Quitting your job, working for yourself, and travelling the world –this is the new millennial dream. And why wouldn’t it be? With a new crop of digital nomads and influencers proving that this life is possible now more than ever, its appeal is unmissable. But let me tell you, it’s not as easy as Instagram makes it look.
Working for yourself while maintaining a stable income and having enough moolah to travel is a difficult balance to achieve.
I travelled quite a bit when I was freelancing. And while I’m back on a regular job now, I did manage to crack the code for travelling affordably on an irregular income. So here are my two cents on the topic to help you achieve that dream work-travel life you’ve been craving for:
First things first – decide a salary!
As counterintuitive as that sounds, having a fixed figure of how much you should make each month will help you attain your travel goals faster. With the digital nomad lifestyle in focus these days, people who are just starting out with their jobs often don’t realise the perks of a consistent income. When you have bills to pay and responsibilities to handle, getting a definitive amount in your bank account at the end of each month can be quite comforting. But for someone who is freelancing, there is hardly any consistency in income. Therefore, you need to set your own benchmark.
Determine an amount that covers your all your monthly expenses and savings; add your travel budget to that and that will help you ascertain a figure you can call your “salary”. If you work on longer projects and are not comfortable with a monthly figure, you can also set a quarterly figure for yourself, to give you a better idea of your earnings and spendings.
Make sure you charge for it
Once you’ve determined a figure for yourself, the next step is going out and charging your clients enough so you can meet your goals. When you first start freelancing, it is natural to feel nervous about charging too high. Often times, freelancers charge well below their capabilities. If you want bigger opportunities, you’re going to have to charge for it. Freelancers have financial goals like any salaried employee and if they don’t have a rate that reflects that, they can end up getting stuck in a rut. If travel is one of your top priorities, make sure your rate reflects that.
Build yourself a money cushion
If you’re shifting from a salaried job to a freelancing profile, it makes the most sense to build yourself a financial cushion before you quit. That way, even if you have a lean period for a few months, you can sustain yourself without getting drained out. On the other hand, if you’ve always been a freelancer, before you go all out and start travelling every month, save up enough money to cover your experiences for five-six months. Again, this allows you to have more freedom with your money and more control over your expenses. And even if you’re not working for a particular month, you don’t have to worry about going broke.
Track your expenses and spend mindfully
As a salaried person, I’ve noticed that every time I have an upswing in income, I am inclined to spend it on something that I consider rewarding. Right now I have my eyes on an expensive blue couch on Amazon. But ever since I’ve started travelling, I’ve found that this strategy is actually counterintuitive, especially if you’re a freelancer. The inconsistent nature of the work is such that you might have a high paying client one month and might end up losing a client the next month. The best way to cater to this is to create a budget and track your expenses. I use a couple of apps for this, which allows me to understand where my money is going and cutting back on unnecessary expenses to save up more for travel. After all a Rs 10,000 plane ticket is more rewarding than two Zara dresses that cost about the same.
Look out for opportunities
When you’re a freelancer, you don’t just have to get creative with your work, but also with how you make the most of your time and money. Have a friend who lives in Paris? Go spend a summer with her. You are basically travelling while you’re working, plus you have your accommodation taken care of, which reduces your cost manifold. Have a partner attending a conference in Hong Kong? Tag along! Most likely their hotel room will be paid for, so you’ll just have to bear the cost of the flight tickets. Win-win. Keep a look out for any such opportunity and you can end up cutting your travel costs while going to the best of the places.
Work remotely but not from home
A number of freelancers are now using the internet to their advantage by working from exotic locales around the world. Sorelle Amore, a YouTuber and photographer travels the world, one destination at a time and lives and works from that place for several weeks before moving to another destination. This allows her to explore the place to the fullest, at the same time while she’s making money and also content for her social media. There are a number of travellers who now prefer to work this way and also end up finding work in the countries they’re travelling to.
Be flexible with your travel schedule
The biggest perk of working for yourself is that you don’t have to stick to office timings, leave schedules and permissions. You can work from wherever you like and travel whenever you want. Which is why you can make the most of off-season offers and discounts. Since you have all of this flexibility, plan out your travels in advance. Especially for places that are notoriously expensive, look for flights and hotel bookings when it’s not tourist season at these places. For example going to Greece in May will drain you of your savings, but if you book the same vacation for October-November, when the season has just ended, you’ll end up having the vacation at half the cost!
Working for yourself usually means having an inconsistent income, but it also gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of time and location – two aspects that are huge advantages for travellers! So just a little bit of planning and you can travel the world on your terms and conditions.
If you’re a freelancer who travels the world, share your tips and tricks with the millions of aspiring travellers on Tripoto.