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
1. The DesireLet’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?
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
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.
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 some time
after. Understand your feelings to see if a location independent life is
2. Create FundsI’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.
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 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
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.
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?
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 way
you can translate your assets to an online work mode or business.
Maybe this is how they downsize in Mongolia?
3. Downsize Your LifeIn
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.
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).
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
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.
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 HabitsThankfully
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
cancelled 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.
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
5. Create A Plan, But Be FlexibleMy
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 your 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 before
hand. So, create a general framework of a plan and play around it. For
example: Plan to be in a certain country or region for an amount of
weeks or months, but don’t plan every city in detail – plan that on the
Be open to learn 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?).
Carrying sulfur in Indonesia is not one of my strengths.
6. Focus on Your StrengthsIn
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
learn 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 learn about everything, as stated before.
7. Take The PlungeYou’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 Wandering Earl’s How To Live A Life of Travel
guide since it is one of the most complete guide’s on becoming location
independent that I’ve ever read. He goes into detail on how to work
abroad, finance your trip, plan everything, and more.