Published on February 13, 2014 | by Daniela


From travel bloggers to digital nomads how to make a living while traveling

What is the thing you like most? For 90% of people around the globe the response will be only one: traveling. There are people out there who would spend on vacation the rest of their lives, many are dissatisfied with their work or with their “ordinary” life, some simply do not have a valid reason to stay in the place where they live.

When we realize that some are so ahead of the game to sense that leaving everything behind and traveling, virtually forever, is possible, and you can also earn a lot of money by doing it, well this surely makes us a bit envy, because basically that’s what we all want, but very few people are brave enough to take a step in this direction.

Yes, because the first deterrent is the fact that spending your life on vacation has a cost, and unless you have infinite resources, we need to generate revenue to fund our mission.

Travel bloggers. They have found the answer. Travel bloggers are people who travel, or even don’t, and their job consists of telling stories, talking about places to visit and visited places (for real or in their own imagination,) they write about customs, people, cultures, they write about anything they love on their own blog and make their living by simply earning commissions (for example on bookings) and, more generally, “selling visibility” to companies and businesses by means of banners, advertising campaigns, social media marketing, reviews of products and services, or even consulting services.

In the UK this sector is much more advanced than in any other European country, especially due to the fact that English is currently the official language of media and communication (it’s the language of the world, in a word). Apart from this, the work of travel bloggers is highly-regarded in the UK, it’s properly paid and many international companies literally hang from the keyboard of many travel bloggers, regarding them as the key to guaranteed success of their business. And very often they are sooo right!

Travel Blogging is a relatively recent business, but in a few years has taken on proportions and characteristics that make it a cultural and media phenomenon. By 2009, UK travel brands were still beginning to see the potential of working with travel bloggers. By 2010 the number of travel bloggers in the UK was growing steadily and in November 2011, there were even some travel blogger events at the World Travel Market in London. Two years, and Travel blogging had become mainstream. Travel brands and their PRs had finally recognised that they could get valuable (and relatively cheap) exposure on travel blogs and through the bloggers’ social media networks. Today, travel bloggers are in the eye of the storm; we all observe them, some follow them, some chase them, others criticize or envy them, some others “use” them. In short, everyone expects something new from their work every day, but for most people this is something to appreciate or disregard only at a safe distance, with a touch of envy and that dose of “common sense” that keeps one glued to a seat in the office every day, maybe planning the next dream holiday during lunch break … and not only!

But there’s a “But.” What about the future? Free trips don’t pay the bills. Having a niche site is more likely to attract advertisers looking for exposure to a targeted readership. Bloggers can develop products to sell, e.g. travel apps and ebooks. They can organize events for travel bloggers which attract sponsorship, do consulting or some freelance writing for other publications. They can. Or, they can go even farther, leaving everything behind, hop on a bike, take the first train, buy an RV, set sail on a sailboat. And go start their adventure!

We are about to enter the universe of a particular category of Travel Bloggers: Welcome to Digital Nomading!

Digital Nomads’ are people who have cut all ties to a traditional workplace in favor of working anywhere and literally everywhere in the world. While anyone can become a travel publisher, being a Digital Nomad requires even more courage. It means leaving your job, even your loved ones, as well as all the comforts to which you have been used up to this point, and take on a nomadic lifestyle, with all the logistical difficulties but also all the benefits that you may find.

It shouldn’t be that devastating as a choice, however, if a survey from oDesk, a leading marketplace for online work, has shown that Digital Nomading has meant increased happiness for 92 per cent of those surveyed, increased income for 59 per cent, and mostly, has revealed that almost 80% of people who witnessed life as a Digital Nomad, now think of it as “A life-long change:” it means they expect to be Digital Nomads for the rest of their life.

Not at all devastating, I think! 🙂

It is important to understand that Digital Nomading is not just hacking around in cheap accommodation with a small level of income to keep you going. And that, as said by Adrianna Tan from Me Launch Pretty One Day in her interview with STA travel blog: “it really is just an illusion that having this independence and ability to travel is the best thing ever. You only see the best bits of other people doing it.”

That’s why we must make a big distinction between “I love traveling” and “I choose to earn a living through something I love to do: traveling indeed.” One of the main difficulties that an ordinary person might encounter, is the inability to plant roots or getting out of the ordinary habits of life. This is clearly explained by Matthew Kepnes, a young Digital Blogger who runs the blog Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site: “When you are always on the road, it’s hard to get into routines and build habits.

