Author Archives: Travis Bennett

Tips for Digital Nomads: Find the Perfect Place to Stay

Bangkok

Being a digital nomad is a lot more than sitting at the beach with a laptop and a cocktail all day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it a number of times, but you’re going to be a lot more productive in a space that’s set up for work. For one, there’s not usually power or an internet connection at the beach, and you have a constant battle to keep your laptop from filling with sand! Your friends all envy your digital nomad lifestyle, but to become awesome you need planning –  especially if you want to simply up and change cities whenever you feel the inkling to move.

I’ve had so many friends tell me

“You get to work wherever you want, that’s freaking awesome!”

but there’s so much going on behind the scenes they never see. You need an iron clad will to balance work and travel, and personally I just want to get my work done, so I’m free to go out and enjoy the city I’m in. After a year and a half
as a remote freelancer, I’ve discovered a certain art in finding the right place to stay.

First you need to decide what you’re looking for. Do you want a fun social environment or peace and quiet to knock out a ton of work?

Hostels

Enjoy a party atmosphere and an unbeatable price on a dorm bed, and the best time to work is while everyone is out sightseeing. Combine this with a fun and social vibe as the evening kicks on, and you’ve got an ideal place to stay in almost every city. Check Hostelworld for the best deals or if you’re feeling adventurous Couchsurfing is another budget-friendly option.

Hotels

Perfect when you need to focus without any distractions and knock out massive work days. Combined with room service, a gym and even a swimming pool, and you’re all set. Agoda is a great site for hotels in Asia, or Booking.com for everywhere else in the world.

Apartments

This is my favourite because it’s more comfortable than a hotel when you’re staying somewhere for more than a week, and can be even better for your budget. Check out AirBnB to see your choices.

Must have

For the room there are basic necessities you need to get your work done effectively. Make sure that wherever you stay there is:

  • Internet. It’s impossible to work remotely without it, so double check there’s WiFi available.
  • Work space. A desk or table is essential, and saves your back from hunching over on the bed or the sofa.
  • Power points. Hard to judge, but conveniently located power points are vital for a remote office. Check the pictures and see if you can spot lamps (which mean power) on the desk, or on any bedside tables.
  • Kitchen. I don’t like eating out everyday, and cooking is a great downtime after 12 hours staring at my laptop.
  • Laundry. Being able to throw a load of washing on is a godsend, and saves you time that would otherwise be wasted sitting at a laundromat.
  • Size. The bigger the better, so find somewhere at least 40 square meters and you won’t mind being cooped up all day with your laptop.
  • A Separate Bedroom. Having a separate bedroom is fantastic if you’re travelling with your partner. It let’s you both have different areas to work, so you can get in the zone without being right on top of each other.
  • Location. Find a place with a large supermarket nearby to stock up on groceries, as well as being close to an internet cafe so you can change scenery whenever you need it. I like to be a little bit removed from the tourist centers to avoid all the commotion, so long as there are a couple of nice restaurants nearby.
  • Cleaning gear. Not the most exciting item on the list, but if you’re anywhere for more than a week it’s nice to be able to give the floors a sweep and keep your temporary home fresh.
  • Reviews. Read through what the others who stayed here have said. You don’t want to be stuck in a dark little apartment with dingy furniture and a shaky WiFi connection, so do your homework before you book!

If you follow this advice you’ll find the perfect place to get your work done, so you can get out and enjoy the best attractions in the city once you’re on down time.

The life of a digital nomad is unique, so set yourself up to work effectively and you’ll be out enjoying the local sights before you know it – as you live a lifestyle many others only ever dream about!

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Filed under Digital Nomads, Finances and Budgeting, Life Hacks, Location Independence, Travel Tips

The top 8 resources to make remote working a success

Productivity by Alien Frank

Productivity by Alien Frank

As you settle into the life of an remote worker, you will find that you experience many up’s and downs as you settle into your new lifestyle. The freedom is empowering, but the lack of co-workers can be a drain on your personal happiness (or you may even be secretly relieved). I’m going to cover the top methods and resources I use to make your life abroad a breeze, whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional.

  1. Rework: Office Not Required

Get your hands on a copy of this book. Written by the founders of 37signals, they delve into the challenges and unexpected benefits for working remotely. If you need help convincing your employer to let you break free from the 9-5, this book will give you the ideas to set it in motion, outlining precisely the steps you take in building a remote work setup.

