How to Get Off Your Ass and Start Traveling Abroad
Living and traveling abroad is always interesting. It’s 11:00 a.m. Tuesday and I finally got to the cafe. It took a lot of effort to get out of bed this morning. Beers, a bottle of wine, and some extracurriculars had me reaching for the snooze. L-Arginine is a great idea, but then again – it’s not ;( If you catch my drift. And even though cold showers are the pinnacle of happiness, health, wealth, and existence – I soaked up that hot water for 20 minutes this morning while snot rocketed from my sinuses. Avoiding the plague of being a mouth breather is more important than the gigantic leap in testosterone I would have gotten from that icy cold water.
What can I say, the life of a nomad is glamourous. I’m currently getting settled into life in Bogota, Colombia. Between the rumba, rum, and big city lifestyle – I’m making a concerted effort to focus my energy on business. This is proving difficult, as I wait for the internet company to install Wi-Fi in my apartment. Still, I wouldn’t trade any of it. Living and traveling abroad has been an incredible experience. Others have shared similar sentiments.
How to Get Off Your Ass and Start Traveling Abroad
If you’re reading a travel blog, then there’s a decent chance you’re either a traveler or aspiring one. While I may not have painted a glorious picture above, life on the road has benefits. From cruising ATVs on the beach to sliding down a volcano on a piece of wood to nights spent dancing and drinking in foreign lands to learning a new language – you’ll rarely find boredom while galavanting around.
However, there’s no reason for me to convince you about traveling abroad. You either want it. Or you don’t. You either want to hit the road and live a life of adventure. Or you know it’s not for you. There’s no in-between. Motivation is bullshit. You either do it, or you don’t. And it’s not for everyone. The majority of people aren’t suited for living and working abroad. If that’s you, no worries. There are numerous benefits to living in the West.
There are many advantages to living abroad, too. If you’re like me and need a lot of adventure, stimulation, and endorphins to function properly, then life on the road may be just what the doctored ordered. Maybe you just need a kick in the ass. Maybe you just need to know it’s possible. You just need to know how easy it is. Well, it’s not that easy, but it’s 100% doable for any and every individual reading this.
Here’s how to starting living and traveling abroad:
Find Your Why
I’m not here to give you motivation. Fuck that. I’m not going to tell you about the dirt cheap prices of living in Nicaragua, the picturesque beaches in the Dominican Republic, or the sexy and sweet women in Colombia. Nah, that shit can’t be your motivation. You need something intrinsic. Something innate. You need to know why you want to travel. You need to know why you want to live abroad.
It was easy for me. I didn’t need any motivation. I played college basketball back in the day. It gave me some purpose, goals, and a lot of endorphins. Once I wasn’t able to play any longer, the lack of excitement and endorphins in my life drove me crazy. I craved the rush. I needed the adventure. As narcotics have never been of interest to me (well…), the next logical conclusion seemed to be traveling the world.
Once I realized my health wasn’t going to hold up on the basketball court, I booked a ticket to Panama City, Panama within the week. I decided to travel Central America for four months. My best friend soon followed suit, and we were off a month later. My “why” or motivation was clear cut. There was no need for external forces offering motivation. If you truly want to live a life of traveling abroad, think about why. It won’t take long. You’ll know. Then you’ll take action. The massive action required to make it happen.
What You Need
You don’t need much while living and traveling abroad. You only need two things – time and money. Or as I like to call it, freedom. If you only have two weeks vacation a year, then living abroad isn’t doable. Between holidays with the family and sick days, you’ll probably only have 10-12 days a year to spend in various countries. That’s not a lot of time, even if you’re loaded.
If you’re jobless without any dough in the bank, you may have all the time in the world. You won’t have any freedom though because you have no cash. You’ll be stuck where you are because you can’t even afford a plane ticket. For individuals striving to live and travel aboard, neither of these scenarios is ideal.
You need both – time and money. So let’s find out how to get them. Time is more limiting than money, so we’ll start there. Living and traveling abroad with a job that chains you to one city just isn’t possible. As such, it’s quite rare you’ll be able to travel with a location-restricted job. However, many people are starting to work remotely these days. Many companies have found they can cut costs by “allowing” employees to work from home. This could be a loophole you can exploit if you want to explore the world.
Now, you still need money to travel. We’re talking about building a lifestyle here. Not taking a six-month sabbatical from the real world. Ideally, you’ll have 3-8 months of living expenses in the bank before you start traveling. This will give you a “cushion” or some breathing room as you embark on a new lifestyle.
To make this style of traveling and living abroad a full-time thing, you’ll probably need to learn how to make money online. Scratch that. You’ll definitely need to make money online if you’re going to travel abroad for years on end. So how do you do that?
