how to be a location independent family, part 1

A while ago I was reading Location Independent Living, and I came up with three questions that I had about actually implementing it with a family. Most of these questions probably would arise reading the now-famous Four Hour Work Week, too, but I have yet to read it. First, a lot of people say they want to travel but what does that really mean? Second, is it really possible with children? And finally, what kind of financial situation do you need to be in if you do it? I’ll address each of these questions in a separate post.

What Does Travel Really Mean?


Creative Commons License photo credit: Joshua Davis (jdavis.info)

Take a look at this list of “travels” that I’ve done and think about which of them would appeal to you. This is not an abstract question, but an attempt to try to make you think about what kind of traveling you would prefer to do if money and time and commitments and so on were no object.

– A cruise to a generic Caribbean island.
– Camping in the hills, living in tents and eating food cooked over the fire.
– A hotel in a shabby part of Paris, but near a subway that gives you quick access to the heart of the city.
– Staying in simple accommodations in a small town in central Europe.
– Primitive hotel accommodations in distant Siberia; no shower, minimal heat, no TV.
– Visiting relatives in a town about 7 hours away by car.

Travel usually means one of two things to most people: a desire for new experiences OR relief from day-to-day routines. I don’t think there are many other reasons to travel, because almost any motivation can be put in one of those two categories, or both. If you want to become a location-independent person, though, you should be motivated by the desire for new experiences. If your motivation is relief from day-to-day routines – nonstop – then you may be disappointed eventually. Even if you travel constantly, routines will develop. As I’ll discuss in part two, routines may even be necessary. If your idea of perfect travel is staying on a cruise ship or in a luxury hotel where maid services take care of making the bed and the minibar magically refills, you will eventually grow tired of this new routine.

On the other hand, if you are looking for new experiences, traveling as a location-independent family would be liberating. You can stay in a location until it gets boring for you, then move to the next location. Your routine may be the same in each place (doing your remote work, schooling the kids, going grocery shopping), but the experience will always be new. You can do this by learning your timeframe for change, and planning ahead. Obviously if you have a routine built into your daily life, but your location changes once every six months, you will have new experiences. Grocery shopping in Irkutsk will be different than grocery shopping in Surabaya. However, you will have to do it. You will not have concierge service everywhere you go that will allow you to sleep until noon and party all day long.

Traveling in general, though, is liberating. As I said, I have made all of the trips I listed above and each has its own appeal. However, going to a new place for the first time is always tremendously exciting for me. I would rather go to Croatia than France, simply because I’ve BEEN to France. Similarly I would rather go to a small village in France, though, than go to the same city in Croatia twice. Some people enjoy one place; they have a timeshare there, or friends, or simply love it too much never to visit again. If you are like this, maybe you don’t really want to be location independent: maybe you just want to MOVE. It’s a critical difference, because they are two very different lifestyles. If you love France, for example, just move there and live there for a few years. Don’t move there planning to move on in 3 or 4 months; you’ll regret it.

I think the biggest part of this lifestyle would be making sure that you are doing it for the right reasons: for experience, not for escape. You can find escape without traveling – by getting a different job, exploring a new hobby or even learning something new. Experiences, though, have to be sought after, and being a location independent family would be a great way to continually invite those experiences into your life.

In the next part I’ll talk about traveling with children.

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