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!
Conni Biesalski is a travel blogger who helps people to live and work location-independently while embracing a conscious, healthy and spiritual lifestyle. She created Germany’s biggest travel blog Planet Backpack, created an e-book course on how to live and work location-independent, and runs an online school for professional blogging. She is a wandering yogi, certified yoga teacher, spiritual freedom seeker and lives on a plant-based diet. She is among the (rare) ranks who earns her living solely as a travel blogger. Check out how she does it below!
How long have you been living/working on the road, and where have you traveled to?
I have had a very nomadic life living travelling all over the world since I was a teenager. Five years ago, I started my location-independent business and have since been a digital nomad.
This lifestyle has taken me all over the place and to six continents, but I stopped counting countries – maybe 60?
I spent a good chunk, about 1.5 years, in Bali. Right now I am completely nomadic without a home base, but am looking to find a place to keep my soul rooted for a bit.
Please describe what you do for income.
In the beginning, I started out freelancing in various areas such as translations, building WordPress websites, social media management and online PR. At the same time I was creating my travel blog Planet Backpack. For a while, I also had a media agency with a business partner and we ran workshops and retreats for bloggers.
My blog took off pretty quickly in Germany and after about two years I was able to fully live off being a travel blogger. These days I only focus on Planet Backpack and growing my YouTube channel. My income is fully passive through affiliate marketing with Amazon and a travel credit and the sales of my e-book course, which helps people create their own digital nomad life with an online business.
I sometimes also do speaking gigs and run workshops.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
It really varies a lot, because every day and every week looks so different. I would say on average maybe 20 hours a week.
I never plan on working a certain amount of time, it rather depends on what’s on the agenda and what I am working on. There are weeks and months where I enjoy the classic four-hour work week and then there are phases that see me working six to ten hours a day every day.
How much money do you make?
Anywhere between 7K and 10K Euros [per month].
On average probably around 2.5K with Amazon, 1.5K with the travel credit card and 4K with my e-book sales.
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
Yes, more than enough. I can live and travel very comfortably wherever I go and don’t have to think about how much I am spending. I like to enjoy a very healthy lifestyle with yoga classes and healthy food, going on retreats now and again, and keeping it very flexible with my travel plans, which means I always pay a bit extra for convenience.
Right now, I am not doing much with my excess income, but I am planning to start investing soon.
What do you like most about your career and lifestyle?
I really love being able to generate an automated income and not trade time for money or have to worry about making enough to survive.
And of course, the freedom as a travel blogger to be able to live and generate an income anywhere on this planet is absolutely priceless.
I love being able to design every day the way I like and in a way that it fulfills me most.
What are some of the challenges you have with this career and lifestyle?
I would say building consistent and deep social connections. This is one reason why I don’t travel so much and fast anymore and prefer to stay in places longer, several months at a time. This allows me to really build friendships that are meaningful and sustainable.
Also, as much as I love the freedom to choose how much and when I work, it’s easy to procrastinate. I would always chose an adventure over sitting at my laptop. I wish my output and productivity were better, because there are so many things I want to do and create, so I constantly battle with myself.
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
I can see myself slowing down next year and finding a new home base. I travelled a lot this year and spent way more time on airplanes than I would like to.
In terms of business, one goal is to internationalize myself more. I would like to reach a wider audience around the world with my content, speak on more international stages and just inspire more people outside of Germany.
I am also opening myself to new ventures and I have a feeling that something new will be on the horizon soon…
Any advice for the aspiring traveler about living and working on the road and managing finances?
I would suggest to plan ahead and always have about 3-6 months worth of money on your bank account. This way, you take care of the very uncomfortable and paralyzing fear of running out of money. (See also: Managing Your Travel Savings Account)
Stay longer in places – this way you can negotiate better prices for accommodation and you are way more productive with your work. Some really good deals can be found on local Facebook groups.
Try to set your business up with several different streams of income. This way, you don’t depend on just one and even if one falls away, you are ok until you manage to replace it.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Running an online business is the best way to travel the world and live in complete freedom. However, many people don’t realize just how much work the first couple years can be. Be prepared to put in the hours even if you are in the most amazing places – it’s hard to resist temptations, but hard work will pay off. I had to hustle hard for two to three years before I was able to live a four-hour work week.
Also, really figure out how you can enlighten the world with your work. Don’t just start any online business to make money. Start a business because you want to help people with something that lightens up your soul. (See also: Before You Quit Your Day Job…)