Drive, Dive, Devour – Make Money and Travel
Walking away from a steady job at a respected corporation to fulfill your personal desires of travel isn’t always a popular decision. In fact, plenty of people would call it selfish, irresponsible and even crazy. But it’s not, or at least not when you can travel and still make a living!
There are so many ways to design your life and a life of travel is a possibility…even as a designer.
Meet our blogging friends Drive, Dive, Devour. We first met Kerensa and Brandon in Austin, Texas but really dove in and got to know them this past winter in Florida. They’re both super passionate about travel but with their website they specifically seek out off-beat SCUBA diving locations and local chow (yep, their foodies like us). They had corporate jobs as designers in New York but they bought an RV, created a mobile design studio and literally drove away from their sedentary life and into a perpetual life on the road. This is their story of how they make money and travel.
We have a product design consultancy. We have a long term contract with one company that has been great to work with in our situation, but we pick up other jobs to help keep things rolling. We can design any product from a toothbrush to sunglasses to an RV! We also do graphic design and photography for clients.
We have always been in this line of work. We were working in the NYC area and were ready for a change. Our plan was for Brandon to leave his job and begin consulting to build up clients before we hit the road while I, Kerensa, kept my full-time job. Thankfully, he landed a contract right away that we knew would allow us to start traveling.
Has deciding to travel and work been a good decision for you? Has it improved your quality of life, added more freedom to your life or has it all stayed the same?
Yes! It has been a great decision for us and we are happier than ever. Traveling has improved our quality of life and added more freedom to it as we’re free to explore areas that we have always wanted to see without worrying about vacation days and flight schedules, etc. Traveling makes us happy and we can travel at any time now, how can that not improve our quality of life?
How many hours do you put in a week and what does a typical workday look like for you?
Our workweek varies. At first, we were always at the desk during the day out of habit from cubicle life. Now we work as needed. Sometimes we work during the day; sometimes we explore during the day and work at night. Depending upon the amount of projects we have, we can work every day of the week for a few weeks straight and other times we have a lighter load and are more flexible.
How long did it take for you to start earning a comfortable/typical living for this line of work? Do you feel financially this is about the same as sedentary life, better or worse.
What you make as a consultant can vary widely depending on the jobs you take and how much you hustle. We were lucky to have one main contract right away that let us ease into our new life of travel and consulting. Most people start out freelancing on the side of their main job and only quit when they get to a tipping point. We are doing well now, we fund our IRAs, and we can put money into savings when the RV isn’t eating it with repairs or maintenance.
Financially, we are about the same as our past sedentary life. We make less than having two full-time jobs, but we spend less also. If we weren’t out trying to experience everything we can, it might even be better, but that’s what we’ve set out to do. We do prioritize and still put back savings, but we make sure to do the things that are important to us ( like dive and devour!).
What are the most essential pieces of equipment or programs you need for working while traveling? For what you do, what education is needed? If someone else out there wanted to get into the same line of work, what type of education would they need? College, trade school, nothing?
The most essential items we need are our computers and the internet to communicate with clients. Our smart phones also allow us to receive calls and email anywhere, even on a canoe trip. The main software programs we use are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Solidworks. We also use Sketchbook Pro and combining that with our Wacom tablet allows us to digitally sketch designs cutting down on the amount of paper we have in the RV. We do still carry sketchbooks and pencils for those times when we want to go old school.
A degree in a design discipline is needed to get into this line of work. Product/industrial design is the most obvious choice and is what Brandon studied (along with illustration), but I, Kerensa, studied fashion and photography which also works. We have also worked with people with graphic design degrees that transitioned into product design. We have worked in the watch industry for a long time where product, fashion, and graphics all have their place in the design of a watch.
Who are your clients? Do you find them or do they find you and how? What is your rejection rate? How many clients do you pitch to finally win over one? You don’t have tell us who your clients are directly, just how you go about getting the work.
We work on retaining clients through quality work because repeat clients are some the best to have. Otherwise, clients have found us through our website, coroflot, linked in, friends in the industry, and even another RVer. We reach out to companies through acquaintances and past co-workers. We both had corporate jobs and still work with those types of clients, but we have also worked with smaller companies and individuals. We have also helped bring ideas to the submission stage for kickstarter and indiegogo.
There has to be a new project or product on the horizon, so rejection rate can be high. Once you have a good relationship with someone, though, they may come back the next time they are in need.
What are the best things about working while traveling? Those things that make you think wow; I really am living the dream.
Making our own hours is great. We don’t have to sit under fluorescent light all day while the sun fades away. Also traveling to different areas is nice for a change of scenery, but also allows us to see our end customers in action. We’re seeing how people all over the country use the things we design and how their needs differ.
What are the most frustrating things about working while traveling? Any ways you’ve found to avoid or cope with this frustration?
Having a steady internet connection is a must and there have been a couple times we’ve had to go to Starbucks to upload files. We have internet redundancy, but there are still bad or slow connections in certain places, towns, etc.
Brandon likes his space while working and you’re limited in a RV, so we custom built in a desk to give us both a good work space.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice about starting in this line of work, what would it be?
Don’t think you’re under-qualified to apply for a job.
Don’t worry about the money at first, just get your foot in the door.
The Fantasy Job
What is one of the most creative ways you’ve heard of someone else funding a location independent lifestyle? The one that made you wish you had thought of it first!
An underwater photographer! So far, we’re pretty happy with how we’re funding our lifestyle. It would be nice to integrate our work and travel more, but we haven’t found the key to that just yet. 2018 update: Brandon and Kerensa have found a way to integrate their work and travel. They are helping others enjoy the RV lifestyle with tips and classes. Check out their site, RVtoFreedom.com.
If you enjoyed this story, found it helpful, perhaps inspirational or have a question, leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts! If you know someone that needs that little “you-can-do-it” push then please share this story by email or social media, you never know what might ignite that passion to Make Money and Travel.
To find out more about Brandon and Kerensa, their work and their travels, you can find them here:
- Professional site: brandonhatcherdesign.com
- Blog: drivedivedevour.com
- Facebook: facebook.com/drivedivedevour
- Instagram: @drivedivedevour
- Twitter: @drivedivedevour
- Trover: Drive Dive Devour
This Make Money and Travel series exists as a source of inspiration. By sharing examples of real people around the world making money from anywhere and living the lifestyle they want, proves where there is a will, there is a way.
If you would like to share your story of how you travel and make money, shoot us an email: [email protected]