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How To Travel The World While Working Freelance

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One question that REALLY grinds my gears is “How can you afford to travel the world?”  I’ve been accused of being a trust-fund baby, but if you could see my bank account information, you’d know that wasn’t true.  So how do I, and many other travel bloggers, afford to see the corners of the earth?

We. Freaking. Hustle.

Most of us travel the world WHILE working freelance abroad. I’m talking 80 hour work weeks.  Taking odd jobs.  Sacrificing the quality of our food, water, and shelter. Selling everything we own.  Anything and everything that pays is fair game and it’s a constant hunt for stable wifi to add new projects to DropBox for deadlines! Working freelance isn’t for everyone, but it does allow you to go everywhere.

Most people aren’t cut out for this kind of lifestyle and that’s okay.  But for every new travel blogger that you follow, remember that they have sacrificed EVERYTHING to maintain this type of lifestyle… can you?

Probably not.  But here’s a few tips and skills that I’ve adopted to maintain an international lifestyle without becoming a Sugar Baby on Seeking Arrangement… however tempting.

1. Develop You Computer-based Skills

I would easily sell the shirt off my back to buy a new computer if mine was stolen.  This precious pieces of technology is my LIFELINE and the way I put food on the table. I pitch myself as a “Digital Media Specialist” because if it’s on the web, I can probably do it.  I’m talking web design and development, graphic design, SEO, content creation, and if there’s something I can’t do (doubt it) then I’ll teach myself how to do it.  This is how I continue to maintain clients around the world and finance my traveling.

2. Set Up Freelance Profile 

You need to be in position where people can find you and hire you without risk of fraud.  By establishing yourself on popular freelance websites, such as Odesk and PeoplePerHour, you’re going to have access to people who need your services and are looking to hire! This is way better than trolling random companies individually.

3. Establish a PayPal Account

Anyone who is anyone on the internet pays via PayPal.  There’s an awesome amount of security implemented for both YOU and your future employers PLUS you can deposit multiple types of currencies.  This is perfect for someone like me who fluctuates between the US dollar, British pound, and the Chinese RMB. They’ll even send you a debit card to withdraw the funds where ever you are!

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4. Set Up A Revolut Account

Revolut is key for those earning a different currency then they’re spending in or vice versa. You can download the app by clicking here and you’ll even receive 500 GBP worth of exchanges for FREE (for a limited time) for being a Wander Onwards reader! 😀 Or you can use my “WANDERONWARDS” code in the app store. You can also invite friends to earn money and more free exchanges. Revolut has the vision of making sending and spending abroad as easy as it at home, which is made of three parts:

1) Sending: Revolut allows users to send money through SMS/WhatsApp/Email and via URL.  

2) Exchanging: Revolut provides the best possible exchange rate, the interbank rate. No hidden fees or spread! Revolut currently offers currency exchange between GBP, USD and EUR however this will soon expand this list.

3) Spending: With the multi-currency card you can spend abroad without the horrendous fees. Revolut’s multi-currency card currently supports GBP, USD and EUR and can be used online as well as offline immediately after there topping up on the Revolut app. Even if you spend abroad Revolut will automatically do the exchange so you get the most out of your money!

5. Create A Portfolio 

People are going to want to see what your work looks like before they hand over the big bucks.  However, if you’re just starting out, it helps to do independent projects that you can at least publish to help your case.  Creating a blog and using it as an example of your marketing or design skills is a great way to get the conversation going with potential employers! Remember, it’s your responsibility to make them feel like their money is being invested wisely. I would suggest paying for hosting/a domain name on BlueHost (like me!) because it insures that you’ll have complete ownership over your domain and it can take a heavy amount of traffic if you ever get “internet famous.”

6. Learn How To Bartend

Enjoying liquor is a universe past-time that nearly all countries and cultures enjoy.  If you’re strapped for cash, start pitching your abilities to local bars and restaurants in whatever country you’re in so you can make some spending money while you get your digital business off the ground.  Waiting tables is also an option, but people tip better when they’re drunk and/or trying to hit on you from across the bar.

7. Invest In You Appearance

This is where the cold hard truth comes out.  You are MORE LIKELY to be hired in a foreign country, with or without the proper qualifications, if you are attractive.  People trust attractive people more, they generally (but not always) are more confident, and every business wants to create the illusion that their workers are the cream of the crop.  Taking pride in your appearance also opens you up to careers in teaching English without any qualifications, part-time modeling, go-go dancing, and being a professional friend.  I’m not saying you have to maintain a Kim K-worthy makeup routine, but if you’re a “7” or higher, you’re going to be considered for more work opportunities than your peers.  Don’t shoot the messenger.

When you choose the road less traveled, you need to understand that it’s a temporary life choice and you’re not saving up for long-term investments or to buy a home.  You make JUST enough money to keep going for however long you can imagine living out of a suitcase.  It’s not glamorous. It’s not easy.  And it’s definitely not for everyone.

But you also have the rest of your life to be an adult.  Who knows how much longer some of these places are going to be around and as your professional career continues to grow, you’re going to have less and less time and disposable income to dedicate to personal development around the world.

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If you want to see more photos and updates, check out myFacebook,Instgram,YouTube,Twitter and Tumblr! Interested in working with me as a content creator or to be on Wanderonwards.org? Follow me on Linkedin or email me at wanderonwards@gmail.com!

  • Kristan

    How did you teach yourself software skills? Currently on Jobbatical and a lot of the companies there want SEO and Java skills.

  • Pingback: How I Got Started: The Challenges Of Living Abroad & How To Overcome Them - Wander Onwards()

  • TORVALD

    ‘Help me continue to inspire young women to be their own hero where-ever they are in the world’ that is what you write on your blog in order to solicit money from strangers. Is that your goal? To be a role model for the contemporary female? Well then continue on with your egocentric ramblings, narcissistic selfies, and vapid observations such as ‘This is where the cold hard truth comes out. You are MORE LIKELY to be hired in a foreign country, with or without the proper qualifications, if you are attractive. People trust attractive people more, they generally (but not always) are more confident, and every business wants to create the illusion that their workers are the cream of the crop. Taking pride in your appearance also opens you up to careers in teaching English without any qualifications, part-time modeling, go-go dancing, and being a professional friend.’ Of course you would give this advice as you have no understanding on how the real world functions and/or operates. Go ahead…delete this comment. Prove to me, the world and yourself that this blog is nothing more but masturbatory stroking of the ego.

  • Right on!

  • Alex Parks

    Like Sara says ” Freelancing is a hard gig ” Thanks for sharing. You make me realize it never easy as it look. I will to read more of you hike along hehe

  • Madeleine

    True words and I often find myself in your posts. Keep it going, I am excited to read more 🙂

    • Vanessa Elizabeth

      Excited to continue. Thanks for being part of the team! :]

  • Love the inspiration and tips, girl. Thanks for sharing. Freelancing is a hard gig, but it seems you’ve got the art down xx

    • Vanessa Elizabeth

      It’s a learning process! Thanks Sarah.

    • Barely!

  • Big decision for me!

    Work part time, hustle part time and be a half-week traveller? This is my favorite option thus far.

    Work full time, hustle at night, travel weekends? Ick, no! But I might feel the pressure for this.

    Work on my hustle full time and travel when I want. Sounds awesome but can I handle that stress? I don’t know if I can!

    Decisions decisions

    • That’s a really good point! Honestly, I’m surprised my hair hasn’t turned white yet with all the worrying I do on a regular basis (haha) it’s definitely not for everyone!

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