This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
I’m sitting in the living room of a lovely house in London (where I’ve been for two and a half months) preparing for an early morning flight to Croatia. This time tomorrow, I’ll be sipping something fruity in an outdoor cafe in Split with a view of the Adriatic Sea. I’m renting a flat in Old Town for three weeks until I head to Brussels to experience the holiday markets for Christmas and the New Year.
In the past seven months, I’ve spent anywhere from a few days to several weeks in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Spain, Portugal and the UK. When I share my adventures on social media, questions flood my feed, especially from other freelancers. Many people would love to travel the world, but think it’s a faraway dream only available to certain “lucky” or “privileged” individuals. Or that only 20-year-olds can do extended travel.
I’m not rich and I’m over 40, and I’m having a blast traveling while I run my business. Obviously if you have obligations that require you to be in one location, extended travel may be a challenge. But you could still squeeze in a month or so somewhere fun if you plan it well. And you don’t have to stay in youth hostels or hitchhike to afford it.
Here are seven reasons why traveling the world should be your 2019 New Year’s resolution.
It’s not as expensive as you think
I started with this one because for a lot of freelancers (especially in the early stages of client chasing), traveling the world doesn’t feel obtainable. But with a few travel hacks, like house sitting instead of paying for lodging (how I’ve been in London for two and a half months), alternating between high cost countries and low cost countries (say, Japan versus Prague), and renting homes off-season, you can enjoy long-term travel without breaking the bank.
My total spend for five weeks in Valencia, Spain last summer was below $800 including food, lodging, entertainment and airfare (from Finland). I was in a lovely three bedroom townhouse (all to myself) near restaurants and great public transportation.
Travel fuels creativity for your business
I’ve had some of my best ideas for new online products and more streamlined processes while traveling. It’s easy to get in a mind rut when you’re in one place, around the same people, doing the same routines. Nothing will shake up your thinking more than getting out of your regular space and interacting with others who approach problem-solving in ways you’ve not considered.
Traveling gives you great networking opportunities
These past seven months, I’ve connected with other travelers, as well as expats and locals who’ve bought online products and services from me, told me about great international business communities, and suggested valuable collaborations. The trick here is to be open to meeting people and sharing what you do in a friendly, casual way (no business cards unless asked).
Traveling makes life/work balance easier
As a freelancer, it’s super easy to sit down at my computer in my jammies with a jar of peanut butter, and not move for ten hours (I’m so guilty). But there’s no way I’m going to visit the Netherlands for four weeks and not head to the Museum District or the open-air theaters. And you better believe I’m going to pencil in time for a canal tour. When I’m in remote locations surrounded by nature, I still want to get out and experience my surroundings. Would you rather stare at your laptop all day or feel waterfall mist on your face?
You can get a reprieve from American politics
It’s no secret that America is politically charged right now and difficult emotionally. I think we’ve all felt it to some degree or another. Traveling has allowed me to stay aware without feeling overwhelmed by the day to day of it all. I can check in when I want to and give myself a time out when I need it. Yes, American politics are discussed abroad, but it’s usually without the vitriol and personal agendas, which is a welcomed relief.
Travel builds your confidence, which helps in your business
I’ve had to navigate complex transportation systems in languages I don’t speak, find homes I’m renting in cities I’ve never been before, and convert currencies in my head in a flash. Suddenly, sending cold emails to prospective clients isn’t so scary.
You can earn passive income while you travel
This was the most surprising thing I discovered when I did my first extended trip (for three months). I put my L.A. studio apartment on Airbnb while I traveled and I earned enough to cover my rent in ten days. The remainder was money in my pocket.
Your landlady may not be as open to the idea as mine was, but if you own your home, this is a very feasible way to earn some money while you travel. Automation (like apps that allow guests to unlock the door without a key) and co-hosts can give you cash-in-pocket and peace of mind. You can choose to rent to business travelers, families or singles. You can use networks like Plum.com (if your place is high end and beautifully decorated), HomeAway.com and Booking.com for listing. If you’d rather swap your home for a home abroad, International Vacation Home Exchange (IVHE), Love Home Swap or Guest To Guest are top choices. There are nominal yearly fees for joining, but they all have excellent reputations.
I hope this has you thinking about 2019 as your year to break free and see all the places on your bucket list. I’ve only shared a fraction of the tools I use and the ways others are making this dream a reality. Be creative, be brave and go for it! If you’ll be in Brussels for Christmas, shoot me an email and we’ll go out for frites and hot chocolate.
Todra Payne is a freelance guest relations manager and copywriter. She also provides webinars and 8 week workshops that help freelancers and online entrepreneurs map out their perfect travel lifestyles. She’s obsessed with cats, books and desserts. She LOVES hanging out and sharing her travel experiences (in person and online), so contact her at www.travellivebreathe.com