Travel and Earn Money Online – “The Experiment”

by Stephanie Walsh · 41 comments

in Making Money, The Digital Nomad Life, Travels

Me and Andres on top of the world

I wrote this blog post a few months ago while lying in a gently swaying hammock, on a wooden beach-house in Tayrona, overlooking the Caribbean Sea on the north coast of Colombia. I never published it but I come back to it today, updating it with a much clearer mind of what I was trying to say back then. I wrote this soon after I had decided to extend my Colombian adventure into a World adventure and the beginning of what Andres and I call ‘The Experiment”: To Travel and Earn Money Online…


An elusive day in January 2012…

Today is the first “cold” day I’ve experienced in Colombia since I landed in Bogota 10 days ago. I am very badly sunburnt…on my front only, much to the amusement of the golden skinned locals and visitors (well I’ve convinced myself they are laughing at me anyway as I only know “un poquito” Spanish).

In a world far, far away from where I traditionally call “home”; the rainy but heart-warming Ireland, I begin a an experiment in “lifestyle design”. The goal:

to make the ‘vacation’ my full-time vocation.

Travel and Earn Money Online

Soon after deciding the 'plan' in Tayrona National Park, Colombia

What is the lifestyle experiment?

I want to be free from location and time (read: LIFE) restricting employment, I want to be free to spend my (very!) valuable time doing the things I love (travelling, photography, videography, learning new things, meeting new people, etc) in a way that allows me to continue doing it for the long-term. I don’t want to experience that depressing feeling of nearing the end of a two-week holiday and returning to work. I don’t want to be forced to constantly sacrifice good times and put my life on hold for the phrase “Sorry I cant, I have work in the morning”. I don’t want to waste my youth in a job which bores me or I apparently have to do in order to gain that ever-lucrative and seemingly never-ending ‘work experience’…what about life experience I say!

Travel and Earn Money Online

Diving into the deep end

Most of all, I don’t want to have any regrets that I didn’t spend my life doing what I really LOVED because I feared change, the unknown and the loss “security”…a feature that comes with conformity (whatever security now means in a recession-ridden Ireland world).

So I have taken the first steps already (and it was scary) and I left Ireland in January for a “vacation”, never admitting it, but subconsciously knowing that I would not return after my planned 3 weeks away. I would be gone perhaps indefinitely. I still do not know. That’s part of the ironic simplicity of it; I will travel for as long as it makes me happy.

Travel and Earn Money Online

Me and Andres outside the house of our new good friends from the Wayuu indigenous community

Of course, this wasn’t the best-planned method for starting a new lifestyle of freedom, but looking back, the uncertainty of my future probably gave me the bravery to actually do it. Knowing I could return at the end of the 3 weeks if it all became too far fetched and unrealistic and knowing I didn’t have to explain my long-winded reasons for travel to everyone before I left allowed me to step out my front door without the common worries (mostly the worries of others) like “But how will you travel and earn money online?”, “What are you going to do?” or the classic “You’ll never find another job in this economy”.

I do not intend to find another job, at least not another 9-5 job.

How Will We Travel and Earn Money Online?

So part of this lifestyle experiment is learning how to travel and earn money online at the same time. Make money AND travel…the dream of many, the dream of mine.

Travel and Earn Money Online

Andres in Tayrona

While Andres and I do not want to be employees anymore, we will work…hard. We will find a way to fund our travels through online automated technology based businesses. We will be part of the new type of online entrepreneur I guess; ones who travel the world at the same time.

I didn’t get to this type of thinking alone of course. Andres has been a huge influence for me, ‘converting’ me to the ways of online entrepreneurship and lifestyle design, inspiring me that it can be done. While he is certainly not new to entrepreneurial thinking, doing it while travelling the world is a new challenge for him; one that he revels in. Reading books like Tim FerrissThe 4-Hour Workweek, which coined the term ‘lifestyle design’, have also helped to re-awaken my incurable wanderlust, as he shows how he has managed to travel and earn money online at the same time, while living anywhere he wants, working a mere 4 hours a week to sustain himself! Who wouldn’t want that? Seriously?!