  1. The right hardware

You need a laptop, a decent internet connection and a mobile phone that you always have on. Even though you are working “remote,” you need to be accessible at all times – especially when your boss needs to get hold of you. A separate workstation from the rest of your house will also help to keep you on task while you are working, and a great headset will make it easy to answer every Skype call that comes int.

  1. The right software

There are endless programs to assist during your telecommute. File sharing systems like Google Drive or Dropbox are great ways to share and simultaneously work on large files with your colleagues. Of course you need to regularly check your email, sign up for a free Skype account and ensure you are always online. If your clients are international, tools like The World Clock will let you schedule effective meetings in any time zone.

  1. A strategy to be productive

Decide what it takes to keep you on track. The biggest danger in working remotely comes from distractions. You are going to need to be even more productive than your “traditional” colleagues to maintain your remote lifestyle and grow your career. Find what works for you, it can be a post-it system plastered over your monitor, or more complex tools like Evernote or Wunderlist. Personally I write down everything I hope to achieve in a day in a notebook. I prioritize the list to determine my top four goals, and split these into two each morning and two each evening. I reward myself with a break in between tasks, or ensure I get 5-10 minutes away from my computer every hour if its a longer project. Simple and easy.

  1. Stay social

It may sound trivial, but you don’t want to find yourself distanced from the office “clique.” The people you interact with everyday at the water cooler form the foundation of your professional network. If you’re not in the office, don’t miss out on everything that goes on while you’re not there. Tools like Campfire, or WhatsApp and Line groups allow colleagues to stay connected (informally). You don’t want to fade into obscurity simply because your office is in your home.

  1. A regular way to “Get out of the house”

The lack of face-to-face social interaction when working remotely has a remarkable ability to turn a professional employee into an unshaven, unbathed neanderthal whose sole human interaction involves having the right change for the pizza delivery guy. Dont be this telecommuter. Get active in your community through Chambers of Commerce, MeetUp.com, or local sports groups and give yourself a reason to shower each day! Join a gym and ensure you get exercise three times a week. It will also help to balance your sanity and adds a nice change of scenery to your home office.

  1. Clear guidelines and milestones

Be open with your boss and colleagues on what it is you are working on. Keep them updated with regular progress reports, and ensure they know the timelines to expect tasks to be completed. Yammer is a great way for teams to keep up to date. It’s a common misconception that working from home involves tapping away at emails while your focus is on the daily TV soap opera’s. Don’t ever give your colleagues this impression. It only takes a quick morning call or message to outline your major tasks for the day alongside the progress you made yesterday. Bring your boss and your team up to speed every morning, and they will never doubt your diligence.

  1. A good work life balance

My final resource is more of a guideline. Remember the office should stay the office. This key fact is often forgotten by remote workers who put in a crazy amount of weekly hours because it’s so easy to log on and “just check my email”. Having your office in your home offers a huge risk for burnout, so set yourself a schedule and stick to it.

Make use of these resources and you will find that remote working is easier than ever. It’s not scary or impossible. All it takes is for you to take charge, and grab this fantastic opportunity for yourself.  

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Life Hacks, Technology, Tips and Tricks, Working Remotely

10 Inspirational Quotes for Becoming Location Independent and Going Remote


o-INSPIRATIONAL-QUOTE-facebook

Build the courage and simply go for it.

It’s a difficult decision to make – relocating your entire life. Inside your head I am sure there are troublesome thoughts. Even if you don’t want to admit it, I know they are there. Taking the leap into a remote lifestyle is a huge change that defies the traditional way “normal people” think about work. You have every right to be concerned, in fact, if turning your life upside down doesn’t give you any grief you may need to worry!

In this post I’m going to give you inspiration. For anyone considering this lifestyle change, you need to let the experts guide you. Listen to their reassurance that you are making the right choice. As follows are my favorite quotes, that I regularly turn to when I need to reaffirm I have chosen the right path.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Forge your own path, and create your own destiny for yourself.

If a man would move the world, he must first move himself.
– Socrates
To affect any great change in the world, you yourself must be willing to change.

“Choice empowers people and makes for a more content workforce. One day offices will be a thing of the past.”
– Richard Branson
Probably the most famous and successful remote professional, Sir Richard speaks the truth about the future. This is the ultimate reason to take advantage of this lifestyle now: the world is headed that way.

In 20 years, you will be more disappointed by what you didn’t do than by what you did.
– Mark Twain
Live with no regrets, and never wonder what might have been. Take charge and live the life you want to live.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
– Charles Darwin
You need to be ready for anything. The key to managing yourself remotely is becoming your own manager. It’s a new skill-set, and those that master it learn the true freedom of being your own boss.

