From A Career Break To A Travel Lifestyle – How Do We Keep It Going?

As you know, our move to Spain started with a career break, taking a sabbatical, planning a family gap year, or whatever you want to call it.  After 3 years of travel, it has now officially turned into a travel lifestyle.  Yes, we now have the lifestyle of the open-ended traveler with a home base in Spain.

  • How did you go from Career Break to Lifestyle?
  • How do you keep it going?  (C’mon what is the real question here?)
  • When are you returning to the USA?

From A Career Break To A Travel Lifestyle - after 3+ years of travel, how Do We Keep It Going? Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

Moving from Career Break / Sabbatical, to the Lifestyle of International Travel

Of course the original plan was all set in stone and we were going to be in Spain about 1-2 years.  Well, we did that and then wanted to keep it going.  Of course at the end of 2 years in Spain, rather than return to the USA we went nomadic on you.  Yes, we decided to travel in Southeast Asia for a year.
Wagoners-Abroad-Angkor-Wat-Tour-22

We are still catching up on writing about that adventure, but we have loads of info.  Anyway, we decided that it wasn’t time to return to the USA and definitely not time to return to our old lifestyle.  We aren’t sure there will ever be a time to return to our old lifestyle.

In fact, we have decided we want to be location independent.  I bet you are wondering what the heck that means.  Well, it basically means we want to be able to live/work anywhere we like.  That may be in a foreign country or even in our home country, USA.

The Big Question:  How do you keep it going?

Okay, let’s all be honest here.  What you really want to know is how can we afford it.  Let’s face it, that is the real question and everyone is just too polite, shy, or feels awkward about asking.  This is what you really want to know, so we are going to share what we know with you.  Of course with anything, this is our personal story and perception on things.  We don’t consider ourselves to be rich with money.  We did have a good savings set aside for this adventure 3 years ago, but that is nearly gone now.  Also, working and writing from anywhere isn’t always so glamorous.  Just look at the make shift office below, while traveling through Spain this summer.  It was blazing hot, with no AC, so the purchase of a personal fan was a must.

Location independence - digital nomads - office of the day

How do you make money while you travel?

Of course that is key to the picture.  We were able to make our savings stretch.  Yes, we set aside what we thought we would need to live for 2 years and have made it last over 3 years.  Of course some of that is by making frugal choices and not treating our life like a vacation.  So saving or not spending is a big part of making it last, along with wise choices and finding great travel deals.

We will share with you what we do to make money while we are traveling.  I just want to be sure we are clear with you.  Our income is not completely funding our lifestyle.  That said, it has helped us stretch the money we saved for 2 years into a 3+ years span, so we make enough to make that savings last.

We decided sometime ago, that we liked our new lifestyle.  We like the simplicity of our life and the experiences we have had.  Our life is very rich indeed, but with the good stuff!  Yes, money helps, but many times what touches us the most is often free, like meeting amazing people.  Of course we do need money to live and work very hard, it just isn’t in a traditional way.  We are getting creative with ways to keep the lifestyle of travel and location independence.

For us, it is important to continue with our new lifestyle of travel.  It doesn’t matter to us if we have a home base in Spain or any other country, including the USA.  We just want to be sure that we have the freedom to be located where we want.  Since we have renewed our Spanish resident card, once again for 2 more years!  Spain is a logical place for us to be at this time.

Our Mission: To continue to be location independent.  To ensure we are able to create an income, which will completely fund our lifestyle.  We would also like to be sure that we can work from anywhere in the world.

Wagoners Abroad Bamboo Raft

I guess you could say it is like being digital nomads, but we will be moving at a snail’s pace.  Perhaps we will spend months or even years in one location before potentially moving to another.  The beauty of location independence is, we can move when we want to.  At this time, we are planning to be located in Spain for a while.  This will be a home base and we will venture off to other locations during school breaks.

That of course is the current plan, but with the travel lifestyle we can change our minds when we like.  We plan to keep our material possessions down to a minimum, as this helps with being able to have a more portable life.

How do we currently make money from anywhere in the world?

