One recent evening we asked on Twitter & Facebook for questions you had for us. Many where things we’ve addressed before.
So seemed like a great time to put together a post that helps you explore our archives from our past years of travel.
Q 1: How can I earn an income on the road, and is there really such a thing as ‘Passive Income’?
There are so many ways to earn an income on the road – from working online, like we do – to taking temporary jobs as you travel. Some styles will allow you to work from wherever you choose and others you will be traveling to where the work needs you.
Some funding sources that can integrate in a lot of travel might include: artists, musicians, festival workers, truck drivers, migrant workers, craftsmen, contract medical staff, journalists, photographers, performers, cruise ship staff, house/pet sitters, military, speakers, trainers, workampers, technicians, waiters and many more.
Some funding choices that can be done online might include: programmers, developers, IT managers, database managers, bookkeepers, personal coaches, writers, editors, bloggers, podcasters, affiliate sales, graphic designers, online professors, coaches, consultants and more.
The fundamental key is putting your priorities of full time travel first, and designing your funding source around it. I personally feel that most folks have the capability of finding work that is travel friendly when it’s put as a priority. It may not seem easy at first, and there may very well be good reasons to tempt you into career choices that don’t support your traveling desires.
As far as the holy grail of passive income, I’m sure it is possible. But I seem to suck at making it happen in a long term sustainable way. And it seems that many claiming they do, actually put quite a bit of work into making it happen and continue to happen – so I wouldn’t really call it completely passive. Personally, we don’t mind, we actually enjoy working to earn our keep and it was never our goal to escape work. We prefer to focus on choosing something that inspires us.
Our posts related to earning a mobile income:
Q 2: Do you have any sponsors for your travel, and have you approached any publishers to write a book?
No, we long ago opted to not try to generate an income stream off of our blog, and thus rarely even consider advertisers nevermind a full on sponsor. But heck, we don’t discount that there may be an opportunity that will seem like a perfect fit.
We continue blogging because we enjoy it and the awesome people we get to meet as a result. We completely fund our travels through work projects that aren’t related to this blog. We decided that we never wanted to come to depend on having to post about our awesome day just to fund having our next awesome adventure. It seemed ripe with potential to get into a loop that could lead to burn out. I mean, what if we’re not feeling like having an awesome adventure or writing about it? By not building up our blog to be our source of income, we feel we have a great deal of freedom to post what’s authentically up for us without worrying about it impacting our livelihood.
As far as publishing a book? It’s been a passing thought on occasion. But we honestly feel the market is pretty saturated with nomadic how-tos and stories. And we’ve heard that writing a book is a lot of work, with a low return. So it’s not terribly enticing to delve into.
Our post on why we blog:
Q 3: How do you have your business setup, how do you stay in touch with clients and how do you find your clients?
I actually took my existing custom software development business that I’ve run with my parents for the past 17 years (and them since the late 70s) on the road. As we ran the business out of our homes previously with intentions early on for it to be ‘location independent’, very little has actually changed in how its run. Heck, my parents are now starting to experiment with being part time digital nomads as they blend in partial retirement.
Our clients were already used to us communicating via e-mail, phone and even instant messaging. We occasionally arrange for onsite visits to kick-off major projects. They all know I’m mobile (some of them even read this blog *wave*), and that sometimes it may take a day or two for me to respond if we’re not within range of connectivity. It’s all about setting appropriate expectations and planning to be in connectivity when we know we’ll need to be.
As my parents and I have very different medical insurance needs, Chris and I did spin off our own little company (registered as an LLC partnership in the state of Florida), and we continue to work hand and hand with my parents and our other contract programmers on clients I’ve had for well over a decade. And through our company, we also take on other tech consulting gigs and launch our travel mobile apps.
As far as how we find our clients – it actually works that they find us. Both Chris and I have strong backgrounds in our complimentary tech careers, and a lot of contacts. Most our work opportunities come via word of mouth, reputation and good old fashioned networking.
I know, our story doesn’t really help folks looking to start a new mobile-friendly career – and that’s one reason we don’t share much about it here (the other is to rightfully protect my client’s privacy). I do consider myself very blessed to have made the choices I did at a very early age to follow a career path that has given me a great deal of freedom to live my life as I wish, while doing things that absolutely inspire me. And, that’s key – whatever you do, make choices around what are your priorities.
A video interview we did with our lawyer about setting up mobile businesses:
Q 4. How do I find the right RV?
A few folks asked us for advice on selecting an RV for full time living. This is such a difficult question to answer, as everyone’s needs, preferences and budgets are going to be different. We’ve met people thriving in such a variety of setups, that it’s not as simple as pointing you to a specific brand or style.
Our general advice is to go look at as many RVs as you possibly can and get a feel for what feels right. Even if you’re not interested in a brand new shiny rig, going to several dealer lots and RV shows will give you a lot of options and floorplans to look at to better get an idea about what feels right to you. Look for a high quality build, as mosts RVs are meant for occasional long weekends (remember – it’s ‘recreational vehicle’ for a reason) and will tend to show their age quickly. Living in one full time will wear it out even faster.
Keep in mind, your home on wheels is like having a house that is undergoing a constant earthquake.
