25 Career Ideas to Design Your Location Independent Lifestyle

A lot of people assume that if you want to have a sustainable income while you’re on the road you’d better build a money making web presence.  In fact, there are many sites on location independence that will sell that idea.  It is almost as if  location independent person = money making website owner.   Of course, it’s usually to their advantage because in the next line they’re going to sell you some product or service to teach you how to create this fabulous website.

Now, I’ll let you in on a little personal mission of my own.  That has been to debunk the above idea.  In fact, since 2006 I’ve been interviewing and blogging about nomadic professionals from many walks of life purposely to show that “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” so to speak.

So – I thought it would be fun to do a list now of the many ways people out there just like you and me are seeing the world and keeping their income going.  So equip yourself with some free accounting software and get ready for some unique money-making ideas. I hope it will bring hope and inspiration to those of you who are wondering how you might make your nomading dreams happen and new ideas to those of us who are already out there.

My apologies to those interviewees whose pictures are missing.  In moving my blog from Typepad I lost a lot of images. What a nightmare!

In addition, toward the end of the list I have added in a couple more ways that although I have not yet interviewed individuals from these careers I have discussed their existence with others.

  1. Web designer – Ok, this one is web related.  However, being a web designer is not the same thing as owning money making sites.  Designers develop and maintain their clientele.  Our own Richard Hamel (my partner here at NuNomad) is one such designer who has now traveled more than 32 countries over almost a decade.  Check out his designs at DotComWebWorks (not to mention that our NuNomad mother site is his design as well).
  2. Photographer - With the age of digital photography this craft has become more mobile than ever.  We interviewed Tat Tso, photographer and web designer traveling between the U.S. and Hong Kong as one such great example.
  3. Biofuel Educator -When we met Seth and Tyler they were driving their biofuel powered truck from Alaska to Argentina and educating people along the way.  The money for the Oil and Water Project was derived from sponsors. To top it off, they were having an amazing time kayaking at every opportunity.
  4. Balloon Artist – Irina Patterson has got to be one of our more creative interviewees.  Having brought balloon art to an amazingly high level, Irina is actually paid large sums to bring her craft where she goes. Check it out at her blog
  5. Communications Specialist – Mark and Judith, owners of Foundation Communicaid have been able to make their non-profit business in communications and marketing consulting completely mobile. When we interviewed them they were in Southeast Asia.
  6. Trapeze Artist - My family had the treat of hosting 3 trapeze artists, Russell, Randy and Jay, while they worked in Austin.  These three guys have seen their share of the world while flying high above the air for Trapeze Experience.
  7. Consultant - Consulting is not a typical location independent career in that you’re usually told where to go.  However, FB, had taken her consulting job and made it an engine by which she was downsizing and saving for life adventures in the future.
  8. Coach – OK, that’s me.  I’m the owner of Dr. Coach.  I actually got into coaching from psychology specifically because of it’s potential mobility.  All I need is my laptop and headset and I’m good to go.  But I’m not the only one.  We also interviewed Lynn Hornyak and executive coach who puts her mobility into action as well.
  9. Writer - There are lots of location independent writers out there to draw inspiration from.  One we interviewed was Nora Dunn. Another who comes to mind who has been a supporter of our blog here and of the location independent community is Sharon Hurley Hall.
  10. Author - Ok – pretty close to writers but these have their own books.  Maya Frost is a nomadic author of “The New Global Student”.  Another profession that’s good to go with a laptop.
  11. Film MakerJeff and Vern were totally adorable, creating films while they nomaded in their trailer around Los Angeles.
  12. Camel Trainer – Why not be a camel trainer?  Doug Baum has melded his love for camels with regular travel to the Bedouin nomads.  His photo brought tears to our eyes.
  13. Software Developer – A reader favorite, Cherie of Technomadia earns her living as a software developer as she and her husband Chris travel the U.S. in their RV.
  14. Brand/logo designers - Greg and Yoko prove that logo design and branding are yet another nomadable occupation.
  15. Graphic designer – Milosh Zorica sees the world while he creates designs for others.
  16. Business AnalystEugene proves that being a business analyst can be done while you nomad.
  17. Insurance agent – Who would ever think you could be an insurance agent and a nomad?  Simon Le Pine is just that.
  18. Rescue worker - Simon Le Pine is not only an insurance agent but also a rescue worker as he travels the world!
  19. Translator – OK we’ve hit the professions that I have not yet interviewed but I know exist.  Translation is done by many online and there is no need to be in one location.
  20. Radiologist – Believe it or not even MD’s have a chance at location independence.  While waiting in a hair salon in Austin Texas, I got into a conversation with a woman whose husband does just that.  Don’t believe me?  Check out NightHawk.
  21. Virtual Assistant – as we know virtual assistants can be located anywhere.  So if you’re one you could be too.  Virtual Assistance U is a place to get training to join this profession.
  22. Property Manager – I haven’t interviewed them yet but 2 sets of my English speaking friends here in Oaxaca fund their travels by managing real estate in their home cities.
  23. English Teacher - We can’t forget this die hard option for those of us who really want to travel and enjoy sharing our language.  In fact, my first long term travel experience was doing just that.
  24. Dancer – OK, we didn’t get an interview with him, but Matt Harding has taken his little dance around the world and gets paid to do so. If you want to put a smile on your face, definitely watch the video on his link.
  25. Importer – If you love purchasing handwork, art, and just cool stuff from other countries, you might consider funding your travels through importing and selling some of the things you love.

