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DaedTech Digest: Vagabonding as the Last of the Big Time Spenders

In last week’s digest post and vagabonding life chronicle, I talked about eating while living this lifestyle.  Today I’ll answer a more blunt question that people often wonder.  Isn’t that expensive?

The answer is “it has been, but it doesn’t need to be.”

Was This Past Winter Expensive?  Goodness, Yes.

I guess if you’re going to do experiential blogging, you have to open the kimono more than you might normally, in polite conversation, the way I did here once, when explaining why it is that I have money.  So, in that vein, let me explain last winter.

To do that, I actually have to start with last summer.  It was last summer that I decided to “retire” from life as a traveling consultant (and, by and large, from the corporate world in general).  Through a combination of business and real estate dealings, my wife and I had created what I’ll call an advantageous capital situation.

Basically, we had enough money in a bank account to start Hit Subscribe and have 6-9 months without income not be a problem.  We were gambling on the business’s eventual success.

What actually happened was that Hit Subscribe almost immediately provided enough revenue to be sustainable as our full time job.  So I spent last summer decompressing from years on the road, working 2-3 days week, and considering myself “semi-retired.”  Then fall came, and we started hustling in earnest to hire and to grow the business.

As our admittedly self-indulgent reward, we decided to live it up for the winter.  Our intent all along was to go somewhere warm.  But we decided to go somewhere warm in style.

And so we spent the winter in AirBNBs that were right on the water.  I mean, literally.  We spent more than 3 months in an Ocean Beach San Diego condo where Pelicans flew right outside our window as if they were commuting on some kind of Pelican freeway.  And yes, this was quite expensive.  It was expensive to live in the places we lived, and in terms of our activities, food, and entertainment, we weren’t exactly price averse.

No pelicans passing at the moment, but here’s me taking in a pretty nice ocean sunset from the back window of the place we lived in San Diego.

 

Does It Have to Be Expensive?  Not So Much.

So last winter wasn’t necessarily sustainable, from a lifestyle perspective.  But that doesn’t mean that next winter won’t be, or that you couldn’t vagabond for a relatively reasonable rate.

There are a lot of travel bloggers out there that chronicle their world travels on a shoestring budget.  That’s not me, and it won’t ever be me — I’m more of an abundance mindset sort of person.  I’d rather spend my time hustling for extra money than hustling to make the money I have go further.  But we will make a different set of decisions on upcoming travel adventures.

If you decide to uproot and go elsewhere, you have the option of going to places that are both warm (or whatever it is you’re after) and not overly expensive.  You could spend $5,000 per month on an AirBNB in Key West.  But you could also visit the gulf shore in Alabama or drive to Rosarito, Mexico and stay in a beach house for $1,550 per month or an ocean-front condo for $1,300, respectively.  This becomes even more affordable if you’re willing to live a life of constant transit and you dispose of a rent or mortgage that was probably comparable to those figures in the first place.

You Can Save Beyond Just Rent

Also bear in mind that these are all-in price tags.  You’re not paying for any kind of utilities, house maintenance, or the general headaches of having your own place.  It’s all someone else’s problem.  Add to that the idea that, as a purely remote slow traveler, you pay almost nothing for gas or wear and tear on a car.  A lot of expenses go away.

And when it comes to day to day life, you don’t necessarily need to eat out or do all the expensive things on the town.  Get a lot of groceries and cook with local ingredients.  Go to places with a lot of natural beauty or otherwise free/cheap entertainment nearby.  Jogging up and down the beach or hiking a nearby trail generally costs nothing.

Slow travel, much like life in general, is as cheap or expensive as you make it.  Last winter we made it expensive.  In the future, we’ll make it less so.

But, if unsustainable, it was fun while it lasted and, in a nod to that, here’s a shot of us taking in the Montana mountains from a hot tub, enjoying a Napa Valley wine.

Cheers!

 

Picks

  • I’m going to pick ASP MVC in general.  I haven’t done any meaningful web development in several years, and now I’m building a little app in my spare time for Hit Subscribe.  There’s a lot of out of the box stuff in Visual Studio that makes it really easy to create starter views pretty effortlessly and then tweak to taste.  It’s great for the business owner who is probably too busy for it to make sense to write code, but who is doing it anyway.
  • This Facebook post about a bot writing an Olive Garden commercial.  You won’t be sorry.

The Digest

And, as always, have yourself a good weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: Grilled Pigeon and Eating Habits on the Road

During last week’s digest post, I talked about an existential issue of sorts.  Do I get home sick or road weary?  And the answer is generally no.

This week I’ll switch gears a bit and talk about something both tactical and mundane (unless you make it otherwise).  I’m talking about eating.  Specifically, how does eating work when you’re in a constant state of transit and shuffle?

So do you go out to eat all the time, or, like… what?

