Wednesday, May 15

Five Days, Five Jobs

So, I realized today that it might be fun to have a different job every day of the week. Now, all you nay-sayers and party poopers, just stay with me for a moment.

You could have five different jobs, one for each day of the week, and if you have four friends who have the same interests and skills, and five amenable companies, you guys could be a team and rotate jobs! Imagine the fulfillment and intellectual challenge and cross-job enrichment! The brain juice! The happiness level would skyrocket!

Here's what I might design:

Day One: florist, chef, gardener, farmer, animal caretaker

Sell farm veggies. WWOOF or work on a local farm. Animal care at shelter or private. Chef/cafe.

Day Two: ESL teacher, nanny, daycare provider or adventure provider.

Tutor/teach mini courses on variety of topics. Part-time childcare or music classes.

Day Three: Travel consultant, planner, reader, learner, languages.

Travel planning for others. Reviewing travel locales. Attend lectures. Translate.

Day Four: Multimedia installation artist. Calligraphy. Music. Filmmaker, writer.

Installation commissions. Etsy, calligraphy, crafts, import/export. Sell writing. Make music.

Day Five: Volunteer, nonprofit, manual labour, learn a new skill, active kindness.

Charity volunteer work. Barter/trade to learn a skill. Shadow interesting people. Freelance consult. Clear trails. Paint. Help people move.

Whaddya think? Anyone want to have a five-way with me??

Wednesday, May 8


Regular Costs:
  • Monthly loan payments: $300
  • Rent + utilities: $400
  • Food: $100
  • Entertainment/adventure/leisure: $50
  • Savings: $100
  • Business costs (website maintenance, advertising, travel, etc.): ?? $50 ??
TOTAL: $950
(*note: I acknowledge that if necessary, I could cut out adventure/entertainment, savings, and shave some off the food budget: perhaps subtracting 50+100+25= 175, or $775)

To Acquire Before Leaving:

  • MacBook Pro: $1,269
  • Digital camera: $3,000
  • Unlocked iPhone & local SIM card: $450
  • $5,000 to open account with First Republic Bank in California - awesome for travelers!
  • 3 months buffer to cover first three months of relocation without needing to full-time work

TOTAL: $12,569

Yeesh!!!  That's a little absurd, no?

I could move abroad tomorrow, with no laptop (I have an iPad and keyboard), no digital camera, no fancy phone (buy a cheap local on arrival), no fancy bank account with no fees (keep my current account and pay hefty fees for international transactions and withdrawals), and no buffer. 

I think there's probably a nice middle ground to be found. I just wanted to give you a sense of what my 'ideal', 'safe', 'high-town-and-fancy-to-do' vision of being a freelancer abroad looks like. 

And then we'll see how I actually make this happen. 

Because there's NO WAY IN HELL that I'm waiting until I have $12,000 saved up to move. And you shouldn't either. 

