When I was 19, I got into freelancing, and a few months later I decided to jump head-first into digital nomadism and take my work on the road. Working while traveling sounded way too exciting to be true and I had to make sure that it really CAN be true. Fast-forward, I made tons of mistakes but I also got incredible experience meanwhile. That’s why I’m here to share how to start traveling without consistent freelance income!
Many freelancers would love to live abroad or start traveling but they don’t have the stability just yet. Either there are no savings or no tons of clients lined up. But let me say you this – it’s not a problem!
There are a few things you should keep in mind before we go any further. First, you have to be passionate about traveling. Like, head over heels passionate. Second, you should be interested in freelancing. Either starting from zero or “finally” making it work. Because that’s what this whole story will be about.
You can also inspire yourself for some short-term travels with this list and, surely, you don’t have to be a freelancer to qualify for any of these. But, this time, I’ll take a look at these options, keeping in mind that you are looking forward to funding your long-term travels with freelancing.
How to start traveling without consistent freelance income?
STEP #1: You should have some freelance income or at least an idea on how you’re going to get it
I’m a freelance graphic designer but, along the way, I’ve also been “many other things“. For example, I used to manage social media. I’ve also written content. I’ve been practicing print design. And changing to web design only. The point is – it doesn’t matter what exactly are you interested in. Whether it’s one thing you already know or five you’d like to learn. You should get going NOW!
IF YOU HAVE NO SKILLS OR NO EXPERIENCE
Please take a look at this article where I share some ideas on how to get started with your “no skills” level in freelancing. The main point is – we all know something. We all have some knowledge or experience we can already use OR improve to use in the nearest future. These days, “no skills” can be quickly and for free turned into “tons of skills” so don’t hesitate to find out the options!These days, *no skills* can be quickly and for free turned into *tons of skills*! Click To Tweet
IF YOU HAVE SOME SKILLS OR A BIT OF EXPERIENCE
It’s time to aim for consistent freelance income. This is never easy! There are jobs EVERYWHERE. And there are tons of clients who will be happy to work with you and you only. BUT. Finding all of that might turn out into a huge struggle. Don’t feel discouraged tho! Everything is possible, you just have to get your shit together.
For now, you should build your portfolio first. Either you work on your own imaginary projects, help out a friend or get a free starter project – it doesn’t matter as long as you’ll have something to show for your potential client.
STEP #2: Choose one of the options to get free housing for your first months of traveling
Free housing, say whaaaat? Exactly! That’s the key to traveling while starting out. It doesn’t come for nothing tho, please be aware! So here are the options:
1. Become an Au Pair
This is an amazing opportunity for young girls (mostly) but can be a great adventure for well-bred millennials as well (sorry, I just had to!).Being an Au-Pair is an amazing opportunity for young girls (mostly) but can be a great adventure for well-bred millennials as well. Click To Tweet
Au Pair is an international program that will give you the opportunity to work as a nanny in a family abroad. I was an Au Pair when I was 19. I lived in Italy, Naples, and it was my first time there. I lived in this family for 3 months, I had to pick up kids from the school, play with them occasionally and teach some English (no native level English or any kind of certificates necessary).
In exchange for that, I was living in their adorable apartment, in my own room, got monthly “pocket money” (which can really be anything from a few hundred to thousands of euros per month). You can be an Au Pair at 18, 23 or 29, it doesn’t matter! (I’m not so sure whether the program is so flexible for older Au Pairs, but could be as well!)
Why choose to be Au Pair?
Most families give you a dose of free time – while kids are at school, in the evenings and/or weekends. If you’re living with them for longer, you’ll also get a vacation time. All of this gives you the time for traveling (short trips all around) and working as a freelancer! I’d say that there is no better way to grow as a freelancer than working as a nanny in the family. You don’t have to pay for anything! You get the food, place to live and even pocket money. Doesn’t that sound like a dream?!
Be careful tho…
There are tons of families out there and not all of them have so easy-going rules. For many, you might not have weekends off or you’d need to homeschool kids, for example, giving you no free time whatsoever. So make sure to check it out before signing up for this.