Action will remove the doubt that theory cannot solve.
– Petryl Hsieh
Only by taking action towards your goals will you ever hope to achieve anything. Have the courage to try. The absolute worst case scenario is that you fail, but if you do you will never doubt your action.

If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.
– Bruce Lee
Similar to the quote above, I like this thought. Normal people over analyze everything they do. It’s much easier to argue and question than it is to actually do something. If you want to make progress, start by taking action, today.

We are limited but we can push back the borders of our limitations.
– Stephen Covey
It’s up to you to push your boundaries. No one else is going to do this for you.

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
– Greg Anderson
I like this reminder that you need to enjoy every aspect of your day. Your experiences while working remotely will be unparalleled, don’t forget to enjoy them.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
– Steve Jobs

Anyone considering a change in lifestyle may hear negative feedback, possibly from friends and family, primarily because they don’t understand your choices. I like this as a last thought because it encourages you to drown out unnecessary noise, listen only to your inner heart and take action.

Life comes down to doing what you love, and living a life that makes you happy to be alive. This will mean different things to many people. Personally, I cannot imagine ever working in an office again. Take inspiration and courage from these quotes, and I look forward to the beginning of your own journey.

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Digital Nomads, Location Independence, Motivation

The Do’s and Don’ts of Working Remotely

Cars stuck in a traffic jam

Avoiding the morning commute is a great part of my day

In the beginning, working from home is bliss. You set your own schedule, have a fantastic commute and the daytime soaps take the place of even the most chatty co-workers.

Richard Branson is a big supporter of telecommuting, working from his island in the Caribbean he believes “remote working is easier and more effective than ever.” Faced with endless perks, there are a couple of hazards you must learn to navigate. Follow our advice and you will be more productive than ever in your home office. Even if you only work remotely once a week, our tips will help you accomplish more and make sure you stay productive – even when no one is watching.

The ability to work from home has many advantages, but requires more self-discipline and motivation than a traditional office environment. To set yourself up for success this is what you need to do:

  • Have a workspace separate from your home, with minimal distractions. The TV isn’t turned on as background noise in a normal office, it shouldn’t be on in your home office either.

  • Create boundaries. Despite being at home, you have work to do. Your friends and family need to respect that, and they should limit any distractions while you are working.

  • Get ready for each day. Shower and change out of your pajamas. You never know when the boss will call on Skype, or your friends drop by unannounced.

  • Stay organised. Use to-do lists, calendars, apps on your phone. Whatever it takes for you to stay on top of your tasks and never miss a deadline.

  • Form a schedule, a semblance of routine office hours so that your colleagues, boss and your clients know when it is OK to contact you. Try to match this as close to normal business hours as possible, it makes it easier for everyone involved.

  • Having a schedule also stops you working too much, It’s important to take breaks throughout the day. Take time for a relaxing lunch break and get outside, if only for a short period of time. It will leave you refreshed once you begin work again.

  • Have a back-up plan. There will be days where the internet goes down, or for whatever reason you can’t work from your home office. Scope out a library of coffee shop you can work from as your plan B, or you could always just pop into your normal office.

  • Make the extra effort to stay in touch with your colleagues. Pick up the phone to speak to people, even if it’s not 100% work related. Use technology to help you here, Skype and instant messaging are great way to stay abreast of the latest office news without leaving your remote office. If there is a birthday or special event, make it a point to attend in person.

There are many hazards a telecommuter needs to learn to manage. More so than in a normal office, a remote worker has to look out for the following:

  • Don’t become a recluse. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to leave the house. The same goes for showering. Stay clean people!

  • Don’t ever lose touch with the people in your company. It’s easy to do, when you are not forced to interact in a lunch room or cafeteria. You need to work extra hard to maintain your relationships with colleagues while you work remotely.

  • Don’t take personal calls during work hours. Often family and friends think that since you are home you can catch up on your work later. Unfortunately this is not the case. You need to manage your close acquaintances expectations, and only return calls once your work is done.

  • Don’t do personal chores or errands while you are meant to be working. It will take twice as long to get your work done. Don’t tweet about it either, your boss is going to see you’re not working.

  • Don’t procrastinate and let the hours slip away. Create a routine you can stick to with a schedule that allows you be productive throughout the day.

