5 Secrets No One Tells You About Digital Nomad Travel
Scrolling through Instagram or browsing your favorite travel blog and ever stop to wonder, how do they afford to live like that?
Yeah, me too. Well, to be honest, that’s what I used to wonder before I took the plunge and moved abroad…and starting working digitally. It looks me years of trial and error – from researching visas to searching for remote work – to discover the secret to working remotely, and I’m here to tell you all about it today and hopefully save you a lot of time.
1. Money Doesn’t Grow On the Instagram Tree
If you want to be the next Instagram star and think that’s how you’ll make your riches and move to the Maldives, you might want to think again.
To be totally transparent, I have a pretty decent following on Instagram , and because of that a lot of my friends assumed I’m making a full-time living from sponsored posts and advertising. While there are definitely some bloggers or influencers who make their living solely from Instagram, that number is much smaller than you might think, since the platform itself doesn’t pay you (like Youtube).
Many so-called “influencers” are provided with a lot of free goods from companies in exchange for advertising, but very few are actually paid significant amounts for those ads, unless they have major followings. In other words, you want to make it big through Instagram? You better start working toward getting upwards of 250,000 followers.
On the other hand, blogging can be a great option to finance a remote lifestyle, if you’re willing to put in the effort to build your site, set up paid advertising and affiliates and take a crash course in SEO. For example, on my blog you’ll see that I link to both affiliates and allow Google to place advertising on my site, which brings in additional income if people buy products you recommend or click on the ads you show. That being said, you need a committed audience who buys what you’re recommending to make any kind of real money through blogging.
Think that sounds like a lot of work? It is. If you’re feeling a little wary about either of these options, keep reading to see other ways to build a remote lifestyle.
2. Your Current Job Might Be The Best Remote Option
So, maybe being an Instagram influencer or blogger isn’t for you, but you still want to travel and work remotely. How do you start? Like they say in all those cop shows: follow the money. Before randomly moving abroad or embarking on a vagabond lifestyle, it’s a good idea to take stock of your finances and decide if you want to take an extended leave and blow through your savings, or if you would prefer to keep making money while you travel.
If you want to keep working, the first place you should consider for work is right under your nose: the job you already hold. While certainly not every workplace will allow for remote work, you might be shocked at how many jobs are starting to offer remote working options, especially if you’ve already proved yourself to be a trustworthy employee. The key is to make yourself indispensable so that your boss will want to keep you on – even if you’re not physically in the office. The absolute best resource I’ve ever found on this is the book 4-Hour Workweek, which goes over ways to gear up to asking your boss to let you work remotely, or how to design your own remote work position if you prefer to be self-employed. Speaking of which….
3. Liquidate Your Assets
You’ve found a way to support yourself while traveling and are ready to make the big transition – but what about all your stuff at home?
Here, my friends, is where it gets tricky.
If you’re like the majority of people in first world countries, you probably own a few more things than you need and feel slightly uncomfortable whenever anyone mentions parting with them. That’s something you need to get over before you start traveling unless you plan on taking 50 suitcases with you (seriously, don’t do that).
To be clear: you don’t need to get rid of all of your stuff, you just need to be willing to put it in storage and close any bills you don’t absolutely need.
The storage part is pretty clear – if you have a house full of stuff that you won’t be using while you travel, put it in storage. The bill part can be slightly more complicated.
In the age of automated billing cycles, most people have a lot of monthly bills that they don’t really pay attention to. Remember that app you subscribed to for $10 a month but never use? That’s what I’m talking about.
Your second major financial task after funding your traveling is realizing what you don’t need to keep paying in your absence, and getting rid of it. For example, before I moved abroad and traveled for 5 years, I decided to sell my car since it would lose value just sitting there while I traveled. I also closed all of my utility bills, sold off all of my possessions that I could live without and stored the rest at my parents’ house. If you own a house, I would strongly recommend that you look into renting it, especially if it’s to a long-term renter that you won’t need to check in on very often.
4. But Don’t Close Your Credit Card
After that last section, you might be thinking that you should also close all your credit cards so you won’t need to worry about payments or overspending, but you would be wrong.
Now, I can’t speak for all countries, but as an American, I can tell you that leaving a credit card open and taking it with me while traveling was by far the best financial decision I have ever made.
Why? Because America is built on credit.
If you ever plan on returning to the U.S. and want to buy anything that requires financing, you will need credit, and financial institutions don’t like to see a gap in your credit history, especially if it’s for several years.
When my husband and I returned to the States (did I mention I met him while traveling? Dreams do come true!), we were able to buy a house, cars, and furniture right away – all because I had left one random credit card open to fund my monthly iTunes bill. Thanks to that one bill that I faithfully paid, I had an excellent credit score and was able to buy everything we needed right away, rather than having to start over and rebuild my credit.
5. Kill Two Birds With One Credit Stone
As you can probably tell from that last section, I always recommend having at least one, if not two credit cards with you while traveling, in case you have an urgent need for funds. Unfortunately, emergencies do happen, and when they do you don’t want to be worrying about money.
So how do you kill two birds with one stone? Try getting a credit card that earns you miles when you travel, like the Chase Sapphire or Capital One Venture , and you can earn credit towards hotels or flights with every dollar you spend. You and a companion could even fly completely free with the Southwest Companion Pass, which you can learn how to use by reading this.
Most of those cards have an annual fee that you have to pay to hold the card, which is usually around $99 for the cheaper versions. You might think that sounds like a lot, but you earn back way more than that if you use it while traveling. There are also some cards with more expensive subscription fees (think around $500 per year), that also include travel insurance and free entry to the majority of airport lounges, which can be an amazing benefit and save you a lot of money on food if you are planning to travel frequently.
Did you find these tips on how to finance your digital travel helpful? Are you a digital traveler who thinks this article left out some helpful hints people need to know? Comment and let me know!
Denise is a blogger and entrepreneur who runs @thenavyblonde on Instagram and www.thenavyblonde.com. Before she began blogging, Denise was an international tv news anchor and worked for major media outlets, creating and editing viral multi-media for audiences all over the world. Having traveled to dozens of countries, she currently resides in Portland, OR and is passionate about style, travel, and helping others live their best life.