I’ve written several posts about following your dreams and stepping outside your comfort zone, but I haven’t dug in much into the practical steps to actually do that, especially when it comes to deciding to live the unconventional life of constant travel.
1. The Desire
Let’s start with how much do you really want this? Do you simply wish to go on a long trip or do you feel it deep in your bones that this is something you must do at least once in your life?
Have you traveled long-term before? If not, why not try a solo trip through a few countries for a couple weeks or more to see how you feel? If you come back home and feel the desire to continue planning and go out on the road again as soon as possible, then probably you’re on the right mindset for long-term travel.
Is this something you’d like to do now, in the near future, or once you retire? If you want to do it now, how do you think you’ll finance it? Savings, working on the road, online businesses?
These are all valid questions that will help you understand how much you desire it and will get you on the way to start planning your trip and life on the road.
TAKE ACTION: Do a test run of your life on the road with a smaller trip and see how you feel before returning home, just after returning, and sometime after. Understand your feelings to see if a location independent life is for you.
2. Create Funds
I’ll speak from my experience that raising funds for your trip takes a long time (for most people, at least). I wanted to not only save a lot of money while I was working in NYC; I also wanted to have a way of earning some money while on the road.
While I didn’t start this blog with the intention to monetize it, by the time I decided to leave, I knew I had an asset to help me live on the road at least for a longer period.
A travel blog is not necessary to live on the road, but it is a good way to share your stories and (possibly) make an income while traveling. But, don’t start a blog with the sole purpose of making money. Start it because you want to share and bring value while on the road. Have a focus on your blog and deliver a message. You can become someone else’s inspiration by sharing your experience.
Otherwise, before leaving, search online for job opportunities around the world; these can be in the form of working holiday visas, volunteering, freelancing online, or others.
Also, are there ways to translate your knowledge and assets from an offline business to an online business? For example, can you consult online, assist virtually, or even work remotely for your current job?
TAKE ACTION: Google for work opportunities in each destination of interest and see the requirements to work or volunteer there. If interested, start a blog way before you leave home and document your process and share other travel stories (I had my blog for over a year from the moment I started it to the moment I left). See if blogging is for you and establish your name in the blogosphere as you prepare for your trip. Also, think of a way you can translate your assets to an online work mode or business.
3. Downsize Your Life
In most cases, no matter how tied and settled your life is, there are ways to free yourself to have a location independent life. For me, it was relatively easy since I didn’t own a house, but I know of many long-term travelers who have sold their house to travel long-term and used that money to fund their life on the road or rented their house to have that rent money as an income to help their finances.
I, on the other hand, simply went from renting a one-bedroom apartment to living with roommates to save more money before I left New York.
I sold everything I had (or donated to friends) to raise money and the valuables I wanted to keep I sent to my mom’s house (just a few bags).
I know of travelers who also sold their cars to save more money since they had plans of living on the road for a long period, so it made sense.
Try to not keep things on storage facilities, as that will consume extra money on a monthly basis. If possible, downsize to the bare minimum and store at a relative or friend’s house.
TAKE ACTION: After deciding for how long you want to travel, identify what could you sell, rent, and get rid off. The less you have, the freer you’ll be and feel while on the road.
4. Understand And Change Your Spending Habits
Thankfully I didn’t use to buy coffee or clothes on a regular basis, but I loved going to concerts, which happened quite often in Madison Square Garden. When I decided to save money for travel seriously, that unnecessary spending was cut off my budget.
I also used to go out on dinners every weekend and spent roughly $30 per meal. That was out too. I canceled cable TV since I could watch anything I wanted online and became more conscious on where I spent every dollar of my paycheck. The more I could save, the more I could travel.
But, beyond cutting spending, the trick that helped me the most was “paying myself first”. Immediately after I received every paycheck, I would first transfer a large sum (up to 50% sometimes) to my travel savings so that I had to force myself to live only with the remainder.
In addition, I scheduled automatic transfers of $20 to my savings every Friday. While it is not much, small amounts “hurt” less psychologically than big chunks, plus, in the long run, those $20s add up to a good travel fund.
TAKE ACTION: Do a spreadsheet with all your spending and see what is not necessary. Get rid of that. Prioritize your savings by paying yourself first. Save additional small amounts on a weekly basis to help boost your savings account.
5. Create A Plan, But Be Flexible
My idea for this trip was something completely different from what I ended up doing. I wanted to start in Australia, then bought a ticket to start in Kenya, but ultimately I started my trip in Belize. On the road, flexibility will be key to most of the things you do and opportunities that will knock on your door. Be open to stray from your plans if you think it is worth it.
Planning is good since it will keep your grinds in motion, but don’t be too focused on sticking to that plan, because believe me, it will never happen. Life on the road is dynamic and influenced by so many foreign variables we can’t think of beforehand. So, create a general framework of a plan and play around it. For example: Plan to be in a certain country or region for a number of weeks or months, but don’t plan every city in detail – plan that on the go.
Be open to learning new skills on the road, and even before, as they may help you shape the course of your location independent life or simply give you new experiences.
Keep all options open and don’t despair if there are moments in which you don’t know what to do. That happens. It is on these moments where you need to try new things and see where they may lead you.
TAKE ACTION: Start planning some of the logistics of your trip, but be open to changes should they be necessary or beneficial. Learn new skills you’re interested in (for example, teaching English as a second language?).
6. Focus on Your Strengths
In Architecture school, we are told that we “know a few things about everything and everything about a few things.” This I believe is true, and it still applies to my life on the road. But, while I’m open to learning a bit of everything, I still keep a focus on my strengths and main interests. For example, you don’t see me writing here about food (unfortunately). It is not my strength, so I leave that to other people. I still love to eat, though. I focus on the adventure and architecture side of travel, not only from my blogging perspective but also on my travel decisions, since they help me enjoy more these new experiences. This focus also helps identify who I am in this online world and make me more suitable to certain opportunities where my strength fits better.
TAKE ACTION: Understand your strengths and focus on them. Still, be open to learning about everything, as stated before.
7. Take The Plunge
You’ve analyzed yourself, your finances, your trip, so now all you have to do is take action to make this a reality. You’ll be afraid –I certainly was– and this will not be an easy process, but keep your mind strong and don’t sidetrack from your goal.
TAKE ACTION: Take action!!!!
Lastly, I’d like to recommend you check my complete guide on how to become location independent. It goes into detail on how to work abroad, finance your trip, plan everything, and more.
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