Not all expats move to cut costs and living the expat life doesn’t have to mean living on the smell of an oily rag. Today’s interviewees have transformed their lives from management consultants slogging the 9 to 5 and longer, to internet marketing experts who have built themselves a digital empire and given themselves the lifestyle and freedom they’ve always wanted.

In 2013 Andrew and Daryl Grant left the Gold Coast, Australia to enjoy the benefits of Bangkok, taking their two pre-teen children into a new way of living that an online business gives them the freedom to pursue.

Today we discuss with them why they love Bangkok, how home schooling their children has provided them with a better education than they would have received in school, and they share some of the secrets of how they built their own online businesses.

You can get some great advice on starting your own online business from their website resources at www.ourinternetsecrets.com

What I learned from speaking with Andrew and Daryl:

  1. Although Bangkok has a pretty good transportation system the Grants have mastered the art of driving locally and purchased a car. It has enabled them to travel much further than the BTS system would allow them and they feel they’ve got to know the city much better for it.
  2. Bangkok is interesting in the sense that it acts like a series of villages. The way locals interact with each other – and the Grants – displays the sort of small town feel that a city of this size normally wouldn’t have
  3. Daryl feels incredibly safe there, more so than in Australia, and has no qualms about allowing her 15 and 13 year old to travel around the city on their own
  4. They have found by home schooling the kids they get the opportunity to offer them so much more than a standard curriculum. Travel among other things is a big part of their education and the children have enjoyed some unique experiences they would never get in the classroom.
  5. They shared some great advice for building an online business including choosing a niche that you can be the expert in, setting up a business with continuity where you can be paid over and over for your services, and be persistent if you want results

Check out this episode!

Many people we interview have life changing moments that serve as the catalyst to their new life abroad. For Dalene and Pete Heck it was a series of tragedies including the death of Pete’s mother and Dalene’s sister passing in her early 30’s that prompted the two Alberta, Canada natives that it was time to make the most of the time they had on this planet. They had been avid travelers during the holidays they had taken but their corporate jobs served as a restriction to the real time and energy they wanted to put in.

In 2009 they hit the road starting in Bolivia and covering much of South America. Since then they have built one of the world’s biggest travel brands and work with many media companies helping them use the travel environment and travel bloggers to build awareness online.

You can check out their journey (and Pete’s wonderful pictures) at http://www.hecktictravels.com

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What I learned from speaking with Dalene:

  1. It’s interesting how Pete and Dalene don’t get tied into doing things that might make them more money but they don’t enjoy. They are aware that building their online business and being a travel blogger is a long term journey and that they need to do what is their passion so it doesn’t become a chore.
  2. Like Nat and Jodie these guys are also a fan of Nomador for finding housesitting gigs. They find it more personable and easier to deal with than some of the larger sites where it is harder to get good housesitting gigs. Again it’s about building a reputation and once you have it things get easier.
  3. Travel is about people. Their experience with the locals in Roatan where they were eventually asked to become god-parents to one of the local villagers ? that’s the sort of special experience that money can’t buy. If you want to know more about Roatan check out our interview with Rika Purdey
  4. The world is not what the media portray. Dalene was very passionate about her experiences of countries, particularly Turkey, where the kindness of locals can be vastly different to the way the world is seen in the news. ( For more on Turkey check out Leonard Durso’s interview)

Check out this episode!

Trying to stay healthy on the road can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare ? you’re pushed for time, you’re in a strange environment with no common reference points or places to eat and you’re at your most vulnerable when energy levels get low and stress might get high.

Today’s guest is Karen Wojciechowski who knows first-hand the difficulties of taking care of yourself as an expat traveler. She’s left her native habitat in Perth Australia with her husband and after a stint in Canada is now living the digital nomad lifestyle in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she has established her website www.realenergyfood.com offering advice and consultation on healthy eating.

We caught up with Karen where she talks about her experiences as an expat traveler and shares with us 7 tips for taking good care of yourself while you are traveling.

