Make a living while living life.
For many, traveling is a luxury, a reward for maintaining our spot on the grid of daily life. We dream of the freedom that comes with being a wanderer, exploring the vast, breathing air from a different part of the world, and experiencing a variety of cultures. It remains a daydream for some of us, but for these people, it is as real as it gets.
Moath is currently the Head of Cultural Programs at the Madinah Development Authority, a position he was offered after years of traveling and exploring the city. While most of us define traveling as a break from our daily routine, he has made it his job. “I’m always on the road, exploring different places in Saudi Arabia. My work requires me to travel.”
Moath makes a living out of his artwork and exploration of uncharted areas in the region of Madinah. “It is a bit hard, but there are ways of earning money. I take photographs and make films that I sell. Sometimes I take a group of people to a destination and get paid for it,” he
explains. But more importantly for him, “There is a thrill in being behind the wheel, on the road and reaching destinations, an excitement and a treat for the eyes.”
Moath roams the deserts near Madinah city, exploring and patiently working on his next discovery.
Sara Al Zahrani
Budget-traveler and programmer Sara decided to quit her full-time job two years ago and make a living while staying in different countries. “I wanted to travel everywhere like Dania Khatib (Al-Qafilah). The concept of vacations never existed for me.” Working as a freelancer and adjusting to a new, less stable income was scary for her, but her desire to travel remained.
“Realizing that I was free to work remotely gave me the idea to travel while working. I just needed a ticket and a visa, so I sorted those out, packed my bags, and traveled.” Sara took on part-time jobs in different countries to cover some of her expenses, including working as an Arabic teacher for children with learning disabilities, a part-time hostel manager, and an employee at a café where she learned how to bake. She earned cash and accommodation in exchange for her work. As a Saudi woman, the most frequent question she’s asked is whether it’s safe for her to travel. “Is anything really safe? We take risks every day, whatever we do, so we might as well take a risk in living our lives.”
A great example of a person not waiting for retirement age to decide for her, Njood was a doctor before she decided to pursue the unconventional lifestyle of a traveler.“Leaving my comfort zone, the false sense of security my stable job provided for me in exchange for who I’ll become as a full-time traveler was probably one of the biggest challenges I had to struggle with,” she shares. Now, she is often asked to coordinate, plan, and arrange trips for companies, and when she isn’t doing that, she organizes her own travels where people can sign up to join her.
She is also commissioned to hold talks and workshops in universities about the lifestyle, consulting students on the proper ways of traveling. “I really think it’s a way of life – the thought of meeting people, learning about different cultures and customs keeps me in traveling mode all the time. Living out of a suitcase, moving, the continuous learning process is what I love the most about it.”
Nada Al Nahdi
Minimalism is the common denominator of most frequent travelers – the idea that we all actually could get by with just the basic necessities. Nada used to be interested in certain luxuries and extravagances but now opts for a simple living after spending most of her time traveling. She goes on all-expense paid trips in exchange for promoting businesses, both as a hobby and as a job. When asked about her traveling style, Nada says she prefers couch surfing, as it gives her the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level. “Traveling helps me understand and develop myself. All the different situations that I find myself in while I’m out there broadened my perspective and helped me realize some of my capabilities, strengths that I never knew I had.”
Currently, Nada runs Qairawan, a traveling community that aims to encourage more people to travel in Saudi Arabia. “We’re all going to get older, time runs out in a blink of an eye and eventually, we won’t have the energy for the things we want to do. So if you want to, just go for it.”
Perhaps it’s the lack of financial security, the exposure to discomfort, and even irrational fears that hold the rest of us back, but these travelers find opportunities in all of them. When asked if being a nomad scares them, they reply: “Being in one place most of the time, doesn’t that scare you?” It makes one sit back and reflect in search for an answer to a very profound question.