My first solo trip was to Cambodia in 2016. A choice inspired by many travel memoirs I had read and by my mother’s own trip to Cambodia a year prior.
When I first stepped foot on that plane – first to Taiwan and then to Phnom Penh, Cambodia – I had zero idea what solo travel had in store for me.
What was revealed was a complex, imperfect world full of opportunities, both personal and professional.
A single dusty tuk tuk ride and since turned into many. I’ve met smiling and discerning faces across the world. I have been exhausted and challenged.
And all of this has opened the door to creating a thriving, remote business.
Inspiration to Start a Remote Business
Once the travel bug bit me, there was no going back to a regular 9-to-5 job.
Except I did.
I felt like “paying my dues” was the right thing to do even though I was itching to hop back on a plane.
I had many memories and photos of my trip to Southeast Asia and later Costa Rica, Cuba, and Mexico to keep me company, but a regular job kept me shackled in place.
To me, having a remote job where I could work from anywhere meant freedom to live on my terms.
So, when I wasn’t putting in hours at my office job, I was working on my travel blog and researching ways to start a remote business.
I must have Googled “how to work online” or “how to become a digital nomad” thousands of times.
I didn’t have an answer yet, but I was on my way.
Starting a remote business, I discovered, is one of the best ways to make time for travel.
Not only can you work in foreign places, but you can work from home and take trips when you so choose.
To me, this is the superior option compared to regular jobs that allow for 1-2 weeks of vacation.
Once I got a taste of travel, I knew I needed more flexibility in my work.
Starting a remote business what the right option for me. I just needed the confidence to set off on my own.
Confidence to Set Off on My Own
Traveling solo can be incredibly challenging.
In the absence of your usual comforts and support system, you have to rely on your own judgment and intuition to make decisions.
I’ve been lost in Bangkok, followed in Costa Rica, scared in Cancun, and incredibly sick in Hanoi.
I’ve been homesick, anxious, and on the verge of giving up.
But every challenge presented an opportunity to push through and my confidence is stronger because of it.
When you come to rely on yourself, you become less afraid of failure.
When giving up isn’t an option, you find ways to persevere.
This mindset is essential for any business owner.
All businesses “fail” to some degree, but those that push through are ones that find ways to pivot and see the glass as half full.
Traveling gave me the confidence to go off the beaten path and pursue entrepreneurship.
I saw starting a business as an adventure – one with challenges but also with rewards.
At that point, I knew I didn’t need to settle for the status quo. I trusted myself to succeed.
Worldwide Networking Opportunities
Chiang Mai, Thailand is a popular hub for digital nomads and remote business owners.
Beautiful weather, tons of activities, and low, low prices attract “expats” from around the world.
It was here that I bumped into my first remote workers at a co-living/co-living space, In the City Hostel.
There were over 15 young people working from their laptops by day and exploring Thailand by night.
There were loads of opportunities to network with people across industries.
I met ecommerce business owners, SEO professionals, yoga studio owners, freelance writers, and more.
I attended seminars and workshops, and formed business partnerships with other entrepreneurs.
This introduced me to a whole new type of networking.
I was able to make friends and business contacts with people I met in passing that have sustained until today.
We often send each other referrals or call on each others’ skills to complete our projects.
It’s a beautiful thing to have relationships with remote business owners from all over the world.
Through these relationships, I have landed contracts, features in publications, speaking opportunities, and more.
I’ve also been introduced to conferences all over the world, like the Digital Nomad Conference in Chiang Mai.
National Speaking Events & Conferences
Traveling doesn’t always mean jetting off to foreign countries.
There are tons of opportunities to explore your own country or state (assuming you live in the U.S.).
I have made friends with people in other countries and online, which has led me to attend events in Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, and beyond.
I have been invited to speak in Tampa and at the University of Indiana.
I love any opportunity to explore someplace new.
Some traditional jobs open the door to travel opportunities but many do not.
Having my own business has given me the freedom to jet set to other states and countries on a whim.
This has further allowed me to land contracts through in-person networking.
Your business doesn’t have to be confined to your own city, state, or country.
If you’re willing to look, you’re likely to find other opportunities to explore new places while opening doors for your business.
Creating a Multicultural, Diverse Team
While my content agency remains small, I’ve had the joy of working with contractors all over the world.
This has allowed me to find the perfect fit for each project, often at an ideal price point.
Outsourcing doesn’t always mean hiring virtual assistants from the Global South, though that may certainly be the case for some businesses.
It means being able to form partnerships with contractors, freelancers, or agencies anywhere in the world.
If you have a business, I encourage you to think beyond your own immediate circle, expand your horizons, and consider hiring a diverse, multicultural team.
You’re likely to find personalities, skill sets, and perspectives you might have not otherwise found by staying within your own network.
I think it’s beautiful how the world is becoming more connected.
With partners in Canada, Singapore, Australia, Spain, Thailand, and Mexico, I have been able to grow my business and gain new, life-changing perspectives.
Opportunities to Give Back
My business isn’t rooted in one place, so it’s often hard to get involved in my community for the long-term.
But I have been introduced to other ways to get involved while also becoming more aware of the issues other parts of the world face.
From social enterprises in Cambodia to elephant sanctuaries in Thailand to animal rehabilitation centers in Mexico, I’ve learned more about how other countries serve their own communities and how they call on “foreigners” to give back.
I’ve realized that some of the best ways to give back are to raise awareness and funds for causes in other countries, rather than shipping yourself out there to serve.
There are many people “on the ground” doing amazing work who simply need support from people with a platform.
Today, I try to use my platform for good and direct my audience to causes I’m passionate about, all over the world.
While I may not be able to serve for 6 months at an orphanage or build a school, I can still find ways to give back.
I love the quote that “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
This doesn’t just mean financially, in a business sense, but also personally and spiritually. It opens your eyes to new possibilities, perspectives, and opportunities.
Consider expanding your horizons and using travel as a medium for personal and business growth. You’ll be surprised where the wind (or a plane) can take you.