This is a list of 25 actual careers that have been and are being nomaded.  I’m sure it only scratches the surface of possibilities out there and I imagine you may know even more.

I’d love to hear about other nomadable careers that you know of.  I hope this list has provided some inspirational thought.

Photo by: Skippyjon

42 Comments

  1. The business place is amazing with the use of the internet. You can do pretty much anything youw ant of any value and draw income from it.

    • It really is a whole new world. What I like about some of the people in the list though is that they're doing their lifestyle without the internet at all. There are lots of ways to be location independent.

  2. Love this. Examples and real people doing things they love, from where they want is truly inspiring. There are so many ways to make a living on your own, but first you need to come to terms with what you want in life and get the support of your family (get them on board). That is where I am at. My wife isn't ready for change, she likes normal. She loves tv after work. It's tough, but we are slowly getting to the point where my career direction will get us where we need to be and really benefitting from location indie-ness.

    Posts like this really make you see what is possible.

    • Yeah, it's super hard when partners have different ideas about it. On this year away my husband has stayed behind. He's come on other shorter escapades but not this time. Lucky for me he's patient about it and allows us to go. Also with my 3 girls I don't get lonely. Have you tried some shorter stints with your wife? She might find she likes it. And there are tv's everywhere if that helps!

    • It took awhile to get my family on-board. I just kept talking about it casually, often subtlety mentioning things I knew THEY would consider a benefit. Lo, and behold, if I don’t now have EVEN my mother and my grown daughter wanting to join in. My mother, once I mentioned the less expensive health-care….and my daughter, once I mentioned the larger pool of men to draw from. It’s do-able!!

    • Seems to be working out okay for you now 4 years later :-D

  3. There are always the old favourites: diving instructor, ski instructor, camp counsellor etc. Then there's music which of course is nomadable even if you're just busking. And finally I used to work as a court reporter (typing up court transcripts from audio tapes) and a lot of my fellow typists were nomads.

  4. Sales jobs are the old standard. That's how I initially got mobile, was having a job that required calling regular and potential customers all day. I realized I could do that from anywhere, and didn't need to be sitting in an office all day, as long as I had a phone. And cellphones got real cheap right about that time, so it was a lot less expensive, too. It was an old industry, and like everything else, the internet has only made it easier.

