Part 3: The Ultimate Guide To Remote Working
Three Part Series On How To Fund A Life Of Travel.
Working remotely from our van has allowed us to live a life of our wildest dreams, and it’s a life that is available to anyone who’s bold enough to reach out and grab it.
We are constantly asked how we fund our full-time travels, and what working remotely from a van actually looks like. In the first part of this series we talked to real families who were preparing for life on the road, and then in the second part of the series we delved deep into the reality of what a work-from-the-van life really looks like. We’ve shared tips for how to fund a life of travel, the real challenges (and perks) that come with remote work, and all the juicy bits and bobs that flow on from these questions.
In this blog we bring it all together. There are eight tried-and-tested options for funding full-time travel, nine budgeting hacks to save you money while on the road, and ten tips for successfully working while travelling. We’ve even included the struggles you can prepare yourself for – hey, it can’t be all sunshines and rainbows!
Next week we go even further, as we take you behind-the-scenes of our own personal approach to managing the finances for our Free to Explore family.
Until then though, consider this your Ultimate Guide To Remote Working While On The Road.
There are so many different ways you can make a life lived on the road a reality for you and your family. After talking with the six different families we featured in part one and two of this series, we are excited to bring you these eight tried-and-tested approaches to funding full-time travel.
Business owners Michael and Angie manage their Sydney based construction company from expedition truck, Juggernaut. Their advice to any business owner considering the same, is to hire a highly qualified team.
“The trick for business owners is to hire highly qualified staff that you can trust to manage any tasks you need done in person on you behalf,” they said.
As a business owner it can be hard to anticipate which weeks will be quiet, and which will be chaotic, which is why this type of remote working also requires flexibility and a willingness to put travel plans on hold if something pops up.
“Generally the tasks we need to do are flexible and almost everything can be managed from our phones. Generally we do our work at night or other down time moments, Michael works as I drive, and if we can’t keep up with the work during down time we stop travelling for as long as needed to catch up,” said Angie.
Covid forced many employers to shift to a work-from-home arrangement with their staff. While it may have been unfamiliar at first, many businesses realised it meant fewer overheads, more productive staff, and the big one, a better work/life balance for their employees.
If your job is currently performed from an office, considering discussing a remote working opportunity with your boss, and if they need a little encouragement, here’s some advice from business owners Michael and Angie.
“If you need to ease any trust issues an employer may have that you are actually working the hours you say you will, then get them to set KPIs or task targets. There is also computer monitoring software, vehicle tracking and phone tracking software which can be put in place to address any concerns an employer may have with allowing their employee to travel and work at the same time,” they said.
Between April and June 2020 nearly a third of Australians were working from home! Many of these flexible working arrangements were a product of Covid restrictions, but none-the-less it showed employers that this setup can work. Job search platforms like Seek and Indeed even offer a location option called ‘Work From Home’ now.
With many businesses coming on board with this flexible approach to working, it is worth considering a job change if this flexibility would be the make or break of your adventures.
“Even if you take a reduced salary, the cost of living a van life is generally far less than living in the major cities” said travellers Angie and Michael.
How badly do you want to live the dream? We chatted to a couple of families who bit the bullet and sold up big to fund their full-time travel.
It took a few health scares for Kate and Andy to get their priorities in check. They realised life was here to be lived, so as soon as Kate had done the work to heal herself they made the decision to sell everything they owned – house included!
“Because we don’t do things by halves we decided to sell everything! Now we don’t even have an end date for our travels!” said Kate.
Gemma and Reece are another family that sold up in order to set off. They used their funds to buy gear and get started, but their love of life on the road saw them find another way to keep the dream alive. Read on to hear how these guys continued a life of full-time travel, some three years after they initially set off.
Reece, Gemma and their two young children have been travelling full-time for the last three years with no end date in sight, and they use Reece’s plumbing skills to keep this adventure alive.
