Could You Freelance Your Way Across the Globe?

Freelancing and Traveling

I love traveling, and I love the fact you can freelance while traveling. Today, we have a guest post from Mark James, a former freelance writer who has successfully combined freelancing with traveling.

As anyone who’s done a little traveling will concur, once you’ve caught the travel bug, it’s hard to make it go away. Even more so when you live in the UK like me, where the climate is bordering on Arctic six months of the year.

The perpetual desire to see new places and meet new faces is something that’s hard to satisfy though, thanks largely to the significant cost involved. Travel is pricey, especially when you’re looking at going further afield or looking at backpacking in first, rather than third, world countries.

One way to counter this is by working whilst you cross countries and continents, although again there may be considerable barriers to doing this, visa issues and the like posing problems.

As freelancers though you’re in a gifted position, as for many freelancing disciplines you can take clients and customers with you, regardless of where you go in the world.

I speak from experience, having combined some freelance copywriting with some backpacking around Europe. Sitting in a hostel dormitory in Naples, money running low after three weeks spent traversing round taverns and frittering away funds, I sent a speculative email to a client and managed to snap up enough work to tide me over another two weeks. It was then it struck me how it could be possible to juggle a freelancing career with some larger scale traveling.

Intrigued? Here’s how I think it’s possible…

Communication barriers have been reduced

Skype has made things infinitely easier on the worldwide communication front, increasing numbers of expats, immigrants and backpackers all using the platform to keep in contact with friends and relatives back home. For free, too. It’s even being used to conduct interviews remotely, according to a friend who’s on a working holiday in Canada.

On this basis, what’s to say that it can’t provide a medium from which to communicate with clients? Elsewhere, if you’re required to communicate on a larger level then there’s apps like GoToMeeting. Ultimately we’re so connected online nowadays, it’s relatively easy to communicate.

Paperwork needn’t be so much of a burden

The rise of cloud software has made things remarkably easier regarding paperwork, creations like Dropbox meaning that you can access all your important documents on foreign shores, as long as you’ve uploaded and scanned them prior to setting off on your travels. Furthermore, with online platforms gradually taking greater and greater precedence over paper, it’s increasingly possible to go without paper.

All that said, you’ll likely need to deal with post from time to time. Here in the UK the taxman is keen on sending letters should you have any outstanding tax liabilities, (presumably the IRS are similar?!) so you’ll probably need a helpful relative or friend who can occasionally check up on your post, or, failing that, a mail forwarding service.

(Nice) accommodation can be reasonably cheap

Finding a place that’s conducive to work is vital. Whilst hostels and budget hotels may prove good places to make new friends and save money, they’re likely to be noisy, making it a struggle for you to keep your focus.

Thankfully, there’s still a range of reasonably priced options that are more conducive to clients’ needs. Sites such as Couchsurfing and Airbnb offer an alternative to the hellishly priced hotel or just plain hellish hostel. You can even get yourself some office space should you so need it, Loosecubes and Sharedesk providing the opportunity to rent desks by the day.

Convinced? Well, if you are then don’t go packing your bags just yet. There’s still one considerable barrier to nomadic freelancing. The legalities. If you don’t not have a “permanent” address, what laws will apply to your business?

Amongst the biggest legal concerns is tax but as a little research around the subject has shown, to overcome this issue many mobile freelancers pick a home tax base regardless of whether they’ll actually be spending much time there. I’m a just a mere Writer though and I don’t profess to be an expert on this issue, so it’s probably best to liaise with an accountant before booking that one way flight to the Bahamas.

What are you waiting for? Get packing!


Mark James Freelancing and TravelMark James is a former freelance writer who now works in-house for Crunch, online accountants for contractors. He specializes largely in small business and finance, contributing to both online and print media. Outside of work writes extensively on soccer and travel, two of his biggest passions. Having spent several years freelancing prior to working in-house, Mark is also a regular contributor to Freelance Advisor, popular UK news and advice site for freelancers. He hopes to return to freelancing again in the near future, preferably combining it with some travel across South America.


Image by Jon Gos
8 Responses to Could You Freelance Your Way Across the Globe?
  1. Allena Tapia
    February 6, 2013 | 10:58 am

    My husband’s family has a ranch in middle Mexico. One of my biggest hurdles was always finding cell phone service and/or internet. It’s getting better year by year.

    • Lexi Rodrigo
      February 6, 2013 | 5:12 pm

      @Allena – That is a challenge! I used to live in a place where I couldn’t get broadband internet. Imagine, I was using dial-up! But you’re right, things are getting better fast. I hope you get better access to info tech soon.

  2. Doug
    February 9, 2013 | 4:11 pm

    Well Loosecubes is no more, but you can use LiquidSpace in the US to find a great space for a day or an hour. Global coming soon!

    • Lexi Rodrigo
      February 11, 2013 | 10:48 am

      @Doug – Thanks for the info!

  3. Nico
    February 15, 2013 | 1:23 pm

    Great post!

    I can attest traveling as a freelancer is more than doable – in fact, depending on where you live, it can be even cheaper to move around while working instead just living in one place.

    After 1 year freelancing as a translator, I decided to try out merging travelling with working. What was supposed to last 3 months turned into 9. Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Guatemala, USA and Canada were the places.

    http://www.traslacionestacionaria.wordpress.com was the Spanish blog where I kept a record of some of the places and adventures.

    I highly recommend travelling and working!

    Nico

    • Lexi Rodrigo
      February 15, 2013 | 1:32 pm

      @Nico – Sounds like an exciting adventure! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. dojo
    February 26, 2013 | 5:38 am

    I have done successful work from all parts of the world. All I needed was my laptop and an internet connection. I worked from my country, I worked from Spain and even the US. It’s really easy to do this, since most places have good internet connections, we can use various payment systems and our cards work properly no matter the country we try to pay in.
    dojo´s last blog post ..dsc_0053

  5. Tamara Ponama
    March 27, 2013 | 5:05 pm

    Travel and Freelance Writing is EXACTLY what I want to do! I am brand new to this but, not new to travel or business writing. Being retired with dreams of seeing a few places on our planet, writing about them and the cultures; I look forward to help getting things in motion! Thanks Lexi, for this great article and blog.

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