In February 2008, Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift returned home to Canada from an all-inclusive vacation in Mexico.
“We felt like we got a taste of the tropics, living the dream,” Swift remembers. “We did a day trip and took these ATVs out and went through the jungle and the local villages. and it was so different from home that it kind of triggered something.”
That something came to a head about a month later. “Nick had a brutal day at work and said, ‘That’s it,'” Swift recalls. When he asked where she’d go if she could travel for a year, she was quick to answer: Southeast Asia.
Once they decided to leave Canada, Wharton and Swift spent the next nine months saving up about $30,000 to finance their year in Asia. Wharton, who was working as a printing press operator and on the Canadian oil rigs, and Swift, who was a real estate paralegal, were earning over $100,000 CAD a year, combined.
They then sold their house, car, and most of their possessions, set off for Southeast Asia, and have been figuring out how to support their adventures as they travel ever since.
“Definitely with travel blogging, you have to put in the time,” says Wharton. “We put in a year and didn’t make any money. In June 2013 we made $550 from advertising.”
Over the course of the year, they earned $500-$1,500 a month, and every year since then their income has doubled. Their blog, Goats on the Road, earns them about $3,500 a month. In a strong month, they earn over $5,000. They have also begun exploring other ways to generate income as they travel: freelance writing, an ebook in the works, and video production for local hotels and attractions, using footage from the drone they recently purchased.
Wharton says that although their earnings “don’t sound like much” compared to their wage in Canada, “If you calculate what we were spending in Canada, we calculated that we were spending $3,500 a month on things that didn’t bring us any happiness.”
Along with earning money on the road, the other piece of Wharton and Swift’s strategy is to cut their expenses. One of the major ways they do this is by never paying for accommodations, instead taking gigs as house and pet-sitters. They currently work no more than four hours a day, five days a week.
In fact, even earning just a fraction of their former income, they find they’re still able to save money thanks to their affordable lifestyle. “We don’t have any debt back home, so the money just kind of accumulates,” Wharton explains. We don’t even notice we’re saving because the expenses are so low. We’re saving, but living a pretty lavish lifestyle”