(Warning: there are no pretty pictures in this post. You’ve been getting distracted too easily recently and this is important)
Shhhhhh, come closer. I have a secret. Many of you may think you know me through my blog. I try to be open, transparent and honest about my life on the road. But I still have secrets. Recently people have begun to associate me with the recent trend of travel and lifestyle bloggers who have dumped their corporate world and stifling cubical for the freedom of the open road. It’s a compelling story, a dream of millions. It tugs at the emotional triggers of the reader for a life of endless beach cocktails, far away romances, and awe inspiring moments as you stand in center of a 10,000 year old monument, feel the ancient dirt shift between your feet, breath in the scent of accumulated history and finally make a real connection to the ramblings of Mrs. Garret, your elementary school ancient civilizations teacher. See, that was such a wonderful image you probably didn’t even realize how long that last sentence was!
So what is my Secret?
It’s a big secret. It might even change the way you view me and Todd’s Wanderings. It could shatter the growing mythology that surrounds my lifestyle and blog (well maybe my egotistical long term travel blogger head could use a quick deflation anyway).
One thing is for sure, it will shatter the image that only the rich travel. It will shatter the image that you need to save tens of thousands of dollars to travel the world.
OK, here is my big secret. The one I’ve been afraid to reveal to you. The truth is…
I didn’t ditch a 9-5 corporate job. I didn’t decide one day to be brave and cast away the life I had built until that point, sell all my possessions and hit the road. I’m NOT a corporate escapee.
This would be impossible for me. The truth is: I never had that life to begin with! There never was any cubical. I never acquired any possessions, house, cat, dog (although I really really want one). I’m just a regular guy.
What did I do?
I made the simple choice to see the world before I got bogged down by a career. Right after college I left the US and moved to Japan were I worked as a teacher for 5 years. I spent every minute of free time, and the money I earned each month, to explore Japan and Asia. I didn’t save a dime and I made the most of my time. (Catchy, I know.)
I changed jobs often, and lived in different parts of Japan. I never allowed myself to settle down and get into a routine. I didn’t want a career as an English teacher but it served its purpose of allowing me (even with my college loan debts, still have them by the way) to travel, live and work in other countries.
When I became bored with teaching, when I felt that itch in my soul that I needed a change I simply did it…I changed. I went to graduate school and started my life as an international development worker. This has allowed me to travel even more of the world, for both work and fun. Again, I change jobs often. I pick projects and causes that I believe in. I try to integrate my passions with my work so that they blend naturally together.
I will write more about what exactly I do in future posts, and will explain how development work is one option to help you see the world in an upcoming guest post.
So what’s the point? I thought I was getting a silver bullet to fund my world travel!
Everyone is different, everyone has a different story. Everyone can find a unique way to travel and experience the world. Many people have assumed that I saved a lot of money to fund my travels, that I did an around-the-world-trip and loved it so much that I continued traveling. Others assume that I have a location independent lifestyle and business that allows me to volunteer for great projects and sip cocktails on the beach.
Still others have assumed that I ditched corporate life and started traveling using my story as my hook to earn money (and millions in stock options). Nope, not true, any of it, especially the sipping part. I like gulping.
The truth is I found a job and left home, found another job and left home, left home and then found a job, quit my job and left home and then found another job. I’m three months into my current job and already thinking about my next country and next job. I’ve been working my way around the world, living a lifestyle of freedom and choice from the very beginning. That was 11 years ago. I’m still doing it and so can you. You don’t have to have the same story as others, or me. It’s better if you don’t.
The whole point of striking out and discovering the world is that you discover your own path and create your own story. The more you follow the path of others the more crowded the path will become, the less benefit you receive.
So how do you do it? You said there would be Steps!
Well, that’s up to you. Seriously, didn’t you read the point of this article! But I did promise steps. So here is a framework to work off of based on my own experience. This is how I not only funded my travels but learned to get paid for doing what I love. Hopefully it will lead to something equally unique for you:
Step 1: Find a Job Abroad
-Pick a country you like, find a job that you might like and go
Step 2: Travel, travel, travel some more
Step 3: Do things that make you happy, hobbies, learning whatever. Do it all. Volunteer your time. Don’t worry about getting paid except for your regular job.
Step 4: Listen to your heart and change something when you are not happy or satisfied.
-Change your job, change your country. Just move, do something new.
Step 5: With each change, with each new job make it closer to what you would do for free.
-ALWAYS take something you love, a skill from each job to apply to your next step.
Finding what we want to be when we grow up is a process. But it’s one that can be combined with world travel without saving money for one big trip. Tailor your job to your interests and just go. Yes, it takes work. Yes it takes preparation. Yes, you’ll run about of money at times. But if you keep with it experiences will pile on each other and eventually you’ll succeed. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself in a wonderful place of loving your job, being able to travel the world, and getting paid to help others and be creative. It’s a wonderful feeling, trust me, I know.
Go ahead, push back. Tell me what you think or ask questions and advice on how to make it happen.