For many, selling all their belongings and setting sail to a simpler life while debt free is the ideal way to retire. It sounds like a perfect lifestyle but who really wants to wait that long? That could be years from now and 'ain't nobody got time for that! That's why my husband and I both decided to start cruising full time before we turned 30. Now we're living an awesome retiree lifestyle without actually being retired.
Don't get me wrong…We are still working. We are choosing to manage our jobs, side work and other projects simultaneously while traveling via sailboat full-time. It's a busy lifestyle but for the right person(s), it can be a dream come true.
This article will share with you some of our experiences when it comes to working remotely and some ways you can passively earn an income or extra money along your travels.
There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before deciding which way is the right way to earn money for your cruising kitty, especially when it comes to cruising. Here are a few of those questions to get you started.
- Am I cruising part-time, full-time, or for a set amount of time?
- Will I have the time to manage everything?
- Boat Maintenance
- Financial Responsibilities
- How much time can I dedicate to a job?
- Will the job(s) be flexible around due dates or will I need to be available during specific times?
- How often will an internet connection be needed?
- How much money do I need to budget per month with a job in addition to savings?
In our experience, it's best to categorize your budget into parts, add a little buffer (we suggest 20 percent) and keep yourself on track with that budget the best you are able. Everyone's experience will be unique but preparing ahead will help you get a better understanding on how you can make working while cruising make sense for you.
There are three different areas for making money while traveling. To help you easily understand and remember it think of PEW–Passively Getting Income, Earning Money Underway, and Working Remotely.
Passively Getting Income
The best way to set yourself up for cruising is to plan to earn money that requires little to no daily effort to maintain. Examples of passive income are managing rental properties, investing money, crowdfunding, affiliate or influencer marketing, or starting an online business. Let's dive a little deeper.
Managing Rental Properties
Rental properties are a huge money maker if you're able to manage them from afar or pay for a property manager. I've been able to fill our properties with full-time renters or via Airbnb to help us cover expenses while reserving availability for us when we visit. This is an ideal situation if you want to keep your house as a backup or can afford to invest in multiple places. It's a little risky but in the right market you can earn some equity and capital gains.
Airbnb is a great way to test the market and allows you to have an organized platform for short-term rentals. You'll need to get someone to clean between guests but could make a boatload of money while cruising around. Sign up at www.airbnb.com/r/marym721 for an extra $10 after receiving your first rental.
Investing money helps you to retire faster and many times can allow you to save without thinking much about it. I'm talking about saving a specific amount each month, adding extra funds when you're able and gaining dividends or interest on a regular basis; nothing as complex as day-trading or highly involved investing, just simply saving and getting a little extra along the way. A couple of good options with little to no cost for getting started is through Vanguard or Acorns. Do your research with different companies but Acorns will actually give you $5 to start when you sign up with this link: acorns.com/invite/DGTXHZ.
Crowdfunding typically requires a large audience before cashing in, but it truly does pay off. Sailing La Vagabonde and SV Delos are great examples. They host videos, websites and social media and use Patreon to attract memberships to different tiers in return for creative content. Many crowdfunding brands are for fundraising purposes only but Patreon is great for creators to provide something back to patrons in return for their hard-earned cash.
Affiliate & Influencer Marketing
Remember when I mentioned Airbnb? My affiliation with them allows me to provide incentives to others interested in their services. In return for mentioning them, I also get a reward for spreading the word. It's an easy way for brands to get additional business and allows anyone the opportunity to be an ambassador. Companies are looking for micro-influencers to help expand their brands, and it's a great business to be in that can earn you some serious cash.
Starting an Online Business
This is something that may need some attention while you are along your way, but in some cases it won't need you at all. An example of this would be through drop shipping or starting an e-commerce business where you're selling products while third parties are fulfilling the orders. Another way of making an online business work for you is to buy an already existing e-commerce website with established business and manage those efforts. This can be somewhat risky but could set you up for making a good passive income.
Earning Money Underway
Another way you can compensate for the expense of the cruising lifestyle is by earning money underway. It could be through writing an article (such as this one) or freelancing services you're familiar with along the way.
Selling your writing is all about either being an enthusiast about a specific topic or willing to learn how to write technical articles about a certain topic. Regardless of which way you go, you'll need to be able to sell your articles to magazines or publications. The more you publish, the more you'll be asked to write as long as you fit the needs of the publisher and you stay on good terms.
Starting a blog is another way you can earn money on the side but just because you like to write doesn't mean you'll get paid to do so. You'll need to optimize your website with affiliate marketing, crowdfunding and partnerships to help you earn money from that.
This category opens up a load of options for individuals who are traveling full-time. You can freelance special skills to compete with local businesses or you can sign up for skill share sites to help out with general tasks. I've met cruisers who are working hairdressers, handymen working on other people's boats, dog walkers, graphic artists creating from afar and even grocery delivery to locals. Depending on your skills, you may be able to take it on the road and market your services. There are also plenty of websites that let you sign up and take advantage of their marketing platform to freelance online.
Having a job along the way is a great way to continue your career and make money while living a nomadic lifestyle. It does take some dedication, though, even if it's part time. First, you'll need to get a job lined up with a company that will approve of remote work capabilities.
If your current job allows it, you're all set. If you need to find a job yet, better start looking. While the job market is moving more towards a remote lifestyle, it's very competitive. When applying locally for a job, you might be competing with a small pool of candidates, but remote work opens up an entire country of candidates. Popular industries that allow remote work are programming, design, copywriting, customer support, bookkeeping, sales, marketing and more.
For More Information
This article has hopefully helped get you in the right mindset. I've mentioned a lot of ways you can earn money but not a lot of ways to find these opportunities. My husband and I both do a mix of PEW to fund our sailing adventures and have been working since day one of our travels. We may miss out on some fun activities at times due to work, but it's given us freedom to make money while traveling.
Mary Rodriguez took her career and moved aboard a 36-foot Nonsuch to set sail and travel full-time. She's a digital nomad at www.zenomad.com and loves writing for Waterway Guide! Mary is enthusiastic about most things but especially trying new craft beers, sharing stories and, of course, going sailing.