Before my wife and I ever started doing slow travel stints, I did a lot of business travel.  And, we’re talking 100% commuter business travel.  And when you travel like that, you eat out a lot.  All the time, in fact.  There was a year of my life where I don’t think I did anything but eat at restaurants and carry in food.  (Because when you fly out Sunday night and fly home Friday night, it’s not like you tend to spend Saturday night hitting the grocery store to do a bunch of cooking.)

Why am I mentioning this?  Well, to frame my answer to the question as a slow traveler.  Believe it or not, I got pretty tired of never making dinner like folks do.  For one thing, the “traveling consultant 15” is way more of a thing than the freshman 15.  You gain weight doing this.  And secondly, it just becomes sort of depressingly decadent after a while, like eating fettuccine Alfredo for every meal or something.

So when we adapted to the slow travel lifestyle, it was always with the idea that I really didn’t want to eat out all the time.  Oh, don’t get me wrong — I still like a good meal at a good restaurant.  But when we travel, we want to grocery shop, cook with local ingredients, and experience life as if we were locals.

What’s the balance, then?

Let’s get down to brass tacks.  How we eat depends almost entirely on length of stay.  Let me break it down.

  • 1 week or less.  Typically this means a hotel or maybe a short-stay AirBNB.  We almost certainly eat out or carry in every meal.
  • 1 to 2 weeks.  This is probably going to be an AirBNB.  We’ll do some minimal grocery shopping, looking for botique-y local places where we can buy things that don’t require wholesale assembly from raw ingredients.  This place in Ocean Beach, San Diego, for instance.
  • 2+ weeks.  Always an AirBNB, and our grocery shopping becomes more extensive.  It’s still not quite what you do at home — we’re not picking up 10 pound bags of flour and stocking a full spice pantry.  But, we supplement whatever the place’s owner leaves us with a decent amount of local groceries, kind of getting the full local experience.  Bonus points whenever we find farmers markets.

We like to mix it up, since you obviously want to try some of the more interesting local restaurants.  The easiest way to do this is grocery shop more in the beginning and go out more at the end as you start running out of groceries.  This is obviously better than throwing out a bunch of steaks or whatever the next time you move on.

But, whether we’re somewhere a day or 3 months, we’re always looking for interesting experiences.  For instance, check out this menu from a restaurant in Portland, Oregon.  Yes, you’re reading that right.  It’s pigeon.  And you’d better believe I ordered and ate the pigeon.

Why go everywhere, if you’re not going to experience everywhere?

Picks

  • I stumbled on this Youtube channel recently, called SciShow.  It’s sort of like the love-child of Buzzfeed and the Science channel, and it’s pretty binge-able.
  • Here’s something I use all the time and totally take for granted.  But it’s totally indispensable.  I’m talking about the Windows snipping tool.  If you use Windows machines at all and have never heard of this, get familiar immediately.

The Digest

And, as always, have a good weekend!

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DaedTech Digest: Home is Where the Wine Is

Hello everyone.  It’s been a good bit of time since I announced my vacation and subsequent return to the woods and my lake for the summer.  I’d meant to post earlier, but it turns out that relocating and returning from a vacation cause time to get away from you.  So DaedTech has been tumbleweeds dust for the last week.

But no longer!  Let’s pick things back up with another digest post and another little blurb about the nomadic life.

Do You Miss Having a Home Base?

I’ll ease my way back in with something of a softball, and one that people as me a lot.  If you’re used to a pretty transient life, do you come to miss home base?

This might seem like a no-brainer.  I mean, if I got homesick, I’d probably just go home, right?  So clearly I don’t, right?

Well, it’s not quite that simple.

My wife and I have spent a lot of time doing what’s known as slow travel (weeks or months at a time in places).  And before that, I traveled 100% as a management consultant for a long time.  So the last time I was routinely situated in a normal, single-dwelling life was roughly 2013.  I’m used to travel and accustomed to transience.

As such, I don’t miss having a home base, really.  I like variety.  And I’ve gotten used to a pretty spartan existence without all that much stuff.  I don’t really need more clothes than fit in a decent sized duffel bag, and we moved around for six months with only what would fit in a Jeep.

The one way, however, in which the lack of a home base wears on me is a purely logistical one.  Things like mail, having stuff shipped from Amazon, storing supplies, etc. that most people take for granted get pretty weird pretty fast when you slow travel.  Ditto things like finding someone to look after your pets or clean your place.  You’re in a constant state of just having moved, which can get somewhat burdensome.

But beyond that, I love the life.  Toward that end, here’s a photo that I would have posted if I’d done a digest two weeks ago on schedule when we were in Napa California.

