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A Guide on How to Live the Dream – Web Work Travel

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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Web and Graphic Design are fantastic skills that you can use no matter where you are. Once you have established yourself as a freelance web designer, you could basically travel the world while running your business online. Johannes Volkner, the author of the first destination guide for freelancers who work online is living the life of a so called digital nomad and decided to share some tips on how you could do the same.

Web and Graphic Design are fantastic skills that you can use no matter where you are. Once you have established yourself as a freelance web designer, you could basically travel the world while running your business online. Johannes Volkner, the author of the first destination guide for freelancers who work online is living the life of a so called digital nomad and decided to share some tips on how you could do the same.

What made you become a digital nomad?

My move to becoming a digital nomad happened slowly. When I was studying abroad in Cape Town I fell in love with the city and the country so I decided to stay longer. I quickly found a job in tourism but it came with just 15 days of vacation per year and a lousy salary, so I looked around for better options. I figured that the best thing I could do would be to work online for German companies, get paid in Euros and enjoy my life and freedom in South Africa. So I studied hard and once things started to work out I quit my job and have been location independent ever since.
Since my clients were already used to me working for them from abroad, they didn’t have a problem when I decided to become a digital nomad and go travelling to see other parts of the world.

Was it easy to find jobs once you decided to start freelancing?

Luckily I was able to build my client network while already working from abroad. But I have met other nomads who are picking up jobs while travelling. You meet a lot of people when you travel, so if you can show them that you are actually focused on doing some work every day and you promote your business to them they will come back to you if they need your service. Besides that it is always possible to build up clients using sites like freelancer.com or elance.com. Make sure though that you have a few regular clients, who can also refer you to other people, before you leave.

Digital Nomad

How many hours do you work per week?

I usually work around 30-40 hours per week. Which to be honest isn’t much more than most long-term travellers spend in front of their computers on Facebook and so on when they are travelling. I just try to use that time a bit more productively ☺.

Do you have a daily routine that you repeat no matter where you are in the world?

It depends. When I’m travelling from one place to another there isn’t any routine, I just make sure I get some work done when I can, whatever the time of day. And if I don’t manage to work at all one day, I just do a bit more on the next. It’s different though when I base myself in a destination for a longer period of time. Right now I am back in Cape Town for example. I have a great coffee shop with high speed Internet and a view of Table Mountain that I visit every morning. In the afternoon I usually take time out to do something like kitesurfing and then I get some more work done in the evening if I don’t go out for dinner.

You’ve been practically everywhere, what was your favourite place so far?

City wise, my favourites are Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro. I also want to go back to Florianopolis and spend some more time exploring it in the future.
But I also like the island life as well and Koh Tao in Thailand would be one of my favourites. You can find some more in this list of digital nomad destinations.

Cape Town

There are obviously many good things to your way of life, what would you say are the absolute best?

I love the freedom of being able to explore new places and work from anywhere and anytime I want to. Besides that I love meeting great people and enjoying the possibilities of spending time in countries that offer exceptional value for money.

Are there any less positive aspects?

Not many. One problem is that you meet a lot of great people and have to say goodbye to them too quickly since most are not able to go on such a long vacation.

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How did the Web Work Travel guide start?

I had the idea for the guide when I was travelling in Panama. One thing I noticed was that you come across other digital nomads if you spend time in popular nomad destinations like Chiang Mai for example, but once you leave those places you hardly meet anyone who is working online, so I thought I would do my bit and promote the other amazing destinations that I have discovered on my travels over the last ten years that are also perfect for getting plenty of work done. Not all of them are as cheap to live in as Chiang Mai, but each destination is special in a unique way and offers plenty of value for money.

How do you choose your destinations?

In the past I just wanted to travel to places I hadn’t been before. This has changed now though. I love kitesurfing so I choose my destinations based on what the wind conditions are like at certain times of the year.

What are the top 6 tips you would give someone who is considering freelancing and traveling the world?

1. Look for good Internet as a priority.

Sometimes you can have trouble with bad connections, which makes you work a lot slower when you are travelling. So instead of wasting your time getting work done slowly, take the time to find somewhere else. Look for the quieter coffee shops where you don’t need to share the line with 20 other people – or consider using Coworking spaces that offer fast connections – especially if you plan to stay in one location for a long time.2. Stay in hostels and use Couchsurfing.
Lots of people are scared to work and travel because they’re worried about being alone. But this really shouldn’t stop you from travelling. Whenever you arrive in a new destination go to Couchsurfing Meet-Ups and make sure you stay in hostels when you arrive – this will help you to build a local network of friends very quickly.

3. Get your clients used to it.

If you are worried that your clients won’t like the fact that you want to travel while you are working for them, get them used to it slowly. Just tell them you are going on a vacation and then extend your stay slowly. Start working for them and convince them with superior work while you are travelling. This will get them used to the idea while showing that you can deliver.

4. Get good back ups for the most important things.

Take at least two different bank cards with you and make copies of all your files and important documents. Store everything in services like Dropbox – so you don’t need to worry too much if things get lost.

5. Go – and don’t give it too much thought.

If you are not sure if freelancing & travelling is for you, start slowly. Try taking a short trip to Asia for a month or two and see if you can get used to the idea. Taking action and trying it out is what counts!

6. Learn to outsource.

Being a freelancer you are used to do most of your work by yourself. Realize that you can get A LOT more done and earn more money if you simply focus on the things you can do best and get other people to help you with everything else! This will enable you to have a more free time, less stress and enjoy your work more. Finding good people that help you with your business is not always easy, but it’s absolutely worth it!

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If you enjoyed this article you might also like to check out Webworktravel.com where you will find a lot more info about working online and travelling the world!
And to learn the skills to work as a freelancer check out our fantastic courses!

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