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!
Colin Robinson has spent over 30 years in the Metrology field, the science of measuring. During this time he programmed, serviced and sold Coordinate Measuring Machines and more recently Video Measuring Microscopes. This type of work requires extensive travel visiting customer accounts. He currently works for Vision Engineering as their Senior Metrology Manager. Also, he has a small business building websites, and he’s the editor of Work Smart and Travel where he shares his work travel experiences with others. Keep reading to learn more about his traveling job!
How long have you been living/working on the road, and where have you traveled to?
I moved to the United States from the UK in 1987. Since the move, my career has taken me to France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Ireland and back to the UK. I also travel within the United States and have visited each of the continuous 48 states. In addition, my work traveling have afforded my wife and I to visit Australia, Hong Kong, the Caribbean, Italy, Canada, Mexico, France and the UK for vacation.
Please describe what you do for income.
For Vision Engineering, I report to the sales department. The brief job description is to promote sales of Industrial Video Measuring Microscopes including customer solution development, on-site product demonstrations, on-site customer training, equipment diagnostics, sales team training and distribution support and training.
For MC Tech, I help develop websites and give guidance on search engine optimization.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
This is a tough one as I don’t really think about it and it does vary quite a bit. I would say I work 45 hours on average for Vision Engineering and 10 hours for both MC Tech and Work Smart and Travel.
How much money do you make?
Vision Engineering is the big one here. I make a base salary of around $6,000.00 per month plus commissions. Commissions vary between $500 to $4000 per month.
MC Tech and Work Smart and Travel combined bring in about $500 per month, $400 in web building and consultation fees and $100 in advertising and affiliate programs. Not bad for a hobby!
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
I make more than sufficient. The extra goes into retirement and to pay off the mortgage. My wife and I are also working on downsizing; our children are grown and left home, so we are looking for a smaller house to call home.
What do you like most about your career and lifestyle?
I enjoy working with and teaching others. The traveling allows both my wife and I to visit family and friends. We also like sightseeing and enjoy different experiences.
What are some of the challenges you have with this career and lifestyle?
Living out of a suitcase I think is number one, it takes planning. (See also: Travel Packing: How (and What) to Pack)
Eating out is another as it’s hard to control your diet. I always try to stay in hotels with a small kitchenette in the room such as a Candlewood Suites or Homewood Suites. This way we can cook our own meals and not eat out as much. Finally, keeping up with our postal mail and paying the bills. Career wise, it’s keeping up and educating myself on new technologies while traveling. Fortunately, with today’s internet, it’s much easier than in the past.
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
Currently and while I still have my health, I’m planning on this lifestyle until I retire. My career is constantly changing with new developments in technology and methods.
Any advice for the aspiring traveler about living and working on the road and managing finances?
Yes, start early in life. It’s much easier to travel for work when you are younger and don’t have any at home responsibilities. When it comes to finances, there are lots of online tools available to help you manage them. But the best bit of advice I can give you in this area is, buying less is more. The more stuff you own, the less free you are to travel. Also, consider using a virtual mailbox, a secure online storage system, and a good VPN when on public networks. Don’t buy the most expensive laptop, tablet or phone to travel with. These items say steal me! Remember: less is more!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Always travel with a good point and shoot camera! Also, Smartphones are great but have a backup plan! The battery can die on you, or you could lose your phone. If traveling internationally, keep copies of your driver’s licenses and passport ID page in some form of secure online storage. I keep mine in my Email account.