The following is a guest post by Breanden Beneschott, co-founder and COO of Toptal, a marketplace for top developers. I have no affiliation with the company, but I found Breanden’s story fascinating.
This post covers how he traveled through 20+ countries while building a company, experiencing the best the world had to offer. His how-to instructions include travel tools, shortcuts, and all the non-obvious systems you’d expect from a great engineer.
For context and to kick us off, an excerpt from Breanden’s email to me might be helpful. Edited down a bit, here it is:
We started Toptal 3.5 years ago from my dorm room at Princeton (I think a week after I met you briefly in Ed Zschau’s class [TIM: I guest lectured there], where I decided to do my final paper on the company). By the time I finished school six months later, Toptal was doing well with clients and engineers all over the world. We decided to move to Eastern Europe and keep practicing what we were preaching, in terms of scaling a company via a completely distributed team. Doing so allowed us to funnel nearly all profits back into growing the business (and live like kings for next to nothing). We are now approx 60 team members and 1000 engineers (e.g., top-100 Rails contributors, guys from CERN, university professors, etc.) working with thousands of clients (e.g., Beats, Zendesk, Artsy, JPMorgan, etc.) with virtually zero restrictions when it comes to location.
People constantly ask me how I manage to travel and work the way I do. I had always hoped outside (non-Toptal) people would see this post and be inspired to join us or pick up and travel while working on their own big ideas.
BTW, I do expect that comments will highlight the ambiguity of the “growing hundreds of percent year over year” statement. We’ve very deliberately avoided most press until now, as we didn’t want to build a company based on PR, and we’ve never publicly announced our revenue. Right now we are well north of XXM/yr [TIM: I replaced the actual number with XX but, suffice to say, they have 9-figure acquisition offers and term sheets] and growing like a weed, but few non-core people know that. So do you see any tactful way of preempting those sorts of comments?
Yep, I do. I could include your email like I just did.
Now, on to the details. This is a good one, folks, so keep reading. Breanden’s tips apply mostly to the mobility and travel pieces of the puzzle; if you’d like additional business-building tools, I highly suggest this article on rapid testing (in a weekend), this article on hacking Kickstarter, and this post on all aspects of marketing and PR.
[The following is based on my personal experience as a traveling engineer and founder. Feel free to contact me any time at breanden [at] toptal [dot] com.]
I’ve lived and worked remotely in approximately 29 countries since I finished school three years ago. I’ve been running Toptal, a venture funded company growing hundreds of percent year over year—all from my laptop, phone, and tablet.
I don’t have an apartment. I don’t have a house. I don’t have an office.
I hate the cold, so I summer hop.
Everywhere I go, I meet great engineers who end up becoming invaluable parts of Toptal.
I encourage everyone in Toptal to travel, and a lot of us do. Some of us travel for week long “breaks” throughout the year, and some of us live out of a suitcase like me. Few of us ever stop working for a full day.
I’m writing this because…
I was repeatedly asked if I had some sort of guide or checklist for traveling/working the way I do. Especially for first-timers, the idea of adventuring while working can be daunting. There are a lot of details to consider, and I’ve learned a lot from my own trial-and-error.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized a guide like this was actually missing.
The 4-Hour Workweek was great, and I like Tim Ferriss a lot. But what if you want to work more than 4 hours a week? I like working crazy hours. I don’t want a lifestyle company. I want to solve hard problems. I want to build something big and give it my all.
I want a book on how to create a billion-dollar company while becoming a fighter pilot. (I’m trying to build a world-changing company while becoming a professional polo player.) That would be inspiring. But until it comes, maybe this post will be helpful to a few people.
Because it’s unbelievably awesome.
Now is the time: it’s feasible like never before. You can put in a full work day no matter where you are. If you’re standing in line for airport security, you can listen to The Changelog. If you’re in the Hungarian countryside, you can work perfectly via 4G. If you’re flying across the world, you can work from the moment you buckle in to the moment you stand up to get off the plane. The airport will have WiFi to push a commit if your plane didn’t. You can travel while producing some of the best work of your career, and you will grow with every new stamp in your passport.
The secret benefit: avoiding burnout.
I don’t take vacations. I don’t want to work hard to build a company that makes lots of money so I can piss off and go on holiday. I’m at a start-up. I’m a part of it, and it’s a part of me. This is a marathon, and there will be a winner. Traveling and working allows you to go non-stop. There is no burnout. There’s no staring at a clock or calendar waiting for the EOD/weekend/break. You’re refreshed weekly, and you can hone your focus and structure your time so you are a cross functional superstar who never stops learning.
Length of travel
I usually stay in places for ~3 months. Why?
It fits under the constraints of the typical tourist visa.
More on that in a second.
It gives you time to relax and focus in between the stressful travel sessions.
Power trips of 9 countries in 3 weeks are for students on holiday. You need to be able to stop traveling and focus on work.
It gives you time to really explore and get to know a place and people.
There are almost certainly local tech meetups, and there are likely to be other Toptal engineers wherever you go now as well.
You can really try local culture.
Learn to play polo in Argentina. Practice capoeira in Brazil. Go to trance festivals in Europe. If you don’t know where to start, join Internations and go to expat meetups.
It helps with costs.
Trips of this duration help you negotiate special medium-term deals on apartments, cars, vespas, etc.
Who to go with
A close friend/colleague
You can split costs for a lot of things like cars, hotels, etc. You can also split the research and push each other to do things you might not do yourself (like go out to new places, go on adventures, rent a boat, etc.).
Not for the faint of heart, but not everyone has the flexibility you do as a software engineer. If you don’t have anyone to go with, don’t let it stop you. With Internations and a network like Toptal, you can almost certainly go anywhere and immediately find people with lots in common.
Can be by far the most expensive option, but it’s probably the most rewarding and fun. Nothing brings compatible people together like adventure. However, nothing drives incompatible people apart like stress, so be careful. The other thing to consider is whether your significant other will also be working during your travels. If so, that’s tremendous, and you are very lucky. If not, that can be very hard. The added costs of having a dependent aside, you don’t want to be in a position where someone resents you for constantly working during what they’ve misunderstood to be a vacation. Luckily there are many interesting careers in addition to software engineering that are now doable remotely (e.g., executive assistant, translator, designer, tutor, entrepreneur, etc.).
What to take
Always a carry on. Pretty much always with me.
I use a MacBook Pro 15″ Retina.
Get a local SIM card (usually a prepaid or pay-as-you-go for between $20-$50 at T-Mobile, Vodafone, etc., with a few GBs of data that you can top up as-needed) everywhere you go so you can always be online and never stress about what you’re missing. Don’t leave the store until you have the phone in your hands with working Internet. If you’re on an iPhone 5, you can almost always cut a micro SIM to fit the nano SIM and it will work just fine.
You’re an engineer. Use Airdisplay to enable your tablet as a second monitor. It also makes it much easier to work on planes: I used an iPad Mini to write this post on a flight from LAX to Auckland, New Zealand.
I rent cars and explore places a lot, so this is key. I have a Garmin Nuvi. I try to download the maps before I leave to go to anywhere new.
iPhone batteries are terrible, and this saves the day.
