Be a tourist in your hometown and a local when you're traveling.
Its been a while since my last update to this journal. The monthly payment notifications that I receive from subscribers like you feel to me like little nudges, reminders that I haven't published anything in some time. I apologize for not keeping you as updated as I should be.
My life priorities have shifted a lot since the birth of my daughter, who, at three months old yesterday, is at this moment bundled in a soft pink blanket sound asleep in my left arm, my iPhone in my right hand typing this in between glancing out the airplane window at the Earth far below. We're somewhere over Delaware right now, en route back to Boston after spending two weeks in Florida. She has done amazingly well with flying and hasn’t cried at all. In fact, she does better flying than she does driving. Maybe it has something to do with how she flew fourteen times before she was born.
I say that my priorities have shifted, but maybe that's not true. I feel the weight of responsibility in my life has shifted dramatically, yes--suddenly it's no longer just me that I need to think about--but I still have the same personal goals and ambitions as I did before Ananda was born. I still want to write and publish. I still want to find a way to contribute to humanity. I still want to travel. I still want go to Mars.
Sure, I have family responsibilities now--father and spousal responsibilities--but everything else is still there, everything else is pretty much the same. None of it is number one of course, but it's not all irrelevant or unimportant either.
In many ways what has been the biggest challenge for me is finding a way to continue pursuing my personal goals--or for that matter, just finding the focus to work on something--while having someone else in my life to whom I am a father, someone who depends on me and who will, over the course of her life, look to me for wisdom, support, attention, and love.
I'm a big picture thinker. I’m always considering the long-term implications of a decision or an action, but since the day I learned that I was going to be a dad I've felt the need to stay away from the big picture, to not worry so much about the future. It feels too big now, too complex and blurry.
Yes, my decisions and choices will directly affect Ananda as she grows into her own person, but she will be her own person, someone who will make her own choices and blaze a path through life that is uniquely her own. I feel the best thing that I can do for her as a father is to provide her with what I feel are the best tools for trail blazing and to be there for her when she needs me, to be present when I’m present.
It's her future, not mine. It's her big picture and I'm just the lucky dad who gets to make sure that she has the best tools with which to create her life.
The ocean stood before me like a glistening blue tidal wave at peace with not proceeding. The South Adriatic engulfed nearly a third of my vision as steep hills littered with trees and orange roofs met the sea somewhere below me.
It was like an ocean sandwich, the whitish blue sky motionless on top and the noisy, earthy crust covering the bottom.
For some reason I find myself constantly needing to remember where I am, to remind myself that I'm still on Earth. Sometimes I'll open Google Maps on my laptop just to find Montenegro, that tiny squarish country nestled between Croatia and Albania across the ocean from the backside of Italy's boot. "That's where I am," I'll tell myself, feeling as though I need convincing. "That part of the world is real and it looks like this."
A butterfly breezes past, and then a bird. The birds are everywhere, the slow noisy roof-loving ones chattering away while aerial masters of the sky swoop down and past you in an instant, dogfighting invisible enemies with their black boomerang-shaped wings and their tiny sleek bodies that bulge out underneath, an agile dive-bomber perfectly designed by nature.
Somewhere in the distance to the left, across the valley of orange-tiled roofs where a few tall apartments stand looking out of place, over the tall slender coniferous trees nearer to the ocean, a chained machine whirrs to its master. And then the echo of a hammer, and then a skill saw.
The tiny town of Ulcinj is getting ready, preparing for the onslaught of tourists who will soon be flooding in, people like me who might greet the glistening blue tidal wave and dodge the playful dive-bombers.
We all come into this world a tourist. Sadly, most of us leave the same way.
If you feel that your perspective on reality is skewed, if you feel unsure about what you believe, if the world feels evil or bad or anything other than 'generally good', please, for the sake of yourself and all those who love you, travel somewhere new, with an open mind, to a place you've never been before, and try to see this beautiful Earth and all its inhabitants for what it truly is: paradise.
How did I get here? I don't know. It's hard to say. Sometimes my life moves so fast that I can't keep up and when I look back at the past six months that's exactly how I feel: unable to keep up. I feel unable to find the words to describe the journey, that same journey that I need to describe to fulfill my commitment to sharing it with you.
