For the past 2 years, my husband and I have been plotting something crazy. And it’s finally time to put our crazy plan into action. It’s no secret that we love travelling and we’ve been doing it much before I started blogging. We did a crazy last minute trip to Thailand and Cambodia last year, cut short because we hit a financial snag 😁, and this year we hit pause on our lives in Bangalore to move to Goa for 2 months.
But this time, we’ve decided to go full steam ahead, emptying out our apartment, packing our lives into a suitcase, and setting off to see the world, one city at a time. 😎
I just posted this update on my Facebook a while ago, and what a whirlwind month it has been. From connecting with friends I haven’t spoken to in eons to strangers wishing me luck to being featured on the local radio to being written about in an upcoming book! Wow 💥😎💥
Ever since we’ve known each other, we’ve known that we want to see as much of the world as possible. We realized 2 week vacations were not enough to see a place properly. And we’ve always wanted to just slow down in a place for a while and explore it at our own pace.
Just as we were getting comfy in a new place, found our favourite street food cart or our new favourite coffee shop around the block with great wifi, or just started making some new friends in a place where we didn’t know anybody, it was time to board the return flight home.
We wanted the freedom to travel as we wished, leaving a place if we didn’t like it, or staying longer if we loved it. No itineraries, no ticking things off a hurried list, no coming back home! So we decided to build a life that made this kind of travel possible. This is how we’re doing it.
You need to make this decision to travel full time
Picture this. You’re at dinner with your friends and their friends. It’s fun to catch up. You want to try every appetizer in the place (I always do haha). Conversations flow from old college stories, to who’s dating who to who’s marrying who to office stories to evil bosses to annoying colleagues to travel stories. At some point you’ll declare that you want to drop everything to travel the world. You’ll say you want to quit your job, take a sabbatical or find a job you can do while travelling. You’ll quote the example of a POI (person on the Internet) who is also doing this. You’ll declare that you’ll take 1 year, or 2 or 3 to live this dream life. But the next day you go back to work and live the same life and continue to live it without considering the alternatives. When asked about your declarations you’ll say obviously you weren’t serious/ no one actually does that/ it’s not realistic… and so on.
The difference between you and me, is when I made declarations like that, high on sangria and the hazy memories of past travels and feverish excitement for future adventures; I actually plotted to Make. Them. Happen. 😈
Know that it IS possible. Make the decision to travel, then get down to realistically planning it. But first, decide that you want it enough to actually make it to the planning stage…
I’m going to divide this into 2 sections for what I hope will give you better clarity on how we got this stage and how we plan to manage finances while travelling so that we make enough to fund our travels and also have some savings: 1. Working While on the Go 💻 and 2. Getting Finances in order💰
As many of you know by now, I used to be a lawyer. I’ve worked in a company as a legal analyst, as a little junior pumpkin scurrying around the local court, to a law firm. I thought it’ll be like Suits, all dressy and smart flinging files around, talking in cliffhangers. It wasn’t. But the most exciting thing I did as a lawyer was work for startups. In 2013-2014, I worked remotely for a a little startup law firm in Canada. I came to know many cool people who were building even cooler things. Coolest of all, was the lifestyle they chose for themselves: digital nomads. Some of them picked a country, figured out business and immigration and moved there, some people chose to live in different places for a short/long time, some of them relocated for their dream job. 💥
DIGITAL NOMAD, a definition: One who derives income remotely by working online, rather than from commuting to an office. This enables the digital nomad to not need a permanent home base, and she/he can travel anywhere at any time.
All I needed to work was a laptop and a good wifi connection. It slowly (although a little late I admit lol) dawned on me that I could do this from anywhere in the world. And then the whole world seemed accessible. Which country do I imagine myself in? Where do I want to go? I shuttled between a few cities in India, staying with friends and relatives and saving all that lawyer money. 😜 One beautiful summer day in Bangalore, just as I was planning a trip to Malaysia, I met a boy who was just back from Nepal. We’ve been inseparable since. ❤️
So about my startup lawyer job, I didn’t really enjoy being a lawyer and didn’t see myself pursuing a legal career forever. So I started developing my dormant skills to find a career that I could love. Long story short, after a lot of trial and error and some crying, I discovered social media and writing, and worked hard to find a combination of the two that could make me money and let me work from anywhere. And then I started this little blog you’re reading and the rest as they say is recent history.
So now I make some money off the blog and some freelance work.
My husband is a programmer who has been doing the digital nomad thing for a while now. He’s lived in Chile and Vietnam and Nepal. So he’ll be fine I guess. 😅
I want to emphasize that starting 2017, travelling for the next few years will not be a vacation. We’ll be working from wherever we are. So one day our office might be a beachside café in Bali or a co-working space in Chiang Mai on another. We’ll be taking some time off to explore the place we’re in. But that depends on work. Because working full time is what enables us to live this life.
We joking referred to this as our 2 year plan, because we think 5 years is too far ahead for anyone to plan ahead. I’m very excited to say that I don’t even know where I’ll be in the next 5 months! So we decided to buckle up and work hard, develop our skills, work on the blog, make connections so that by the time 2017 rolls around, we’ll have enough work projects and enough money to fund the first leg of the trip.
Which brings us to:
Since we knew we were going to do this in 2017, we made sure all our big financial decisions revolved around it. We lived in a rented apartment and didn’t splurge on anything for the house. We literally just had a big dining/work table with a couple of chairs, a bed, a shelf, fridge, washing machine and basic kitchen equipment. We didn’t accumulate stuff and a lot of the stuff we did have was hand-me-downs from our friends and/or simply flicked from our parents house.
