Is Your Income Safe While You Travel the World?
You need an exit strategy and emergency savings.
You finally did it!
You bought your rig, said goodbye to your family and friends, and hit the road. Maybe you’re renting out your home on Airbnb or you’ve got a remote job. However you did it, you finally have the income to travel full-time.
But what would you do if that money disappeared? What if Airbnb regulations changed in your community or your boss called everyone back to the office at risk of losing their jobs?
Even if you have a fixed income from the government or pension, no income is guaranteed. Businesses can go under, governments can shut down, trusts are often mismanaged, and policy changes can happen.
A lot of us experienced this in 2023.
I’m not the only digital nomad who saw their financial lives flash before their eyes last year. The explosive use of generative AI, the writer strikes, and the big tech layoffs sent a lot of people scrambling in 2023. There were dozens of other people on my social media timelines asking for advice or for help paying rent and medical bills.
The fear of finding myself in that situation is why I work 50-hour weeks. I work 40 hours for Google and then 10 hours for a handful of clients. Aside from Google potentially not renewing my contract, they could also just lay off my entire team tomorrow.
Google’s most recent layoffs sent shivers through our team. We remained intact, but the threat was out there. If Google could lay off its internal workers — including part of its AI squad — why not us contractors?
So, what can you do about it?
The quick answer is: find a[nother] job. But that was easier said than done in 2023. Here are some alternatives.
You should have also created some emergency savings to cushion you through the hard times. This is what mine looked like. I never missed a single bill during my downturn because I had my savings. Still, I certainly racked up quite a bit of debt to pay for everything else, like my healthcare. Thankfully, most of that credit card debt has been paid off — before interest could kick in (my plan explains how I do that).
If you did those things, then you have more leeway when it comes to moving forward after a job loss on the road. For example, I had the opportunity to play the long game. Instead of running back to Georgia immediately, I was able to hunker down in Mexico and live cheaply while starting my master’s degree and changing careers.
Swallow your pride and accept the help you receive.
I would love to tell you I survived by sheer strength and determination, but I definitely had help along the way. I’ve been lucky to have some amazing friends in life who never think twice about helping me.
Whether it was sending me an extra $50 “just because” or offering to top off the cost of my campsite while I finished school, help came and I accepted it.
Paid subscribers will receive a more detailed post about all the ways I have seen people make it through the unexpected career changes that hit us over the past year. The important thing to note is that there’s definitely a way forward. It gets hard, but it’s not the end of the road.
Alexis Chateau | Free Ramen is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.