LIST OF CHAPTERS
STEP I: D IS FOR DEFINITION
Chapter 1 – Cautions and Comparisons: How to Burn $1,000,000 a Night
Chapter 2 – Rules That Change the Rules: Everything Popular is Wrong
Chapter 3 – Dodging Bullets: Fear-setting and Escaping Paralysis
STEP II: E IS FOR ELIMINATION
STEP III: A IS FOR AUTOMATION
STEP IV: L IS FOR LIBERATION
RescueTime — A free software productivity tracking tool. Just install it once, and it sits in the background measuring your productivity. Then, you can see exactly how many minutes you’ve spent on productive and unproductive apps at the RescueTime website.
e.ggtimer — A convenient countdown timer. Use it when you want to give yourself a boost to get stuff done.
Website Blocking Software — If you find yourself using some specific websites too much (Facebook, I’m looking at you!), consider installing website blocking software. You’ll need either Google Chrome or Firefox as your web browser. If you are using Chrome, install StayFocusd. With Firefox, use LeechBlock. These add-ons will let you specify time-wasting sites, set a maximum counter, and block the sites once you’ve used them for too long.
Skype — Skype will allow you to route calls to online voicemail.
Evernote — Evernote allows you to easily capture information from anywhere, using whatever device you have at hand. You can take photos, write notes, or record audio. It’s perfect for getting rid of your reliance on paper, and keeping everything stored in one place.
Google Voice — Want to screen and avoid incoming calls? Google Voice will allow you to see who is calling before you pick up, send users to voicemail, and actually transcribe the voicemails so you don’t even have to listen!
Doodle — a very impressive, free tool for quickly scheduling events. Create a poll in 30 seconds and forward a link to several people. Check back later to see which time is most popular/available.
Square Appointments (Ed. note: formerly BookFresh) — Let colleagues self-schedule time with you by setting available times based on your calendar’s available slots. Your colleagues can see what’s available, and choose.
Siri or Google Voice Actions — Already built into your smart phone, use Siri (iPhone) or Google Voice Actions (Android) to quickly jot down reminders, set to-dos, or send quick emails without even unlocking your phone.
CopyTalk — Dictate any message up to four minutes and the transcription will be emailed to you within hours. Excellent for brainstorming, and the accuracy is great!
Freedom — Sometimes, the only way to be productive is to turn off your internet altogether. Freedom is an Apple app which will allow you to turn off your Internet, irrevocably, for a set period of time. Hit it once, and you’re free — you won’t be able to turn back on the Internet until the time has run out.
Virtual Assistant Resources
U.S. and Canada
North America and International
- Elance — Search “virtual assistants,” “personal assistants,” and “executive assistants.” Elance is a marketplace for assistants and workers. Each assistant has reviews, so you can see if your potential assistant is excellent or not. Other marketplaces to consider are Guru, or VWorker
- NOTE FROM THE EDITOR (2021): Elance is now Upwork.
Scheduling and Calendar Resources
- BusyMac — I have two Gmail accounts: one private account for me and one for my assistant, where general e-mail is sent. I use BusyMac to synchronize her Google Calendar with iCal (Mac calendar) on my laptop.
- Google Calendar — It’s never been easier to sync calendars across multiple people. You can use Google Calendar to add your VA’s calendar to your own view, so you know exactly where you (and your assistant) need to be. Using Google Apps has allowed me to have assistants and employees create calendars within a single workspace, and share calendars easily with each other.
- Asana — Started by the co-founder of Facebook, Asana acts as a free task manager for teams. You can create to-dos, schedules, and metrics—and assign them to anyone on your team. Works seamlessly on your smartphone and computer.
- WebEx Office — Share your calendar online while masking personal appointments. Can be synchronized with Outlook, and also offers document sharing and other assistant- or team-friendly features. I suggest you compare this to synchronizing your Outlook with an assistant’s calendar.
Chapter 9 — Income Autopilot I: Finding the Muse
Potential suppliers and product creators
- ThomasNet — A location for finding suppliers, components, and equipment.
- SeeedStudio — Have an idea? Get connected with an engineer who can help you build that prototype, source the parts, build the production line, and turn your idea into something amazing.
- Contact Any Celebrity — For your comfort challenge, you want to try to find a potential superstar mentor. Contact Any Celebrity is a service that can help you get in contact with someone you’ve always dreamed of.
Confirming Sufficient Market Size
- Quantcast — Find the number of monthly visitors for most websites, in addition to the search terms that generate the most traffic for them.
- Writer’s Market — A list of thousands of specialty and niche magazines, including circulation and subscription numbers. The print version is preferable to the digital version.
