Things I wish I’d known about long-term world travel before I quit my job

August, 2013 - On a visit to London from Berlin
August, 2013 – On a visit to London from Berlin

It’s been nine months since Jammie and I quit our jobs to travel the world and do service projects. Nine months provides a lot of perspective. Here’s what I wish I knew about world travel back in the office worker days:

It’s cheaper than you think.

Living abroad can be cheap. Here are some monthly spending comparisons (each are totals for Jammie and I combined) showing the difference between our pre-trip California expenses and subsequent costs around the world:

Rent and utilities
California:  $900
Bangkok:  $200
Buenos Aires:  $450
Berlin:  $700

Transportation (the costs of getting around locally)
California:  $500
Bangkok:  $60
Buenos Aires:  $30
Berlin:  $150

Groceries & Eating Out
California:  $500
Bangkok:  $150
Buenos Aires:  $300
Berlin:  $300

As you can see, travel and international living can be cheaper, a LOT cheaper than staying put.  International adventure as the sole privilege of the super rich is a total myth.  Even after you add the price of your international plane ticket to your dream destination, the combined monthly savings of even a temporary relocation are often very big indeed.
There are other ways to make money

“OK, I understand that living costs may be lower abroad but how am I supposed to make money?” is one of the first questions people ask when contemplating extended world travel/relocation.  That’s the fun part.

If you are willing to be a little creative there are lots of ways to make money while traveling. Anyone who tries to deny this simply hasn’t done their research.

These methods will not only make you “survival” money. If you apply yourself you can often end up saving more money than you did at home because, again, your expenses are lower.

Here are some ways Jammie and I make money on the road:

Blogging (ad revenues)
Article writing for various paying publications
Other freelance/contract work

Want some other options?

Here are some ways friends of mine and other liberated vagabonds make money while traveling:

Consulting
English teaching
Online businesses
Selling their other skills – You would be surprised how many businesses and organizations would love to use your expertise abroad. For example, I was shocked how often individuals and organizations wanted to use what I had to offer in the way of fundraising coaching. What is your current profession?  Often there is a great way to use it to finance a more liberated life of travel.

It’s something that you can easily put off but you really, really shouldn’t.

No boss is going to fire you if you put off a dream like world travel. Typically the only person that knows if you put off this kind of life achievement, is yourself or, at best, your inner circle of family and friends.

This is horrible because it means you can delay action on something that has tremendous positive potential to change your life.

It’s better for your most important relationships.

Let me take this one in two parts.  Firstly, if you are traveling with the one (or ones) you love, travel, by its very nature, allows you to invest far more time and quality attention into the relationship than you could normally.  Secondly, even if you are not traveling with those you are closest to, travel often gives you the space and perspective that allows you to consciously appreciate your key relationships in life far more than if you are sprinting madly in the rat race.

Your health improves with travel.

In my first nine months of travel I’ve lost 20 lbs.  I feel healthier, I don’t suffer from sleep disorders the way I did before we took off.  The other day I discovered some old pictures on my iPad of me back in the office worker days. I was shocked. I was puffy-faced, clearly world-weary and my eyes were bloodshot.  It brought back the memories of sleep deprived commutes, torturous, mind-numbing meetings and a very unhealthy liquid diet of energy drinks just to get through.  Gone are those days…

You really can be a lot happier.

This is going to sound cheesy but I haven’t been this happy in years. And I’m not the only one that is noticing.  Friends of mine that I’ve known for years are saying things like, “Wow! You’re back! This is like meeting Bjorn 10 years ago!”  Travel allows you to reconnect with a younger you, to rediscover your actual passions, the things that really make you tick.  This is exciting on a very deep level.  You owe it to yourself to experience it.

You need to stop making lame excuses.

I’m being this blunt because it took a number of people being very blunt with me before I sat up and noticed:  STOP MAKING EXCUSES.  No job or imagined disastrous consequence is worth your putting off the better life that long-term travel can bring.

There are enough corporate cop-outs out there already, shuffling towards the fools gold of an ever-distant retirement.  Don’t stay in a job because of fear or tired, conventional thinking.  Be bold.  Take the leap.  A far better world awaits.