  1. Wagoners Abroad Blog
    1. While we don’t really make loads of money directly from the blog, it has opened new doors for us and allowed exposure to new opportunities.  We earn a small income from the blog with advertising, branded content, affiliate links, as well as Google Ads. Buy on Amazon via Wagoners Abroad!
    2. We have been asked to write paid pieces for other sites as well as our own.  It has allowed us to provide many reviews, in exchange for a sponsored product, hotel stay or activity.  So while it hasn’t all been paid work, with money exchanging hands, we have benefited from experiences and exposure.
      Granada-Spain-Segway-Tour-with-EnSegway-Albaicin-9
  2. Creation of Digital Products
    1. We have created a few digital products for sale and others to temporarily give away for free.  Our first and most popular product is the ebook Live in Spain, for those that would like to follow our path.  This is so helpful to you if you want to know how to obtain a resident visa to live in Spain!
      Live In SpainThis book helps non-EU Citizens navigate the cumbersome process of obtaining a resident visa in Spain.  Yes, this has helped people from the USA, Canada, Australia and more move to Spain.  We have successfully helped hundreds of people move to or visit Spain.  There are now several American families, couples and singles living in our town!  We are also contacted regularly with messages of gratitude.
    2. We have another ebook Let the Kids Cook – inspired by kids for kids.  This is sold on Amazon and has been pretty steady with sales each month.  It isn’t knocking it out of the park at $4.99 per copy, as we only get about 65% of that after Amazon takes their cut, but each little bit helps.
      Let the Kids Cook! Inspired by Kids for Kids
    3. Our final ebook is currently free for a limited time.  “Experience Spain”, is available to you once you Subscribe to the Wagoners Abroad Newsletter.
      Experience Spain - Getting Started With Spain Facts and Information
    4. Digital products in the Wagoners Abroad Pipeline – additional ebooks around budgeting for daily life or travel, how to get settled in Spain, how to plan your move abroad, a guide-book for Costa Tropical Spain.  We will also begin a series of video products, but that may take a while to get started.
  3. Consulting
    1. In conjunction with the ebook Live in Spain, Alan offers consulting services around the visa application process.  This too is very popular!  The consulting spans from answering questions via email, to Skype calls all the way to full project management.  Many people whom have purchased the book, usually purchase some level of consulting along with it.  Especially a call near the end of their document gathering process, to ensure all documents are accounted for and in the correct condition to turn in with the application.
    2. In addition, people with other visas or ways to live in Spain often just purchase consulting.  They have questions about moving to Spain or other moving abroad related questions.  We often help people select the area they would like to live in, or just answer the long list of questions about moving to another country.
      We help you plan and adjust for your move to Spain. Read more on WagonersAbroad.com
    3. Of course we are also contacted via the Contact Us page on the blog daily.  Over the past 6 months, it has been an average of about 2-3 contacts a day.  Each of those typically turn into full conversation and many emails back and forth.  Over the past 3 years, we have given with all of our heart and soul on the blog and in these emails for free.  We are now at a point, where the 2-3 hours a day it takes to keep us with all of these responses is too much.  Often times, the information is already on the blog and we direct them back to that area of the blog.  Recently we have decided to charge a nominal fee for questions.  This is should help ensure people are reading through the blog, prior to initial contact.  We are also hoping it will help with asking good quality questions when reaching out to us.  The purpose really isn’t about the money, it is to ensure our time is respected.  Sometimes the most simple question can take an hour to create a personal response, such as “Where should we move in Spain?”.  Each time it is very personal and more information is needed to provide a valued answer.  We hope you understand.
  4. Freelance Work
    1. Travelove Trip Design – I am working on a proposal with Travelove for a custom trip to Almuñécar Spain.  I am so excited about this project and have loved working with the locals to help design it.  My proposal is just about complete and I will be submitting it to them for review soon.  Once the proposal is approved, I will have a contract for paid work to complete it.  Fingers crossed for me in the next few weeks to complete this project.  Oh and guess what?  You will all benefit from a carefully planned trip to Almuñécar, you are going to love it!
      Wagoners Abroad Almunecar Spain View! noche de san juan
    2. Various projects from others needing help with their websites, computers and social media.  This is work where others reach out to us and make a request some sort of technical assistance.
    3. We are also looking into a few options for “steady” remote work.  I think this will be key for us as our income varies each month.  This is more like a regular job, with the bonus of working from home (anywhere in the world, but perhaps odd hours).  This will ensure we know the minimum we will have and can budget from there.  There are tools such as Upwork, which should be helpful on this part of our journey.
  5. Almuñécar Info
    Almunecar sunset along playa San Cristobal
    1. We do have a second website named AlmuencarInfo.  Initially we had the newcomer in mind when building this site.  We have since seen that it has been very helpful to locals as well.  There isn’t much online about our town, so a couple of years ago we started this site.  We haven’t put too much work into it, as it wasn’t initially intended to be a business.  We have since decided to make it into what we hope will be a thriving business.
    2. We have plans to create a full business directory, with advertising options, to help the locals grow their businesses.  Many of the local businesses have little to no online presence and we hope to be able to help change that for them.  We have already been working with a couple of companies and the exposure has benefited them quite a bit.  We will keep you up to date with our progress, as well as any hoops we may need to jump through with the Spanish laws.  We are looking into changing our non lucrative visa into something where one of us will legally be able to work.