For work, I use the ones that come with everything Apple. They never fail, and I live on Skype. I see lots of people with more expensive systems and they constantly have problems. It’s pointless.
WiFi doesn’t always work.
You’ll use this everywhere. If you ever find yourself without one, ask the hotel if they have an extra.
New whiteboard marker
It saves the day at least a couple times a year, whether it’s because you’re collaborating in a co-working space and all the markers are dead or you need to work out something John Nash-style.
Take photos of this on your phone and also email them to yourself.
Take photos of this on your phone and also email them to yourself.
SIM card collection
Olympic gymnasts use these for resistance training. With 6″ of rubber, you can do a full body workout anywhere. When you spend long hours on your computer, you need to get up and exercise every hour.
For headaches and general aches and pains.
For digestion. Traveling can be stressful, and new foods do unexpected things.
Don’t let yourself expire. Like wearing boat shoes? Put a dab on your feet as well.
Checked on flights. Leave your Louis Vuitton luggage at home. It just makes you a target, and your stuff will get stolen. Some people swear by expensive luggage, but I’ve used a basic 5-piece luggage set since I graduated high school in 2004, and it’s worked fine.
Clothes. You can figure out the basics but I usually carry the following:
- Dress shirt
- Dress shoes
- Gym shorts
- Running shoes. Running is a great way to explore places. [TIM: Bruce Lee had a similar philosophy while shooting films.]
- Swim shorts
- Flip flops. For gyms, pools, and beaches.
Aka the “toy bag”; also checked on flights.
Snowboards, polo equipment, surf boards, or whatever you need for your specific trip.
It sounds strange, but always make sure your stuff is clean. Some countries (like New Zealand) are very protective, and if there’s dirt, sand, grass, hair, etc. on your stuff, they may take everything and sanitize it for you (in God knows what) at the airport, or even confiscate it.
Where to stay
Try NomadList for selecting a city.
The data here does not match my own experience in many cases, but, overall, it gives a pretty good overview of some of the important aspects you’ll want to consider for each location you choose.
Airbnb is what I use most, but it’s a PITA [pain in the ass] for medium-term stays.
I see a need in the market for medium-term rentals. If you know of a better solution, please let me know! Unless you’re booking far in advance (something I find impossible), you’ll find Airbnb places might be available for a month straight except for one or two weekends where you’ll have to either temporarily move out or find another place. Don’t get too comfortable. I’ve had success asking the Airbnb hosts if they have recommendations on medium-term housing. They often have friends with unlisted places or can make special arrangements for you (like getting an apartment ready that they weren’t renting at all before… and since you’re there, you can check it out before you commit). Once you’ve stayed with them via Airbnb, you’ve earned their trust a bit, and they’re usually very helpful.
You need great Internet.
So, for now, Antarctica is out. But most places are totally fine (and often better than in the US). However, you have to do your homework. As a traveling software engineer, you can never be unavailable due to bad Internet. Buy a pay-as-you-go SIM first thing, but still be sure to explicitly ask every host/hotel/realtor etc. what the Internet speeds are.
Here’s my standard message when making an inquiry on Airbnb:
Your apartment looks amazing. Any chance it’s available tonight for two people?
Also, as engineers, we do a lot of our work online, so we really need stable and quick internet. Do you know the speed of your connection (e.g., 10Mbs/2Mbps)? If not, would you mind running a little test (just google “internet speed test” and click the first result) and letting me know?
Thank you so much for your consideration.
Every hotel will say their Internet is great, but you can usually find reviews about how good their Internet really is on Tripadvisor (and by Googling). Sometimes specific rooms at a hotel are ok while others are not. Do not get into a position where you can’t have a clear Skype call because you listened to a clueless receptionist.
You can also try All The Rooms and HomeAway.
All The Rooms is an aggregator of many house/apartment/hotel websites. HomeAway is similar to Airbnb. Some of these sites are better than others in each city.
Kayak and Hipmunk are good for hotels/rental cars.
However, you can usually call the hotels directly and negotiate better rates and upgrades.
Always ask for a better room or free upgrade when you check into a hotel.
You’ll get something about 50% of the time.
Similarly, always try to negotiate a special weekly or monthly rate on housing and cars.
Don’t stay in hostels.
You’re not a kid. You’re a professional, and you need dedicated time to focus on work.
How to pull it off
The longer you wait, the more expensive it is.
That said, I hate planning, and I find that last minute usually works out fine. Worst case scenario: you’re uncomfortable for a little while (red eye flight, stuck in traffic while it’s 900 degrees, etc.) but you end up with a funny story and an adventure.
Rental cars (above)
If you’re American, learn how to drive a stick shift before you go overseas. They are much cheaper to rent, and it’s often impossible to find an automatic.
Use TripIt or SuperFly to keep track of and redeem your rewards. They will build up over time.
I always try to carry a few hundred USD. It’s easily exchanged whereas others currencies aren’t always. Before you travel, you’ll also need to call your banks and let them know in which countries you’ll be using your debit card. Otherwise they may block it after your first transaction, and you’ll have a mess to untangle. Also, be sure to download a currency converter app so you know how much things cost; and when you need more cash, pull it from an ATM instead of an exchange in order to reduce fees.
Get one and add credit to it so you can call clients, hotels, etc. any time. It’s also wise to have it forward to your current mobile number so your clients and colleagues can call you when they need to.
Lost a charger or adapter?
Ask the hotel desk. They usually have a box of them that other guests have left behind.
Check Foursquare for free WiFi hotspots. Rewards lounges usually have a WiFi network. Restaurants often do as well… just ask for the password. Many gas stations like Shell and OMV have open and fast WiFi as well.
Always use something like World Time Buddy to easily double check time zones. Do not get into a position where you’re missing team calls because you forgot daylight savings time or you did the mental math wrong.
When to go
Any time you want.
As I mentioned earlier, most countries permit a three-month stay under their tourist visa. (Specifically, 90 out of every 180 days.)
Most counties are very easy to go in and out of.
The worst is always the US where I’m treated like a terrorist virtually every time I enter or leave. (I refuse to fly into Seattle–Tacoma International Airport ever again). For many countries (in my experience, as an American), all you need to do is show up at the border not looking like a criminal, and they will give you a tourist visa as you go through the airport. In some countries like Turkey, you’ll have to pay a small fee (~$20). In others, you need to fill out paperwork beforehand and pay a larger fee (e.g., Argentina and Brazil). I carry a printout of a recent bank statement and copies of my return tickets (if I have them) just in case a customs agent asks to see them (and some countries like New Zealand require them).
Always check visa requirements before you travel.
I like using CheapoAir’s tool. If you have questions, call an embassy.
This sounds obvious, but don’t overstay your visas.
While most countries are pretty forgiving (you pay a fee on your way out/in and you can’t come back for a while… if you’re caught at all), it’s not worth the stress (and waiting in that line feeling guilty and terrified is freaking stressful). If you love a place and want to stay longer, find a recommended lawyer on Internations (just post a question asking for recommendations) and ask what it takes. For Europe, it’s pretty easy (at least in my experience as an American). You can go to a lax country like Hungary and pretty easily get a 1-year visa, which is then good for anywhere in the Schengen Zone.
