5 Business Lessons Learned From 5 Years From Full-Time Travel

We are celebrating 5 years since I booked the one-way ticket that started it all! 5 years of adventures and business growth and clients and customers around the world. Building a multiple six-figure business while traveling full-time is not always easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way— it is so worth it and it is so possible for you! Tune in for expert insights from this lifestyle and tips to make this a reality for you too.

After 5 years of simultaneously running a business and traveling full time, I want to share with you the 5 most important lessons that I have learned that can help you achieve your business and personal goals.

Prefer to read? Here’s the blog version…

Hi guys. Welcome back to the Wanderlover Podcast! I just booked flights back to England for the end of the month, which is crazy because it’s in a few weeks time. So I’m packing up my life in Mexico and I’m going to be headed over to England, and then Europe for the summer is the current plan.

Some of you might think I’m crazy, like, oh my God, I can’t believe you don’t plan the next few months out. I usually have an idea of where in the world I’ll be. I just don’t book the flights until maybe like two or three weeks before, sometimes even like a few days before, and it’s just worked really well for me. I don’t get stressed about it. I know that they’re all there and the fact that I’ve been doing this for the past five years makes it a lot easier for me to live with the flexibility and with the flow of things without having to plan years and years in advance. I remember when I used to work in corporate with my limited vacation days, I would have all my vacations planned out for the current year and next year because I knew when the holidays were, when I had long weekends, and I really wanted to maximize every single vacation day.

Obviously it is not the case, and I just celebrated five years of full-time travel five years ago. I booked a one-way ticket to Australia in 2018, and since then I’ve just been on the move. So in this episode, I really want to share five business lessons learned from five years of full-time travel. This obviously comes with the notion that I am an online business owner. I’ve grown my business to multiple six figures all while on the road. We have expanded our team, we have expanded our systems, and we’re also aiming to hit our first million dollar year. So we have very high ambitions.

Wonderlover Business Academy 3.0

We’re not just traveling for the sake of it. We are simultaneously building a very powerful, influential and impactful business, and that’s what we teach our clients to do inside the Wanderlover Business Academy 3.0 that just launched. So if you are looking to start your online freedom-based business that allows you to travel the world, then the academy is for you. It is truly a one-stop shop if you are a new or aspiring coach or creative who wants to get your systems in place so you can start making money online and working with clients, changing their lives, not having to report to a boss, not having to count your vacation days.

I’ve been doing this for five years. I know it works. And in the academy we have so many success stories. So check out the link in the episode description if this opportunity is calling you. 

Committing To Turning Thought Into Action

I want to preface this episode by saying that this online digital nomad full-time traveling journey has not been easy. Of course, there are bumps, there are growing pains, there’s learning curves. However, it is nothing compared to the inner turmoil and the questioning of my life purpose and all of those difficulties that I faced when I was working a job that I wasn’t aligned with and I was living a life that I questioned every single day.

Never have I woken up in the past five years wondering, did I make the right decision? Should I go back to corporate? Am I doing what is right for me? Simply because this is the exact life that I had designed for myself. I was self-aware to know what brought me happiness and I committed to the actions that would bring me happiness. And these actions are going to look different for everyone. I have goal mapping sessions all the time with my clients. Some of them really want to start a family. Some of them really want to move abroad and live this freedom based lifestyle, but they wanna stay in one location. They don’t want to go from country to country every three to six months or three to six weeks.

Some of them really want to stay in a corporate job and have a side hustle because they really love the stability of a paycheck and being able to take off a few weeks if they wanted to. But if you are someone who is fully committed to a freedom based lifestyle, and by that I mean location freedom, time freedom, and financial freedom, then these lessons will be really powerful and really helpful for you. I knew that when I set out on this journey that I was gonna make it. I wasn’t gonna go back to corporate. I wasn’t gonna go back to working for anybody else. I knew what I was good at, I was creative, and I was really good at helping other people.

So I was gonna make it as a creator and coach. And that’s exactly what I set out to do, and that is exactly what I am and what my life looks like. It’s honestly crazy thinking that I started off in a cubicle going into the office, and now for the past five years, it’s booking flights from Bali to Brazil to Hawaii, to Costa Rica, doing road trips in Europe and then spontaneously deciding to post up in a remote island surf town for most of the year. And now I’m in Mexico and in every single destination I’ve just had my laptop, my team, my systems, some recording gear, some content creation gear, and that’s it.

