Wake up and walk five minutes to the beach. Take a swim, go back to your hotel. Order a cup of coffee after having some breakfast. Then find a quiet place, open your laptop and work.
This is what a typical morning looks like for me while traveling in Southeast Asia. Sound too good to be true? Well, that's the best part: almost anyone can do it, and thousands of us are already living the dream.
I discovered my passion for traveling right after high school, when I bought a one-way ticket to Asia. Since then, I've never stayed in one country for more than a couple of months and have completely forgotten what it's like to stay in one place the whole time (how boring is that?). The most important thing is, even having visited more than 35 countries during the past two years, I was still able to successfully grow the company I co-founded, ChameleonJohn.com. If there is anything that I've learned during my travels, it's that life is too short to do anything but follow your passions, and if your passion is to travel around the world, you absolutely don't have to sacrifice your career or abandon your business.
How You Can Travel Constantly
The most important step towards becoming a digital nomad is to be able to make a living online. Here are a few ways you can work remotely while traveling:
1. Freelancing is a great option for those who have acquired some marketable skills. The most popular job categories among freelancers are programming, design, copywriting and marketing through search engines or social media, but there is demand for basically any skill that can be done remotely. To start off as a freelancer, your best bet would be to find initial customers through one of the online freelancing platforms and ask your customers to refer you to their friends.
2. Get a location independent job. The only thing you have to do is to convince your employer that you'll produce what's required of you and you'll be reachable on demand. If your boss is still hesitant to let you work outside the office, offer to take a 20-30 percent cut off your salary. Since you'll probably travel in a country cheaper than the one you're currently living in, you'll be able to afford as much as you're used to.
3. Teaching languages online can become an excellent source of income for a digital nomad as well. This kind of work makes you completely location independent since all of your classes will be online and you'll be able to start working immediately on various language teaching platforms. A potential downside of teaching languages online is that you'll most likely have students from all over the world, and it can be a challenge to manage your classes due to all the different time zones.
While on the road, you will face many distractions, such as surfing, diving, hiking, motorbiking, island hopping and so on. But keep in mind that your job is the reason why you can afford this lifestyle in the first place, so make sure to focus on your work first and do all the fun stuff once all of your tasks are taken care of.
Photo: Jacob Laukaitis
Why I Travel
First and foremost, traveling alone means a complete freedom of choice. I don't have to worry about taking care of any major possessions like a house or a car — everything I own fits into a small backpack. I don't have to coordinate my plans with family or roommates — I can do whatever I want, even pack my things and go to another country on the spur of the moment. Most importantly, I can pursue my hobbies and passions without any limitations. Whenever I want to surf, I go to a surf town. When I feel like motorbiking, I simply rent out a bike and go wherever the road takes me. That's the kind of freedom being a digital nomad offers.
During my recent travels, I spent two full days exploring the slums of Mumbai, reached the peak of Mt. Agung at 3150m above sea level, drove 8,000 km on a motorbike across the Balkans, completed a 160 km route through 6 wonderful islands in Japan with a bicycle and walked a distance of 100 km across Tokyo over the course of 3 days. All of these amazing adventures only happened thanks to me being able to go wherever I want, whenever I want.
Traveling has also opened my eyes to how differently people live across the world. Having been born and raised in Europe, I've never really questioned things like public transport, shopping malls or the internet. After visiting places like the slums of Mumbai, where even fresh water and clean shelter are considered luxuries, I couldn't look at things the same way I did before.
I learned that managing an online business or doing a startup in a country like Thailand or Indonesia can be extremely time and cost efficient. Living in a hotel and eating your meals in restaurants can save you many hours throughout the day, and you could have it all for less than $1,000 a month because of the relatively low cost of living in those countries. Without having to clean your room, do the laundry or cook your food, you could effectively save up to four hours a day and use that time to develop your business. Need any extra motivation to get started?
Go check out my YouTube page and see for yourself.