A good friend who is more like a brother once asked me about how “he can travel all the time, earn a living even while travelling and have a good life generally.
So here is the answer to his question and may be to yours as well?
Do you want to travel the world?
If you do then it helps if you have a source of revenue that will help you travel comfortably, without you being in one place. This revenue should be resulting from work that is not a hassle to manage and does not need you to be in one location.
Popular notion is that you need to be in one place to work and collaborate.
But this no longer is true. World is changing. People are increasingly adopting a mobile lifestyle, thanks to technology and ATC (Any Time Connectivity). There are companies like Automattic and 37Signals that have created massive, widely-loved businesses with distributed workforce spread across the world.
These are good examples but may be you do not want to become a travelling entrepreneur, you want to become a traveller who also runs a business.
I intend to share ideas for the latter here.
Pick a skill that you have (or can acquire) that can be used to create a location independent business, a business where you work is not affected by your location.
1. Travel writer
Go to places, with a camera, open mind and some writing skills. There is more to it. Even before you write need to make a list of publications that publish travel journals and stories. You need to connect with right people there and explore the opportunity to get paid to write for them.
2. Professional Speaker
It takes time to go from free to pay but it pays well when you reach there. Established speakers regularly command $10,000 or more for a day’s work; and then there are people like Donald Trump who charge boat loads of money, by minute. ($25,000 per minute to be exact).
It helps if you have written a best-seller or have built a successful business.
Motivational trainers also do great in this sphere. The top fishes in this pond are people like Tony Robbins who have created mutli-million dollar franchises (close to a billion than million) based on their speaking prowess and unique skill set; and he did not even get into college.
Do not worry if you are not a pro. Some of the biggest names in the world like Chase Jarvis are self-taught. You click and you will get better.
Once you have gained some skills then better if you specialize in one aspect — like Fashion, Sports or Wildlife photography.
A good idea will be to start volunteering for a well-known photographer (See well-known is the key here. Anybody who becomes well-known in this space got to be good. Somebody not known well can also be good but not always; so well-known is the safer bet.)
4. Website Designer/ Blogger/ Codejock
Blogging is a skill that can be learned fast, learning to design for the web will take time. Both can help you earn well from anywhere when you become good. Same is true about code, you may take longer to learn though.
For code – start with Peter Norvig’s revolutionary essay on programming to start right, Code School to learn by doing and use a tool like CodePad while you are at it.
5. Run a products biz with an outsourced team
This is the best option for a location independent business. You find a product that people need and then put it online for sales.
You can also run a drop shipping business. Neville who have been running a drop shipping business for many year now has created a online training program for those who want to learn, how to run one.
This will take some time to set up but once done it can be mostly hands off.
This suits those well who has been working for 5-10 years. You can become a consultant/ expert in same space and be paid to do work for clients.
This path is for those with proven success. You may leverage your success to get equity in lieu of your advice and access to your network. It is different from being a consultant where you are paid for assignments/ projects.
For this you need to start early and be really good at what you do. This is high risk, high reward path and not for the faint hearted.
9. Performing artist
You can become a stand-up comic, a dancer, a musician — all good ones get to do tour. You can join, something like Cirque Du Soliel.
10. Event manager (This may be limited within national boundaries.)
This is simple to get started. You can start with smaller events and move on the bigger things gradually.
These days there are even institutes that train you to become an event manager.
For those in a job now.
Just think about what you really want to do. Dig dip and see what are you good at or what you really want to do. It is good if you can find the purpose of your life.
There are numerous options for those in a job like becoming a merchandiser in a large product company, or a trade show executive.
I have left out the usual options like pilot, cabin crew and crew on a cruise, but these are high-stress jobs and not much fun in the long run.
These are simple ideas. I am sure there are more exciting and innovative ideas. But one of these should get you started.
When you pick one of these ideas or something similar, build it with a intent to give you freedom to travel and explore the world. Not necessarily with an intent of controlling it 100% or making it really big.
Real big businesses need some home base and more people beyond a stage. If you choose this path then you may not become totally free. Business needs people to run it. Big business means big responsibility. Initially the founder runs a business. Not much change from the earlier scenario where you were working for your employer, now you will end up working for your business.
Still your call.
Before you get on to improving your skill set you need to find what you really love to do.
Do not do it because somebody else is doing it. Find your reason, if travel and exploring places makes you happier then go do it.
Volunteer for projects that interest you. Volunteering is not only for students. It is a fast way of getting the taste of real thing for anyone interested in learning something new.
Get a crash course or training wherever available — it will further increase the pace of skill building for you. Sure it will cost you money but it will take your fast from dreaming to living your dream.
With options shared above, you can travel continuously or choose to come back home every fortnight or every month.
Mega or small?
If you want to create a mega biz then it may not be possible with lots of travel in your schedule. Big businesses need you a lot during initial years. After these initial years pass you may travel all the time on business.
So choice is yours create something big now and postpone your travel plans for couple of years or travel now and when you want by creating a business that supports your travelling lifestyle.
Word of caution
Travelling will expose you to risk, discomfort, and also to new people may be 100 times more than when you stay in familiar surroundings.
So if you want to travel places, live like a nomad; then be fine with a little adventure, and some discomfort.
There are another hassles also. If you are travelling regularly it is really hard to make solid bonds. When you are travelling you tend to spend more money than when you are stationary. Though there are travel hacks that can help you manage travel within less money, still you spend some.If you are looking for long term travel then learn these hacks.
Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding is a good book that can help you get started.
Right time to start
“Dig the well before you are thirsty.”
So if you want to become a travelling entrepreneur. Start preparing now.
If you are in a job then see if you have a skill that can be monetized while you travel if not then make a plan to acquire that skill. Skills like design (web/print), photography, and writing take time to build up.
So pick what you want to do and get started honing that skill now. If you have a year before you want to start then take it easy but if you want to do it sooner (3-6 months) then join a training facility.
Just Do it.
I know people who (in real world) made a transition. Kalyan Verma who once worked with a friend, ran an IT security firm before he picked the love of his life — photography. He travels to places on interesting assignments and back home runs highly rated workshops.
But to make the same thing works for you, you do not need to have the talent of Kalyan Verma or need not be superhuman.
You just need to make a start.
If you need a fellow warrior on road just connect and share you plans. May be our paths will cross somewhere or we may set out on the next journey together.
See you soon here, on a beach, on a flight, in a train or on a hill. I wish that happens.
What is your wish?
PS: This post is already more than 1600 words so I had to stop. But I have more ideas if you want to discuss, hook up with me on email or cook me on twitter.
Of course, you can write your thoughts in comments 🙂
PPS: The image of auto rickshaw stuck in clogged water above is by Ben Beiske who in April 2008, quit his job, sold most of his belongings, and left on a world trip – and never looked back. The trip was to last over 2 1/2 years until November 2010, and it has been the best decision of his life (as per him). You can find his travel route here.
The Girl on Hill Image Credit
Well said Mohit. Once again, you fueled my wanderlust!!
Thanks Prateek, let us be each other’s fuel for a lifetime.
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