As a writer, I try to understand not just the world around me, but also the world within me. But how can I explain to you what to me feels unexplainable?
How can I describe the landscape outside the window when my ship is going a thousand miles an hour?
Perhaps that's the challenge of all writers, to keep up with the endless flow when it arrives, to master the skill of deduction, deciding what gets shared and what gets left out, like a detective removing all possible suspects until only the best candidates remain.
This writing is evidence of my attempt to put aside for just a moment the amazingness of what has happened, to pull the emergency brake on my life and slow down just enough to get this message across to you so that I can stop looking backward for answers around how to best convey this.
I don't want to be looking backward, especially not when this thousand-mile-per-hour ship is about to get upgraded to warp-speed. I need to be looking forward, and I want to be looking forward, and sharing that forward journey with you.
All the best journeys in life are lifelong journeys, those adventures that don't really have a clear beginning and whose ending appears as a climax that does not lead to an ending but instead undergoes a metamorphosis that by some play of magic recreates a beginning where there was no ending.
This is my attempt to explain that magical recreation of a beginning without an end.
Six months ago I was a solo-traveler, not really sure of where my life was going. Today, I'm a husband to a wife, with a daughter on the way.
Yes, you heard that right. If that sounds hard to believe, trust me when I say that it's just as strange for me to write.
I met my wife Anna, also a solo-traveler, and we connected as unexpectedly as we started a family. Both of us believe the universe has a reason for everything. But that belief is equally matched, perhaps paradoxically, with a shared belief that our destinies are not pre-written, that we decide and choose our reality.
We're now learning to embrace roles that neither of us ever thought or imagined we'd need to embrace at any point in our lives. We had both accepted that such roles were simply not in the cards for us. How wrong we were. But that's okay. We're both adaptable, a trait that any solo traveler will tell you is an essential skill.
So how do two solo travelers, whose love for travel is only matched by a respect and reverence for family, start a family of their own? How do two people who feel uncomfortable using the terms 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend' find a way to embrace each other as 'husband' and 'wife' and prepare themselves for spending a lifetime together? How do two independent individuals who love doing things on their own come together to share the responsibility of bringing a new life into this world?
I haven't been writing or publishing very much for the past few months because I don't like skirting around issues or hiding things. I don't like writing for the sake of writing. If I'm going to write and share something with you, it needs to be real and true, an actual representation of what I'm going through. I knew that I could not honestly do that until I announced this because nearly everything I've been thinking about over the past four months, as you might imagine, has been thought about against the backdrop of this new and incredible shift in my life.
One thing that I'm struggling with right now is figuring out where my boundaries are when it comes to writing and publishing. I don't yet know when I will announce all of this to the rest of the world (i.e., outside of this journal). In addition to you, I've only told family and a few close friends.
How much of my private life -- how much of my family life -- am I willing to put out there? On one hand I've always been very transparent about almost everything: my finances, my travel schedule, my thoughts and feelings on life. However, at the same time I'm also a very private person and I value my privacy, even if that privacy is only confined to a few thoughts in my brain.
Until now, its been easy to determine what I want to share and what I don't. But now I have two other people to think about. I'm grateful that Anna is carefree, perhaps even more so than me, so I have no doubt that whatever I choose to share she'll be okay with me sharing. However that doesn't help me figure out what, if anything, should remain private.
I'm a writer who writes about things that are close to his heart and it's important to me that I continue to write that way. I intentionally created this journal so that I would have a place to share the very things that I might not otherwise want to share, at least not immediately, with the public, and this journal was created as a place to share those things with a smaller group of people who wanted to support my work.
So, at least initially, I will start sharing a lot more here with you through the journal.
Anna and I intend to keep traveling once our daughter is a year old. We want to spend 6-8 months every year living in a different country, picking up the culture, learning a bit of the local language, and perhaps finding ways that we can contribute to the local economy. (Anna has aspirations of starting an orphanage in southeast Asia and she's finishing up her Master's degree in Non-Profit Management.)
We're both aspiring minimalists with a distaste for consumerism. We believe strongly in reusing and maintaining things over throwing out and replacing them and these are values we want to pass on to our child.