  5. id love to travel the world buying art for people

  6. Fantastic list of folks actually doing it, and making it work! Thanks for including me.

    This past week we've been camped with 16 other nomadic households of younger full time travelers on wheels. It's been awesome to learn how everyone makes it work – we've met artists, IT workers, authors, trainers, photographers, horse shoers, jewelry makers (who sell online and at art shows), organic salve makers (also selling at fairs), bookeepers, carpenters, RV remodelers, massage therapists and more.

    Over the past years of full time travel, we've also met dance instructors, balloon twisters, graphic artists, workampers (from camp hosts to amazon.com packers), house sitters, contract nurses, exotic dancers, tattoo artists, online professors, sales agents, inbound support, professional organizers, etc.

    Basically.. with any skillset and some creativity, there are ways to convert a career to be successful mobilely.

    • Very cool! Next time it's going to be 50 ideas. I also forgot nurses. I
      met some very nice nomadic nurses in Alaska once. Wish I could have been at
      your camp. It sounds like a great time!

      NuNomad

  7. Translator… I hadn't thought of that and it might be a possibility for me in future. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Super nice inspiration… Thank you!
    I think the point why so many people “on the road” do have a webshop is in fact, that they try to generate some sort of “scaleable passive income”. As a writer or a VA, for example, I will always have to do the work on my own and there are only few tasks that I can delegate. So it's again me doing all the work and the limit is still 24h a day…

    • Definitely having passive income on the web is one way to maintain income
      with fewer hours worked. Real estate would be another, but of course takes
      substantial money to get into. However, there are also entrepreneurs of
      non-web based businesses who are able to get good enough systems in place
      and good people working for them that they can get away and run their
      business remotely. It's important to remember, however, that all businesses
      take substantial thought and energy in the beginning. No one opens their
      door with passive income on day one!

      NuNomad

  9. It is amazing that most of these professions would not have been possible without the Internet as we know it today. You can do so much with high speed access. Skype/Google Voice is the big one.

  10. As Brian has mentioned, I believe the internet is catalyst that has made all of these professions ‘location independent’, which is freakin’ fantastic.

    I like English teacher most, as you could offer the lessons locally or even over Skype. How awesome would that be?

  11. As Brian has mentioned, I believe the internet is catalyst that has made all of these professions 'location independent', which is freakin' fantastic.

    I like English teacher most, as you could offer the lessons locally or even over Skype. How awesome would that be?

  12. thanks …
    Please come up with more! I’m trying to set-up something nomadic or at least virtual.
    http://new-to-new-media.blogspot.com/

  13. Great article! I think Benny from http://www.fluentin3months.com works as a translator while travelling.

  14. very helpful article for choosing a career line

  15. Great site and blog. I have always wanted to ‘break the mold’ and travel the world while working online. Just so happens most of the work I do now is as an online professor. I have found that many universities require that you need a U.S. residence. I would like to know how others have gotten around this other than using a family member or friend’s address.

    • buy more, save more! 23/01/2014 at 6:14 PM

      I bet you could buy a cabin in the middle of nowhere (maybe Alaska!) on a tiny piece of land for a couple thousand dollars, maybe less… You could also rent a few square feet of land on a cheap trailer park and put a tiny tent on it!

  16. This is an interesting list and had a couple I had not thought of. I am starting to grow my copy-editing biz, but want to keep a clear head on and still try different travel jobs along the way while I ramp it up. I am hopeful, but there are other options out there – http://aroundtheworldin80jobs.com/demystifying-location-independence/  – if you want to work overseas while trying to grow your location independent business. 

    Thanks for this article. 
    Turner

  17. Fun list! We became location independent by selling 90% of our stuff and becoming professional caretakers (house and pet sitters, for the most part) in 2009.  My partner works for a software company and needs only a wireless connection.  I sell products online, provide pet care, and pick up odd jobs here and there. My goal is to find us an Airstream to use as “home-base”.    