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19 thoughts on “Things I wish I’d known about long-term world travel before I quit my job”

  1. I’m glad to hear the Bjorn-from-10-years-ago is back! And happier than ever ~ nice!

    As an English Teacher in South Korea, I can attest to how cheap it is to live abroad and how easy it is to find an English Teaching job!

    It’s definitely worth trying.

    And you’re right about losing weight … most expats are shocked how much walking it can take to do just about anything over here!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Hey Bjorn,

    I’ve read a few of your posts just hasn’t left a message. I shared with my boyfriend one of your previous posts which really hit home for how I’ve been feeling. One regret I have is not having done study abroad when I was in college and for the longest time I had the thought that I had missed my opportunity to live abroad, immerse myself in another culture and learn a third language. I can honestly say, reading your blog has given me a different perspective. I think what you’re doing is awesome and it seems so attainable, that my boyfriend and I are talking about that possibility for us. It’s so scary to even think about it, and like you said, there’s no excuses.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, so you know it’s making a difference!

    Melissa

    1. Melissa! That is awesome that you are thinking about some extended travel! I totally support you. Risks of this nature are not as scary once you actually take them. I meet more and more people that are doing the same thing and sometimes I wonder what took me so long!

  3. So happy for you and Jammie! Every time I see or hear from you guys, I think about new things because of what you’re experiencing and doing with your lives. And it’s a very good thing.

  4. I can’t even recall how long I’ve known you at this point – but I’m guessing the Björn I know and love is from about ten years ago – so, yay! I could definitely see you and Jammie continuing your world travels long after you run out of “B”-named cities.

    I just hope that a certain “L” city is one of your ports-of-call at some point; sure would like to see your face in person again.

    1. Kirk! It warms my heart to hear from you:) Thank you for your amazing support over the years. And YES, it’s been a long time since our Glendale days!!

  5. Such an awesome post here, Bjorn. When can I move to Thailand. Aocording to the math, I can live there for about 14 months with 2 months salary. LOL

    I do like travel and adventure but not all the time. So, I think I have times of travel and time of being put in one place. I think switching over to a freelancing or work for yourself job is ideal because it allows you to do what you want. If you want to travel, do it. if you want to sleep at home for 14 hours a day…then ok too.

    Having been someone international myself most of my life, I’ve always included a lot of travel in my daily life. It’s helped me and shown me a lot about the world and myself. More people need to read this or hear it directly from you more in their life. Sooner rather than earlier.

    The many benefits seem ummatched.I’m taking off to Bangkok in about 6 hours. Just kidding but I am taking an extended break to Malaysia next year where my parents live. I guess i’ll venture to other parts of south east Asia now that I’ve been inspired.

    1. Wow… the 14 hours of sleep would be really welcome right now:)

      I’m with you on the need to mix travel with periods in once place though… that is actually what is allowing us to hack this financially… 3 months in one city before we move on to the next allows us to save and actually generate more revenue…

      How long do you plan on being in Malaysia for?

  6. Dear Bjorn, Thanks so very much for keeping in touch with all of us and sharing your reflections on the meanings and implications of your travel and adventures. I had a great adventure when I was younger. I joined a traveling acting company that toured the country for about three years and gave plays in cities and towns. I loved being an actress, and our company visited almost all of the 48 states. (This took place a very long time ago.) My parents were dismayed and thought I had gone over the edge, but I am so glad I did this. It fulfilled my need for adventure and gave me much satisfaction. Keep your wonderful communications coming. I send my love to Jammie too.
    Love, Linda

    1. Thanks for the comment, Linda! And I appreciate your sharing this experience on CultureMutt. I am glad you were able to withstand family pressure and follow through!

  7. Now if I could just figure out how to do it with three kids 2 and under and provide healthcare I’m down… but then Jodi has to be convinced too. At least I’m going to NZ in a couple months with Logan (2).

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  9. Your persoectives are correct. Travel broadens the mind but living with other cultures and peoples enriches the soul. Enjoy you continued travels. How has this impacted your faith?

    1. Thanks man! I like the idea of overseas life enriching the soul…. sounds like a future post:)

      Great question on the faith angle. I definitely think travel has allowed for a lot of time for reflection. I go on long walks through the cities we live in… The reason for this is partly exercise and sightseeing but walking also is when I get my best ideas. I carry my phone with me all the time so I jot down realizations as they come. Often these are spiritual…

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