We are not independently wealthy, and we have two kids who still live at home, but, we still have the time and money to travel. In 2017, for instance, we’ll be away from home for about three total months, with several of the trips international.
Our careers in our 20’s and 30’s were traditional corporate jobs tethered to our desks. But we did pick up some key skills that have helped us to untether, now that we want the flexibility to roam and still stay financially solvent!
If I had to pick out what has been most helpful, here are the seven skills that have given us the time and money to travel.
Basic money management
As soon as we started our jobs, we started saving money. In our case, we put it in retirement accounts and not a designated travel account. But it’s still money that provides us a cushion to take career risks (like when I launched my coaching business and earned just 15% of my former corporate salary the first year).
We also kept to a budget (travel needs a budget), set up automatic and online bill payment (handy when you’re not physically available to get mail), and built up good credit (leading to credit cards with lucrative travel perks like the American Express SPG card we’re fiercely loyal to.
This is really Trailing-Husband’s area (just writing that makes me feel like my all-women alma mater will come after me). But his strong tech skills give us time and money to travel in two big ways:
- any helpful apps or other technology resources will probably be something he’s already familiar with or can learn quickly; and
- tech skills are incredibly portable, meaning he can earn income remotely and flexibly.
This is my contribution to our time and money to travel. Four of our trips this year alone are connected to keynotes or workshops I’m delivering. Many skills can be marketed such that you can profit from them remotely, but public speaking is a skill that can lead directly to more travel.
I started with local organizations, particularly ones who already knew me in other capacities and therefore were more likely to take a chance on me (e.g., former employers, my alma mater). Now, I land engagements mostly by word of mouth and by using speaking lead sites, such as Speakermatch.
A brisk travel writing business is an obvious advantage to the person looking for time and money to travel. I am not a travel writer but I do make money from writing books and blogs, and it’s one of the most portable skills you can have.
Similarly to speaking, when I got started I worked with local and personal organizations, such as my community newspaper and my own website, and I also used my network to learn of guest blog opportunities. Once I had a track record, it let to new paid opportunities.
Speaking of networking, it’s critical not just for writing gigs, but speaking, consulting, and even helpful travel tips (efficiencies and savings contribute time and money to travel!). The strongest networks result from following up with people in a consistent way, so that a genuine relationship develops over time.
Now that we’re traveling more, our network loves to hear about it so it’s a virtuous cycle – the networking gave us opportunities which give us time and money to travel which gives us interesting stories to report back to our network.
Checking in with people is sometimes enough to prompt them to refer you for a consulting project or to share a lead. But more often, you have to outright ask the help you need, including sometimes asking for business.
For a recent trip to SF, I organized a second speaking engagement by reaching out to a contact I’ve known and kept in touch with off and on for over five years. We don’t know each other so well that she’d think of me on her own, and besides she knows I’m in NYC, so it’s up to me to initiate and let her know that I’m available.
Being able to work remotely and flexibly is key to having time and money to travel, and a strong brand ensures a pipeline of clients interested in working with you. People have to trust you enough that you can deliver results from afar.
When I was starting out and my business was unknown, I made sure to get quoted in as many major media outlets as I could. The PR leads service, HARO (Help A Reporter Out), was really helpful to get connected with reporters and publicists. When my business was mentioned in a well-branded media outlet, this gave my nascent business the halo effect from that more established brand.
Now, I continue to respond to media inquiries, stay active on social media platforms, and otherwise proactively manage my brand, so I stay top of mind for people who need my services.
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We use a lot of other skills to run and grow our businesses, but if I had to start all over again with an emphasis on having time and money to travel, I would definitely prioritize the seven skills above.
How about you? If you are working flexibly, what skills have been most helpful to you?