I see so many articles and questions about people who want to drop their careers or escape the ‘regular life’ to pursue their passion (starting a business, etc) or travel – but are held back by the hurdles of fear and money. Then there are the success stories of people who have been through it, and come out as blossoming entrepreneurs and it looks so easy but you still can’t quite figure out HOW, so you read them all thinking that could never be me and getting more and more frustrated.
In response to a question in one of my Facebook communities I wanted to share my own experience.
- MAKE THE COMMITMENT – for example, I booked flights, rail passes, and other things and started paying them off while I was still working – when it was a compulsory payment, I put much more towards my goals than if i was just trying to ‘save’ whilst going about my normal life.
- BE OPEN TO UNEXPECTED PATHS – for example, house sitting, working as an au pair or in a homestay type opportunity such as through workaway or helpx – often hosts only want 3-4 hours of help a day with cleaning, cooking or other duties, and will give you weekends off too. You can even work in hostels (although this makes private concentration time a bit harder). Any of these options leave you with plenty of hours each week to work on your own projects whilst incurring no accommodation and little food costs.
- SELF DISCIPLINE IS HARD – I’ve been travelling nearly 3 months now and I’ve still made almost no progress on my own dreams as I keep slipping into holiday mode – which is also more expensive. However – I’m getting there, and starting to build a (non-location dependent) daily routine that I know I’ll be able to keep improving on.
- WANT TO TRAVEL? – If you want to travel while doing it, be VERY aware of visa restrictions. Try not to move too often, as that can ramp up expenses fast and chew through your savings quickly (once a month is a good move rate). For example when travelling in Spain I was moving every week – I spent about 140 € a week in hostels and 100 € in transit fares (taking high speed trains). That was a mistake.
- KEEP A JOURNAL – as you make changes in your life, whether that be through travelling, or moving into freelance work, keep a journal of what you like and don’t like. It’s easy to be backed into a corner (particularly when money starts to run low) and go back to what’s easy and familiar, only to find yourself back at square one 6 or 12 months later. Remember what you want in your lifestyle and what you don’t want and write it down (for example, I personally like to work a few hours in the morning, have some free time just after lunch, then work again in the evening).
- NEVER BURN BRIDGES – be polite to everyone, and be willing to invest time in staying in touch with people; when running low on funds lately I ended up picking up some freelance work from my last full-time employer, because I stayed in touch with them and happened to be free when they needed some extra help.
- EXPECT TO FEEL LONELY – Breaking the mould is hard, and not that many people do it. I thought I’d meet heaps of like minded, ‘digital-nomad’ types on my travel, but I’ve encountered very few. The primary groups are young backpackers (who mostly want to party, people on holiday, hippies living a slow life who are less ambitious, and an older cohort who are travelling in their retirement. Travelling alone has been quite isolating when I didn’t easily find the ‘tribe’ I was looking for, but even when I was working alternatively in my hometown, I found that I was suddenly out of sync with the work and lifestyle habits of most of my friends. For me, feeling lonely has been one of the main factors that has made me occasionally feel like giving up – so be ready to persevere through it.
- SUBDIVIDE YOUR MONEY – split your savings into two – what you think you’ll spend over the first 3, 6, etc months – and a second back up fund that you pretend doesn’t exist… just in case.
That’s all I can think of for now! Hope this helps 🙂 Get in touch if you’re on a similar journey xox