That’s a whole other article, book, info-product, etc. There are thousands of ways to make money online. Here are a few resources further educate you on the topic:
Alright, so now you now exactly what you need to live abroad. You know the requirements of long-term travel. What’s next? Pulling the damn trigger. And for most, that’s the hardest part. Doing it takes a whole lot of effort on your part. Packing up for a six-month trip or an “I’m never moving back here” trip isn’t easy. A number of things can get in the way. There are many goosebumps, including:
Quitting your job
Dealing with your apartment lease (terminate, sublease, etc.)
Figuring out what to do with your car
Selling your things
Telling family and friends
Canceling commitments (gym, insurance, etc.)
…And so much more!
Once you take these steps, you’re officially on the road to living and traveling abroad. It’s not easy, but for some, it is worth it. This part is tricky because we have emotional connections with these things. From relationships with family and friends to the comfort of our co-workers or our love of stuff (especially common in the West) – it’s tough cutting ties and severing our cords to a “regular” life we’ve grown accustom to.
Plan & Prepare
If you reach this step, then you’re virtually free. The only thing left to do is plan out your travels and build you new life. Now we’re getting to the fun stuff. Planning out your next move or trip is an incredibly exciting time. The anticipation of moving to a new city still gives me a shot of adrenaline similar to ripping off a new lovers’ clothing for that first time. If you’re not hyped about planning your next move, then a life of travel just isn’t for you.
So where do you start? First and foremost, you need to figure out where you want to go. For most travelers from Western countries, you have three options:
Each of these regions has their pluses and minuses. For most people, they already know where they want to go. Maybe you have dreams of visiting all the beautiful historical sites in Europe while working from quaint cafes in world-class cities throughout the continent. There’s no need to research cities in Latin America when you know with 100% certainty you want to live in Europe.
Maybe you’re interested in beaches, babes, bundas, and the crazy energy that fills Latin America. No need to look elsewhere. You know what you want. If you’re into building relationships with digital nomads, living for crazy cheap prices, and interacting with cultures much different than anything you’ve ever experienced – Asia might be right for you.
We all know what we want deep down. Find the region that best suits your interests and then start researching cities. Don’t overcomplicate things. If you’re not sold on one particular city, then check flights. Maybe there’s a cheap direct flight from your city to one that interests you. That’s a sign. Book it!
When looking for flights, remember a few things. First, you’ll find the best flight deals with flexibility. Sites like Sky Scanner allow you to search for the best prices from one city to another over the course of a month. With exact dates, you’ll often pay twice as much. With flexibility, you can save a ton of cash. Also, remember that in-country flights are typically cheap. For example, you could fly to Bogota, Colombia for cheaper than you can to Cali, Colombia. Then take a $29 one-way flight to Cali from Bogota.
Once you have flights booked, you’ll need to find a place to stay. If you’re over the age of 24, then hostels are out of the picture. Personally, I’ve never been a fan, as I like having my own apartment, but to each their own. For adults living and working abroad, hotels are ok, but apartments are better.
Enter Airbnb. For any trip under two months, you’ll often find Airbnb has the best offerings for short-term apartment rentals. Just enter the city you plan to stay in and your dates. You’ll then have hundreds of apartment and lodging options at your fingertips and available. It’s incredibly easy and makes traveling 10X easier than ever before. When you’re first hitting the road, Airbnb will be your best friend.
If you plan to stay in a particular city for three months to a year, then you may want to book a week on Airbnb and start searching for an apartment once you get boots on the ground. Searching once you arrive will get you the best deals, but it can be time intensive and frustrating.
For example, I spent 7 hours walking around Bogota before I found my current apartment. I called nearly 30 apartments until I found one I liked in the right price range. I pay $19 USD a night all included (rent, wifi, utilities, administration, etc.) for a place that rents for $50 USD a night on Airbnb. It’s a solid deal, and I can walk to everywhere I want, as the location is ideal. And I’d never have gotten the place for the price without searching around once I arrived.
Don’t Go Overboard
Last, but not least – don’t go overboard with the planning. Pull the trigger and make things happen, but don’t become obsessed with perfection. Book a flight. Book an apartment. Do a little research. This should take a day or two. Don’t spend weeks on end striving to make your travel plans and new life perfect. You’ll just overcomplicate things and stress yourself out. Instead, embrace the unknown and learn to let go a little bit. You’ll enjoy your travels that much more if you can.
Living and traveling abroad certainly isn’t for everyone. If it’s for you, the quick guide above will ensure you hit the road as seamlessly as possible. Don’t overthink things. Just. Fucking. Do. It. If the life of a nomad is for you – there will be no doubts. Sure, you might be scared, but deep down you know it’s for you. Best of luck hitting the road! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to sound off below.
Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.