2. Use HouseSitting
Here’s an option I’ve never tried out myself but I know it works! HouseSitting means that you’ll have a free accommodation in exchange for… house sitting! In some cases, it’s a dog or two, in others those could be flowers and a cat. Maybe even a farm. It really depends, once again.HouseSitting means that you'll have a free accommodation in exchange for... house sitting! Click To Tweet
People use house sitting because homeowners might go on a vacation, for a week or two. Sometimes, they visit relatives or move away for the off-season. The time for housesitting may vary from a few days up to several months.
Why choose to be a House Sitter?
You’ll have a place on your own which you won’t have to pay for! Besides that, many of these houses are ADORABLE. I’ve seen and read stories of people housesitting in villas with pools, in houses near beaches or in the middle of the biggest cities. This might be your chance to live in a place you could never afford yourself.
Keep in mind tho…
You will (most likely) have to buy your own food. Besides that, it’s harder to plan your travels because you never know when and where you’ll be housesitting next. An opportunity may arise now or within months… Besides that, it’s usually hard to find housesitting options for one period of time in one location. Which means you might spend tons of money on flights from place to place.
This is a good option if you’re already getting some freelance income and can afford the traveling + food, etc.
And with this link you can get 20% off for your yearly subscription!!
3. Join Workaway or other volunteer programs
Workaway and similar volunteer programs offer you the option to volunteer in farms, campsites, in local guesthouses and many similar places.
In this case, make sure that there will be wi-fi in your destination since in many cases you might be volunteering in the countryside with a bad connection to the outer world. Most of the volunteers really are nature lovers more than passionate workaholics.
Why choose to volunteer?
This option, once again, will give you a free accommodation and even free meals! Besides that, if you’d like to keep up a good balance in your life, volunteering will give you an amazing opportunity to do right that. After all, sitting at the computer all day long is healthy for no one.
4. Participate in Erasmus+/EVS project
Erasmus+ is all about European youth projects (European Volunteer Service) which include participants from other countries as well! There are both short-term and long-term projects. Short-term projects usually are 8-14 days long while long-term projects are for at least a few months, up to a year. While short-projects is a great option to travel and have fun, they’re not the best option for an aspiring freelancer. Therefore, let’s take a look at long-term projects!
A few years ago I went to Erasmus+ project in Poland. It was happening in a small city south, in the middle of nowhere, near the mountains and the border of Czech Republic. This particular project gathered around 40 people from all over Europe but not only (we also had volunteers from India, Vietnam and many other Eastern countries). We were living in one house, we all got weekly pocket money and our task was to create week-long camps for classes from all over Poland, at all age range. We had 3 free days per week and we also could take one or two-week vacations.
Each Erasmus+ project is very different. It can include working in schools, organizing events in local art facilities, working with disabled people, going to old people houses or many others. They can request daily activities or weekly participation for a specific amount of hours. You can live either in an apartment with a few people or live in one house with many other volunteers.
Erasmus+ projects are for young people up to 29 y/o.
Why choose Erasmus+?
IT’S SUPER FUN. It’s really one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Although living in Poland wasn’t as much fun, at that point I really did it for the sake of meeting all the amazing people. Most Erasmus+ projects will have the same package: accommodation, pocket money, and even food! Which is a pretty great deal for an aspiring freelancer.
Be aware tho…
Very often these projects can get way too fun and your working routine can be interrupted. These projects gather young people full of energy and passion for EVERYTHING. Which might include tons of dinners together, trips around, parties, cultural events and so much more.
Do you see where I was going with all of this? Traveling as a fresh freelancer can be really tempting but without any experience or consistent income it will be hard and you might find yourself broke within a week. Therefore, it’s great to join a project or even use various of them to get the option to live abroad, explore a different culture and grow your business meanwhile.
I’m definitely excited I had these options when I was younger! Most of them really won’t ask much of the monetary investment, as long as you can fund your ticket. Sometimes, even the ticket will be paid off, for example, some Au Pair families and Erasmus+ projects offer that.
Let me know if you have any specific questions about these things, I’ll be happy to chat with you more!