“Live,travel,adventure,bless,and don’t be sorry.”
Countless people dream about quitting their jobs to travel.
WHY YOU SHOULD TERRIFY YOURSELF?
Do you have a job that’s just like everyone else’s? Are you looking for a 9-to-5, but wish you weren’t? Do you wish there was another option, one that would lead to an exciting, unique and fulfilling line of work?
Honest question. Do you love what you do?
If the answer isn’t a resounding, knee-jerk, “Yes! I live for this shit,” then I encourage you to seriously consider doing something about it. That may sound extreme, but seriously, in 100 years you and everyone you know are going to be dead and your great-grandkids aren’t going to get misty-eyed remembering how you got that quarterly bonus or a corner office. This is your life and every breath you take is killing you. Stop screwing around.
Chances are the thought of leaving your day job terrifies you. This is normal and expected… good even.
Terrify yourself. Use it as your ally. Give yourself no option but your dream.
“There’s no reason to do shit you hate. None.”
PLANNING YOUR ESCAPE
OK, that’s all well and good, but let’s talk about reality. Especially if you have kids, house payments, car payments, student loans or health problems. What do you do?
- Sell all your useless crap and get your financial house in order.
Excess possessions are counterproductive for pursuing a remote lifestyle. And they’re often counterproductive for achieving happiness in general. If you own something that is eating away at you financially (furniture, car, etc.), consider cutting your losses and getting rid of it while you can. Debt is the devil. I wrote an entire post on getting rid of excess crap you don’t need here.
Doing this may make you squirm at first. Or you may be sitting there (once again) thinking I’m a total nutcase and unrealistic and you could never get rid of your super-double-upholstered Italian sofa that just ties the room together, but fuck you, sell it anyway. There are a million sofas in the world, your life experiences happen once. Get on it.
In extreme cases, this may involve selling your house. That may sound insane and may be completely unreasonable for you, especially if you have a family. If so, then rent it out. Obviously mileage may vary depending on who you are and what your life circumstances are. Why be miserable and financially stuck in a house when you can be happy and free in an apartment? Boom.
- Figure out your source of income.
People seem to believe they’re trapped within the typical 9-to-5 career track, but in fact there are a lot of options. In the US, we’re rarely exposed to the options we have outside of our nation’s borders (minus the military). You just have to be willing to take some risks and work a bit harder.
Jumping over a wall
Image credit: Sam Judson
An incomplete list of options to get your ass abroad and exploring the world:
Join a volunteer organization. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and putting yourself in some extreme environments, then volunteer organizations, both NGO’s and otherwise (i.e., Peace Corps) are always looking for help. You’ll most often be sent to developing countries, but some developing countries are surprisingly pleasant to live in (Thailand, Colombia, Philippines, Peru, etc.). Once you’re on the other continent, bouncing around from country to country is rarely more than a $50 bus/train/plane ticket away.
Teach English. The pay is low and the work is hard, but this will get you a paid trip to another continent and often with really good vacation time. Asia and Latin America are the go-to continents for this with no experience or foreign language required. If you teach in Europe, you’re going to have to know the destination language at the least. A friend of mine taught English in South Korea for six months, took the money she made and went to India for three months, then taught in the Philippines for another six months and then bounced around Southeast Asia for a while after that. Not a bad experience.
Find a source of mobile income. Poker. Stock/options trading. Freelancing. Consulting. Internet marketing. Blogging. Graphic/Web design. Writer/journalist. These are all professions I’ve run into on the road. These are all forms of income which can be earned regardless of location (and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few). Some of them have a steep and long learning-curve, but there’s never a better time to start than now.
Start an online business. This is a massive topic which other people can cover much better than I ever could, but internet startups can often be created and managed from anywhere. In fact, there are a number of startup “incubators” around the world where internet entrepreneurs congregate in places with high qualities of life and very low expenses (Chiang Mai in Thailand, Bali in Indonesia, Medellin in Colombia, etc.).
Convince your company to let you work remotely. Not an option for everybody, but if you’re a programmer, developer or designer, then this could be an option for you.
Get transferred overseas. Another option if you work for a large international corporation such as Procter and Gamble or Yahoo! is to get transferred to various locations around the world. You can often gain a lot of vacation time by working in other countries as well which will allow you to explore.
Find odd jobs as you travel. This is easy in some countries and impossibly hard in others. But finding jobs in hostels, bars and restaurants in cities you travel to can be done to support yourself wherever you go. A number of people do this. It takes time and effort and obviously is quite stressful, but it can be done.
