If you’ve heard the term perpetual travel before, chances are you were immediately intrigued. The privilege of being able to work or run a business on a casita somewhere in the Caribbean sounds too good to be true, but believe it or not, more and more people are successfully achieving that dream on a daily basis.
Through savvy marketing and business skills, and with a bit of help from technology, people with very diverse backgrounds are making the transition into a life where their income is derived completely from the web, making them ‘location independent.’ Makes you reconsider your 9-5 desk job, doesn’t it? But before you quit your day job and pack your bags, find out what living life on the read 24-7, 365 is really like – it may not be what you expect.
The Faces Behind the Screens
The Internet revolutionised the way the world does business, and it has created a platform that makes it possible for anyone to potentially become a perpetual traveler (PT). Jodi Ettenberg was a lawyer before she decided to eat her way around the globe, with her site LegalNomads.com developing into a thriving blog that now funds her ongoing travels.
Dan Andrews was an entrepreneur selling cat furniture, who then expanded into the consultancy business and took his profession on the road.
Stuart McDonald started out as a journalist writing about Thailand. He now runs a successful travel-planning website dedicated to Southeast Asia.
These individuals are proof that permanent travel can be adaptable to any profession – but it’s definitely not a lifestyle that suits everyone. It takes someone with creativity, dedication, courage, and a lust for travel to make it work. If your idea of permanent travel involves endless days of sitting on a beach with a laptop and a cocktail, you’re likely to be disappointed by the reality (it’s really hard to get sand out of a laptop!).
The Secret to Making it Work
So how do Jodi, Dan, and Stuart survive on the road? Ask them that question and they’ll tell you that it all boils down to low cost of living. They’ve passed up on the conventional lifelong mortgage and stay at short-term rentals instead. They take public transport instead of owning a car, and they take advantage of advancements in technology. They work in places with free WiFi and utilise websites like Skype and oDesk to run and manage their businesses.
Second, they make a living through numerous avenues – what is known in the game as ‘multiple streams of income.’ Jodi for example is a writer and a tour guide at the same time. She also has speaking engagements and maintains her JD license (just in case).
Third, they build networks and cultivate relationships. That’s exactly how Dan managed to expand his business. He developed TropicalMBA, a site that allows like-minded individuals to share their experiences and expertise.
As great as it sounds, there are certain drawbacks to being a digital nomad. The lack of routine can take a toll on your health. Your body is constantly adjusting to accommodate different habits, which can be both physically and mentally draining. This is where discipline becomes extremely important – keeping up positive diet and exercise habits is tough when literally everything else in your life is changing every day.
Then, there’s the uncertainty. It too can be a cause of mental stress. Perpetual travel can also be a lonely existence sometimes. It’s more difficult to establish a true connection with someone when you’re constantly on the move. Finally, it’s not all fun in the sun. “Work takes all you give it…” said Stuart when asked about the drawbacks of a digital nomad lifestyle. And because there’s no structure as to when you’re supposed to work and where, you may find there are times you end up working more than you would at a regular 9-5. For the travellers, of course, that’s all worth it for the location freedom the lifestyle affords them.
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