- Spyfu — Download competitors’ online advertising spending, keywords, and ad-word details. Consistent and repeat spending generally indicates successful advertising ROI.
- Standard Rate and Data Services — Check out this resource for annual listings of magazine and company customer mailing lists available for rent. If you’re considering creating a how-to video for duck hunting, check out the size of customer lists from hunting gun manufacturers and related magazines first. Use the print version in libraries instead of paying for the somewhat confusing online access.
Finding Products to Resell or Manufacturing
- Affiliate Networks: Clickbank, Commission Junction, and Amazon Associates — No inventory, no invoices. Experimenting with products and categories through affiliate networks such as Clickbank and Commission Junction, which pay you 10– 75% of each purchase, is a fast method for doing a proof-of-concept using similar products. It’s often worth setting up accounts at both just to observe how bestselling items are being sold and promoted. Amazon Associates averages 7– 10% commissions, but bestselling books are excellent for testing target markets for more elaborate informational products. For all of the above: Do not get into bidding wars against other affiliates using expensive general keywords or overexposed brand names. Go niche or go broke.
- Alibaba — Based in China, Alibaba is the world’s largest business-to-business marketplace. From MP3 players for $ 9 each to red wine for $ 2 per bottle, this site is the source. If someone here doesn’t make it, it probably can’t be made.
- Worldwide Brands — Offers an extensive how-to guide for finding manufacturers willing to dropship product to your customers, which allows you to avoid pre-purchasing inventory. This is where Amazon and eBay power users find not just drop shippers, but also wholesalers and liquidators. Shopster is also a popular option, with more than 1,000,000 dropship products to choose from.
- Thomas’s Register of Manufacturers (800-699-9822) — Searchable database of contract manufacturers for every conceivable product, from underwear and food products to airplane parts.
- Electronics, DVDs, Books (Ingram Book, Tech Data)
- Housewares and Hardware (House Wares, National Hardware Show) (847-292-4200) — For these product categories and related talent (on-screen demonstrations), also consider attending local or state fairs.
- Consumables and Vitamin Products (Expo East, Expo West)
- SeeedStudio — Have an idea? Get connected with an engineer who can help you build that prototype, source the parts, build the production line, and turn your idea into something amazing.
Finding Public Domain Information to Repurpose
- Project Gutenburg — Project Gutenberg is a digital library of more than 15,000 pieces of literature considered to be in the public domain.
- LibriVox — LibriVox is a collection of audiobooks from the public domain that are available for free download.
Recording Seminars or Phone Interviews with Experts for CD Downloadable Products
- Hot Recorder (PC) or Call Recorder (Mac) — Use these programs to record any inbound or outbound phone call via computer using Skype and other VoIP programs.
- NoCost Conference — Provides a free 800-number conference line, as well as free recording and file retrieval. Normal phones can be used for call-in, so no computer or web connection is required for participants. If you’ll have a Q& A, I suggest soliciting attendee questions beforehand to avoid issues with muting/unmuting of lines.
- Jing Project — If you’d like to record the actions on your screen for video tutorials, this free program will get the job done. If you need advanced editing features, Jing’s big brother, Camtasia, is the industry standard.
Licensing Ideas to Others for Royalties
- InventRight (800-701-7993) — Stephen Key is the most consistently successful inventor I’ve ever met, with millions in royalties from companies like Disney, Nestlé, and Coca-Cola. He is not high-tech but specializes in creating simple products, or improving on existing products, and then licensing (renting) his ideas to large corporations. He comes up with the idea, files a provisional patent for less than $200, and then lets another company do the work while he collects checks. This site introduces his fail-proof process for doing the same. His techniques for cold-calling alone are invaluable. Highly recommended.
- Guthy-Renker Corporation (760-773-9022) — GRC is the 800-pound infomercial gorilla. It brings in more than $ 1.3 billion per year in sales with mega-hits like Tony Robbins, Proactiv Solution, and Winsor Pilates. Don’t expect more than a 2– 4% royalty if you make the cut, but the numbers are huge enough to make it worth a look. Submit your product online.
Searching Patents for Unexploited Ideas to Turn into Products
- United States Patent and Trademark Office (800-786-9199)
- Licensable Technologies Developed at Universities (see “view all listings” under “Technology Transfer Offices”)
- Inventors Groups and Associations (call and ask if members have anything to license)
Becoming an Expert
- ProfNet via PR Leads and HARO — Receive daily leads from journalists and TV and radio producers looking for experts to cite and interview for media ranging from local outlets to CNN and the New York Times. Stop swimming upstream and start responding to stories people are already working on. HARO offers select leads at no cost, and you can mention my name with PR Leads to get two months for the price of one.
