Aileen Adalid entered the corporate world at age 19 after graduating from De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, with a degree in business management.
But the trilingual Philippines native quickly grew envious of the flexible lifestyles of “digital nomads” she met while freelancing on the side in Manila.
At 21, Adalid quit her entry-level job at Deutsche Bank — which paid just $300 per month — to transition to a life of perpetual travel.
For the next year, Adalid freelanced in graphic design, web design, SEO management, and online marketing, sustained largely by one stable client contract that earned her more than double her previous salary. The best part: The flexibility enabled her to travel frequently to places like France and Thailand.
In May 2014, Adalid partnered with a friend to start an online Amazon retail business called Adalid Gear, a health and outdoor accessories company, and relocated to Belgium.
Adalid now earns about $5,000 a month from her online ventures, and she travels from her home base (now back in the Philippines) at least once a month to destinations throughout Europe and Asia.
Adalid told Business Insider about cutting ties with the corporate world to chase after the “digital nomad” lifestyle, and finding a balance between traveling the world and running two successful ventures. Read on to find out how she did it:
Back in college, Adalid studied business management and had a combined year of training experience under her belt at huge multinational companies like Nestlé, Unilever, and Siemens.
But after graduating college at 19 and spending two years working as a product controller at Deutsche Bank, she realized the corporate life wasn’t for her. She was increasingly intrigued by both entrepreneurship and travel, so she left her job with about $600 in savings in April 2013.
“I started working as a remote freelance graphic designer, web developer, and marketing assistant taking on different projects but with a main stable client who employed me. My pay at this point was more than double of what I earned at my office job and I was able to control my time more for working as I started to travel around more.”
After a year of freelancing, Adalid started her Amazon retail business, Adalid Gear, and relocated to Belgium on a student visa after being accepted to a graduate program at the University of Antwerp.
When her namesake business took off a few months later, Adalid left school and switched to a partner visa — with the help of her Belgian business partner — to focus on growing the business. To get the company off the ground, they started by carefully researching the market to discover the most in-demand products.
Their dedication paid off. Adalid Gear — which sells sports and outdoor gear — now has average monthly sales of $70,000, and has established markets in the US and UK.
Adalid said enlisting mentors has been one of their most invaluable business strategies. “It was helpful for us to remain connected to people who run the same kind of business like ours, and to take up coaches who can guide us along the way,” she said.
Adalid herself now earns about $5,000 a month from the business and “affiliate partnerships, sponsored posts, and social media shout outs” related to her travel blog. And thanks to brand and tourism board partnerships, Adalid often scores free travel and accommodations.
But she doesn’t accept everything she’s offered. “I want [the blog] to remain authentic, personalized, and uncluttered … besides, I already earn most of my ‘keep’ from my online business.” Thanks to travel freebies and discounts, she says she’s able to save about 70% of her income.
Adalid typically works less than four hours per day on Adalid Gear, mainly handling research, marketing, promotions, and communication, allowing her to go on a trip from her home base at least once a month.
“During my two years in Belgium, I have gone on a scenic road trip in the Faroe Islands, climbed mountains in Norway, celebrated Bastille Day in Paris, explored off-the-beaten-path destinations in Belgium, driven through the highest mountain in the Alps East of the Brenner Pass in Austria, soared above the coast of Indonesia on a helicopter, and met a geisha and the ‘last samurai’ in Japan.”
Adalid’s nomadic lifestyle has taught her a few lessons about productivity. “Being constantly on the move can ruin anyone’s focus, rhythm, and pace, but I’ve discovered that it can be easily solved by doing slow travel and finding the right balance to how you do your workflow.”
Her advice for others who want to work and travel: “Always think long-term … Surely, it’s fine to take it easy at the start as you get skills and do temporary work and projects, like volunteering, but at the very core, it’s still best to work your way towards a grand goal that will give you a more stable remote profession.”
Adalid is back in the Philippines now with plans to make Spain her next home base. Her long-term goal is to continue to grow her businesses and to travel to every country in the world.
This article originally appeared in Business Insider.