So why not work from your home away from home? For most of these types jobs, all you need is a computer with an Internet connection. And that’s when you can usually make more money, if you get paid in a stronger currency than the one you live and/or travel in.
For example, if you are a freelance writer for UK-based magazines and are traveling and hanging out in Bulgaria, WOW, you’ll save so much money that you may not need to work for months at a time. Combine that with not having to pay rent, from a volunteering or house sitting gig, and you’ll be living the good life. Seriously, I’ve done it myself. Don’t tell anyone, but once I didn’t work for almost 5 months!
But that’s the DREAM, isn’t it?? One major inspiration I had was the book The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss (who “experiments in lifestyle design”), and I definitely recommend it. I don’t have an interest in running an online retail business (or 5 like the author apparently does), but I still learned a lot about this different approach to the life/work balance…or shall I say imbalance?
And that’s what this blog is essentially about: Tread lightly.
So now, we get to the good stuff–your new portable career awaits:
1) Tutor online.
If you have any experience in teaching or tutoring school subjects (even better if you have a masters degree or PhD), and you still have the skills and know-how to train others in your area of expertise, you can work as an online tutor with reputable websites like Tutor.com, Kaplan.com or eTeacher.com. The magic of Skype makes portable careers a breeze these days, so first of all, if you don’t have it already, DOWNLOAD IT NOW. It’s FREE. You can even take advantage of Skype’s online number, which can be a huge advantage when you are working from abroad with clients in your home country. For about $6 a month (it gets cheaper the longer you subscribe), you can have a local phone number in your home country, or any other country where people will be calling you from frequently).
2) Be a Freelancer (writer/translator/proofreader/photographer/graphic designer/web designer/etc).
I feed my wanderlust by working as a freelance writer, and this has allowed me to be “location independent”. I work from anywhere, anytime–all I need is an internet connection. And on deadline day, it’s always a relief to be 7 or 8 hours ahead of the editor! If you already have a degree and/or experience in one of these areas, it can be fairly simple to get started. It does take time and persistence, however, to sustain yourself as a full time freelancer, but I do know plenty of expats and world travelers who successfully work as freelance writers and translators, freelance photographers (selling to magazines and on stock sites), freelance proofreaders (who sometimes work 2 days a week!), and I’ve met tons of freelance web designers and programmers who hang out in co-working spaces in whatever city they happen to be living in at the moment.
3) Teach English (or another language).
Whether or not the world really needs more English teachers, that’s simply the way it seems to be going. Especially in the rapidly rising nations in Asia and the Middle East. The financial reward can be almost too good to be true in some cases. I’ve met quite a few travelers who taught in various Middle Eastern countries, mostly at the high school level, and received several paid vacations with round trip tickets thrown in, full medical insurance, free housing and meals, and if that wasn’t enough, a tax-free salary. If you are serious about making a career out of traveling and teaching, you can even get a masters degree online (as you travel) to boost your qualifications. Education technology is one area that’s especially in demand right now.
Even when a country is in the throes of an economic crisis, there is one industry that will never fade away–tourism! I’ve been in several of the PIGS countries during their hardships, but I watched foreigners come in and get jobs as a waiter, bike tour guide, bus tour guide, hotel and hostel receptionist, and even a job as a consultant for a B&B that was just opening up and already thriving! It’s really as simple as sending an email to a dozen hostels or hotels that you can see yourself working at, and telling them what skills and experience you have to offer. Bonus points for speaking languages besides English.
5) Pimp out your property.
Do you own a house or apartment? Well lucky you. Because while you’re far and away, frolicking about on your fantastic adventures, your property will be doing all the hard work and raking in the cash. AirBnB is one popular method to list your home as a rental (short or long term), but there are other ways, including SabbaticalHomes and newer sites like LoveHomeSwap, which is largely for home exchanges, but also allows you to rent out your home instead.
6) Sell stuff.
Are you the crafty type? Why not try selling your creations on a website like Etsy? Do you make music? Put on a gig or go busking and sell your CDs. Or if you’ve been living/traveling in a cold climate and are ready to pack up and leave for tropical beaches, why not sell off your winter coats and socks? You can do it locally and put up a classified ad in the local paper or online forum, or sell through good old eBay. Sell off books you’ve read or other heavy and space-taking items that you can’t take with you when you travel. If you’re really looking to start a business, you can sell unique and “exotic” items that you’ve picked up–in bulk and at a very low price–from your travels. Or you can even do this once, just to pay back the cost of your travel ticket.
7) Be a Business/Life coach.
This is an increasingly desirable career that is also increasingly in demand, especially in cities with a large expat population. Expats are always confused, take it from me. And as a coach, you can specialize in a variety of areas, depending on your own background. Do you have a corporate background? Be a business coach for executives. Did you (or do you still) run your own business? Be a coach for other entrepreneurs. Did you used to practice as a therapist or counselor? Be a life coach. Of course, you can’t just say you’re suddenly a coach and expect clients to come running. You’ll need to take courses and get certified, but this can, as with everything else these days, be done online.
Have you had success with any of these methods? What have you done to fund your travel dreams?