- PRWeb Press Releases — The press release is dead for most purposes, but using this service has some serious search-engine benefits, such as appearing at the top of related Google News and Yahoo! News results.
- ExpertClick — This is another secret of the PR pros. Put up an expert profile for media to see, receive an up-to-date database of top media contacts, and send free press releases to 12,000 journalists, all on one website that gets more than 5 million hits per month. This is how I got on NBC and ended up developing a prime-time TV show. It works. Mention my name on the phone, or use “Tim Ferriss $ 100” online, to get a $100 discount.
Chapter 10 — Income Autopilot II: Testing the Muse
- Google Adwords Keyword Tool — Enter the potential search terms to find search volume and alternative terms with more search traffic. Click on the “Approx Avg Search Volume” column to sort results from most to least searched.
- SEOBook Keyword Tool, SEO for Firefox Extension — This is an outstanding resource page with searches powered by Wordtracker.
Fast and Simple Website Creation for Non-Techies (and Techies)
- Bluehost — In general, I suggest a WordPress-based site or blog, as they’re very good for SEO (search engine optimization) “out-of-the-box.” Unless you’re a huge site (in which case I suggest WordPress VIP), I suggest using a hosting company with one-click WordPress installation, like Bluehost. I still use Bluehost for several of my websites. Their version of WordPress (WordPress.org) is highly customizable WordPress.org, unlike WordPress.com below, which is less flexible.
- WordPress.com — I used WordPress.com to set up www.litliberation.org from a coffee shop in Bratislava, Slovakia, when a U.S.-based designer flaked out and left me scrambling. It took me less than three hours to learn how to use it and build the site. The site, an experimental educational fundraiser, ended up raising 200% + more than Stephen Colbert in the same period of time. This platform is easy to use, but it doesn’t allow the type of “plugins” that made WordPress famous.
Create Forms in Seconds for Testing Checkout with or Without Payment
- Wufoo — Wufoo does not offer a full-featured shopping cart, but it provides the cleanest, easiest-to-use forms on the web. Create a checkout page that connects to PayPal and you can (1) link to this checkout page from your site on Weebly, WordPress.com, or elsewhere, or (2) drop the code into your own website and have it hosted there. Wufoo is appropriate for testing and selling single products, as people can’t add multiple items to a shopping cart or otherwise customize the order à la Amazon. For those additional options, which are often desirable after successful testing, you will want to use an “end-to-end site solutions” listed later in these resources.
Cost-Effective Trademark Filing and Company Formation (LLC, C-Corp, etc.)
- LegalZoom — Company formation, trademarks, and nearly all legal documents. I know one founder who used this service to incorporate his tech start-up, which is now worth more than $ 200 million.
- Corporate Creations — Domestic and overseas company formation.
Services for Selling Downloadable Products (e-books, videos, audio, etc., in descending order of reader preference)
- Lulu — Lulu will also do print-on-demand and other forms of manufacture and fulfillment. Like Lightning Source, it offers distribution through Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, and other major outlets.
- CreateSpace — A subsidiary of Amazon.com that offers inventory-free, physical distribution of books, CD and DVDs on Demand, as well as video downloads through Amazon Video On Demand ™.
- Clickbank — Provides integrated access to affiliates willing to sell your product for a percentage of sales.
Introduction to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising and Testing
Market Sizing and Keyword Suggestion Tools
- Google Adwords Keyword Tool — Enter the potential search terms to find search volume and alternative terms with more search traffic. Click on the “Approx Avg Search Volume” column to sort results from most to least searched.
- SEOBook Keyword Tool, SEO for Firefox Extension — Outstanding resource page with searches powered by Wordtracker.
Low-Cost Domain Registration
Inexpensive but Dependable Hosting Services
- Bluehost (I use Bluehost for several of my own sites)
- RackSpace (known for dedicated and managed servers, which are more expensive)
- Hosting.com (known for dedicated and managed servers, which are more expensive)
Royalty-Free Photos and Materials
- iStockphoto — iStockphoto is the Internet’s original member-generated image and design site, which has more than 4 million photographs, vector illustrations, videos, audio tracks, and Flash files available for use.
- Getty Images — This is where the pros go. Stock photos and film of anything for a price. I pay $ 150– 400 for most images I use in national print campaigns and the quality is outstanding.
E-mail Sign-up Tracking and Scheduled Autoresponders
- AWeber and MailChimp — Both of these programs can be used to embed e-mail address sign-up forms on your site.