Communication with clients.
If the technical ability is there, then now it comes down to communication and reliability. I always tell engineers and their clients that if I were to take each into a separate room, they need to always be able to give identical answers to the following three questions:
- What are you working on now?
- What were you just working on?
- What will you be working on tomorrow?
Maintaining that level of communication and transparency is not difficult in an office, but it’s also not difficult when you’re remote. Always be connected and proactive.
Always lock your suitcases with TSA approved locks.
I’ve had lots of baggage get lost and several misc items get stolen.
When flying, always check the rates for business class.
If you’re checking multiple bags, sometimes business class can be cheaper because the bags are free.
When you’re on long flights, get up and walk around every couple hours.
You don’t want to die from a blood clot.
Shit will happen. Try to let it go immediately.
You don’t need to (nor can you) plan every last detail when you travel, and you don’t need to follow every rule. Sometimes you need to wing it. Be impulsive. Seize an opportunity to jump on a train to Oktoberfest with a group of brand new friends. Invite the girl you can’t stop thinking about to a wild weekend in Turkey. Go to Georgia and party like Russia might come back tomorrow.
That’s when awesome happens. Welcome to Toptal.
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172 Replies to “How to Travel to 20+ Countries…While Building a Massive Business in the Process”
It would be great to know more about how you manage teams while traveling.
I’m planning on publishing a follow up post on this topic very soon. I’ll drop a comment here with a link when I get it up.
Great way to manage your remote teams is through Acano, a new more secure way of doing video calls on any device that has internet accessibility. Skype is good but this is great!
Thanks Breaden for the travelling while working tips. It would be great to get some input on how you started and grew your company.
P.S. Good luck on your polo career !
I wrote a couple of newer posts about it here:
I’ve written about that topic here:
Happy to answer any questions you may have.
I would have a category for traveling with a family
That’s very comprehensive. I’ve been finding airbnb more and more difficult to actually get people to confirm bookings. I joined LoveHomeSwap and have been bitterly disappointed with them. I second the request for a solution to the mid-term rental problem.
OK, so I learnt how to travel the country but where’s the the how-to for building a massive business?
be a “top developper” I guess ? but yeah, good question
Nobody is gonna give you a specific blueprint because every startup tends to be different. There are similar aspects to each one of them, but better do trial and error and optimize on the go. It’s a much knowledgeable experience.
Almost a half attempt at Tim’s version years ago of how to travel light.
This is basically a PR post to big up Toptal no?
Is Tim an investor in Toptal?
No, I’m not an investor in Toptal and have no affiliation.
Yes, I’m looking for that section also. I’m in Mexico and the link just takes me to the Spanish version of Shopify. Please advise Tim.
I wrote a couple of newer posts about it here:
Exactly! That wasn’t what the post was supposed to be about.
For your next book:
“The 4-Hour Workweek was great, and I like Tim Ferriss a lot. But what if you want to work more than 4 hours a week? I like working crazy hours. I don’t want a lifestyle company. I want to solve hard problems. I want to build something big and give it my all.”
Create world-changing entrepreneurs who solve big problems, because most people want to. That’s the mental performance most people aspire to dedicate themselves to, in the long-term.
People want to create or find their own “Toptal”.
(Even if the method is about the same, it’s a different niche, and a different sell.)
Do you think 4HWW outsold 4HC because it offered pain-relief, rather than “self-actualization” (motivation by stick, not carrot)?
If so, consider that for the next book.
And if there’s no next book, I apologize for this tangent. I just wanted to provide feedback, since I believe this kind of teaching is where you have more potential than most.
Love this post. It’s a good case study that reminds and shows us what’s actually possible.
Best part: “I don’t have an apartment. I don’t have a house. I don’t have an office.
I hate the cold, so I summer hop.
Everywhere I go, I meet great engineers who end up becoming invaluable parts of Toptal.”
Ok…so now I know how to get on and off an airplane every few months. What about the part where I’m running a multimillion dollar business at the same time?
if you are planning to fly there, the best solution after landing is Airport Taxi
Thanks for the practical international travel tips for techies… シ
Awesome article – very timeful and relevant for me at the moment. Traveling has proven to be the true test of my business systems 🙂
I’d add a few things, especially since the author of the post requested them:
I do 3 month stays to the extreme, and I never pay that much and would highly recommend people avoid Airbnb at all costs (I do indeed use this, but only for stays of up to 2 weeks MAX).
Learn the local language (see Tim’s own most popular lists for my 12 steps post) and scour the local equivalent of Craigslist. It’s loquo in Spain, gumtree in Ireland etc. If you are arriving without any local language skills then you can still get around the issue by hiring a local and asking THEM to do the legwork for you. I’ve done this to have a lovely and very affordable place waiting for me on arrival in multiple countries. This isn’t a “service” per se, but a once off task that I hire someone on oDesk or similar for. Usually costs me about $50 and saves me thousands off the Airbnb price.
Also, get a high level Android phone. Carrying around replacement batteries is way less of a pain in the ass than carrying around an external battery and charger cable. You barely notice batteries you can pop out taking up room in your pocket, and this lets me go through my phone like a maniac (constant GPS use, high brightness when out in the sun etc.) and not be left stranded. As well as this, a lot of the most useful apps in many countries (for public transport connections, or local food options etc.) are only available on Android since the low level phones are affordable by locals. I’m always amazed when I see an app available in iTunes but not in Google Play when talking to American devs, because it’s the opposite in many other places.
You don’t necessarily need good Internet as a criteria in picking a place. It restricts you way too much. Many places have 3G that is fine for audio Skype calls and average speed browsing. This lets you live ANYWHERE – especially in many countries that have unlimited data for prepaid (no contract) for SIM cards you can tether to, or for wireless routers. I lived on a beach-hut in the Philippines, learning to dive, and I picked my amazingly cheap place (I think it was $200/month) without Internet restrictions by tethering to my phone. I used up 40GB in one period and wasn’t charged for it at all. In Japan, most places don’t even have broadband, and don’t need it because you can get 4G wireless routers with the place. This of course depends on the country. I always ask the locals for their opinions, and spend a few hundred dollars to save a few thousand by paying a local to do tonnes of research for me.
I also find Tripit is way more useful than suggested here because I forward all flights, accommodation, car rentals, and other details via email and my itinerary is made for me automatically. Definitely beats the days when I’d be digging through my email to find a confirmation number.
And I didn’t see you mention Evernote – I wouldn’t email myself scans. I find that cumbersome. I scan everything to keep it digital and tag it in Evernote. Makes it much easier to organize. Also, use an app like CamScanner because it makes it look like you put it through a scanner even if you took it with your smartphone’s camera (changes orientation and lighting).
Let me reiterate that speaking the local language makes a world of difference. Thanks to Portuguese, I rented a penthouse sweet in Urca in Rio with a 270 degree panoramic view of the city (Christ statue to Sugar Loaf Mountain) with great Internet and right next to Copacabana – for a few hundred dollars a month, simply because I called up the owner in Portuguese and haggled. English speakers and people afraid to bring prices down always pay more. Every price is negotiable. You don’t even need amazing language skills – I have gotten great deals in my travels even when I was at basic conversational level in languages.
