Wanderlust. I've always felt it, but I've been feeling it lately. Do you know what I mean? It started on Valentine's Day during a conversation with my boyfriend over grilled cheese sandwiches on the patio - something to the effect of "...I can see myself living in another country..." Then, a job interview really got me thinking about the importance of flexibility in the workplace and the possibility of a location-independent lifestyle. And finally, the straw that broke the camel's back: a marathon day of conference calls.
Conference calls are the bane of my existence. Maybe it's just me, and maybe it's just the calls I'm on - but I tend to zone out and let my mind wonder (there is a reason I'm on level 840 in Candy Crush). Plus, the call before the call, the actual call, the call about the call, and ohmygod. How does anything get done if you're spending all your time talking about how to do it all the time?
On this particular day, I had (for lack of a better word) an epiphany of sorts. Is this what it's going to be like day in and day out in my office, standing at my VariDesk (which, btw, is pretty cool), dialing in to conference calls, stuck somewhere in middle management, bored out of my mind???? Generally speaking, my job is perfectly fine - I work with decent people, I can do whatever I want without much question, I have a ton of vacation and sick time, great benefits, decent pay, but I stare out the window in my office and know there has to be more! The conversation I had with my boyfriend the week before must have been boiling on a back burner somewhere in my brain, because I could not stop thinking about living in another country. Could. Not. Stop. I've been fortunate to have done a fair amount of traveling up to this point, but I'd never actually thought about living elsewhere, let alone in another country.
I had to find out everything. Right then I fully immersed myself into reading travel blogs, reading articles about international living, learning, absorbing, trip planning, thinking, dreaming. I reached out to a person from high school who, after going to Yale and kicking ass in academia, now lives on a tiny island in Malaysia and SCUBA dives for a living (#jealous). Her advice: The hardest part is to decide to do it. Everything after that is easy. That really resonated with me. It seems so simple. But, in true Kristi fashion, I complicated the hell out of it. Every question I answered led to 10,000 more questions. All of my questions ultimately boiled down to HOW can I make this happen?
|This is my brain.|
How the hell do I quit my job to travel? Do people even do that??? (Yes, they do.) What about my family? What about my friends? (Of the few I've mentioned this to, one said DO IT, and the rest probably think I'm just venting about my job and issues with my life. That may very well be true, but I'm still figuring that out too. My mom thinks I'm crazy.) What about my boyfriend? Hopefully he would come with me, but does he really want to? He's not as obsessed with this as I am, but I can be pretty persuasive. :)
How can I afford to travel? How will I keep paying my bills if I'm not working and I'm galavanting around the world? What about my condo? My car? My student loans? My credit cards? I would have to sell everything, including the condo, to pay off my debt completely and have a nice cushion for travel and living expenses, especially if I cannot work while abroad. Selling all my "stuff" is fine - I kind of want to do that anyway. However, I am really hung up on selling the condo. Like, REALLY hung up on it. Maybe I'll start a Kickstarter or a GoFundMe....
How will I generate money while traveling? How do I get a work permit and what are the restrictions around the world? Can I keep my job and work remotely? Do I want to do that? Initially I thought I would be a travel blogger, a SCUBA instructor, teach yoga on the beach, and/or sell real estate. Duh! It's so simple! Well, not exactly. After some research, doing those things are possible but definitely not easy in any sense of the word. None pay that well, it's ultra competitive, there are issues with work visas, etc. Not to mention I would have to 1a) figure out where to take my upper level SCUBA certifications [in the US or where I plan on diving/working], 1b) I'm NAUI certified, and it seems like the rest of the world is PADI, so I have to figure out the equivalency; 2a) after a 2 year hiatus start going to yoga again, 2b) figure out where to become a yoga instructor [in the US, or where I plan to become a yogi]; 3) figure out how to sell RE internationally [I'm not sure if my license allows that].
Oh, and travel blogging is not for the faint of heart. I thought it would be so easy to find sponsors and get paid to travel and to do all the fun things in a destination in exchange for writing about it on the blog. Apparently that's a big No. Yes, some travel bloggers are making money and being paid to travel, but they're all busting their asses out there to varying degrees of success. Am I up for the hustle?
Other options include keeping my job but working remotely, which is highly dependent on my boss allowing me to do that and the type of internet connection/VPN situation I would have. Also, teaching English abroad, but that comes with more schooling, staying in one location for about 15 months, etc. More research is needed!
How long should I travel? Should I just pick up and go, or take a "test trip" first? Should I stay in one place or move around? Where should I go? What's the best place for ex-pats? When should I leave? What about Visa runs? Do I need to learn another language? I have enough airline miles for a flight anywhere, so that's good. But the season, cost of living/traveling in the destination, cost of activities, etc. all play a big factor in when and where to go. With the proper amount of funding, I think I could cover the whole world in 5 years. Do I want to be gone that long? I've never been to the places I'm dreaming of - Thailand, Honduras, Mabul, Bali, Costa Rica, Ecuador. I'm still working through the "test run" vs. just going, and living vs. traveling scenarios. Visa runs are inevitable and some countries are easier/less strict/have fewer restrictions than others. More research is needed! Twelve years later, I am still kicking myself for not paying attention in Spanish class in high school. #badmove
There are a ton of places I haven't seen in the US - Alaska, Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, the Redwood Forest, the Sequoias, Seattle [April 2015], Portland, OR or Portland, ME, Boston, Hilton Head, Miami, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Old Faithful, Memphis, Nashville, Philadelphia, Graceland, Area 51, 14 Hands Vineyard, LaCrosse, WI, the leaves changing on the East Coast, and the list goes on. Should I see my own country first before I set out across the world?
My brain is swirling - so much to think about and much more research to do. In the meantime, I'll be trudging somewhere through middle management, updating my blog, chiseling away at my debt, planning fake trips, and hunting for cheap airfare. It's sleeting in Dallas right now - my least favorite type of precipitation. All I can do is hope for #thundersleet to keep things interesting around here. Laying on the beach in Thailand seems so much better, and I've never even been there.
Wanderlust: it's a hell of a thing.
I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts, especially if you:
- live or have lived abroad.
- travel or have traveled extensively abroad.
- have quit or are thinking about quitting your job to travel.
- have a location independent lifestyle, and what kind of job you have (and how can I get one too!)
- have thought about quitting your job to travel but decided not to.
- have sold all your belongings, including a house, to fund traveling.
- are a travel blogger.
- have recommendations and/or suggestions on where to go and when to go there.
- have gone from a NAUI to PADI SCUBA certification.
- can hook a girl up SCUBA diving, anywhere in the world, either a job or fun diving.
- would donate to a GoFundMe campaign top send me/us around the world.
Check out my blog roll to find all the travel blogs I'm reading!