The community of worldwide travelers grows by leaps and bounds each day. The more I look, the more I find people switching gears and jumping into a travel-centered life, figuring out how to make those dreams into a reality that works for them. Sam and Zab are two of those travelers. While I may have only ‘met’ them in the digital world, I can imagine our actual footprints will cross one day too. Here they share their story and what they believe to be the gifts of travel.
1.When did you get started traveling? I was lucky enough to be taken on trips abroad with my family as young a child, and in fact had traveled to various places around Europe, North America, Australia and Japan before I was 18. Zab also traveled to visit members of his family around Europe when he was growing up, and later when he was working, often travelled for his job. My first trip on my own was when I was 23. I flew to South East Asia and made my way back to London overland through China and Russia. When we traveled to South America together last year, it was the first time we’d both been to that part of the world.
2.What made you decide make the jump to a location independent/travel-based existence? We knew we didn’t want to live in London (a city we firmly believe is a great place to visit but a terrible place to live) for the rest of our lives and that there are still so many places we want to see and experience. Zab had worked hard, usually for other people, for almost twenty years without any breaks longer than a couple of weeks and he was ready for a change.
3.What benefits do you feel you get from this lifestyle? How do you handle the nay-sayers in your life? We’re both very lucky in that we don’t really have any ‘nay-sayers’ in our lives, at least not among the people we care about. My policy, otherwise, is to generally ignore them and live my life as I want to. Not caring about what other people think of me has improved my life dramatically.
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? After my first solo trip at age 23, I was more or less already living a travel-intensive lifestyle. I had been teaching English as a foreign language around Europe (mostly in Austria) and traveled often in my time off. It took us almost four more years to be able to travel together as much as we wanted to, as Zab was working incredibly long hours for his family business, but, at the beginning of 2013 we finally managed it!
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? The main things we look for in a destination are culture, food and good weather, so these factors largely determine where we choose to travel. While we like spending time in nature and in remote places, we are much more city people, and like to spend the majority of our time in places with access to cool things to do, good vegan food and reliable wifi! We also like to stay put in one city for a couple of weeks or a month, then travel for a few weeks before settling again in another city. This means, we generally prefer to rent apartments as we travel as we like to have our own kitchen, a decent internet connection and space to host guests whenever possible. Of course, Airbnb is a good option for this, especially if you try negotiating the price of a longer stay with the owner, but websites that specialize in short term sublets in particular cities, for example, usually always work our cheaper. For example, we recently used WG-Gesucht to sublet a place in Berlin while we were looking for a place of our own to live, which worked out about half the price of an equivalent apartment in Airbnb.
6.How much money do you traditionally need annually to support this lifestyle? On average, we spend around £1400 per month for both of us on everything, so that works out to £16,800 ($28,240) annually. Of course, there will be months when this is much lower if our expenses are being covered by work, staying with friends or family or staying put in one place, and there will also be months when this is much higher. Until recently, we actually reported all of our spending every month on our blog, if you’re interested in seeing exact numbers!
7.How do you make money on the road and save for retirement? Zab works as a freelance database developer, a job which is fully mobile, so he can make money from wherever we are, as long as he has an internet connection. I am still teaching English occasionally (again in Austria) and I also make a little bit of money through advertising on our site. As for retirement, that’s not something we are focusing on at the moment, but in the future we plan to invest (probably in property) to have some income for when we don’t want to work as much.
8.How do you handle visas, vaccinations, legal documents/passports, taxes and healthcare while living without a home base or an ever-changing one? When we traveled in South America last year, we didn’t need any visas at all, as all the countries we visited grant visa-free access to EU citizens. This was in fact one of the reasons we decided to travel there in the first place! As for vaccinations, we got all the ones we would realistically need for the next couple of years before we left the UK, and should we need any advice down the road, I can always ask my mother who used to be a family doctor and is used to my incessant medical questions! In general, we haven’t had any difficulties with dealing with legal or tax issues while abroad.
9.If you decide to settle somewhere – where and when do you think it will be? We have already made the decision to make a base for ourselves in Berlin, probably our favourite city in the world.
10.What advice do you have for others trying to make the jump to a location independent/ travel-heavy lifestyle? Get out of debt, save some money, sell your stuff, buy a ticket and go. You can make it complicated if you want, but it really doesn’t have to be.
To follow more of Sam and Zab’s adventures, check out their blog.