I might make it sound like we've got this all figured out, but I know that there will be many challenges along the way. We've already faced several. But like any solo-traveler, and with someone else in the middle now for whom we need to drop our stubborn individuality and think beyond ourselves, we remain adaptable.
Am I any more sure where my life is going? No, not really. But it's sure about to get a lot more real.
I'm convinced that nature has a way of signaling big changes and that if you pay attention you can read those signs and see things coming. I certainly didn't see any of this coming, but I do see the signs now when I look back. It all began when I was in Darwin, Australia, almost ten months ago.
But let me stop there. This journal entry is already getting a bit long and I need to add more wood to the fire. I'm camping with my dad in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for the weekend; this was, I think, the emergency brake that I needed to articulate all these thoughts in a coherent manner and get them out into a format that I can share with you.
My dad is already asleep. The fire is getting low and the cold is creeping in. My fingers are getting stiff on the keyboard.
Now that I've made this announcement you can expect a stream of journal entries to follow. There are a few other things I've been getting interested in that I've wanted to share here but haven't because I felt a responsibility to share this first. One of those things is my growing interest in Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency that I realized is exactly what was missing back when I wrote my Income Ethics series two years ago.
Life is an adventure, and just as I was starting to feel that perhaps my adventure was missing a little something, it got a lot more interesting. I want to start sharing this journey with you and I hope that you'll join me for the ride.
I pulled into the dark driveway and parked. There was so little lighting around the house that when I turned off the car I couldn't see the ground between me and the front door, wherever the front door was. I was fairly certain this was the right place. The address matched, but that didn't make me feel any more sure. My host said she would leave the door unlocked if I was going to arrive while she was out, but she never got back to confirm that's what she was doing. I grabbed my backpack, locked the car, and then used the light from my phone to illuminate the ground. It didn't help much and I stepped cautiously, not sure if I was walking on a path or a badly neglected garden. It didn't feel like a path. I remember thinking for a brief moment that I hope there are no dangerous Floridian snakes on the ground because I'm wearing sandals and I can't see anything. I walked up to the front door. A dim light illuminated a dark wooden door. Was this the right house? What would I ask if someone answered the door? I'd probably say, "Hi, is there a Kathleen here? No? Is this..." wait, what was the address supposed to be again? I took my iPhone out of my pocket and looked for the email that contained the address. Ah, 2990. OK, if there's no Kathleen here I'll ask them if this is #2990. I rang the bell. It rang loud enough to hear it from outside so if there was someone inside they surely would've heard it. I could see through a few windows that there were some lights on inside, but otherwise the house was mostly dark. There was no indication of movement. I rang the bell again. Still no answer. I tried knocking. Still no answer. Do I just walk in? That feels kinda weird. What if this isn't the right house? What if the door is unlocked and I just walk into a strangers house? I checked the door to see if it was unlocked. The door opened easily. "Hello?" No answer. "Hello, anyone here?" Still no answer. I remember the description on the house listing mentioning that two German Shepard dogs lived with her. Surely they would've heard me by now. Why weren't they barking? Was this the wrong house? I stepped into the hallway. "Hello?" Still no answer. I look to the right down a hall. There's what looks like a fence to keep babies out. But it was a high fence. I tell myself that's probably for the dogs. I look left and there's what looks like a living room. There's only one light on. I look around the front door for a note that my host may have left, anything to indicate that this was the house that was expecting me. There's nothing, just an empty old-fashioned table. I walk quietly through the living room and imagine for a moment that this is the wrong house. I'm wearing a black jacket and carrying a black bag. I could easily be mistaken for a robber. I continue cautiously exploring the living room and find old photos on a table. There's lots of pictures of a young girl and what looks like her younger brother. There's also lots of black and white photos on the wall. They look like old family photos. Are these pictures of my host as a little girl? Is this her family? I can't tell. I don't even know what my host looks like. She used a photo of her dog on the listing. I continue towards what looks like the kitchen. There's a light on inside. As I approach, I imagine someone standing in there with their back toward me. What if it's an elderly person and I scare them so much that I give them a heart attack? How horrible would that be? I turn the corner to see if there's anyone standing in