In 2009, I graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and a head full of hopes and aspirations about the life ahead of me… but no definite ideas about what I wanted to do or become. The only thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to see as much of this planet as possible – and to do it immediately, rather than waiting for the luxury / lethargy of retirement.
If I could talk to my 22-year-old, fresh-faced self back then and tell myself that now I’d be funding round-the-world travels through my writing alone, I’d have probably laughed in my own face. Such a free and flexible lifestyle is the stuff of dreams – and I’m living it. Here’s how.
For the first few years, I prioritised the travelling part and put my writing career on the backburner. I spent a year in Australia and several months in New Zealand and South East Asia, picking up bar work and hospitality jobs here and there to keep myself afloat. I’d sold the entirety of my worldly possessions prior to setting out, so with some savings behind me and Aussie wages to keep me going, I fared fairly well on my maiden voyage abroad.
After 15 months away, I returned to Scotland and began work as a tour guide in the historic capital city, Edinburgh. Not only did I learn immense amounts about my hometown during this period, but I also met travellers and tourists from all over the globe, fuelling my thirst for further travel. I squirrelled away my savings during the year-and-a-half I was back in Edinburgh, preparing for the next jaunt to South America.
A second wind
It was in Santiago, Chile, where my PPH career and my self-sustaining lifestyle took off. I’d stumbled into another tourism job, doing a similar thing in the Chilean capital as I had in the Scottish one, and found myself loving life like never before. But although the tour guiding gig kept me in the black and provided a great source of entertainment, it also left me with plenty of free time to play with.
It was in these hours that I first took notice of PPH. I set up a profile and began tentatively applying for jobs, not fully convinced that any of my proposals would actually lead to cold, hard cash. However, on a holiday in northern Peru in June of 2013, I scored my first paying job on the site… and I’ve never looked back.
By April of the following year, I’d built up a strong profile of exclusively five-star reviews and enough repeat business from several reliable clients to make the transition to full-time freelancing. I bid a fond farewell to my tour guiding job and to the city of Santiago itself, setting off for pastures new in Central America and further north.
The American dream
I worked my way through Panamá, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico with relative ease, completing jobs on PPH in spare hours at internet cafes, in airport lounges or hostel receptions. However, I knew my next destination would provide a proper test for my abilities – the United States.
Renowned as the Land of Opportunity, America is also well-known for being the nation of tips and taxation, and at first, I was apprehensive that the large step-up in cost of living would scupper my dreams of an indefinite freelance travel existence. However, I kept my head down, kept applying for more jobs, kept meeting the deadlines and kept earning more positive reviews, and thankfully, the work continued to roll in. I left North America in July 2015, having visited more than 20 states and even ventured for one month into Canadian territory. My savings were depleted but not consumed entirely, and my PPH profile was healthier than ever.
An Asian odyssey
Where was next? Asia. After swinging by Scotland to hug family members and high-five friends, I set my sights on Kyrgyzstan, China, Myanmar and Malaysia, spending a total of three months across the four countries. I kept all of my PPH plates spinning throughout the entire time, and though my work rate did drop off to allow me more free time to enjoy myself and explore my new, exotic surroundings, I finished that particular trip having actually made money!
2016 started with a six-week trip around Spain, a short sojourn in Belgium and a friendly reunion in Paris, as well as several trips around the UK. I’ve been back in Edinburgh since April of this year, catching up with friends and attending various weddings (I’ve reached that age, I guess!). So what’s next? Well, that is certainly the question – but wherever I go, I know I can rely on PPH to help fund my next adventure. With no little elbow grease, scrupulous time-keeping and a consistently high-quality work ethic, you can do it, too.
About the Author:
Jonny Sweet is a full-time freelance writer, researcher and proofreader who has managed to combine the two things he loves – writing and travelling – into one very satisfying package. Although he specialises in the topics of travel, film, music and literature, he’s comfortable writing on literally any subject and has used his skills and versatility to fund globe-trotting adventures all over the world. You can hire Jonny on PeoplePerHour.
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