Interview: Shane Dallas: The Travel Camel

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The Travel Camel in front of Mt Baba Tangi in Afghanistan.

The Travel Camel in front of Mt Baba Tangi in Afghanistan.

Shane Dallas is a world traveler and public speaker. You can hear his voice on The Travel Show on the radio in Dubai or catch one of his many presentations somewhere on land or at sea. Spending much of his time between the Middle East, Asia and Africa, Shane has captivated audiences around the world with his vast knowledge of travel. Connecting over social media has given us a chance to chat about travel, living that unconventional lifestyle and finding happiness on the road. He told me that ‘uncertainty is liberating’ and it is obvious that he has found joy in his choices and his travels. Here he shares some of his wisdom from the road.

1. When did you get started traveling? As a boy in Australia our family traveled between the city of my mother’s relatives (Adelaide) and my father’s relatives (Melbourne) by plane, car and train so that gave me a taste for moving around. The first overseas trip was to New Zealand when I was 22, but my first large solo excursion was to drive around Australia at the age of 24. I wanted to ensure that I saw my own country prior to exploring at length the rest of the world. My first serious overseas journey was just after I turned 27 when I spent nearly 12 months in Europe.

2. What made you decide make the jump to a location independent/travel-based existence? It was not intentional. I was given a redundancy package from my previous government job of 12 years in Australia with the intention of resettling in the Middle East. Due to not being able to find work immediately, I kept traveling and the more I traveled, the more the idea of working for someone else in an office became less and less appealing. Eventually, I started being offered free travel due to speaking at conferences and media trips. Such a lifestyle meant that I didn’t stay in one place for long. I don’t have a home. Even though Dubai is my base, I’m always staying at different hotels and apartments whilst there.

3. What benefits do you feel you get from this lifestyle? How do you handle the nay-sayers in your life? Every day is an adventure. I’m able to explore and experience far more of the world than in an office job and only taking two, four or even six weeks of holidays each year. Nobody has told me that I couldn’t live this lifestyle. I’m a very driven and positive person, so telling me something cannot be done (especially without strong logical reasons) is going to be forgotten. I remember a few months ago staring out of the plane window as my flight came to land in Dubai after a conference speaking engagement and I smiled whilst thinking “I have a sensational life”. I now travel on one overseas trip every month (most are provided but some I still pay for). It has opened a whole world of opportunities for me, far more than if I had stayed in Australia or chosen to remain in only one place.

4. How did you save money to be able to afford living ‘on the road’/traveling often? How long did it take you to make the jump to a location independent/travel-based life? Saving money was in the form of a redundancy package. From the time I left Australia, I reckon it took me around 500 days to jump to a location independent/travel-based life.

Camel Trek - near Rang-kul, Tajikistan

Camel Trek – near Rang-kul, Tajikistan

5. How do you choose your destinations and for how long you’ll stay? What type of accommodations do you typically choose? Are there any specific resources you recommend? If I’m staying in a place for more than a week and the price allows, I’ll choose an apartment. Shorter term is usually a hotel, and I’m an upper budget to lower mid-range accommodation seeker. I always stay in private rooms with ensuite – not those at backpacker hostels because they usually offer less value for money than similar accommodation (such as budget hotels) that target the local market. I use third party website such as Agoda and Booking.com, but in some places it is cheaper to go directly to the hotel and negotiate your own rate. Recommendations from fellow travelers are always very welcome. How long I stay depends on my work and the cost of living. If the cost of living is cheap I stay longer, if it is more expensive I move once my work has concluded.

6. How much money do you traditionally need annually to support this lifestyle? I have absolutely no idea. I obtain a good portion of free travel due to my blogging and social media work or to speak at conferences, so any figure I provide would not factor in what is provided to me at no cost, and I don’t know the value of what is provided to me in terms of free flights, transport or accommodation anyway.

7. How do you make money on the road and save for retirement? I have a rare talent (especially amongst travel bloggers) in that I’m a very experienced public speaker. I commenced public speaking seriously in 1990, though I was public speaking even before that time. Due to these skills I earn an income through training people in public speaking and social media in addition to speaking fees for speeches at conferences or other events. I have sold a few photos and am currently looking into obtaining other revenue sources. At this stage I don’t save for my retirement. One benefit I do have is that I receive a small pension from my superannuation fund I contributed to during my government employment in Australia. It’s definitely not enough to survive off of in places such as Europe, but it is very handy when I have a long period without receiving income from other s0urces.

Old City of Sana'a - Yemen

Old City of Sana’a – Yemen

8. How do you handle visas, vaccinations, legal documents/passports, taxes and healthcare while living without a home base or an ever-changing one? Long term travel affects each of these differently. Once you are traveling for more than six months, then obtaining visas is just as easy on the road, otherwise you could be told to apply in your home country. There are cases when applying on the road will not work, but I haven’t faced them yet. Vaccinations and passports pose no problems at all, and since I am now based in Dubai, there is no income tax. I take out health insurance with World Nomads and it works for me.