One last tip – if you travel with a girlfriend/boyfriend and you run a business, they can ease themselves in with online English teaching lessons. When my girlfriend decided to join me on the road, I made her a profile on italki, found out how they decided who was put on page one, made it happen for her and she got enough work to cover her side of expenses. This also gave her time to find out something else she’d like to do online, which she discovered a few months into our travels. Teach English online is great because you can build up your students, which is harder if you have to leave all the time. She also did in person language lessons for cash, and we had to turn down many students since the demand in our city for English teachers was huge!
Otherwise, great post and loved the outro. Shit is definitely going to happen. All we can do is try our best to make things run as smoothly as they can 🙂
Very good point on the local language Benny! Nothing can beat that
Thanks for the info, the part of having your GF teach a language while traveling with you is brilliant, one it will keep her a bit busy (because personally I would get bored with 0 work for a long time…) but ya also she can pay for some of her expenses of course.
I am not sure why airbnb is being bashed on for longer stays? I guess it is a bit more expensive but for monthly rentals I tend to negotiate the price of a 3 week stay or less and often get it. Local deals are probably less expensive but usually require leases of 3+ months which is a bit hard for me to commit unless I know the country/city well… And the time looking around, airbnb is faster, I scout the downtown area, put my price range and copy/paste a message to everyone.
Good call on italki! …how’d you get her on page one?
Great article, very motivating! I spent 3 months this summer in Japan, while still working on my PhD and startup in the UK, and was surprised how well that worked.
Particularly for the startup I found the time difference actually very convenient. I had a long video chat with my co-founders every evening (Japanese time). I could tell them what I had achieved over the day which allowed me to reflect on it again, and for them it was the first thing in the morning so they could tell me what they had done the previous day and were planning to do that day, which gave them a good start in the day.
Also totally agree on the running suggestions. Was in Barcelona for a conference earlier this year. On the first day my colleagues only went down the road from our hotel, whereas I did a 25km run through the city allowing myself to get lost. When we actually went around the city together the next day I already knew most of the places and had a sense of directions (plus I ended up seeing an amazing sunset while out on my run).
One additional recommendation which made my stay in Japan so much more amazing: Try and learn as much of the language as possible, and when you’re there (at least at the beginning) resist the temptation to hang out with other expats, but try and mix with the locals (alcohol helps). The first few weeks can be a bit lonely, but it’ll pay off in the end. Thanks to that I ended up seeing hidden parts of Tokyo that even most Japanese don’t know exist.
Great post guys. You’ve given me more motivation to figure out how to live the dream. Never thought I’d wish I was an engineer:)
Big fan! I’d really like to participate in the Richard Branson contest but because I live Chile, the link with more details keeps sending me to the generic Spanish, shopify website without giving me any of the details. Is there another link I can follow or another way I can find the details?
Interesting post, glad to see other people succesful at doing both at the same time. How is the Pro Polo player going, do you manage to find teams where you go to train or do you handle that differently ? Thanks for sharing and keep it up 🙂
Polo is an interesting sport, because you can usually jump into low and medium level tournaments with new teams and new horses fairly easily. There are few formal leagues and teams. I’ve been playing for a couple of years now, and I’ve had lots of great opportunities to compete in several different countries–often with only a few days notice. Once you get to a certain level, however, you really need to buy your own horses and train/play with them extensively. I currently have a base of horses and team mates in Budapest, and during the winter I spend a good amount of time in Argentina.
Thanks! Keep it up with Polo and Toptal !
Heading to Taiwan end of the month hoping to work on the start up & surf… will see how it goes, took note of recommendations! 🙂
Remeber to take your important things with you such as passports, documents, Keep final flight documents or online boarding documents all together, driving licence. We stayed in Italy. Put the passports in a safe hidding place while there for a few weeks. Forgot about them and when we got to the airport realised they were back at the accomodation so a hair rasing ride back with a taxi driver. Back in time and a adventure to talk about. Something I hope you or none of your readers will have happen.
This is a great post, with a lot of information. What is important for me as a “nomad manager” is that not only I enjoy working from any place but also my employees work from home (I guess..). Its a great feeling, for example, that one of our managers that had a new born few months ago and she can be probably with her baby in her hands and talking with a client. So many people driving their cars to their offices just to be all day connected to the computer, imagine how much air contamination could be reduced if just 10% of cars (and their owners) stay at home working. (I mean home where you are living at the moment, sure can be anywhere apart from “home”). I can add to Breanden post that couchsurfing is great to knowing what’s going on in an specific city. I normally use airbnb but for long periods probably I would try flipkey from tripadvisor where you can negotiate a special rate directly with the owner. If you have a house or apt I recomend homexchange, you can save a lot of money and be in a comfortable place paying nothing.
Awesome stuff – real inspiring to see the success of TopTal while working like this. I get questioned often why I don’t have an office and people wonder how serious I am if I don’t – looking forward to seeing stories of successes like this spreading!
Thanks for the great advice Breanden. I liked the template on asking about wifi speed.
I’ve been trying things like globablgig that use 3G for laptop wifi for example but they only work in some countries and they drop a lot.
Any other options out there that you’ve tried? Like for when you’re really stuck without wifi and need to get work done?
Yes! I recently started buying a international monthly data plan via AT&T. I think it’s $60/month, and I get 300 MB of data in nearly all countries. It’s usually fast enough for Skype calls. I use this for emergencies, quick trips through new countries, and for the time between when my plane lands and when I get to a store to get a local SIM.
Excellent. Thanks Breanden.
I would add a prescription for abx cipro , ensure vaccinations are updated ( visit local travel health clinic to get vaccinations and anti malaria meds, specific to the areas of travel), and a clothes line for in promtu laundry can be handy ! Great list by the way, super helpful! Makes me want to jump on a plane today!
Just wanted to to mention an idea Tim, I think you need a good human being , who is not a famous entrepreneur, to represent the ” general” public / population for your brainstorming on necker island, and for that I will ( sigh) volunteer my services, as long as I can dive while I am there 🙂
Hi all, my first comment. Did 4hr weeks since 1991. With time to spare I work with young “inventors”.
Actual #1 project is providing the world, especially the have-not world, with free electric power.
I know that this is impossible according to today’s science. Still it works and will be shown live on youtube and facebook early novemver (yes, this year).
Now we need the Brandon’s and the Ferriss’s to go from fully working prototype to full lift-off.
If this fits your mission, then mailme.
another list of things/excuses to collect before you travel 🙂 just Do it, like I did 5 years ago, and escaped horrible winters in the UK, left a steady pay check from a permanent post at a good British university, but that was the best decision of my life! Met so many millionaire and a few billionaires during my travels (I am still on travelling :)) and their top advice is “Just f**king do it!”. Also you missed the most Interesting and fascinating country of the world (Indonesia!) try places like Paua, Raja Ampat. Even East Timor 🙂 they all have good wifi (better than 10/2 Mbps).
