Mexico City is like a large European city with a tropical jungle twist. It’s also one of the largest cities in the world, but you wouldn’t know it from the cool, calm atmosphere that presides over the Roma Norte neighborhood where I am staying for a few nights. My life has a travel writer takes me to great places like this all the time. I’ve explored the bohemian cafes of Prague…the seductive beaches of Portugal…a seaside village in Turkey…and the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.
Around the world, tour operators, hotels, cruise lines, and resorts are fighting for your vacation dollars. They have to pay big bucks to buy ads in magazines and online…and they do so. But some “good press” can be invaluable to their campaign as well. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico is a case in point. It’s long been a destination for expat retirees and visitors from Mexico City and around the country.
I’m a writer. And in the age of the Internet, that’s a great thing to be. I didn’t plan it that way, of course. In my case it was just dumb luck. After a dozen years as an undergrad searching for something to hold my interest long enough to actually get a degree, I stumbled on journalism.
Every time I open a travel magazine I flip past the first pages of advertisements, pass the index and the editor’s notes, and head straight to the contributors’ page. This is the page with the list and photos of the writers contributing to the issue at hand. As long as I have been devouring travel magazines I have wondered about the lives of the travel writers. Who sent them over?
Not everyone looks forward to getting up and going to work. But I’m not complaining. The most difficult task I need to tackle today is to finish packing a suitcase. So I’m having a very leisurely breakfast before heading to the airport for a flight to Barcelona, one of the world’s most electrifying cities. Even though I’ve done it countless times before, I’m really looking forward to…
A symphony of monks chanted as we sat kneeling on the grass. I held the wire rim of my enormous cylindrical paper lantern and waited for the cue. Finally, in one synchronized movement, a sea of hands—belonging to individuals from countless countries and cultures—let go.
Although my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I write a lot about retiring overseas, we’re not officially retired. We write for a living, and even after we do reach official retirement age, I’d be very surprised if we didn’t continue our work writing, editing, and traveling. We know more and more folks in the same situation. They have no intention of retiring in the traditional sense and will probably work at something well past any official retirement marker or milestone they may pass.
I pull back the curtains, feel the crisp refreshing air, and look out over the waterfront at the colorful buildings of this Art Nouveau town…excited about the “work” day ahead. I’m in picturesque Ålesund, Norway. This jewel-like coastal town is the gateway to Norway’s spectacular Geiranger Fjord making it the perfect base from which to explore the region—and that’s my job for the day.
Imagine living in Europe, Africa, or Australia and earning a living while traveling around and discovering the continent. Sounds too good to be true? Well this is exactly what I have been doing for about six years now. I started off in Africa because I had always wanted to go on a safari but could never afford it.
There is no time clock but you work 24-7… No cubicle but you must have a computer… Your commute occasionally takes 10 to 12 hours, and sometimes it takes days off your calendar. You must be fluent in hand gestures and you better have a strong stomach and a good memory.
“Wait, what? Don’t move to Argentina, you can’t speak any Spanish!” Everyone reacted the same way when I announced I was moving. My Spanish education consisted of one class I took for a few months when I was 11 years old.
Like many, I have said that someday I would like to write a book. The idea remained just that for years. There was never enough time to squeeze anything else into an already hectic schedule, making it easy to keep on postponing. As
soon as I made way for a new freer lifestyle, I decided to see if I could be a writer.
“Follies are the only things that one never regrets,” said Oscar Wilde. Agreed. But travel writers needn’t look far to find excuses for their follies. After all, writers have a reputation for eccentricity. Whatever bizarre situation you find yourself in—and if any awkward questions arise—you can always blame it on the job. Why were you buying contraband from gypsies in the Czech woods? (“It’s my job.”) How come you spent half the night in a Berlin anarchist squat? (“It’s my job.”)
Earlier this month, I spent a long weekend watching birds and Monarch butterflies. I took part in a few hikes, went on a boat tour, and attended a few lectures—all centered around birds. Being close to hundreds of birds and thousands of butterflies was a thrill…but also how I make a living. Being around animals and interviewing experts about animals is joyful. Then sitting down to write about my findings allows me to relive the experience all over again.
It’s a weekday morning in the early fall and I’m standing on a mountaintop in the Swiss Alps. I’ve been hiking all morning, passing through tiny villages with dark-roofed homes and small chapels whose bells sing out every hour to remind us of the precise time. I’ve walked through fields of wildflowers that overlook snow-capped peaks and past a dozen waterfalls both small and large. And for the past hour I’ve been navigating thin pathways that wind across a barren high-altitude landscape dotted with leftover snow.
It’s possible to pursue your hobby and bring in some cash before and during retirement. These hobbies can help you to fund your life as a retiree overseas. If you’re dreaming of an apartment in Paris…a beach house in Ecuador…a farmhouse in Italy…and the only thing holding you back is lack of capital…then read on. Your interests can turn into a career that you love…
Since writing was something that I’d always loved, it seemed reasonable that it could become my ticket to traveling the world. I spent a couple of months researching the best way to get started on this new career, and then submitted my first story about Costa Rica to International Living. You can’t even imagine how excited I was when they agreed to publish it!
My wife Suzan and I used to get dressed to go to work. No, really. Although we’re writers and have been for most of our professional lives now, there was a time when we’d have to put on the nylons and skirts and ties and slacks and sit in offices for hours on end. Flash back about 15 years. The clients we wrote for had Big Offices where they did Important Stuff that we would turn into brochures…
After the London house was sold, the Bryson clan moved north to rural Yorkshire and a new life. Bill’s modest goal was to earn a decent living by writing articles and books. He produced several titles on the English language, but it was his books of travel essays (like Notes from a Small Island and I’m a Stranger Here Myself) that began earning him a following and lively book sales. Today, his legions of fans eagerly await his next book without knowing what a debt of gratitude they owe to his wife.
