Reader Question: How Do I Travel the World As a Lifestyle Choice?

From time to time readers of the blog will communicate questions through comments, twitter, or in this case, facebook.  Reader Michaela writes:

I've been intrigued by your story ever since I heard you moved away so bravely to travel the world! I've been itching for an adventure myself, and so is my boyfriend. 
How do you manage this lifestyle? Do you work as you travel? I've heard about teaching English as a means to survive overseas but was wondering what your story is. Any tips on how I can turn my traveling dreams into reality?

There are a lot of questions in there, but I am passionate about the topic and elated to answer. 

First - It is entirely possible to travel the world for the rest of your life without winning the lottery, or inheriting millions of dollars.  In fact it is easily possible with a moderate savings fund or a mobile working environment. 

Tons of people have made themselves "Location Neutral" meaning that their job does not require them to be physically present in any particular location.  While there are loads of jobs that are designed to take you abroad (teaching English in a foreign country, consulting, etc.) even these roles are location specific, as you can not freely leave them as you please and maintain the same role. 

The goal is to be entirely location neutral giving you the freedom to work from where you want, when you want.  What kind of jobs are those?  How about bookkeeping, writing, accounting, phone or customer service, online/social marketing, or an eBay business? With any of these jobs it's not imperative for you to necessarily be in any particular city or even in the United States.  What would stop you operating the bookkeeping for a small law firm while spending time in Thailand with a condo on the beach? If this doesn't seem like something you could do, consider the Sherpstress.  An award winning dance teacher and culinary graduate, she was able to do just that - a line of work that was not in her educational background nor in her work history. 

If you are truly location neutral you could be a bookkeeper from Paris one month, Barcelona the next, even make your way to Istanbul for a change of pace.  The first step is understanding it is possible, the second step is to find a path to make it possible. 

I would encourage you to purchase the book: 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris.  It's a bit cheesy in some places, but very easy to read and great for expanding your mind to the possibilities that are plainly in front of you. 

Ok Michaela, if you are still following me, let's pretend for a second that you have saved up a little money (even just a couple of thousand dollars would be sufficient to last you months in Southeast Asia or South America).  Let's also assume you have found a job that is currently location neutral, or could be converted to a location neutral position.


Now the scariest step... JUMP!

You have got to jump in the water with both feet.  Once you realize it is possible (which you have done by the end of reading this post), you have to take action.  It's a huge and maybe unattainable project if you look at the whole picture at once.  But in situations like this I always ask: How do you eat an elephant? The answer is: one bite at a time. 

To get started you need to buy a ticket somewhere, anywhere - just get started. 

Start some place easy, maybe just some place else in the US.  If you live in Denver now, try your new job working from Miami for a month.  This will allow you to adjust to your new lifestyle, with some challenges (two hour time difference, new location far enough away where you can't just drive home if it gets too tough).  But it's not so far away that the challenges are too hard to overcome and so opposite to your lifestyle that you can't cope (12 hour time difference, different language). 

If your trial is successful, push it a bit further.  Try Ireland or England, still english speaking (arguably barely in some spots) but now some tougher time differences, and other challenges, such as transfering money and cultural differences.  Then really go for it.  Go all the way outside your comfort zone and pick some place crazy. 

Michaela - You are right in thinking about going the route of teaching English abroad.  There are some restrictions, but for the most part if you have a BA/BS, with a quick course you can work in some great places around the world.  I think it might be difficult for you and your boyfriend to find assignments in the same location at the same time so Plan A might be best pursued as outlined above.  Teaching English abroad is a great life experience for most, but it's not a financially beneficial one in most cases so very few continue after their initial contracts expire.

Finally you asked what my story was.  Here it is, I was relocated for work a couple of times (2008-10, 2011-12) and after my last stint in Manchester, England, my wife and I had accumlated a modest savings and decided to spend six months in Thailand.  We had planned on not working at all while on sabbatical, but my wife received an offer to do some bookkeeping, and I for some consulting that did not interfere with our beach time so we took them up on it. 

What we found is that we could quite easily support ourselves on one small part-time income (and did) in countries with a lower cost of living than the United States or Europe.  Either of us could do our "jobs" from pracitically anywhere in the world that has an internet connection and cell phone service. 

We had planned to return to the US at the end of our six months and did so to spend some much needed time with family.  We also realized that there are so many places we want to see and live, and that travelling for the rest of our lives is the likeliest outcome for our future.  The easiest way to accomplish this, will be to become once again location neutral. 

And that's why I am answering your message in this lengthy blog post.  My New Year's resolution for 2013 is to be Location Neutral (LN).  Though taking a job and converting it to an LN position is a viable option, I intend to make it even tougher on myself and start my own business which will enable this lifestyle for myself and the Sherpstress and create further independence.

Here are some of the objections you might have already come up with...

  • I have a mortgage - rent your house while you are away for a profit.
  • I rent - when does your lease expire? Make that your target date and buy a ticket for the day after your lease expires.
  • I have a car payment - sell it, or factor this into your monthly expenses.

I could do this all day folks.  This is a lifestyle choice, it's either important enough that you will find a way through these objections, or you will decide it is too hard and spend time on the sidelines.  If there is anything I can do to help you achieve your Location Neutral lifestyle, the Sherpa is here for you. 



Brad December 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

Great post Kyle!

Logan December 19, 2012 at 04:36 pm

Awesome post!

Kyle December 19, 2012 at 04:42 pm

Thanks guys, anybody with me?

Michaela December 19, 2012 at 08:51 pm

Very good information, seems more attainable.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.