Wade Shepard has been living and working on the road for 16 years. He has lived in and traveled through over 56 countries with his wife (and now with their young daughter), with regular extended stays in China and Mexico. He chronicles his journeys at Vagabond Journey. Find out more about how he makes ends meet here:
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!
This post was originally published in 2015. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
Please describe what you do for income.
I am a journalist, a blogger, and an author. I write for the South China Morning Post, the New Statesman’s urbanism site, CityMetric, and many others, including Thompson Reuters and China Daily. I have also been blogging almost daily since 2005 on VagabondJourney.com. My first book just came out in the Asian Arguments series of Zed Books.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
It is difficult to say where the work day ends and when my free time begins. My job consists of going to interesting places and interviewing interesting people, so while it’s the way that I make money it is also what I do for fun as well. So if every aspect of the work is included then I definitely am putting in over 60 hours per week.
How much money do you make?
I used to be able to make a living just from running Vagabond Journey but this became more and more challenging as the years went by, so I had to add on other steams of income. Although it greatly varies month to month, I make between $500 and $800 per month from this blog.
The articles that I write for larger publications generally bring in another $500-$1000 each month, depending on how many assignments I take.
As far as how much money my book will make in royalties I have no idea as I haven’t been paid yet. But royalties alone isn’t a the main financial driver of book writing, as being a published author creates many other money making opportunities. For example, I now give presentations on the topic of the book, and the pay for this is pretty high.
I also lackadaisically run a recruiting firm, and this brings in commissions of $800 around seven or eight times per year.
As far as miscellaneous income from things such as YouTube videos I would say that an additional $200 per month is added onto everything else. So I would say that I now make in the ballpark of $2000 per month altogether. My wife also has an income but we generally keep our money separate and her salary doesn’t usually have an impact on my travel budget.
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
Yeah, I make more than enough money now. I can take flights monthly, I don’t always have to stay in dormitories, and I can afford a beer or a coffee whenever I want one.
(See also: The #1 Misconception about Digital Nomads and House-Sitters)
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
I’ve always lived this way since leaving my family’s home at 18, and as I’m 34 now I don’t think I’m going to want to change this anytime soon. I am now working on my second book, which is about the New Silk Road, so I’m going to just keep traveling, researching, and writing about what I find.