End-to-End Site Solutions with Payment Processing
- Shopify — This is a reader favorite that, in addition to beautiful design, offers full SEO (search-engine optimization), drag-and-drop use, statistics, and product fulfillment through one of their certified partners such as Fulfillment by Amazon.com. Clients range from small-business owners to Tesla Motors. Unlike with Yahoo and eBay, however, you will need to set up a payment-processing service to accept payments from customers. (See below — PayPal is the easiest to integrate.)
- Yahoo! Store (866-781-9246) — As little as $40 a month with 1.5% per transaction.
- eBay Store — From $ 15– 500 per month, plus eBay fees.
Simple Payment Processing for Testing Pages, from Least to Most Involved
- PayPal Cart (see “merchant”) — Accept credit card payments in minutes. No monthly fees, 1.9– 2.9% of each transaction (called “discount rate”) and $ 0.30 per transaction.
- Google Checkout — Get $10 in free processing for each $1 spent on AdWords; 2% and $ 0.20 per transaction thereafter. Requires that customers have a Google ID, and is thus most useful as a supplement to one of the aforementioned payment solutions. Be sure to link your Checkout account to your AdWords account to receive credit. Important note: free transaction processing for nonprofits.
- Authorize.net — The Authorize.Net Payment Gateway can help you accept credit card and electronic check payments quickly and affordably. More than 230,000 merchants trust Authorize.net to manage their transactions, help prevent fraud, and grow their business. The fees per transaction are lower than PayPal or Google Checkout, but setup will require a merchant account, covered in the next chapter, and other time-consuming applications. I suggest setting up Authorize.net only after a product has tested successfully through one of the other two options above.
Software for Understanding Web Traffic (Web Analytics)
- Google Analytics
- CrazyEgg — I use CrazyEgg to see exactly where people are clicking most and least on homepages and landing pages. It is particularly helpful for repositioning the most important links or buttons to help prompt visitors to take specific next actions. Don’t guess what’s working or not—measure it.
A/B Testing Software
- Google Analytics — Google’s Website Optimizer has been integrated into Google Analytics, so you can use it for testing and for analytics.
Low-Cost Toll-free Numbers
- OneBox and Kall8 — OneBox and Kall8 both allow you to set up toll-free numbers in 2– 5 minutes. Calls can then be forwarded to any other numbers, and voicemail and statistics can be managed online or via e-mail.
Checking Competitive Site Traffic
Freelance Designers and Programmers
- 99Designs and Crowdspring — I used 99Designs to get an excellent logo for www.litliberation.org in 24 hours for less than $150. I submitted the concept, more than 50 designers worldwide uploaded their best attempts, which I could browse, and I chose the best after suggesting a few improvements. From Crowdspring’s site: “Name your price, name your deadline, see entries within hours and be done in just days. The average project gets a whopping 68 entries. 25 entries or your money back.”
- eLance (877-435-2623)
- Skype One Number
- RememberTheMilk.com has been really crucial to me keeping on top of my daily tasks.
- Freshbooks.com for online invoicing
- Highrise for online CRM
- Dropbox for easy file sharing/ automatic backup of critical files while on the road
- TrueCrypt for keeping your laptop data secure while on the road. [Tim comment: This can also be used with a USB flash drive, and another cool feature—it provides two levels of “plausible deniability” (hidden volumes, etc.) if someone forces you to reveal the password.]
- PBworks.com — Wiki site that helps me keep on top of the notes and ideas that I collect as I go through life.
- FogBugz on Demand: It’s a “bug tracker” aimed at software development companies, but I use it every day for both personal and business tasks. It’s almost like a VA, as you can route your mail through it and it will help you sort it and keep track of it. It has great features to track e-mails, and there’s a free version for two users (you + VA!).
- Amazon Mechanical Turk — A great service to get quick tasks automated and repeated by humans.
Chapter 11 — Income Autopilot III: MBA—Management By Absence
Looking Huge — VIRTUAL RECEPTIONIST AND IVR
- Angel — Get an 800 number with professional voice menu (voice recognition departments, extensions, etc.) in five minutes. Incredible.
- Ring Central — Offers toll-free numbers, call screening and forwarding, voicemail, fax send and receive, and message alerts, all online.
CD/ DVD Duplication, Printing, and Product Packaging
Local Fulfillment (fewer than 20 units shipped per week)
End-to-End Fulfillment Companies (more than 20 units shipped per week, $ 500 + setup)
- Motivational Fulfillment — The secret backend to campaigns from HBO, PBS, Comic Relief, Body by Jake, and more.