the kitchen. It's empty. Pieces of paper hang from the cabinets. I can't read them in the dim light so I look closer. They're all recipes for organic dishes. That reminds me that the listing description mentioned my host was into organic food. That makes me feel a little better. It's the first clue that I'm in the right house. I open a few of the kitchen cabinets and the refrigerator. More organic stuff. If this is the right house, I should also find a bedroom that looks empty or at least one that looks like the guest room. I walk back through the living room to explore the hallway, the one that didn't have a fence blocking it. It's dark, but there's an open door at the end of the hallway with a lamp on inside. I walk towards the light, looking for any indication of movement inside. It's empty. There's a nicely made bed and a lonely chair pushed up against the wall with an acoustic guitar sitting on it. The lamp that guided me into the room is sitting on a big table and next to the lamp are a set of keys. Two single keys on a keyring with a green carabiner attached. Those are probably the keys for the house that my host was going to give me when I arrived. That was my second clue that this was the right house. I don't yet feel comfortable settling in, so I take my backpack with me back to the living room and put it down next to the couch. I guess I'll just wait here until she comes back. I go into the kitchen to get a glass of water and then return to the living room and plug in my laptop. I think about what a strange experience this has been, walking into what feels like a total strangers house and trying to feel OK with it. I decide that I should write down this story while it's still fresh in my mind, but just as I start typing I hear a door open from the far corner of the house. A woman's voice calls out, "hello?" I reply, "Hello!", feeling a sense of relief that someone else was expecting a stranger here. My host appears through the other side of the kitchen and enters the living room to introduce herself and her boyfriend. Two white German Shepard's follow on their heels. We chat for a while in the kitchen over hummus, chips, and homemade Kombucha. After showing me where things are and explaining how to use the washing machine, they invite me to join them for some live music at a local bar. I respectfully decline. As they head back out, I retire to my bedroom to write this journal entry about my fourth experience using AirBNB, just one of the tools I use to put a roof over my nomadic existence.
A big part of how I create and travel involves tapping into energies, these invisible and hard to describe forces that seem to connect my physical self with another realm, a realm that, if I could see it, I imagine would look like strings of energy crisscrossing each other and linking together other, highly focused endpoints, all changing in response to the location, the environment, and the energies of the people who were present.
Trying to describe these invisible forces always conjures up images similar to those neuron maps of the brain and the maps of the Internet, only instead of being fixed and static, they’re alive and moving, constantly changing, like a universe inhaling and exhaling, birthing new galaxies with each breath.
I believe that we all have the ability to feel and sense these energies, to receive their signals and tune into them, to redirect and focus them like a magnifying glass focusing otherwise weak beams of sunlight.
When I travel, I feel the different energies and forces present in each place. But there seems to be a catch: I usually can’t feel or tap into them until I’ve settled down for a few weeks.
When I’m moving from one place to another — flying in an airplane, riding on a train, or doing a road trip — the energy generated by the motion is itself extremely powerful and chaotic. This chaotic energy seems to obscure the more stable energy that I can feel when I stop moving, the energy that I feel when I begin creating within a framework of daily routines.
Whenever someone asks me how I decide where I’m traveling to next, my response is always the same: I travel by intuition. I don’t travel to check off a list of places, or to experience a set of cultures, or to taste different foods. I travel by intuition. But what does that mean? What does it mean to ‘travel by intuition’?
It means that when I connect with the energy of a particular place, I allow myself to linger, to tap into the creative energies and allow them to change me, to give me fuel for creating and contemplating and growing until something (usually my intuition) tells me it’s time to move on. In traveling for the past three years, I’ve recognized that the “time to move on” feeling usually occurs within three months.
I’m convinced that I’m not the only one who taps into these energies and I suspect that various places around the world known for attracting artistic and intellectual types are that way because they’re actually strong sources of this invisible energy, sources that most of these people are unknowingly tapping into by living and working there. I suspect that cities appear where they do for the same reasons.
When I arrived in Tasmania a little over a month ago, I could tell within the first few hours that the energy here was strong. I wasn’t at all surprised when I learned that Tasmania is fast becoming known for attracting artistic types.
