Mini Retirement #2- Olive groves in Sicily and Oktoberfest in Munich
By- Rick A. Griffith
"ITS THE BUG,ITS ITCHY ITS ANNOYING BUT WHEN YOU SCRATCH IT IT'S ALL TOO SATISFYING.WHEN YOU STOP IT'S STILL THERE,BUG SPRAY NOR WITCH HAZEL WILL TAKE CARE OF THIS ONE, AND IT'S AS CONTAGIOUS AS HEPATITIS, YOU HAVE IT FOR LIFE! BE HAPPY :) TRAVEL" @GaryMisner
I remember just hanging out one day, working on my new career (or so I thought) in real estate here in Scottsdale, AZ and simultaneous keeping up with my Twitter feed. The aforementioned Tweet popped up and caught my eye. Gary is a fellow world nomad, someone who I'm in contact with occasionally sharing thoughts on travel, business and life. You may remember him from this story I wrote nearly a year ago on his escape from a life of normalcy.
Here I was, trying to become a business man once again, going against my better judgment and trying to conquer the Phoenix Real Estate market. But, something was off...
I sat down and thought about why it was that I wanted to do what I was doing and other than just surviving and being self sufficient, I realized that it had more to do with the fact that I wanted to once again set out on a journey into the unknown.
Why is the travel bug so contagious? I’d argue that it has much to do with the new friends and contacts you meet along the way and the feeling you get from your contact with these kindred souls. While parents, friends and other family do not seem to understand why you can’t just be normal and live a status quo lifestyle, these strangers around the world understand you’re yearning completely.
I began reaching out to the network that I had come in contact with over the prior year. I talked with Gary about business and Italy, Robbie about Costa Rica and Amsterdam, John about Lake Como, Gareth about Columbian girls and many more travelers about their experiences across the globe.
I reflected on my travel photos, jealously browsed Paul and Kristi’s photos, who I’d met in Mendoza and saw the great things other travelers and bloggers where doing while I sat at home living vicariously through their adventures. After a while I started to realize, there was no antidote for this illness, I had to leave.
Funding The Voyage
So sure, it sounds all romantic and philosophical. A young man who loves to travel decides to leave the mundane musings of everyday life behind for something neither more or less, but something exciting and unknown. Well life it seems is not a movie script. We can’t just call the studio and ask for a check to go on our dream trips. Real life requires funding, more specifically an income that can last for an extended trip in Europe.
How to start 3 businesses and lose money on each
So here it is my friends. Have you ever wanted to start you own business? How about 4 of them? I have got the answers that you are looking for.
So what is my magical key to success in business?
Not quitting and conversely quitting. Let me explain.
We are not made to run many businesses. Many times we will never realize this until we actually try. In the last 5 months I have started 4 separate businesses.
Get Rich Business #1
I started a Pub crawl after the inspiration from the lucrative venture I’d seen in Buenos Aires. I realized I have neither the DNA to be the club promoter type, nor the liver functionality to live this sort of lifestyle on a daily basis. Desert Pub Crawls lasted only 2 events, netting somewhere around -$500
Get Rich Business #2
I started a clothing line, or began too anyway. This was my second venture into the fashion industry and would turn out to be my second failure as well. I put together a nice product, an “end the fed” t-shirt and had sketches drawn for an entire fashion line from a top designer who worked with the likes of Nike and Affliction. In the end before shelling out too much cash, I quit once again. The market for politically oriented clothing was just not there. It seemed most of the people my age were more interested in Charlie Sheen and Miley Cyrus than Rising inflation and an impending debt default. Net loss -$400
Get Rich Business Idea #3
This is the least bothersome of my failures to already damaged pride. Seeing the need for companies to get involved in social media, I started a social media consulting business. The idea was to go from business to business informing the business owners on the changing times and showing them why they MUST get on Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and other platforms to promote their company. I went on one call and had a very successful pitch. After a week of employment with the new company, it was very clear that I was going to A) pull my hair out, B) hate life and just deal with inefficiency or C) Quit.
