How to make a living traveling the world

If there’s one thing I was sure about when I began my career, it was that I didn’t want to go to the same office in the same city, every day, for the rest of my life.  I needed to get out, but where do you start?  I’m going to take you through two of the best ways to make a living while traveling the world and expanding your horizons.  Not only will you learn a bit more about them but also what steps you can take to manifest your dream of making a living traveling.


Location Independent Careers

The best way to make a living while traveling the world is with a location independent career.  Location independent careers will give you the flexibility to work from wherever you want.

This is often easier said than done. The location independent movement sort reached critical mass with Tim Ferris’ book on how to work four hours a week.  After this, the Internet pretty much blew up with hundreds of useless how-to’s full of all sorts of inspiration but no actual guidance and how exactly to action on your desires. So in an effort to put an end to that, here are some location independent careers and resources for you.

Typical Location Independent Careers

Web Developer

The career with the highest prospects for working anywhere is the web developer.  Many teams are geographically distributed across countries and use software such as Basecamp to coordinate projects and communication. Web company 37 Signals pretty much paved the way for companies to begin rethinking their policies on working remote and I believe this is why so many work-from-home jobs are development related.

Technologies that are popular are Ruby, PHP and increasingly mobile frameworks such as iOS or Android development.

Digital Marketer

Another good option is digital marketing. This means keeping up with the ever-changing Google search engine updates and selling your services in either SEO, PPC, Content Marketing or advertising to clients.  The best way to do this remote is to begin selling services on your own.  This is not easy though and clients don’t just show up when you put a website together.

If you’re serious about taking up digital marketing as an independent consultant or freelancer, I highly recommend you read Art of SEO.  Although search engines constantly change, this book provides you with everything you need to get started as an independent SEO such as contract templates, statements of work, and what should be included in every job you do.  The great thing is, these templates can be taken and applied to whatever your digital marketing specialty is.

Business Analyst/Project Manager/Other White Collar

More and more companies are becoming ok with letting their employees work from home.  If you currently have a job that you could easily do from home then test the waters with the request for one work-from-home day.  After a while, you will have the trustworthiness required to go further.

Refer back to Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Work Week for additional details on how you should approach making this request.

Blogging & Writing

I almost didn’t even want to put this, since the probability of making a decent income from a blog is slim.  There are very few people in the world who can honestly say they make good money from their blog and they have put a LOT of work into their sites and developed their following consistently over the years.  You need time, patience and dedication to take this route and the competition is heavy.

Money comes usually in the form of  automated advertising, content partnerships, banner ads and digital product sales (e.g. eBooks).  The reason you see these people so frequently and not the others is that it’s their job to talk all the time about this stuff.  The remote business analyst doesn’t have the time to blog about all the fun places he or she is hanging out at.

Location Independent Resources – WeWorkRemotely is a job board aimed primarily at web developers though it does include occasional design and marketing jobs. All jobs listed there are flexible with location.

Stack Overflow Remote – Another heavily web dev job board

Remote OK – The job site for “Digital Nomads”

So working as a location independent professional is a great way to travel the world while getting paid, but it’s obviously not the easiest route if you aren’t a web developer.

My Regus office when I worked remote.

My Regus office when I worked remote.


Relocating With Your Company

Another good option if you don’t have the ability to find location independent work is to relocate within your company.  This option is feasible with multinational companies with offices all over the world.  The only downside to this is it’s quite a commitment on both yours and the employers behalves.  I can boil down the steps on how to do this simply:

Steps to Moving Abroad With A Company

Find a multinational company with offices all over the world.  This is not hard to do, they can be in any industry.  A few examples of large industries and companies with geographically dispersed locations are consulting companies (e.g. Accenture), hospitality companies (e.g. Hilton Worldwide), global startups (e.g. AirBnB).

Get whatever job you can do that is at the level they are willing to relocate.  Companies will not relocate anybody.  Typically there are policies in place on the level of employee (e.g. Managers and above) that they will relocate.  Tell your recruiter that you are interested in not only this current job you are applying for but also future opportunities with the company in other locations.  This shows a commitment to the company and a desire to grow within.  You’ll also get a sense of whether or not that is possible from the recruiters response.

Look into relocating after two years. This will be the tough part.  Waiting.  You need to pay your dues and prove yourself a good employee before any organization will foot the bill to move you around the world. As soon as two years passes, start looking into your internal job boards for jobs in your desired office.

Reach out to the line manager and hiring manager in that location.  By now you aren’t a random person asking to be sponsored for a visa to go work abroad.  Your recruiters will be happy to work with you on applying for appropriate internal jobs in your destination country.  If you reach out to the line manager to get a sense of what work is like there, and how the day-to-day might be different they’ll know you are seriously considering making the move.  This will put you in their mind when they are reviewing the applications that the recruiter is sending their way.

Pack up! The last step – typically large companies have relocation procedures and provide assistance with airfare, temporary housing and expenses associated with moving.  For this reason alone, relocating is one of the safest ways to live abroad while making money.

In my opinion, relocating is the second best option to being completely location independent.  You will probably be asked to commit a minimum of two years, and while you will be abroad, you will typically have to go into the office as that’s why they moved you there in the first place!  The benefits, however, are immense.  You are living in a new country for much longer than anybody who is just location independent could dream of experiencing.  Visas for Americans are typically three months. But when you get relocated, they are up to three years.

My first day moving to London, looking out from the hotel.

My first day moving to London, looking out from the hotel.

Don’t Be Impatient But Act Now

One thing I’ve learned in my time working remotely and working abroad is that patience is probably the biggest asset to have on your side. But don’t let that be an excuse for inaction.  You need to be proactive and take action to make your desires into a reality. Nobody is going to just give you these opportunities. New agers call this manifesting.  Write down your goals, figure out what steps you need to take to achieve those goals and start knocking them out one by one.

Hopefully this has been good food for thought for anyone considering moving abroad or considering how to make money while seeing the world.  Did I miss anything? Share below!

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