You’ll find Karen’s Facebook group where you can share advice and get tips at https://www.facebook.com/groups/realenergyfood

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What I learned from Karen’s interview:

  1. Drink lots of water. This may seem simple but is probably most people’s biggest let down. It can help reduce hunger pains and keep dehydration at bay. Particularly important if you have just changed climates from cold to warm and your body is still adjusting
  2. Choose your meal. Determine when you will be naughty or overindulge and be good for the rest of the day around it. Also don’t think if you make an unhealthy start you might as well write the day off by continuing to eat badly. You can soon balance the day out again
  3. Bring your own snacks. This not only helps with costs (especially in more expensive countries) but gives you that most important element of all control. If you can control your snacks you will resist the urge to grab anything on the go
  4. It doesn’t have to be long but just do something. Walking a new city you are in is not just a great way to see it but to get that exercise in. Karen has a step counter and can easily manage 30,000 strides while looking around. Keep your exercise shoes packed to make it easier and look out for some of those great 7 minute exercise apps that are available, and check out free fitness classes in new towns which might present different cultural experiences.
  5. Do meditation. This can help rebalance and destress you. Even just a few minutes helps. There are always travel downtime waiting for transport etc when you can manage a quick meditation. Again there are great apps that can help.
  6. Google healthy eating options before you go. It’s better to go armed with information that again gives you control then arriving uninformed and going in an unhealthy direction. Ask the locals who can also help you out when you arrive.
  7. Make health a priority. If you don’t focus on eating well and exercising each day it can soon get out of hand. If you make it a priority you have a better chance of getting the results you want and enjoying your travels more.

Check out this episode!

Shawna Sharee was first inspired to live a wandering lifestyle when she read the book Eat, Pray, Love. Like many she dreamed of travel but thought she needed a lot of money to do it.

It wasn’t until she joined an online program for woman entrepreneurs that she discovered there were others living the life she wanted ? and it was the motivation to change her own life. Despite a pay raise that threatened to tempt her away from her dream she set herself the task of ending a toxic relationship and visiting the world. Starting with no plan in mind (and still largely flying by the seat of her pants) she has journeyed through France and the Middle East to her current location of Chiang Mai Thailand where she has embraced the true digital lifestyle of the area.

We caught up with Shawna to discuss the impact the people she surrounded herself with have had on her decision and how positive thinking has allowed her to overcome any hurdles she encounters

You can follow her blog at www.shawnasharee.com and get her travel tips and hints at www.curioushappyfree.com

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What I learned from this interview:

  1. I loved Shawna’s saying that smiling is a universal language. Like many others we have spoken with she has been delighted by the kindness of strangers and it’s a timely reminder that everyone is an individual with a desire to be liked.
  2. Skyscanner is a favorite booking site for Shawna and we love it too. It gives you the flexibility to choose the cheapest flights to any location and on any date that most other sites don’t offer.
  3. You don’t need to commit long term to a place until you’ve tried it. Short term accommodation through AirBNB or Couchsurfing can be had and, although short term rentals can be dearer it will often give you the lay of the land before you commit
  4. Shawna is a great lesson in surrounding yourself with positive influences. She draws on so many mentors and coaches to provide her with the strength and belief to follow her dreams and it’s true that your journey is directly related to who you spend the most time with. She is a great believer in things working out so far they have!

Check out this episode!

 

Katya Sarmiento’s time in college certainly gave her a well-rounded education. She embarked on a number of options including air traffic control before realizing a life of travel and entrepreneurship was her true passion. She dropped out of college, quit her part-time job and started her own online business intent on building her future.

Through online contacts and Facebook groups she built relationships and helped others. In return they offered her a place to stay when she visited. She soon realized that the sharing world of digital entrepreneurs not only provided her with knowledge and friendship but new places to call home.

She now spends most of her time traversing America attending events and hooking up with her digital buddies. Her accommodation is largely free and she gets to experience new locations like a local.

We interviewed Katya back home in Miami over the holidays where we discussed her decision to leave traditional education, what life is like as a “digital homeless” and how we need to learn to accept the generosity of others or risk depriving them of the feelings of helping a fellow human.

You can find out more and check out Katya’s free online resources at her website http://www.reachandmakemillions.com

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What I learned from Katya:

  1. We forget that not accepting the generosity of others is taking away from their experience. In many cultures it is considered rude not to accept a gift of help or generosity yet we are often brought up to believe accepting help or charity is wrong. This is not the case.
  2. It’s important to understand that accepting without giving is not the answer. Katya built a network of online contacts happy to accommodate her not because she asked first but because she reached out and provided value from which offers then came. Sometimes value isn’t always exchanged directly but can come about by paying forward the generosity of others.
  3. The secret to building online success is still about connections. Even though being online can be seen as less personal than face to face the secret to any business is still the network of contacts and friends you can genuinely build
  4. Katya has benefitted from joining Facebook groups which create a real community and allow members to communicate far easier than normally social media channels. Linked In groups have also helped.