Work on a cruise or for an airline. Seriously. These people have amazing flexibility with their time at sea and where they get to go. I met a woman who worked on a cruise in Costa Rica and she had been to over 75 countries, living in a dozen for more than six months. She was in her early 30’s. Same concept applies to working for an airline but to a lesser extent (and far more jet lag)
Start your entire career abroad. In a number of developing parts of the world, particularly Asia, there’s an extremely high demand for university-educated Westerners for high-paying management positions. Countries like China, Brazil, Malaysia, and Singapore, are importing a lot of western talent. Not only can a recent college graduate skip multiple rungs on the corporate ladder by moving to one of these countries, but they can see a major quality of life increase at a lower cost-of-living. Let’s just say that making $60,000 a year in Shanghai goes a LOT further than making $80,000 per year in New York City.
You can combine a number of these strategies. Sometimes you can just take off with your savings and begin to figure it out as you go. Someone can leave with their life savings, start a blog on the way, do some freelance consultant work online, work some odd jobs here and there, and by the time their savings run out, they have a modest location-independent income. But as always, Google is your friend. There’s no shortage of websites and resources on NGO’s, internet startups, marketing, expatriation, backpacking, vagabonding, etc.
- Calculate your “Escape Velocity”.
Do some research and choose your first destination(s). Do you want to try an internet startup in Asia? Work for an NGO in Central America? Backpack through Europe and pick up odd jobs on the way? A lot of people come to me and say, “I want to live abroad, how can I do it?” Well it depends where you go. You can live like a king off $1,000 in Thailand or the Philippines, or spend that much in a week in Brazil. It depends where you’re going and what you’re doing.
The other factor is your financial obligations. If you have debt back home you need to factor that in. If you have health problems, then you need to do a lot of research on that as well. The good news is if you’re an American, you’re going to save a LOT of money on health care by leaving the country.
Calculate the amount you need to earn passively per month to survive wherever you want to go. This may involve getting a job once you’re there. It may involve saving up a bunch of money now and selling stuff. It may involve creating passive streams online. Either way, budget it out so you know when you’re ready.
- Pull the trigger.
Once you know your target level of savings and/or location-independent income, work towards it with everything you have. This may involve killing your day job off immediately in order to free up more time to work for it. This may mean setting a financial goal for the day you can put your two weeks in.
Get creative and don’t have an ego about it. A friend of mine decided to throw himself into this lifestyle 100% and moved back in with his parents for almost a year before he got on his feet and running. I lived on a friend’s couch for a while. Later I moved back in with my mother until I had enough money to buy a plane ticket to Argentina. Once I was there I could live well off about half the income I needed to live in the US. From there I built my business up further.
But, like I said, planning will only take you so far. Plan the best you can, but then throw yourself into the fire. Leave yourself no option but to come out on top. It will be hard and nerve-wracking, but that’s how you grow. That’s how you squeeze all of juice out of life. Terrify yourself. Then laugh about it.
LONG-TERM TRAVEL COURSE
If you’re serious about this and want to really get into the nitty-gritty of building a life of long-term travel, you can check out my course, Escape Plan, that’s part of the membership to my site. I cover everything I know about travel and living and working abroad, from finding cheap flights to supporting yourself financially to making new friends in foreign countries.
4 Important Questions to Ask Yourself:
1) Am I satisfied with my work? Does it meet my needs and fulfill my desires?
Your work should not exist merely to provide income for the rest of your life. Ask yourself, what am I working for? Am I working to make a living or to make a life? If your work supports your goals, that’s great. If it doesn’t, maybe it’s time to make a change.
2) Think back to the times you have left your home country. What did you learn on those trips? Do you think you have more to learn?
For me, the more I have traveled, the more I learn, and the more I realize how big the world really is. When I was younger and had spent a fair amount of time abroad, I used to say that I had traveled “all over the world.” More than 60 countries later, I laugh at that idea. There are still many, many countries I have yet to visit, and even after I achieve my goal of visiting every country in the world, there will still be many places within those countries that I still won’t have experienced.
3) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be? (Don’t think about reasons why you can’t go there.)
Brainstorm through the six inhabited continents – Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, North and South America – and think about cities or countries on each of them that you’ve always wondered about. Chances are there’s somewhere, and probably several places, that you’ve always wanted to see.
Finally, while I believe that international travel is not nearly as expensive as the lifestyle many people wear themselves out to maintain, it’s true that it does cost money to travel around the world.
Therefore, you should also understand the answer to this question:
4) What are your financial priorities?
If you don’t know the answer offhand, it’s easy to get it.Just look back at your bank statements, financial software, or credit card statements for the last six months. Whether you like it or not, where you’ve been spending a lot of money is where your priorities are. If you’d like to value experiences more than “stuff,” you may need to make some changes.