- Innotrac — They are currently one of the largest DR marking companies.
- Moulton Fulfillment — 200,000-square-foot facility with real-time online inventory reports.
Call Centers (per-minute and/or per-sale fees)
- LiveOps — Pioneer in home-based reps, which often ensures more calls are answered. Provides comprehensive service with agents, IVR, and Spanish. Often used for one-step order taking instead of soft offers.
- West Teleservices — 29,000 employees worldwide, processes billions of minutes per year. All the high-volume and low-price players use them for lower-priced products or higher-end products with free trials and installment plans.
- NexRep — Highly skilled home-based sales agents that specialize in B2C and B2B, inbound and outbound programs. If performance, speed to respond, Internet integration, and quality customer experience are your priorities, this is a strong option to consider.
- Triton Technology — Commission-only sales center know for incredible closing abilities (see the movie Boiler Room and Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry, Glen Ross). Don’t call unless your product sells for at least $ 100.
Credit Card Processors (merchant account through your bank necessary)
- TSYS (Ed. note: formerly TransFirst)
- Chase Paymentech
- Trust Commerce
- PowerPay — One of the Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies. Process credit cards from your iPhone and more.
Affiliate Program Software
- My Affiliate Program — Also see the affiliate programs listed in the “Tools and Tricks” at the end of Chapter 9.
Discount Media Buying Agencies
- Manhattan Media (Print) — Great agency with fast turnaround. I’ve used them since the beginning.
- Novus Media (Print) — Relationships with 1,400 + magazine and newspaper publishers with an average of 80% of rate card. Clients include Sharper Image and Office Depot.
- Mercury Media (TV) — Largest private DR media agency in the U.S. Specialists in TV but can also handle radio and print. Offer full tracking and reporting to determine ROI.
- Havas Edge (Cross Media) — One of the worldwide leaders in DRTV media across all platforms.
- Canella Media Response Television (TV) — Uses the innovative P/ I (per inquiry) model for compensation, where you split order profits instead of paying for time upfront. This is more expensive per order if you have a successful campaign, but it lowers upfront investment in media.
- Marketing Architects (Radio) — The de facto leaders in radio
- Radio Direct Response (Radio) — Mark Lipsky has put together a great firm, with clients ranging from small direct marketers to Travel Channel and Wells Fargo.
Online Marketing and Research Firms (PPC campaign management, etc.)
Starting Small— FIND A LOCAL INDIVIDUAL TO HELP
- SEMPO (see the member directory)
Excellent Mid-Size Firms
The Hard-Hitting Pros — SMALL CAMPAIGNS START AT SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS
- Marketing Experiments — This is my team.
- Did It
- ROIRevolution — Cost is determined by a percentage above monthly PPC spend.
Full-Service Infomercial Producers
Retail and International Product Distribution
- Tristar Products — Behind the PowerJuicer and other hits. Tristar also owns their own production studio and can therefore offer end-to-end services in addition to retail distribution.
- BJ Direct (International)
- Celeb Brokers — President Jack King was the one who first turned me on to this fascinating world. He knows it all inside and out.
- Celebrity Endorsement Network
- Contact Any Celebrity — It is possible to do it yourself, as I have done many times. This online directory and its helpful staff will help you find any celebrity in the world.
Chapter 12 — Disappearing Act: How to Escape the Office
Chapter 13 — Beyond Repair: Killing Your Job
Job Posting Sites
Considering Options and Pulling the Trigger
- I-Resign — This site provides everything from non-quitting options (work-leave, vacations) to sample resignation letters and second-life job-hunting advice. Don’t miss the helpful discussion forums and hysterical “web consultant from London” letter.
Opening Retirement Accounts
- Franklin-Templeton (800-527-2020)
- American Funds (800-421-0180) — If you will do your own investing and want no-load funds
- Fidelity Investments (800-343-3548)
- Vanguard (800-414-1321)
Health Insurance for Self-employed or Unemployed (in descending order of reader endorsement)
Chapter 14 — Mini-Retirements: Embracing the Mobile Lifestyle
- CDC.gov — Find out the required and recommended immunizations and vaccinations for your destination
Brainstorming Mini-Retirement Locations
- Virtual Tourist — The single largest source of unbiased, user-generated travel content in the world. More than 1,000,000 members contribute tips and warnings for more than 25,000 locations. Each location is covered in 13 separate categories, including Things to Do, Local Customs, Shopping, and Tourist Traps. This is one-stop shopping for most mini-retirements.