  • Don’t work too much. Typically remote workers put in a lot extra time, its easy to fire up the laptop and spend another few hours working late into the night. You have a huge risk of burning out. Make sure your schedule makes sense.

These tips are a great start in being effective while working remotely. Follow them to the letter and you will be a very successful telecommuter. But if you’re anything like me, every now and then you need to throw caution to the wind. Go see a movie, take the afternoon off to enjoy the sun in the park, or dive into a book only to emerge hours later. The real joy in a flexible schedule is that you dictate when you need to work, and when you can afford to indulge in some spontaneous fun. Just don’t forget that an afternoon off might equate to staying up till 4am to meet that deadline.

But hey, that’s your call. The biggest perk of working remotely is being your own boss.

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Motivation, Work and Business, Working Remotely

Top 10 Reasons to Work Remotely from Thailand

Enjoying a break from the office.

My favorite place, the beach.

I couldn’t escape. After a brief stint in Europe, Bangkok was calling me back. Add this to the winter that was beginning in Denmark, and I was more than eager to jump on a plane. There is something exotic and magical about Thailand that had me hooked. Despite the traffic and the pollution, I was itching to be back.

Legality

For anyone considering remote working from Thailand, first you need to understand this. The law states any foreigner working in Thailand requires a Non-Immigrant Visa and Work Permit. This goes for both paid work and volunteer. After four years of living and working here, I’ve spoken to many people on the subject – lawyers, immigration officers, and other expats. My views are as follows, but definitely do not take this as legal advice. Talk to an immigration specialist to determine the best solution for you.

  • If you are working for a company and going into an office everyday. Definitely yes, you need a work permit. Eventually you will get caught, meaning deportation if you don’t have a valid work permit. Usually it’s a disgruntled former employee who makes an anonymous call to the authorities.

  • Working remotely, where your only connection to your overseas clients is a laptop, it’s a grey area. You don’t work for a Thai company, you’re a freelancer, or are employed by a company in another jurisdiction. So long as your salary is being paid into an offshore account, it becomes very difficult to prove you have actually been working. I have not heard of anyone that was ever caught working remotely, a good number of my friends have been operating exactly like this in Thailand for many years. Ultimately, it’s up to you. 

Now we have the serious stuff out-of-the-way, this is why I love Thailand.

1. Getting a long stay visa is simple

Most countries have strict tourism and immigration rules, and it can be difficult to stay in one place for an extended period of time. Thailand is the same. On a Tourist visa, most visitors get a short stay of only 30 days. You do have another option. A year’s worth of language class will cost around $800-850 USD, buying 4 hours a week of class, and a permit to remain in Thailand for 12 months. If you decide to stay longer, you can purchase additional classes, extending this visa up to three years. This is the easiest way foreigners can remain in Thailand for a long period of time.

2. The start-up community is growing

Four years ago nobody in Thailand knew what the IT scene was. There was no push to develop a community of entrepreneurs outside of Singapore, and it was difficult to find like-minded people. Today, the opposite is true. There are a growing number of successful IT start-up’s based out of Bangkok. What’s also great, the community isn’t too large. You will always meet new people, but you can form strong relationships with the regulars. As it’s developing, more and more entrepreneurs that have had successful buyouts are now onto their third and fourth venture. They are coaching the next round of entrepreneurs to further success. There are strong communities organizing events every week, and large start-up competitions and exhibitions every few months. You won’t be alone over here.

3. Wide variety of places to work

If sitting in your apartment bores you to tears, you now have a wide range of options to get you out. It’s nice to have a change of scenery from the Starbucks and your regular window table. Co-working spaces are springing up all over the city. The first of its kind, Hubba has started a craze with entrepreneurs, both foreign and Thai alike. They bring together like-minded people in a “flexi” office environment. With desk rental ranging from $3 to $6 a day, you aren’t going to find a cheaper location to remote from!

4. The food

Without a doubt, the availability of food is a fantastic upside. Most Thai’s eat out three times a day because it’s so easy to get great food, and its ridiculously cheap. At midnight you can find awesome seafood restaurants still working, many stay open all night to cater for the night owls in all of us. My personal preference is local markets, you can’t beat the taste of hot cooked food from a street vendor. I also love the prices, a freshly made som-tum salad or a chicken-rice dish sets you back about a dollar.

5. The location

Bangkok is huge. With 9.3 million people living here, it has all the traits of a big city. Traffic congestion, problems with litter and pollution. But its location is fantastic. Drive two and a half hours north and you can relax alone in a national park. An hour and a half east and you’re on the beach at Pattaya. Or simply book a cheap flight and go anywhere in South East Asia. Cambodia is an hour away, Singapore is two, Hong Kong three, and in four hours you can be on the beach in Bali. My last trip to Cambodia was $130 return. Why not right?

