If anyone would have told me a few years ago that by the age of 24 I would be living a life of full time travel with a Brazilian male companion by my side whilst earning an income online, I would have looked up, laughed and then carried on scrolling through Facebook.
You see, I caught the travel bug early. My first international trip was to the Dominican Republic with my parents, although I couldn't do much sightseeing because I hadn't been born yet. In fact, on that trip my mum caught salmonella and almost died with me inside her thanks to an undercooked beef burger. I was almost never born.
I grew up in the south of England which fortunately meant that my parents could afford to book yearly summer holidays in Europe. They have some lovely photos of me hanging out by the pool in Cyprus as a small kid. Of course I had to be naked in all of them. Actually, that's a lie, I may have been sporting a pink rubber ring around my waist.
When I was just 9 years old my family decided to emigrate to Australia. Sun, sea and sand all year round seemed like a much better option than grey skies, rain and bloody awful temperatures for all but 4 weeks of the year.
My sister and I turned into Aussie kids. The kind that ride bikes to school, take swimming lessons and play sport on the weekends (well, we attempted to anyway). I completed primary and high school in Australia before applying for a teaching course at university. I always wanted to be a teacher. I literally used to play 'schools' on the weekend while all the other kids were out riding skateboards. Unfortunately I wasn't accepted into university on their first intake so I chose to take the gap year path instead.
My gap year started off really boring. I got myself a full time office job where I completed my certification in business administration and spent most of my days scrolling through Facebook. As lame as that sounds, something good actually came of my Facebook habit when I stumbled upon the profile of an old friend who was travelling in Europe and I became really inspired to book my own trip.
So that's exactly what I did.
6 months later I was travelling in Europe with two of my closest friends, having the time of my life. Of course, back then I never intended to embark on a life of full time travel. I didn't even know that was possible. I saved over $6,000 and spent two thirds of it in 6 weeks.
We had expensive taste, ok?
When the 6 weeks came to an end, we all went back to our normal routine - work, spend, work, spend.
Finally the time came to quit my day job and spend my days at university instead (oh yeah, somewhere between all of this, I got accepted into the teaching degree). At first I enjoyed my new 'student life', there was always something going on and I never had a minute to be bored. I was also doing really well with my study.
Luckily, a position became available at a little tapas bar not far from my home just a few days before semester 2 began. The great thing about this job was that there were plenty of shifts available if, for any reason, university didn't work out for me.
University didn't work out for me...
A few weeks into my second semester I was waking up with that sick feeling every day just thinking about teaching 2 year olds. I thought this was what I wanted. I loved kids, I was pumping out good grades and I was on my way to becoming an early childhood teacher, which was what I'd always dreamed of.
Despite looking like I was heading in the right direction, something just didn't feel right. Something was telling me that I wasn't meant to be an early childhood teacher after all. So I followed my gut instinct and quit.
That's right, I guess you could say I was a 'college dropout'.
I spent the next few months working as a waitress and bartender while I tried to figure out what the hell to do with my life. I must admit though, I didn't hate it. Working in a bar was very social and there was always a chance of knock-off drinks.
I think my dad began to worry about my 'college drop-out' lifestyle and talked me into volunteering with him in northern Thailand. I'd been to Thailand once before and loved it so I was happy to go along with him and give back to local communities at the same time.
To cut a long story short, this trip changed my life (cliché, I know, but hear me out).
I remember the exact moment when I realised that the travel life was for me. I was sat in the back of a song thaew with an awesome group of people who I'd only met 3 weeks prior. We were navigating a windy mountain road that ran parallel to a stunning river which was gushing its way down the hill beside us. The wind was blowing through our hair and everyone was smiling and joking without a worry in the world.
I remember thinking, this can't be it. I can't go home to my normal routine after seeing, feeling and experiencing all of this. I took a bite of the travel life and I wanted more. Seconds later a friend spontaneously announced that he was going to cancel his return flight home and stay in Thailand. Straight after, another close friend followed suit. Was this my calling? Was I the next to announce that I too would stay?
Sort of, except my announcement went something more like, "give me 3 months to save some money and I promise I'll be back".
So back to Australia I went, this time with a plan.
I gave myself three and a half months to save up more money and get back to Thailand for another volunteering project. The only difference this time was that I didn't know when I'd be home. I was just going to 'wing it' and see where life would take me. I was hoping to find an English teaching job in Chiang Rai and perhaps set up base there for a few months but I really didn't have much of a plan.
So, as you can imagine, three and half months was a short timeframe to save enough money for a trip with no determined end date. I didn't let that stop me though. I began working full time in the office by day and made cocktails by night. On top of this I helped out at a friend's café for a few hours most weekends. I just took all the work I could get because I made a promise.
As soon as I had enough money, the first thing I bought was a ticket back to Thailand (with a 5 day stopover in Bali because it worked out cheaper). Of course, I didn't have the rest of the money I needed for the trip yet but I knew that buying the flight would motivate me to save harder. In my 50+ page eBook I explain my exact strategies for saving a lot of money before travelling so to learn more, please, take a free copy!
The day came to say goodbye to my family and take off on a wild solo adventure to Asia. I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, I don't think that shock 'oh my god, should I really be doing this?' feeling ever came over me. I was kind of just living in the moment and following wherever life took me (yep, another cliché but whatever). I remember my dad saying with tears in his eyes, "what if you never come back?". I laughed and replied, "don't worry dad, at the rate I spend my money I'll be back in 2 months".
So err... That 2 months kind of turned into 10.
Less than a week after arriving in Thailand I met my love, aka, Dan. We were introduced randomly by a mutual friend (who volunteered with me) at a quiet guesthouse in Chiang Rai. Dan was actually renting a house in Pai, a small town 6 hours away, but was passing through Chiang Rai to do a visa run. This story could go on and on but you're better off reading this post after you finish reading here to get all the juicy details.
Basically, Dan was originally from Brazil and had spent the past 7 years travelling and living around the world, funding his lifestyle through building an online business. We spent almost 4 months living in Pai together before taking off for more travel and I was always curious as to how he could literally earn a living from his lap-top anywhere he wanted.
I was constantly bugging him with questions like;
How do people make money online? What is affiliate marketing? How do you make money from advertising? Do you need to be tech savvy? Do you need to get a degree? Who actually pays you? Why don't you work much? How did your website get so big? How long does it take to grow an online business?
And the list went on and on...
I literally knew nothing about earning a living online, let alone doing it whilst travelling the world. He called himself a digital nomad. Clearly I was not up to date on this terminology - I mean, I thought you had to be some kind of qualified journalist to even have a website. Oh god, I had a lot of learning to do...
4 months later my savings were running low so we had to make a serious decision - break up while it was all still quite new and go our separate ways (meaning I had to go back to office dwelling while he continued 'digital nomading') or join forces and work together on a project to grow the business internationally. Obviously we chose the latter (like, duh) and that was how this blog was born.
The third country we visited together (after Thailand and Laos) was Hong Kong, where Dan had already organised to set up a second business. The reason for this was because he was beginning to receive income from countries outside of Brazil and had plans to expand internationally. By setting up a business in Hong Kong you usually don't have to pay tax on the profits you make from outside of the country (perfect for digital nomads!).
So we set up the business, started this blog and jetted off to Europe, stopping by one more Asian country on the way, Macau.
Buying a van and road tripping around the UK was the first thing on our to-do list. We lived like hippies (literally only showering when we could find one) but it was totally worth it.
After almost 4 months of travelling around England, Wales and Scotland we gave up the van and headed to Amsterdam, Netherlands where we sub-letted a room for just over a month. To get into the full Amsterdam spirit we bought bicycles and spent our days navigating the city, testing out the local coffee shops and getting to know amazing people. Throughout this time Dan was supporting us financially as this blog was only just getting started.
Oh yeah, you're probably wondering how we actually made money, right?
So when Dan first started travelling full time and living from the income his online business was making, he had started a Brazilian news website which grew quickly and began earning monthly passive income from advertising. He then created a number of other websites in various niches which all began to provide a small amount of passive income as well. If you're wondering, here's what passive income means.
In the process of creating these smaller niche websites, Dan started to dabble in affiliate marketing, which is the term used for promoting other companies' products and earning commissions on the sales you make.
As time went on he moved into mentoring and helping others to achieve results online before building a team of passionate entrepreneurs who now work together on launching digital products, affiliate marketing, mentoring and more. About a year into joining the crew I also began to make my first few bucks on this blog through using some of the same tactics - affiliate marketing and digital product sales.
Since I first met Dan to now, the business has gone from doing 4 figures per month to 6 figures per month, all entirely online. I recommend downloading my new eBook if you want to learn the 12 steps to achieving a similar lifestyle.
So we did a little more travelling in Europe before I went home to Australia for the merry season. I later met back up with Dan in Brazil and since then we've done a lot of travelling within the country, I've been back to Australia once more, we've jet-setted to the US and now we've literally just arrived in a brand new country... Colombia!
We did stay in Brazil for quite a long time due to a business opportunity so with time to spare I successfully created another online income stream, facilitating English conversation sessions from my smartphone. The awesome thing about this is that I can also do it from anywhere in the world!
So now it's time to pack up and take to the road (or air?) again. You see, I met this random hippy guy in a dodgy Thailand guesthouse 2 years ago and I kind of ended up dating him around the world. Little did I know though, he had a much crazier plan tucked up his linen sleeve. This plan, this crazy idea was to visit every country in the world - and I would be the girl to help him achieve it. So without ending this too abruptly, I must run... This gal's got a lot of planning to do!
To help you to achieve your own travel goals (perhaps even embark on a life of full time travel), here are some other articles I think you might like to read as well:
- Our story
- How To Start A Business In Hong Kong For Digital Nomads
- The Newest Trend: Freelancing Around the World – Here’s How to Do It
- 5 Ways Blogging Can Help You To Travel More
- The World’s 10 Cheapest Countries To Travel, Live And Work
- How To Make Money Whilst Travelling The World: 8 Nomads Reveal All!
- 16 Digital Nomad Jobs For People Who Want To Travel The World
- Online Jobs: 6 Ways To Earn Money Online And Travel The World
- 8 Gap Year Travel Ideas For People Who Want The Good Life
Have you successfully embarked on a journey of full time travel? Or do you plan to in the future? Leave your questions, advice and comments in the comment section at the bottom of this post and I'll be sure to get back to you!
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