For the last 16 months, we have been living a nomadic lifestyle. We quit our 9-5 jobs and left our last place of residence in Brisbane, Australia in August 2015 and have been roaming the world ever since.
We no longer have a place we call home…
We no longer have a steady income…
We no longer have a routine…
…but we are living the life that many can only dream about!
When we tell people that we travel full time, they automatically assume one of the following:
- We come from rich backgrounds and our travels are funded by someone else’s money
- We saved up a lot and are taking a gap year (or two) and are living off our savings until they run out
Neither one of those assumptions are true. Over the last 16 months, we’ve been able to sustain our lifestyle by earning money while traveling. We are not earning enough to build up our savings (yet!), but we are not depleting our savings either.
Our ability to sustain our travel lifestyle didn’t come overnight. In fact, just 3.5 years ago, we had over $100,000 in debt , $0 in savings, and nothing more than a dream to travel the world.
We wanted to travel full time and we were willing to do whatever it takes to chase that dream. We didn’t sit on our hands hoping to win a lottery or get a big payout. We worked hard and made a number of sacrifices. It took 2 years of hard work and dedication to set ourselves up for this lifestyle.
Preparing for the Travel Lifestyle
1. Paying off Debt
Getting rid of loans and credit card debt was the first and the biggest step we had to take to set ourselves up for a life of travel. We consolidated Oksana’s debt, reduced our expenses, and chipped away at the big scary $100,000 figure one month at a time. It took 2 years for those accounts to finally go into the green again, but the satisfaction of being debt free was absolutely worth it!
Want to know more about how Oksana paid off $100,000 of debt in just a few years? Our post, Want to Travel the World? Learn How to Manage and Minimize Debt goes into all the details!
2. Building Up Some Savings
While I worked hard on paying off debt, Max worked just as hard to put away some money into our savings account every month. In 2 years that it took me to pay off $100,000 in debt, he was able to save up over $50,000.
Want to know how we managed to reduce our expenses to save this much in such a short time? Our post, Best Money Saving Tips to Help You Save for Travel goes into all the details.
3. Investing in Real Estate
Having savings is great, but we had no interest in living off our savings and traveling the world until our money would run out. Instead of keeping savings in the bank, we decided to invest in real estate. $50,000 may not seem like a lot, (it’s certainly not enough to buy property in Canada or Australia), but as it turned out, it was enough to buy a small investment property in Florida, USA where the housing market had taken a dive after the financial crisis. The investment was going to bring us a 10-15% annual return.
4. Learning New Skills
We knew that our investments would not earn us enough money to travel full time, so we had to find other ways to earn money while on the road.
We started Drink Tea & Travel, took up freelance writing, invested time in learning how to design and build websites, created and executed social media strategies, shot and edited photos and videos, and more.
By the time we left Australia, we didn’t have it all figured out. But we had about $20K in savings, a blog that was making a few hundred dollars a month, some investment properties, a few freelance writing gigs, and a few web design/marketing clients.
We took a leap of faith hoping that our little start-ups would take off and our hard work would eventually pay off.
Earning Money While Traveling
Today, 16 months later, we support our lifestyle with a number of income sources.
Travel Blogging – 20%
Drink Tea & Travel is 2.5 years old, but the income we make from the blog alone is not yet enough to keep us on the road full time. We shared all the ins and outs of the business side of travel blogging in our recent post “How We Make Money from Our Travel Blog”, revealing the different streams of income we have gained from our blog. These range from affiliate links and sponsored posts to branded campaigns and press trips that bring in roughly about 20% of our total income.
O&M St John Creative Solutions – 35%
O&M St John Creative Solutions is a small digital marketing agency that we started mid last year just as we were transitioning from our 9-5 lives to the life of digital nomads. Using a lot of the experience that we have gained from our 9-5 jobs (Max used to work as a Web Development consultant, while I spent 8 years working as a Brand Manager building and executing multi-million dollar marketing campaigns) along with the knowledge obtained from 2.5 years of building and growing our blog, we are now able to offer small business and start-ups an opportunity to tap into our expertise to help develop, build, and executive digital marketing strategies for their businesses.
O&M St John Creative Solutions offers services ranging from web design and SEO, to full-fledged digital marketing strategies with content management, social media management, influencer outreach and more.
In the past year, we’ve honed our skills, and expanded our team and our services while working with a small number of family businesses, but starting next year we are looking to significantly expand our list of clients. This past year O&M St John Creative Solutions accounted for 35% of our total income.
Sunrise Travel – 20%
Sunrise Travel is a host travel agency based out of Canada that brings in another 20% of our income. Sunrise Travel was our first big web development project which we took on last year when the agency was in need of a website redesign and system rehaul. We jumped in to rebuild the website and then stayed on to provide maintenance, IT, and systems support to the agency on an ongoing basis.
Investment Properties – 20%
We currently have 2 rental properties in Florida that bring in about 20% of our total income and we are currently in the process of saving for another property that we hope to buy in early 2017. The great thing about these properties is that we managed to scoop them up really cheap, invest a bit in repairs and are now able to reap 10-15% ROI on each one of these properties. It’s the best way to generate passive income!
Airbnb Management: 5%
The last bit of our income comes from a variety of small sources. We manage an Airbnb property in the neighbourhood where we stay in Costa Rica and get a small commission for handling all the communication with guests, arranging cleaning and repairs of the property.
If you add up all of our income sources and do a little bit of math, you’ll quickly realize that we are far from rich. We make enough to travel for 6-8 months a year (on a budget of $100/day) and put away a bit into our savings. It’s certainly not as much as we used to earn when we had full-time jobs and were earning well over $150K a year, but our lifestyle today is in every way better than the 9-5 lifestyle we used to live and that to us is worth more than any money in the world!