Wisdom//

I’m Traveling the World and I Didn’t Quit My Job

Working abroad has pushed me outside my comfort zone and changed the way I see the world.

Malte Mueller/ Getty Images
Malte Mueller/ Getty Images

By Kelsey Dixon

The young professionals of today are writing the history of its generation in the workforce. Our generation is driving change and innovation in our world and it’s different than what the generations before us experienced. So why would the workforce stay the same? We want to live in the NOW and we refuse to only work for retirement.

With the world at our keyboards, our access is limitless. We are more connected than ever. Why not use this as a foundation for a career? For a lifestyle? Work can be a passion and a blend into your personal hopes and dreams. It can be an enabler rather than a detractor.

You may share in my curiosity to seek what is different — what is uniquely your own — and you’re not alone. There are thousands of people, heavily millennials, who are building something from scratch in order for their work to fit their desired lifestyle, not the contrast. It’s not a new concept. But the world is starting to notice, and starting to evolve to fit this lifestyle. Hence why concepts like Behere need to exist.

There’s enough room and opportunity for anyone to pursue it. Existing roles are being reinvigorated through the perception of a new lens, giving them boundless possibilities of execution. Companies and cultures are shifting to realize that hustle can happen outside of the cubicle and progress can thrive regardless of physical location. On top of this, there are jobs created daily that require no physical space, just skills and a laptop. And, even beyond, we’ve never had better access to the tools that can help us create our own jobs, income and revenue streams — out of thin air…

Perhaps the scariest part about this is the fact that no one before us has laid out a successful path for it. We get to pave our own trail, and navigate the speed bumps along the way. This isn’t smooth sailing, this is a caught-in-the-windstorm and batten down the hatches sort of sail. But the cool part is, the views are pretty astounding (literally and figuratively).

In September of 2017, I left the comforts of my waterfront Seattle apartment to pursue a dream: live and work abroad. I had heard of the stories about the people who quit their corporate jobs to go live on an island and work behind an ice cream stand. I had seen that this was possible, but I still had to do this radical thing with less-than-specific guidance because I was doing it differently: as an entrepreneur, with clients, with a team, with a co-founder. 99 percent of my job was through my computer anyway, so in theory, this would work right?

I’ve taken my work abroad, from a van trapezeing around the north and south islands of New Zealand for a month. And I got to see Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, Mt. Cook National Park, Fjord National Park and more.

While traveling and working in South America, I was the most productive I had ever been, inspired by my environment and the space I worked in, instead of feeling the grind of rush hour traffic and inside the sphere of the same four walls every day. My video conferences were productive to the max because I took advantage of the scheduled time I had with anyone at any given time. No longer were the days of luxury where I could tap my partner on the shoulder and ask a quick question. Instead, I relied heavily on platforms like, Asana, G-chat, Slack, FaceTime, ZoomSkype or GoogleDocs. We found out by accident (through calling to try and cancel our American cell plan) that our T-Mobile plan allows us unlimited texting and data in more than 210 countries at no additional fees — most of South America included.

The craziest part was the 60-hour round trip drive to Patagonia, and then visiting Patagonia, without taking a single day off work. I’m fortunate here that I have a hubby that loves to drive. I worked a 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. day because that was 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seattle hours. So, in the mornings we hustled the drive, day by day. And we’d find a friendly hostel (with fast WiFi, always a requirement). I’d finish my day while my husband took care of all our meals, errands and planning next steps (he was also lightly working on a startup of his own). With GoogleDocs’ offline feature, I was even able to knock out a lot of writing while literally surviving the treacherous roads in the middle-of-nowhere Argentina. But I did it. I maintained my high-production workload while seeing El Chalten, hiking the Tres Lagos, exploring Torres del Paine and enjoying coffee in Puerto Natales. Not your normal after-hours activity.

My point (and hope) in sharing my story is to show it’s possible. It may sound crazy, but it can be your reality. By working while traveling, I was able to fund our travels so that we could stay longer. And by traveling while working, I brought a fresh, global perspective to our team. By leaving the day-to-day in the office, it also left more responsibility to my team, which equated to massive jump in growth and a slashing of comfort zones. I became a production house for the backend of our business, elevating it to challenge our growth projections even over a successful year prior. And I sat in a hammock rather than at a desk (it wasn’t always that glamorous, but still worth it!).

Again, this is why companies like Behere exist. Because with Behere you get the living, the workspace, the fitness and the community, all while abroad. This is essential in the world we live in today, where living more flexibly is not only possible, but beneficial in so many capacities. We all have dreams to live a life we wish we had — attach it to an action and a timeline? There will be no better time, so why not now?

And why not you? 

Want to travel and live around the world? Here are your next steps.

I shared my story about taking my business abroad. Now, this is how I did it…

  1. Find your work. There may be an opportunity to do your current job remote. The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferrishas a lot of helpful tips in asking for it. Otherwise, you’ll need to find it or create it. In finding it, utilize resources, sites and communities that offer remote job opportunities. Have a skill? You could freelance, if you’ve got a little cash saved up that could get you by either before getting work or down the road for a cushion. Or, build it. That’s what I did.
  2. Pick your place. I recommend somewhere that’s less expensive to live than where you live now. That way, you can give yourself some grace to get set up in your work, and you may even save more money that way (we were able to save a lot more in Chile than what we were saving in the U.S.). Don’t forget to think about timezones. For me, it mattered that I was able to work during Seattle business hours, so South America was appealing for that reason. (It was also appealing because I wanted to learn Spanish).
  3. Downsize, downsize, downsize. Sell your stuff on eBay or Craigslist. It’s all replaceable. By having less, you’ll be more mobile and flexible. Bring less clothes, you won’t need them all or you can buy them there (we usually all wear the same core things anyway!).
  4. Get set up. This seems daunting, but it’s really not too bad once you get into it. This means rerouting your mail to a permanent address if you’re moving out (we chose my mom’s home. Thanks, mom!). Get at least your first week or two booked in a hostel or living arrangement (it’s better to pick your long-term stay once you’re there!) or use a service like Behere that you trust to get you everything (I’ve got a code for $200 off! KELSEY200). Notify your credit cards (and make sure you don’t have foreign transaction fees). Set aside savings for back up. Adjust your cell plane (T-Mobile’s One Plan provides data/texting in over 210 countries! I highly recommend looking into this option).
  5. Buy the things. I’m a proponent for downsizing, but there will be some things I’d suggest purchasing to make downsizing easier. For example, clothes that can work for various scenarios. This is largely dependent on where you’re going. Get quality, easy luggage, backpacks and bags to protect your tech. Get portable chargers. Get good, ambiguous shoes. Need a car once you get there? Figure out what it means to buy one or rent one for your specific scenario.
  6. Pick a date. This might be the most important part of this list. Pick the date and then make the list so you can work backwards toward your goal! Even if you’re not sure if it’ll be possible, if you pencil in the date, the urgency suddenly exists and you can say it out loud and make it real.
  7. GO. Plan the basics I’ve mentioned here but don’t overly plan and overthink it. Just do it. You CAN. It won’t be perfect, but you’ll figure it out along the way! Enjoy it. Relish in the uncertainty. Know you’re living your dream and most people don’t have the courage to even do that. You’ll figure out the rest, and your experience will be invaluable.

Originally published at gobehere.com

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