Tired of the 9 to 5 and not at all feeling alive? This described me and what my life had come to at the end of 2017. It sounds so cliché, but I knew there had to be more for me to do out there.
After going through a horrible divorce in 2016, I knew it was time for a change. I did some research and quickly learned that there were thousands of men and women who were freelancing and running their own businesses while traveling the world at the same time.
Ever since my first experience studying in Spain in college, I have had the urge and passion to travel. While my Project Manager job at Harvard University offered excellent benefits and vacation, I felt that it was not for me. Why couldn’t I have the freedom to travel when I wanted and work from where I wanted like the thousands of other digital nomads that I had encountered in my search? I decided that I could and I would.
In the fall of 2017, I had had enough with the 9-5 office job, Harvard politics, Boston winters, and limited freedom to travel. I decided to start freelancing part-time and work one more year to save as much money as I could. In September of 2018, I left my job at Harvard and moved with my partner to Miami, Florida.
My journey inspired me to create my Virtual Project Management business. I went full-time on September 15th, 2018 and officially registered it as Freelance N’ Freedom. During my five years at Harvard, I was able to learn top-notch customer service skills, new project management skills, successfully run numerous conferences and events both local and international, and participate in the Harvard Mentoring program.
I also graduated with my Masters from Harvard in International Relations in May, 2018. Now, I primarily work with women entrepreneurs who have multiple businesses themselves. I support them in the areas of event planning, project/vendor management, creating and scheduling social media content, general administrative help, and doing research.
Since September, I myself have visited 6 new countries to add to my 54 countries total since I started traveling at age 19. It is my goal in 2019 to visit a new country every month, all while helping other women succeed in their businesses. While working for myself has been a challenge at times, it allows me to pursue my goals, while helping other women pursue theirs, which is very rewarding.
Freelance N’ Traveling
While social media and the internet may portray freelancing and traveling as all glamorous, I have found that this is far from the truth. Working and traveling is tough work! It requires organization, discipline, scheduling, balance, and budgeting. At the same time, it can also be amazing! Here are six tips to help you be able to live a successful freelance and nomadic life:
1. Try to plan as much as you can in the beginning
Start freelancing part-time if you can. When I worked at Harvard, I only worked 7-3 PM, so I was able to take on part-time freelancing jobs at night and on weekends while still working my full-time job. This enabled me to save money and also experience a taste of what it would be like freelancing before I quit my 9-5 and went full-time.
2. Travel to Central/South America or Asia
Starting out as a new freelancer is exciting, but also has its challenges. One of those challenges can be money. If you choose a cheaper location to live, such as Asia or South America, you can start ahead of the game by not having to worry too much about finances.
3. Speaking of finances, create a budget
As much of a pain as budgets are, when you are traveling with a new job and limited funds, it is important to know where your money is going. Do some research into a new city before you go to get an idea of food/lodging costs, transportation, activities, etc. This will save you time and money in the long run. I recommend reading How to Travel the World on $50 A Day by Matt Kepnes. There are lots of good budgeting and travel tips in there for each part of the world.
4. Setup a schedule for yourself
When I travel, but still have work to do, I try to get as much work done as I can before I leave for the new city. When I arrive in the city, I write out my schedule in my agenda so I know when I have calls, meetings, time to work, and time to explore.
What usually works for me is getting up early to work in the morning and then heading out in the afternoon to explore. I am also fortunate that most of my work is flexible as to when it is completed, so that is something to keep in mind when you are deciding what type of freelancing you want to pursue.
5. Don’t forget to take care of you
Traveling can easily cause an imbalance in the way you eat, the amount of exercise you get, reflection, meditation, etc. Make sure you are walking or carve out time for exercise. It is exciting to try local foods in a new city, but make sure you are eating your fruits and vegetables too. This has been the hardest part of being a traveling freelancer for me.
6. Listen to your gut
Of all of the things I have learned traveling, this is the most important to me. Your gut always knows the way. I used my intuition for leaving an unhealthy relationship, leaving my 9-5 job, leaving situations that may not be safe in a new country, and many more circumstances. If it doesn’t feel right to you, it likely isn’t. Being a solo traveler teaches you to trust yourself and your instincts so don’t ignore them!
I hope some of these tips are helpful to those of you who are just starting your journey to being a nomadic freelancer. I am always open for questions, comments, advice, etc, so please do not hesitate to reach out to share your story or ask a question.
Safe and happy travels,