Travelancing. You’ve probably heard the stories. “Guy backpacks 60 countries in 3 years on $10 per day”, “Woman quits job to bicycle across Europe for 6 months”, “Kid drops out of university to travel the world”.

It’s always a shocking (and viral) story about following your heart and doing what makes you happy. We can all relate to these people and understand from our own lives what led them to that point – they hated their jobs and didn’t feel fulfilled in their lives.

Now, they’re living the dream and traveling abroad freely, but the burning question always remains without its elusive answer: how did they do it?

Travelancing Girl on Dock by Lake
Travelancing – Living the dream

Travelancing: A Better, More Fulfilling Form of Travel

Traveling by freelancing – travelancing – is a recent trend among millennials as a way to prolong their stays abroad or circumvent the stereotypical societal roadmap. Travelancers prefer living freely abroad instead of relying on occasional vacations extended by sick or personal days. They want to work for themselves instead of an employer.

Travelancers value freedom to stability, stories to trinkets, and education to schooling. They are problem solvers dead set on creating a work-life balance that feeds their exploration addiction and allows them to feel effortlessly fulfilled with their lives. No more sad morning commutes, feeling underpaid, overpriced rent, or living under the thumb of at-will employment.

These are people who appreciate that time is the most valuable gift they’ve been given – spending it only on what makes them happy.

Sunset in Tikal, Guatemala
Like watching the sun set across the rainforest on top of a Mayan temple.

How to Travelance

Though freedom of choice is the cornerstone of the travelancing movement, these people still need to pay for their lives. They must use a combination of different skills in order to find work and get paid. Ultimately, a travelancer must be able to meet a need and add value just like any worker.

So, in order to travelance, you must develop a core ability that you can rely on to make money. On top of that, you’ll need complementary skills in order to find work (and keep it).

Types of Travelancers

The field of travelancing offers a wide variety of positions to choose from, including, but not limited to:

  • Graphic Designer
  • Website Designer
  • Website Developer
  • Freelance Writer / Critic
  • Customer Support
  • Marketer
  • Consultant
  • Photographer
  • Ecommerce Store Owner

Additional Travelancing Skills

On top of the core skillset, travelancers must be able to accel in a handful of other areas as well. Not only must they be able to market their skills, find jobs, and get paid, they must be able to handle difficult client interactions, manage project timelines, and balance their wanderlust with their work schedule.

They must be able to figure out where to travel, sleep, visit, and find a place to work effectively. If you rely on internet to complete work, it may not be wise to stay for a week in a remote village in the middle of a big project.

Above all else, a travelancer must be able to think on their feet, roll with the punches, and solve problems as they come. Things almost never go as planned, so they are comfortable with serendipitous predicaments and can answer the question “What now?”.

Travelancing Mountaintop
“I get the best signal up here”

What Travelancing Isn’t

It’s important to note that travelancing is not working from home or even working remotely. It’s a way of life that centralizes the need to work for the betterment of oneself. It’s not a paid vacation or even a vacation at all. In fact, you can even take a vacation from Travelancing.

Travelancing is not an escape from reality. Rather, it’s a headlong jump into real life. Real people, real problems, and real experience. I have yet to meet a travelancer that prefered their old life to the new one for this reason alone.

Travelancing is not for everyone. If you work best as a producer with a boss and love the stability & security of 9-5 work, then you will not enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy a bit of chaos and panic if things don’t go according to your plan, it’s definitely not for you. Needless to say, if you don’t enjoy traveling, don’t be a travelancer.

How to Start Travelancing

The unfortunate answer is typically cliché: just do it. No advice is more vague and provides less insight, but I say it nonetheless. The first step into any change is to decide. Decide to do this, commit to do this, and you’ll figure out the rest.

Afterwards, follow this basic roadmap:

  1. Be good at something and constantly get better at it.
  2. Find someone to pay you to do it.
  3. Deliver so well that that person will tell everyone they know.
  4. Tell everyone you meet what you do (even waiters and cashiers).
  5. Keep examples of what you’ve done so you can easily show people.

Don’t worry, next week we’ll take a deeper look at the different skills available and how to get started in each.

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