I can go back to New York to visit my family whenever I want to. I can go to England to visit Ragz family whenever we want to. I can go surfing every single day. I can choose my own hours. I personally would not have it any other way.

Lessons Learnt From 5 Years Of Entrepreneurship & Full-Time Travel

1 – Take Full Responsibility For Your Current Life

And so lesson one learned from the past five years of full-time travel is that you need to take full responsibility of how your life is currently. Your life is truly the sum of all of the choices you have made up to this point. So no complaining, no blaming other people or events for your circumstances. Take control of your life and take control of your choices.

So whether you’re in a corporate job, if you’re in a corporate job right now and you feel like it’s not aligned, still take responsibility for the fact that you chose to be in a corporate job and you are choosing not to quit your corporate job. And of course, there’s always other factors like maybe you really value stability, maybe you love your coworkers. It doesn’t get rid of the fact that you are in that position because you’re choosing to stay in it. And those are the actions you took to get you to that place. This also applies to other facets of life. Like if you are in a relationship that makes you unhappy, it is your choice to continue staying in it or to leave, right?

You always have a choice. And when you can recognize that your life is basically just your choices and you always have another choice, if your current one isn’t making you happy, it makes you so empowered bringing this into business. Take responsibility for everything happening in your business right now. If your business isn’t growing, assess how you are spending your time, your money, and your energy. For example, if it’s not growing, do not blame external factors. Do not say, oh, no one is signing up with me. I am not making sales because of the algorithm. Assess how you are spending your time and take full responsibility.

Are you spending a lot of time partying? Which is great. I did that for months and months and months in Bali, and my business definitely took a backseat, but I was fully enjoying partying, right? I wasn’t gonna take away my enjoyment if I chose that action. Maybe you are traveling with a bunch of your friends who have like a two week vacation, so every day is like go, go, go, right? And maybe that’s why your business isn’t growing, but still take responsibility for the fact that you said yes to that, that you prioritize your friends or traveling or partying over your business. You will need to learn to say no if you want to prioritize your work and grow.

That’s simply it. Your choices are going to reflect your values, what you are prioritizing at that point. And if you continue to say yes to other factors in your life, then don’t expect business growth. That’s as simple as that. And I think what is really hard is when you are a full-time traveler, when you have an online business, people confuse that for having all the time in the world. They think you’re on a permanent vacation, which you can be if you chose to be. But if you have a work to do, you really need to learn how to say no and recognize that when you do say yes to someone, like let’s say someone wants to go on a trip with you for a few days, you need to fully enjoy it.

You need to fully commit to that. Yes, instead of being one foot in and one foot out, instead of being like, oh, I do wanna go on this trip with you, yes, and I will go, but like I also want my business to do the work by itself and operate and produce all the content that I want to without fully having the systems in place yet, right? Like you can’t have both at that point. What you can rephrase that to is yes, I will go on this trip with you and I will fully enjoy it, and after I come back, I will set up the systems, I will set up the automations so that the next time I go on that trip, my business can continue to grow without me being there.

That is what I would want. What I’ve learned is it’s completely useless being in this limbo if you say yes to something just because that’s what you would normally do, and you don’t wanna be a bad friend or you don’t wanna get fomo. So you say yes, and you’re there and you’re like, ah, I don’t wanna be here because I have all of these work things that aren’t getting done. And that was your choice. That’s fully on you because you said yes. So when you say yes, make sure you tell yourself you are prioritizing that over work and you need to fully enjoy it. If that doesn’t sit well with you and you know that you really have other values and priorities at that moment, then learn to say no.

It is up to you as a business owner to take complete control if you want to see results. There’s no use in blaming, in playing victim or complaining at all. Which brings me to lesson number two. 

2 – Be Your Own Visionary

If you want to have a super successful business and still travel full-time, you always have to know what to focus on next. You need to be the visionary for your own business because you’re not gonna have a boss. No one’s gonna be telling you what you need to do, what you have to do every day, and no one’s gonna be telling you to go to work, right? So it is up to you to find what works for you and find the next steps for you and your business.

