Awhile ago, Australia launched a fabulous tourism campaign asking travelers and adventures to apply for The Best Job in the World! Not only did many people apply for the job, but millions around the world kept up with the campaign and many of us saw plugs on social media to vote for someone’s friend who was sending in his/her video for the post.Their pitch: “Ever dreamt of waking up on an island, surrounded by pristine beaches and an abundance of wildlife? Or spending your days swimming with dolphins and sea lions? If this sounds like your ideal role, then we want to hear from you!” The winner of South Australia’s Best Job in the World competition for the title of Wildlife Caretaker went to Greg Snell. As his time as Wildlife Caretaker comes to an end, Greg shares his story and the imagination and education he believes travel provides.
1.When did you get started traveling? Truly solo at 18, crossing Canada and moving from Ontario to British Columbia. This is where my ‘independent’ life really began and as I skipped university I was jumping right into the working world. I was immediately introduced to a bunch of amazing internationals with a wealth of travel knowledge and stories to share.
2.What made you decide make the jump to a location independent/travel-based existence? I have sort of fallen into this lifestyle. There wasn’t any one time or defining choice I made to live this lifestyle. I am actually still trying to figure it out. There is no real consistency and I often work long hours thinking up ways to continue living this way. I decided to study Adventure Tourism because the activities were what I liked to do and everything since then has been a natural progression to ultimately living a travel-based existence.
3.What benefits do you feel you get from this lifestyle? How do you handle the nay-sayers in your life? A huge benefit for me is the freedom of a travel-based lifestyle. I sometimes find it difficult to work under the supervision of others. One of the best parts of this life is being free to choose. I also love learning about things that interest me and truly believe that travel is an ongoing and intense education. Also a benefit of this lifestyle is meeting people from all over the world. There is so much love in this world and I thoroughly enjoy speaking with passionate people about their homes, their families, their religions, their fears, their addictions, and their purpose.
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? I am continually looking for ways to continue funding this lifestyle. It mostly comes from working abroad. I am a certified diving guide and have a solid resume within travel and tourism, which genuinely helps getting odd jobs. I often pick up work for 4-6 months at a time and then move on with that money saved, trying to take off at least 5 months per year. I have successfully done so for the last five years.
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? I currently choose my destinations based upon places that I want to see. Also, I go to the places that I do not see myself visiting in 20 years time. I often determine my length of stay based on size of the country, expenses, travel partners, job opportunities, etc. I try to look for local accommodations most often, home stays, friends of friends, couch-surfing, etc. If these avenues fail I will look into backpacker style of shared accommodations (if I’m not traveling with my girlfriend at the time).
6.How much money do you traditionally need annually to support this lifestyle? 15,000 USD.
7.How do you make money on the road and save for retirement? ‘Hahaha, retirement’? I am retired. I do this for fun. I make money through working, networking for photography contracts, writing gigs, guiding jobs, whatever really.
8.How do you handle visas, vaccinations, legal documents/passports, taxes and healthcare while living without a home base or an ever-changing one? I still use mom and dad’s address for most things. I haven’t lived there for over ten years, but they’re cool with it and it seems to work well as the go to ‘official’ address. I have renewed two Canadian passports abroad and usually just plan around that bureaucratic process. I have a good travel insurance provider and luckily have never needed to use it. I don’t get vaccinations or take pills, except for the odd antibiotics if I’m crook. East Africa and Asia have been stomach tests, but alas I have prevailed.
9.If you decide to settle somewhere – where and when do you think it will be? Not sure yet, but I’m leaning towards northeast Spain sometime within the next five to ten years.
10.What advice do you have for others trying to make the jump to a location independent/travel-heavy lifestyle? Follow your passions and pursue your dreams. As cheesy as it sounds, sometimes that’s exactly all it takes. Realize your strengths and act upon them. Save a chunk of money and hit the road, or leave with little and find work fast. Everything is possible and being confident of this fact is key. You are the captain of your own destiny.
11.In your experience, what have been the two most significant gifts of travel? International Education and Childlike Imagination.
To find out more about Greg and his travels after the best job in the world…follow his blog.