In many cases it is also difficult to forge relationships, since DN rarely stay in the same place for more than three months. Some have made a joint choice though, there are dozens of Digital Nomad Couples or even Digital Nomad Families scattered around the globe, and they seem quite satisfied with what they have built, too. Dani & Jess from Globetrotter Girls, for example, a German-American lesbian couple who decided to take their work “on the road” have been travelling as digital nomads for nearly two years around the US, Central America, Europe and Asia. Their Mission is “to inspire curiosity about the world and provide the tips and tools to help you see as much of the world as you can for yourself.”

Even Film director Armando Costantino and his wife Mel have decided to embark on this adventure together. They’ve been living in a Westfalia camper van for over a year, they bought it in Prague, the place from where they started their journey which has brought them through Turkey, Greece, and Southern Italy, plus a summer tour across 8 European capitals. Now they’re about to leave again towards warmer destinations, to discover Spain, Morocco and Portugal. “I just can’t stand the monotony of daily office work, and it’s not that difficult to work in an RV, at least it is as much as it could be if I lived in a small apartment, with the difference that a four-wheel vehicle… moves around. And I think it’s great to wake up at dawn in one place and go to sleep in a different one every night” says Armando. And Mel adds: “My biggest challenge as a woman, and I’m sure you all understand me, is dealing with bathroom-related problems. But I love this choice we made and the chance we get to see every place we are interested in“.

And what about our “World Traveling Mom” a.k.a. Christine Gilbert, from Almost Fearless, who has taken advantage of the fact that her husband is making a documentary about people who work online, to try to raise her children – Stella and Cole, 4 and 5 years old – as multilinguals (Spanish, Arabic & Mandarin). This digital nomad family also holds a small world record for Papa-Nomad Steve Roberts being the very first digital nomad ever. Indeed, it was 1983 when he set out “on a computerized recumbent bicycle.” And when Motosat – a satellite system for personal users – came into the market in 1985, nomads were finally allowed to get online anywhere.”

Nowadays, another recent international survey has indicated that more than nine in ten professionals surveyed agreed that “technology is making it easier to work wherever you want”, and 82 per cent agreed that “the internet is freeing us to live life how we want (versus where we need to be for work)”. Perhaps that’s why 45 per cent of those who have recently made a change to be less tied to a physical workplace, have turned into ‘nomads’ in the past year! And some of them are doing just fine! One of the most resounding success stories in this regard is that of Kirsty, the Nerdy Nomad, who travels around the world and posts her experiences on her many travel blogs, managing to earn $ 10,000 per month through articles, photographs and online marketing consulting. In all this, she also has time for doing disaster volunteering around the world – currently in the Philippines.

Needless to say, the most authentic Digital Nomads are those who have chosen this “job” not to count their bills at the end of the month, but rather as a genuine lifestyle, a life on the road, lived to the fullest and enjoying all the best (and sometimes the worst) of the places and people that populate the world, whether or not you can earn much by doing it. On his travel blog, Stephen Lioy shows us even what does “Budget Travel” mean, by reporting his personal experience in Greece: 46 days spent with little more than € 1,500 in his wallet, paying an average of €5 per night sleeping in hostels, campsites or managing to be hosted by his friends. He always cooked his own meals instead of eating out, discovering among other things that off the beaten track, in Athens as well as elsewhere in the world, prices are much lower. Talking about expenses and foodies Lioy also admits one of his few limits: the biggest expense he has on his trips is when he just cannot resist and sneaks into a bar for a fresh mug of beer or a glass of wine to enjoy some relax. On his website you can follow all of his many moves, projects and experiences, and judging from the list of countries and cities he writes about, he’s really a Workaholic traveler!

What’s their secret? Despite the wonders that await them every day, in spite of the great experiences that they live every day, being a Digital Nomad remains a very tough job, and it is a job in the end, whereas we rely (also) on their content as a tool to learn about the world, and this is a big responsibility for them. So the question is: “how come these people wake up every morning and decide that the choice they made was the right one? An extraordinary love for life and words for sure. Bravery, great enough to make us green with envy. And then, a fundamental rule: No looking back.

So thank you guys, thanks to all of you. Let’s enjoy your trips!







About the Author

Hi, I am Daniela and I am passionate about creative languages - especially in advertising - voyages, wine&food and. .. shoes. I was born in Canada and now I live in Sicily, where I'm a travel and new trends writer and blogger, combining with this activity a strong devotion to the world of hotel hospitality. I also translate texts and websites in English and collaborate with several wineries being specialized in copywriting about wines and territories, interpreting and guided tours.

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