In this series, we’re exploring the various careers of world travelers, and how they make ends meet financially while living abroad. Yes, financially sustainable full-time travel is possible!
Sharon Gourlay of Digital Nomad Wannabe is an avid traveller having visited over 90 countries. Now, as a mother of two, she wanted a better lifestyle for her family which didn’t involve one or both parents spending most their life out of the house. For this reason, she decided to become a digital nomad and now earns enough money online to support their family travelling the world. Find out how below!
(See also: Family Travel: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)
How long have you been living/working on the road, and where have you traveled to?
One year this time – we have mostly been based in Penang, Malaysia, but I never stay put for long! We have also been to Thailand, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, England, France, Italy, San Marino, Slovenia, Croatia, Norway, UAE, Oman, the Philippines, and the US.
Please describe what you do for income.
I make money primarily through three different websites. My main one is my travel blog Where’s Sharon, and the other two are Amazon niche sites built to maximize Amazon affiliate earnings.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
When we are at home in Penang, it’d probably be about 50 hours. It’s hard to say exactly on the road as there is a blur between travel/work since I write about my travel. Probably at least 25 hours of sitting at my laptop.
How much money do you make?
I’m making about $5,000US/month these days. When we left our home in Australia in December 2014, I was only making about $1000/month but this has increased dramatically since we became digital nomads and started relying on this income.
Initially most of my income came from sponsored posts and reviews. Now it is basically all affiliate income. My goal is to have my income be passive income so I no longer work on short term income earners such as these and would prefer to work on growing my affiliate income.
(Note: Sharon publishes her monthly income reports with very useful information and business strategy. Check it out here.)
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
Yes! We do not have any excess though and still struggle a bit as we have costs at home. Stuff can also go wrong, like our tenants are currently moving out of our rental property in Australia which means we also have to cover our mortgage payments (which are high in Australia) until we find new tenants.
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
It is temporary for us. We plan to return to Australia next month when my eldest is due to start school. We love being digital nomads, but I want my kids to be bilingual and the best way for that to happen seems to be through attending a school in another language. This requires settling down for a while. We love our home city of Melbourne so this is the best choice for us.
We will take off again though and the income I earn online will still be great at home and will still give me the freedom to structure my life how I want – it will great to be at the school gate every day for my kids while still earning a great income.
For me, working online was all about the freedom of having the life I want – sometimes I want to be travelling, sometimes I don’t. I love being able to chose.
Any advice for the aspiring traveler about living and working on the road and managing finances?
JUST DO IT! You don’t have to have it all worked out before leaving home either. Just make sure you have other money saved for a few months, head somewhere cheap (and awesome) to live, and work it out when you get there. You won’t be sorry.
Want to get started redesigning your life so you can earn money while traveling the world? Check out Working on the Road: The Unconventional Guide to Full-Time Freedom!.