Ahh, location independence. Freelancing offers no greater perk than the freedom to travel. We lucky souls can roam the Earth at leisure, while our cubicle-dwelling cousins spend 48 weeks of the year chained to a desk.
In my humble opinion, every freelancer should take a working sabbatical at some point in their career. Just pack the laptop and go. Transplant the home office to a mysterious foreign land with nice weather, great food and cheap booze. It’s an opportunity too good to miss.
Can’t afford it? Good news: You don’t need to. Just about any freelancer can take a long-term working holiday at no expense. Without dipping into your savings or racking up debt, you can venture off into the great unknown for as long as you damn well please.
Subsidize Your Travel Costs
Long-haul airfares are expensive, especially for a poverty-stricken freelancer. But there’s a simple way around this obstacle: Rent out your place at a profit. No point leaving an empty house or apartment while you take off on adventures.
The average rates will cover your rent with change to spare; especially if you live in a big city with lots of tourists.
Airbnb is a great website for subletting your digs on a short-term basis. The average rates will cover your rent with change to spare; especially if you live in a big city with lots of tourists.
Let’s use Chicago as an example. According to Numbeo, the average monthly rent on a one bedroom apartment in Chicago (outside the city center) is $900. Roughly $30 per night. Take a look at the Chicago listings on Airbnb, and you’ll see people renting modest places for upwards of $100.
That’s a juicy opportunity right there. Fill your place for long enough, and the proceeds will pay, or at least subsidize, your airfare. At a minimum, you’ll cover your own rent and earn a bit of pocket money for your travels. And that money will go a whole lot further if you choose your destination wisely.
Harness the Awesome Power of Geoarbitrage
Tim Ferris popularized the concept of geoarbitrage in The Four Hour Workweek. His book isn’t specifically aimed at freelancers, but certainly worth a read if you’re lacking inspiration.
Working remotely from cheap countries is an eye-opener. By the simple act of traveling somewhere with a lower cost of living, you effectively multiply your wealth. You’re suddenly richer, without charging a higher rate or working more hours. I’ve done this a few times now, and it’s the closest thing to magic I’ve ever seen.
By happy coincidence, some of the most beautiful and interesting places on Earth are also some of the cheapest. Thailand, Indonesia, Guatemala, Morocco . . . take your pick. There’s no shortage of exotic locales where a thousand bucks will feel like a million. And they all have internet access.
So there you have it: The Freelancer Sabbatical. Trade your urban gloom for romance and adventure while enjoying a big fat raise. I figure if we don’t take advantage of our freedoms, we might as well go back to the dull security of a nine to five.
Over to you – Have you used your freelance career to travel? Can you recommend any good locations for a sabbatical? Share your experiences in the comment section.