I choose C and let me tell you, quitting feels very, very good sometimes. The biggest lessons I’ve learned in business in the last year is that quitting isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
What I mean by this, is that if it is clear that something is not going to be a long term answer and you are not happy with what you are doing, quitting may be the best option. Quitting on a project before spending too much capital is something I’ve tried to employ in my entrepreneurial ventures. Getting too invested in your idea can be a huge mistake. While the idea may even be sound, variables such as limited capital, lack of skilled employees to helps and dire economic conditions can really become a sinkhole for your pocket book if you are not careful.
Now on to happier days...
As cool as it may have been to be a suave clothing designer, a fun loving Pub Crawl King or a social media guru, the truth is, these things are not in my DNA. I am an introvert and who expresses myself best through careful thought and the written word. I had tried to be a professional writer once before on my last trip to South America. After one rejection from an editor at a travel publication, I stuck my head in the sand and couldn’t write anything worthy of even a blog post for months. But I kept writing.
The beauty in writing is that if you enjoy your writing, it doesn’t matter what others think. I wrote for over a year and a half, most of which didn’t get much attention other than friends and family as well as a few fellow travelers.
One day while sitting at Starbucks on my laptop, jamming away on a presentation for my social media production company I got an e-mail from E-lance.com. I was quite familiar with the site but the message caught me off guard. The subject line read “Demand for e-lance providers up %50”. Right then and there the idea of writing for companies on E-lance entered my brain, though it would take another two weeks of denial before logging into the site.
This past week, I billed over $1200 in writing jobs to clients from Malaysia to San Francisco, many of these jobs are reoccurring, providing me with the residual income I need to hit the road. Better yet, i can do this from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Ever since I read “The 4 Hour WorkWeek” in 2007, I’d been trying to find a way to make dollars and spend pesos. Now, I finally had found my muse.
Planning the Journey
All I had to do now was decide where I was heading, which sounds easier than it is. Through a fellow traveler I had found the sites WorkAway.info and Helpx.net. These website allow travelers to find hosts around the world looking for help on their farms, hostels or other projects and in turn provide free room and board. This idea fascinated me. After all, when i travel, I prefer to live as local, learn new skills and try to learn the language. What better way than to exchange your help for interesting jobs that help you do all of these things AND provide FREE room and board.
I was sold.
With the steady income from writing and the free room and board, not only could I travel the world, but I could actually save money while doing so. No rent, car insurance, gasoline and other automotive expenses. Free rent for less than 25 hours of work per week and the ability to learn new skills, cultures and languages? Sign me up buddy. And sign up I did.
I sent out over 30 messages to potential hosts in Asia, South America and Europe. I received over 20 responses and 15 requests for me to come help and stay. Not a bad average huh?
I decided to take my talents to the south beaches of Sicily in the end, as the opportunity to be in such a beautiful, historic setting was unrivaled in my mind. You may have noticed the photos throughout this post. These were all taken by Franco, the host I will be staying with. In return, I will be helping Franco with web design and writing on a cultural project he is working on, spreading the message of the real Sicily. I am ecstatic to go and see what true Sicilian life has to offer and this is a one of a kind experience that not even a Hollywood blockbuster could script.
In all I will be in Europe over 5 months. I am not sure on all of my details as of yet as I am trying to make the trip more sporadic and less planned. I know for certain I will leave May 23rd from LAX, arriving shortly thereafter in Palermo, Sicily in route to Franco’s farm. I also plan to head to Germany by late August, staying for a few months and ending my voyage at Oktoberfest in Munich, before heading back to the States in mid October.
I must, over everything else, thank all of those who have inspired me to live this crazy life I long for. It is easy to fall into everyday life and forget about moving in a direction toward your dreams. The travelers, bloggers and other contacts whom I’ve met in the past few years have been absolutely vital in keeping my mind focused on the prize.
To those of you out there who are contemplating taking a leap or just frustrated with the inability to pursue your passion, I hope this article inspires you to find a solution. Keep in mind, travel is not as expensive as you think and by utilizing tools such as Elance, Workaway and HelpX travelers can see the world, learn new skills and most importantly meet some absolutely amazing kindred spirits throughout the world. The biggest mistake you can make is giving up. Instead, quit doing things you hate. Stop wasting money on unproductive ventures (trust me). Find what you want, and beg, borrow and deal until you can make it a reality. Hustle hard to get the things you want and the opportunities are limitless. I chose to keep going, keep moving, keep traveling. Will you join me?