What do other travelers do to make money while traveling?

Here are a few resources to help you with inspiration and ideas.

When will you return to the USA?

We aren’t opposed to visiting the USA to explore or visit family or who knows maybe even to live.  Oh if we only knew exactly what was in our future.

Wagoners Abroad at the Grand Canyon

At this time it isn’t even in our thoughts, so we really have no idea.  So many people ask us this question and we don’t have an answer.  Their follow-up question is usually “If you were going to return, where would you live?”.  Again, we have absolutely no idea.  The answer to both of those questions is “it depends”.

It depends if we have a location independent income, so we could live anywhere we wanted.  Or would we be finding traditional jobs.  Would the kids be attending school or university, etc.  The “it depends” variables are endless.  Since it isn’t something we are currently working towards, it really isn’t in our thoughts.

The bottom line, we do what we need to do to keep our dream life going.  We focus our time and attention towards our current goals.  This is how it all works, which helps with having opportunities present themselves in the direction we want to go.  Yes, to some it seems hokey, but I really believe the universe provides what we need.  It may not always be what we want or what we thought it would be, but so far so good for us.

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From A Career Break To A Travel Lifestyle - after 3+ years of travel, how Do We Keep It Going? Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

Do you have ways to earn an income you would like to share?  Please do so in the comments below. Oh and if you want to hire us, contact us and let us know what you have in mind.  We are ready and waiting.

15 thoughts on “From A Career Break To A Travel Lifestyle – How Do We Keep It Going?

  1. Your hard work and persistence/passion is starting to pay off guys and it will continue to grow-such an inspiration.x

  2. Hi Heidi, a great article and good for you for keeping your dream going. We left for our two year adventure in France 8 years ago :). And have done some mini adventures in between. We had to take a long hard look at our priorities, and retrained/changed directions to slow the life we live to continue. I trained to become an English teacher – and travel worldwide with that too – and hubby has returned to his initial training roots as a mechanic and provides a repair service local to us. Best wishes to the four of you – only one life, huh?!!!

      • Thanks Jen. Yes, it is great to do what we want and figure out how to make it happen. That little thing about pride and social pressures go right out the window. 🙂 I think your teaching job is fantastic and we just adore your family.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post as it’s not that often that bloggers share their secrets so readily – thank you! We also love living a life abroad and keep saying that maybe one day we’ll “go home” but I’m not sure when that might be 🙂

    • Thanks Katja, it is a great life. So glad you are enjoying the lifestyle too. Yes, we feel the same about “going home”. We actually aren’t sure where that is anyway. We lived so many places in the US prior to moving to Spain, I guess the “US” is just home.

  4. Hi Heidi,
    Love your blog! Great and very bold plan you guys have embarked upon. My wife and I have toyed with the same idea for some time now. The main concern for us is really finding places to rent for very long time (potentially years) in the same property in a tourist area (Spain, Thailand).

    How do you find the market for long term property rental in Spain? Is it a hassle, or is it quite unproblematic? How about furnished vs unfurnished properties in this respect? Any response about this would be very much appreciated 🙂

    -Bjørn S

    • Hey Bjorn, that is wonderful. We are happy you find the blog useful. As far as Spain and Thailand, we have done both. In Spain, we lived in a furnished apartment rental for 2 years. We found it very easy to find a rental and keep renewing. Some landlords prefer an 11 month contract to a 12 month, it just depends. I think they prefer the 11 month for tax reasons and just let you renew for another 11 months etc… Here is a useful post on rentals in Spain. We also have a great post on many topics about moving to Spain. As far as Thailand, we did rent in Chiang Mai and found it very easy to find a furnished rental as well. Here are our tips for finding a rental in Chiang Mai. Good luck to you and let us know if we can be of any help.

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