Ideas for Staying Alive Cheaply and Comfortably


    • GOOD: learn a skill, meet cool people, engage in community, guaranteed bed
    • BAD: lack of solitude, daily grunt work requirement, too much routine
  • Couchsurfing
    • GOOD: meet local friends, stay in better homes than I could normally afford 
    • BAD: no privacy, accountable to someone else's schedule, can't have all my things
  • Hostels
    • GOOD: meet other travelers, in-the-know info for local sights and spots, cheap
    • BAD: no privacy, no space for my things, security, sharing facilities, tourist vibe
  • AirBNB
    • GOOD: usually a well-maintained space, solitude, room for things, guaranteed bed
    • BAD: someone else owns the space, no help with transport or questions
  • Local rental unit
    • GOOD: landlord to help, legal contract, I 'own' the space, solitude, room for things
    • BAD: no forced interaction with community, tied to a lease
  • Friend/Smithie network
    • GOOD: free or cheap, seeing my favorite/new favorite people, very short-term
    • BAD: no privacy, accountable to their schedules, no space for things
  • Busking
    • GOOD: unique show could pay for daily food in right areas/set list, no obligation to work
    • BAD: various laws about busking, not skilled enough on instruments, no guarantee
  • Translating: eLance, oDesk, Pandora Language Services
    • GOOD: choose my own work schedule, get to work on language skills, marketable later
    • BAD: no guarantee of work, have to develop own business, language skills need work
  • Hostel work
    • GOOD: can be insular and stay in hostel and work for my keep to get established, easy
    • BAD: on a schedule, must clean other people's mess and be around hostel vibe, no place to escape to, living and working in the same place can be tricky
  • Import/export
    • GOOD: enjoyable work, make local connections, art daily
    • BAD: business management is not my strong point, or enjoyable, trick laws for exporting
  • English teacher
    • GOOD: guaranteed income, easy work for me, better pay than other local jobs?
    • BAD: regular schedule, no room for spontaneity
  • PT childcare for expat community or hotel
    • GOOD: maybe flexible work schedule? easy work, high pay for expat or tourist parents
    • BAD: maybe regular work schedule? all-day childcare doesn't inspire as much as art
  • Blogger: advertising
    • GOOD: easy money AFTER everything is established, make connections with bloggers, etc.
    • BAD: feelings of being tied to computer, don't connect to real local community, business know-how
  • Music tutor for expat community or local school
    • GOOD: make music all day, higher pay than other posible jobs, 
    • BAD: regular schedule, not actually music, just ESL music/childcare
  • Travel consulting
    • GOOD: travel for work, make connections, earn lots of money, flexible schedule + vacay
    • BAD: lots of up front work to make connections, pressure to conform to industry norms
  • Installation art commissions
    • GOOD: thrilling work, creative every day, high pay, publicity, connect with creatives and support good causes
    • BAD: pressure to produce would mess with creativity, hard to get materials, connect with community when abroad

Friend tour

Alright y'all, here's who I might visit on my imaginary friend tour:

  • Katina: Totnes, UK
  • Jess: Paris, France
  • Lucy: Portland, OR
  • Julia R: Portland, ME
  • Tsering, Emily, Emily: New York, NY
  • Abdelkader: Algeria
  • Yoko & Yuko: Okazaki, Japan
  • Casey: Cairo, Egypt
  • Ashish: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Haneen: Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Alessia: Italy
  • Mitos: Thailand
  • Hijjawis: Nablus
  • Margaret: Colorado
  • Julia H: Boston
  • Dharamsala crew: Dharamsala, India

Just getting this all out into one place, to make room in my brain and to put it into YOUR brain...

Silence calls...

Hoo boy, I need another meditation retreat like WHOA.

My brain is crowded! I haven't slept properly for a week now. Part of the reason for that is because I was working my ass off on a job application, and my brain was swirling with ideas and connections and existential thoughts during the five days straight that I worked on my application materials.

Literally. Five days straight, out-of-bed-in-the-morning STRAIGHT to the computer and then back to bed at the end of the day.

We'll see what happens with the job. It is pretty much my dream job. But one must continue to make plans and be joyful and look for opportunities no matter what, right?

Anyway, back to meditation.

Here is my continual problem with every good habit I try to set for myself:

I want to be able to do it without any help.

Anybody else out there do that, too?

Like, oh, I won't pay $20 for a drop-in yoga class. I should just be able to discipline myself and practice at home and develop my own practice. But then I don't take the steps to do so, and I end up doing NO yoga.

Or, for example, I don't have the time for a 10 day silence retreat! The world needs me! Priorities! I will miss updates on Facebook! I have a 9-5 job that neeeeeeeeds me.


We all need support, infrastructure, encouragement, and a plan. Maybe you have the self-discipline to just pick up a new habit like *that*, but I think you're in the minority.

What's that, you say? You agree, but you can't afford $20 for every yoga class you want to attend, and you really can't just up and quit your job to go meditate for ten days?

TRUTH. Here's what you could do, and what I'm going to try.

Call your friends who feel the same way about yoga -- they want to practice regularly but don't want to pay for or travel to the classes. 

Find a time where all of you are available, and commit to a group yoga session at the same time every week. Someone can host the 'classes' at their house, y'all can help clear out the living room, set up someone's laptop on the couch full screen and crank up the volume on one of those free yoga videos on the Interwebs.

Free information!
Accountability and sociability with friends!

The key is that these people have to be your friends. People you actually want to see and hang out with. Not random people who you'll pull out on at the last moment. Motivation to see people you like, and social accountability because EVERYONE WILL KNOW if you don't show up.

