Written by Tanza Loudenback
Aileen Adalid entered the corporate world at age 19 after graduating from De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, with a degree in business management and had a combined year of training experience under her belt at huge multinational companies like Nestlé, Unilever, and Siemens.
But the trilingual Philippines native quickly grew envious of the flexible lifestyles of “digital nomads” she met while freelancing on the side in Manila.
At 21, after spending two years working as a product controller, which paid just $300 per month, at Deutsche Bank, she realised the corporate life wasn’t for her. She was increasingly intrigued by both entrepreneurship and travel, so she left her job with about $600 in savings in April 2013.
For the next year, Adalid freelanced in graphic design, web design, SEO management, and online marketing, sustained largely by one stable client contract that earned her more than double her previous salary. The best part: The flexibility enabled her to travel frequently to places like France and Thailand.
After a year of freelancing, Adalid,with a friend to start an online Amazon retail business called Adalid Gear, a health and outdoor accessories company, and relocated to Belgium on a student visa after being accepted to a graduate program at the University of Antwerp.
When her namesake business took off a few months later, Adalid left school and switched to a partner visa, with the help of her Belgian business partner, to focus on growing the business. To get the company off the ground, they started by carefully researching the market to discover the most in-demand products.
Their dedication paid off. Adalid Gear, which sells sports and outdoor gear, now has average monthly sales of $70,000, and has established markets in the US and UK.
She also revived her one-time teenage diary blog, I Am Aileen, fashioning it into a lifestyle and travel blog that has gained traction among online travel communities.
Adalid herself now earns about $5,000 a month from the business and “affiliate partnerships, sponsored posts, and social media shout outs” related to her travel blog. And thanks to brand and tourism board partnerships, Adalid often scores free travel and accommodations. But she doesn’t accept everything she’s offered. “I want [the blog] to remain authentic, personalised, and uncluttered … besides, I already earn most of my ‘keep’ from my online business.” Thanks to travel freebies and discounts, she says she’s able to save about 70% of her income.
Adalid typically works less than four hours per day on Adalid Gear, mainly handling research, marketing, promotions, and communication, allowing her to go on a trip from her home base, (now back in the Philippines) at least once a month to destinations throughout Europe and Asia.
Adalid’s nomadic lifestyle has taught her a few lessons about productivity. “Being constantly on the move can ruin anyone’s focus, rhythm, and pace, but I’ve discovered that it can be easily solved by doing slow travel and finding the right balance to how you do your workflow.”
Adalid is back in the Philippines now with plans to make Spain her next home base. Her long-term goal is to continue to grow her businesses and to travel to every country in the world.