A few days ago, wanderbbq co-founder Charlie wrote this piece about his intentions for work and travel in the coming months, and I thought I would do the same. We both work remotely and use that privilege to travel whenever possible. This is part of the reason for wanderbbq, and so we are sharing our plans with you in the hope that we might inspire others.
My Current Situation
At the moment, I am in Thailand (as you can tell from my two recent articles) and will be here until the middle of March. I love Thailand and come here about once a year on holiday to enjoy the beautiful white beaches and warm tropical seas. It has been a pleasure to live here for the last year, having those beaches virtually on my doorstep.
My daily schedule goes a little something like this: Wake up, hit the beach for a swim, edit essays, eat lunch, write articles, go to the gym, have dinner, read a book, go to bed. For me, it’s a pretty great life, and I am reluctant to say goodbye to it… but Thailand does not make visas cheap or easy. It is time to move on to the next place before I wear out my welcome.
The Next Place
The life of a digital nomad can often be summarised thusly: “This place… the next place… and then…?” There is always a sense of uncertainty. There are things we want to do, things we need to do, and things we think maybe we should do. If you have a high tolerance for this sort of wild existence, maybe you would like the digital nomad lifestyle; otherwise, you’d be better with a mortgage and steady paycheque.
When I leave Thailand, I will go to Cambodia and live there for about two months. In Cambodia, I intend to rent a small house in the countryside and work on my next book. The reason for this move is simply that Cambodia will provide me with a very cheap and relatively peaceful existence for a length of time that I suspect will be sufficient for writing a book. All the research has already been done, and what remains is actually writing the fucker.
Cambodia has had a special place in my heart for more than a decade. It is a weird place and utterly terrifying in many ways. I have seen and heard things there that I would never imagine anywhere else, and have endured pain there that I could never have imagined. Yet it is a place of bizarre charm: of red roads, stilted houses, and dense green jungles. Whilst some of my worst memories come from Cambodia, so do many of the best and wildest ones. The draw to return comes often and is hard to resist.
(Fun fact: I once lived in Cambodia for a year, owning an Irish pub. Whilst there, I appeared in a French movie called Le Soldat Blanc, which was filmed in Ream National Park. Although I’m barely in the movie, I somehow made it onto the poster. That was definitely something to check off the bucket list.)
Cambodia is also attractive for two reasons: 1) easy visas, and 2) cheap accommodation. These both elevate it above neighbouring Thailand, even though the lifestyle in Cambodia is notably tougher. Outside the capital city, there are no big supermarkets, the internet is a bit dodgy, and if you get in an accident on the roads, you’d pretty much better start praying.
Back in 2013, a nice house would cost you $150/month in a relatively expensive area, but since Chinese people began to arrive in droves, these prices have shot up. Still, I reckon that in relatively rural areas, I may be able to rent a decent place for $200-$250/month that will more than fulfil my needs – privacy, power, water, internet, and – to be honest – not much else.
I will be in Cambodia for about two months (or however long it takes to write my next book) and after that my plans become somewhat hazier. I had intended to spend a month in Nepal, but apparently the monsoon does go that far north. I had not realised.
Instead, I will leave Cambodia by crossing into Vietnam and do a few weeks of work. I have some business in Vietnam, and this will be a good opportunity to earn money for the next stage…
The next stage is going to be the expensive one. For the “summer months” (read: winter in the southern hemisphere), I will travel Down Under. The elusive land of dingoes and kangaroos is now on my horizon. Before now, it had always been so far away, so expensive, so big… I could never imagine “doing Australia” in a few weeks’ holiday from work, but now that I am 100% remote worker (I mean, all my income comes from freelance, online, or passive sources), it will be feasible to spend a month or two in Oz. Whilst there, I will also head over to New Zealand. The logic there is simple: It’s so fucking far away from anywhere else that I’d be mad not to.
After that, the good weather will be returning to Asia and so I will fly to Nepal and do some trekking in the Himalayas. I actually trekked in the Himalayas on the other side of the border – in China – some years ago. That involved a brutal, unplanned 12 hour hike over a mountain to a remote village, where we arrived just in time to leave. Jesus, who would do such a thing? And why would they ever go back?
All of this area is hugely attractive to me. I love rugged landscapes and vast mountains soaring up into the clouds, shrouding the whole area in mystery. I have always wanted to see Nepal, the remote mountain nation, but such are the extremes of the climate and landscape that the trip had never been feasible before now. Again, with my ability to work online, it should now be possible to spend a whole month in the country, which will give me time to see the things I want to see. After that, I will cross the border into India and explore the north of the country.
(Shameless plug time: A few years ago, I spent a month exploring the south of India. The trip was fun, exhausting, frustrating, and wonderfully bizarre. I couldn’t not write a book about it. If you can’t be bothered reading it or if its $1.99 price tag is shockingly high for you, here’s the CliffNotes version: The premise is that sometimes the places that require the most effort are the ones that offer the most reward. #SoDeep)
Details, details, details
So that’s pretty much a run-down of my plans for 2020. It may sound self-indulgent or it may sound inspirational. I suppose it is both, but you can blame Charlie for that because I completely ripped off his idea for a post.
Anyway, this is what wanderbbq is about. We live life in a way that we want to share with you, so we tell you what we are doing and how to do it in the hope that others may follow suit. We are not selling a bullshit course or ebook (although I suppose I did pimp several random books in this article). No, we are not selling anything. This site is about free information. It is about telling you that this sort of life is possible if you are willing to go for it.
Although we are quite different people, Charlie and I have gotten together to work on this website because we share some ideas (and ideals) about travel and life. We have both worked in a wide range of jobs and come to the conclusion that almost no amount of money is worth the miserable existence people have when tied to a desk and forced to commute. It sounds corny, but we would rather be free.
That’s what 2020 is about for me and that’ why I’m sharing this with you now. All of the above may seem random, bizarre, impossible, stupid, or whatever to you. But it’s not your year. We each take our own path. For me, this year is about getting personal projects done – writing books, building my company, seeing the world, meeting new people… I believe I can do all that while working online. What’s more, I believe that – averaged over the whole year – I will spend less than $1,000 per month, which means that my work commitments will be minimal and I may even save some money by the time 2021 rolls around.
Does that sound like bullshit? Probably. But I don’t think it is at all. I think that this is totally feasible, and I invite you to stick around and see how it goes. Watch this space, folks. Bookmark this site. Follow me on Instagram, if you like. When the year is up, if I haven’t lived this out for real, feel free to call me on my bullshit.