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Nerdy Nomad, Or How the Web is
Financing My Life of Travel

solo women travelKirsty, hard at work

Kirsty Henderson is a lifelong travel addict who is slowly wandering around the world with no end in sight. She's used to scrubbing toilets and picking fruit to sustain her travels but has recently begun earning enough from a handful of websites she runs to be able to fund her travel addiction.

As of this writing (2008) Kirsty will be heading off to Haiti to volunteer for a couple of months before making her way down to Buenos Aires to attempt to learn Spanish. But plans are made and plans are broken so where she'll end up in 2009 is anyone's guess. (Ed. note: Kirsty returned to Haiti a second time after the earthquake and is now in Kigali - as of late 2010 - working on a new Africa website.)

Find out how Kirsty earns money from the web by visiting her blog, Nerdy Nomad.

Tell us a bit about the subtext of your travels - no destination, no time limit, no plan, no worries...

I've always wanted to be able to travel with no plans, time limit or real destination in mind. To be able to wander around the world, changing plans on a whim and experiencing the freedom that comes with it is something that I've always dreamed about and not having any plans is something that I find hugely exciting. I think planning is overrated and most of my crazy stories and most memorable moments have come at times when the guidebook was nowhere to be seen.

Did you simply decide to - go?

I made the decision so long ago that it's hard to remember exactly what was going though my head. I went to Ireland in 2001 and spent the summer working at a hostel. This was what really got me hooked on travel and, more specifically, working abroad. After university I spent a year travelling around Australia picking fruit and scrubbing toilets as I went and I loved every minute of it. When that came to an end I wasn't ready to go home so I took advantage of my British passport and headed to the UK where I stayed for five years until I left on this trip.

This current trip was never a matter of deciding if I should go but more a matter of when. With my internet business pulling in a bit of money and my feet getting itchy for travel, January 2008 seemed like as good a time as any to break free and just go for it. It has never been a difficult choice for me. Travelling is what I love to do most!

solo women travelHanging out in Yangshuo, China
Nerdy Nomad
You're financing your travels with your websites. How is that working out?

So far things are going really well and having an income while travelling almost seems too good to be true. My monthly earnings are more than enough for Asia but I will have to reel in my spending a bit as I head to more expensive places.

What are you hoping to accomplish with your websites?
solo women travelWorking from anywhere: a Hong Kong hostel
Nerdy Nomad

My ultimate goal is for my websites to continue to earn enough to allow me to be able to live anywhere in the world while only having to update them from time to time. I don't care about becoming rich but having time to travel, attempt to learn languages and pursue other interests is important to me.

My blogs, on the other hand, are less about making money and more about discussing topics I love, sharing knowledge and connecting with like-minded people. I would love for it to continue to grow and if they inspire people to have a crack at making money online or to go travelling or both then I'd consider it a success.

Can anyone use websites to pay their way around the world?

The learning curve can be pretty steep for someone who doesn't know much about computers or websites but the reward of being able to work from anywhere is a very good motivator.

Once the sites are all set up it's possible to maintain a certain income level without needing to put in much day to day work but getting to this point has taken me thousands of hours of work over several years. I started my first site as a hobby in 2001 and didn't make a cent for years but, as the internet became more and more commercial, I started to see the payoff.

I'm lucky because I love the work I do and would probably still build websites even if the money wasn't there. For me, this is the perfect job and I would recommend it to anyone!

women volunteerBuilding a new school in Bangladesh
Travoholic via Flickr CC
Tell us about your volunteering work along the.

So far I've only volunteered once with Hands On Disaster Response in Bangladesh and I'll be heading to Haiti in a couple of weeks to work with them again. My main motivation for volunteering is to be able to immerse myself in the community, befriend local people and other volunteers, learn about a totally different way of life and just have an interesting experience away from the typical tourist trail. The bonus is that I get to do all of this while helping people whose lives have been devastated by a natural disaster, even if in just a small way.

I wouldn't say that volunteer work overseas should be a part of everyone's trip because people travel for different reasons. But I can certainly say that I had a wonderful experience and I recommend it to everyone I meet. The search for a place to volunteer can sometimes be a bit discouraging because so many charge ridiculous admin fees but if you can find one that fits in with your philosophy and lifestyle, then go for it!

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