"Even if you have nothing right now, I believe if you put your stories in a few postcards you made yourself and share them with others, you will be able to keep traveling with the returns."
Hello. I am Jaeil Kim, a 22-years-old boy (although nobody thinks so) who always has a lot to say, so writes and takes pictures. If I must choose one professional title, a 'travel writer' would be the most appropriate one. I went on a trip to Jeju by myself when I was 18, started working at the very guesthouse I stayed as soon as I became 20, and I began my round-the-world trip in the late spring of the same year.
Traveling with a One-way Ticket to Taiwan, a Camera and 200,000 Won
When I traveled at 20, all I had were a one-way ticket to Taiwan, a camera and 200,000 won pocket money. Let alone the accommodation, it was not even enough for the next meal and I really had to make money there by any means. So, I worked at a guesthouse in a tourist area, utilizing my own experience and skills, and, in my free time, I went out to streets holding up a picket and sold postcards that I made by myself. At the hostel in Taiwan, I took pictures of the rooms all anew. At the hostel in Hong Kong, I also took pictures of the rooms and designed a tourist map of Hong Kong for their website to be renewed. Oh, I saved some Korean tourists suffering from a language barrier and I translated signs. I wouldn't even have thought of saving the accommodation expenses if I hadn't stayed at a guesthouse or hadn't worked before.
I sold the sets of 6 postcards for about 6,000 won. I could have a bit more relaxing for the rest of the travel because that made a hit in Taiwan. Of course, I had moments of crisis one or two times, but I was able to complete my trip to 4 countries safely by working hard on selling postcards. After that, I worked at a guesthouse or a hotel to not lose my touch with traveling. I was also a coordinator of the remote worker's group that visited Jeju.
In my second trip in 2016, I was invited by a kindergarten in Singapore to take pictures of the kids' graduation recital. It was a quite big kindergarten, so the graduation recital was also very big. I didn't take any money, I could spend a little more than 2 weeks at the guest room of the director of that kindergarten, and I gained a good person in life I can exchange help with at any time.
Managing Expenses, and Sad Feelings of Farewell
Being a traveling freelancer, I keenly felt how hard it was to manage income and expenses. Generally, employees stay in a similar environment and their fixed cost remains similar and thus predictable. But, it is different for travelers. You have lots of unexpected expenses if you work while traveling because each country has different weather, living environment, price level and culture. Especially when you move to another place, the flights and other transport are quite costly. In addition, you need to spend more for basic living because, anywhere you go, staying at a guesthouse or a hotel is much more expensive than renting a house. It's also a big irony that going to a place where the price level is relatively lower doesn't guarantee you can spend less.
Thrill and Uncertainty, the Irresistible Charm
I still lack experience and economic base to make a stable living while traveling. The reason I keep working as a freelancer and traveling despite the disadvantage is because I dislike 'being in a rut'.
Everyone has their own disposition. Some like to repeat similar work in a set environment and building experience and getting seasoned, but in contrast, I lose vitality if I don't have the risk and dynamic the world outside the fence can offer. So, I chose to work as a travel photographer or a freelancer designer. 'Expecting different tomorrow than today' I think that is the key. I don't have any set commute, which provides me with a very good environment to read or study various fields including coding and economics.
Sharing Food for Thoughts
I've done lots of thing, but what I really want to do is to teach. Not the university entrance exam or state exams. I'd like to teach life experience, knowledge and wisdom. What I learned from traveling, from books, in my daily life and even from playing games. Things that are small but provide food for thought, that extend their hands to those who have fallen and that sometimes reprimand them to make the world better. I'd like to focus on the stories rather than the form like writing, image or photo. Though it's true that books in pretty cover look better.
Tide of Change, and Remote Workers
Nowadays, you don't have to be in the office to work anymore. In one mart in Singapore, one staff manages ten self-checkout machines, which have reduced the number of employees required. Also, now we can print out the resident registration at home, which have also reduced the number of employees required at dong offices. There are new jobs and the form of employment and business became even more diverse. There are companies having remote work as a norm, and a lot of companies will change that way. The changes won't come slowly. Things will stay quiet, but then as soon as it reaches the critical point, they will fall on you altogether like a landslide. So, I hope people search for realistic plans and set their direction rather than fearing working remotely or freelancing. A transition period is not a period of anxiety but of opportunity. I believe now is the best time to start to live a life of a remote worker or a freelancer. It has been established to some extent thanks to its pioneers, but yet to be a trend. Interpret the tide of change and plunge into that direction earlier than others, then you can gain a competitive edge on those who hurriedly followed after the change has already happened.
Soon, there will be more people that prefer to work freely like I do. People's thoughts and prejudices will more soften and be open.
I am going to sell postcards again from today. Different from my previous trip, I can still manage to get by even if I can't sell anything right now, so I'll have a bit less burden. Again, I'd like to have that faith I used to have 2 years ago when I traveled with postcards. The faith that I will give people hopes through challenges.
Slowly, one by one, I am going to prepare my next travel. I will never forget the names of those who sponsored me by buying my postcards. By the way, the postcards are quite pretty.
Contact of Jaeil Kim
Jaeil Kim, Digital Nomad Bridge
Jaeil is a participant of the Digital Nomad Bridge program.
'Digital Nomad Bridge' communicates with digital nomads who came to Jeju, promote Jeju and exchange cultures. It is a program to provide accurate information about Jeju to foreigners and promote tourist spots. The participants can have an indirect experience on digital nomads.
Jaeil shared information on his professional field (development, photography, etc.) with the members of Hacker Paradise, a digital nomad team staying in Jeju, and he recorded, edited and launched a video about their stories. While he was on the work, he discussed if he would join the operation team of Hacker Paradise. After the Digital Nomad Bridge program ended, he also joined them overseas for image work.
Now, he is a nomad who does interesting works related to photos and images traveling Jeju and foreign countries.
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