- Escape Artist — Interested in second passports, starting your own country, Swiss banking, and all the other things I wouldn’t dare put in this book? This site is a fantastic resource. Drop me a note from the Caymans or jail, whichever comes first. Also search “How to Be Jason Bourne” at www.fourhourblog.com.
- Outside Magazine Online Free Archives — The entire archive of Outside magazine available online for free. From meditation camps to worldwide adrenaline hotspots, dream jobs to Patagonia winter highlights, there are hundreds of articles with beautiful photos to give you the walkabout itch.
- Lonely Planet: The Thorn Tree — Discussion forum for global travelers with threads separated by region.
- Family Travel Forum — A comprehensive forum on, you guessed it, family travel. Want to sell your kids for top dollar in the Eastern Bloc? Or save a few dollars and cremate Grannie in Thailand? Then this isn’t the site. But if you have kids and are planning a big trip, this is the place.
- U.S. Department of State Country Profiles and World Travel Watch — Larry Habegger and James O’Reilly’s weekly online report of global events and odd happenings relevant to travel safety, sorted by topic and geographic region. Concise and a must-see prior to finalizing plans.
- U.S. Department of State Worldwide Travel Warnings
Mini-Retirement Planning and Preparation — FUNDAMENTALS
- Round-the-World FAQ (includes travel insurance) — This FAQ is a lifesaver. Originally written by Marc Brosius, it has been added to by newsgroup participants for years and now covers nuts and bolts from financial planning to return culture shock and all in between. How long can you afford to be away? Do you need travel insurance? Leave of absence or resignation? This is an around-the-world almanac.
- Removing Clutter: 1-800-GOT-JUNK, Freecycle, and Craigslist — I used Craigslist’s “Free” category to get rid of four years of accumulated possessions in less than three hours on a Saturday evening. There were some for-sale items that I also cleared out at 30– 40% of original retail. I then hauled off the last remaining items using the überfast 1-800-GOT-JUNK paid service. Freecycle is comparable to Craigslist for giving away, and getting, things for free when you’re short on time. Get unattached and you’ll make it a habit. I purge every 6– 9 months, often including donations to Goodwill, which can do pickups for free with advanced notice.
- One-Bag: The Art and Science of Packing Light — One of PC magazine’s “Top 100 Can’t Live Without Sites.” Pack light and experience lightness of being.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Recommended vaccinations and health planning for every nation in the world. Certain countries require proof of inoculations to pass through customs. Get the shots well ahead of time, as some take weeks to order.
- Tax Planning — More good news. Even if you permanently relocate to another country, you will have to pay U.S. taxes as long as you have a U.S. passport! Not to fret—there are some creative legal sidesteps, such as form 2555-EZ, which can provide up to a $95,100 income exemption if you spend at least 330 days of a consecutive 365 days off U.S. soil. This means you have 35 days in a given 12-month period to spend in the U.S. as you like, but no more. That’s part of the reason my 2004 trip extended to 15 months. Get a good accountant and let them do the detail work to keep yourself out of trouble.
- U.S.-Sponsored Overseas Schools — If the idea of pulling your children out of school for a year or two isn’t appealing, stick them in one of more than 190 elementary and secondary schools sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in 135 countries. Kids love home work.
- Homeschooling 101 and Quickstart Guide — This subsection of http:// homeschooling.about.com/ provides a step-by-step process for considering homeschooling options that can be applied to education during extended travel. Children can often return to traditional public or private schools ahead of their classmates.
- Home Education Magazine — Rich collection of resources for homeschoolers, traveling families, and unschoolers. Links include curriculum, virtual support groups, legal resources, and archives. Good reasons to learn the law: Some U.S. states offer up to $ 1,600 of funding per year for qualified homeschooling expenditures, as it saves the state money to not educate your child in the public school system.
- Universal Currency Converter — Before you get caught up in the excitement and forget that five British pounds does not equal five U.S. dollars, use this to translate local costs into numbers you understand. Try not to have too many “Those coins are each worth four dollars?” moments.
- Universal Plug Adapter — Carrying bulky cables and connectors is irritating—get a Travel Smart all-in-one adapter with surge protection. The size of a pack of cards folded in half, it is the only adapter that I’ve used everywhere without problems. Note that it is an adapter (helps you plug things in), but it is not a transformer. If the foreign wall outlet has twice as much voltage as in the U.S., your gadgets will self-destruct. Yet another reason to purchase necessities abroad instead of taking them all with you.
- World Electric Guide — Figure out outlets, voltage, mobile phones, international dialing codes, and all sorts of things related to electric mismatching worldwide.
