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 :D, 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 fully nomad, emptying out our apartment, packing our lives into a suitcase, and setting off to see the world, one city at a time.
Ever since we’ve known each other, we've known that we want to see as much of the world as possible. we realized some of our travels were 2 week vacations. 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 we didn't know anybody, it's 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 of 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.
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 travels; I actually plotted to Make. Them. Happen.
So 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 two sections. A. Working While on the Go. B. Getting your Finances in order
Working while on the go
As may 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. But the most exciting thing I did as a lawyer was work for startups. I worked remotely for a a little startup law firm in Canada. I came to know many cool people who were building cooler things. Coolest of all, was the lifestyle they chose for themselves: 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. This is where I came across the term “digital nomad’
Def of digital nomad.
One who derives income remotely and 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), it 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 the 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 see myself growing in it and honestly I didn’t see myself as a lawyer. So I started developing my dormant skills to find a career that I could love. Long story short, I discovered social media and writing, and worked 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. :D
We 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 offices might be a beachside café in Bali or a co-working space in Chiang Mai. We will be taking some time off to explore the city 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 for anyone to plan ahead. I’m very excited to say that I don’t 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 me to:
Getting your finances in order
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 Which means that we didn’t splurge on anything for the house. We literally just had a big dining table with a couple of chairs, a bed, a shelf, fridge, washing machine and basic kitchen equipment. We didn’t accumulate a lot of 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 a couch, 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 didn’t accumulate a lot of stuff, and yet cleaning out our apartment took a while. We sold whatever we could and gave away most of it. It's so freeing to be without stuff.
Everyone earns money to be able to live the life they want. 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.
When people hear about our travel plan, 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. 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 that were patriarchal and regressive. We also didn’t believe in throwing lavish three day fests for people who barely know us, or don’t even talk to us or know what's going on in our lives on a daily basis. We also especially didn’t want either of our parents to spend their savings on rubbish like wedding halls, and caterings and crap. 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. It is going to be unliveable in a while. 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 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 societies conventions like get married at this age, buy a car, then a house, then a kid, then another, and so on. So what I'm trying to say is, so 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. 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. Obviously my parents wouldn't hear off 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 ended up losing those tickets. So see you see, it has to be Bali. Finally.
After that we might explore northern Thailand, and 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 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 he process and let's see. We might have to go pray at a temple for visa. We'll go to Ankgor Wat then. ;)
How long is this madness?
this question and many similar ones like will you settle down, where will you settle doesn, you have to plan for all that now, when will you stop this and grow up, when will you act like rsponsible adults, what about mortgages and babies. such questions we priortize to put in one year and out the other. It could be a year, or 2 or 3 or more. We might hate travelling fulltime, or we might love it more than we ever imagined. Or something new oppurtunities might arise, we might find a quaint new country to call home for a while, or we might want to contue this madness, or we'll could very well in canada! Who knows! and that's the beauty of it.
Come along with us then, if you will. There will be endless walks through unknown roaads, spalsing in crstal waters, figuring out coffeee tea culture in every place we go to, eating local goodies, playing with strays, making friends, fighting over luggage, sleeping in airports, a lot of hours clocked inbehind our laptops, and some more eating. We'll stop along the way to take photos and videos and write about it. But mostly we'll defy convention, smash all setreotypes, and live life on our own term. And hopefully you'll come along?