Tip to find people. Hostels and couchsurf are quite a travelers community.
Did not know about Internations. Thanks!
Wow, lots of great info!
“I carry a printout of a recent bank statement and copies of my return tickets (if I have them) just in case a customs agent asks to see them (and some countries like New Zealand require them).”
Why bank statements? To prove you have money to fly back?
Seems invasive. What about people with bigger balances that would feel/be unsafe, right? Maybe it’s just me. I haven’t heard of this requirement before.
It’s not often a requirement, but sometimes countries (e.g., Brazil) require proof that you can afford to be there during your stay. You don’t need to show all of your accounts. You just need one as evidence that you’re not coming into the country completely broke.
In fact, the United States asked me for a bank statement, twice. (I’m Canadian.)
Hi! Awesome article , gained some new insights though most of the things mentioned here are covered by Tim in books and other posts but still a good read though I am wondering where is the other half of the article that mentions build a massive business. Maybe I missed that point or maybe that point will come up in a later post.
I had a question that if somebody is stuck in a mental block or is lacking ideas or just needs some place to experiment what he has learned or is learning then what should he do ? (Help Please)
I really like Peter Thiel’s advice, and I try to have at least one meaningful conversation with a very smart person every day. I find that accelerates my thinking and impacts my business decisions significantly. I also listen to a ton of podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show, The James Altucher Show, The Changelog, Mixergy, etc. Traveling can sometimes be isolating, and the combination of these helps me get out of ruts and generate new ideas.
As I see a pic of Polo in Argentina i will give this tip. For the price of dollar in Argentina search for “dolar blue” (the not official price at which money is exchanged in the streets). First Google result is from a traditional newspaper. You an also use Twitter search or @dolarblue. Due to inflation it is no longer 1U$:10Pesos, but 1:15!
I’m in Argentina again right now, and the difference between the official and blue dollar is approx 1:15.5 vs 1:8.5. That’s a huge difference, so it’s definitely better to bring cash and exchange it here.
on sabbatical, ready for the next project-ready to go with you anywhere, any day-let’s get a great play-pod of like minded individuals and create up an new paradigm on Necker Island or something like that-or a reinvention of “around the world in 80 days” and see how much good we can collectively manifest and do and how much positive change we can engage in! ready to roll!
pepto-bismol, I thought it was a wives tale till I drank the water.
I was looking at the top movies in iTunes…. when i suddenly saw “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” at #62…. Wow, Tim you did it again! You’re making a totally unknown documentary jump up the ratings before a ton of great movies and into the charts just by mentioning it in your podcast / Random Show 😉 That’s pretty funny. Anyway, I’ve seen it and it is really really good.
Keep it up, I can’t get enough of your podcast!
Great post Breandan. Reading this gets me excited as I just got a Dual Euro Passport. Any advice for a non-engineer who wishes to live this way?
Are you able to work online?
As a non-engineer I’ve found it hard to find telecommuting roles. My husband and I are looking to ‘live’ this way. He currently telecommutes and needs to be in the US only a few times of the year if we really worked at it…..Any advice.
Awesome post. I was nomadic all last year and so many of these tips resonate with me. I found it crucial to make friends while on the road because you can feel isolating. I recommend the new Find a Nomad map which was made by a bunch of long-term travelers: http://www.makingitanywhere.com/findanomad/ (This is not self-promotion–it’s not my URL.)
Traveling with a partner/spouse who is “on board” with the fact that you’ll be working all the time is very important. I ran into some issues there. I wanted to work hard all day, whereas my partner expected to relax and have fun and just work for an hour or two. I ended up feeling guilty and not accomplishing as much as I hoped.
I love this article! Being a passionate traveler myself, I had spent so much time and energy looking for hotel deals, going to various sites, etc. My time in better spent developing my businesses than hunting down ‘travel deals’ or spending too long making arrangements. So, I travel via a one-stop-shop travel platform. The one and only initial fee saves you time, while giving you highly discounted properties to stay a for weeks at a time. Check it out: http://wholesale-traveler.com
I always carry a dopp kit, and one full set of clothes (jeans, polo, underwear) in my hand luggage. Living in Asia and traveling back and forth to Eastern Europe and Central America checked-in luggage has never been lost, but on occasion missed my connection, arriving 12-24 hours after I did.
It is great to reach the hotel and hit the shower and change into a fresh set of clothes. The ones worn on the trip can be left with the hotel laundry for same day return, that a second day waiting for the luggage is covered. If your bags are truly lost, then shopping can commence in earnest.
As one of your email subscribers I wanted to offer a suggestion:
You may want to consider or test just sending the first part of the blog post in the email. That way you can drive more traffic through your site to help you and also it helps connect your community by making the comments more easily accessible.
Just throwing it out there; I’m certainly no expert!
PS – I know this is off topic but you said this was the best way too contact you. I won’t be offended if you moderate the comment out 🙂
Do you mean to send something resembling a “trailer” or preview of the post in the emails?
It would work on me: I’d definitely proceed to visiting the site after receiving a short preview as an email.
In contrast, if I read the entire post in an email, I wouldn’t necessarily visit the site afterwards. And, the posts aren’t as enjoyable to read in the email format.
This is seriously weak. I expect more from you, Tim.
I live in the home of Polo in the US, and these posts are getting pretty low-class/ low income…
Come and stay a few months in Wellington Florida during Polo season (starting soon) and jankey-ass your way through it… I dare ya.
These boys would eat you for lunch if you show up that half-assed… and they don’t give a sh^T about your t-shirt money. They are well paid athletes.
When did this turn in to the sponsor a “pov” blog?
The polo scene in Wellington surely tends to be more glamorous than in Argentina, but, as I’m sure you know, every single 10-goal player in Wellington is from Argentina–the home of polo in the world.
Yes, I’d like to know more about the ‘….And Build a Massive Business in the Process” end of the equation. Very inspiring, and thanks!
On the same page, can you share stories of full timers and their successful business run in the spare time? I am curious about how they manage their time, how they still stay healthy (practice sport), how they prioritization strategy works. Thanks in advance!
Tim I love your posts. However the link to your contest on Necker Island takes you to Shopify but no details. Please repost.
Tim, your link to the Necker Island contest takes you to Shopify but no details on the contest.
For longer term stays I have used vrbo.com, yes its often used by your grand mother to rent a place in Ft Myers for the winter months but its also great from longer trim rentals all over the world. Generally they have 1 week minimums but often have better pricing for month and milt month rentals.
Prioritize your work, if money is not coming in it’ll create stress. try working from home in your hometown first so you find your work groove and then take it on the road. its easy to fall in the backpacker trail of party & sightseeing. It creates bad habits that are hard to ditch. Finding a good work groove through the day or week that you prioritize will ease up your free time so its stress free and you can enjoy the new surroundings,
Schedule your client calls into 1-2 days max if you can and then stay in touch through email. if you’re in Asia and you have to talk to the US then the calls happen at night and you dont want to be stuck on the phone every night of the week.
