For many years, say 15 or so, I was on a path of working hard with the intention of retiring early to travel the world. Long-term travel was essentially my end goal, and I was going to work harder to make it happen sooner.
This plan made a few assumptions:
- Long-term travel requires more money
- Long-term travel disrupts careers
- Long-term travel is worthy of a dream
This couldn’t be any LESS correct.
Assumption #1 – Travel Requires More Money
Woohoo! 20 Million Dollars!
I asked Lauren last night,
What would we do if we came into lots of money, say 20 million dollars.
We were stumped. We love travel and we love building startups, but we’re already doing both. So we had to think harder.
I’ve got it! We’d stay in a nicer place! We could move into a better apartment for our remaining week in Chiang Mai before heading to Berlin.
So instead of our current rent of $70/week, we’d pay $140/week. Why only $140/week? This is Thailand, not Monaco. A nice place in other cities would certainly cost a lot more, but right here, right now, if money were no issue, we’d spend $70 on a nicer apartment for the week.
Great! $70 down, $19,999,930 to go.
What? You Don’t Have a Spare $70 Right Now?
Of course we do. So that answer sucks. Back to the drawing board.
Maybe $20 million would give us the flexibility to live in more desired cities. So I said to Lauren,
Instead of living in Bangalore, Bangkok and Buenos Aires, we could live and build startups from New York, Paris and London.
Uh oh, hold the phone. We were just in New York, and compared to the big cities of India, it was a bit of a bore. No cows walking down the street, no villagers crowding around to watch me get a shave, and just not that interesting. So if we moved to New York, it would mean the $20 million is hampering, not improving, our travels. Boo! Back to the drawing board.
A Sad State of Affairs
Wow, I’ve never been in such a state that $20 million wouldn’t change much. I’d certainly invest the money, maybe buy a new backpack (which I totally don’t even need), oh, and I’d upgrade my MacBook (which I’m planning to do in Berlin anyway). But otherwise, we’d keep building startups and traveling at a similar pace. That’s what we like.
There goes assumption #1.
Assumption #2 – Travel Disrupts Careers
What About Our Careers and Saving for The Future?
Oh, you mean the future as in retirement, when you plan to travel the world. Well, there’s some recursive logic. You’re traveling right now, silly :) Okay, so what about the future when we can’t travel anymore and need to pay for children to enter school.
Guess what? After 14 months on the road, Lauren and are now making more money than we did when we both worked full-time in private equity.
Yes, Private Equity, one of the most prestigious and difficult-to-enter areas of finance. Do you know how many years we spent at university to get those jobs? More than our 14 months on the road, that’s for sure.
But I’m Different, I Love My Job
I loved my job too. I never woke up and didn’t want to go to work. At least not in my last couple of jobs. But I was living a lie.
In private equity, I was investing in businesses and advising very successful business people on how to improve their businesses. The problem? Well, neither me, nor anyone else at my firm, had EVER built a successful business. Let’s be honest, what a joke!
Now, on the road, Lauren and I are building our own products and have our own customers. This is real business. Keep in mind, it was only once we really got into financial trouble on the road that our brains kicked into overdrive.
While long-term travel did disrupt our careers, it led to much better ‘careers’.
There goes assumption #2.
Assumption #3 – Travel is an Event for Later
Long-Term Travel is an Education, Not an Event
Most of us go to school from the ages of 4 or 5 and get as much done as early as possible so we can benefit from lessons learned and make more of our lives.
But if travel is also an education, why do we defer it? That would be like deferring school until 65 and working in a factory from the age of 5.
On top of everything else, in 14 months we’ve learned how to make more money than ever with our very own ideas. We’ve also learned to be independent and better deal with change and uncertainty. Compare this to most MBAs who’ve never had their own customers, but call themselves business people.
So given that the lessons from long-term travel have such an important and long-lasting impact on life, it makes no sense to defer it.
There goes assumption #3.
Travel now. Hit the road and don’t look back. You absolutely won’t regret it. :)