Always have an action plan and always have guidance, or else you risk just doing the same things every single day without seeing results. I see this so often with content creators. They spend all of their time creating content, editing their content, scheduling their content, posting their content and not monetizing. They’re waiting for this one day where all of a sudden, you know, thousands of dollars will just show up in their bank account. But it doesn’t happen like that. You need to work on the business side of creativity. And if you’re struggling to do that, we teach you exactly how to go from zero to 5K months and beyond in the business academy. So if you feel like you need to learn the business side of creativity and you also need accountability to execute on what actually matters, then you have full control and you have the choice to make that decision and go learn.

It’s eight weeks, and I promise you, your business is going to look so different after the eight weeks than if you continued doing what you are doing and you’re not seeing results. I’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars into coaching, into masterminds, into courses. I’m constantly learning to become a better business owner and business coach myself. But also I’m very aware of when I need extra accountability, when I need someone to hold me accountable because I know it’s a period of my life or a period of my business where I’m easily distracted and I really want to see results. This is especially helpful because if you do want more freedom, if you wanna, let’s say pick up a new sport or you want to take a one month vacation, you need to learn how to set your business up to allow you to do that.

And that’s probably something you didn’t come from knowing, right? It’s probably not your background, and we really need to align those goals with your actions day to day. Sometimes it just simply doesn’t make sense and you need to take new actions, and that is why you always need the goal. And you need proven action steps and expert guidance to get you there. 

3 – Recognise The Need To Invest Time AND Money

Next lesson that I’ve learned is that you need to invest both time and money into your business. We talked about the time part and prioritizing, spending time in your business, spending time growing it, saying no to other obligations.

But also keep in mind that if you want to ultimately work like a four hour work week in quotes, you probably need to spend a lot of time to set up the business that runs by itself. So this is a reminder, do not compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter 20. They might be saying, I only work four hours a week, 10 hours a week. And you’re like, that’s what I wanna do. And you put in the 10 hours, but your business isn’t skyrocketing like there’s R. There are different times and different stages of business that allows you to do things like that. So you need to really spend time in your business, spend time learning, spend time executing in order to get you to where you wanna be.

And in terms of investing money, let’s say you had unlimited time and you could afford to figure things out on your own, you make mistakes and you learn from them and you know where you wanna go. You will eventually get there if you had unlimited time, right? However, most people who come to me, they don’t have unlimited time. Let’s say you wanna quit your job by a certain date, or you’re traveling and you’re running out of money and you need your business profitable ASAP or else you have to go back to working for someone else. So you have this time limit, right? And that is when you need to invest the money to get your business to where you want it to be.

If you have limited time, you can’t afford to make mistakes, you can’t afford to be spending so much of your valuable time doing what is not working and what is not monetizing. And why I have this as such an important lesson after five years of full-time travel is because I always know when I need to invest more time into my business and when I need to invest more money. So more money in terms of systems, in terms of having team members, investing in coaches, investing in courses, learning what I don’t know, I am willing to invest the money because it saves me the time, it saves me making those mistakes myself.

And why do it myself if someone else does it better, or if someone else can tell me what to do. It is so much more efficient. This mindset will get your business to the next level. Cuz you’re not trying to bandaid solution everything and you’re not trying to beat this one man team that’s juggling it all, trying to learn as they go and spending a lot of time doing things that they’re not an expert at. 

4 – Own Your Business And Treat It As An Entity

Which brings me to lesson number four is this mindset reframe. That is you own your business and you need to be able to step out of your business. It doesn’t have to happen in the first year when you first get started, but that is always the mentality that you should have if you really want that time freedom.

And what this does, when you truly adopt that mindset of owning a business, you start looking at it as its own entity of profits, of losses. You start looking at the finances, you start tracking metrics, you start figuring out your systems and hiring teams and treating a business as its sole entity, a living, breathing entity that can run itself. And when this happens, that is when you can go surfing every day. You can spend your days outdoors with friends who are traveling and visiting you for two weeks straight and you can just go and have adventures knowing that your business is still growing and you have a team, you have a team there helping you creating content.

And keep in mind that this isn’t only for really big entrepreneurs, it’s not for people who are making tens of thousands of dollars a month. You can start small practice, giving up, control, practice outsourcing, practice, going on fiver and finding a copywriter, finding a graphic designer or anything else that you may need help with that will get you results and save you time. Maybe that’s hiring someone to do sales or answering dms that you hate doing. And it takes up so much time when you start treating your business as its own entity and reframing it as you don’t have to be the only one in it, right?

