Andrew sold all his belongings back in 2013 to start his travel lifestyle after a serious injury left him unable to talk for 2 years or use his hands. Unemployed, broke physically and financially he decided he needed to start Living The Dream on a path less travelled.
What was the first country you visited? Who with and why did you choose it?
If we don’t include the family vacations throughout North America when I was young, my first serious travel experience was a trip through France and Italy with my good friend from university, Stephanie, who was working in Paris as an Au Pair.
Steph had half-jokingly posted a Facebook status about having 2 weeks vacation and wondering if anyone from back in Canada wanted to meet up. I took the bait. On Feb 2nd, 2011 I arrived in Paris, and we did a whirlwind tour of Paris and 4 Italian cities.
I ended up extending my trip to 3 months, only returning home to celebrate my parent’s 25th anniversary. At that point I was hooked on international travel.
When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired that change?
I started my travel lifestyle on July 27th of 2013, just after my 25th birthday. Like many other travel stories, I sold all my stuff, bought a plane ticket, and left.
My reasons were rather different though, as my goals at the time were more about survival than travel. I’d just started to overcome some injuries that saw me not talk for 2.5 years, as well as basically losing the use of my hands (I couldn’t type or write, for example ). I was unemployed and running low on cash.
I had long been dreaming of a location independent lifestyle, and figured that my chances weren't about to improve. So I took the leap. I decided that, succeed or fail, from now on I'd be living on my own terms.
Fortunately, I had some advantages overseas. A lower cost of living than at home plus the fact I’m a native English speaker went a long way. Personally, I'd consider travel to be not only the best best lifestyle decision I've ever made, but the best career decision as well.
Do you have a base you travel from? Or is it continuous travel? And why do you choose that style?
A bit of both really. I'm permanently on the road, but prefer to live in 1 location for 3 months or more. However, I may take trips away from that base from time to time. For example, I lived in Russia for 9 months, but took several trips to Finland and 1 to France during that time.
When it's time to change bases is when I do most of my conventional sight-seeing. Like when Katia and I decided to leave Thailand, we first spent 2 weeks exploring all the areas we had missed while on the island of Koh Samui.
As for why I travel like this, it's just insanely practical! Traveling slowly cuts down on both transportation and accommodation costs, and lets me travel longer on less. For example, renting an apartment is my favorite way to stay in a new location and allows me to live at local – not tourist – rates.
I'm able to save up more money on the road than I ever was able to in Canada. Sounds hard to believe, but for me, there's no reason NOT to stay on the road.
How do you fund your travel lifestyle? Is it something you do when travelling or are you a saver?
I do both! I put aside 20% of all my earnings up front whether I'm in Canada or on the road. I think this is an important habit to develop in general, but especially for long term travelers who may not have a job-related retirement fund to fall back on someday.
In terms of funding my travel, I make money on the road in a number of ways: Teaching English, doing marketing consulting (I have an SEO background), translating (Russian to English), and freelance writing.
Also, the ability to lower our expenses goes hand in hand with earning and saving. I look for 2 “big wins” - transport costs, which I cut by flying rarely (and getting a great price when I do), and accommodation – which is why I often rent. Some of my big wins include a beach house in Thailand for $120 a month; an apartment in Saint Petersburg, Russia, for $160; and a Kuala Lumpur hostel for about $110.
The money question always pops up, “how can you afford this?” and I expect it will always be the main concern for would-be travelers, which is why I spent an entire month writing my 17,000 word, A-to-Z guide to traveling the world on any budget.
If you could tell yourself one tip before you started your travel lifestyle, what would it be?
Start a travel blog! I’m a writer anyway, but it took me almost 2 years to start writing about travel.
Travel blogging has been an awesome way to connect with other travelers, document my own travels, as well as open up other opportunities on the career-development side of things. I don’t make any money from my travel blog directly, but I don't need to. Because I get a lot of visitors, I’ve created the opportunity to connect with tour companies, hostels, and other travel companies, and otherwise market myself and my services. Plus it helps me build trust quickly with any house sitting, home stay, or Couch Surfing requests I make.
Travel is one of the best investments a person can make in themselves, and I think starting a travel blog is one of the best investments a traveler can make.
What does "Living The Dream" mean to you?
To me, “living the dream” means waking up every morning excited by the opportunity today holds for us. The people we'll meet, the things we'll create, what we'll see, learn, experience, and so on. For me, that means spending time with good friends, speaking foreign languages, writing, doing marketing work, and spending time outdoors – particularly snowboarding if the location is right. It means experiencing something new, if not every day, often.
If travel is a part of your dream, you can start living it a lot sooner than you think is possible. Across the pond it's courage, excitement, and a taste for adventure that will take you farthest. And if you're feeling really adventurous, you can always come visit me on the path less travelled!