With the freedom to work from her laptop in vibrant, sunny parks or on the top of lush mountains, Sol Spier has mastered the work-travel lifestyle. This ability to work in beautiful settings continues to inspire and drive Sol to do whatever it takes to maintain her way of life. She now offers a background to how she originally got into this type of work, how she is able to achieve a sustainable income and some advice to those wishing to step in this direction.
Sol grew up in Costa Rica in her parent’s eco-lodge, situated in the Osa Peninsula. When she wasn’t surrounded by nature, Sol spent her time actively engaging with guests and children from all over the world. Travelling has always played a large role in Sol’s life, as she would always be either exploring her home country or jetting off overseas with her parents.
“I’ve always loved traveling, but I never thought I could really build a life that allowed for so much [of it],” explains Sol. “I thought traveling meant saving all year to take one or two vacations per year.”
“This changed when I started traveling after college. I finished my Bachelor’s degree in marketing at USF in Tampa in just three years, so I used the excuse of being one year ahead of time and only being 21 to take a six-month sabbatical. I was going to travel for six months, or until I ran out of money, and then move to Denver and look for a marketing agency job.”
“After traveling around Iceland, Ireland, Austria, the UK, Holland, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia and more, I realised two things. First, traveling isn’t expensive. I wasn’t running out of money! In four months I had spent less than $2,000 (minus flights which I bought before) because I was doing work exchanges, staying with people, couch surfing etc. Second, I realized that I LOVED traveling way too much to go back.”
Sol explains that her travels lead her to blissful moments, fascinating cultures and remarkable people. With everything the world has to offer, she decided she wasn’t going to stop now. She began to take her first steps towards establishing herself as a successful freelance digital marketer.
“I decided I was going to find a way to make money online and keep traveling. I wasn’t a photographer, travel blogger or Instagram influencer but I knew there were ways to make money while still being location independent.”
“I went home to a little Italian apartment in Cinque Terre and stayed up until 3 am researching, creating a profile on Upwork, and applying for jobs. A few days later I got my first job on Upwork - translating.”
After that, I kept taking any job I could find while I built up my digital marketing skills and took courses so I could take on the work I wanted to take on - marketing! I was slowly able to narrow my focus and I found a few long-term clients on Upwork and others through referrals - now I have a steady stream of location independent work.”
“When I started out and wasn’t making much, I was able to sustain this lifestyle by doing work exchanges. Through Workaway.info I was able to find work/ cultural exchanges. I stayed with hosts and would help them about 20 hours a week in exchange for a free room and board while also doing my online work.”
“When I was only making a few hundred dollars a month, I was still able to travel and experience a new country without spending all my savings. Now I actually find this way of life MORE sustainable! I don’t have a house, a rent bill, a car etc. so I really don’t have any fixed expenses (except $99/month for unlimited global Wi-Fi!).”
“I do work exchanges, stay with hosts or friends or family sometimes, or find budget accommodations and I save about 70% of my income each month!”
For those wishing to reach a sustainable work-travel lifestyle, Sol emphasises that commitment is of utmost importance.
“If you want to make something happen, you need to decide you’re going to make it happen and commit to [doing the] work.
“Once you commit to it, think about what skills you have, what you’d like to do with your life, what makes you happy and then find a way to combine all of those into a way to make an income without being tied down somewhere.
“There are so many options for working online so I recommend creating a profile or at least browsing Upwork.com to get an idea of the things you could do, and what there’s a demand for. Try to pursue something you love doing, not just a way to make money online.”
For a deeper understanding and firsthand look at Sol’s travel-work lifestyle, you can follow her adventures on Instagram: @solspier
Check out her blog here: http://solspier.com/
After some more work-travel inspiration? Have a look at last week's edition of Nine-To-Five Nomads, featuring Courtney Zinckgraf