The concept of “taking your career on the road” is an alluring one. But far too often it simply feels out of reach, reserved for the excessively adventurous who could care less about putting down roots or staying in any one place for long.
Honestly, there are plenty of ways to take your career on the road without sacrificing everything you’ve worked so hard toward over the course of your career. Will it require some discomfort and sacrifice? Sure, but what major life decision doesn’t? That’s why they’re called major life decisions, after all. But you don’t have to do a 180-degree career switch in order to pull it off.
It doesn’t matter if you’re already an established freelancer, an aspiring entrepreneur or someone working a steady job at the office and looking to bust out of the rat race — it’s almost always possible to find a way to make your career a mobile one. Here are a few suggestions to help you take your career on the road:
Consider the Logistics
Traveling is never simple. In fact, the logistics involved with taking care of yourself on the road can be quite complex. After all, you’re not looking to splurge on a vacation; you need to make sure that you know how to spend your money wisely, find affordable lodging, and stay healthy while you travel.
As far as eating and general health go, it’s important for a digital nomad to always be looking for ways to get moving. If you adopt a traveling lifestyle, you should constantly be exploring ways to incorporate exercise and activity into your lifestyle.
You also need to make sure not to forget important things like staying hydrated and eating regular meals. Keeping good, quality snacks on hand, choosing healthy options when eating out, and sticking to general mealtimes can all help with that. In addition, after you settle in each new place, it’s always wise to shift to cooking your own food whenever and wherever possible in order to stretch your dollars.
Transportation and sleeping can also be challenging. Unless you’re in a very lucrative line of work, you can hardly stay in a hotel every night, or your traveling life won’t last a month. If you truly want to maintain a mobile lifestyle, make sure to look for travel and lodging deals. Utilize cheaper airlines with fewer frills, as well as buses, rideshare apps, and even hitchhiking where possible. Lean on cheap lodgings like Airbnbs or hostels initially after a move, and then shift as soon as possible to a cheap apartment or single room in each place that you stay.
Other Practical Tips to Consider
While staying healthy and tending to transportation and lodging are the obvious big-ticket items, there are many other things you’re going to want to consider.
For instance, adopting a minimalist lifestyle can be a critical element to taking your life out onto the road. If you need to lug several suitcases and a stuffed moving van everywhere you go, you’re not going to have a very easy time out there. However, if you take the time to whittle down your belongings and adopt a “less is more” mindset that focuses on what you need rather than what you want, you’ll find the roaming life much easier.
In addition, remember that a career on the road isn’t simply made up of one spontaneous decision after another. You still need to schedule your time and responsibly communicate with your clients, bosses, and coworkers whenever you’re moving from point A to point B, even if you’re simply taking some time “off the clock.”
Insurance doesn’t love the unknown. One of the less glamorous elements of heading off for professional adventure in foreign places is that you must understand what your insurance covers. Does your car insurance extend to other states? What about other countries? What about your healthcare insurance? Is travel insurance worth it? These are all considerations that you’re going to want to take into account before you start your adventures.
Try Looking for a Travel-Heavy Full-Time Job
Of course, the poster child for the traveling career is a freelancer. After all, independent professionals maintain a certain degree of autonomy, and in the modern world, contract work can often be done remotely. However, not everyone is cut out for the freelance life — and that’s okay. You don’t necessarily have to ditch your established career in order to find work that will let you travel.
Instead, look for ways for your career to be adapted to a travel-heavy workload. For instance, if you drive for work, consider shifting to a career as a long-haul truck driver. If you’re in the service sector, consider taking a job on a cruise ship or with an airline. You could even simply look for a stable job in another location that you’ve always wanted to visit, thus satisfying the desire to travel without the need to constantly be upending your current occupation by moving.
Nurses, for example, are in high demand in the U.S. right now, where a nursing shortage is becoming acute. Foreign-trained nurses can both improve their professional lives and experience a new location by simply shifting their careers overseas to the U.S. And, of course, nursing is just one example out of many. No matter what your profession, it’s nearly always possible to find some form of work that can be done remotely or that involves relocation to somewhere else, both of which can be done without completely derailing your career.
Be Willing to Gauge Your Success
Of course, even if you follow all of these tips, it doesn’t mean you’re going to automatically find success as a full-time traveling employee. That’s why it’s important to take stock of how your new mobile career is doing as you go along.
Right off the bat, it should be said that it’s important to give your new lifestyle a fair shake before deciding if it’s a good fit or not. On the one hand, it’s easy to be enamored with things when you’re still in that “honeymoon stage.” Money won’t be an issue initially, and the change of pace and scenery will almost certainly be enchanting. On the flip side, you’re likely to hit a snag or a low point at some point early on as well. Change can be unsettling, and even something as great as going from office hours to professional freedom can still be stressful at times.
In other words, make sure to give yourself at least a few months before you decide if this new lifestyle is working out. If you find that you just aren’t happy three or four months in, then understand that it’s okay to stop. While it’s bathed in romance, taking your career on the road has its pros and cons.
If you find that things simply aren’t quite working out, you don’t necessarily have to crawl back to your previous job in defeat. Take stock of your situation and look for alternatives. A mail carrier, for instance, is a stable, steady job with a geographically grounded focus. However, once trained, you can travel all over the country and still do the same work. The same principle can apply to many other careers as well.
The point is, wherever you end up, make sure that you’re truly satisfied with the change. Remember, the main point of shaking things up and taking your career on the road is to move in a direction that is better for you. When all’s said and done, make sure that you’ve found a satisfying way to contribute to the workforce that truly fits your long-term goals and ambitions.