No Klingon in this email, I promise! In fact, I had a few people reply to yesterday’s email asking me if I was completely sober when I wrote it. Sadly, I was.
Today’s email comes from Brisbane!
I’m going to be spending at least one night a week here for the next few weeks for work because of a project that I’ve been assigned to at my day job. The project is intellectually interesting, it’s an important piece of work for my employer and it is a challenge for me personally, so I’m pretty happy about working on it.
I’ve not travelled much in the last five years for work or for that matter even personally, but from 2002 – 2011, I ran up enough air travel that Google tells me was the equivalent of a round trip to the Moon and halfway again. I’ve visited 79 cities in 25 countries in every continent with the exception of Antarctica and to be honest, those numbers are low.
So in the preceding 10 years prior to this last five, I did enough travel to last me awhile.
Every time I do travel now, I become more acutely aware of how horrible the entire experience has become. Seat sizes continue to shrink, most hotels are becoming dingier and security at the airport is just a giant pain in the backside.
I woke up today at 4:30am, was in an Uber car at 5:45am, at the airport at 6:15am and on the plane by 6:35am. Most normal days, I’m not even awake at 6:35am.
Once I arrived, I bounced from meeting to meeting sprinkled in amongst telephone calls, emails and Webex sessions. I somehow managed to miss lunch altogether and compensated at about 4pm with a Nutella Chocolate Mousse – that was pretty nice, I might add.
Now, I’m sitting here in my hotel room, writing this email, in my underpants because being in my work clothes all day became stifling. I’m waiting for Casual Marketer Newsletter Subscriber, Barry Moore, to touchdown (he’s a pilot) and make his way into the city so that we can catch up and have dinner. That’s a bonus of this trip for sure!
Tomorrow, I have to wake up early, have another full day at the office before rushing out to hit the airport for a 6pm flight home, which all things going my way will get me in my door sometime around 8:30pm. I might watch some Masterchef when I get home, it’s “Heston Week” and I love his crazy bald food antics.
Interesting side note. When I travelled so much before, one of the upsides was getting to do some pretty interesting things. One of those things was visiting Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant, The Fat Duck, in Bray in Berkshire in the UK. The Fat Duck holds three Michelin Stars and was voted the #1 restaurant in the world in 2005.
A second interesting side note, Bray has two of the four, three Michelin Star restaurants in the UK, the other being The Waterside Inn. I didn’t get a chance to go there, sadly.
You can tell I’m hungry, I’m taking you on a gastronomic world tour. I’ll spare you the details of my trip to elBuli in Catalonia, Spain – that may be the greatest restaurant ever.
Moving on and this leads nicely into the general theme of this email.
There are a ton of people who want to “location independent entrepreneurs”, many of them on the Casual Marketer email list and some even as newsletter subscribers. They want to create a business for themselves that allows them to travel.
I’ve seen both sides of the world travel for business coin and speak with a fair bit of experience.
When you see people lounging in a sun chair, on some beautiful sandy beach, drinking something with big fruit and umbrella in it, that’s not how most people travel the world running their business.
Equally, when I tell you about visiting the Fat Duck, elBulli or about the time I was in Madrid for a few weeks on business and decided to take the train to Paris for the weekend to visit the Louvre and eat nice food, that’s not necessarily real life either.
Let me put it out there, if you live in a place like Sydney and you want a comparable lifestyle to the one you have now while travelling the world, you’re going to need a fair bit of money to back that dream. People who talk about moving to Asia and how cheap everything is, often forget to tell you about the really awful things about living and travelling in Asia.
Like the time I was in Vietnam and on the way in gotten shaken down for fifty bucks by their immigration people who “lost my passport”, but conveniently found it again when the dollars appeared. Or the time in Bangkok where the person I was standing next to at the five-star hotel checkout desk, put their laptop bag down beside them and thirty seconds later it was gone. How about walking five blocks in Shanghai and needed a shower because the air pollution was so bad I was actually physically dirty.
That’s not even getting into simple things like eating and travelling.
It’s just not all as glamorous as people make it out to be. I know lots of people who do it and really enjoy it, but the other side of the coin is, many of them simply aren’t making enough in their business to actually live in their native country. They can build a small, lifestyle business that can sustain them in a developing nation at a level well beyond what the locals can ever dream of.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I’m just putting it out there. I knew someone a couple years ago who did dove headlong into this lifestyle. With twenty-five grand in the bank and a business turning over about a thousand a month and growing, she packed up her life and moved to Thailand.
It was all very exciting. Lots of pictures at markets and the beaches. It was like watching a travel brochure for Koh Samui or somewhere like that. Lots of selfies in sarongs.
Then about three months went by and the selfies stopped. Talk became of moving to Vietnam because it is “more vibrant” and cheaper. Off to Ho Chi Minh! New friends, more selfies and interesting local cuisine.
About six months in… “Almost out of runway, living in Asia is more expensive than people tell you.” Followed shortly by, “It’s hard to focus here and business is suffering, looking at doing some Fiverr gigs to build up the bank balance.”
Shortly thereafter she moved home to live with her mother.
I’m not telling you this to scare you or talk you out of anything, but the reality is it’s not all fruity drinks and beach parties if you want to lead that kind of lifestyle. If you’ve built your business to a point where maybe this is possible, stop and think about all the things that are made possible because of where you are either directly or indirectly. Think about the time you spend on your business and imagine if you had less time or everything was harder to achieve because of time zone differences or whatever.
Factor all of those things in before you make the decision to jump on that plane and go – the people who do it successfully are living large, but the truth is, the laptop lifestyle while travelling internationally, especially in developing nations can be really challenging. I had a coaching client tell me recently that she was seriously considering moving to Thailand and running her business from there. My advice to her was, “Save up some money, go on a four-week vacation there and then come home.”
I’m not risk averse by any means, but I’m also aware that life doesn’t always just work itself out for you. Deciding to become location independent and run your business is a big call, don’t make it based solely on some Facebook photos or podcast episodes you’ve heard.