9. If you decide to settle somewhere – where and when do you think it will be? The place I’m most likely to settle is Dubai – it’s an incredible city and in the centre of my favourite traveling destinations – Africa, Asia and Europe. Plus, the Middle East is my favourite region. I’m unsure when that will occur, it could be months or even years away.

10. What advice do you have for others trying to make the jump to a location independent/ travel-heavy lifestyle? Highly advisable to have a job or skill that does not require you to be in an office or the same specific physical location on a regular basis. Best suited to location-independent lifestyle are those that can complete the vast majority of their work from behind a computer in their own home or anywhere else they choose. Since my work revolves around travel writing and photography, travel for me is now work, so the world is now my office. My training work means I need to be in Dubai for approximately one-two months of the year, but the rest of the time is free for me to be where I want to be. Before you make the move to a location-independent/travel-heavy lifestyle, have money behind you and no pressing financial commitments. Ensure that you can deal with uncertainty, are adaptable to different environments, and that you are flexible enough to accept any work or travel offers and move at very short notice. If you fulfill these criteria, than please step forth into the unknown – it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Las Geel - Somaliland

Las Geel – Somaliland

For more details on Shane’s travel encounters around the world, check out his website.

Remembering a Rosh Hashanah on the Road

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It was a new synagogue, a Rabbi from Brooklyn and people who spoke in various languages that I can remember. It’s friendly faces, foreign tongues, and seats in a separate section high above those below that flash through my memory on this holiday. The challah tasted just as delicious, the greetings were the same and the kindness palpable when we all entered into the New Year together…in Berlin.

At the Berlin Wall-2009

Five years ago, Mathew and I spent Rosh Hashanah in Berlin. It was my first high holiday experience ever spent away from home and the expectations were uncertain. We knew we’d find a way to celebrate, but the outcome was unknown. What transpired is a holiday that won’t soon be forgotten and the feelings of a community with outstretched arms welcoming in weary travelers and locals alike. What we thought would be a ‘Rosh Hashanah in a bag’ travel style celebration became one centered around holiday, a challah hand delivered by a Chabad Rabbi and services in a beautiful temple surrounded by people doing exactly the same thing. Read the rest of this entry

Travel…an eye-opening mindset

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Zebras in Tanzania

Zebras in Tanzania

Travel has been an eye opener for me. Growing up in Long Island, New York I saw minimal diversity in my community. I was lucky enough to get to go on holidays with family throughout my childhood. We took beach holidays to Montauk, trips to Washington DC, annual visits to Disneyworld and a few jaunts to Caribbean islands or other parts of the United States. It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in university and decided to go on a three-week trip to Israel that I started to realize so many other benefits of travel. I certainly wasn’t traveling for the point of an actual education but without question, that’s what I got. I was bitten. Read the rest of this entry

Making the leap…A traveler’s interview with Ellen Barone

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When I resigned from teaching in January I got a lot of mixed reactions. There were those who were happy for me, knowing I was following a passion while many couldn’t believe I could give up the security of a salaried profession that comes with health insurance. I know the leap is right, as I haven’t looked back, but knowing there are others who have done the same and are happy, fulfilled and successful helps too. That’s how I met Ellen Barone. On her webiste she says that”…at the age of 35, with no qualifications other than a traveler’s eye and a knack for telling a tale, [she would] trade teaching and mathematics for writing and photography. In 1998, I took the plunge, and did what many of us dream of doing: I traded a successful academic career for the wild blue yonder and set out to explore the world and myself.” Hearing about her book and story made me want to reach out and connect. Here she tells a bit of her story and what she believes to be the gifts of travel.

American travel journalist Ellen Barone and her husband, Hank, an action/adventure novelist, have been temporarily inhabiting Latin America since 2011. Learning to live a different kind of life, they’ve traded routine and security for the daily challenges and joys of life in another culture. At work on her first book, I Could Live Here, a memoir of home and belonging, Ellen unravels the question they’ve grappled with throughout their nomadic adventures: How can we feel rooted, deeply and firmly, no matter where we live? Read the rest of this entry

What I learned in the Maldives

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Stacey & Mat @ Kurumba, Maldives

“Perfect!” That’s how we both respond each time someone asks about our stay in Kurumba, Maldives. It’s rare to use that word in so many things in life from ‘how was your day?’ to ‘how’s your marriage’ and I can count on one hand how many times we’ve used it in our travels…but this one, this one was perfect! From the minute we were escorted onto the Kurumba boat at the airport to the minute we stepped foot on it again at the dock for our return; it was spectacular! Read the rest of this entry