However, I was caught off guard when, within the first week of arriving, I felt an unrelenting desire to cancel the rest of my travel plans — a week in Perth and a month in Thailand — to spend more time here in Tasmania.
Now, after spending six months in Australia, I’m preparing to leave to visit family in the United States. I’m thinking about where I’ll go next in January and the only place that keeps calling back to me is Tasmania... and I haven’t even left yet.
Why Tasmania? I’m really not sure. All I can say is that my intuition tells me that I should return, that something says this is where I should be and that this is where I will find the creative energy that I need. Creative energy that I need for what? I’m not sure of that either. That too feels like an invisible force present in my future but undefinable to the present.
When I decided to visit Australia a few months ago, I knew that getting to see a large portion of the country was going to be difficult. Australia is about the same size as the continental United States in land area and having lived in the US for 28 years and only scratching the surface of the country, I knew that traveling around Australia was not going to be easy.
Putting aside the sheer size of Australia, the other issue I worried about was the cost. My research told me that Australia was going to be at least, if not more, expensive than the United States and one of the primary reasons I haven’t explored more of the US is because it’s so damn expensive.
While getting to the country itself is quite an expense, once you’re here traveling around doesn’t need to cost a fortune.
For the past week, I've been on the train in Australia, hopping from one long-distance train to another as I make my way from the northern city of Darwin down through the center to Adelaide, then across to Sydney, then up to Brisbane, and finally all the way up to Cairns, a total traveled distance of 6,883km / 4,277mi.
While one certainly needs to get used to sleeping in recliner chairs, showering in small bathrooms, and sitting next to strangers (that is unless you dish out more money for the higher class sleeper rooms), this mode of travel is incredibly rewarding if your intention is to actually see the Australian landscape.
You’ll wake up to sunrises and watch sunsets from your seat, see endless sheep and cattle, and even catch a glimpse of a few kangaroos and emus. It’s like your own Australian safari, except when the train stops at its destination you can get out and explore even more.
In the United States, train travel is quite expensive. A one-way, 2,400km/1,500mi journey will cost you at least $250 USD. (On the other hand, the same journey by air will only cost you $90 USD; air travel has been heavily subsidized by the US Government, so it’s a lot cheaper.)
Now compare that to the cost my recent one-week train journey here in Australia, which will be ending in just a few hours. The travel itself only cost me $58 for the entire week. That’s $58 for traveling 6,883km / 4,277mi!
For less than it costs to take a train from Boston to New York, I’m traveling across the Australian continent not once, but twice.
This isn’t to say the cost of living in Australia is cheap. It’s not. In fact, the past few months have taught me that living here is actually more expensive than living in the US (especially the cost of food; however hotels, air travel, and apartments are about the same price).
So how is travel by train so cheap here? Well, there’s a catch. If you don’t have a non-Australian passport, travel by train is almost as expensive as the United States. However, if you do have a non-Australian passport, you can purchase one of several different a rail passes.
The most expensive pass, the Ausrail Pass, will give you unlimited travel on all of Australia’s long-distance trains for 3 to 6 months, costing you $750 or $950 respectively.
I did the math on what the journey this week actually cost me and it came to just $58 (my $750 3-month Ausrail Pass, divided by 90 days, times 7 days = $58).
By the end of my travels here in Australia, I estimate that I will have traveled roughly 21,000km/13,000mi by train, bringing the total cost per mile down to about $0.04/km ($0.06/mi). That’s about the same cost per mile as traveling by train in India!
So there you have it. If you’re thinking of visiting Australia for a few weeks and you want to get around the country cheaply, definitely consider picking up one of their rail passes.
At the end of every month, I publish a financial report stating my income and expenses for that month. I do this to help show what it’s like living the lifestyle of a digital nomad and to keep myself accountable for my spending. If these reports don't interest you, you can safely read the first and last sections and skip the rest.
The sun warmed my skin and the wind challenged my face. My feet pedaled at a leisurely pace as I looked around: metal boxes with rubber wheels transporting seemingly lifeless figures.