“If you are a tradie there is lots of work out there all around Australia. We just ring up a few plumbing companies once we arrive somewhere we are happy to stay for a bit, and often have work within a day or two,” said Gemma.
Sometimes Reece will work a week, other times he works a few months, but because this family keeps to a strict budget, Reece has only needed to work six months out of the last three years!
Starting your own online business is not nearly as complicated as it once seemed. All the couples we chatted to in part one of this series were bringing in a buck from online businesses… and some only jumped into this market a matter of months ago.
Emma runs a successful network marketing business that has allowed her to retire her husband Brad and fund their travels around Australia. When we asked Emma what her advice was anyone looking to do the same she said, “Just bloody do it!”. Emma said, “There are endless opportunities and more and more people who are redefining their work/life balance, so why not you? Be proactive, and look to the people who have the lifestyle you want, not the ones you don’t”.
In addition to Emma’s online business, her and husband Brad will also AirBNB their home to cover their mortgage and add to their funds. While this pair have a gorgeous home in a sought after suburb, there is also the option to rent out your home – especially in today’s harsh rental market!
Shae and Stix are getting ready to hit the road with their family and in addition to saving their pennies before they depart they have also made plans to rent out their home.
“We are now renting out our home which will cover the mortgage and some basic expenses. We have heard that a family needs approximately $1000 each week to travel, so we’ll watch that budget and work my online business as we go” said Shae.
All the families we talked to were working in some capacity whilst travelling, except for one. Before embarking on their trip, Carly and Kurt bought a new caravan, ditched the overhead of rent, and lived in the backyard of the in-laws place for eight months. They stopped eating out and shopping, and were able to squirrel away $50K during this time. They developed a savvy budget that rationed $40K out over 12 months, and left $10K in an emergency account for unforeseen expenses.
Ten months into their trip this pair are still on budget, but how did they keep their travel costs so low? Below we share a few clever budgeting tips we picked up after talking to all these travelling families.
Who better to get travel budgeting tips from, than families who are living and breathing this dream. There were so many money saving tips that popped up in the first two blogs in this How To Fund A Life Of Travel series, so we’ve decided to compile the best of the bunch in this easy-to-read list for you.
Paying for accommodation every night can quickly add up! If you can cut this cost where possible, you will save literally thousands and thousands each year. This can include off-the grid campsites, free camps and even council run sites which often require little more than a permit (sometimes not even that).
Michael and Angie said they “rarely stay in caravan parks, which means our overheads are extremely low”. They take the approach to free camping even further by regularly pulling up on the side of the road for a night.
“No-one told us that in many states in Australia it is legal to sleep in your vehicle, provided there is no sign saying no camping. We enjoy the freedom of not needing to book in caravan parks and waste time and energy going to check in before they close. It’s much more enjoyable just pulling over after a day of adventures in a quiet carpark or street, pulling up the handbrake and going to sleep,” said Angie.
The cost of campsites can quickly add up, and whilst free camps are a great option, they’re not always accessible. Travelling families willing to put in a little labour in exchange for free accommodation can push their funds a lot further.
Many farm stays are open to arrangements like this. Gemma and Reece who we spoke to in part two of this series said they had received free accommodation at farm stays in exchange for helping with horse riding, cleaning and other farm jobs.
Sites like WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) can also be a good place to start, as they provide membership options that then connect you with dedicated host farms for volunteer work.
If you’re working on the road, then planning your trips around internet coverage and the like is especially important. Work practicalities aside though, planning your drives and mapping your trip can save you a lot of money and time too!
The realities of where to find fuel, food, water and amenities becomes very real when you’re living on the road. Many outback roads have very few fuel stops, and lots of campsites have no drinking water (be sure to check out our campsite reviews if you’re needing information on amenities, water, internet and dump points at camping grounds). Planning your trip also means you can research cheaper fuel stations and include these spots in your trip.
Michael and Angie are big advocates of planning drives, and even use Google Maps to help them.
