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!
Alesha and Jarryd are a married Australian couple that have been travelling the world together since 2008. Their passion for adventure travel, cultural experiences and photography have taken them to some of the best off-the-beaten-path destinations around. These days they financially support themselves through their blog NOMADasaurus, social media, freelance writing, and photography. Find out more here!
How long have you been living/working on the road, and where have you traveled to?
Alesha has been on the road since 2006, and I’ve been travelling since 2007. Alesha lived in the US and travelled New Zealand and the UK, while I was working in Canada. We met in the hostel I was working at in Vancouver, and lived in a van travelling across the country, picking up work in ski towns and cities along the way. We backpacked around Central America, worked on a sailboat in the Caribbean, bounced around Australia and traversed all of Asia from Thailand to Turkey without flying. Right now we’re in South America.
Please describe what you do for income.
We used to pick up odd jobs wherever we were to stay on the road. These days we make a living through our blog (NOMADasaurus), social media platforms and freelance writing and photography.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
On average about 30 hours a week.
How much money do you make?
We started NOMADasaurus at the beginning of 2014, and it wasn’t until the end of the year that we made our first actual dollar through the website. This was mostly because we were not trying (or knew how) to monetize it at all. (See also: Want to Make Money Blogging? This is For You!)
These days we make between US$5,000-7,500 a month through all our income streams. A lot of this comes from sponsored campaigns with large travel companies that utilize our social media following and brand to promote their services (as long as they are a relevant fit for us). For these we charge US$1,000 for a base package.
We also occasionally go on FAM trips, but almost always on independent campaigns as opposed to accepting group trips with other bloggers. Our fees for these start at US$2,000. In recent months we’ve been making more and more money through affiliate sales, in particular on our ‘best travel cameras‘ and ‘how to start a travel blog’ articles.
In the past I focused a lot on freelance writing for publications such as CNN Travel, BBC Travel, News.com.au, BuzzFeed and a range of others, but I’ve been shying away from this more and more as our personal NOMADasaurus business continues to grow.
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
Yes, we’re making enough to support our lifestyle, even while travelling 365 days a year and being completely nomadic. We are still backpackers at heart, and even though we can afford a much grander travelling style, we still choose to live on a budget most of the time. This allows us to put quite a bit of money back in the bank, outsource a lot more work and take on cool adventures when the opportunity arises. We’re also lucky that we are in a position now to get a lot of our travels sponsored, if we choose, but we’ve been trying to limit these partnerships as we prefer to pay our own way. (See also: Financial Travel Tip: Getting Sponsorships)
What do you like most about your career and lifestyle?
Having the freedom to stay on the road. Even though we’ve always done this, working online now allows us to travel to places for a lot longer without having to seek local work.
What are some of the challenges you have with this career and lifestyle?
By far the biggest challenge is trying to run the business while travelling full time. Unlike a lot of other bloggers, we are completely nomadic and live on the road 365 days a year. We also tend to travel to remote destinations, like Mongolia, Central Asia, Patagonia, etc, where internet is patchy at best.
We’ve managed to continue to grow our business and expand to have a team working for us, but the time management challenge is still there. Also trying not to get burnt out while continually exploring has proved to be tough, as we wrote about in our ‘Behind the Scenes‘ article on NOMADasaudus a while back.
Still, we wouldn’t change it for anything.
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
Eventually we’ll change our nomadic lifestyle and find a base somewhere. We’ll still continue to travel, but rather than always going somewhere new it’ll be nice to have a home to go back to. After a decade of being on the road, we’re keen to try something new.
As for the business, we’ll keep growing and expanding, and may open a new digital media and marketing company to run alongside NOMADasaurus in the near future. Our ultimate dream is to open an eco-friendly guesthouse somewhere as well, so one day we’d like that to come true.
Any advice for the aspiring traveler about living and working on the road and managing finances?
Don’t forget that the whole reason of becoming a ‘digital nomad’ or ‘travel blogger’ is so that you can travel and see the world. That should be your priority over spending every waking moment sitting in a Starbucks in a foreign country, working 20 hours a day.
As for managing finances, keep track of all your spendings, and learn to live and travel on a budget. Your money will go further in the early days, and you’ll appreciate the lifestyle so much more when you’re making a decent income. (See also: How to Track Expenses)
(Nora’s Note: I couldn’t agree more! In my initial years on the road, I learned to travel on a budget, and discovered all kinds of cool ways to get free accommodation in awesome spots around the world! If I weren’t on a budget, I might not have found these techniques, which I continue to use to this day. See also: How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World).
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
This job and industry requires a lot of work to successfully break into, but don’t give up. It might take six months, a year, or more before you see any returns. But with persistence (and honing your craft) you can get there.