You don’t have to be doing all the things you own this business. And so what is your role as CEO and what are other people’s roles? And I promise you, when you get really good at finding talent to help you with what you need help with, that is when you see magic. And if you haven’t checked out fiber, I highly, highly recommend it. I find so many random people at times on that site and they do such a good job. Like when I wanted to create my own filter on Instagram, I found someone on fiber and they created it in a day exactly what I wanted. So instead of learning a completely foreign program to me, which I could have done, and it seemed fun, but I was like, is this the best use of my time right now?

Like I have client calls and do I want to spend the rest of my week learning this new program to make my own filter when I can just get someone else to do it? Thinking like that will give you back so much of your time. And also it doesn’t have to be expensive. I think I got my AI filter made for like $30. I had someone edit an Instagram video for $5. So start small. It doesn’t matter what your budget is, but practice thinking like a business owner instead of trying to be the business itself. 

5 – Get Rid Of Ifs, Buts and Caveats

Okay, last lesson, I hope you’re all enjoying this last lesson, is running a successful business or scaling it to multiple six figures on its way to seven figures, requires you to have no ifs, no doubts, no caveats.

And what I mean by that is I see a lot of people desiring to get rich or wanting to be rich, right? And the wanting part isn’t the hard part because many people can want a lot of different things. You can want a lot of things, but what are you going to do to get it? What are you going to do? What are you going to sacrifice to get to where you want to be? So a lot of people, they will say they want an online business and they want to travel the world if they don’t have to invest any money or any time into that new journey, right? Or if they don’t have to go live or show their face on Instagram, I want to be rich and successful and travel.

If I don’t have to DM every single one of my followers or if I don’t need to get on the phone or if I don’t need to sell something, do you see where I’m going here? And again, this is a reflection of your priorities and your values. If you’re not making money in your business, there can’t be any ifs if you want to make money, right? You can’t say, I want to make money if I don’t have to do X, Y, and Z. Because at that point, if X, Y, and Z are what you need to do in order to be successful and you don’t wanna do it, are you prioritizing? And are you valuing your business first?

I always think back to this seminar that Gary Vaynerchuk did once and towards the end. There was this one guy in the audience who asked Gary, like, you are always talking about hustle and hustle and work for your dreams. But what about family? What about spending time with friends? My family and relationships mean so much to me. How do you sacrifice that? Like how do you make it work? I want this really successful business, but I also really wanna spend time with my family. And Gary said something along the lines of, it’s all about choices and it’s all about priorities. And he said to the man, you’re probably gonna have a better relationship with your family.

You’re probably gonna have more friends than me, more friends who you’ve invested more time with. But I’m gonna have the billion dollar company. I’m going to have the fame, I’m going to have the big business and the employees. And that’s simply because that’s where we choose to spend our time. So if you want to grow your business to multiple six figures, to seven figure years, to multiple seven figure years, you need to have your priorities straight. You can’t say you want all of that with the caveat, if I don’t have to work 50 hour weeks, if I don’t have to sacrifice my time with my family or friends or traveling. And that is something I’ve learned the hard way because that was me.

I wanted to grow my business so fast, so quickly, but I also wanted a party. I wanted to travel. I wanted to talk to people in coworking spaces and make friends. I wanted to surf and not just focus and hustle on my business. And I have completely accepted that. And you know it’s crazy when I did take responsibility for that and when I did realize how everything is just a choice in my control, that is when my business started growing exponentially because I knew it was all up to me and I wasn’t playing victim anymore. And I promise you, if you follow these five lessons and just learn from my mistakes, internalize them as truth, you are going to feel so empowered and you’re going to be making the right decisions for your business and for your entire life. You have the power to design any type of life you want to. 

I would be honored to support you and I hope to see you in one of my programs, either the Academy or Momentum Mastermind or sign up for private coaching. I’m going to go figure out some nights in Mexico City and then some nights in London, and also figure out summer in the Mediterranean plans. I’ll keep you all posted. See you all in the next episode.

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Danielle Hu

Danielle Hu

Danielle Hu is a multiple 6-figure travel influencer, business coach, and Founder of The Wanderlover. She has traveled to over 65+ countries running her online business and surfing in remote tropical destinations. Her mission is to help creatives and coaches achieve time freedom, location freedom, and financial freedom through online entrepreneurship.

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