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“How can you afford to travel?”
“What do you do to make money?”
What kind of job could I get to work to work remotely, wherever I want?”
Questions like these are probably the most often asked questions of those who live an Open Space Life of freedom and travel. (Aside from the ever old “Why aren’t your kids and school?” and “How will they be socialized if they don’t go to school?” but I’ll cover that stuff over in the education section. We are here to talk about money. So let’s get down to business.
The answers to the above questions about financing the dream are almost as varied as the people you’ll find working as “digital nomads”. Most people will say “I work remotely”, or “I am a consultant/coach/digital marketer/developer/ designer etc.”, or “I run an online business or blog”. Sometimes people will mention import/exports or distribution or drop shipping. Those things sound so fancy that most people just shake their heads yes, “Ah, yes, import/exports.” But they really have no idea what that is or how you get involved in something like that.
The question “What do you do?” is asked literally HUNDREDS of time in forums and group discussions but it always comes up again and again. So, I decided to go through pages and pages of questions and answers on all the group discussions/ platforms/ chatrooms I could find for digital nomads and worldschoolers and collect the answers. I compiled them here in a few different lists that I hope will be helpful for answering the question that’s on everyone’s mind:
“How in the hell can you afford to travel all the time?????”
First and foremost, get out of debt, pare down to the essentials, liquidate all the assets (and stuff) you don’t need, and focus on developing income streams. Simplifying and minimalism are covered in depth in other sections of this site. This page is about developing income streams to help you afford your travels. Ready to dive in?
So what exactly is an Income Stream?
An income stream is simply a way to bring in money, or income. Most people think of getting money through one source of income, like a job. Traditional work concepts require a 9-5 / 40 hours a week commitment so it makes sense that you would only have time for one income stream when working in a salaried position.
If you are a real go-getter, maybe you pick up a night job or weekend job to create that second income stream. Well, that kind of arrangement isn’t going to create much freedom for you, unless you do it in cycles of working like a maniac and taking extended vacations. There are some jobs that might fit the bill of working during the high season and traveling during the offseason. (construction, landscaping, snow plowing, education, restaurants, entertainment, recreation, resort etc) These kind of part time travel arrangements work for lots of people.
But if your goal is to be able to be free from those constraints and to be able to travel full-time, you’ll need to find other ways to support yourself that don’t require you to be at a certain place at a certain time.
Types of Income Streams.
When all is said and done, there are essentially, only a few types of income you can create: (this of course is aside from being independently wealthy and living off savings or interest!).
- Obtain a salaried position that allows you to work remotely
- Obtain a salaried/seasonal position that allows you to travel while working
- Work as a freelancer for multiple clients/ employers
- Create a remote/online business offering a service
- Create a remote/online business offering import/export, distribution
- Create a remote/online business offering direct sales
- Create a remote/ online business offering indirect sales
What do most people do? Well, there are plenty of people doing each of these things, and there are plenty of people doing SEVERAL of these things. These days it’s not only smart to diversify your income streams so that you don’t have to rely on only one source of income that may or may not dry up, but it’s actually fairly easy. Don’t get me wrong- it requires A LOT of work. A LOT. MORE THAN YOU PROBABLY THINK AT THIS POINT. But, it is possible to put in the time to create several passive or active income streams that will work for you.
The following lists are designed to help you get acquainted with various income streams that others have used to afford traveling and living an Open Space Life. They are not exhaustive, but as comprehensive as I could get at the moment. New jobs are popping up all the time so these lists will be ever growing. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments if I missed anything!
