The following is a guest post from Chris Osborne who thrives on working with passionate people. He is 30 years old and although he is from London, he has been travelling throughout Asia the past 8 years.
1. Have The Right Business Model
Unless you’re already wealthy, there are basically two ways to support yourself while traveling long-term. You can either work in the country you visit, which normally (especially in Asia) involves teaching. Or my preferred method; create a business that has a strong online component that you can manage from anywhere with an internet connection.
I meet hundreds of people every year who manage their online business while traveling. This group of people once small, is getting bigger and bigger each year thanks to the internet.
Here are some of the most popular business models I see working for people:
Web Design + Development
Building websites that rely on advertising revenue
Affiliate Marketing – Promoting products for a commission
Marketing – Driving visitors/sales for clients
SAS – Creating a product your customers are willing to pay a monthly fee for.
All of the above business models can be run from coffee shops, hotel rooms and even on long train rides.
2. Decide Where To Visit Wisely
You can easily spend 6 months in Thailand for the cost of one month in Hong Kong or Tokyo due to the living costs. If you’re new to traveling while working and are on a budget or you prefer to reinvest your profits into your business, it makes sense choosing countries that offer great value for the money. Some of my favorite places I’ve visited including Vietnam, Bali, Thailand, Laos, China and the Philippines are also some of the cheapest countries to base yourself in, while offering heaps of benefits at the same time (superb food, nature, events, locals, festivals, side trips).
3. It’s Cheaper Than You Think
One of the big misconceptions of traveling is it’s expensive. But here’s the trick; If you’re wise in where you visit (see above) and are committed to long-term travel, it’s much cheaper than most people think. Here are some examples of my regular expenditure while living in North East Thailand, where I’m currently based:
1 Month studio apartment rental with internet: $120
Chicken stir-fry over rice or a bowl of delicious noodles: $1
A 2 mile taxi ride: $1
Ticket to see the latest flick at the new 3D cinema: $6
A flight to Hanoi from Bangkok: $70
If you dedicate yourself to traveling long-term and leave home with no financial pressure (i.e a mortgage), it’s possible to live a very comfortable lifestyle on $1,000/month here in Thailand, as well as in China, Bali and Vietnam.
4. Create Yourself A “Base”
Many of my friends, including me, rent an apartment (or house) for 1 to 6 months at a time. We do this because a) we dramatically reduce our expenses, b) the cost of travel in South East Asia is so cheap that it allows us to keep the rental even if we decide to visit somewhere else and c) the longer you stay in one area, the more familiar you’ll become with the locals (the best part of traveling, in my opinion).
5. Eat Where The Locals Eat
Not only is it cheaper to eat where the locals eat, but it’s often much more authentic and gives you a great opportunity to learn the language, try new dishes and to interact with the locals.
6. Have The Right Mindset
Some people are fine with taking one or two vacations a year, others prefer to spend 6 months away or if you’re like me, once you start traveling you’ll stay on the road constantly. There’s no right answer. But whatever you do, you’ll enjoy yourself so much more if you are open-minded and have a fun attitude.
I can clearly remember seeing skinned dogs hanging at a market vendors stall in China. It wasn’t a pleasant sight, but I understand that we have culture differences and instead of letting it bother me, I shrugged it off. There will be many instances like this where you’ll say to yourself “what the heck!”
7. Watch The ATM Fees
Managing cash while traveling is a lot easier now with internet banking, readily available ATM machines and Paypal. I’m guessing you already know how your online banking and Paypal work, so let’s talk about the one area that many newbies get stung with: ATM fees.
Cash withdrawal fees vary with most banks all around the world, and there’s often fees incurred at both ends; your bank and the bank you’re using to withdraw funds from. It can be a wise and cost-effective move to shop around to check what banks in your country charge while using ATM machines overseas.
8. Check Events And Festivals
Some of my most memorable trips in the last 8 years of traveling in Asia we’re visiting events and festivals. From visiting the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan to the Nationwide Waterfight called “Songkran” in Thailand, there are festivals and events held weekly throughout Asia.
With so many low cost airlines in the Asia pacific region, most places that hold the big events and festivals are easily accessible and if booked in advance, are very affordable.
9. Shared Working Spaces
To accommodate the increase of travelers who work at the same time, Asia has seen many shared working spaces sprung up over the last few years. Most offer excellent facilities including fast internet, comfortable working stations, business centers and snacks/drinks. Most are extremely affordable and don’t require any long contracts, with many of them having daily rates. These shared working spaces are not only great for getting some work done, but also provide an opportunity to network with like-minded people.
There is a side to working while traveling that requires a lot of dedication. You’ll have times when friends invite you out for day trips, yet a major client issue has just arrived in your inbox so you’ll need decline the offer. You need to be disciplined and put business before fun in order to sustain this lifestyle long term. It’s true… while I get to move around and have a lot of fun everyday, I do generally work longer hours than my friends at home in 9-5 jobs. Is it worth it? Hell yes.
Image Credit: Wandrly Magazine