Travel and Earn Money Online

Andres gets ready to jump

So…that’s the plan! We are excited, happy and looking forward to where our ‘experiment’ will bring us. We are already working on a few exciting projects that we will post about on our blog soon. We’re still figuring out how we’ll fill out our 1040EZ forms for taxes and a few other issues. We will also keep the blog updated on both successes (of which hopefully there are many) and failures (of which we already have a few) so that we can hopefully show that it is possible to get out of the 9-5 slump and follow your passions, whether they take you around the world or not.

Travel and Earn Money Online

Andres making the Wayuu woman laugh hysterically

 What do you think of our ‘lifestyle experiment’? Would you give up security and comfort to pursue your passions?


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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dee Mulcahy May 18, 2012 at 11:09 am

I love you stephanie walsh!! 🙂 xxxx


2 Steph May 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I love you too Deirdre Mulcahy! 😛 xxx


3 Liz May 18, 2012 at 11:39 am

Go for it 🙂 see you out there!


4 Steph May 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Thanks Liz! Might as well try, eh?


5 Britany Robinson May 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Hi, Steph! Just discovered your blog on the TBEX newbie bloggers page and have really enjoyed your site. I too am trying to figure out a way to make money, outside of the traditional 9-5 that will hopefully allow me to travel extensively. Looking forward to reading about your future adventures and maybe even swapping “lifestyle design” ideas!


6 Steph May 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Hey Brittany! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! 🙂 It’s a dream worth striving after alright! I’ll be glad to share any ideas we find! 🙂 Going to check out your blog now!


7 TammyOnTheMove May 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Great site guys! I love your spirit. I’d be so interested to find out how you are going to get online jobs whilst on the road and what type of jobs you will be doing. Very much looking forward to reading all about it. 🙂


8 Steph May 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Thanks for commenting Tammy! We definitely have lots to say on the subject, have been doing lots of experimenting since we first started traveling. Some good, some bad but all to come (soon hopefully) in future blog posts! 🙂


9 Andres May 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Thank you all who commented. Me and Steph are really working hard…well, not really like we used to in our horrible jobs, but we are hahaha.

We will soon launch an e-commerce website and we really hope it is a success. We will blog how it goes but we hope it does work.

We need to show the world that there is a different way of making money and there should be many more people striving harder for their dreams than for the dreams of others.

@Steph….wonderful article, you expressed greatly the experiment. =)


10 Sarah Somewhere May 25, 2012 at 8:36 am

Here’s to the experiment! Go for it, I wish you all the best. I’m hoping to continue this traveling lifestyle for as long as possible too (or as long as I want), and am beginning to see that it is an absolutely realistic notion.


11 Steph May 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Thanks so much Sarah! It definitely is realistic and more and more are doing it which is great! Here’s hoping we’ll be successful…but seeing as success is defined by happiness and spending a life doing what you love, I think I can say we already are! 🙂


12 Hannah May 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm

That sounds like a great experiment to me! As I am about to embark on my own indefinite RTW journey, I find your passion and enthusiasm really inspiring, and look forward to following your story. Remember, he who dares, wins!


13 Steph May 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Thanks Hannah! Thats a good quote to keep in mind! I will be following your story too 🙂


14 Patricia GW May 31, 2012 at 8:41 am

Hi Steph, you’re not alone! You and Andres will be able to make your new lifestyle design work because it’s obvious you have a passion and dedication to it. Why not travel for as long as it makes you happy? I am planning to do just that myself within the year. So glad I found your blog, and look forward to reading more about your adventures xx


15 Steph June 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Wow thats great Patricia! Where are you heading to first? Thanks for your lovely comment..I’m sure we can make it work…no one said it was easy but the results and lifestyle are so worth the extra effort! 🙂


16 Patricia GW June 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I’m heading to Japan first, either in April or July of next year. What is the first stop for you two? I absolutely agree – it may not be easy, but the rewards of an indefinite travel lifestyle far make up for it 🙂


17 Steph June 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Wow Japan, amazing! How long are you going to spend there do you know yet? We’ve been in Mexico for the last 6 weeks and we were travelling around Colombia before that for about 4 months…almost 6 months on the road now and we’ve only visited two countries…we like to travel slow and really get to know a place…anyway we’re not trying to tick off as many countries as we can from a list just so we can say we were there, so slow travel works best for us! 😀 So far its been amazing!