2-3 months per location is the right amount of time to stay in one place. there is a 2 week stress period that happens when you change locations. the week before leaving, you try to see all the things you haven’t seen, eat at the places you haven’t tried and say bye to all the new friends and the week after you’ve arrived, you have to find a place to live, a place to work from, food options, grasp the map and culture… so plan ahead, know that these will be 2 busy weeks and try to get ahead on your work beforehand otherwise they become stress weeks instead of excitement weeks…
Most cities have Facebook groups for expats and/or digital nomads that are very active and timely for info on locations to stay, where to work from, weekly happenings, etc. I find these the most relevant sources so look them up before you get there.
You will get scammed, accept it from now, look at it like a tax. When you arrive in a third world environment for the first time you’re not viewed as another person, you’re a foreigner and to some is cool to say hi to you and to others is a potential bank account. Know that whatever they’re asking for is probably double or even triple the actual price but until you learn the real cost just embrace the ride and look at it as the cost of learning. Locals expect you to leave within a few days so they’re doing their job (to make as much money) but after you’ve been there for a bit and you make connections, you will learn the truth… Don’t take it personal, its part of the trip 🙂
It’s never going to be cheaper and easier to live this life than right now… you will learn more than ever being consistently shocked by new environments, people, food, language… Make the jump!
I travel extensiviely, from time to time. I keep a stash of Starbucks Instant Coffees in my toiletries bag. I can find hot water anywhere, but I have been in countries where the coffee just did not agree with me, and I need my morning coffee to start my day. I also try to purchase some spring water as soon as I am through airport security to stay hydrated while traveling, as it is very important.
Hi Brendan and Tim,
This is my life. My fiancee and I have been traveling around the world for the past 40 months. We’ve been Blogging from Paradise, building our online businesses, as professional blogging/island hopping digital nomads.
We know no better way to live.
Here in Fiji we’re house sitting for 4 months, in a place with a million dollar view, in Savusavu. I’m an author, blogger, freelance writer and blogging coach, and she’s a freelance writer and personal development/life coach.
Dude, awesome, awesome post, and life! I agree with all of your points, especially the piece of advice to live in a spot for 3 or 4 months. We do 1 month in some spots, and 2 in many spots, and sometimes, 3. 1 month rocks, 2 is great and if you can do 3, you’ll make good friends, and see so much more of the world, verses the 1 day – 1 week blitz most globe trotters do.
Loving your advice, and your story. I specifically explain how to retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging, and as a former security guarded turned pro blogger, with no former business experience, if I can do it, anybody can.
Thanks Brendan and Tim, love this post! Tweeting soon, and signing off from Savusavu, Fiji.
You can skip the Thera-Bands. Google foundationtraining
All you need is your own body and a level surface.
A revolutionary exercise approach used by NASA.
In my opinion this guy (Dr. ERic Goodman) deserves a Nobel Prize. Truly brilliant, very fast results.
I like the idea of selling my Art + travelling the world for 3 months at a time* Even Necker Island sounds half-a$$ decent with the Canadian winter fast approaching*
Very informative article! My wife and I will be traveling around Europe for a year starting next year, while working remotely. We plan to spend about 1-2 months in several countries, so it sounds like we will need a 1-year visa. Do you have any recommendations for the best way to get one of these? What type of visa would we need? And is it better to get it beforehand, or once in Europe. Any advice would be appreciated.
“You can go to a lax country like Hungary and pretty easily get a 1-year visa, which is then good for anywhere in the Schengen Zone.”
Contact http://helpers.hu/, and they’ll take care of you.
As for local currency, I avoid the exchange booths. My best result is to find a local ATM. Exchange rate is much more competitive and the cost is cheap when one pulls maximum amount.
Tim, thank you for the post. We are glad to hear that you like our site. As of a few weeks ago, AllTheRooms became the world’s largest accommodation search engine with over 3.1MM places all across the planet.
We are actually the world’s first and only complete accommodations search engine, combining hotels (like Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com) with vacation rentals (like Airbnb, HouseTrip and VRBO), secret deals (like Hotwire, Priceline Express and LastminuteTravel), and all other types of accommodations (like Couchsurfing, Jetsetter and Mr. and Mrs. Smith).
Our vision is to save you time and money, by combining absolutely every room on the planet into one really fast and really cool search engine.
Thanks again Tim. Happy Travels.
Awesome post. I’m a consultant and find myself on the road more often than not. The post touches briefly on traveling alone and how it’s not for the faint of heart. I’m curious what tools or habits you institute to deal with the lonely feeling that the road often carries with it; I know that’s something I had to deal with after I was inspired by Tim to go to Argentina.
One thing I would add to the “What to Take” list, Bose noise-cancelling headphones (ear-buds). I don’t know what I’d do without these!
Tim’s idea of using the APPLE headphones made me LOL in a hearty manner. Apple has high quality stuff, but it’s accessories leave something to be desired. i would take almost any other brand headphones over apple.
Hi Tim and Shopify team,
Long time reader, first time commenter. Just wondering why the UK can participate n the Shopify competition but Ireland can’t? ‘Tis a wee bit frustrating.
A really cool and inspiring post. Thanks for that!
How do you manage banking while you’re away? Do you go out and hunt for a banker who is willing to do all banking work (signatures, additional product purchases, etc.) via email? Or do you have some sort of power of attorney back in the country that you created the corporation?
bring multiple copies of a debit card, and credit card. don’t use travel cheques they are not worth it. Always have some Cash money on you for emergencies. Capital 1 has the best rates I think.
In air travel, use elastic compression stockings because they help in the circulation of the legs. And wet towels for a quick “bath” …
Sorry my bad english, translated by Google.
Next year I’m taking my fiancé soon to be wife on a year long road-trip honeymoon throughout the Americas and this was a super timely useful post for me.
Another option for inexpensive housing while away is http://www.workaway.info
You will have to do some volunteer service in exchange for a stay but is a cheap option.
Hi Tim and Brandon,
I noticed my comment on finding a great exercise routine that doesn’t require anything more than the use of your own body and a level surface, is still under review. Guys go check it out it is brilliant. Especially if you have back issues. It will help to reset your posture, very quickly. It will unload unnecessary pressure/strain of the joints and it will help set your posterior chain in motion. In other words your muscles will start working in harmony.
Ideally we shouldn’t even feel/notice our bodies. Anytime a body part feels have or strained or it feels like a chore to move around we’re in trouble. Our bodies are compensating. This system teaches you how to let your body move and rest the way it was designed to.
You can find Dr. Eric Goodman on TED.com as well.
Hope you’ll get as excited as I am about this 🙂
relevent medical info including correct dosages for any meds you may be on and any conditions that you are experience and emergency contact information with up to date phone numbers.
What are your thoughts on trying to learn the language while being there
I’d follow Tim’s advice here. In addition, some of the tools I’ve used and liked include: duolingo, memrise, italki, and quizlet. If you really want to learn a language fast, fall for a girl who doesn’t speak English.
is a helpful website a friend recommended for cheap air flights
I’ve been extensively planning to do something like this after I graduate, so the post is pretty freaking amazing. And you had my little med school heart with the blood clots prevention tip ;D
I loved reading Tim’s 4hour Work Week and this article just made me think about it all over again. Time to revisit my business processes and way of life! Thanks for a great read 🙂
Great guest post! Many can learn from your story in addition to the resources you listed. I give a nod to your advice on not staying in hostels. Great for some circumstances. Not for others. Thanks for sharing.
been pulling this off for the last 4 years and havn’t looked back!
