Travel Freedom: A Conversation About Location Independence - Intentional Travelers
Travel Freedom: A Conversation About Location Independence | Intentional Travelers

02 Mar Travel Freedom: A Conversation About Location Independence

I’ve started listening to the 5 Dollar Planet podcast lately and their recent episode had an interesting conversation that I just had to share. Tommo and Megsy, a Brit and an Aussie, have been full-time digital nomads for almost two years and run a travel blog and podcast about “travel freedom”- finding ways to work online and live an affordable life on the road.

Their guest on the show, Tim Leffel, runs six websites, does freelance work, and writes books. After traveling for a while, he settled part-time in Guanajuato, Mexico and Tampa, Florida with his family. If this is at all interesting to you, I do recommend listening to his full interview. In the meantime, I took the liberty of transcribing a few excerpts from the conversation that I found particularly interesting. Essentially, they’re talking about the benefits and challenges to this new movement of entrepreneurial-style work that involves multiple revenue streams and allows you to be location independent.

Excerpt from Tim Leffel’s Interview of 5 Dollar Traveller

5-dollar-PlanetMegsy: [Travel freedom] seems like it’s such a good lifestyle – and we know that it’s great, and you know that it’s great – but why is it do you think that more people are not picking up everything and exploring this sort of life?

Time Leffel: Well, I’m sure you guys have heard this from friends and relative that often say, “Oh I wish I could travel more.”

Tommo: All the time.

TL: Really they could. Tomorrow, if they wanted to. They just have their priorities out of whack. If it’s a priority to you, you’ll find a way to do it. But if it’s not – number 8 or 9 on your list behind your pets, and your three cars, and your big house, and your new TV, and everything else, then it’s not going to get done. And most people are just far too focused on the stuff that they have in their life.

They think travel’s expensive, also, because the only time they travel is that one week a year – or two weeks a year – when they go on vacation. And when they do it, they stay at an expensive hotel and fly somewhere and spend $300 a day while they’re there. And of course, as you guys know, a couple days of that would be enough to get by for a whole month if you travel long-term…

Tommo: One thing that I’ve found that’s sort of strange, apart from people understanding how or why we’re having this lifestyle. Some of them seem to even hold some sort of resentment towards us for enjoying our life in this way, rather than going out and changing the way that they live so that they can have the same experience…

TL: I think it’s even worse in the United States because we have this sort of puritanical, work-hard-and-get-ahead-in-life kind of history. It’s sort of ingrained in us. And that’s part of the reason we have such a crappy vacation policy, you know, only the most progressive companies will give you more than 2 ½ weeks per year- or you have to have been there forever… People have had it just pounded into their heads that the way you get ahead in life is you work your butt off at school, you get a good education, you get good grades, and then you get into a good college, and then you get good grades, and you graduate, then you go get a good job, and you work hard and move your way up, and that’s how you succeed in life.

Tommo: It is – allegedly – the American dream! … Is it still the American dream? People are still clinging on to that, rather than having an experience-based lifestyle (as we call it) rather than a material-based lifestyle?

TL: I think it’s finally starting to sink in with people that, you know, maybe that’s not the key to happiness and maybe that formula doesn’t work as well as well it used to either. You’re much safer these days, it seems, being multi-skilled and kind of plowing your own path than you are following that normal career path that your grandfather did.

Tommo: It’s fair to say that if you’ve got multiple revenue streams, which is really what this kind of business is based around, if one of those revenue streams dies, you’re not completely screwed. You can rely on the other ones until you can get another one going to replace that income…

We have occasionally experienced the same feelings of resentment from others about our lifestyle, as Tommo mentioned in the excerpt above. What is your take on the digital nomad/location independent lifestyle? Why do you think people might be resistant to it – for themselves or for others? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • AdamCharles
    Posted at 00:41h, 03 March

    Experience-based lifestyle vs. material-based lifestyle. I love it. Thanks for sharing this podcast. I’m looking forward to checking it out.

    • IntentionalTravelers
      Posted at 09:15h, 03 March

      It’s a great podcast. It’s always encouraging to hear from others who share the same values, especially when you’re going against the grain of mainstream culture.

  • Stephanie Bartley
    Posted at 16:54h, 06 March

    I think a lot of the resentment comes from the fact that, this “freedom” is indeed an economic privilege. it means that the travellers definitely do not have family members (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc) that they are financially responsible for. most ppl in the world their age do. it means they don’t have a family member with a chronic physical or mental illness that requires their constant presence, attention and care – which many ppl in the world their age do.
    I am not resentful towards their lifestyle at all, in fact I find it fascinating. At one point I saw myself living the same way, but my life took a turn. But their thinking that just anyone and everyone “could” do what they do is completely false, and shows they got some serious blinders on.

    • IntentionalTravelers
      Posted at 18:06h, 06 March

      That is true, Stephanie. It is a privilege to have this flexibility. You don’t necessarily need to make a lot of money when you’re house-sitting/couchsurfing/help-exchanging and don’t have a car (we certainly don’t) but it IS a relational privilege. We rely on our network of family and friends to share with us in a mutually beneficial way, rather than paying for all of our needs with money. It’s also a question of access – to the internet for work and to things like American credit card award programs.
      It’s also true that many people have dependents they are responsible for, especially those who are ill and needing full-time care, which prevents people from this kind of lifestyle. This is a very important, under-appreciated role. (This is actually one of the main reasons we are out traveling now, while we can. We fully expect to be taking care of our aging parents/relatives by the time we would typically retire- we fully plan on that season for our future.) But I would say there are many more people -especially Americans- who “want” to travel and don’t actually have these barriers. They are confined by convention and the path our culture prescribes. They don’t want to give up all their Stuff. Having children doesn’t have to prevent travel- we know of many families traveling full time with their kids.
      But, yes, some people do have legitimate barriers to this kind of freedom, and it’s always important to recognize the privileges we have and to make the most of the situations we each find ourselves in. Thanks for adding this valuable insight to the conversation!

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