In all reality the moment I quit working for someone else in 1997 and became a freelancer, I could have hit the road. But it was all new to me. I did not know there was such a thing as a Digital Nomad.
When we bought our first travel trailer in 2000, we were able to hit the road debt free. Mainly because we sold our home and used the proceeds to pay off most of our debt. This gave us the ability to take a few months off without worry.
Our maiden voyage was to Alaska where I was to attend graduate school, so we were not full time yet. But driving from Colorado to Alaska indoctrinated us to traveling in an RV. It was a bit frightening at first. The dealer hooked it up to our truck and said happy trails.
But wait! How do we drive this thing? After a few minutes driving around a mall parking lot, we saw that it would be ok. We also took a little camping trip before we went on the long journey north.
While going to school I worked part time with the Dean of my college. In my last semester, I asked if I could work remotely. I provided them with a detailed plan of how it would work. They said yes, so off we went for another entire summer to explore Alaska – from Homer at the end of the road up to the arctic circle.
This time I was still pulling a paycheck that funded our trip. The lease was up on our apartment, so we put everything in storage and planned to move into a new space when we returned in the fall.
After those two major trips we were hooked. We wanted to do this full time or as much as possible.
One of the steps to getting to that point requires having a steady income that covers your budget. It also helps to have a bit of a reserve in case of emergencies.
It is extremely helpful to create a set of goals surrounding financing your new RV digital nomad lifestyle with definitive deadline dates and the tasks you need to get to that goal. Here are a few things to put on that list.
Eliminate as much debt as you can
In another article I mentioned that I took on a new mindset that changed my buying habits immediately. I would ask myself, “Will this fit in the trailer?” before I bought anything. Shoes, books, kitchen gadgets – anything. This will help you reduce your consumption and reduce your budget in the long run.
Look at your memberships and subscriptions, both digital and physical. If you genuinely want to change your lifestyle, it will be ok to cancel your club memberships and services you pay on monthly. Look at your bank statement or budget and highlight the things you can get rid of now.
The sooner you cancel the more money you will have to pay off other debt and fund your adventure. And you will not have, or need, those things when you are parked on a beach or hiking a trail in the Rockies.
Create your new budget
We were lucky in that we were selling our home when we started. But we still had the truck and trailer payment, insurance, food, and normal living costs.
Create a new budget projecting the costs of living an RV digital lifestyle. You can start with your current budget but remove the things you will not need any longer. All the memberships and subscriptions mentioned above, plus you can eliminate your rent/mortgage, energy bills, lawn care, etc.
You will also be adding some things, for example, RV payment, higher fuel bill, RV park rental if you choose to do so, propane – brainstorm things you will need in order to live and work remotely.
My budget includes monthly fees for SaaS programs such as QuickBooks, hosting/domains, and Netflix.
If you are freelancing or starting a business, make a separate budget for those.
Start working on new revenue streams
To make the transition less stressful it is wise to get your new revenue streams working before you head out. There are at least three main categories of earning an income while traveling: remote employee, remote freelancer, and online business owner.
Being a remote employee comes with the benefit of keeping insurance, but it has the hazard of still being accountable to a boss, and no job is ever 100% guaranteed to be there tomorrow.
As a freelancer you have more freedom as to how much you work and when you work. In the beginning it is difficult to keep a steady income stream so you might consider starting your side gig while you are still working at your current job.
My favorite is creating a business. This allows all the freedoms I desire and satisfies my creative needs. Once I get the formula right, I can totally control how much income I can expect.
This year has been extremely difficult for people in all sectors. Some people were able to keep their jobs but work remotely, while others were cut out completely. We need to build resilient systems. Building your own business helps you in times of struggle if done correctly.
Having multiple sources of income, either a mix of the three, or a mix of businesses, will allow you to still live the RV Digital Nomad lifestyle without high stress.
See you on the road…