Cheap and Round-the-World Airfare
- Orbitz, Kayak, and Sidestep — Search 400 + airlines worldwide for each service. Orbitz is my starting point for pricing comparisons, after which I check both Kayak and Sidestep. Sidestep has proven most effective when searching for flights that start and end outside of the U.S.
- TravelZoo Top 20 — Moscow for $129 one-way? These last-minute weekly travel specials might be the push you need to pull the trigger.
- Priceline — Start bidding at 50% of the lowest Orbitz fare and move up in $ 50 increments.
- 1-800-FLY-EUROPE — I used this to get the $ 300 roundtrip from JFK to London that left two hours later.
- Discount Airlines for Flights within Europe (RyanAir, EasyJet)
Free Worldwide Housing — SHORT TERM
- Global Freeloaders — This online community brings people together to offer you free accommodation all over the world. Save money and make new friends while seeing the world from a local’s perspective.
- The Couchsurfing Project — Similar to the above but tends to attract a younger, more party-hearty crowd.
- Hospitality Club — Meet locals worldwide who can provide free tours or housing through this well-run network of more than 200,000 members in 200 + countries.
Free Worldwide Housing — LONG TERM
- Home Exchange International — This is a home exchange listing and search service with more than 12,000 listings in more than 85 countries. E-mail directly owners of potential homes, put your own home/ apartment on the site, and have unlimited access to view listings for one year for a small membership fee.
Paid Housing — from Arrival to the Long Haul
- AirBnB — the easiest, cleanest way to find a new apartment in almost any city of the world. See tons of options and choose your specific dates.
- Otalo — Otalo is a search engine for vacation rentals that searches across the Internet’s many different vacation rentals sites and 200,000 + homes. Otalo is like a Kayak.com for vacation rentals. The site scours a variety of other rental search sites and aggregates the results in one easy-to-use search tool.
- Hostels.com — This site isn’t just for youth hostels. I found a nice hotel in downtown Tokyo for $ 20 per night and have used this site for similar housing in eight countries. Think location and reviews (see HotelChatter next) instead of amenities. Four-star hotels are for binge travelers; this site can offer a real local flavor before you find an apartment or other longer-term housing.
- HotelChatter — Get the real scoop on this daily web journal with detailed and honest reviews of housing worldwide. Updated several times daily, this site offers the stories of frustrated guests and those who have found hidden gems. Online booking is available.
- Craigslist — Besides local weekly magazines with housing listings, such as Bild or Zitty (no joke) in Berlin, I have found Craigslist to be the single best starting point for long-term overseas furnished apartments. As of this writing, there are more than 50 countries represented. That said, prices will be 30– 70% less in the local magazines— if you have a tight budget, get a hostel employee or other local to help you make a few calls and strike a deal. Ask the local helper not to mention you’re a foreigner until pricing is agreed upon.
- Interhome International — Based in Zurich, more than 20,000 homes for rent in Europe
- Rentvillas.com — Provides unique renting experiences—from cottages and farmhouses to castles—throughout Europe, including France, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal
Computer Remote Access and Backup Tools
- GoToMyPC — This software facilitates quick and easy remote access to your computer’s files, programs, e-mail, and network. It can be used from any web browser or wireless device and works in real time. I have used GoToMyPC religiously for more than five years to access my U.S.-based computers from countries and islands worldwide. This gives me the freedom to leave all computers at home.
- WebExPCNow — WebEx, the leader in corporate remote access, now offers software that does most of what GoToMyPC offers, including cut and paste between remote computers, local printing from remote computers, file transfers, and more.
- DropBox and SugarSync, then JungleDisk and Mozy — Both DropBox and SugarSync perform backups and synching of files between multiple computers (home and travel computers, for example). JungleDisk and Mozy—I use the latter—have fewer features and are more specifically designed for automatic backups to their online storage.
Free and Low-Cost Internet (IP) Telephones
- Skype — Skype is my default for all phone calls. It allows you to call landlines and mobile phones across the globe for an average of 2-5 cents per minute, or connect to other Skype users worldwide for free. You can also get a U.S. number with your home area code and receive calls that forward to a foreign cell phone.
- Vonage and Ooma — Vonage offers a small adapter for a monthly fee that connects your broadband modem to a normal phone. Take it on your travels and set it up in your apartment to receive calls to a U.S. number. Ooma has no monthly fees and doesn’t require a landline, but it offers similar hardware you can connect to broadband for a local U.S. number anywhere in the world.
- VoIPBuster and RebTel — Both VoIPBuster and RebTel can provide “alias” numbers. Enter a friend’s overseas number on their sites, and both will give you a local number in your area code that will forward to your friend. VoIPBuster also acts as a cheaper Skype with free calls to more than 20 countries.