18 Patricia GW June 7, 2012 at 7:52 am

Thanks, I am SOOO excited! 😀 I’ll probably spend one to two years in Japan before setting out for the rest of SE Asia. It will give me the opportunity to enjoy the culture while also saving up money as an English teacher. What kinds of online businesses are you two developing to turn your “vacation into a full-time vocation” (love that quote!). By the way, thanks for the FB invite to “Business of Blogging” – I appreciate the chance to learn valuable information from the group 🙂

19 Andres July 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Patricia! Thank you very much for your comments.

You are going to have a great time. Japan seems an amazing country to start, a different culture that will definitely open your eyes to another way of seeing life.

We’d love to see your pictures and know how you are doing! Keep in touch!
Andres recently posted..6 Lessons Learned From 6 Months of Travel – The Best Tips for Long-Term TravelMy Profile


20 amarr August 6, 2012 at 4:06 am

Lovely article…inspiring and motivational…! perfectly explained ‘life is a journey’ then y sit back, better to cover as much you can till u live.
Wish all the very best to both of U ! keep going..


21 Steph August 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Thank you so much Amardeep, you are always very encouraging of us, we appreciate it! 🙂 And you’re so right…life is a journey and you might as well make it an enjoyable one! You never know how long you will be here for so make the most of life now!


22 She Explores August 11, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Yes! My husband and I are planning our escape from the typical 9-5 in January! I love that you left without really telling anyone your plan. That has been the most frustrating thing for me – telling people our plans and then getting a million questions about “how”, “why”, etc. Luckily, my fears of telling people were worse than how it has actually been. We’ve (thankfully!) received way more support than anything.

Anyway, good luck on your continued adventure, I’m glad I found your blog, and hey…maybe we’ll see you out in the world 🙂

She Explores recently posted..Every Little BitMy Profile


23 Steph August 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Thank you very much! Delighted for you that you are planning to also escape the 9-5! It will be the best decision you ever make!
Well you’re braver than me…I think I was too scared of all the questions I would get from people so I just…left! haha How mature of me! Turns out it was me that was making the big deal out of it and we’ve had a lot of support too! 🙂
Always happy to know and meet other travel bloggers…lets hope we can meet someday indeed! 🙂


24 Irina August 17, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Hi guys, I LOVE your plan!! Steph, the way you feel resonates with me so much that I can even recognize some of my phrases in what you’ve just said here…
I have no doubt that it will all work out for you! Very glad that I found your blog – will be following your journey from now on!
Irina recently posted..Time OffMy Profile


25 Stephanie Walsh August 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Hi Irina! Thanks so much for commenting, your comment made me smile. I love hearing about other people going out and doing their own things too, it also encourages us to keep going! 🙂 Best of luck in your plan too, I will be also following your journey. I love your website and the angle you have taken on travel! 🙂


26 Diane August 27, 2012 at 5:43 am

I love this post because so many people want to do what you’re doing but don’t have the courage/drive/know-how/etc. to actually do it. Gonna keep an eye on this section and see how things are working out for you. Best of luck! 🙂
Diane recently posted..The virtue of patience: A trip to the post office in France is never quickMy Profile


27 Stephanie Walsh August 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Hi Diane, thank you! Glad you liked it! Well we’re trying; it’s certainly not an easy route to take but it’s worth it if we can make it work! Will hopefully be updating this section soon, so you can check back then! 🙂


28 Carried By The Wind August 31, 2012 at 3:28 am

Wow guys!! It’s a really great post!! And congratulations for your blog…it’s really nice! We eant now share with you our common passion of travel and maybe change some advice with you 🙂
So, see u soon!

