We’re MAK and Owen of Bound for Nowhere, and we’ve been living and working from the road since April 2016. Owen is a Motion Graphics Designer and I am a Graphic Designer and Illustrator. Together we run our own business and work with a wide variety of clients from all over the USA and beyond. Some we’ve met in person and some we haven’t.
Life on the road
When we made the decision to go on the road full time we knew that we didn’t want to put our careers on hold. Instead we saw van life as an opportunity to surround ourselves by what inspires us and our work. Over the last two years of living and working on the road Owen and I have started using the motto
"Happy people make good work"
In order to make our life on the road possible, we both had to transition from 9-5 studio jobs to full time freelance designers.
To this day we’re always blown away by how supportive our clients are of what we’re doing. It seems like they enjoy being apart of our journey!
Income greatly depends on the type of projects that we’re working on. It also fluctuates based on how many projects we’re working on at any given time.
We’ve had times where we’re working on as many as 8 projects at once and times where we have zero projects. For freelancers the volume of work varies from day to day and can be very unpredictable. There’s good and bad times.
Our work schedule, just like our projects, always looks different. The number of hours we put in depends on the projects we’re working on, how large they are, and how fast of a turn time they have. Typically we work Monday through Friday and take the weekends off.
Our favorite work/life balance is when we can wake up at about 6am, work until lunch, and then have the rest of the day to enjoy wherever we’re at. It isn’t always like that, but that’s what we strive for!
Challenges we faced
The transition out of our studio jobs was by far the most challenging part of preparing for van life. It was a tremendous amount of work for the both of us to build up a strong client base that we felt could support us once we were full time on the road. For Owen that transition took about six months, for me it took a little over a year.
As we brought on new clients we made a point of being clear with them that we had intentions of going on the road. We felt it was important to be transparent with them about our goals and how our life on the road would benefit them as a client and us as designers.
Working from the road comes with its own set of challenges. It can be a huge adjustment to move from working in a structured environment to working remotely. I can tell you that some days sitting down to work can be difficult when all you want to do is hit the trails.
You’ll never be alone in this feeling. We always try to remember that in the grand scheme of things, spending time on work is a small price to pay for the freedom we get while living on the road.
"Stay focused and work hard when you’re working and play hard when you’re playin"
There’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with being a freelance designer. Sometimes there’s more work than we know what to do with, and other times you can’t seem to find work anywhere!
That uncertainty in your work flow can be extremely challenging mentally and financially. We always feel like we need to live conservatively because we never know when work will be scarce. For that reason alone, freelance work is not always for the faint of heart.
We frequently get asked what kind of work we recommend for being a nomad. Luckily we live in a day and age where it’s easier than ever to live on the road and hold down well paying jobs. There are a million and one different ways to work while you’re living the van life, but here’s a quick list of possible working opportunities to help give you some ideas.
- Seasonal work
- Farm or animal refuge work
- Handy work
- Web Development and Coding
- Software Engineering
Van life is super unpredictable…no matter how prepared you are! It’s always good to have a nice cushion of savings just in case you hit a dry spell in work or have unexpected expenses (i.e. a break down).
Having 3 months of living expenses saved up, maybe even a little more, can give you some piece of mind. That way you can live as stress free as possible and enjoy your life on the road without constantly being stressed about the dollars and cents.