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!
Brittany and Charlie of The Trading Travelers sold all of their belongings in August 2013 to move to Thailand in search of financial freedom and a location independent lifestyle. Since then, they have been focusing on building affiliate websites while traveling SE Asia, Europe and recently New Zealand. I was intrigued by their stature as Amazon affiliates, so I asked them to share a bit more with us here. Read on to learn more about their lucrative business!
How long have you been living/working on the road, and where have you traveled to?
We left the States in August 2013 and moved to Thailand. For over two years, we based ourselves in Chiang Mai all while traveling SE Asia (Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia). As our affiliate income grew, it allowed us to start exploring outside of SE Asia. We spent the past summer in Europe for over two months traveling Germany, France, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, and Czech Republic. We spent the end of 2015 traveling in New Zealand for eight weeks.
Please describe what you do for income.
Our primary income is generated from multiple Amazon affiliates websites. We currently have about 15 websites, although the majority of our income comes primarily from our top eight websites.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
This varies significantly from week to week. If we are sitting still somewhere, in Chiang Mai for example, we will typically work around 40 hours a week if not more. This is mostly because we are always looking at new business opportunities and trying to steadily grow our online business. However, at times when we travel for a month straight, we may only put in 20 hours for the entire month. This business model allows us to be completely flexible with our hours. We can put in as much or as little time as we want.
How much money do you make?
Because a lot of our affiliate websites are niche specific – and many of those niches are very seasonal – our income also varies significantly each month. The summer months and Christmas time are our peak months, with income as much as $18-24k a month. However, our slow months (Aug – Oct and Jan – Mar) drop over 50% to around $8-10k a month, which is still more than we ever thought possible.
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
Our income is certainly enough to support our lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean we spend a lot more money than we did when our income was almost nothing our first year as digital nomads. Sure, we have a little more freedom with spending and choosing destinations to travel, but we also know that this isn’t the most secure business model and Google could send our traffic to zero overnight. This is why we continue to save way more than we spend and are always looking for ways to expand our business and diversify our income.
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
We really want to diversify our income and are looking at other online business ventures. We are hoping to start manufacturing our own product(s) this year rather than just sending traffic to Amazon. We recently returned to the States and are really focusing on the business side of things, which means we will be cutting back on long-term travels for 2016 with the exception of some shorter trips throughout North America. We will keep pushing through with this location independent and debt-free lifestyle and have no plans to return to the 9-to-5 grind!
Any advice for the aspiring traveler about living and working on the road and managing finances?
Our biggest advice is to pay off your debts. When you are overwhelmed with bills, it’s difficult to take risks. However, if you have that financial freedom you can take a chance on yourself, especially in low cost of living countries like SE Asia.
Secondly, stay focused and push through. There are many online income business models and it’s easy to get distracted wanting to try all of them. However, you will end up spreading yourself too thin and have a difficult time following through on any one model.
Lastly, be prepared to work hard. This lifestyle isn’t just a full-time vacation and you don’t want to end up with more debt than when you started. Additionally, you will find that traveling full time isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. It’s nice to keep a balance.