The answer, of course, depends on your personal situation.
For Aileen, it didn’t take long at all. Once she recognized what she wanted, she took action to make it come true. In a matter of months, she started earning money online.
And quitting a stable job to travel doesn’t have to be a huge, scary leap into the unknown either. Aileen took small steps and reached her goals gradually.
Continue reading to find out how she left her corporate job to travel in the following interview!
Once you decided you wanted to travel, what were some of the first things you did? How did you plan to make it a reality?
Before I started a life of travel, I was a corporate employee at an investment bank in the Philippines. It was an interesting environment, but at one point I was hit by the sudden realization that I didn’t want to waste away my 20s doing work that I didn’t love and doing work for somebody else. What I wanted to do was to travel freely and to work for myself.
To make those dreams a reality, I first researched the things that I could do to fund a traveling lifestyle in the long run. I identified how I could become a digital nomad by offering services like graphics design, web design, and online marketing (things that I already knew, enjoyed, and took interest in), then I re-learned these subjects online. Once I was confident enough with my skills and knowledge, I developed my profile as I proactively searched for work.
It took me two months to do this, and it was during that time that I discovered an online Swedish brand that was interested in taking me on as one of their employees. They even offered me a salary that was double the amount that I was earning from my job. Naturally, it was then that I knew I could leave my job.
I handed in my resignation in February 2014, but I continued to work for them to fulfill their requirement for a 2-month hold after resignation. It was still a good thing though, because the salary I got from them, paired with the income I earned online, helped me save more for my travel fund until I finally left in April.
What was your first online job and how did you proceed from there to getting more freelance work?
I actually can’t remember the exact first online job that I did, but I’m pretty sure that it involved graphic design.
To get more customers, I ensured that I delivered the best service that I can give to the client so that he can be a repeat customer and he can leave a good review for me to attract other potential customers.
It worked quite well. The next applications I submitted on oDesk were more successful and I also started receiving invitations for jobs. This formula worked well for me until I got the job offer from the online Swedish brand.
You sell sports and outdoors gear on Amazon now. How did you get your online business off the ground?
We actually got the idea for this online business (Adalid Gear) from the Swedish company that I worked for before. They were really profitable and after working for them for almost a year (wherein I advanced to managerial positions) I got an idea of how things worked. I pitched the idea to Jonas and when he was convinced about it, we sought out the opinion of my Swedish boss. It was not a problem for him if I resigned to start a similar business as long as we don’t compete with his products. In fact, he even became one of our business coaches.
And so we started to learn the whole business model. It’s a very comprehensive process which I can’t discuss in detail, but generally we had to do a lot of research to pinpoint where the demand is (that’s how we decided on what products to sell). After that, finding the first customers naturally became an easy thing.
Your boyfriend Jonas used to (or still does?) make money by playing poker online. Is this a dependable source of income?
Jonas used to mainly play professional poker online; that’s how he managed to travel around the world right after college, landing him in the Philippines where we both met.
Going by his history, online poker was definitely a dependable source of income for Jonas. It all boiled down to bankroll management and he was pretty good at it (especially because he enjoys playing and learning the game).
Now of course there were times that he lost money — it’s how the game works (I believe they call it “variance”) — but he always knows how to handle himself. I don’t think there ever was a time that he went so low that he had to build everything again from the ground up.
As for the income that he earned, I’m not comfortable in sharing the exact numbers nor even the range, but I can say that he earned quite a lot. It’s definitely bigger than what we are currently earning in our business, haha!
So I guess that might lead you to question as to why wouldn’t he just continue playing poker instead? Well that’s because he has reached the “peak” and he doesn’t want to play poker his whole life. It’s still a fun game for him, but he wants to venture into entrepreneurship more.
On your blog, you said you were living and studying in Belgium. Are you still there now?
Yes, right now I am living in Belgium, but I’m not studying. I decided to change my plans to focus on our business when it grew more than we expected.
As a Filipina, you may have more travel restrictions. Visa applications may take longer and may be more expensive as well. How do you get around that?
Indeed, a Philippine passport doesn’t have as many privileges as passports from, let’s say, first-world countries. So certainly, I’ve had my fair share of difficulties with visa applications.
For the expensive part, it’s easy to conquer because I know how to prioritize and budget my own money.
However, the application processes is another matter of its own. There would always be the issue of assuring the embassies that I won’t be overstaying or that I won’t become an illegal immigrant. I get over these hurdles by giving them as much documentation that I can give; I learned that “going overboard” is better than just giving them “enough”.
How often do you travel now that you have a home in Belgium? Is that a permanent home or do you have plans to live elsewhere or travel full time?
At the moment, we occasionally travel to nearby places or countries, and on average, we do this thrice a month. However, in the coming months, we won’t do much traveling because we are saving up for a big Eurotrip this summer.
As for our residence here in Belgium, it’s not permanent. Since we travel slow and since our work on Amazon is also location-independent, we see ourselves staying in this country for a year or two, but we’re definitely moving someplace else after that. We’re not yet “settling down” so there are definitely more adventures for us ahead!
Aileen Adalid is a wild spirit from the Philippines who quit her corporate job at 21 to travel the world. Today, she is a digital nomad and entrepreneur living a sustainable life of travel. She is also the mastermind behind ‘I am Aileen‘, a travel blog where she documents her adventures, thoughts, and experiences as she aims to inspire others to wander out more. Come and follow her updates around the globe on Facebook!