Spending 40 hours each week in a cubicle can be restricting. It can offer little room for creativity, flexibility or experiencing a full life. But the past several years have brought an influx in freelancing and telecommuting work. That work has allowed former cubicle dwellers like Nina Ragusa to get out and travel the world without going broke in the process.
Back in early 2011, Ragusa was working three jobs, including one where she sat in a cubicle dealing with foreclosures for a title company in Florida. She wanted to get out and see the world. And she found her ticket to do just that by going online.
She said in an email interview with Small Business Trends:
“When I was home, I was stressed, over worked, and didn’t have the luxury to really and truly experience and enjoy life as much as I wanted to.”
At first, Ragusa found a job teaching English at a school in Thailand. But now she teaches English online and works as a freelance writer for travel websites and similar blogs. They’re jobs that she has found through popular sites like oDesk and Elance.
Aside from allowing her to work wherever she wants, her freelance career also allows her to work whenever she wants. In creating her work schedule, Ragusa said she often works 40 or more hours per week for a few months at a time. Then she takes a break to travel to another country for a month or two where she only works a couple of hours each week. Then she will choose a new location where she can spend some time working again.
Before freelancing, Ragusa didn’t have any professional writing experience. But now she has more than two years of experience supporting herself and her travels with it.
She even started her own blog, Where in the World is Nina. There she documents her trips and offers tips for others who may want to follow in her footsteps:
“It’s not as hard as some people might think. I’m not lucky. I just saved a bit, then clicked a few buttons to buy my plane ticket.”
Though she still feels most at home in Thailand, the online nature of her current work allows her to travel more than she did when she was teaching there. She travels and experiences far more than she did before quitting her jobs in the states.
So far, she’s been to exotic locations like Cambodia, Mozambique, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Bali and Laos. The past three years she’s spent traveling have been the happiest of Ragusa’s life, she says.
She adds that it’s a change she would recommend to anyone looking to escape the cubicle and see the world:
“Stop talking and start doing. Life doesn’t have to only consist of sitting behind a desk for 40+ hours a week while you count your pennies to pay your bills. There are plenty of skills you can use to work and travel the world.”
Images: Where in the World is Nina
As a former freelancer myself, I had great success partnering with several other freelancers and offering midsized agency level services at small business rates. If you’re thinking about freelancing, consider it. You get bigger jobs and better quality clients.
I enjoyed this article and think that anyone who wishes to arbitrage first world pay with third world living expenses will have a lot of fun and make a good amount of money in the process.
To travel is also one of the reasons why I became a freelance writer. The opportunities are boundless online and you get to work with a number of clients around the world. Time or geographical location does not matter anymore. You get to be the boss of your time, no schedule or cubicles to suck you into the rat race. Many of my jobs is also through Odesk. The jump from a regular job to freelancing is risky but much more fulfilling once you land great jobs.
That’s really interesting. This is an example that no one is stopping you from doing what you want just because you don’t have the job that you want. Truly inspiring indeed.
I am a freelancer and I always wanted to work outside to cut the boring hours at home. I don’t travel while working but I wish I could do it the future. Anyway, I guess everyone wants to have this kind of job, not only for professionals but to those who wanted to try a different workstyle.
I got a job at Odesk as a part time programmer and it was a worth it job to start with. As for job seekers who want to have a full time / part time work-at-home job, Staff.com is one of the great landing sites to visit.
This is such an inspiring story, especially because I’ve wanted to travel for a while now, but money’s been a factor (and to be totally honest, me).
So happy that Ragusa is living the way she wants. Happy for her.
I’ll definitely be checking out her site; I could do with the inspiration and the hope.
Really appreciate you writing this post, Annie.
Great story! I enjoy reading about people finding ways to sustain themselves while traveling the world. I will definetly check this lady’s personal website to get more ideas on how to freelance.
Thanks Annie for sharing Nina’s story. I couldn’t agree more. It gives great inspiration to us freelance nomads. I am currently living in Yangon, Myanmar and have been able to travel to 30+ countries, thanks to the ability to work anywhere with internet access.
Aww, that’s brilliant, Eva! You don’t know how happy it makes me when I see other free spirits flying! Makes me feel like I’m flying too.
Do you keep a blog about your travels?
Eva, that sounds wonderfu! I’d also love to check out a blog about your travels, if you have one. If not, you should consider it! I know many of us freelancers would love to read about your adventures!
Annie: If I’m ever fortunate enough to find myself in a position where I get to travel and work, I’d love to keep an account of it, for my sake (to process the experiences) and for others who might be interested.
Would you keep one?
@Ebele and @Anne, I know a blog about my travels is long long overdue. I combine my online freelance stuff with on-the ground consultancies on a 50/50, making the work load really heavy sometimes. But the travel blog is also on my radar. Fortunately, most of the stuff is already written down on paper (yea, am that analog!). I just started blogging like a year ago, but more on freelancing stuff. I’m using the current blog as a learning platform, just before I start documenting my experiences on the 30+ destinations. I’m trying to see how I can combine the travel stuff and freelance stuff on one blog just for easier maintenance, but we’ll see… what would you advice?
Eva: I’d say combine them both in the one blog. It would be a reflection of what you already do, how you’re already living, so I don’t think it would look out of place for your freelance writings and travel updates to co-exist in the one space.
One inspiring story. It’s always been my goal to be location independent. I am technically one; I can work from anywere I want, anytime I want. All I need is a decent mobile device and a reliable Internet access – that’s all 🙂
I currently work from home, running my online business, supporting my family with 100% online income.
Yes, it IS possible!
The fact that you’re technically location-independent is awesome! That means if you and your family decide to go on holiday or decide to live somewhere else altogether, or travel together for a while, it’s more of a possibility that you can do that while still bringing some money in. That’s great!
Francois Paul Lambert
Thanks for this inspiring story! We need more like this one 🙂
Some people do not understand such moves. But we are now at the dawn of a New Economy and many more people want to break free from the career-cage.
And it’s easier than one might think. And you don’t have to cut the money. Quite the contrary actually!
You can be free. Even travel the world doing the things you love if that’s what you want. And you definitely make more money than you have ever made previously. All it takes is some courage, some planning, and most importantly: some ACTION!
I often hear people saying that because I left the “real life” (= the cubicle-prison) I’m running from something… then they make puzzled faces when I tell them that I’m not running FROM something, but TOWARDS something.
And then they ask: “you see! So what are you running to?”
To which I reply: “I’m running towards LIFE” 😉
I can’t be running FROM life, if I’m actually looking for it. A lot of individuals have lost sight that their “real life” is actually stopping them from living the life they were – literally – born to live.
As Nina said above, she “didn’t have the luxury to really and truly experience and enjoy life as much as I wanted to.”
I think this simple line sums up the whole idea.
So, to all those who crave to escape the career-cage deep deep inside their heart: get up, find your passion, use your talent, find a need in the World to which you can contribute and… run towards your LIFE!
You can do it! It’s easy! It simply takes some work. But you’re used to do that from 9 to 5 already, right? 😉
Thank you so much for the pep talk. I would really like to use my talent, what I enjoy doing, what is in my lifeblood to do, to make a living. I don’t feel I’ll be living otherwise. / I would also like to travel, so being able to do what I love and earn from it while I’m travelling would be a dream. / It’s possible. Ragusa’s living it, Eva’s living it. And you are.
I really appreciate you chiming in on this post.
All the best. Keep doing you.
Very inspiring words, Francois! And I totally agree. The possibilities are definitely there, and all you have to do is take the leap!