“Once you have an idea about all the adventures you want to do, you can pin the stops on Google Maps so you can visit them in order and not waste money in fuel, and time doing unnecessary drives back tracking.”
This was a common tip from every family we chatted to because grabbing a bite to eat here and there seems to be an easy pattern to fall in to, and one that quickly adds up! This is especially true when you have children (those guys are always hungry).
Carly and Kurt, the full-time travels doing a year with a $40k budget (yep, these guys know how to budget) warned against this habit.
“Don’t eat out at every bakery you see. It’s so easy to do but when you add it all up it’s insane how much it costs!” they said.
Another good habit to get into is to take food with you if you’re doing a bush walk or day trip away from your van. Guaranteed the kids will get hungry as soon as they see that local bakery!
In order to eat out less you will need to do an occasional grocery shop, which can prove to be a frustrating, timely and costly venture when you are using supermarkets you’re not familiar with.
Budget savvy travellers Gemma and Reece have found their way around this though.
“Every supermarket layout is different, seriously does my head in and takes so long… I have started shopping online and do click and collect now,” said Gemma.
In addition to being bad for the belt, the daily beer habit can make quite a dint in the bank balance. Carly said her and Kurt have learnt to “save those beers for the weekends or when you’re in a social gathering”. They said that if you can learn to make these sacrifices you can definitely travel cheaper and for longer.
Sounds obvious, but keeping a running record of where you’re money is going will help you fund your full-time travels for much longer!
Gemma and Reece are amazing at this, which might have something to do with how they’ve managed to maintain a life on the road for three years now. Gemma is a self-professed number nerd and loves to work on their budget, and recommends using the Spending Tracker app to stay on track. These guys also drip feed their budget from their savings so they can make sure they don’t eat into their reserves.
This is a popular approach and is the same way Carly and Kurt manage their finances.
“We only transfer each month’s budget into another account to use so we can’t go over, and we keep track with a spreadsheet and a weekly list of what we have to spend. So far we have not had to dip into the next month’s budget!” said Carly.
Unless you’re making good coin or want to work full-time whilst on the road, it’s best to avoid the pricey tours. Gemma and Reece, who stop sporadically so Reece can work and top up their finances, have chosen this approach. They would rather travel for longer and work less, and it’s definitely working for them.
“Be realistic and live within your means. We don’t do many paid tours so to speak. We are basically on a playground tour of Australia,” said Gemma.
There are a lot of daily chores that you can throw out the window when you choose a life of full-time travel, but unfortunately clothes washing is not one of them.
Whilst there are camping sites that offer laundry facilities, the cost of these combined with laundromats quickly adds up. If you are contemplating a lengthy trip like Reece and Gemma, it pays to invest in a washing machine.
“Definitely have your own washing machine, it becomes very costly using a laundry or caravan park’s washing machines” said Gemma.
Many of the families we chatted with in this blog series struggled to think of the difficulties that came with living a life full-time on the road. As fellow travellers we knew that it wasn’t all peaches and cream, so we continued to pry.
Reluctantly, our travelling families coughed up the following struggles.
All these struggles aside, everyone we chatted to said they would do their travels again in a heartbeat!
“It is great to wake up every day with a different backyard! Getting to enjoy every experience you have with your family is priceless. Seeing this beautiful country and taking our home with us is just so easy and convenient, we are absolutely in love with life on the road,” said Angie.
There you have it, your Ultimate Guide To Remote Working While On The Road! We’ve talked to families who travel on a tight budget, those that work stints here and there along the way, and the full-timers who manage their workload while exploring the country… but there’s even more to come!
Stay tuned as next week we bring even more tips to the table, when we share with you how we personally run and manage our own finances.
This guide has got you up to speed with eight different ways you can fund your trip, nine budgeting tips, and ten practical approaches to working while on the road. By the time we dish up our own tips, we’re pretty sure all your excuses will have blown out the window!
Looks like it’s nearly time to start packing…
Until next time,
The Wallaces x