When I was seven years old, there was this toy boat that my mom would not buy me because we were short on cash. It wasn’t that expensive, to be honest. But for a family who had almost nothing, even a cheap toy was regarded as a luxury. I remember not getting upset about it. I was raised in an environment where it was clear as day that we don’t always get what we want. But I really wanted that toy boat.
One day, as I was staying with my grandma, who lived just next door and owned a small sari-sari store protruding from the facade of the house, when I got an idea. Why don’t I sell something so I could have money to buy that toy? I thought. I immediately scurried to our kitchen, rummaged through our supplies, and found a bottle of Sunny Orange. (I’m not sure if everyone knows this brand, but it was this concentrated orange juice that I loved growing up.) In no time, I had a mini-stall set-up on the balustrade next to my lola’s store: a pitcher and two glasses. My grandma thought I was just playing. Little did she know, I was selling glasses of orange juice to kids passing by at a losing price. Just a few hours into it, I had emptied the bottle of Sunny Orange, to the dismay of my mother who arrived from work later that afternoon. I did not earn enough to buy a new bottle of it, but I had enough to buy that toy. My mom didn’t get mad at me. She smiled, ruffled my hair, and said I would later be a businessman, which would be good for the family. That, after gently reminding me never to do it again without her permission.
When people say that I’m lucky that I get to travel for a living, I can’t help but feel bad a little. Sure, a little luck has had a hand in it. After all, through the years, I had met others who had a lot less, some had none at all. I had something to begin with, and I thank my mom for it. But it somehow dismisses the fact that much of it was achieved through hard work. You don’t win a travel blog in the lottery. You don’t acquire a lifestyle overnight. It takes a lot of strategy, patience and — once again — hard work. It’s something that was instilled in me since I was a child. I was told many times by my parents, like
Melania Trump Michelle Obama (LOL), “the only limit… is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
For people who are not born wealthy, being able to pursue your passion requires a lot of work. When we started this travel blog, we were just your typical office worker who could not even afford to book domestic flights. But there was a loud, restless need in us that was conjuring images of beautiful destinations one after another. I knew I had to do something. I had to do something else. My eyes and heart were dead set on two goals, one short term and one long term. The short term goal: save enough to be able to fund my next travels. Long term: build myself up and create a career that would allow me to work remotely. After almost 2 years, I was able to hit both. I quit my desk job a long time ago. And for the past couple of years, I’ve been traveling for a living.
If travel is your passion, here are some ideas on how to support your wanderlust.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
1. Work Part-time.
Not everyone wants to travel long-term. (I can’t do it either. I can travel non-stop for up to three months, tops, but I have to come home and stay home even just for a week to “recharge” before I could travel again. I miss home easily.)
If you want to go on trips occasionally and your current job cannot cover your travel expenses, accept part-time gigs. In the beginning, all I wanted was just to fund my holidays (short-term). I didn’t even consider traveling as a viable option. I began accepting part-time jobs and consultancy gigs on top of my full-time day job. I worked extra hours at night. Since my background was marketing, I became a social media consultant to a couple of travel companies.
There are many other options out there, and they don’t need highly specialized skills or demand much of your time. For example, Sun Life Financial is always on the look out for new Financial Advisors. You don’t need to be a business graduate, but you need to complete their 5-step training course:
- Join a business opportunity forum.
- Take the Personality Orientation Profile (POP) Screening Test.
- Take the Licensing Exam.
- Finish the training course.
- Complete the contracting process.
To find out more, visit this page.
Whatever you choose, make sure you don’t violate any part of your agreement with your full-time employer. Check for a non-compete clause, and inform your current company of any side projects that you think concern them.
2. Work online.
I’ve been blogging way before I found out one could actually make money from it. I love writing and telling stories, so the people around me are not surprised I would make a career out of it.
If you’re considering blogging or being a social media “influencer”, know that it’s not that easy. You need time to build the actual website or channel. You need time to create content. You need time and much thinking in building a following. It takes a loooot of time and patience. But there are many other paths to take, depending on your skill set or talents.
Photographer. If you have an eye for good photos and the talent to take them, you can sell them online.
SEO Specialist. If you know SEO, you can offer that service to companies abroad.
Transcriptionist. Write down audio interviews and speeches.
Virtual assistant. Researching for and manage someone else’s schedule (among others).
Translator. If you know another language, you can translate documents and websites.
Online English Tutor. You can teach someone English over Skype.
3. Work abroad.
If traveling long-term is what you want, consider working in the country you are in. (If you’re gonna be serious about it, please make sure you have the proper documents!)
I’ve met a lot of nomads (some of them Filipinos) who teach English along the way. Some worked as yoga instructors. Some as waiters. Some as events photographers. Some as travel planners or consultants.
4. Start a business.
Many of my travel-happy friends have turned entrepreneur and turned their passion into a small business. One of the more popular: travel agency. They have cashed in on their knowledge of certain destinations and network of contacts to offer unique and reliable tour services. Sometimes they also serve as the guide.
If you have the capital, homestays and hostels are also great investments. Many hostel owners are backpackers themselves, allowing them to know exactly what guests need and want.
Specialty stores are also often inspired by journeys around the world. I know people who have been selling travel-themed t-shirts, bags, and souvenirs. Some have even set up online shops so they could manage it remotely.
5. Cut down on your spending.
That means BEFORE and DURING the trip.
If you’re just planning to travel and you need funds, take a closer look at your spending habits. You’ll be surprised by how much you can still save when you kick off some vices or make budget-friendly choices. For example, I didn’t realize how much I was wasting on cigarettes until I finally quit smoking. It’s been one and a half years since my last stick and according to my quit-smoking app, I have saved almost P35,000. My roundtrip ticket for my upcoming Europe trip costs only P30,000.
If you’re the type who needs to have a cup of Starbucks coffee each morning, you’ll see how much more you’re gonna save if you ditch the habit. Or if you switch to cheaper and healthier meals.
You will pick up many lessons like this along the way. Hostels over hotels. Street food stalls over restaurants. Buses over planes. Backpacking over prearranged tours.
I’m sharing this not to convince you to quit your job and travel. I’m sharing this because one of the most usual question I get is: How do you fund your trips?
The truth is, in my case, there is no short answer to it. I can give you one — I work online — but that would not paint a clear picture, in my case. Once and for a long time, I worked online AND I worked in the office full-time. Having a completely location-independent career took time. But if you want something enough, you can start working on getting it as early as now. The best things in life take time, sometimes too much time. But you can start now and you’ll get there eventually.