You move to a new country every four months – how did this reader-voting system come about?
When I started travelling, I actually hadn't ever left the country before, so I figured just about everyone else in the world would know more about where I should check out better than me!
I also knew I wanted to go everywhere eventually, so it seemed like a fun idea to randomise it (for me, anyway) and give my readership the opportunity to take part in the experiment. They haven't let me down so far, and I've got a really tight-knit community as a result.
What's your favourite place so far and where's next?
I don't think I can choose a favourite... every place I've lived feels like home at this point, and I love them for different reasons.
I will say that New Zealand was the most beautiful, Argentina was the most educational, Iceland had the most interesting local culture, Thailand was the most difficult and India has been the most shocking.
I actually have no idea where I'll be headed next, as people are still voting! I'll know by my last week here in Kolkata, though, and will buy my plane ticket the next day.
You created Exile Lifestyle – what's it all about?
Exile Lifestyle is the blog home-base of a project that has me hopping from country to country to expand my knowledge of the world and its people.
When I left the US, I had a pretty firm grasp of how to make it in the business world, but I was depressingly short on real-world knowledge outside the US, except for what I was hearing second-hand through whatever I could read or watch on the news. The reality of how other people live and what angle other cultures view the world from has been grossly distorted in the popular media, and seeing it first-hand has given me many new perspectives from which to view every problem I come across (which was a big part of my original goal!).
In more nuts and bolts, practical terms: Exile Lifestyle is a blog where I write about entrepreneurship, lifestyle experimentation and full time travel. I move to a new country every four months based on the votes of the folks who read Exile Lifestyle, and while in that country I do my best to live like a local and pick up what knowledge and new experiences I'm able.
You own 50 things – what advice do you have for those wanting to embody the minimalist lifestyle?
Realise that the stuff you have doesn't define you as a person. The less you own, the more 'you' you'll be forced to be, and as a result, the better chance you'll have to become an even better version of yourself.
Once that thought is in place, just start whittling down to what you need and only what you need. Look at it as an exercise that you can always stop if you want to (though you'll likely enjoy it), and as a way to figure out what's really important in your life. The things you keep: that's the important stuff. Everything else you can spend less of your time, energy and resources on.
What is it about slow travel that you love?
I love being able to take the time to build real relationships with people and places.
When you do the tourism thing, or hop around from place to place really quickly, the relationships you start are unable to grow, so you don't really get to put down roots or make new friends or love a place for its good points and its downsides. When you travel more slowly, though, you're able to really take it in. You can go to the grocery store and rent an apartment rather than eating out every day and living at a hotel. You can go to birthday parties and sit around watching TV and have good times and bad times and get the full range of human experience, just in a different place, surrounded by a different culture.
To me, it's much more educational, and I walk away feeling like I know a million times more about the world, while at the same time being even more acutely aware of how ignorant I am about so many things; the perfect combo for wanting to learn more and more and more!
How do you fund your travels?
I have a few businesses that I run from the road, and I do a good bit of writing.
For example, I publish an 'everlasting ebook' travelogue called Exiles, which people subscribe to and then receive five new chapters every two weeks. I also publish ebooks (I just released my sixth one, How to Travel Full Time the other day, and my most recent collection of tales from the road, My Exile Lifestyle), and do some travel writing for a few different publications.
I also do brand consultation work from time-to-time, though I don't take on very many clients these days, as it tends to be difficult scheduling calls from the road. If the project/client is right, though, I make it work.
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