We saved a lot of money not buying furniture, or not buying one appliance after the other, and not spending one bit on the scam that is home décor. Except some stuff we’ve collected from our travels. We sold whatever we could and gave some stuff away. It’s so freeing to be without stuff.
We make about the same money as any average couple in Bangalore. On the road, we’ll be staying in airbnbs or renting apartments for a short time. We won’t have the expenses of furniture, appliances, utilities, clothes, and other miscellaneous bills. And we’ve hacks to score cheap flights.
When people hear about our travel plans, they immediately assume we’re rich, or our parents our rich, or one of us built an app and sold it and stepped into some serious money (we wish!) but it’s none of those. The same people don’t bat an eyelid when someone buys a car, or a house, or spends on a masters degree abroad. People don’t question spending on conventional expenses. But as soon as you put the same expenses into something that defies convention, suddenly people think you’re throwing your life away.
At the end of the day, it’s your money, your earned it, spend it on the kind of life you want. If you think a degree abroad and the massive loans are justifiable and will help you reach your goals, then go for it. Studying abroad is one of the most legit ways to explore a new country and the places nearby. If you want to save up for a big fat car, then do so. If every cell in your body begs you to buy a big house then by all means do so.
Ignore convention, spend on what you want to.
Our wedding defied convention in a lot of ways. We didn’t believe in most of rituals because they are patriarchal and regressive. Indian weddings from the outside look like beautiful celebrations of love and culture and tradition, while in reality they are not. We also didn’t believe in throwing lavish 3 day fests for people who barely know us, or don’t even talk to us or know what’s going on in our lives.
We also especially didn’t want either of our parents to spend their savings on rubbish like wedding halls, and caterings and crap. And don’t even get me started on people who borrow money for weddings! So we just rounded up a few of our closest friends and family walked down to the courthouse nearby, signed a few things, and Poof! we were married. And then we had south indian brunch food at home. There were more idlis in our wedding than people!
We decided we don’t need a car in Bangalore. We’d just be sitting in traffic anyway. We also didn’t see the need to buy a house in Bangalore, because we don’t see ourselves living here in future, even if we do come back to India. We also didn’t buy a house anywhere in India because we don’t know which place we might want to call home, or “settle” if and when we choose to do.
But why not have a house and make money from renting it off you ask? We didn’t want to get ourselves into getting tied up in a loan before we were ready to pay it off without making sacrifices. Maybe some day we will buy a house and a car, but we don’t know when and where. Or maybe we won’t. But we want to decide that for ourselves and not accept society’s conventions like get married at this age, buy a car, then a house, then have a baby, then another, and so on.
So what I’m trying to say is, do what YOU want, be the architect of your own life. Own these things or don’t, but because you want to and not because society or your parents tell you to.
So Where Next?✈️
We thought we’ll start with Bali. Easy visa process, affordable accommodation, endless chicken satays, stunning beaches, good internet connectivity and other benefits aside, we’ve been trying to go for to Bali ever since we met. Our third date could have been in Bali! When we just started dating we thought we’ll go spend a month in Bali (we both had remote jobs at the time). So we happily booked tickets and I announced to my parents that I was off to Bali with a boy I liked. Obviously my parents would hear none of it. So it was no Bali and no Boy for me. 🙁 We postponed the tickets to a couple of months ahead. But as luck would have it, some work related stuff came up and we couldn’t postpone the tickets again and we ended up losing those tickets. So see you see, it has to be Bali. Finally! 😀 😀
After that we might explore northern Thailand, Vietnam, I definitely want to take Boy to the Philippines, and then we’ll see. The plan here is to have no plan. We’ll make it up as we go along, as most of the best kind of plans are.
But immigration and visa people will put a stop to that wanderlust bohemian nomad nonsense. So we are in the process of working our how we’ll do the Americas: North, Central & South, and Europe. We’re currently figuring out the process and let’s see. We might have to go pray at a temple for visa. We’ll go to Angkor Wat then. 😉
How Long is this Madness? 😱
This question along with similar ones like “will you settle down?”, “where will you settle down?” “don’t you have to plan for all that now?”, “when will you stop this and grow up?”, “when will you act like responsible adults?”, “what about mortgages and babies?”. Such questions we prioritize to put in one ear and out the other. Our trip could be a year, or 2 or 5 or more. We might hate travelling full time, or we might love it more than we ever imagined. Or some new opportunities might arise, we might find a quaint new country to call home for a while, or we might want to continue this madness, or we’ll could very well end up in Canada! Who knows what the future holds! And that’s the beauty of it.
Come along with us then, if you will. There will be traipsing through forests, endless walks through unknown roads, splashing in crystal waters, figuring out coffee tea culture in every place we go to, and omg breakfast food!, eating local goodies, playing with stray animals, making human friends, fighting over luggage, sleeping in airports, a lot of hours clocked behind our laptops, and then some more eating. And discovering new things about each other and ourselves. And learning new things. We’ll stop along the way to take photos and videos and write all about it. But mostly we’ll defy convention, smash all stereotypes, and live life on our own terms. And hopefully you’ll come along?
Phew! BIG BIG post. That was a lot to go through. If you made it this far, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Let me offer you a virtual glass of wine. I hope that helped shed some light on building a life of travel. I also hope it inspired you to make some badass plans for yourself. If you have any questions please ask away and I will answer them.
In the coming months I plan to share actionable steps on how exactly I got here and how you can do it too, plus some insider travel guides and deals, and lots of cool things. If you like, follow me on Facebook
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