Interview with Teacher Diane-former student, soccer phenom and world traveler

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hiking in ecuador

Diane hiking in Ecuador

Another former student of mine has embraced the world of travel, location independence and global citizenship. In her youth,  she was my 11th grade student, a soccer phenom and president of SADD while I was the advisor. As the president of SADD, we spent many hours after school organizing activities and volunteering with heaps of other students, adults and organizations. As many who graduate high school and enter university and then the workforce, Diane took opportunities afforded to her to see the world at an early age. Finding just as much joy in the world outside of the town in which she grew up as she did when she resided there, she took off to see cultures far from her own and live outside her comfort zone. Recently, thanks to social media, we reconnected, and discovered a shared love of travel! Here she shares her story of what she believes to be the gifts of travel. Read the rest of this entry

Turning 40…Celebrating in the Maldives!

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Turning 40 on the Indian Ocean

Turning 40 on the Indian Ocean

I can’t believe it…I’m 40. My mom used to say that she couldn’t see what her life would be like past 25. And now, I’m 40. I can remember the excitement of 13, 18 and 21, the tears at 20 when I was no longer a teenager and the freak-outs that came with the realization that I was 30-how old! And now this? Strange though it may seem, I’m not as concerned as I was at 20 or 30. Now, I feel lucky…lucky to have made it to this time in my life and finally, actually able to feel comfortable in my own skin. But let’s face it, to the majority of the population with whom I’ve spent my life working…I’m old! I know, I know, 40 is the new 30, right? Now I look at the 70-year old couple holding hands on the boardwalk and smile hoping that I get to experience that one day. And I sit in amazement at the grandparents I know who are enjoying life at the age of 100. Truly, age is really just a number. I think this is the first birthday that made me start to think about that. Reflective and happy…..this is a special year and I’m so very excited to be spending it enjoying white sand, crystal clear blue of the Indian Ocean and paradise in a beach bungalow in the Maldives! Read the rest of this entry

Thank you, Summer!

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I Love Summer!

I Love Summer!

For this beach girl, summer is my all time favourite season. I spent one entire year following the sun and given the choice it would be summer, always. On this day, the unofficial ending of the summer season, countless flock to the sand to experience one last hurrah. While those of us who live here know that the season continues well past Labor Day; this weekend we say goodbye to the lifeguards, those bright orange lifeguard stands and my favourite two months of the year. Seasons change and life goes on, but for me, summer is a constant and the joy it brings lasts me through three other seasons. If I can’t find it in New York, most of the time you’ll find me searching for the sunshine on other shores. Thank you, Summer. Thank you for the continual smile on my face and the happy wiggles for my toes. Read the rest of this entry

Reflections of a College Student: Abroad in Ghana, Africa

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For sixteen years I spent each weekday from September through June surrounded by two-thousand teenagers. They sat in my classroom, worked with me on extracurricular activities, planned events, volunteered, did community outreach and we learned from each other. As a teacher, there are many students whose lives intersect with yours during their tenure of high school and once they graduate and spread their wings you’re lucky if that contact is still present. With the advent of social media more and more graduates are able to choose to connect with their teachers. For some it’s to say thank you, for some it’s to ask for advice or recommendations and for others its merely to maintain that connection that started in their youth. I was the class advisor for the graduating class of 2012 and it was in their sophomore year when I left to travel the world and live in Australia for awhile. Those who were interested in travel wanted to know more about my journey. Social media and that travel gene has connected me with many former students and I’m always interested to see where life has taken them after high school.  It was that travel connection that brought Maddie Reilly and me back together. A close friend of one of my officers, she spread her university wings farther than many of her peers by taking a university program abroad in Ghana, Africa. When I saw her at this past high school graduation, she was excited to start planning her next adventure to wherever the wind would take her. Here, she reflects on her journey and shares her views of the gifts of travel.

Interview with: Maddie Reilly, Farmingdale, NY

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Farmingdale alum, traveler-Maddie Reilly

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Interview: Wagoners Abroad

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Travelers always seem to find other travelers one way or another. Sometimes you meet your best friend in the hostel lobby searching for wifi. Other times they find that they’re two travel happy folks living in close proximity to one another and would love to take off on new adventures. The Wagoners met abroad but actually lived close by to one another. They ditched their home towns on the west coast and made a move to North Carolina early in their marriage. Now with two kids in tow, they’ve set off on a new adventure abroad. Immersing their children in the cultures of Spain and now Southeast Asia, they’ve all learned to enjoy being outside of their comfort zone and see the world first-hand. Here they share their story and what they think are the ‘gifts of travel’.

Wagoners Abroad  See, Austria

Austria

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