For us, the daily grind in the States had begun to require too much work for too little reward. Expenses were rising and both my wife and I had reached a level of dissatisfaction with our careers. It was time for a major change. It was time to slow down, work less, and enjoy more of life! This would not happen by accident. We made a plan. After some months of research, Ecuador emerged as the location for our next chapter. Having spent many years in Alaska…
This has been quite a year. It started in January with a weekend in West Virginia riding all-terrain vehicles on the Hatfield & McCoy Trails…hand-feeding black bears…and dancing to bluegrass music. In February I drove a reindeer sleigh through a winter wonderland in Roros, Norway. I kept myself warm by sampling aquavit along the newly developed Aquavit Trail around Trondheim.
My wife and fellow writer Suzan Haskins and I moved abroad 12 years ago…and took our work right along with us. We were writers back home, and our job now is to write about the places expats go and the things they do when they move overseas. And since we’re expats ourselves, we’ve always had a special interest in the ways other expats earn a living abroad as well.
Did you ever want to go abroad but weren’t able to fund it? That doesn’t mean that your trip is doomed to never happen. Imagine instead getting paid to travel the world. It is possible to fund your trip and even make a profit by writing about your adventures.
Imagine the place you want to be right now. Maybe it’s swinging in a hammock overlooking turquoise waters, your toes dug into silky-soft, white sand…perhaps you’re sipping wine in a sidewalk café in Paris…or you’re walking in the path of the ancient Incas in an Andean mountain valley.
The earrings are from Hong Kong’s jade market. I bought the fedora hat at a Christmas market in Berlin, the boots from Malaga in Spain, and the shimmering scarf at Otavalo market in Ecuador—one of the largest indigenous markets in South America. You might call it eclectic fashion indulgence. I call it research.
For grilled squid, lavender ice cream, and a glass of chilled local white wine, I know a waterfront terrace restaurant at Cassis that’s perfect.
I’ve always been one of those people who won’t settle for “ordinary.” Sure, I have done my share of everyday things…but if I can find a way to step beyond the run-of-the-mill, you can bet I will! One of the ways I left “ordinary” behind was with my career. I spent many years working as a tax accountant—I knew there had to be a better way to spend my time.
I stayed at the best resort on the island where I lounged on their spectacular man-made, white sand beach with infinity pool, and shopped at Le Marché Municipale—the public market which covers a city block labyrinth of bargains.
I had just arrived at the little Spanish town near Alicante where I’d be spending a couple weeks, so I would have plenty of time to taste test each one.
We took the all-day Kiwi Discovery bus to spectacular Milford Sound and yelled excitedly when we saw a large pod of dolphins bursting from the green and blue water…
When you get to a certain age, the idea of blowing out candles jammed into a cake laden with thick, sickeningly-sweet wallpaper paste-like frosting is no longer appealing.
Chances are, you were not brought up to think you could explore countless possibilities. Most of us who arrived after World War II were counseled to follow a narrow path in life. Pick one thing and stick with it, no matter what. That has been the message we inherited. But this was not always the case. Consider Leon Battista Alberti, who lived in Florence in the 15th century. He was an architect, author, classical scholar, musician, stage designer, and town planner. He was also known for his elegance, personal style, and athletic ability—and he was reputed to be able to jump over a man from a standing start.
If you’re planning to make the big move abroad, you can create a new occupation for yourself right now—something you will simply love doing and make money from at the same time.You can even get it going before you give up your job, making the transition to your new life overseas seamless.All you have to do is start writing a blog on something you’re passionate about and turn it into a money-making website.
I wake up and glance over at my wall calendar—no deadlines for the rest of the week. Time for the beach! Or maybe I could work on my novel. But it’s such good weather, what about another day trip? Welcome to the life of a freelance writer where every day is wide open, and every day is yours.
In the Black Forest, the darkest tales often seem linked to the loveliest places. So it’s no surprise that Staufen’s historic center of cobblestones, courtyards and fountains is straight from central casting’s Enchanted Germany file.
I haven’t had a “real” job—you know, one of those 9-to-5 office gigs—since 2008. But I earn good money. Enough that I’m able to travel the world, save for retirement, and dine at nice restaurants without ever breaking a sweat about my bank account. You see, in 2008 I quit my office job so that I could wander through the Middle East, Asia and Australia for a few years.
All is quiet in the condo where we’re staying on the paradise island of Ambergris Caye, Belize. I’m up early. The world hasn’t yet come to life. When my five children wake up we share a breakfast of fresh mangoes and pineapple with black beans and rice seasoned with coconut oil. We wash it down with some cold coconut water. Locals call it pipa and it’s cheap and plentiful on a palm-fringed island like this one. After breakfast, it’s time for the pool where we laugh and splash and play until lunchtime.
New Zealand is one of the most scenically gorgeous countries on earth. For most people, it’s either the trip of a lifetime or a destination to only dream about. Not for me. I went there for the second time last November. A long way to go—but it’s not too bad when you can break the journey. This time around, I chose to stop off in Hong Kong—and of course I had to take in the harbor light show…
I get to see a lot of the world. New Zealand… Spain… Ireland… Turkey… Germany… Thailand. I love being on the road. But what makes these adventures extra special is this… I don’t have to pay a penny for any of them.
My prior career as a tax preparer meant I was used to navigating endless flowing rivers—of paperwork—and I always seemed to be going against the current. I’ve since had a river-related experience in my new career as a travel writer…but it was a lot more fun. Here’s how it happened. My destination was the rugged Toledo District in southern Belize where an Indiana Jones-worthy cave begged exploration.