Location independence made drop-dead simple: 5 steps to start traveling while working full-time

TL;DR — Leaving your home country (whether for 7 days or 7 months) is really hard. I’ve boiled down that scary transition to 5 simple steps, so you can continue kicking ass in your job or growing your business.

“Goals, bro.”

“You’re living the life I want to live.”

I get these comments every day. But it’s a bit depressing because for some reason, those people think they can’t have the same (or better) life than I have.

Want to travel the world while working a 9-5? Even better – Want to travel the world while building your business?

Here are the 5 simple steps I followed to reduce the fear and make the leap to South America two years ago:

  1. Find the right destination for YOU
  2. Book the damn flight
  3. Prepare for travel
  4. Build build build
  5. Explore & establish

Let’s get into it.

Palms in Tayrona Park, Santa Marta, Colombia

1. Find the right city, country or region for you

Whatever you do here is not the end of the world. You can always pick your stuff up and move to another location in the snap of a finger.

But I will say, environment plays a big role in your productivity. So if you’re an entrepreneur like me, if you’re building something like me, you need a city that supports that attitude.

I was between Croatia, Thailand and Colombia when I first chose to leave the United States. (This was initially just a three-month trip. But it’s turned into a 2+ year adventure).

This is what I was looking for in a destination:

  1. Close to my home timezone for client meetings
  2. Quick access to the US in case of emergency
  3. Access to fresh fruit and meat
  4. An interesting, lively culture
  5. Spanish-speaking

Figure out what your priorities are. What will make your work environment the most productive it can possibly be?

For me, those priorities made my final decision really easy.

Latin America it was!

2. Book the damn flight

You’re overthinking it.

Book your flight 1-3 months from now. No farther out, no sooner. The more you delay, the more you’ll panic about the impending trip.

Also note of advice – Book a one-way flight. You may love it. You may hate it and want to try another city in the region. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. So don’t trap yourself into a outgoing flight if you can help it.

Flight from Medellín, Colombia, to Santa Marta, Colombia

3. Prepare for travel

Use the time before your flight to prepare your business and yourself for what could be a very long time away from home.

I didn’t do this step right (because I didn’t have anyone to guide me in this process). Here’s what I’d now recommend after I made a lot of mistakes:

  • Get a service provider you can use internationally (T Mobile, Google Fi for a limited time)
  • Get a credit card you can use internationally (I use Chase Sapphire Preferred)
  • Have someone (parents, friend, etc) in your home country receive your mail
  • Change addresses for all your important accounts to their address
  • Pack lightly (you need less than you think)

4. Land & start building

Learn the language

Your first priority, if you’re going to spend a while away from home, is to learn the language.

If you’re in Southeast Asia or the Middle East, this is hard. If you’re in Latin America or Europe, this is not hard. Why? Similarities across the region.

Thai is different from Japanese is different from Vietnamese is different from (fill this blank with one of the 700 languages spoken in Indonesia).

In Latin America, despite different accents and dialects, you’ll learn and speak Spanish in no time. Brazilian Portuguese is similar too.

Best way to learn a language? Speak daily with a native. Who knows – You might just fall in love 😏

Manu and I in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Avoid loneliness at all costs

Another of your priorities needs to be networking. Just like in the United States or wherever you’re from, the quality of your network determines your direction in life.

It’s up to you to create your network – both online and in-person.

  1. Go to local meetups
  2. Prioritize expat/nomad connections
  3. Then meet locals through their introductions

This is a surefire way to never feel lonely and get socialized quickly in a new environment.

The longer you spend solo, the more lonely you get. You have to be intentional about connecting with others.

Keep your eyes peeled on your favorite social platforms for upcoming events and get out of your comfort zone.

Get into a routine

There’s something about a lack of a routine that will keep you on your toes but that can’t last forever.

Figure out when you’re most productive during the day. Get your work done then.

Then workout and get energized for the second half of your productive hours.

For me this is what my daily schedule looks like:

  • 7am — Walk
  • 8am — Deep work
  • 1pm — Lift / outdoor workout
  • 2pm — Lunch
  • 3pm — Meetings
  • 5pm — Walk
  • 6pm — Dinner
  • 7pm — Hang with girlfriend

That schedule doesn’t work for everyone but it works for me. I found I’m most productive in the morning. And after a mid-day workout, I’m most sociable in the afternoon.

Do some tinkering. This is a perfect time in your life to experiment. What you did at home won’t serve you in this new phase of life.

5. Travel more & establish a homebase

The honeymoon phase is real. You will LOVE your first few weeks and months.

Then it sets in… I remember thinking, “Oh, I’m really doing it. This is my new life.”

The travel bug has bitten.

Let it!

Explore the region. What else does Latin America or Southeast Asia have to offer? What’s Eastern Europe like compared to the Western half?

In each new city, stay at least 1-2 months to get a hang of the local culture and learn if you’d like to spend more time there.

Once you feel enamored with one place, spend a LONG time there. Essentially, however long your visa and tax situation allow. Your goal is to determine if you’d like to set up a life there.

I’d spent a collective 12 months in Colombia before deciding it was a good place to buy real estate and start a life with my girlfriend (we’ve been dating for a year and a half).

Nomadism is not a permanent way of life.

99% of people cannot meet someone, build a family and business, and construct a life together while traveling the world. Too many competing priorities.

Establish a home base in your favorite location(s) and build generational wealth. That is the mission.

I could go into each of these sections in way more depth, but I’ll leave it here for now.

  1. Find the right destination for YOU
  2. Book the damn flight
  3. Prepare for travel
  4. Build build build
  5. Explore & establish

What do you think? Have you already made the leap? Was it easier or harder than I laid out above?

Let me know. I respond to every single message.

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What should I cover next?

I have a question for you:

If I were to dedicate the next Freedom Files YouTube video to you and one challenge you’re facing right now, what would that issue be?

Typically, I get something like the following:

  • I can’t find a remote job
  • I don’t know the right long-term location for me
  • I don’t know how to start a business
  • I am a digital nomad but haven’t settled in a country
  • I pay way too much in taxes and need a solution
  • I want to invest in countries before they are popular

Let me know by emailing or DMing me. I’ll write about it publicly because many others likely have the same challenge as you do.

Location freedom is near

I started an online business, lived in 10 countries, learned a new language, bought international real estate, and got residency in Latin America – all within 2 years.

It’s possible! I made a checklist to help you live your relocation dream. 

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