My life stumbled into a college course on who-knows-what about who-really-cares back in the Fall of 2004. I am not sure if I was praising the porcelain god the night before or I had worked until midnight, but I was tired and about to have to listen to some boring lecture. Then, this random Aussie dude, because this guy definitely looked more like a dude than some salesman, stepped into the room all vibrant, giddy and at first glance looked like he was going to be very annoying. However, things quickly changed and it went something like this…
I would like to say it was all about the volunteering experience and the “seeing the world” part, but honestly, I was just your normal college alcoholic (I think that’s normal…right?!) trying to find a new location to party and check out “hot chicks”. It took all of about 10 seconds for this Aussie wildman to get me planning a trip to do volunteer work and partying through Australia in the coming summer of 2005.
Now, I wouldn’t say I was completely stupid or naive about anything and everything international. It was more like I was completely retarded about anything and everything international and could really care less at the time. My goal was finding the next beverage to down in less time than the next college student and surviving the school and work full time schedules.
My world soon changed in July 2005 as I stepped foot in Melbourne, Australia. I began to learn that there was so much more out there beyond the 50 States. I quickly became a sponge trying to absorb all aspects of international culture while doing conservation work in Tasmania and then traveling north from Sydney up to Cairns living life to the max. I realized there was so much to be seen and I had wasted so much time not seeing it. I became the new fanboy of foreign affairs.
Before heading to Aussie, those who had been before told me I wouldn’t want to leave once there. I thought I would like it, but would want to come back. If it wasn’t for the last year of school and the lack of financial stability a.k.a. I was college-broke, I would have stayed in Aussie and said, “Have a good flight mates!” to my fellow traveling companions a.k.a. other American college drinkers. AFter this glorious trip to the Outback, I was bound and determined to make it back and try to make a living in the land Down Under.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t as focused on my return as I should have been. I kept saying one day…one day…one day. Those days kept adding up and I was getting older and further from the chance of getting back to Aussie. I slowly fell into the Monday through Friday 9-5 grind and fell into the comfort of conformity (more on that in a later post). By 2008, I had decided I needed to do everything possible to make moving to Aussie a reality. I reduced and/or eliminated any debts and started building a battle chest for my war against the unwanted lifestyle I had grown to accept. It took until March 13th, 2009 for me to finally be on my way out of THE CUBE and on to life.
Now, the title says “…Friday to…Monday” but I actually didn’t head straight back to Aussie. I decided to take advantage of cheap-o $300 round trip tickets to Hawaii and bum out there for 2+ weeks and enjoy the wondrous world of every American’s vacation dream. It wasn’t such a dream for me, but very relaxing and very fattening along with very cheap (I will tell you how later here…see #8).
By April 15th-ish, I was on my way to Sydney, Australia to fulfill a dream I had not yet accomplished. The moment I stepped off the CityRail, I knew I was home. My beloved city of Sydney was, has, and will always be wear my heart lies. There is no better major city in the world in my opinion. I quickly became a hostel bouncing, wandering nomad, information seeking and most importantly, Aussie bum in no time flat. I stumbled around Sydney for a month or so before heading to New Zealand for a month. Then I came back to Sydney followed by traveling North with some great friends. I realized that too accomplish my next dream, I needed to come back Stateside. I am sure I could have done the same there, but my foundation was better in the US to catapult me to my dreams of becoming a nomad for life with family in tow flying our own flag.
The key to my tale is that no matter how much you feel like your dreams cannot be fulfilled, they can. Sure, there may be larger obstacles in your way than others but your strive and determination should overcome them because your dreams and desires are all that really matter in life.
In the up-coming How-To’s, you will read how to set up yourself for a life excursion. I was on my journey the Sunday after the Friday I quit my 9-5, but there was a lot of planning that went into taking such a huge step towards life. So, understand, you can take the exciting journey, but a lot of focus is needed to make such a drastic lifestyle change a reality in a weekend.