Check out this episode!

Living an Expat lifestyle and leaving the 9 to 5 routine doesn’t necessarily meaning not exploring your own country as part of the journey. For Alabama native Kyle Brady and his partner Olivia Gould their old lives left them feeling trapped and not going anywhere. They had a desire to see more of their own country – Olivia hadn’t even seen a mountain prior to going!

The couple started their planning in September 2014 and after 12 months of downsizing and saving up (they set aside $300 per week by, amongst other things, not eating out) they hit the road with their renovated 16 foot RV and haven’t looked back. As Olivia rightly said, “Why live somewhere when you can live everywhere!”

We caught up with them at Slab City California where they detailed the process of their planning and preparation and how their Etsy store is able to provide them with enough income to sustain their monthly journey.

You can follow their blog at www.drivinandvibin.com and check out their Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheWoodenEarth

Olivia and River Rv camping RV

What I learned from Kyle and Olivia’s interview:

  1. Having a vision board (this worked for John and Monika Mundell as well) is a great way to focus on the outcome you want and can be a wonderful reminder when things get tough as to why you are saving money or throwing out that old dress you used to love. It helped having the extra incentive of a free pizza from their friends but is an exercise worth doing yourselves.
  2. You can RV with a dog. Although they are restricted from taking their pet into national parks they can generally find somewhere that will mind him for the day while they head off on a trip
  3. Check out Etsy as an option for funding your new lifestyle. Like Micah and Jenna Kvidt these guys have found the online world can help fund their lifestyle – in fact the $2000 per month they are making will cover their total costs.
  4. If looking to go the Rv route there is a wealth of online information available to help you and Kyle and Olivia have found a supportive network on the road as well. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when others have the answers for you
  5. You can work RVing to your budget. These guys spend mostly on camping and food however there are places you can camp for free and they are self-sufficient with cooking. They can slow the speed of travel to save on gas.
  6. You don’t have to leave the country to enjoy an expat lifestyle. Like Chuck and Lori Ros and Heath Padgett Kyle and Olivia have learned to appreciate what their own country has to offer. Every country is an expat community to somebody!

Check out this episode!

Steven Courtney was no experienced traveler. In fact the 22 year old hadn’t even known what a youth hostel was when he made his first trip across the US on a work trip. He discovered a whole new world of multiple languages and adventure that he had to be part of.

From that point forward the standard two week holiday was spent experiencing the world but limited time wasn’t enough and he knew he needed more.

4 years ago he took the plunge to becoming a fulltime traveler and hasn’t looked back. You’ll enjoy this interview with Steven – his passion hasn’t diminished from his time on the road – in fact he is more amazed and curious the longer he travels.

Steven shares his journeys via periscope and you can check him out there at http://www.perisearch.net/user/Travel_Visions or http://www.perisearch.net/user/Guyz_TV

 Steven Courtney - Travel Visions Steven Courtney - Travel Visions

What I learned from Steven:

  1. Working part of the year is often enough to fund the rest of the years travels. Like Brendan Lee and Tomislav Perko Steven was able to fund a good period of the year (9 months) from just 3 months of working in Australia
  2. If you’re looking for somewhere different to visit check out Tonga. As Steven says it often appears on lists as one of the least visited countries in the world but he has had one of his most magical experiences there. The people are friendly and you can experience the sort of lifestyle unlike what you might find elsewhere.
  3. Don’t dismiss traveling alone as an option. Many people told Steven to try it this way before he left and he was initially reluctant but loves the flexibility it affords him. There are pluses and minuses of traveling alone or with others and you need to find what works for you.
  4. Steven’s method of travel has evolved as he has gone on. Initially moving constantly he has now settled into a system where he will base himself in a hub and go out for journeys from there, returning to the hub when required. This gives him more of a base, some familiarity and reduces the need to cart everything with him every couple of days.

Check out this episode!

If you’re a stressed out business owner working 60-80 hour weeks and dreaming of a life of travel take heart – so was Nicole Connolly. The former Brisbanite ran a successful business but like many we interview, she felt something was missing from her life – mainly travel and the freedom to enjoy herself.

She set out 4 years ago on an adventure with her husband Mike, initially relying on savings but soon built herself an online business helping others – firstly with their social media, but more recently teaching others to build a successful online business like the one she now has.

We caught up with Nicole in the Bahamas where she shares her journey and provides the step by step process to starting an online business yourself.