Carried By The Wind recently posted..Colours in travel | Capture the Colour: Contest!My Profile


29 Stephanie Walsh September 5, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Thank you for your lovely comment Stefan! Glad you like the blog and post! Hope to see you back here soon 🙂
All the best,


30 Kyle Goes Global October 26, 2012 at 11:33 am

This is awesome! Congrats to both of you for taking the leap!
Kyle Goes Global recently posted..Less than a Week til my RTW TripMy Profile


31 Stephanie Walsh October 26, 2012 at 11:59 am

Thanks Kyle! Glad you enjoyed…looks like you are taking the leap yourself; 5 days! WOW! You must be so excited! 🙂


32 Eric Tutor Cabalda October 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Your stories are amazing, I am bored already with the 9-5 work and the corporate world. Hope you can share your ideas on online works. I love to travel but my work hampers me to do so. Although I travel a lot but most are for business. Then at times I would sneak out and then go to nearby places to unwind, But I felt that its not enough.
Eric Tutor Cabalda recently posted..Green Leaf Hotel: Job OpportunitiesMy Profile


33 Stephanie Walsh October 30, 2012 at 12:26 am

Sounds like you already know what you want! Go for it, otherwise you will never know how it works out. I believe with no ego, there is no shame in failing but great pride in trying! Who knows what will happen…but at least you will be doing what you love! Thanks for commenting!


34 Ruth (Tanama Tales) November 6, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Hi Guys,
Keep moving ahead and never look back. If you are willing to work hard to create the lifestyle you want, I am sure you will attain it. Love your blog.
Ruth (Tanama Tales) recently posted..2013 Bargain Holidays: The BalearicsMy Profile


35 Stephanie Walsh November 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Thanks a lot Ruth! Your support means a lot to us! 🙂


36 Juan C Novoa March 24, 2013 at 10:35 am

Steph, Andrés,

I just came across this post recently, but as (another) Irish-Colombian couple who decided to take the leap into the entrepreneurial world we would love to hear how you’re getting on and if possible meet you guys.

After 8 years in London we relocated to Bogotá recently and have been working since December on getting our startup – Hotel Trail – off the ground.

Would be great to get in touch.



37 Stephanie Walsh March 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Hi Juan,

Thanks so much for getting in contact with us! It’s great to virtually meet another Irish-Colombia couple…I don’t think there are many of us!
We’d love to meet up at some point. We’re currently living in Cali, so I’m not sure when we’ll be in Bogota next, but we’ll definitely let you know if we’re in the area!
Congratulations on Hotel Trail and entering the entrepreneurial world. It’s a tough route but worth it, I think. Things are going slowly for us, but getting there. Andres is working on his own start up and I’m doing a lot of freelance writing. We still have our e-commerce site but haven’t had time to dedicate to it in a while.

Anyway, keep in touch! 🙂



38 Jennifer January 20, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Thanks for the explanation. It makes sense now knowing you didn’t travel for three years but just saved. Thanks again.


39 SJ @ Chasing the Donkey April 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm

I am totally digging this experiment. My best wishes from a fellow lab test here in Croatia xx
SJ @ Chasing the Donkey recently posted..P is for…. Peka #AtoZChallengeMy Profile


40 Els June 25, 2014 at 9:31 am

Congratulations! You are absolutely right to do this iso getting stuck in a boring office 8 hours a day just because “it is what is expected” I myself give up my job in 2 weeks, not knowing what I will do really, planning on doing online translation for a start. But already love the freedom that comes with it!!
Els recently posted..Virtual Tourist: the people behind the placesMy Profile


41 Steph June 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you! Two years in Japan, wow! We’re currently working on an e-commerce store…hope to have the website launched in the next week or two! Exciting and scary times!
No problem for the invite, I have got such useful info from there already!