Since you already know what I was doing before I started travelling the world, let's now discuss how I am able to live a life like this -- travelling non-stop.
Where I am from, people think this way. "She must be from a rich family" was one of the comments. I received e-mails from people borrowing money from me with all those victim stories that goes with it. I was like, what?! I don't even know where to sleep tonight! They thought I am splurging like an heiress, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton style to be able to travel non-stop.
Sorry, what you think is wrong. I do my best actually. I sleep wherever, eat whatever is on the table, live with my means, etc. It's not that I don't have money to buy food. Of course, I have that! I just really started living with what I can afford and stopped longing for material things.
So here it goes. I am going to enumerate everything I do, all at the same time (more or less) just to keep myself from going home. I am telling you that it's not easy but I am having the time of my life and I'm keeping up. Somehow, you'll just get used to this life.
P.S. I didn't save anything before starting this travel. I just met a lot of people who are doing the same thing and I tried to learn it. It all worked out.
1. I work online.
I've been a digital nomad for over a year now and it's the most convenient job I ever had as it is location independent. I'm a social media manager and assistant to a US-based company where I work 4 hours a day, without a specific time. My employer is fantastic because he understands that I move every three months and he knows what I am doing so there was never a problem between us. I've had the same job since I started travelling South America. They are actually offering me a new position (with a higher pay) but I didn't accept it because it means working for more than 4 hours a day. I don't want to do that. ;)
2. I teach English.
I am a freelance English teacher here and I can decide a time-table when I am going to teach. I usually go to the student's home and teach up to 2 hours per student. Here in Latin America, the salary range of an English teacher is from $12 - $30 per hour, depending in the city you are in.
3. To save on accommodations and/or food, I do the following:
Couchsurfing - an online community which allows you to stay in people's homes for free. I met most of my long-time friends through this platform and I am very thankful to the great mind who discovered this!
Volunteering - In exchange for free food and accommodation, I volunteer in hostels and bars. This method helped me a lot to improve my language skills. 4 bars and 3 hostels later, I am now fluent in Spanish. Plus, I get to work with fantastic people all over the globe who are also backpacking! I work hand in hand with Volunteer Latin America who places me with volunteering gigs.
Family Stay - If I am not volunteering, I am with local families where I get to learn about the culture and language of a certain country. This also enabled me to know how they live their daily life and do the same. I've been a part of many Latin families here in South America and I consider them my own.
House-sitting. It's as simple as this: families go to a long vacation and they need/want someone to stay in their house. While they're on vacation, you take care of the house. Do whatever you want. Just don't invite people over and do a house party. Basically, it's like living in your own house.
Au Pairing. An au pair helps with house work and taking care of children in exchange for food, a room, plus a daily allowance. Yes! Au pairs are paid and a lot of my friends in Europe are doing this!
4. I blog.
I started blogging because of my love for writing but I didn't know that I will be able to monetise this website and help me travel more. This blog enables me to:
- Stay in hotels for free in exchange of a review.
- Eat wherever I want (even the best one in town!) in exchange of a review.
- Take free tours/press trips in exchange for online exposure. Basically, I write about my experience about a certain tour/activity including the name of the company in the post.
Additionally, this blog also earns from advertising and affiliate marketing.
Disclaimer: I only write about good experiences with sponsors. If I didn't like the tour, trip, activity, or services, I have the right to refuse featuring them on my blog. All the reviews I write are my own opinions and I was never compensated monetarily to do this.
5. I do travel coaching
When you are out here, you really have to find ways to keep yourself on the road. I've been doing a one-on-one travel coaching sessions to people who want to leave their daily hell and start living a life of travel. I help them plan their trip, land volunteering jobs, set up their teaching abroad career, and so on. I answer everyone's questions on a personal basis. Of course, I also write about how I do it but the consultation is personalised and you can talk to me on Skype! Find out about how travel coaching session works here.
6. I translate important files.
I do not have a professional translator certificate but I have social media clients in South America, France and Italy where I proofread their social media and blog posts in English. I also write articles in Spanish which actually pays good money! I encourage you to learn a foreign language if you are fluent in English writing. Translating pays very good money here.
7. I receive donations from readers.
This is the part where I have to thank everyone who donated to my Coffee Fund. It helped me a lot to travel more! Most travel bloggers put donation buttons on their sidebar saying, "Help us travel to _____." I was being artistic so instead of doing the same, I thought of creating The Coffee Fund. Thank you so much to all who donated! This will keep me write more good stories of my travels!
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So where do I spend the money I earn from working online, teaching English and travel coaching?
Fares. Buses, plane tickets, taxi -- that's the majority of my spendings. Arrrghh, I even spend more on taxi rides than street food! I haven't ventured in tapping airlines or bus companies (is that even possible?!) to sponsor my fares in exchange of an online exposure. I don't even know if this kind of marketing exists! It's kind of frustrating but I couldn't ask for more from the Universe. I was already given everything.
If I am not working in a bar (yes, volunteers get free drinks!), I spend a few drinks every now and then with my friends. Of course I can't just to up to the bartender and say, "hey, I'm a travel blogger. I'm going to feature your beers.... blah blah blah." All my reviews are planned and I don't always have one scheduled. It's more or less twice every 2 months.
I also spend on travel insurance, personal needs like medicine, toiletries, clothes etc. I also treat myself every once in a while with massage, spa, mani-pedi, and so on.
How do I manage to do all these at the same time?!
The regular thing I do is teaching English and working online and I dedicate 4 hours to each job so I won't look like I am working as hard as before. I don't know, it just happens. Today, I am au pairing in Cordoba and I have no idea how I am able to manage this kind of schedule. I guess I just got used to it.
Growing up, my mother always told me not to explain myself to anyone because I don't need to. What I do with my life is up to me as long as I am doing it right. I've had mistakes in the past and travelling long-term allowed me to get to know myself better, share that knowledge and inspire other people to do it too.
It's not easy but this is what makes me happy. I repeat: It's not easy. But if I can live like this, for sure, you can, too.