You can check out Nicole’s story at www.suitcasestories.com or find out how to build your own online business at http://quitthecubicle.co/details

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What I learned from Nicole:

  1. Imagine the worst that can happen and if you can handle it then go ahead! In Nicole’s case she always believed that if the travel lifestyle didn’t work out she could always head for home again
  2. You don’t need higher education to be successful. Nicole is proof of that having left secondary school after only two years. She has taught herself through course and learnings what she needs to know rather than relying on “recognized” education.
  3. It’s important to set your goals before deciding what business is right for you. Do you want to be location independent? Is the money important or the lifestyle? Making these decisions can help avoid pain later if you’ve gone down a path that doesn’t match your objectives.

Check out this episode!

Many of our interviewees have become accidental permanent nomads, starting off on a gap year with no plans then deciding to become a fulltime traveler. The next issue is always then income – how to fund the new lifestyle in place.

Chris Stevens had completed a degree on photography back in England before he decided to head away. While traveling through Australia he met up with a guy who had built a successful travel blog who showed Chris how he could build his own online business. He had already trained as a surf instructor and had been earning an income doing that while traveling around. With the benefit of his photography training, surfing instructions and his new established blog Chris was soon able to sustain himself in a variety of ways on the road.

We caught up with him in Vietnam where he shared his story of travel, how he measures his costs and the different ways he can make a living while on the road.

You’ll find Chris at http://www.epicgapyear.com   http://www.backpackerbanter.com

Chris Stevens - Backpacker Banter Chris Stevens - Backpacker Banter

What I learned from talking to Chris:

  1. Be cheeky. Chris has established some good brand relationships just by asking, which can not only provide an income source but some free travel opportunities as well. As he says they can only say no.
  2. He is meticulous in measuring costs and like Norbert Figueroa uses the Trail Wallet app to measure expenses. He manages to balance out costs between two of his more favored destinations – Asia and Australia. His costs for 2014 averaged out at $US9000 for the year ignoring airfares but even with flights he can generally stay under $US40 per day which is his target.
  3. Having multiple bank accounts and payment options is important as is diversifying his income. Chris has both British and Australian bank accounts meaning he’s not vulnerable or reliant on one place. He’s not a big fan of credit cards but receives a lot of his online income via Paypal which he can then transfer to a debit cash card for use abroad. Americans traveling can take advantage of having a Charles Schwab account which makes travel easier.
  4. If setting up a travel blog be patient. You don’t always get immediate results and unfortunately many throw the towel in before things start to kick in.

Check out this episode!

You’ll love today’s interview with Stephenie and Tony Harrison. In 2013 these guys hit the road for an undetermined length of time relying on savings they had made during the previous 3 years. (Tony had been a graphic designer while Stephenie was completing research for her degree in neuroscience). 12 months into their journey they knew they wanted to travel fulltime – Tony could pick up work doing graphics and designing websites but what could Stephenie do?

Recognizing her skills in research they discovered an opportunity in Google adwords and Stephenie has now firmly established an online business that she never could have imagined when they left. As she loves to say – you don’t need to see the whole staircase to climb the stairs!

You can find out more about their adventures and online businesses via their website http://www.20yearshence.com

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What I learned from speaking with Tony and Stephenie:

  1. You don’t need your income in place when you leave. These guys didn’t even know how long they would go for – but once they decided they needed money they approached it in a very pragmatic fashion. Much like Stacey Kuyf these guys have been willing to make up the income as they go along.
  2. Going home to cement their future was important. They were disciplined enough to return state side to build up their business before leaving again…and they set some very clear income and timeframe goals as to what and when they needed it by. Had they stayed on the road the process of building their business may have taken longer and been more expensive.
  3. They told everyone their plans. It’s easy to be quiet in case you fail but by letting others know what you want to do means opportunities open up – as happened with Google adwords.
  4. Traveling with pets needn’t be a hassle. They have found crossing into Mexico relatively easy. They secured a health certificate for both dogs before going and although they may occasionally pay a little more in rent because of animals, the costs of good quality vet care, which is easy to find, is as little as 1/3 to ¼ of what they would pay in the U.S.
  5. You can find affordable parts of Playa del Carmen – their rent of $US480 per month include utilities and internet for a one bedroom apartment near the ocean…and at $US13 per day to have two meals per day out life isn’t so bad!
  6. I loved Stephenie’s saying about learning to value her happiness. Sometimes you can be made to feel guilty for doing what you love. It’s a timely reminder that we are all here to enjoy life while we have it.

Check out this episode!