The weight from the bag on my back -- filled with food from the supermarket -- seemed to tug me back to reality, reminding me of the moment and pulling me into the present. Everything felt so raw, so authentic. A sense of awareness permeated every passing moment.
It was my first day exploring the neighborhood in Florida where I will be living for at least the next month. My roommate let me borrow his bicycle to get around and I had gone out to buy groceries at the supermarket.
Never before had I used a bicycle to transport groceries. For my entire life, groceries purchased at the supermarket were always transported using a vehicle, a lifeless hunk of metal on wheels that assisted us in movement, taking away a piece of reality.
Is that why we so often feel disconnected from the moment? Have the machines and routines that make up our daily lives ripped away our connection to the present?
As the following report will reflect, I spent most of March bouncing between places, riding machines with wings and wheels, watching machines with rockets and boosters, and otherwise not being very mindful of the present.
Using my feet for transportation and spending a lot more time in one place, my lifestyle for the month of April will be much different as I settle into a new apartment in Florida. I'm looking forward to a less machine-dependent lifestyle and a more mindful existence. I'm looking forward to more living.
At the beginning of the month, I shared a house in Florida with several friends who were there for the NASA Tweetup. When they left, I decided to stay for an extra 10 days to watch the Space Shuttle Endeavor roll out to the launch pad and see an Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rocket launch. I was fortunate enough to have my new friend Chris offer me a place to crash while I was here.
I spent about two weeks at my parents house when I got back from Florida and instead of paying rent I helped them out with a few house bills. At the end of March, I flew back down to Florida and now I'm renting a room in my friend Chris' house for the month of April.
Food expenses this month are the highest they've been all year. That is largely due to all the socializing and eating out I did with my house members during the NASA Tweetup. Our house did some grocery shopping, but we definitely ate more meals in restaurants.
The "cafes" category only contains expenses incurred while sitting in a cafe using my laptop and the groceries are a combination of shared expenses during the NASA Tweetup and food shopping I did while working at the office in Boston.
For the month of April, I'm setting my budget at $250. Now that I'm renting an apartment and have access to a kitchen, preparing my own meals will be easy.
I was in Florida at the beginning of the month for the completion of the STS-133 NASA Tweetup and the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery. Several members of the house I was staying in split a minivan rental to save on car costs (expensed last month) but when everyone left and I decided to stay longer, I needed to rent my own car.
Changing my return flight at the last minute so that I could stay and watch the roll out of Space Shuttle Endeavor meant paying almost a hundred dollars more for the ticket. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so a no-brainer as far as I was concerned.
Once I was back in Boston, I took public transportation (train and subway) to and from Boston and my parents house. When you look at the cost to distance traveled ratio, it's amazing how expensive public transportation can be.
The auto gas expense is a combination of the 10-day rental in Florida and borrowing my parents car to run errands. Car expenses can add up really fast: I spent $570 between the auto rental in Florida, the auto gas for the rental and my parents car, and parking meters, parking tickets, and tolls (see Other Expenses below).
I also try to track the number of miles I traveled for free, through friends and family giving me rides. By subtracting the expensed distances from the total distance traveled, we're left with 165 "free miles".
For the month of April, I will be using my feet and my roommates beach cruiser bicycle to get around.
I always try to keep the Other Expenses category to a minimum, but this month a lot of little things added up rather quickly.
When I rented a car in Florida, I needed to stop at an Internet cafe to print out proof of a return flight so that the rental car agency would allow me to use a debit card.
Late in the month I decided to buy a travel charger for my camera to reduce the weight in my bag and eliminate wires. I also picked up a remote shutter to use for when I watch the next shuttle launch.
When I got back from Florida, my old boss bought everyone at the company skiing tickets and he invited me along. I sold my snowboard last year, so I needed to rent one for $20.
I received the parking ticket in Florida when I went down to the beach for 30 minutes. Ironically, I had a dozen quarters sitting in the cup holder. Lesson learned.
I accidentally left behind my headphones when I returned the rental car. After going through my backpack a dozen times, I picked up the cheapest pair of Sony earbuds I could find at the airport. It was an impulse purchase and definitely unnecessary, as they turned out to be very uncomfortable and I later ordered a new pair of Apple earbuds from China for $3.