Picks

  • For any of you hustlers, entrepreneurs, or people aspiring to the same, you’ve probably at least considered the idea of a virtual assistant.  If not, you should at least put it on your radar.  Once it’s on your radar, check on this service for helping you find a VA.  It took very little time to fill out the form and I’ve already got a number of frankly very impressive folks reaching out to me.
  • In that vein, I’ll pick the Four Hour Work Week.  This books is a fascinating read on the whole, and it’s also where I first heard of the concept of a virtual assistant.

The Digest

Have a good weekend!

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DaedTech Digest: Business Cats on the Road

Welcome to yet another Friday edition of the DaedTech Digest.  This thing where I write about the digital nomad life is gaining some traction, both in positive feedback and in post views.  So let’s keep at it.  I’m building a backlog of questions to answer, so fire away with those via email/social media/whatever.

Today’s question: how does this all work with your pets?

The short answer is “not ideally, but we manage.”  Amanda and I have two cats, and we haul them around with us on our adventures.  We travel pretty lightly, so about 2/3rds of the cargo space in the Jeep is dedicated to cats as we travel. Our luggage (including my computers) takes up the rest and then also occupies the roof rack cargo carrier.

From there, it’s really just a matter of filtering AirBNBs/VRBOs that allow cats and then confirming with the owner ahead of time.  (Protip: write them to make sure they specifically allow cats or dogs.  These sites, for whatever reason, just have a single “pets” filter. Some owners might allow cats but not dogs or vice-versa, and you wouldn’t know without asking.  We’ve been burned by this here and there, including last week for a place in Napa where they canceled on us for having cats, rather than dogs.)

Is this a great arrangement for the cats?

I honestly don’t know, but they seem content.  They’ve gotten pretty used to long haul travel. Both of them are fine in the car, as well as everywhere we stop.

It sometimes takes them a day or two to settle into a routine.  But I think, on the flip side, that they appreciate the extreme variety in birds just outside of the window.  This supplies them with plenty to get really worked up about.  Here in San Diego, there are wild parrots everywhere, including often right outside of our bedroom window, and the cats get really excited about them, batting and making clicking noises at the screen.

This is a picture of one of our cats, Butters, calling a meeting to order just as we arrived in San Diego from Phoenix.  We were tired from 5 hours on the road, but Butters, a consummate business cat, was ready to settle in that very night and start conducting one-on-ones.

A business cat

Come on in and have a seat, please.

 

What about vagabonding with the cats when you fly?

Amanda and I have wandered pretty extensively around the US by car.  But we haven’t yet done an overseas stint where we brought the cats.  At the top of our list for next winter, though, are Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Thailand, so stay tuned.  We may well have a follow-up post in 6 months where I describe sneaking a cat past TSA in the back pocket of my jeans.

Picks

  • A couple of weeks ago, a contributor to a Taiwanese tech blog translated my post about getting a programming job without a degree into Chinese.  You can check that out here.
  • I’m also going to pick the Freelancers Show on DevChat.TV.  I was the guest in the latest show and I have since started as a panelist (regular) on the podcast.  So throw us a subscribe!
  • If I’ve never mentioned them before, you should give Toggl a look for any and all time tracking needs that you have.  It’s freemium and cheap when it’s not free.

The Digest

Have a good weekend!

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DaedTech Digest: How I Work on the Road

I skipped last week’s Digest Friday, so my apologies for that.  Let’s get back on track.

I’m continuing with the theme of using the Friday digests to talk a little about remote/location-independent life.  I know a lot of you in my feeds and social media seem interested in this kind of thing, and some of you ask me questions about it.  So, a couple of hundred words and a photo per week seems like a good way to address that.

Last time I talked about where we stay and how.  Today I’ll briefly cover the idea of work.  People often ask me how that goes as we wander around.

Well, for domestic travel, we generally load up what we need into our Jeep (including our pets) and drive.  This gives me enough space to bring my desktop tower setup and 3 monitors, to which I am admittedly addicted.  I also haul around a folding table and chair just in case our lodging lacks adequate desk space.  As a result, I can set up shop anywhere.

From there, it’s just a matter of filtering the AirBNB/VRBO rentals to make sure they have a good internet connection.  I also message the landlords ahead of time to stress that lack of reliable connection is a deal breaker.  Between these two precautions, we’ve always had good luck.

So that’s really it.  I haul my setup around with me and work from “home” the way anyone would work from home.  But my home at the moment features extremely nice views, like this one:

Picks

  • If you ever want quick hitting, easy explanations of digital marketing and SEO concepts, give Moz’s whiteboard Friday a look.
  • I’m going to give a shout out to Alexa for a couple of reasons.  First of all, you can now apparently dial any phone number you want with her.  And secondly, I’ve been enjoying easy integration over bluetooth with my phone for playing audio.
  • Here’s something we get a good bit of lately: low calorie (and high protein) ice cream called Halo Top.  You won’t confuse it with the hard pack stuff at Coldstone Creamery or whatever, but it’s pretty tasty and for a fraction of the calories.

The Digest