"How do you make money? How do you have enough to live on the road full-time? Do you just stop and work random jobs? Are your families rich or something?" These are all questions we have received before, most of them a few times, and some of them everyday. Literally. So, we decided its probably about time to write some details about it, because those are all legitimate questions people are really wondering.
For years, we have wanted to travel full-time. The "live on the road and be free" lifestyle has always been so appealing to us. For years we looked at other who were doing exactly that and wondered some of the above questions ourselves. How do you afford to travel for so long? How exactly do you get away with that? Keep in mind that this is our experience, situation, and solution. There are surely many methods for funding life on the road.
In our case, it actually worked out perfectly. A couple years back, Giddi decided she wanted to learn a new hobby. She chose jewelry. She chose jewelry because she loves it and wanted lots more of it, but decided she might as well learn how to make it instead of buying it all! After debating several months whether or not to invest in the proper tools and supplies, she used her tax returns (yes we do pay those - another question we've received) to get all the basics she would need to get rolling. After a few blogs, forums, and youtube videos, Giddi put her creative mind to it and started creating some really beautiful pieces. Not too long went by before she was making rings and necklaces as gifts for friends and family. The popularity spread and soon those people were requesting pieces to gift to friends and family. I, being the stingy man that I am, suggested she started charging people, so she could actually make a profit. She was spending a good deal of money, time, and energy creating these beautiful, handmade pieces. We started up an Etsy page shortly after that and decided to name the business Carteo Handmade (a combination of our last names - cheesy, right?). It started off slow, but has since gained some popularity and we've become much more efficient.
At the time, I was working for Apple at a nearby retail location and had also ventured into starting up a company. I was (and still am) a co-owner at Axiom Goods. We are a sustainable eyewear company, producing polarized, all-natural wood sunglasses. We started up Axiom just a few short months after Giddi had officially launched Carteo Handmade. Giddi, at the time, was also working full-time for a local medical facility. So, with both us working and both us moonlighting our own business, we were packed. It wasn't too long after that we stumbled across our van (you can read the full story of finding the van here) and added the workload of converting it into Our Home on Wheels.
Needless to say, the stress levels were pretty high and our workload was heavy. Our evenings were full of orders, mornings full of emails and marketing, days spent at our jobs, and our weekends spent sweating over the van build. The orders for Carteo were increasing steadily each week until the point that Giddi was struggling to keep up with the demand after getting home from her job. She decided she either had to stop selling jewelry or quit her job. As you could guess, she quit her job to pursue self-employment. Immediately after deciding to quit, the orders increased and it was as if nothing had changed financially. When you make yourself available, things come your way.
I eventually left my job before hitting the road at the end of March this year. We have since been traveling 5 months and have driven from Arizona to Alaska to Colorado (and a lot of places in between). We run both Carteo and Axiom from the van, as we go. For Axiom, I have other partners that help balance the workload of production and fulfillment so we don't have boxes upon boxes of product with us in the van. With Carteo, our supplies are much smaller and everything is handmade from our small studio within the van. All orders are made and shipped from a new, beautiful location each and every week. While we are not rich by any means, we make enough to continue exploring, and cover all our travel and living expenses.
If you're planning on living a life of travel, there are several ways to make that goal attainable. Many people we have met have actually just saved up over the years and live on their savings. Others we have met stop in small towns and big cities from time to time, working varied jobs from restaurants to car detailing. Chances are, if you think creatively, you have some skill or something you can come up with to fuel your adventure. For us, that meant starting, building, and continuing two small businesses. Again, this is our experience. Get creative. Find solutions. If its something you want to do, you can make it happen. (now hows that for a pep talk?)
To learn more or support us, check out the links below: