business coaching, consulting services, remote work, digital nomad, lifestyle, photography

Budget Travel Digital Nomad Guide 2020

Thanks for taking the time to visit my remote coaching travel blog! This article was originally written on June 9, 2019. Hopefully you are excited to learn more about shoestring budget travel around the world. Just a little bit about me. My name is Mike Holp. I’m a travel photographer and digital nomad from Austin, Texas. I’m currently backpacking through South America with one hiking bag including all my camera equipment. I’ve learned so much during my travels abroad and now I want to pass the knowledge onto you! The digital nomad movement is a lifestyle that allows a person to work from anywhere in the world from their laptop. It’s for this reason that it’s also commonly referred to as the “laptop lifestyle”. As the Internet becomes more ubiquitous and the digital economy continues to grow in scope, more people are waking up to the reality that it’s now easier than ever to escape the 9-5 rat race and be your own boss. This growing movement was popularized by the visionary author Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. You will often see digital nomads working from hostels, coffee shops, and even lounging in a hammock on the beach, as depicted on the front cover of this book. I decided to write this eBook to give back to the community with an emphasis on teaching other people how to travel the world even if you have limited funds and inconsistent clients. I left Austin with $500 in my bank account! Sounds risky and crazy, right? Most definitely! However, if you’re resourceful and stay motivated, you can find effective methods to grow your travel fund on the road. The methods detailed in this book are all based on personal experience that I’ve learned by experimenting with different proven techniques. You will learn how to choose your craft, become a social media influencer by growing a fan base on Instagram, the essentials of email marketing, how to generate passive income right now with the Airbnb Referral Program, and for those of you who stick around to the end, I will also provide the exact email script I’ve used successfully to stay at luxury hotels for free! Wouldn’t that be great? So without further ado, let’s get started!

Chapter 1: The First Step

So you’ve decided you want to travel the world… Excellent! I applaud you for making the decision to escape the safety of your comfort zone and break free from the rat race! Maybe you’ve even got your bags packed but are still having a difficult time committing; taking that initial leap of faith, so to speak. Trust me, the first step is usually the most challenging part. At least it was for me. I still remember the precise moment vividly. I was taking a leadership training course at Keller Williams Realty; their headquarters in Austin, Texas. We were brainstorming our goals for the year. Mine was to travel the world. But that was too broad. I had to start small. So I decided to buy a one-way plane ticket to Costa Rica, eagerly packed up my essential belongings, and boarded the big ole jet airliner. Over the next 10 days, I traveled up and down the Pacific Coast. I loved the experience so much that I set the intention to go back again next year. Sure enough, that same time next year I was shooting on assignment with my business partner on behalf of! You may be asking, why am I sharing this story of personal transformation? As proof that you can do anything you set your mind to! The first step is setting the intention and then taking deliberate action to make it happen. So, where do you want to go? What’s your dream destination? Maybe it’s a popular vacation spot like Hawaii or Cancun, or possibly somewhere less “tropical paradise” like Indonesia or Iceland. I leave that part entirely up to you. Let me be your guide to help you get from Point A, where you are now, to where you want to B. For the cheapest flights, I recommend Kayak, Skyscanner, or Google Flights. Once you have the airfare taken care of, it’s time to get moving! Are you excited? I’m excited for you! So let’s get into the practical steps of achieving your life of location independence! Ready? Let’s go!

Chapter 2: Choosing Your Craft

What’s your passion? Seriously. It may seem cliche‚ but having a clear and concise answer to this question is paramount to achieving long-term success as a digital nomad or (fill in the blank). What do you enjoy doing more than anything else? What makes you come alive? If you’re ready to escape the convenient 9-5 cubicle job, you will have to be prepared for some serious grind and hustle. I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you. It’s going to be an arduous struggle at times. That’s why it’s vitally important to have the confidence and wherewithal of having a chosen craft to fall back on when the going gets tough. Once you’ve figured this out, the rest will follow. And it will also be easier to more quickly identify your ideal customers. For example, my passion is travel photography and digital marketing. These are both services that many people want even if they don’t realize it initially. So now it’s just a matter of getting my message in front of them. One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is through the use of email marketing. I will get into marketing techniques and services you can offer to prospective clients in subsequent modules. But for now, let me ask you a few questions…

  1. What’s your passion?
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  3. Who are your ideal customers?
  4. What can you do today to make money?
  5. What did you want to be as a child?

Please take a few minutes to jot down your answers. Don’t move on to the next module until you have these pieces of the puzzle in hand. You will need them to determine your chosen craft. You may also be interested in reading my blog post How To Travel the World as a Digital Nomad.

Chapter 3: Putting The Pieces Together

Okay, so this is where the rubber hits the road. We need to use your answers from the previous module and create a roadmap for long-term success. Everything follows from the first and most important question. What’s your passion? In other words: What do you feel like you were born to do? What gives you a distinct purpose in life? What is your One Thing that sustains you, no different from sleep or involuntary breathing? Maybe you haven’t found your true passion yet. And that’s okay. Don’t feel discouraged. In this case, I would encourage you to focus more on the last question. What did you want to be as a child? If you’re like most people, this dream job has changed drastically over the years of development. For example, I wanted to be a truck driver as a young boy living in North Carolina. I was mostly interested in watching cartoons and playing computer games. Reminiscing, it’s amazing how my life has taken a complete 360° turn over the years! Once you start following your passion and living your highest truth, you will realize that childhood dreams fade away into the ether or subconscious of your mind. You are now an active participant in the creation of the life of your dreams. In the driver’s seat of this mortal coil. Master of your own destiny. Nobody can take that away from you! The next step is accurately assessing your strengths and weaknesses. You may also want to ask close friends for their honest opinion. If they have your best interests in mind, this will be a good source of constructive feedback that you can use as a guiding compass pointing in the direction of least resistance. If you are already in resonance with your true passion and actively following your intuition, great job! You can be confident you’re way ahead of most people. I encourage the rest of you to take a few days or however long you need to ponder these questions. When you’re ready, let’s move onto the next step. I will walk you through my preferred method of generating passive income every month with Airbnb. This plays off the question, “What can you do today to make money?” I’m excited to share it with you, so let’s go!

Chapter 4: How To Generate Passive Income (Every Month)

In this chapter, I’d like to take a few minutes to share with you a technique I’ve successfully used to generate passive income while traveling the world. But before we get started, what exactly is “passive income”? This is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days without much explanation. Essentially, it’s getting paid on a regular basis with minimal effort required on your part. You want to find something that is easy and reliable. This is the ideal situation for anyone without a regular paycheck from the employer or a full pipeline of consistent paying clients. I’m sure the majority of you have probably heard of Airbnb. It’s an online platform that allows you to rent your property on a short-term basis to visiting guests. This is especially useful if your house or apartment is empty while you’re, say, on a vacation from your problems in Bora Bora. However, what you may not realize is that Airbnb also offers a Referral Program. They want to incentivize new hosts to sign up on the platform. And that’s where you come in! Enter freelance email marketing for Airbnb. If you already have an account, simply go to, import your contacts from Gmail or Yahoo, and send out an email blast. You can do this through the mobile app or from your laptop. Note: This conforms to the CAN-SPAM laws since the emails include an Unsubscribe link and the email is actually coming directly from as opposed to your personal or business email address. Who doesn’t want to make extra money every month by renting out their vacant space? You’re simply showing them the doorway to opportunity. They have to walk through it. For every host who signs up on Airbnb using your referral link, you will collect $200 via direct deposit into your bank account. It’s a win-win situation. Everyone is happy. The best part is, it’s not necessary to own any property, which means there’s no hosting or maintenance required. It’s fully autonomous. This is by far the easiest way I’ve discovered to generate passive income while traveling the world. It essentially frees me up to focus full-time on my artistic passions without having to worry about money constantly. I’ve almost reached the maximum payout limit of $5000 which has sustained my travel lifestyle for just over 6 months! It’s possible for anyone to do the same thing. Congratulations, you are now your own boss! Sit back, relax, and watch the money roll in every month.

Generate Passive Income with Airbnb Referral Program
Generate Passive Income with Airbnb Referral Program

Chapter 5: Grow Your Instagram Followers

Instagram is all the rage these days! People are posting beautiful photos to show off their extraordinary life in exotic destinations around the world. If you regularly scroll through the feed, you’ll soon realize how addicting it can become. It’s a form of escapism and wanderlust that takes you out of the present moment. I will save the psychological effects of social media addiction for another time. That’s not the purpose of this book. I mostly use Instagram as a source of inspiration for destinations to visit. For example, I have every intention of flying to Indonesia after my adventures in South America. This is a very popular destination for digital nomads, especially since the cost of living is so much more affordable than in the States. You can easily get by on $10 per day! Most of my favorite photographers on the platform have well over 100K followers! They’re sponsored by big brands, car companies, tourism agencies, luxury hotels, and basically just crushing the game! Of course, we can’t all be Instagram celebrities like Kim Kardashian, nor should we try to be. But we should at least actively participate in the community. In order to be considered a “micro-influencer”, you need at least 10,000 followers. That’s the official number. This is similar to a digital currency like Bitcoin. It has no monetary value right away, but you can leverage your influence to arrange complimentary stays at luxury hotels for free, which we will discuss more in Chapter 8.

What’s the most effective way to grow your followers on Instagram quickly? There’s a lot of debate around the best practices for achieving rapid growth on Instagram. You can buy followers but I wouldn’t recommend it since this is usually a scam and the accounts are fake or bots. It’s much better to grow organically. The best way to do that is by consistently posting quality professional content. Say, for example, you’re a landscape photographer. You should be posting your best landscape photos 3-4 times per week at the right time of day. Your number of followers isn’t as important as your overall engagement rate on each post. There are tools available you can use to determine the ideal time to post for maximum engagement. Check out UnionMetrics. You should also be tagging different relevant accounts in your posts. This will increase the likelihood that your photo will be featured on their Instagram profile. Some of the larger accounts, like @beautifuldestinations for example, is very competitive. You don’t stand a chance of being featured unless you work for them officially. Professional photographers only. Regardless, getting featured is probably the best way to grow your exposure and reach new potential fans. You should also be getting involved in the community and sharing the love. In other words, comment and like awesome photos in your feed. Send direct messages to your favorite accounts and new followers. Show that you care! There are automated tools to do this for you. I’ve used GramTo with a modicum of success. Your mileage may vary. If you’re using these techniques and still not achieving success, it may be time to consider advertising to reach a larger audience. You will need an Instagram Business Account to run ads. It’s a simple switch in Settings. Then you can boost by clicking the “Promote” button under your chosen image. From here, you can optimize for more profile visits, website traffic, or promotion views, set your target audience (automatic or manual), interests, total budget, and boom, you’re off to the races! The algorithm will display your estimated daily reach. You can invest $5 or $500. The choice is entirely up to you. In wrapping up, the best ways to grow your Instagram followers is:

  1. Post quality content.
  2. Post at the right time of day.
  3. Tag your photos to get featured.
  4. Get involved and share the love.
  5. Advertise to reach a larger audience.

Play around with some of these techniques and watch as your engagement and followers steadily go up. The next section will show you how to grow a professional network on LinkedIn. This is by far the best source to find a steady stream of clients who are actively searching for the services you specialize in. So let’s get started!

Chapter 6: Grow Your Professional Network

I can’t stress the importance of LinkedIn enough. With over 500M users, it’s the largest professional network and source of high-quality B2B leads in the online world today. Whether you’re looking for a full-time job at Google, freelance work, professional advice, new clients, etc., you should be actively growing your presence on LinkedIn. It’s also easy to apply for jobs using your online profile, or digital resume, directly through the dashboard. You can also ask for referrals from people in your network who already work at the company. Remember, it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know. Your network is your net worth! That one key person in Human Resources could be your ticket to an interview and landing your dream job at Airbnb. Not to mention it’s also a great way to get your name out there. Start connecting with more founders, marketing professionals, real estate agents, etc. Hopefully you already have a pretty good idea who your ideal customer is from the chapter “Choosing Your Craft”. Pick your target market and drill down until you find the right point of contact. I’ll typically endorse the person for their top 3 skills (even if we’ve never met) and send a quick follow-up message. To start the conversation, I’ll usually send a short message like, “Thanks for connecting! How can we help each other succeed?” There’s also a nifty little tool called Dux-Soup. It’s a Chrome Extension that offers a lot of useful features to automate processes like endorsements, messaging, and sending requests. If that doesn’t get their attention, you can escalate the conversation to a personal email. It’s possible to export all your connections into a spreadsheet file, which includes the person’s full name, position, and email address. You can then easily import this curated list into your favorite email marketing platform and send out an email blast!

The most popular tool is MailChimp and it’s free to use for up to 2,500 subscribers. It’s not advisable to send regular email blasts to your LinkedIn connections since these are people who likely don’t even know who you are. There’s certainly an art form to cold email outreach. Check out the Email Outreach Playbook. It’s important to have a clear sense of your overall objective and a compelling offer before blasting away indiscriminately. It’s best to introduce yourself first, get to know a little bit more about them, what are their pain points, how can you help them succeed, and then close politely. I usually end with something along the lines of “Thanks for taking the time to read my email. When are you available to hop on a call? Look forward to your reply!” Make sure to include some sort of call to action, otherwise you might as well not send the email. For example, you can provide a link to your online calendar, portfolio, or a recent blog post. You don’t just want to come out guns blazing and begin selling your stuff before getting to know the person at all. That will result in an automatic unsubscribe. And if your unsubscribe rate is above 3% it will be a red flag to your email service provider. If this happens frequently enough, your account could be shut down permanently. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Also, all your emails should include an Unsubscribe link in order to conform to the CAN-SPAM laws. All things considered, it’s much better to build an email list of voluntary participants with lead magnets, lead gen ads, or sales funnels. In the meantime, create an account on LinkedIn if you don’t already have one and start growing your professional network right now! This will quickly put you ahead of the competition. Next we’ll dive into my favorite topic, and probably the one you’re most anticipating, “How To Stay At Luxury Hotels For Free!” And as a reward for finishing this book, I will provide you the exact email script I’ve used to arrange complimentary accommodation at luxury hotels for free! Let’s do this!

My professional profile summary on LinkedIn. Pay close attention to your headline.
My professional profile summary on LinkedIn. Pay close attention to your headline.

Chapter 7: How To Stay At Luxury Hotels For Free (Budget Travel)

It’s time for the moment of truth! How do you arrange complimentary stays at luxury hotels? In short, it’s a combination of lead generation, email marketing, and crafting your pitch (in other words, conveying the message of your compelling offer). Using these techniques, I’ve been able to stay at Trump International Hotel for 3 nights in exchange for professional photos. You can read the full blog post here. Imagine yourself swimming in an infinity pool overlooking the Panama Bay and you get the picture. Needless to say, it would never cross my mind to pay over $250 for a hotel room out of my own pocket. That being said, this is a huge step up from staying in dorms at hostels everywhere. Every once in awhile, you deserve to treat yourself to a high end comfort experience. You’re probably exhausted after excruciating 20+ hour bus rides and carrying your heavy backpack for miles. In today’s digital economy, you don’t have to be a millionaire to live like one. I learned that many luxury hotel brands are searching for travel influencers to come in and document their experience in a weekly blog post, YouTube vlog, or daily Instagram Stories. And the best part is, it’s not always necessary to have 100K+ followers on social media to work with some of the biggest hotel chains. You simply need to stand out from the competition. That’s the key to success in any niche market. So without further ado, open up a browser and head on over to Google Maps. Search for hotels in your current location. Sort by price. Highest to lowest. Click through to their website. It may not be immediately obvious how to contact the hotel manager. That’s why you need a tool called ( It’s a super useful Chrome extension that searches through a database of valid emails for a given domain name. Now you can easily extract the appropriate contact and add it to your growing spreadsheet. Once you have a decent-sized list (30-50 contacts), it’s time to send out the emails; either individually or automatically with a tool like MailChimp. And that’s all there is to it! After a few days the manager will reply to your email if they’re interested in your offer, and you can continue the conversation from there. Typically they will offer you 3 nights complimentary stay in exchange for the service(s) you are offering. Now your foot is firmly planted in the front door. Congratulations! As promised, I will now provide you with the exact email script that I’ve used to stay at luxury hotels for free. Hopefully you find it useful!

Hello ,

My name is {your name}. I’m currently staying in [object Object] until . I’m {a little bit about yourself}. I would love to discuss a complimentary -night stay at {hotel name} in exchange for {your compelling offer}.

If you’re interested, please read on…

In exchange for my services, you will receive:

* Professional {service #1} dedicated to the accommodation, including permanent links to your website.

* Professional {service #2}, which you are more than welcome to use commercially for your own purposes with a backlink to my website.

* Social media posts on Facebook and Instagram during and after the visit.

Influencer Stats:

monthly unique website visitors

monthly website page views

social media followers

email subscribers

My professional media kit is available at .

Thank you for taking the time to read my proposal!

I look forward to hearing from you!


{Your Name}

Aerial photo of Trump International Hotel in Panama City
Aerial photo of Trump International Hotel in Panama City

And that’s all there is to it! Best of luck in your future endeavors!

Chapter 8: That’s All, Folks!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my eBook “How To Travel the World on a Budget”. Hopefully my personal advice will give you more confidence to go boldly in the direction of your dreams and achieve financial freedom while traveling the world doing what you love. To quote the late great Steve Jobs, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” That is a lofty goal indeed. If you’d like to learn more about best practices for long-term budget travel, I highly recommend reading Vagabonding, by Rolff Potts. I encourage you to push out of your comfort zone, break through to the other side, and explore the world around you. That’s where true growth, wisdom, and personal transformation happens. This is one of the main reasons I decided to write this eBook; to inspire other people to travel the world and give them a few proven techniques to achieve that audacious goal. Godspeed!

Reaching my destination at Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia in Southern Chile!
Reaching my destination at Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia in Southern Chile!
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