By now, you are probably wondering, “How much more babbling is this random dude gonna do before tell me how I can Go from 9-5 on Friday to Aussie Beach Bum by Monday”? Well that tale showed my long voyage to fulfill a dream and to lead you into realizing that you can do this too. Now on to the How-To…
If you honestly perform the following tasks, you have a great shot at becoming an Aussie Bum or Fill in Country Here Bum like me in no time flat:
- Do NOT tell others about your plan of departure…right away. When I have told others about my grandiose plans to dominate the world, they usually down play them, discourage them, and doubt them. Sure, that should be enough to motivate me, but it usually isn’t. So, keeping this plan a secret and being all James Bond like is much more exciting.
- Sell almost everything you own. I either sold, donated or trashed almost everything I owned. I mainly sold everything because that funded my trip and paid off any remaining debt before leaving my desk job. I strongly suggest doing this even if you aren’t going to be traveling abroad, but especially so if you are.
- Live ultra cheap 6 months prior to leaving. Try to cut back on everything. I mean EVERYTHING. That extra $5 you saved today is worth 5 meals once you get to India or Thailand.
- Start a Blog. I wish I would have put a full faith effort to blogging prior to traveling. I would have met a lot more people and opportunities prior to getting to Aussie. I suggest you start connecting with like minded people through blogging to help guide your journey.
- Think about living dirt cheap. I think I live cheap when traveling, but I have some buddies that are even better. Read How to Live an Awesome Life Abroad Without Having a Job to best see how to make an international voyage a success. Don’t think you can live in a place for under $10 a day? Read Rent for Less Than $10 a Day by John Bardos to see the reality.
- Start getting all your finances in order 6 months prior to departure. I started this a year in advance. The earlier the better and that doesn’t even really apply to just travel, but life too.
- Get out of and don’t get in to contractual obligations. I hate commitments because I feel tied down. My girlfriend is my only commitment and she is one of the few commitments I love. I never had a cell phone with a contract, a lease over 6 months or much anything else I couldn’t cut ties with fairly quick. Don’t get stuck in a 48 month car lease right before you are wanting to travel.
- Try to connect with Couchsurfing. I went to Hawaii and bummed it on the couch and floor of Mark Wiens’ aunt’s place as well as a cheap hostel. It was a great trip for relaxing and eating and most importantly cheap. How was Hawaii cheap you ask? I bummed. Sure, I helped around the house at Mark’s aunt’s place, but for the most part it was all about the connection that really got a place for me to stay. I didn’t couchsurf in Sydney but now really am disappointed I missed out on it. I strongly suggest doing it.
- Do NOT read 1 book about the place you are heading. I am not a fan of Lonely Planet and travel guides. They are too focused on what other people liked. I am extremely different than most and willing to suffer through quite a bit to see a lot. I would rather read 100 blogs and talk to 100 people once there to find out what is cool and what isn’t. Lonely Planets, I will say, are great for reference information like addresses and phone numbers, but kids there is this thing called the in-ter-net that does the same thing quicker than you can say, “David Damron is the sexiest blogger I have ever known…ever.” Okay, it may be fun saying that too, but you get my drift.
- Bring 1 BACKPACKERS backpack and 1 SCHOOL backpack. I just call it a backpackers backpack but you can click here to see what I mean. Having a school backpack is great for day trips. Do NOT bring anymore than this and try to bring less.
- Find out the Visa rules prior to departing. My buddy Mark Wiens of Migrationology does not do this all the time. Yes, Mark is a cool nomad, but he is risking a lot not knowing much prior to going. I love to have all paperwork ready for the customs and security agents as they control my life while I am there.
- Buy a netbook. Best travel investment ever for me. This was my friendly companion.
- Leave money with someone you trust. I left extra money in the States with my parents and my aunt and uncle. It was for the just in case and/or the great feeling of money to come back to if that ends up being the case.
- Buy a good digital camera. I didn’t, but wish I had. My camera wasn’t bad, but could have been much better.
- Don’t worry. Just do it. My girlfriend worries like crazy. It was worse overseas. I try to live worry free and travel even less free. The more I think about stress and problems, the more likely they are to become reality.
By no means is this a complete list. Hopefully, one day I will expand it to include more of the essentials. However, this is a great started guide to get you focused on a grand excursion to the unknown.