This would work for weekly meditation sessions, too. The tricky part for me is that I consistently bounce between cities where I don't have a core group of friends to hang out with, AND that most of my friends aren't meditators and wouldn't be able to sit through an hour of silent sitting.

But! I shall persist! If YOU are a silent meditator, or a yogi, or a musician, or writer, or freelancer, FIND A BUDDY WITHIN YOUR FRIEND GROUP RIGHT NOW. 

And drop me a line to let me know what you're working on, and how it goes....

Ideal Escapist Freelance Packing List

Ideal Escapist Freelance Packing List for Temporary Relocation

  1. MacBook Pro
  2. iPad (with books)
  3. iPhone headphones
  4. Noise-canceling headphones
  5. Unlocked iPhone and SIM card(s)
  6. No-contract Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200
  7. Blue Yeti USB microphone
  8. Pilot .5 pens
  9. Wallet
  10. Jeans
  11. Adventure pants
  12. Black leggings
  13. Casual black pants
  14. Casual non-black pants
  15. Wrap around skirt
  16. Black tank top
  17. Colored tank top
  18. Black tee
  19. Grey tee
  20. Brown tee
  21. Button-up blouse
  22. Pant suit set
  23. Casual/nice pullover jacket
  24. Black zip-up jacket, blazer-esque but warmer
  25. Hoodie/sweatshirt for comfort and layering
  26. Nice formal-ish dress
  27. Black jersey dress
  28. Sundress
  29. Black bra
  30. Nude bra
  31. Sports bra
  32. 4 pair casual socks, 1 pair warm/wool socks for winter and hiking
  33. 8 underwear
  34. One piece swimsuit
  35. Winter scarf
  36. Spring scarf
  37. Baseball hat
  38. Winter hat
  39. Thin, durable, warm gloves
  40. Raincoat/winter coat, if necessary
  41. Running/walking shoes
  42. Flip flops
  43. Black calf-covering flat boots
  44. Black comfortable flats
  45. Barefoot five-finger shoes...yes, I know I'll stick out and be mocked by locals and tourists alike...
  46. Flashlight
  47. Universal travel adapter
  48. Reusable water bottle
  49. Reusable metal thermos for hot drinks and soups
  50. Reusable metal lunch tin or bento boxes
  51. Fork, spoon, knife
  52. Day backpack
  53. Day cross-body purse or messenger bag, nice-enough looking
  54. Moroccan bedspread
  55. Hostel sheet
  56. Towel set
  57. Guitar
  58. Toiletries (hair stuff, teeth stuff, shower stuff, razor, feminine hygiene, makeup, CHAPSTICKS)
  59. Jewelry and watch
  60. Sunglasses and case
  61. Digital camera and case
  62. Passport and travel portfolio for staying organized with travel docs, receipts, etc.
  63. Notebook/sheaf of blank paper
  64. External hard drive
  65. Bike

Two things:

Obviously, the guitar and bike are huge. I would bring my guitar, and buy/rent a bike locally.

I don't own a digital camera, MacBook pro, iPhone, MiFi, or microphone yet. IDEAL list, I said.

Making a Change

Ahoy there, mateys!

Once again, I've been reading up on my favorite blogs: minimalist blogs, nomadic traveler blogs, freelance designer blogs, and be-yourself-and-be-free blogs.

And I'm inspired.

They all have incredibly beautiful blogs, and I know mine needs some aesthetic help. That's a skill I don't know and may ask for help with soon.

Destinations I am considering:

Chiang Mai, Thailand

SEA-BKK flight with my privileges: $230.20
Monthly rent: $400

Cuenca, Ecuador

SEA-UIO flight with my privileges: $133.20
Monthly rent: $400

Antigua, Guatemala

SEA-GUA flight with my privileges: $100.20
Monthly rent: $300

  • Friend tour: visiting friends all over the world in geographic order, by land where possible

Portfolio of careers & services I am considering as BUSINESSES:
  • Travel consultant
  • Translation and interpretation
  • Installation art commissions
  • Import/export businesses
And here's the work that I ENJOY doing but won't pressure myself to EARN from:
  • Creative writing
  • Crafting/making art
  • Music

Here goes the brainstorming and courage-grasping...