Tag Archives: lower cost of living abroad

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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