely on an advertising platform as my initial primary method of blog monetization.
What a mistake.
With heavy traffic, you can make money using Ads but you must air on the side of caution. Ads are a great extra source of income but they probably won’t be your *primary* one. Blog ads can be intrusive, clunky, and cause reader distrust. As a web designer who cares very much about the design and performance of my website, I use them minimally.
Why would I want that for my blog readers? I try so hard to captivate readers with fun stories and helpful information. So why should I blatantly sell your attention left and right? And for what? A few bucks?
It’s a cost-benefit risk analysis that each individual blogger must consider.
I quickly realized that my blog generated significantly more income via other avenues so I decided to wane off the Ads and to focus on generating passive income through other means such as affiliate sales, referral fees, and so on. The blog acts as a portfolio of sorts. Showcasing my work, my quirky personality, and my interests.
There’s value in that.
Want More Blogging Advice?
If you’re considering starting a blog but you need some additional guidance, you could benefit from checking out my Blogging Resources page. I’ve collected and put together the best tools that new bloggers can use to create a successful blogging venture.
Is Long-Term Travel Expensive?
Through my own experience, I’ve found this to be true. The longer you stay in one place, generally speaking, the more affordable “that place” becomes.
Before I left to go overseas, I sold my car, sold anything I didn’t see value in, and I only took with me what I absolutely needed. My goal was to shed off and eliminate any excess responsibilities that would restrict my available cash flow.
There are websites you can use to make your travels more affordable. I’ve used them myself. Here are some of the online tools I benefited most from using:
If money is less of a deciding factor for you and you’re not necessarily looking for the most ‘affordable’ travel insurance and you prefer to use a company that offers a total package with full, comprehensive insurance, then you should shop for travel insurance through this company.
I have personally used both. Having traveled with policies through both, I now recommend both. I only recommend products and services I have used. Whatever you decide to do, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you travel with SOME TYPE OF travel insurance.*
If nothing else, the one thing I’ve realized while traveling is that anything can happen at any time.
If need be, cut corners elsewhere. Don’t put your health or safety at risk.
All of these tools should give you the platform you need to be able to hit the ground running, afford your travels, and take off on the trip of a lifetime. They say those who get a taste of the digital nomad lifestyle never go back.
Make a Commitment
…and Do It! 🙂
I hope this article has helped you realize that becoming a Digital Nomad is possible. Remote work is gaining popularity really quickly and there are so many ways to find success whether you do it blogging or through new and creative ventures of your own.