Is it possible to travel for a living? I know how funding that travel lifestyle can seem like an impossible dream at first but after five years and 35 countries, I think the 12-year old me would be proud that I pulled it off!
But becoming a digital nomad wasn’t a walk in the park. We had our ups and downs, especially on the financial side of things. That’s why I made sure to give it my all during my early 20’s to set up this lifestyle that I have now.
Here are a few ways Peter (boyfriend) and I started funding our digital nomad lifestyle:
Juggling different jobs
Did you know that before I started remote work, I was a full-time elementary school teacher? As if one full-time job wasn’t enough, I was also a partner in an events management company. Most of my weekends and evenings would be spent helping run that company and I basically had two full-time jobs.
I don’t think the hustle culture will be the long-term answer and it’s definitely not a sustainable lifestyle. However, I do believe that you have to put in the effort during the first few months or even years of your desired lifestyle. In my case, I hustled from the age of 18 to 26 so I could fund my long-term goal of having a travel lifestyle aka being a digital nomad.
Most of the time, saving your money isn’t enough. Having multiple streams of income is actually what will push you towards financial freedom (and your goal of a life of full-time travel!).
Made drastic budget cuts
This seems like a no-brainer for some but I feel like people often forget to implement this step when they start earning more. Peter and I avoided splurging on unnecessary things. Other than to help us save, buying more things doesn’t make sense since we needed to fit everything in a few suitcases!
The first drastic budget cut I did was move back in with my parents at age 23, allowing me to save on rent (which averages around $850 in Belgium). I had been living by myself since age 19 fully supporting myself but I knew I needed to make a change if I wanted to travel more.
Peter sold his car and this helped us save $300+ a month on car expenses like insurance. We had a schedule when it came to who had the car and who needed to drive the other person to work. My tiny Peugeot 106 was all we needed for transportation in combination with public transport.
In general, we ate out less and did activities that were free like a picnic or a day at the park. This easily saved us $200 a month in our budget.
I didn’t buy any new clothes the year before our digital nomad lifestyle as I knew I would have to sell them again as I could only take 25kg of baggage. Even now I rarely buy something new and when I do it it is of high quality and low weight.
Before buying something, always ask yourself this: Will this help me push forward towards my goal of becoming a digital nomad? Or will it only tie me down further?
Selling our belongings
You only realize how much stuff you have when you start packing up your life. I realized that most of the things I owned weren’t even that sentimental to me and I didn’t have much trouble scaling down.
But that didn’t mean I threw them all away! I turned them into cash instead.
We put out an ad online to invite people to our place so we could start selling our stuff. That alone led to about $2000’s worth of travel funds. Not bad, if you’ll ask me! That’s enough to buy 2 return flight tickets to Asia!
Invested in ourselves
When you work remotely and have no boss to answer to, your promotion is up to you. There’s a lot of freedom that comes with that opportunity… but also the danger of getting stuck in the same state.
One way I was able to push myself to continuously get to the next level is to invest in myself. I enrolled in courses in copywriting and this helped me get clients, which eventually supported me and Peter financially while on the road.
Find opportunities to grow because there are a lot of remote jobs out there. You just need the right skills and mindset.
Monetizing our skills
Building on our decision to invest in ourselves, Peter also bought a camera and went all out with photography. I also used my copywriting and social media management skills and from there, we started a travel blog to document our travel lifestyle. This led to us establishing Tourist Exclusive—something that opened a lot of doors when we started traveling. Tourist Exclusive afforded us free hotel stays and sponsorships. One time, we even stayed at a 2000 dollar/night hotel room! For free!
I hope these tips sparked your travel bug! But I think what really helped me achieve this long-term goal of mine is my mindset. I’ve known that I wanted to travel since I was a young girl and I’ve always put that dream first.
Funding this travel lifestyle is a combination of saving money, having the right strategy, and being committed to seeing this goal through.
P.S. This article describes how I started my travel lifestyle. I’m now 5 years location-independent and have lots of experience with how to make this dream work. If you have any questions or want another article like this feel free to reach out on Instagram.