I love the travel info, especially the tech travel aspects, but didn’t hear much on the other side of the equation (or maybe I missed it). The how to fund the travel while doing a start up that grows like a weed. Not much advice here….Where do we go for more ideas on this? Princeton engineering school?
Where is your business located? Meaning where do you pay taxes? The tax system here is insane. I was looking at moving to Phuket for a year, but I am not allowed to pay all the expenses of moving and living there from the money my business makes.
Hey Cool stuff you wrote! I’ll try to adjust some points to my life.
One think that can make you life easier on traveling is the free credit card from DKB (http://www.dkb.de/privatkunden/dkb_cash/). With this card it is possible do withdraw money without commission worldwide and in any currency. I know you can get this card as german and austrian citizen for sure, for other counties please consider the website of DKB. Have fun with traveling!
Interesting article Breanden and I can see how the lure of this lifestyle is very exciting but, and it’s a big one, where is the mention of you offsetting your air miles? Do you do it? I’ve scoured the article and I can’t see any mention of it. Forgive me if I’ve missed it but if you do it, then surely you should mention it. And if you don’t, have you ever considered the impact of your travelling on CO2 emissions?
Especially then going on to promote such a lifestyle to other people who are likely to be inspired to do the same. You’ve got a map of all the places you’ve been since you finished school (in just 3 years) and I dread to think of your carbon footprint.
I don’t want to be a killjoy, because I can see the appeal of what you’re doing and totally agree with your work philosophy but don’t you think it’s about time this issue should be addressed?
Perhaps include a section about carbon offsetting.
Breanden, Thank you for writing this insightful post! I have been searching for another version of the map ¨Where I´ve been working¨ in order to zoom in to be able to determine the actual cities where you have been working. Is it possible to give the link to a zoomable version of the map or list the city/cities per country?
Wow that list is long… How about some of my favorites?
5. Buenos Aires
Let me know if you’re looking for something more specific.
This is like an absolute goldmine. Tim, if you’re reading this, you GOTTA make this one a sticky.
I am so disappointed. I live in Mexico and cannot access the contest. Can somebody be kind and email me the details. I’d appreciate it very much.
Thanks in advance,
Diane Webster (email@example.com)
Get a vpn service and connect to a US server. I am in mexico too and sometimes use pure vpn. Hope that helps.
Sooo I’m totally rocking at the travel part (been wandering around Europe for the past 6 months and loving it!). I left the USA with the intention of building an online business that I could manage remotely and earn some income to continue my travels. WELL… I haven’t made much progress in the taking action department. I find myself isolated, distracted by new places and people, and with a sense of “how am I going to do this all while being on the road?”
Any advice on how to buckle this shit down and get focused? I’m totally suffering from shiny object syndrome… my shiny objects are foreign countries!
P.S. I also recommend using workaway.info — if you can volunteer a few hours you get free accommodation. It is a bit of a pain in the ass finding a placement (and the hours and accommodation can vary) — but I stayed in Tenerife and Madrid via workaway and it was a blast!
I’d start working in a coworking space and dedicate a minimum amount of time to being there each day. It’ll be hard to not buckle down when everyone around you is.
I love this! I own an animation company and my whole team is remote. I’ve been telling people I want to do this for months. The concerns I have are that I have a dog (boston terrier), I cook every night and have great cooking gear, and am really into health so I would have to find a new crossfit each time. The big concerns would be the dog and cooking. Any advice?
Also, any advice on how to take the first step by getting rid of my apartment and finding a place for a month to check out?
Why not keep your apartment and list it on Airbnb?
Crossfits are pretty easy to find these days. I’ve met lots of travelers who are fanatics. I’ve never done it, but I think they just do a google search or ask their fellow Crossfitters for recommendations.
Re pets, I traveled with a girlfriend and a small dog for over a year… it definitely complicates things when you travel internationally. She had a little Maltese that was well behaved and small enough to carry on planes, but every time you switch countries, you have all sorts of vet checks and paperwork to get approved (usually within max 10 days of your travel). It also makes hotels, apartments, restaurants, etc. considerably more challenging to arrange. If your dog is small enough (boston terrier almost certainly is), s/he can come on planes with you in a little carrier under the seat.
Thank you for the reply Breanden. I think just wrapping my head around leading a life that’s not the “norm” is the scariest part. Obviously it would be epic. I just want to make sure I do it right.
Had to reply to this. Since I posted this I ended up selling everything I own in Feb 2015 and have been on the road now for almost 7 months. Kind of cool that I found this post again to see where my head was at months before I decided to go all in. Amazing.
Does anyone know of a good resource for finding volunteer opportunities while traveling? I would love to dedicate one or two nights a week to volunteering at an orphanage, hospital, construction project, etc in all of the places I go.
Laudable idea, Breanden, but volunteering is most effective when there is enough time to bond with others and actually get to know each other. Especially when it’s about people with special need (ill, disabled, kids, elderly,..). Easier are environmental initiatives, like cleanups. I will never forget the day I participated in the “Don’t be a tosser” Bondi Beach clean up in Sydney back in 2003. Lots of fun 🙂
Understandable. Do you know of a resource for finding short-term things where I could be of value?
Hi, I’m a backpacking grannie and one travel tip I have is to wear a simple Timex wristwatch with a light and the date. You’ll sometimes be awake in the middle of the night and wonder what time it is, or on a night flight. Also, you can easily lose track of the day of the week and date after a while. A simple watch is less likely to make you a target for muggers.
Very inspirational business lifestyle. Myself and others would like to know how do you manage the day-to-day, regulatory, accounting and banking aspects of a medium-sized remote company. There have been several books & posts written on the operational aspect but I couldn’t find any information on the administrative part.
Hello E! for accounting and banking you can use Quickbook Online, you have all your administrative info wherever you go. If your clients are in the USA the same system can charge them with payments by CC or bank transfer. If they are abroad you can open a business account with paypal and request payment. In our company we are about 15 people and only one works in the office and another person works in the warehouse. Rgds, Robert
I have a few businesses but majority of my income comes from importation and distribution biz, I’ve been looking for ways to do that transition but I couldn’t get an entire week without getting pulled back into the operational work because every situation I encounter is unique. I’m too afraid to delegate these stuff to my staff because a mistake can cause me a large chunk of my working capital. Any advise for me?
Hello Omar, it is normal to get afraid when you decide to delegate but you must try this step if you want to travel and work. You will be surprised to see how people you have trained for operational work can respond even much better than expected. Of course it takes time to find the right person but my advise is do it gradually. Take one day a week to work from home and slowly increase that and see how things are doing without your physical presence. You have plenty of tools to be “present” without being there, for example, want to “see” what’s going on in the place ? use dropcam. Robert
Omar – stop what you’re doing and get the E-Myth book. It will open your eyes to how to create systems to delegate correctly. You are under the impression that you are not replaceable. oh but you are. however, you do have to create a world in which everyone knows exactly what to do without you. they should know this anyway, so read the book.
