By Aileen Adalid on February 17, 2016
We’ve all heard those inspiring stories of young people quitting their well-paid jobs in exchange for their dreams of leading a nomadic lifestyle. It’s risky, but it’s an exciting and fulfilling lifestyle wherein people have proven it to be possible — therefore, it’s natural that a lot of people have come to aspire for it.
But what if you didn’t have a well-paid job to come up with any savings or emergency fund for jumpstarting your travel dreams? Worse, what if you come from a less developed country with a limited passport that makes you go through grueling applications, strict immigration officers, and exorbitant visa fees?
These were my two main problems when I was 21 as I contemplated the idea of abandoning my corporate job to chase after my travel dreams. All the stories I read and all the traveling nomads I’ve met seemed to have two common characteristics that I didn’t have: a well-paid job back home in a 1st world country that gave them ample savings, and a powerful passport that gives them easy access to most of the countries in the world. I even knew the risk that if I quit my job, I won’t have adequate documents to assure the embassies that I’m a well-off person that won’t illegally overstay in their country.
The odds looked really bad for me, yet I wasn’t one to give up. I made up my mind since I really didn’t want to waste my 20s anymore nor did I want to settle and slave myself for a corporation just to fit myself into society’s concept of security. Ultimately: I didn’t want to continue putting my dreams in the backseat — I wanted to start exploring the globe, one country at at a time. I wanted to be happy with my life and with what I do.
And so, I set out to prove to others, but also to myself, that our life circumstances shouldn’t hold us back from achieving what we truly wanted.
It has been almost 3 years now, and since then, I've flown around the French Alps as a paraglider, played around with elephants in Thailand, ventured the amazing Bavaria region of Germany, and so much more! And as I hopped from one country to another, I had even managed to set up a successful travel blog, iAmAileen.com, and an online business, AdalidGear.com that led me to live a more sustainable and financially-secured travel lifestyle today.
How did this happen? Did I have rich parents or family members to back me up? Did I have some sudden inheritance enabling me to travel the world and set up a company? Did I have someone giving me money?
No, none of the above. I simply managed to do this through hard work, preparation, thorough research, and resourcefulness — and you can do the same!
Develop a nomadic profession
I know for a fact that most travelers do volunteering as an income source as they hop from one country to the next. (Volunteering is the kind of job where people do menial work in exchange for free accommodation and food).
It was a viable option for me especially if I would do it in visa-free countries applicable to my passport. However, I knew the reality that such wouldn’t be a sustainable profession for someone like me. It wouldn’t pay much at all and I didn’t have any savings to back me up if in case things go wrong (I was just a fresh graduate with a low monthly wage). Plus, I have a Philippine passport, so there would come a time wherein if I want to explore USA and European countries, I won’t be able to get in since I wouldn’t have enough savings nor documents to prove that I am a financially-stable person.
I clearly had to pick a different kind of work and after thorough research, I saw that the digital nomad path works best for me. Through that way, I can establish myself as a self-employed individual and gain documents to support me for any visas. Besides, I already had the skills (graphic design and marketing) that would enable me to work online. These were things that I didn’t learn in school nor in my work but they were things that I love doing and are passionate about. So I set off to polish my knowledge about these subjects by myself through reading free articles and courses online.
With this plan in mind, I set off to develop my profile and portfolio as I went on to gain the trust of various clients. I was slowly starting to make money — in fact, triple than what I was already earning from my 2-year job — and it was only when I secured a stable employer did I finally handed in my resignation at the investment bank that I was working for. It took me 2 months to accomplish this and indeed, I was technically doing two jobs all at once! It was tough but I wanted it so bad so I was so willing to make sacrifices.
Now I may have wanted to go after a risky dream but I still wanted to secure my future that’s why I only left my job once I knew that I had secured a steady stream of income.
Freedom needs a lot of work
And so, with my new-found ‘freedom,’ I made it a point to travel to visa-free countries first. I did this so that I can fulfill three goals: first, to establish myself as a well-traveled individual because it would help a lot in future visa applications. Second, to be able to save more money as I continue to work online. It’s no news anyway that most visa-free countries have lower cost of living. Lastly, to be able to gain enough time to come up with proper tax and financial documents to show as proof for embassies later on.
True enough, my plan worked because it helped me gain my first visa several months after. It was to Europe and I had an amazing time there as I went on a 2-month road trip around Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and France!
Everything was going smoothly but I didn’t want to stop there. I wanted to live an even more sustainable travel lifestyle so that I can control my time and infinitely have a secure and steady source of income. The obvious solution for me at that time was to create my own business — and so I did!
After the 1st year of my travels, I proceeded to build my own online business that I now run together with a business partner and it has been a huge success! Our business model enables us to sell outdoor and travel physical products to US and UK even if we are constantly on the move.
Meanwhile, my travel blog, iAmAileen.com, was initially built so that I can have a platform where I can share my travels and help others launch their own travel dreams. But after some of my articles went viral, I started to gain more attention and thatit amplified my travel opportunities when tourism boards and travel brands started to invite me to all-expense-paid trips, travel campaigns, and more! Today, these really helped sustain my travels even more and have also aided in alleviating visa problems (since such official invitations from organizations also help a lot in convincing embassies to let me in their country).With all that being said, no matter how bad the odds may look for you, don’t you ever get discouraged. Don’t back down.
Traveling really isn’t just a ‘white privilege’ as it can be done by anyone as long as you work hard for it and research well enough. As a matter of fact, there are tons of ways to be able to make your travel dreams a reality — take it from me who had a bleak chance of making it happen!