6. The islands

What I love most is the islands, especially in the south of Thailand. There are so many places to visit you will not have enough time to explore them all. After 4 years, I’m still not even halfway through my to-do list! Koh Surin, Koh Similan, or Koh Lipe, all have beautiful beaches, and unspoiled reef just offshore. The best part, is that cell phone reception will be bad on the island, giving you a perfect excuse to unwind and catch up on that book you have been wanting to read.

7. The people

The land of smiles. The old catch phrase is quite adequate in describing the way people are here. Everyone is very relaxed and accepting. Whatever you want to do, be, look like or have, most Thai’s won’t even blink. They are so friendly to you, that soon you will have a large network of local people who remember your favorite dishes in their restaurants, or even just smile and say hello when they see you.

8. The cost of living

I touched on it earlier, but the cost to live here is ridiculously low. A decent studio apartment will set you back around $300 a month. I used to spend this in a week in Sydney! In an apartment building, rent normally includes internet and TV, and a maid service a couple of times a week. The only other bills are power and water, blasting air conditioning all day it’s going to add another $100 on top of your rent at the end of the month. This is insanely low compared to anywhere in the Western world, and means you can live here on a much lower salary, and also save a greater percentage of your monthly income.

9. The weather

It’s 30 degrees. Everyday. OK, maybe an exaggeration, it ranges from 27-32 throughout the year, but never strays far from this benchmark. Insane right? It’s always summer, perfect weather for a weekend trip to the beach, or a hike into the mountains.

10. The women

Let’s face it, there are so many western guys with beautiful Thai women, this one had to make it into the list. I’m happily married, but definitely appreciate this last reason that brings many guys over to Bangkok. Thai women are typically easy to get along with, love to laugh, and see western men as ‘exotic.’ Most single guys that come to Thailand soon find themselves in a relationship. For the girls, I’ve yet to meet someone here who has said Thai guys are the reason they first moved to Bangkok, though have met quite a few who are in happy relationships with a Thai.

I arrived in Thailand with a two-year contract. Without a long-term plan I wasn’t opposed to staying longer, until an opportunity came to leave. After six months of European weather, closed stores over the weekends and expensive beer, Thailand drew me back. I have never been happier. October 2013 marked my fourth year in the land of smiles, and I am looking forward to many more to come.

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Expats, Preparing to Breakaway, Travel Tips

My biggest challenge in working from home

Laptop and Home Office Desk

Staying motivated while the TV is calling in my home office.

A handful of us have made changes in life that seem bizarre to normal people. ‘Crazy’ is a term regularly used to describe the choices I have made. I threw in the towel, giving up a well-paying management role to relocate over 8,500 km into a country with no idea of my next step. I was in need of something new, however in hindsight I do agree this was a rather extreme decision

I justified the choice to my wife, my family (and most importantly my mother in law) with a need to recharge, revitalize and discover a different type of income that would give me both flexibility and freedom. I had savings to get me through the dry spell in the beginning, reassuring the largest doubts in my mind. I was also lucky to have fantastic people close to me, and received phenomenal understanding and support through the transition. Would I recommend this path to everyone? Probably not. I jumped off the deep end, and failure was an outcome I had to stare in the face each and every day.

Fortunately, there are less dramatic options for those of us seeking something new. Even a small change can be a very good thing, revitalizing our passion for the job and recharging our batteries. When you want to keep your day job but take more control, I recommend negotiating a work from home arrangement with your employer. Conducting business from your sofa in your pajamas is a dream of many office employees. I have been consulting out of my home office on-and-off for over a year, but believe me, it comes with it’s own unique set of challenges.

Managing distractions is simply the hardest thing to do. For anyone even considering this change of lifestyle, you will not succeed if you cannot take responsibility for your own actions. Before you take that first step, ask yourself if you are ready to handle being your own boss. You will have no one in your lounge room forcing you to turn off the TV and focus on work, no colleagues to keep you on track when you hit a slump after lunch. This is what I personally have struggled with, staying on task when there are so many other things to do!

