When I first discovered the concept of ‘location independence’, I was excited to realise that the internet has liberated us from the need to be chained to a desk from 9 to 5 in order to work.
To me location independence simply means the freedom to choose where you work. If for you that means splitting your time between the kitchen table and your local cafe, then that’s just as ‘location independent’ a someone spending each month in a different country. The crucial point is that the work can be done from anywhere.
I’m just working out what this would ideally look like for me. My main motivation for wanting to be location independent is so I can see more of the world. My dilemma is that there are so many places I want to see, but I know I find it more rewarding when I spend longer in a place to really get to know it in depth.
In 2001-2002 I lived in Barcelona for a year, and I still feel that, all round I found it a more rewarding experience than travelling around South America for four-months (in 2006). I learnt a lot on that trip though: for example, I enjoyed the first two months infinitely more than the second two.
In the first two months I spent four weeks in Rio de Janeiro (and surrounding areas) in the run up to and during the carnival. This was by far the best part of the trip, not just because Rio’s an amazing city (still my favourite in the world!) and the carnival was unbelievable, but because I had time to make friends, hang out and learn some Portuguese (I took private classes).
After about two and a half months I started to miss working (hard to believe, I know!), so in future I won’t plan to travel for longer than that without doing either some work, study or volunteering. After about three months I was sick of living out of a backpack. I was more annoyed than I thought I would be to lose some of my favourite clothes on the way and started to miss creature comforts. This was disappointing to me at the time as I so longed to be a free spirit, unconcerned with material possessions. Now I accept that this is just me and am grateful to have learnt my limits in this respect.
By month four I was exhausted, jaded and often lonely, yet tired of meeting new people. That’s not to say I didn’t see some amazing stuff in that last month – for example, I went to Machu Picchu – but simply that I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have. This is probably because I shouldn’t have tried to see Bolivia and Peru in just three weeks (in total) – another lesson.
In my day 2 post I shared a list of the places I’d travel to tomorrow if I could do anything and go anywhere. I’m planning to visit at least some of these places next April/May when my current work contract ends. I’d like to use this trip as a testing ground to see how I get on with working in unfamiliar environments.
I already feel quite sure that a completely nomadic or vagabond existence, with no base is not the life for me. At the moment I feel that I’d like to travel for a few months (two to three max), then settle and live and work abroad again, preferably in San Francisco (although I don’t know how I would make this happen), but I’m toying with Canada as a more realistic option. In the long-term I feel that my ideal situation would be to have a home or base in London, where I would spend 6-9 months of the year, with 3-6 months (preferably in winter!) spent travelling and working elsewhere. It could happen…