Being location independent for just over two months has already afforded me countless new experiences. It has been calming and exhilarating at the same time. And I have learned more about our world and myself along the way.
I’ve received a lot of questions about this lifestyle I’ve been testing out since the first of March. Therefore, in this post, I’m sharing some reflections from my first 60 days in SE Asia.
1. My creative juices are flowing…
I like change and being in cosmopolitan areas with a lot going on gives me energy. Being based in Penang, Malaysia is amazing. The bustling city with laid-back island vibes feeds my creativity. The island is extremely multicultural and it gives me life and new ideas.
I’m learning that being able to walk or take public transportation around helps fuel my creativity as well. I observe and take in so much more when I’m on a public bus versus driving myself. There’s never a dull moment when you’re “people watching” or taking in the scenery as the bus slowly makes its way through the city.
2. There is still good in the world…
This isn’t a notion that suddenly came to me, but with all of the destruction we hear about in the news cycles these days, it’s refreshing to get reminders of goodness. One of the things I love about traveling is meeting new people and hearing their stories. Interacting with people from different cultures (e.g., ethnicities, religion, etc.) always broadens my perspective. When we truly listen to, learn from, and work with each other, I believe the world can be even better.
Whether I’m having a fun day snorkeling with an Indian family or meeting with a local organization to discuss business ideas, my world opens up a little more with each experience.
3. I’m not lonely…
For the most part, I’m an extrovert—people give me energy. I also need regular time by myself, but before this journey started I was concerned I might be alone too much. Instead, I find that I actually talk to people all day—from fellow remote workers at coffee shops to restaurant staff to new friends I meet along the way. I also stay in regular contact with my friends in Michigan. I certainly miss being in the same room with them, but our commitment to share life together no matter our locations helps me have a sense of “home” while being location independent.
That all being said, there are situations when I could really use a travel companion. Like that time I was sitting by myself, at a seaside candlelit restaurant, in the Maldives with a sunburnt back that was in the “itchy stage”. That’s right, I took my butter knife and scratched my back…for at least 60 seconds. Sometimes you just have to! Or the numerous selfie attempts that turn out to be a great close-up of my finger or knee in some cases. How I took a picture of my knee, I’m still unsure of!
4. My advice to those considering a location independent lifestyle…
You can’t leave it all in the city you’re departing from (or sell it!). When someone tells me that he/she wants to do what I’m doing and “just get away from it all”, I’m quick to say that it is not the solution to heal your emotional, spiritual or physical pain. Whether you have debt or not, there are still bills to be paid. Relationships and the work involved to keep them healthy don’t go away when you leave the city or country. Furnaces still break if you keep your house back home as a rental property (ouch—I just experienced this last week!).
If you’re considering a location independent lifestyle, take the time to think through your reasons for doing so. And if you’re planning to travel abroad, try a 1-3 week trip first and see how it goes. Having lived overseas in the past, I know what kinds of challenges might come my way even though I can’t prepare for every roadblock. But having this awareness helped me make my decision to travel around the world in 2017.
I’m certain I’ll continue to learn and will have many more reflections over the coming weeks and months. Thanks for following the website or social media posts. I hope you’re enjoying the experiences and stories I share. I would love to hear from you as well!
by Julie Slagter