Posts Tagged With: travel

How I live the way I want and travel the way I want.

I have the good fortune to be able to travel often, and I have been asked often how I got that good fortune and what I do to maintain it. How am I able to spend an entire Summer in Paris, or hop around Eastern Europe for months at a time? Don’t I have a job? Am I rich or something? Yes, I have a job and no, I am not by anyone’s standards “rich” though I am comfortably middle class- right in the middle. The answer is that it took a lot of life building on my part to get to a point where I can live my life the way I want to, live almost anywhere I want (note I said almost) and get to do these things. It certainly did not happen by accident. 

 

I don’t have children. I made a decision early in my life to not have children. Not because I wanted to travel, but because of many, many reasons. While I am sure it is possible for some super-parents to be able to do this kind of stuff with a family, I have never met anyone that does. Not having the cost of raising children has freed up most of my income to do with as I please. No, I don’t consider it a sacrifice because it was a well thought out choice.

 

I decided to quit college after four months. I actually consider this a good thing (for me) because I realized I was not getting an up to date or applicable education that would actually get me employment. Instead, I was being forced to take useless classes that had no bearing at all on what I signed up to learn to do. I realized pretty early that my goal was to work for myself in the future, so I didn’t really care if a potential boss cared about my degree or not. I knew I would need more chutzpah than most to be able to bypass the hurdles that would come from not having a degree, but I weighed that decision against the idea of starting my adult life with thousands of dollars in student loan debts I would never get out from beneath, and decided I preferred chutzpah. I have never regretted that choice. My husband made the exact same choice after one year in college, for the same reasons. We are doing quite well. I am not saying that not going to college or quitting will work for you, but I’ve never had a problem and I believe that the American tradition of “if you don’t go to college you will be unemployable or flipping burgers” is a myth. It depends a lot of the kind of career you want. Some require college truly. Others don’t and yet people still think they do. It seems a horribly expensive decision to make on auto-impulse.

 

I am successfully self employed. My husband and I own a small software development company that employs 8 to 10 programmers (8 full time, 2 part time specialists) from around the world. We started the company with no start up cost, save a computer and a lot of talent and hard work. No bank loans, no maxed out credit cards. Just work. We both worked in the IT industry before, being employed by large companies and proved our worth to employers, built reputations for excellence and reliability. Then we branched out on our own, hired amazing programmers and now everyone in our company works from home – virtual office. What this means for us (and our employees) is that we can travel or live anywhere, as long as reliable high speed internet service is available. In 2005, we sold everything we owned and moved to Panama, bought a house and have been happier than we could have imagined. We operate our business from a home office, usually spending 9 months out of each year in Panama and the rest of the year traveling elsewhere. While we are away from our home, we rent it to visitors for short term stays, covering our mortgage and often making a profit. We work while we travel. We don’t do the ‘sight seeing all day, every day’ kind of travel (though that is fun), and we prefer to stick to one place and have more time there to explore at leisure and soak up what life is really like. When we plan well, we can usually have 3 to 4 day work weeks (though we check in to see if problems occur) and have the rest of the week off, since our company is running on it’s own while we are away. We have to be connected. We don’t ever really get days off because if a client needs us, we will be there without complaint, but this style gives us the opportunity to travel while we are still young and to be able to afford extended travel. We usually rent short term self catered apartments rather than hotels or hostels. We can go to Buenos Aires, spend the mornings working and be tango dancing by 3pm. It is a different way to travel and live. It is a lot of work and a lot of hassle, but it is worth it.

 

I enjoy my work. For the way I travel, this is very important. I actually like what I do and I enjoy doing it, so if I have to spend all day inside on the computer while in Paris instead of going to a beautiful garden, I am OK with that. I don’t begrudge it. The garden will be there when I am done. This requires being pretty laid back about everything.

 

I’m laid back, man. Chill. I tend to just go with the flow no matter what. When you travel a lot, it helps to have an easy going attitude. I don’t expect things to go my way. I figure if things do go my way, it’s a lucky bonus. I have traveled with very regimented, uptight people before, where everything was expected to work on schedule, like clockwork, and any interruption to a plan or a routine was met with irritation and fear. In my opinion, those interruptions are part of the experience. I tend to be annoyingly rigid when it comes to my work while traveling, because I want to make sure I am always on time for my clients and always meeting deadlines, but the rest of it – bring on the chaos.

 

Low cost of living at home. We keep costs at home fairly low, making it easier to have expendable income and to justify leaving for months at a time. The car is a used Toyota Corolla, the house is awesome (we like it) but we bought it in 2005 for $147,000 (in Panama) so the mortgage is low. We tend to shy away from spending on material things and prefer to invest in experiences instead. Living in Panama instead of the US has made it possible for us to live this way. We lived in California for years and watched our money be chewed up while getting very little in return. So we moved.

 

I limit exposure to naysayers. This is a difficult thing to do, but I try to limit the amount of time I spend around negative people, particularly the ones who enjoy telling me that things are “impossible” or that I “should” live a certain way, according to their life plan. When you are doing what you want to be doing, those people will come out of the woodwork and do their best to inflict their own misery on you. I don’t let them infiltrate my life. That doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to well thought out advice, or concerns. It just means I don’t listen to haters. To live your life as you want (travel related or not) takes immense courage, and you shouldn’t let haters slow you down.