My house is my castle, and unfortunately, coping with the call of the latest Xbox games, fantastic movies queued up in Netflix  or my dog calling for attention means that it can be very difficult to remain productive. In the last 12 months I have learnt how critical it is to be disciplined, otherwise nothing ever gets done. Being strict with yourself is very, very hard. In the beginning I thought that I was doing incredibly. I was always ‘busy’ and the day’s seemed to fly right past. Looking back, I know now I could have achieved much more in my first months. Time and goal management needed to right up top of my priority list, as I was now my own boss. I realized the change in my lifestyle would also require a change in me. Success hinged on my ability to adapt, and only I could bring this change in myself.

Today, I am more scheduled than I ever could have imagined. I start my day at 7 am, with a ridiculously large coffee and build a task/reward list. This is what I developed to keep me motivated and on track, essentially its a to-do list with a reward for finishing each task. Some are small, like reading all of my new emails before I can send one. Other tasks are much larger, like finishing this article before I can head to the gym! I have found that making sure I achieve something before I can go for lunch, turn on the TV or even walk my dog is an excellent motivator. It forces me to get things done when otherwise I will have an empty belly or a grumpy puppy on my hands.

Working from home is a fantastic change, whether its for yourself or for your employer, make sure you understand the challenges involved before you take the leap. You won’t get anything done if you think checking your emails while you watch 4 hours of daytime soaps is working. Learn to manage your time and you will find that both your lifestyle and happiness will improve. Remember, working from home is a privilege you get from your employer. It’s not a right, and you need to earn it. Once you earn it, make sure you continue to deserve it.

It’s challenging to be your own boss, but the rewards are phenomenal.

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Expats, Motivation, Preparing to Breakaway, The Breakaway, Work and Business

Turning my life upside down

Deck chairs by the beach. Perfect office space.

Southern Thailand, I can’t imagine a more beautiful office space…

A roller coaster. The most adequate description of my life over the last four years. My decision to break free and take control of my destiny came as a result of a series of unexpected events, that led me from Australia, to Thailand, to Denmark, and back again to Thailand.

The first step is to begin at the beginning, and in the beginning there is always a girl. We met in a company training session in Copenhagen, and fell head-over-heels for each other. The flight back to Sydney was terrible, I knew where I wanted to be, and who I wanted to be with. Unfortunately for my parents, this was not in Australia! Two months later, with a freshly signed expatriation contract, I boarded a plane to her hometown of Bangkok. This first shift was painless. As an expat, your hand is held through every difficult moment associated with an international relocation. Visa, work permits, and even your belongings are taken care of, one day you just wake up realizing you are indeed quite far from home.

The second shift reflected another opportunity. To Copenhagen with us both on expatriation; tackling exciting projects, our life was surreal. However crunch time always hits, hitting hardest in the midst of the financial crisis. I found myself alone in Denmark after her contract was terminated, and 30% of our workforce had been made redundant. Looking to my colleagues, I realized that experience, ability, and skills counted for little. People whose life had been this company, counted for naught. My friends who had invested their entire careers in this business were now out of a job, out of options.

It was this point that was critical for me. During yet another round of farewell beers, I decided that I never wanted to be trapped in that position. I never wanted to give another person the ability to influence my life to such a degree. I never wanted to rely on anyone but myself. My financial future, my life, and ultimately my happiness needed to be under my control.

Handing in my resignation sealed my fate. I threw in the towel with the company that had trained me, where I had grown from an entry-level trainee to management, and built my career over the course of six years. It was not a decision made lightly, and my advice for anyone considering a digital nomad lifestyle is twofold. Have a back-up plan in place, and have some money behind you. Your savings will ensure you can put food on the table, and a back-up plan provides peace of mind during the transition. I had savings that could fund my life in Bangkok for 12 months, 18 at a stretch if my earnings were zero. This provided peace of mind to myself, as well as my family, who at this point were thinking that their son had lost the plot. I also talked in detail with my previous managers in Thailand, and had received an open invitation to return to my previous job. This greatly reduced the risk that involved, making it much easier to take my first leap.

Selling 99% of my belongings was a freeing experience, it opened my eyes to the materialism that is mind-numbingly forced down our throats in modern society. The scary part, is that most of us never even realize. My 20 kg baggage allowance on the return flight to Thailand did not leave room for sentiment, and I was brutal. I moved to Copenhagen with a twenty-foot container jammed full of my life, almost a ton of accumulated “stuff” that I had given value to. I returned with a suitcase.  

Touching down in the heat of Bangkok, I had no idea on my next steps. No plan, no 5-step guide.

I was definitely in the deep end, but I had never felt more alive.

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Expats, Motivation, The Decision