Also consider the type of camping you’d like to do – a RV suitable for hopping from hook-up to hook-up at RV Parks is going to be configured much differently than one suitable for off-grid boondocking. We also recommend not focusing too hard on finding your perfect setup – get something that seems workable, with plans to trade-up (or down) to your ideal rig after you’ve gotten a solid idea about what your form of travel is. You really won’t know until you’ve done it for several months to a couple years.
Our post on picking a RV:
Q 5. How do you handle the mundane things, like personal hygiene and laundry?
Nomads can keep clean!
Obviously, when traveling via RV (or sailboat) freshwater will be limited to what you can carry with you. So one does need to get used to ultra conserving water. And that’s actually a useful goal for everyone. We’ve learned to take very short showers (or just using baby wipes) and using a spray bottle with soapy water to presoak dishes. And even here in the USVI, where we live off a water cistern, a lot of what we got used to in the RV conveys.
Another trick of mine, is that I haven’t shampoo’d my hair since 2007 (wow.. I can’t believe it’s been that long!). Instead, I use baking soda and an apple cider vinegar rinse once a week or so. Not only does this save lots of water, my naturally curly hair has never been healthier! I honestly thought it would be a whacky hippy thing I’d try for a couple months – but I love it. Chris has also been no-poo for a couple years now after seeing my success with it (and for anyone who’s met him, he has the most enviable silky long hair!)
The first RV we traveled in (the 16′ T@B) actually didn’t have a bathroom – just a little cassette potty that we used for emergencies. So we relied on baby wipes, campground showers, public restrooms & trees (and a Folger’s can for those night time urgent needs) and use of friend’s facilities. It was certainly doable and taught us a lot about how little us humans really need to happily survive. But it did get old (but not as old as converting our bed to a work table daily).
A personal hygiene tip for my fellow female nomads:
For menstruating women – I absolutely found my reusable silicon menstrual cup (Diva Cup) to be a travel essential. It was small, produced no trash, was extremely comfortable to wear, was a one-time purchase and allowed me to completely forget my period for 12 hrs at a time. It was my best friend. I actually miss using it since I had my hysterectomy three years ago. Why these things aren’t more popular, I’ll never understand. Every women who’s taken my advice to get one continually thanks me for changing their lives.
For laundry – when traveling via RV we used a combination of coin operated laundry at campgrounds or folks we visited were quite kind to offer use of theirs. We actually found we liked coin operated laundry, as we could run multiple loads at once and get the whole chore done quickly while having lunch. Here in the USVI, our little apartment includes a washer/dryer – which has been a complete luxury!
Our past posts on water and hygiene:
Q 6. How do you handle logistical things, like banking, mail, visas and taxes?
All of our mail goes to our mail forwarding service in South Dakota (who also acts as our legal domicile address), and then they forward it on to us as per our request.
For banking, we haven’t found the perfect solution yet. We do like Chase, as their mobile banking iPhone app is excellent – even allowing us to deposit checks while naked in bed by uploading a photo of the check. (It’s amazing how many checks make it into our lives.) We also like their free QuickPay solution, that allows us to send & receive funds from anyone with an e-mail address and a bank account. Unfortunately, they just changed their terms of service from free with no minimum balance to requiring either substantial minimum balances or a pretty steep monthly fee. That adds up when we have 3 personal accounts (2 individual and 1 joint) and a business account (all with low transactions, as most our purchases go on a rewards credit card that we pay off monthly). So we’re on the look out for another solution.
We’ve also used ING Direct, but honestly don’t feel they’re keeping up with technology fast enough – after all, a completely online bank should have deposit by mobile device by now! One of our clients insist on paying by check, so we just have the check sent to my parents, who walk it to the bank for us. You’d think with all this high tech, checks would be obsolete by now.
For taxes, we only have to worry about federal, as neither South Dakota or Florida has state income tax- and we file those online. In 2009 however, we did work peak season at Amazon.com in Kansas, and had to file a state return. It was a pain in the butt. We’re very careful when visiting other states and working (even remotely), as some can try to collect taxes from you even for income generated while not in their state.
Visas – we haven’t had to deal with that yet, as we’ve kept our travels domestic thus far. But the future may bring that challenge to us to figure out.
Our post on logistics:
Q 7. How has your sense of community changed?
It’s definitely shifted around quite a bit for us over the years. At first, I thought it would be the thing I missed most and would tempt me off the road. Then we changed how we approached community to being a wider net via our travels, by establishing ourselves in different cities that we visit often. We also put a lot of effort into connecting with other nomads, with frequent rendezvouses.
We did a post about this a while back, and it still holds true. But I will say, with as wonderful as our time on St. John has been – we are feeling very isolated community wise. We have made local friends here, hosted couchsurfers and met up with other nomads – and that’s been wonderful. But we are very much missing the communities we had begun to feel part of and now feel disconnected from. It’s a natural ebb and flow – when you’re away, you are on the backburner in most people’s lives. And when you’re around, you become a priority. Right now, we feel on the backburner to everyone and generally only get Twitter length updates from friends. It can be tough sometimes.
At the same time, we had definitely reached an overabundance of awesome community prior to arriving on St. John, and were feeling a bit of a need to isolate ourselves for a bit. It’s all about balance, and having the flexibility to change your course to get your needs met.
Our posts on community: