My one true love (aka my backpack) and I have traveled for 8 months now, and we’re not sick of each other yet.
Also, I’m not bankrupt yet (although my grandma is pretty darn certain of that because she doesn’t see how I could possibly make money online. But that’s another story).
I’m one of those kids who sold everything and just went. I’m living out of my 12kg backpack. I’m traveling from place to place and work from there, and pretty much don’t care where I go next. I mean, now it’s Bali, before it was Jerusalem, next – who knows.
So my friend, let’s grab a virtual cuppa and let me walk you through the steps I took to start this life. So you can do the same and we become friends and I have one more person to
annoy share all my travel stories with.
Step 1: Start preparing early
Ever since my parents put me on a plane for the first time at the sweet age of 5, it got me hooked (wondering if they had rather not if they knew it’d turn me into a proper addict…).
Well. In my last year of university (2015 / 2016), I arrived at a point where during every limited trip I took, I was thinking of my obligations in form of jobs and apartments and phone bills and a full wardrobe and all this STUFF – it tore me down more than it enriched me. The more I traveled, the more certain I became, and I started working towards this lifestyle.
Then I went digging deeper… You see, I grew up in a 1.000 people village on German countryside and had not known any other realities than those around me. But when I started traveling, I came across those people who … just always traveled!
I started quitting all my long-term commitments and saving money. Instead of the gym, I went running and did youtube videos at home. Instead of going shopping, I sold my clothes second hand. Instead of cinemas, we had movie nights at home. Instead of eating out, I made my infamous chili sin carne for the fifth time. You get the drill – find more of my tips to save money for traveling here.
And I’m way happier organizing my own experiences instead of joining any crazy rip-off group tours anyway:
Down to the facts: I did not want to touch my savings, and set myself a limited amount of money I’d willingly spend before re-thinking this whole adventure.
When I left job, apartment, and everything else in January 2017, I had 2.000€ for all the fun under the sun. And you know what? It’s still 2.000€ today – didn’t make anything yet, but in total didn’t spend any either.
The earlier you start living the budget lifestyle – even though you’re still home – the better you’ll adjust when you’ll eventually start.
Step 2: Learn skills that earn you money on the road
There are tons – and I mean a whole darn infinite universe – of resources online.
No matter your education or degree or background – think about what you are good at. You might not know yet how, but you can turn pretty much any skill into a (light) form of income.
Your big advantage? Flexibility.
If you’re traveling long-term, it means you’re open for a bigger variety of tasks, working hours, locations. This starts with work that gets you free accommodation and food in exchange (e.g., volunteering, house- or pet-sitting) and goes into more advanced jobs like maybe a yoga instructor or massage therapist, a photographer or bartender, a copywriter or language teacher, an au pair or a fruit picker, a receptionist or musician.
Gather your previous work experience, combine it with your hobbies and passions, and you find something that’ll suit you. A great list that I used in my early days were these 50 Travel Jobs from justonewayticket. Have in mind that travelblogging, no matter how sweet it sounds, is more than a full-time job (I currently work around 5-10 hours on it every. single. day.) and can likely not earn you a penny in the first 1-2 years.
And for all you lazy potatoes (#guilty), a VERY important skill to have is budgeting – where this advice from HappyToWander comes in pretty handy.
Step 3: Don’t expect just rainbows and unicorns
Sorry peeps, but travel is never just coconuts and jam sessions.
There will be times where you think, WTF are you doing. At times, you will just want to book your ticket home and hide in you childhood room and eat mum’s apple pie (read here about what homesickness actually is).
There will be times that you’re sick and nobody around to take care of you. There will be times you lose your luggage or something valuable to you – whether it’s a computer or a diary – breaks or disappears. You might get pick-pocketed or miss a flight. People might be rude to you or even scary, you will be too tired to do anything or feel lonely or don’t know where to spend a nigth
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t try to talk you out of anything or meet trouble halfway or be a wining princess.
I just want you to be realistic and know what lies down the road. There’s not really a way of being fully prepared, but you can anticipate.
Personally, I am a firm believer in optimism, and in being right where I’m supposed to be.
If I hadn’t broken my foot in 2015, I would never have gone to Israel the first time to do that crazy mountain-biking trip, and wouldn’t have come back to work in the coolest place either.
When on one trip, I broke my camera AND my phone (hello, I’m Christina and I suffer from clumsiphilia, nice to meet you), I used this time to really be offline and present. And hey, I bought a street artist’s beautiful painting instead of taking 572910 pictures – and that was actually quite a nice change.
In the end, it’s a lot about just taking the leap and making the best of whatever comes up.
Step 4: Surround yourself with like-minded people
No matter how much I hate social media at times, at times it’s my main motivator.
Not only am I blogging and marketing myself, but I also am working as a digital marketer and manage other people’s and company’s social media accounts. And believe me, that gets pretty darn frustrating to the point where I literally can’t handle to see another #instagood before throwing my phone away and drown myself in brownies and Netflix.
BUT without social media, plainly said, I wouldn’t be here. All the tips and strategies, the heads ups and ideas, the support and exchange, the inspiration and collaboration is seriously amazeballs. Brit & I for example met via social media – and are now travel buddies for the next 1,5 years:
Ein Beitrag geteilt von Brit H (@staycuriousdarling) am
Try some of the following:
- Search for local facebook groups of the places you’re going to.
- Join travel facebook groups. Some of my favorites are Digital Nomads Around the World, Female Digital Nomads and Nomads – A live of alternative travel.
- Keep an eye on twitter chats. Lots of inspiration from like-minded people to get here! Famous examples are #ttot or #girlstravel.
- Get in touch with some instagrammers. They’re just people, too – and if they’ve got the time, will likely happily get back to you. I had really funny convos with some of my idols 🙂
- Go to couchsurfing events. You don’t have to like the idea of hosting strangers, that’s admittedly not for everyone. But at couchsurfing meetings, you can easily find chill and like-minded travelers to hang out or go explore with.
Alright, this is all digital advice of a digital being. But I actually also am a real human being talking to other real human beings (surprising, eh?). Just thought that getting in touch with people in your hostel or talking to travelers you meet in a café or on a tour is not really big news #smartiepants
What I abandoned is listening to friends and family who were trying to tell I’m being irresponsible, foolish, or am wasting my time. I knew that this is what I wanted, so I worked hard for it, I worked more, and I achieved it – and today am happier than ever. I don’t mean I stopped talking to anyone or started fighting. I just became firm in my goals and believed in myself.
Step 5: Leave your holiday behavior home
Folks, there is no space for considerably lightening your wallet on local markets, boozing up every weekend, staying in fancy resorts and wine & dine every other day.
Living abroad is just another form of – living. So, hello remote airbnbs, scooters, home-cooking and long working hours!
If you read all the way down here and you’re not my mum, you might have seen some of my social media stuff. Of course it’s a lot of pretty pictures, living on exotic islands and stuff.
What you don’t see though is, that as mentioned earlier, I sit at my computer and work every single day, between 8 and 12 hours. Part of this for the work that makes my main income, and the rest for this blog. It’s just my form of reality, that instead of pretty coffee tables and a full HD television set is shaped by getting the most of my laptop’s battery in a café because the one available power outlet is taken.
But yeah, then finishing the day with a coconut watching the sunset across the Bali Sea is pretty sweet.
FRIENDS! Aiaiai, here we are. Finally. As always, let me know what you think, if you have additional tips or questions – and happy travels to y’all!