Hey Tim, love the mentorship program on Necker Island. Already having a business outside of shopify, is there any way we can buy our way in?
Please send me details on the Necker Island contest. I can’t read it as I’m out of the country at the moment.
I loved your post. Something I have been striving to do is build a substantial business and keep my nomad ways, I’ve lived in Dubai, Medellin, Cebu, and BA. I was is Buenos Aires last winter for 3 months and with return on Tuesday. I would love to meet up and discuss BA and business.
My email is breanden at toptal dot com
We are using VRBO.com on our upcoming six week trip to Costa Rica. Deal directly with the owner and there are reviews from people who have stayed in the home. Mostly homes/condos. From inexpensive to very expensive.
Breanden, this post is money. Well done and congrats on your success.
As a full-time traveler/online business owner since mid-2011 my question for you is: how do you deal with the sort of ‘investment problem’ of the mobile lifestyle?
What I mean is: 3 months is about the amount of time it takes to make some good friends, have a social life, and reap the rewards of investing some time and energy in a place (eg Budapest). The more I do this the harder it gets to say goodbye and start all over again.
Obviously you eventually have a worldwide network, or maybe you establish a base you stick to for part of the year, but I would be interested in your perspective on this. Thanks!
Very good point. I have a huge benefit with Toptal, because I regularly communicate with our team all over the world (it feels like an mmorpg for start-up and engineering problems), so when I go to most places, I already have a network of people I feel close to. However, since I’ve been doing this for a few years now, I have definitely started going back to some of the same places over and over specifically because of the network of close friends I’ve made there. I would call these places my bases (Budapest, Cordoba, Buenos Aires, SF, Lake Tahoe, and formerly Rio), and while I’m based there, I take a lot of smaller side trips.
I do plan on writing a similar post about staying sane while traveling / working remotely. I’ll drop a link here when I get it live 🙂
Hi…Your experience sounds so great. I always wanted to do that but I am not a software engineer. I am an accountant ….wish I had technical knowledge to live this life! Love your blog….
We work with our accounts 100% remotely. I’ve never even met them in person. I think you have lots of opportunity here…
Great article Tim! This fits my dream lifestyle to a tee and brings back memories of my childhood days in Singapore and Australia. Thanks for the inspiration!
I LOVE posts like this where someone gives all the little steps and tools (apps, websites, etc.) to make something a reality. So much information out there but wading through it can be a nightmare. Thanks, Breanden!
I’m currently in Canada but planning on going to China in a few months, then hopping around Asia. At least that’s the plan now. Good to know about the tourist Visa thing, and that Schengen loop hole. I knew there had to be SOME way around it 😉
Excellent piece with sound advice. Any thoughts on good, low-cost health insurance while traveling abroad? I’m in the market.
We use Aetna.
Wow, this is by far the best blog post I have ever seen. This is amazing. Why the big spot on seemingly, cordoba argenina? just out of interest. I love this stuff, this is great. I will link you from my site for sure, a real example of a lifestyle on design, and a good one!
Thanks! Re your question, I just really love Cordoba 🙂
With havin so much written content do you ever
run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation? My site has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either
authored myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it
is popping it up all over the internet without my permission. Do you know any ways to help stop content from
being stolen? I’d truly appreciate it.
Have you put any thought into getting another passport in one of the countries you visit? For Europe the requirements might be pretty rigorous, but in other countries it might be easy. I’m kind of thinking of Europe in particular just so there is no worry about your length of stay.
Hi Breandan, I see you included Turkey in your travels. It’s great that so many cafes/restaurants and even buses here now offer free wifi. We are also seeing more and more venues offering battery charging stations for usb compatible devices, such as mobile phones to make working on the go easier.
But I think the one of the biggest weaknesses that we have found is not having an additional backup power-pack type device for our laptop, especially when working at an outside venue with a nice view but no plug nearby, and for a Macbook which uses a lot of power very quickly – it means a max of 3-4 hours possible work time. I wonder what kind of device you used for yours?
By the way you can now get your visa online before coming next time and avoid potential queues at the airport.
“If you’re in the Hungarian countryside, you can work perfectly via 4G.” – The coverage is great everywhere, but there is literally no coverage while you are travelling on train 🙂
Sending your most important documents is an insurance so I definitely agree with it, but I don’t know why hotels would give your free upgrades at check-in, unless they are half-booked and can afford to give you a bigger room/better view for the same price.
I agree with not staying at hostels because as a social guy I would always want to work in the kitchen to chat with people.
When I woke up this morning I knew I’d be reading some articles on Digital Nomads. I however had no idea one of those articles would lead me to watching a Richard Simmons video clip! Good articles, bookmarked for later.
Thanks for the great advice Breanden. So much great information – bookmarked for later!
This is some great information!
I originally stayed in Los Angeles (I live in the Uk, Norfolk)
for 6 months, I have recently been working hard on my business to get it running passively whilst I dash off to the westend (I’m a guitarist)
and then fulfil some adventure by doing cruise ships and random hotel gigs around the world.
All this has been inspired by Tim Ferriss..
I shall certainly save these tips to my bookmarks.
I want to travel the world while building my online business.
Does anyone have any tips for me:
“here I can work part-time when I move to a new city/country without knowing how to speak their language?
Is it easy to find jobs only for 2-3 months?
Can anyone help me since Tim gets so many emails he advices to post on here so here I go. I have 2 “muses” one is a unique high quality bracelet for men(as I am a man) but really could be unisex. The other muse is a information guide to increasing your social abilities. It’s a Personal Power type of package(book, graphic cards, graphs, maybe CDs). 1. will be $130$ and 2. will be 50$. Any suggestions will be much appreciated. I am happy to offer others my opinions.
You seem like a smart fellow. I figured I’d ask your advice- If you had any information regarding starting a traveling business. This would be a mobile food/clothing/jewelry vendor, also offering scheduled classes in yoga and Tai Chi. The business would be English speaking so mainly geared toward tourists in popular travel destinations. Do you know if other countries (outside of the U.S) have strict regulations on foreigners operating a business like this in their country? Anyways, thanks for all the great resources. I’d appreciate your advice, and good luck on your journey.
A great way to travel in and around London is by using a private car hire company. for all your British airport transfers, London minicabs, executive chauffeuring, weddings, events, same day and next day delivery needs.
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I have always wondered how one gets flight and hotel upgrades (besides obviously paying for them).
Any tips you can share?
Great article! I learned new insights that will be very useful not only for me but also to many.
We’ve been in Paris for a couple weeks now and we found the best way to handle currency was to jump on the internet and compare exchange rates at all the exchange places around us and go with the best….Don’t just stop at any one you happen to be passing because it’s probably not going to be close the best. If you have the time before you change all your money, do your research.
Thank You Tim – You change my life 😉 Thank You Breanden – You inspired me. I will try to do similar project in the creative industry. Like Toptal – but with designers . What do You think about such a idea ?
Informative article,incredibly useful! World-time buddy will save my ass!