This year Conrad and I are traveling for eight months. Two years ago we spent two months in Spain, and in 2010, we set out on an adventure that lasted three years.
I travel with intention that is often misunderstood. What I do is not a vacation. Seeing new lands and experiencing cultural differences pulls at me all the time with its wispy dreams of fulfillment. I thrive with change – and long to be changed – for it is only there that I find true growth – closer to my own personal Nirvana. That level of achievement is not reached by taking a 9-day tour or renting a cottage and sitting on a beach.
Apparently travel has changed a lot, which has led to confusion when I tell people I’m going traveling for months at a time.
Seventy-five years ago only wealthy folks traveled, perhaps on a steamship across the Atlantic. Travel in the 50s and 60s was a one-dimensional affair usually involving the kids crammed in the back seat, a tent, the Coleman stove, and a glove box full of huge paper maps.
Did the internet change everything? Definitely. Travelers research and book everything from round-the-world airfare, to lodging in a private home via Airbnb, to finding a personal tour guide in any given city, to sharing a meal with a stranger anywhere on the planet. The internet also opened up the world of online work too, or scoping out jobs anywhere, such as teaching English as a second language or working on a cruise ship. Digital nomads, (the term for full-time travelers working on the internet), live in one country for a while then move on to the next, usually with all their possessions in one bag. The definitions for traveling lifestyles span an entire spectrum.
In spite of all these changes in the past 15 years, I still have a hard time explaining my travel style. And people think Conrad and I must be rich. We’re not. Far from it. (More on that below.)
I talked to five location-independent travelers to help me explain what it means to live on the road.
“I think one of the main issues for me is people not understanding that I do work while doing this,” says Samantha Anthony, former New York City resident. “Friends send me job postings in the city I used to live in, thinking (I assume) that if I just found a nice job I’d settle back down. Nope, no thanks, I have a job (freelance writer/editor) that I like thanks! Also everyone always says how it must be so nice to be in X place and asks what I’ve been doing…sometimes I don’t do much other than work that week, do my own creative work, and relax/walk around/take a hike/maybe go out for dinner. It really is just living, but in a different place every few months.”
Nora Dunn, aka The Professional Hobo, wants her readers to understand exactly what her lifestyle costs. With a financial background before living on the road, Dunn posts her annual profit and loss statement on her blog, sharing everyday expenditures as well as what she brings in.
“I’m not on vacation. This is my life, day in, day out,” says Dunn. “Not that I’m complaining; I live a wonderful and free lifestyle that defies even my own expectations of what it would be when I started 10 years ago. “I once stayed with a family in Spain for a week. One of the children approached me towards the end of my stay and asked me why I spent all of my vacation in Spain on my computer. Of course I wasn’t on my computer the ENTIRE time (I toured about when he was at school), but I can see how it appeared that way. “I work (almost) full-time, just like anybody else. The only difference is that I can work from anywhere in the world, and when my work is done for the day, I can open my front door and explore a different destination full of new discoveries.”
“‘Where do you live?’ is an awkward question to answer,” says Louise Read, a nomadic grandparent, along with her husband Tim. “Trying to explain that you’re nomadic and ‘don’t really have a home’ leads to all sorts of interesting discussion. We often say that ‘today we live here.’”
Thad and Lucretia Evans follow a travel method closer to what Conrad and I do. They rent out their home in Nashville Tennessee, which in turn, funds their long-term travel.
“My wife and I have sold most of our possessions,” says Thad Evans. “I quit my job on 8/2 and we rented out our home. It has been difficult for us to answer the “where are you from” or “where do you live” questions. We have adopted the “location independent” description of our home.”
Finally, Pam Beatson summed up with this confident statement: “People assume I’m on vacation but I’m not bothered by what others think. I’m living this life for me. When people don’t understand, I just smile and nod.”
In addition to achieving clarity in explaining my traveling purpose, I hope to encourage others to take the same traveling leap as me. Here are just a couple of ways Conrad and I make it happen:
Taking advantage of house sitting and utilizing airline miles are the two greatest money-savers for us, (and most other long-term travelers.) When the cost of lodging, (average European hotel room per night: $185, according to statista.com), and cost of airfare are removed from the travel equation, travel can extend to months or even years. We have saved tens of thousands of dollars with our method. A cost analysis of our 6-week house sit in Copenhagen revealed that if we had stayed in a hotel and eaten at restaurants, we may have spent $13,000. Yes, Denmark is an expensive place! But our entire cost for the six weeks there was $2,400. And throw in that we pay nothing for airfare, and you have a wonderful vacation lots of folks could afford.
So when you dream about travel, let it take you anywhere. Forget about the past definitions of travel. What some of us are doing out here is real living, and for surprisingly little money.
Pam Beatson is Canadian psychotherapist who left her homeland in January of 2016 to travel abroad via housesitting and online counselling. A flaneuse at heart, Pam feels most alive while wandering and observing in new and beautiful places.” Here’s the link to my website: http://www.pambeatson.com/
AlternativeTravelers.com Samantha Anthony
We’re Sam and Veren, a couple from NYC that explores the world in an alternative way. We’re both creative: Sam as a writer and photographer, Veren as a writer and filmmaker. We did a bit of these in New York, but not enough to live comfortably in one of the most expensive cities in the world. We realized that we could do more of what we loved while traveling if we did what we did best – took a creative approach. Now we combine housesitting assignments with freelancing and local gigs to travel in a long-term, sustainable way.
Hi, I’m Nora Dunn, The Professional Hobo. In 2006, I decided to take the plunge. I sold my financial planning practice in Toronto Canada, and got rid of all of my belongings in order to free myself up for the adventure of a lifetime.
Since early 2007, I’ve been on the road, traveling slowly through over 50 countries and five continents. I have lived a variety of lifestyles by working in trade for my accommodation. My location independent writing career takes care of the rest of the expenses. As such, I can travel in a financially sustainable manner like this for as long as I wish.
Thad Evans: I am The Hungry Peregrio. I chose that name because my wife and I became “peregrinos” or pilgrims when we hiked the Camino de Santiago in Spain in October 2014. We hiked and planned our journey for a year leading up to our departure. Everything we would need for 30 days was in our backpacks. With that under our belts we began to explore travel blogging and we came across the idea of “location independent living”. I had previously worked in health care for the last 23 years and although it was a fulfilling career, I felt the need for a break. So with my wife, Lu’s whole hearted support, direction, and blessing, we decided to quit my job, sell most of our earthly possessions, rent out our house in Nashville, TN, and travel the world for the next year.
We began our journey by visiting my family in Missouri and then we drove our dog and cat to Texas to live with Lu’s family. After that we flew to Cabo San Lucas, MX for a couple of weeks of vacation before flying to Vancouver, BC to begin the cruise.
Today we disembarked from a 16 day trans Pacific cruise ship in Tokyo where we are going to ride out typhoon Malakas for a few days. After a few weeks in Japan we plan to fly to Bangkok, Thailand where we will rent a place for a month or two. We would like to explore all of SE Asia and try to do some volunteer work here and there. Ultimately our goal is to go through Europe and catch another repositioning cruise back to the US i.e. circumnavigate the globe. http://www.thehungryperegrino.blogspot.com/
Louise Read: Nomadic Grandparents. A semi-retired, professional couple who simply walked away from the demands of our respective industries. Why? Because one of our grand-kids has a shirt that says “should’ve, could’ve, did”. We were stuck at step two and we felt that simply wasn’t good enough. Circumstances provided us the opportunity to make a change and we “did.”
As Always: My purpose is to inspire more people into more travel.
House sitting may make it happen for you. See more articles here.
Wishing you safe and happy travels,