 

I am always trying to do something new. I decided a few years ago that I wanted to be in theater. I had done a lot of theater work as a kid, and then in Panama, I thought “How am I going to be in theater here?” It turns out it wasn’t that hard. I found a theater, I auditioned, got a part and have been in several plays there. A couple years later, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write over the top, pulpy novels, the kind I enjoy reading for escape. So I wrote one. I published it, and people bought it. So I wrote more, and people bought those too. So I was a writer. Then I decided I wanted to be an artist. Well, that one was harder for me, but I’ve only been painting for three months and I just hung my first piece in a gallery, and no, I am not very good. At all. Like, seriously. But my art is up there for people to see, and I’ve been hired by an author to illustrate the borders of a children’s book. So, I think that makes me an artist. A good one? Probably not, but an artist. I wanted to start a company, so I started one. I didn’t ask for anyone to validate my ventures with a piece of paper or their permission. If you want to do something, do it. Don’t think you need to wait for someone to tell you it is alright. If it’s safe, sane and right for you, do it. If you have this attitude, you will rack up so many awesome experiences in your life resume, and travel will be richer for you.

 

It’s all just my opinion and experience, but I hope this helps.

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Categories: Expat Interest, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A Me Post. Some old travel photos.

A Me Post. Some old travel photos.

Just some old travel photos because reasons.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This is all I am taking with me.

This is all I am taking with me.

My actual belongings. Yes, I am 36 and I dress like a 19 year old. I took less than this with me the first time. I lived out of a suitcase for four years and it was the best thing ever. I might also re-pack several board games that you cannot get in Panama easily (like Lords Of Waterdeep… geek stuff) to minimize the bulk and take them for plenty of nerdy game nights with friends. It’s amazing how many aspects of life can be digitized. Photo albums are no longer needed. Book collections can go on an e-reader. Maps, guidebooks, language software… all in a tiny instrument.

Categories: Expat Interest, Personal | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Book Review: The Art Of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

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My overall feelings about this book are very mixed. One one hand, I love the concept of promoting living a chosen life and not an expected one. The term “non-conformity” is a bit misused in my opinion. You don’t have to be a non-conformist to be happy and fulfilled. Some people like having what I would loosely call a “normal” life, and there is nothing at all wrong with that. The point is, in my opinion, to live the life YOU want and choose for yourself instead of bowing to what society, family or other people in general pressure you to do. The book makes it’s mark more as a hoorah kind of pep talk than it does a how-to book. There is really no how-to information in this book, which I found disappointing. As someone who is already living the life I want and has done the expat hop-around-the-world thing, nothing in this book was new to me. Someone who is considering taking on a drastic change in lifestyle might benefit from the hoorah pep talk but it won’t help that reader figure out HOW to make that life change.

     The overall problem is that the concept itself is a vague one. Is this a book about moving “overseas”? No. Is it a book about quitting your corporate soul sucking job to take on the job you really love? No. Is it about volunteering? No. Is it about travel? Sort of, but not specifically. Since everyone has a different idea what what a great life would be like, this book cannot and does not delve into any real info or solutions about any of those ideas. It vaguely (VERY vaguely) touches upon the ideas in a “Hey, you could be doing what you love!” but then drops the ball after establishing that very basic concept. The book really is a vague overview of what should be three different books. The author spends most of the book’s volume writing about his own experiences, which are admittedly impressive, but not what most people (even expat, crazy life people like me) would consider achievable. Not everyone can make their living blogging and not everyone can chuck their life completely and live on a boat in West Africa trying to “change the world.” I don’t think that most people (even the volunteer minded ones) even want to do that. I think most people are not really built for that and most people would become part of the problem more than the solution. It kind of reminds me of when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of the US and a gaggle of eager (but unskilled) do-gooders were trying to get into New Orleans to “help” and prove their charitable heroism when in reality serious aid workers like the Red Cross were far more bothered by these people than helped. Basically, if you are not a pro that can offer some serious assistance in crisis zones, STAY OUT and do your part by donating money, blood, etc. But I am going on a tangent now- sorry. This book is very gung-ho about “changing the world” but that should be a separate book and even then the information offered is anecdotal and vague. The book suffers from not really knowing what it wants to be.

I also have a little bit of an issue with the condescending tone the author has. I have a feeling he did not expect it to come off that way. I like the author. His enthusiasm is infectious. His sense of adventure is exciting. What I don’t like is the “I’ve traveled to EVERY country” kind of gimmick he has going. I personally don’t think that is all that admirable. He simply touts that he has done so, but gives no narrative about his experiences or how doing so might have enriched him or others. So again, what is this book? Who is it for? I am not sure and so I have marked it in my mind as a simple hoorah pep talk that has about five pages of actual information in it – the rest is fluff.

My rating:

2 out of 5 stars (my Goodreads review)

 

 

 

 

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC documentary about Panama & The Panama Canal

Categories: Expat Interest, History, Media, Tourist Interest | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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