Part 1 covers the first two options above: salaried and seasonal positions. Part 2 covers freelancing. Part 3 covers options for starting your own business, while Part 4 covers Investments. Remember, this isn’t a how-to for anything. This is meant to be a BROAD OVERVIEW OF OPTIONS. I cover how-to suggestions for getting started in some of these areas in another section. But for now, here are:
THE BIG LISTS
Part One: Jobs
Common salaried positions that allow you to work remotely
- Teaching English Online (TEFL)
- Virtual Assistant
- Software Consultant
- IT Consultant
- Technical Writer
- Social Media Management
- Web Designer
- Web Developer
- Quality Assurance tester
- IT Project Manager
- Software Engineer
- System Administrator
- Digital Marketing Specialist
- Online Educator
There are quite a few companies that hire full-time remote employees. Here is a gigantic list in alphabetical order (add suggestions in the comments please):
Companies that hire remote workers:
- Aetna (Health Insurance, based in Hartford CT)
- com (writing)
- 3Com (tech)
- Amazon (customer service, based worldwide)
- American Express (credit/ customer service)
- American Heart Association
- Appen (based in AU, US and Phillipines)
- Apple (marketing, operations, human resources, finance, engineering, sales, and retail)
- Automattic (WordPress Founder)
- Bausch & Lomb
- Baxter Healthcare (records)
- Cisco Systems
- Citibank (banking, finance)
- Compaq (tech)
- CyberCoders (job search and resume writing for IT)
- Forest Laboratories (pharmaceuticals)
- Gannett (publishing)
- General Electric (worldwide)
- Hudi (web-based youth sports coaching and consulting, based in Lincoln, NE)
- Humana (IT)
- JetBlue (flight agents)
- Kaplan (Education)
- Kenexa (employment branding, assessments, surveys, recruitment technology, onboarding, performance monitoring, compensation guidance, and leadership development)
- Lockheed Martin (US)
- Microsoft (Redmond, WA)
- New York Life Insurance
- Nielsen (worldwide)
- Novartis (international health care products research and pharmaceuticals)
- OwnLocal (Digital Advertising, based in Austin)
- Thomson Reuters (Social Responsibility in community, the environment, the marketplace, and the workplace. Based in NY, NY)
- Rackspace (software development, web development, IT)
- Red Hat (software developers and remote sales representatives to work with high level clients)
- SAP (Enterprise software and related services, based worldwide)
- Sears (retail, operations)
- Story Circle Network (Education, based in )
- SXSW (Southwest Music Conference and Festival, based in Austin)
- Telogical (telecommunications, based in McLean, VA, Charleston, SC, and Norman, OK)
- TNTP (Education, based in NY)
- Ultimate Software
- United Airlines (flight agents)
- VipKid (Teaching English)
- Wendy’s (fast food operations)
- Worldwide101 (Consulting for Business/ startup/ entrepreneurs, worldwide)
Common salaried/seasonal positions that allow you to work while traveling
- Teach at an international school
- life insurance sales (residual income from premiums)
- resort and hotel consultation
- boat captain
- seasonal guide
- tour guiding
- camp jobs
- national park jobs
- resort jobs
International Teaching Jobs
Teaching English Jobs
Seasonal recreation/ outdoor/ guide/camp host jobs:
Part 2: Freelancing
You can freelance in just about any industry that you can think of.
Common industries for freelancers:
- culinary arts
- performance artist
Websites for finding remote work/ freelance work:
- We work remotely
- skip the drive
- virtual vocations
- remote ok
- working nomads
- authentic jobs
- toptal business
- the muse
- career builder
Part 3: Your own Business
Once again, you can start a business in just about any industry offering either a service or a product. You can also offer information. This is what is known as working in the “Knowledge Economy”. Building content or niche websites that make money by driving traffic to the site with high-quality content and then converting that traffic to either direct or indirect sales.
Common Services offered online:
- business consulting
- IT consulting
- general consulting
- business coaching
- life coaching
- health coaching
- wealth coaching
- dating coach
- travel agent
- e-book publisher
- website design
- web development
- social media
- graphic design
- online courses
- educational products (curriculum, worksheets, etc. www.teacherspayteachers.com)
- Web Applications
- Web Sites
- Your Artisan crafts (sell online/ at festivals/ music venues/ trade shows, etc)
- fine art
- sewing crafts
- paper crafts
- Found Artisan Crafts (Local/unique/handcrafted goods)
Common ways to make direct sales (your product OR someone else’s):
- Create an online store
- Use an existing online store (see ETSY.COM, AMAZON.COM, TEACHERSPAYTEACHERS.COM)
- drop shipping (see FREEMYSTORE.COM)
- As a distributer
- membership sales on website providing access to more knowledge/courses/ video/podcasts, etc.
- gated content on website providing access to more knowledge/ courses/ video/ podcasts, ec.
Common ways to make indirect sales:
- Create a content/ knowledge niche website or blog and make money through:
- affiliate sales
- brand sponsorships
- product promotions
- digital marketing
Places to sell products (besides on your own website)
Ways to make your own website or store
- Use wordpress.com and build your own website or web store
- Get help building a wordpress site and learn how to manage it.
- Pay someone to build a site it for you and manage it for you.
If you have tons of money and no knowledge of how to build your own website, you are eprobably not reading this page anyway. IF you don’t have tons of money to spend on your website, I recommend building your own using wordpress. More on that here.
Part 4 Investments
Here are just a few of the options that I have heard of nomads using while traveling to help create a location independent income. There are, I’m sure, thousands of other opportunities to invest and make passive income, you just have to seek them out.
- Real estate
- rent out your home
- buy a duplex and rent half while living in the other seasonally
- become an airbnb host
- Stock Market
- Day trading
- Swing trading
Well, as you can see, there are SO MANY OPTIONS. There really are. And, as I mentioned before, many people develop multiple income streams, some passive, some active, some investments… You get the idea.
The real question is not WHAT CAN YOU DO?, but
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO???
Move on to the next section for more on that topic.