The dentist appointment was a huge expense this month but I'm really happy with my dentist and I'm hesitant to switch solely based on cost. I'd rather just work harder at taking care of my teeth!
Overall, March has been the most expensive month this year. I spent $290.20 more on housing, $95.07 more on food, and $634.71 more on travel than I did in February. Other expenses is the only category that was less, with a difference of $176.40. Housing would have been similar to February, except that I didn't help my parents with the bills that month.
At the start of the year I made a note to remind myself that my spending throughout this year should reflect a focus on two things: travel and fitness. I'm happy the biggest increase in expenses this month came from travel and not in anything unrelated to my goals.
For the month of April, I will be aiming to keep my total expenses under $1,000.
While my income was lower this month than last, I worked on a greater number of small projects with several new clients. The big projects that I was doing for my previous job are largely complete, so moving forward I will be relying more heavily on an increase in smaller projects.
The smaller projects in March included several blog migrations from WordPress.com to self-hosted domains using WordPress.org. I've also had a few requests for making adjustments to WordPress themes and enhancing WordPress security.
If I can help you with any WordPress-related work, please contact me.
Towards the end of the month I sold a hiking backpack for $75 that had been sitting at my parents house.
As I mentioned briefly at the beginning of this post, I've decided to move to Florida for the month of April so that I can be here to watch the Space Shuttle Endeavor launch. It very well could be the last launch of the shuttle program (NASA may not have enough funding for the launch in July).
While I'm here, I will be living as frugally as possible, using a bicycle for transportation, and spending a lot of time working from my new apartment. I will also be heavily focused on fitness and I've already begun running every day (you can follow my runs on RunKeeper).
At the end of every month, I publish a financial report stating my income and expenses for that month. I do this to help show what it's like living the lifestyle of a digital nomad and to keep myself accountable for my spending.
This past month has been a whirlwind of amazing experiences. Witnessing the final launch of space shuttle Discovery changed the way I view life (again) and put me in a deeply reflective state; it left me speechless and struggling to compose my thoughts for weeks (which explains the lack of new posts).
Attending the second NASA Tweetup and reuniting with everyone who helped me discover that love really is enough has been just as amazing as the first time we got together.
Their collective passion for space is incredibly contagious and their ability to see beyond the weird quirks and extreme contrast in personalities -- accepting each other for who they are -- speaks directly to the humanity in every single one of us.
This blog isn't about personal finance but having promised to publish this monthly financial report, I felt it holding me back from publishing anything else. I'll be writing more about my experiences in the coming weeks.
My time in India last year showed me how little humans actually need to survive and how little we need to experience real happiness. I was traveling with just one backpack and a few hundred dollars in my bank and yet when I was in Nepal, standing in front of those one hundred school children, I felt more alive, more rich, and more full of potential than any other person alive.
Then I returned home to the United States and felt incredibly homesick in what suddenly felt like a strange and privileged land. As weeks turned into months, those feelings of extreme appreciation began to slip away. But I vowed not to forget. I vowed to continue living a simple life so that I could focus on what mattered.
That life-changing experience tugged at layers and layers of materialistic complexity and egotistical naivety, accumulated as a result of growing up in a middle-class society and having everything. My journey through rural parts of India, Vietnam, and Nepal cut life down to the core, leaving in its wake a stronger, simpler, more compassionate human being.
This is the sixth and final report detailing my travel expenses during a six-month trip through India, Vietnam, and Nepal, as outlined in The Plan: 6 Months, 3 Countries, and $3,000.
At the beginning of the month, I took an unplanned three day trip to visit two small towns in the mountains north of Kathmandu where an NGO is helping build schools for children in Nepal. That last minute decision turned out to be the highlight of my entire six month journey.
After returning to Kathmandu, I went with a friend to Pokhara where we spent six days trekking in the Himalayan mountains. When we were finished, my friend returned to Kathmandu but I stayed behind to spend an extra week in Pokhara.