  18. My buddy and I have a departure date of June 6, 2013. Although I have funds to finance the first year, I have yet to find an online means of income. I am a year and a half away from completing my masters in psych/social and criminal justice, I can write well, read, type, and have a computer. Do you have any suggestions?

  19. The best career is no career: more time to travel and do more meaningful things.

    • But you need “money” to travel :

    • buy more, save more! 23/01/2014 at 5:40 PM

      Most people don’t have a career. Those who think they do usually don’t either. They just waste their time performing the same meaningless tasks over and over. First, they call it a job. Eventually, a 50 cents/hr promotion turns it into a “career”. Here’s the typical day in the life of a “normal” human being in a “rich country”:

      06:00 – Get up feeling like crap, take pills to get through the morning, shower, get dressed and chug a cup of coffee.

      07:00 – Spend one hour in a car stuck in traffic or standing in a jammed subway train.

      08:00 – Start performing the usual tasks in front of a PC screen, in a neon-lit windowless cubicle.

      12:00 – Lunchtime: eat a sandwich while reading daily dose of junk mail/news on the internet.

      13:00 – Pop dose #2 of happy pills to get through the afternoon. Resume the usual tasks.

      18:00 – Spend another hour in a car stuck in traffic or standing in a jammed subway train.

      19:00 – Buy food, pick up prescription drugs… Pay bills, take out trash, etc…

      19:30 – Crash on couch. Turn TV on. Eat dinner.

      20:00 – Waste well-deserved 2 hours of freedom/day watching mind numbing shows & commercials on TV.

      22:00 – Time for bed, but too tired to sleep. Take sleeping pills and pass out.

      Repeat until fired, laid off, retired, or dead, whichever comes first.

      That’s not my idea of a “career”. “Doing meaningful things”, on the other hand, is what a real career is all about, the best one I can think of. So naturally, it’s not something that is easy to achieve.

      A job traps you in an endless cycle, unless you make time to work towards your own goals. The sooner, the better. The only way I found to get out of this cycle, was:

      #1: Figure out the minimum amount of time I needed to work for the company while remaining profitable to the company. You’d be amazed how little it can be. In my case, after a little math, I came up with 30 mins/week. To be on the safe side, I settled for one hour. That gave me an extra 39 hrs of free time per week. I drove my boss crazy, but he never fired me.

      #2: Use that extra time to work your way out of the cycle, not surf the web or play Tetris all day.

      I’m sure there are other ways, but this one worked for me. I started my own companies, and I haven’t had to get a job since.

      The next step was to become “autonomous” (produce my own electricity, hot water, etc). I don’t believe it’s how much money you make that counts, but rather how much you have left after all expenses have been paid. So the idea is to reduce these expenses as much as possible. There are countless ways to do that without compromising your quality of life (alternative energy, etc…)

      What I am trying to figure out now is how to become “location independent”. Would you mind sharing a couple secrets on how you made it happen? Thanks.

  20. I’m a real estate broker focusing on property management, and would love to read an interview of your property manager friends. Thanks for the great post!

  21. Staying in the same place makes me feel like I am in jail, wasting my life. What keeps me from moving is the clientele. Building one was the biggest chore in my life. Maintaining it is the second. So what I’m wondering is: how do you build and maintain one if you are constantly relocating?

  22. I want to be a nomad, but I don’t think I have any marketable special skills…

  23. Great list! I might reach out to a few of these and see if they would be willing to be interviewed on my new podcast at http://www.modernpreneur.com

  24. I am a travel nurse. While not completely location independent, I take 4 to 13 week contracts in various parts of the United States. I’ve worked everywhere from Boston, MA to Missoula, MT. I take time off pretty much whenever I want between contracts. Other medical professionals travel as well…radiology professionals, respiratory therapists, and even doctors. I don’t know if you are a purist, but it may make a great addition to your list.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

*