Making Travel Permanent
Or, where is home anyway?
It's been nearly eight months since I quit my job and more than six since I left London to travel, in a couple of weeks I will be leaving South America and heading back to Europe. But it's not the end, not yet.
The original plan
When I left my job I had a little bit of money saved up, it wasn't a lot but it was enough to leave the UK with a simple plan, travel until the money runs out, and then go home.
Things are changing
In December 2013 I decided to take an apartment for Christmas and the new year, I found a place in Quito advertised on AirBnB and moved in on the 23rd. Many of the places available on AirBnB have discounted rates for longer tenancies and this was one of them, so I took it for a month, naturally.
After the new year I decided to spend some time looking for work, I'd had a couple of months of not working and I was starting to miss it. I signed up to oDesk, filled out a profile and applied for a few jobs that were advertised. Then, nothing.
What is oDesk?: oDesk is an online outsourcing marketplace, it has a large proportion of software jobs alongside writing, design, accounting and any other job that can be performed remotely. Many jobs on the site are low paid (work for $2/hr, build a Clash of Clans clone for $100, etc) and picked up by freelancers based in countries with a lower cost of living. I can't compete with them on price so I don't try to, fortunately there are also a few clients on the site that are looking for quality work and willing to pay for it.
Later, I applied for a small job to write an open source library for a company's web API. It was a "fixed price" job, usually they're not worth pursuing because payment isn't guaranteed, you're at the mercy of the client and they're prime for scope creep (the job becoming larger than originally anticipated). However, the tech to be used was interesting and that was enough to sell it. A short while later, and after some scope creep, the job was complete and I'd earned myself a whole $200. Success!?
The company wrote about their oDesk experience in their blog post, How we spent $2500 and got 36 libraries and thousands of new developers
Buoyed by that sort-of-win, I continued to apply. The next job I took was another open source library, low pay but better than the previous job, and so on. Each contract earned feedback on the site, making it easier to market myself greater success without the need to compromise on money.
Time passes, a few months later
I've been working occasionally, taking on contracts when a job appeals to me, I'm in a good position with a place to stay, food, sunshine and money enough to socialise. And, while I'm not earning a lot money, I'm earning more than I'm spending, I have a nice amount of free time, I'm “profitable”.
As I travel and talk, I've had a few conversations about what I'm doing and during these I've mentioned that I'd like to travel without an end. But each time I said it there was always a little bit of doubt about whether it was really, actually possible. Now there is no doubt left about that.
What is next?
Over the last few months I've seen Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and now Chile, living in some wonderful cities along the way. In a couple of weeks I'm going to head to Euro Clojure and take the opportunity to see Poland for a couple of months. After that, I'll be back in the UK to see friends, family and drink some proper ales. And then? ¯\(ツ)/¯ , the world.