I then took a bus back to Kathmandu where I spent one week in the now familiar backpacker district of Thamel. Of the eight weeks I've spent in Nepal, five were spent in Thamel. Although it's probably one of the most expensive places to spend time, it removed any need for transportation and made getting online easy and (at least somewhat) reliable. Continue reading
This is the fifth in a series of reports detailing my travel expenses during a six-month trip through India, Vietnam, and Nepal, as outlined in The Plan: 6 Months, 3 Countries, and $3,000.
By the time you read this, I will likely be on my way into the Himalayan mountains visiting a small village where an NGO is helping build and fund schools to improve education.
In my previous post, I asked for help coming up with questions for the tour and your timely feedback was much appreciated. The generosity, wisdom, and helpfulness of this community never ceases to amaze me; thank you.
Now it's time for yet another embarrassing report of my expenses for the past four weeks. This is where I literally put my money where my mouth is and expose to the world just how "frugal" I have really been.
I say embarrassing because while you're reading this, I will be visiting a village where my expenses for this month could have paid a school teacher full-time for six months. Continue reading
Early Sunday morning, two brothers will pick me up from my hotel in Kathmandu. We will drive several hours to a place called Sole Bazaar and from there I hear it's an eight-hour hike by foot, through areas infested with leeches, to the remote village where the project is located.
This isn't a photo expedition or a mini-vacation. If the weather holds out, I will be taking plenty of photos but that's not the purpose of this trip. I'm doing this for the kids like those in the photo above. Continue reading
This is the forth in a series of reports detailing my travel expenses during a six-month sustainable travel trip through India, Vietnam, and Nepal, as outlined in The Plan: 6 Months, 3 Countries, and $3,000.
This month has seen me travel more than 6,000 miles in three countries: India, Vietnam, and Nepal. As a result, the expenses this month are the highest since I paid for my round-trip ticket to India when I started my journey back in March.
However, I've been extremely fortunate to have had free lodging, food, and transportation for my last two weeks in India, free transportation, food, and some free lodging during the two weeks in Vietnam, and now free lodging and some free transportation in Nepal. Continue reading
Every time I have heard the response to what someone would do given a billion dollars, the answer always includes doing something that would change the world.
People are genuinely good at heart. Everybody wants to make the world a better place; everybody wants to help. Why then is there so much poverty and suffering in the world?
The answer, I believe, lies in our mindset towards life -- the established set of attitudes that we hold towards living, working, and existing. Such a mindset is not easy to change on a large scale, especially given that living standards generally remain the same, or improve, from one generation the next.
Most of us live in a bubble. We don't see the full picture of what's going on in the world. OK, we at least have an idea. We read news stories and blog posts, see pictures, and even watch videos. We have a general idea of what it's like out there. We know the world isn't all smiles and love. Continue reading
I read somewhere recently that bloggers should be transparent to ensure authenticity. It made me think about my own writing and question whether or not I was being fully transparent with you, my readers.
I wondered, what does it mean for me to be more transparent? Since I'm traveling, does it mean writing about the little things that I generally avoiding talking about? Does it mean sharing my thoughts more often?
Perhaps I could write about my worries of running out of money or the several cases of mild travelers diarrhea that have started to get annoying. I could write about how I sometimes feel guilty for spending too much time in high-end cafes, enjoying the air conditioning and delicious coffee when I should be outside exploring the small local shops. (In my defense, it was a safe place to work on my laptop.)
What about writing how I felt for ignoring the handicapped guy with no legs who extended his hand and asked for money while I was in the beach town of Gokarna? If I help him, I thought, why shouldn't I help all of them? How do I choose who receives help? Continue reading
This is the third in a series of reports detailing my travel expenses during a six-month sustainable travel trip through India, Vietnam, and Nepal, as outlined in The Plan: 6 Months, 3 Countries, and $3,000.
In my recent reader survey, several of you mentioned that you really enjoy these Frugal Travel Reports. This month, I have been even more meticulous with tracking my expenses and I have discovered that it really helps me see exactly where my money is going. I've been keeping a single page in my notebook dedicated to all the expenses for the current month.
The month of May has seen me travel the most since I arrived here in India more than 80 days ago. In fact, I moved around a lot more than I would have preferred. However, I was invited to a wedding in New Delhi and decided to take advantage of the journey and stop in several places along the way, including Gokarna, Mumbai, and Udaipur. Continue reading