International Multi-Band and GSM-Compatible Phones
- Unlocked Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S4 — If you’re willing to pay premium dollar for an unlocked version of these smart phones, you’ll be able to use them anywhere in the world.
- My World Phone — I’m partial to Nokia phones. Ensure whichever phone you purchase is “unlocked”—that the SIM card can be swapped out in different countries with different providers.
Tools for Off-the-Beaten Path
- Satellite Phones — If you will be in the mountains of Nepal or on a remote island and want the peace of mind (or headache) of having a phone nearby, these phones work via satellite instead of towers. Iridium has been recommended for widest reception (pole to pole), with GlobalStar in second place (three continents). Rent or purchase.
- Pocket-size Solar Panels — Satellite phones and other small electronics are of little use (skipping stones, perhaps?) if their batteries die. Solio is about the size of two packs of cards and fans out into small solar panels. I was surprised to find that it charged my cell phone in less than 15 minutes—more than twice as fast as a wall outlet. Adapters are available for almost anything.
What to Do Once You Get There —Career Experiments and More
- Meet Up — Search by city and activity to find people who share similar interests all over the world.
- Become a Travel Writer — Get paid to travel the world and record your thoughts? This is a dream job for millions. [Ed. note: This section originally linked to writtenroad.com, the blog of Jen Leo—now a writer for the Los Angeles Times—and included the following text: “Get the inside scoop on the travel publishing world from veteran Jen Leo, author of Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures: Funny Women Write from the Road. This blog was a Frommer’s Budget Travel Top Choice and also features great practical articles about low-tech travel and going gadgetless.“]
- Teach Engrish — Dave’s ESL Café is one of the oldest and most useful resources for teachers, would-be teachers, and learners of English. Features discussion boards and “teachers wanted” job postings worldwide.
- Turn Your Brain into Play-Doh — Travel the world so you can instant message (IM) with your friends in the U.S. This site lists more than 150,000 hotspots where you can feed your information OCD. Be ashamed if this becomes your default activity. If you’re bored, just remember—it’s your fault. I’ve been there, so I’m not preaching. It happens to the best of us from time to time, but get more creative.
- Test a New Career Part- or Full-Time: Working Overseas — This encyclopedia is an exhaustive menu of options for the globally minded, compiled and updated by Jean-Marc Hachey, former international careers editor of Transitions Abroad magazine.
- World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms — Learn and then teach sustainable organic farming techniques in dozens of countries, including Turkey, New Zealand, Norway, and French Polynesia.
Chat and E-mail in a Language You Don’t Know
- Nice Translator and Free Translation — Translate text from English into a dozen languages and vice versa. Surprisingly accurate, though the lost-in-translation 10–20% can get you in trouble. Nice Translator is faster and can be used on the iPhone.
Find Language Exchange Partners and Materials
- LiveMocha and EduFire
- About.com — Some of the more popular languages have excellent tutorials on About.com: http://italian.about.com http://spanish.about.com http://german.about.com http://french.about.com
Chapter 15 — Filling the Void: Adding Life After Subtracting Work
- The Art of Living Foundation (Course II)—International
- Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California
- Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts
- Sky Lake Lodge in New York
- Charity Navigator — This independent service ranks more than 5,000 charities using criteria you select. Create a personalized page of favorites and compare them side by side, all free of charge.
- Firstgiving — Firstgiving.com allows you to create an online fund-raising page. Donations can be made through your personal URL. I have used Firstgiving in coordination with a nonprofit called Room to Read to build schools in both Nepal and Vietnam, with more countries pending: www.firstgiving.com/timferriss and www.firstgiving.com/timferriss2. If you specifically want to help animals, for example, you can click on a related link and access websites for hundreds of different animal charities, and then decide which one you want to donate to. The UK version of the website is http://www.justgiving.com.
- Network for Good — Visitors to this website will find links to charities in need of donations as well as opportunities to do volunteer work. They can also set up an automated credit card donation online.
- Hands on Disaster Response
- Project Hope
- Relief International
- International Relief Teams
- Airline Ambassadors International
- Ambassadors for Children
- Relief Riders International
- Habitat for Humanity Global Village Program
- Planeta: Global Listings for Practical Ecotourism
Chapter 16 — The Top 13 New Rich Mistakes
The Last Chapter: An Email You Need to Read
Online Bonus Chapters
How to Get $700,000 of Advertising for $10,000 (At the link, it’s changed to “$250,000″ to sound more believable, even though $700,000 is the actual number.)
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.