5 Ways To Explore The World And Still Keep Your Day Job


While our parents were growing up, the idea of living off the grid, somewhere next to a beach and immersed in a foreign culture, was reserved for the vagabonds, the wanderers, the hippies and the fools. Sure, you might travel for a couple of weeks here or there. You may even take a year off. But everyone had to grow up sometime.

When that time came, the only real jobs were in an office, with work hours from Monday to Friday. This was the case for our grandparents, their parents and the generations before them as well. But not anymore.

For the first time in history, the paradigm is changing. By many accounts, it has already shifted to a totally new reality. Some of the most successful minds in business and entrepreneurship today haven't set foot in an office in years. They have passports filled with extra pages, and have eaten pad Thai more recently than they've eaten Raisin Bran.

This is all due to the emergence of the digital nomad: the hardworking blogger, visionary, tech startup mogul or social media manager. All of them are working online, bouncing from their laptops to their phones, no matter where in the world they are.

1. The rules have changed.

No one wants to sit in an office anymore. Thanks to the Internet, you don't have to.

Businesses left and right, including big companies like Netflix and Virgin, are completely changing the way the workplace exists. CEOs are introducing unlimited vacation policies, mandating "work from home days" and adapting to a world where an increasing percentage of work can be done on the go: from a cell phone, in a cab or on your back porch.

You no longer have to be sitting next to Janet in accounting to get a budget line item approved. Nor should you. Not only do you not have to sit next to Janet, you don't even have to be in the same hemisphere as her, thanks to the increasing number of major companies seeking more and more remote employees.

2. Hone your skills. They're gold.

While even the most basically skilled job seeker can increasingly find solid and steady work online in various niches, if you've got a web-based skill, you're gold. The sky is the limit.

Sites like Jobbatical are popping up everywhere, with job titles like "Android adventures in the Andes" and "Pack up your coding skills and head to Phuket." This didn't exist 20 years ago. Hell, it barely existed two years ago.

The world is connecting on a faster level than ever before, and in the blink of an eye, you can go from living in your parents' basement in Des Moines to working with a dynamic creative team in Kuala Lumpur. You can spend your weekends shark-diving instead of dumpster diving.

3. You are the job creator.

More now than at any other time in history, services are popping up for things people never even knew they needed. If you've got a spark of creativity and a loose grasp of how to harness the power of the Internet, you can make a job simply appear out of thin air.

Do you know how many people have become overnight millionaires after creating an app? Settle down. Don't get your hopes up, but guess what? They all needed a team to help them.

I'd bet my bottom dollar that they didn't find that talent wasting away in a cubical or waiting by the water cooler. The found these people online.

With the insane boom of e-ployment websites like Upwork and Fiverr, people are making extremely solid incomes online, simply through the skills they already possess.

Are you a master of Excel? I can show you 59 people looking for help with spreadsheets. How about that semester you spent in Spain learning Spanish? Translation services are huge online, and they pay extremely well.

4. Social media isn't a fad.

Let me guess: The last seven strangers you met at the coffee shop had job titles with the words "social media" somewhere in them. Guess what? That's not going anywhere anytime soon.

Think Snapchat and Periscope are stupid? I do too. But that's not the point: They are bringing the world together, and you need to get on board.

The more connected people become, the more software, apps and websites will develop to exploit smaller and smaller niches of communication. If you can position yourself as an expert, you'll be in high demand. People crave connection, and not just to each other.

Brands realize this. Plus, what company wants its social media manager sitting behind a desk, sending out stale tweets from the confines of a dull office? Wouldn't you rather have the person who is representing your brand out in the world: exploring, seeing, feeling and absorbing the world around him or her? Damn right, you would. The brand's content can only benefit from this.

This is why incredible jobs are popping up all around the world. These are jobs that sound almost too good to be true. For example, World Of Beer is paying someone $12,000 to travel the world and drink beer all summer. Netflix is offering to pay "Grammasters" $4,000 for a couple of weeks, to post photos from around the world.

No, I'm not joking. This is where we're at. Embrace it or be left behind.

5. It's all relative.

OK, let's get down to the brass tacks. If you get up and leave your seemingly secure office job in Denver, complete with 10 days of vacation, a little sick leave and health insurance for the sandy beaches of Bali, there will surely be cons, right? Sure.

But while Bali might not give you the career stability your dad has been drilling into your head since the seventh grade, think of what you'll be getting in return. Remember: It's all relative.

Would you rather keep walking into that office, to a job that takes a little piece of your soul every time you walk in the door, where you earn $4,000 a month and enjoy a modest apartment, lease a standard car, upgrade to the new iPhone each fall and enjoy a couple of Nuggets games a year with the few bucks you've saved at the end of each month, or would you rather move to a beach in Bali, rent a motorbike to explore the jungles, live in a nice apartment for pennies, have experiences you'd never dreamed of, make friends you'll never forget and work online making $2,000 a month, but only spend half of it to live?

If you do the math like I have, you'll most likely come out ahead by living as a digital nomad. You'll be freelancing your way around the globe, and can easily save more than you would from working "at home." Think about it.

No longer is the travel lifestyle and career lifestyle separate, only overlapping for a couple of weeks a year. Your office is now in your pocket. Your schedule is your own.

It's all up to you. You can answer emails from a bathroom in Tokyo one day, and publish tweets from the Inca Trail in Peru the next. You can be streaming morning motivations to thousands of people while you get your morning exercise in Central Park, or you could be running an Instagram contest from 35,000 feet in the air, while you're on your way to your next destination.

This is the world we live in now, and it's only getting better. Embrace the shift. Be the shift. Ride the wave, and I'll see you on the road.

Jeff Johns is a travel writer, freelance producer and travel junkie currently living in Dubai with his girlfriend, Anne. They run numerous online projects, including "What Doesn't Suck?" a popular video travel blog that highlights their adventures around the world as American and French expats. They don't have a dog. But if they did, he would be named "Charlie."