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!
Anna is a travel writer, blogger and digital marketing consultant who quit her job in the UK in December 2012 and has been traveling full time across India, Southeast Asia, Australia and Europe ever since, traveling slowly, independently and on a budget. Anna shares her tips and experiences of traveling and making money on the road on her blog Global Gallivanting to help and inspire others to make full time travel their lifestyle choice too. Her blog has also become a ‘go to’ site for inspiration and practical tips about traveling in India.
How long have you been living/working on the road, and where have you traveled to?
After 18 months of intense saving I quit my job and left my life in the UK in December 2012 and have been traveling full time ever since. I knew I wanted to go somewhere as culturally different as I could get so I chose India, after that I travelled through Southeast Asia and then spent a year living and working as a bar maid in an Outback pub in Australia before traveling around Europe.
Even though my first trip to India was challenging, I was just captivated by the diversity and life of this crazy country and have spent most of the last two years exploring India further, writing about my experiences and am now based in Goa, India. I wrote more about my journey to my life of full time travel here.
Please describe what you do for income.
For the first two years of my travels I lived off savings, worked and volunteered in exchange for accommodation, lived in a campervan and worked temporary jobs in hospitality. Now I am able to support my lifestyle with a combination of travel blogging, freelance writing and consulting, most of which has been possible through my blog. I’ve written in more detail about how I afford to travel full time here.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
It really depends, ideally I aim to work 4/5 hours a day, 6 days a week, which allows me to also have some time to enjoy the beach or sightseeing wherever I am. Otherwise I may as well be working in an office back home!
Often I travel to remote places with little to no internet connectivity or even power! In these situations it’s impossible to work, so when afterwards I often work 12 plus hour days to make up for it. Basically, I work as much as I need to.
How much money do you make?
Again it depends, I have a number of different income streams which helps but some months can be great and some are very bad. On average I make around $3,000 a month – $1,500 a month from freelance writing, about $1,000 from sponsored posts and advertising on my blog and around $1,000 from affiliate marketing through my blog, which I’m working on growing and improving my passive income. I also earn some money through consultancy, usually with travel companies.
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
I’m currently based in Goa, India where my living costs are pretty low so I earn enough to have a good lifestyle, I rent a nice house, I eat out every day and have also put money towards paying off my debts and upgrading my equipment – new motorbike, laptop, camera, phone etc.
Of course, living in a developing country comes with it’s challenges; the internet can still be unreliable here which hampers my productivity somewhat; if I was based somewhere else I could probably make more money but I’m doing this for the lifestyle and the experience not the money.
Also, I’m often chasing invoices and waiting several months to receive payment so it helps to try and put aside some money each month. If I was living in the UK I wouldn’t be able to afford the lifestyle that I have here.
What do you like most about your career and lifestyle?
The best part of this lifestyle, and the reason why I’m doing this, is the freedom. Freedom to work when I want, doing something that I love, in a place that I love. I have deadlines but I have no schedule or boss to adhere to, I make my own schedule and I can go wherever I want.
I love to write and writing a travel blog is a great creative outlet, a great way to record your travel memories, to connect with other travelers and to spread the word about places I visit. It’s really rewarding to see your blog grow in popularity and to get published in magazines and newspapers that you admire, to learn new skills, to get lovely comments and know that you have helped other travelers and of course now I can make money out of the blog I can carry on living this lifestyle and being free to travel, write and do what you love.
I wrote more about a typical day in my life as a travel blogger living in Goa here.
What are some of the challenges you have with this career and lifestyle?
At the moment, my main challenges are internet and time. I prefer developing countries and rural destinations which usually goes hand in hand with slow and unreliable internet and frequent power cuts which makes it really hard and frustrating to work online and means that I’m not as productive as I could be if I was living in a developed country. I also miss having other people around or co-working spaces where you can bounce ideas around with other people living the same lifestyle.
Also, blogging and writing takes so much time and when you are traveling a lot it’s hard to find the time and right environment to work in, plus there are so many distractions! I have a base in Goa now which makes it easier to find the time to work but still the internet can be unreliable. When I’m traveling I need to travel very slow these days and take days off from traveling or sightseeing to get work done. But then this lifestyle is not all about work!
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
I’m hoping to get published in more big magazines and newspapers, write an ebook and work more on affiliate marketing and develop more passive income streams to allow me to have more time to travel – there’s still so much to see!
For me, the ultimate goal is freedom and being able to do what I love and inspire more people to travel more and get out of the system. I guess my blog will evolve as I grow and change, already I am traveling slower and less frequently and more focused on writing about digital nomadism and location independence than the top 10 sights in a city.
I guess there may come a time when I want to take a different path in life but for now I’m taking it as it comes, I’m not big on planning, I prefer to go with the flow. However, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a 9-5 – I’ve always wanted the freedom to work for myself and be the master of my own destiny – wherever that may take me!
Any advice for the aspiring traveler about living and working on the road and managing finances?
Managing travel and work is often harder than it looks and to be productive (and to avoid spending too much money) traveling slow is the key. Staying for a few months in one place allows you to live more like a local which will save money and to get into a routine that allows you to work productively. You also get more immersed in the culture of the country.
Managing finances can be difficult when you’re travelling and earning and spending in many different currencies. I lose a lot of money in PayPal, bank and ATM fees for foreign transactions. It’s a good idea to research the bank fees and try and get the best deal before you leave home because it really does add up. (See also: 11 Tricks to Using ATMs Abroad)
Also, have some savings set aside to get you through the lean months or for when you’re chasing invoices and delayed payments. And spend time establishing your business before hitting the road! Being a digital nomad isn’t as easy as it sometimes looks on Instagram and being on the other side of the world, trying to establish a business whilst worrying about work and money is no fun. Spend a few months saving or working on your business before you make the leap. (See also: Before You Quit Your Day Job…)