Violaine Pierre, Travel + Giving back

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Violaine Pierre, Travel + Giving back

Give me a little background about yourself?

I’m from a small village in southeastern France called Manosque. I studied economics and political science in college in Paris. I was always interested in travel and ended up going away on a lot of exchange programs to the Philippines, research projects in India, earthquake relief with kids in Haiti. I also worked as a social media consultant for the World Bank in Senegal. I have always wanted to work in tourism because I’m very passionate about it. 

 

What is your professional / educational background and how did that enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?

I prefer to live in countries for more than 3 months, rather than just visiting. I worked and lived in India, Haiti, the Philippines, Senegal, Canada, and now the US.

When I worked at UNICEF, it was all online so that was also a great job for me that enabled me to travel for long periods of time. 

 

How did you end up in this career / role?

I went on a four-month trip to Philippines with a friend of mine. I met with more than 50 actors of sustainable tourism and also encountered a lot of nonprofits that had trouble marketing themselves and needed help to set up a system that could host visitors.

 When I went to work for a small cooperative in Quebec, Canada, I started learning about the for-profit world that worked with nonprofits to create a better world. That’s around the time that I met Michal and we decided to go into business as co-founders of Visit.org, an online platform that offers impactful tours and immersive experiences all around the world hosted by nonprofits. The tour revenue is channeled back into the local communities through the nonprofits. 

 

What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?

I love the Philippines. You feel like you’re home because the people are very welcoming. It’s a beautiful country with 7,000 islands that consist of different subcultures. Despite that, it is very easy to communicate because the people are very open-minded. There are not many cultural barriers, as compared to other countries. For me, it was very easy to feel like I belonged there. 

 

What's your favorite travel experience?

One of the most thrilling memories I have are of Spiti valley in India. I learned how to ride a motorbike from a Sikh neighbor we had. I rode around on that motorbike in Delhi for a month before going to the Spiti valley. Everybody kept honking at me, it was a very fun experience. In the Himalaya, I came across different populations and a variety of food. It was very scary (the road is very dangerous), but breath-taking. It’s another world, honestly. 

 

Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?

I realized recently that I should have traveled more in France, my native country. We always tend to go far away and miss the places that are well worth visiting around. I’ll advise people to not wait and take short weekend trips to surrounding areas. You never know what you might find in your own backyard.

Another thing is believe is that any duration less than 3 months is not enough for a traveler to understand local cultures (even though visit.org experiences will help you with that!). Find a job in another country, get a travel bag and don’t come back for a while. 


Violaine has a passion for traveling. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she spent a year in the Philippines, where she tried to visit as many of its 7,000 islands as she could. She also traveled in South East Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Hong-Kong, India, Nepal). After the 2010 earthquake, she volunteered for an NGO in Haiti. Convinced that the practice of sustainable tourism is mutually beneficial for both visitors and local communities, she returned to the Philippines to study the effectiveness of community-based tourism. She enhanced this experience working for sustainable tourism cooperative in Quebec, Canada. She consulted for the World Bank in the field of impact evaluation and for UNICEF as a Community Manager. Violaine holds a Master’s Degree in Economics and Public Policy from Sciences Po Paris, and a Bachelor in Sciences from Paris VI. She co-founded visit.org, an online platform that offers impactful tours and immersive experiences all around the world hosted by nonprofits. She speaks English and French.

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Brandon Quittem, Global Yoga Nomad

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Brandon Quittem, Global Yoga Nomad

Give me a little background about yourself?

I followed the typical middle-class American script. Played sports in high school, graduated college with a business degree, got a good job in corporate America. Wahoo now I made it. Or so I thought.

Even after achieving “great success” by my peers and society’s standards – I felt that I was missing something in life. I started to pursue some of my own interests instead of living someone else’s idea of a “good life.”

I went through yoga teacher training, started spending more time backpacking in the wilderness, and then stumbled on two books that made me take a step back and reevaluate. The books were The 4-Hour Work Week (Tim Ferris) and Vagabonding (Rolf Potts).

Combine my burning desire to experience all that life offers with a growing dissatisfaction with corporate America and you get a very unsettled Brandon. Someone who wants more out of life and who is ready to make it happen.

So I launched a blog teaching people to teach/practice yoga while traveling, saved some money, and then my girlfriend and I bought one-way tickets to India.

Fast forward two years, we’ve been location independent since and have traveled to 20+ countries along the way.

Today I create temporary communities of entrepreneurs and fly them across the world to live, work, and play together. Our next event is in Sri Lanka starting February 1st. We have a limited number of spots available and the application deadline is fast approaching. I

 

What is your professional / educational background and how did that enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?

Work history includes selling Cutco knives as 100% commissioned rep, running the 4th biggest newspaper in Minnesota, and selling ERP software for Oracle.

Sales is almost everything in entrepreneurship and thankfully I learned to sell early on. Shout out to my first Cutco manager, Chris Boser, if he didn’t push me to success I may have abandoned sales jobs forever. 

Graduated with a degree in Sales, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship from the University of Minnesota. College taught me how to think like an entrepreneur, how to work with all types of people, and how to balance social life + work + school. 

 

How did you end up in this career / role?

After spending a year traveling and working from coffee shops I realized how inefficient it was it get REAL work done. We would burn 3 days in each new location just trying to find suitable accommodation, a decent WIFI connection, restaurants that served good (and cheap) food, etc. By the time we finally had a group of friends and a productive schedule nailed down it, our two months were over and it was time to leave!

This led to the creation of Shift Space – where we create temporary communities of entrepreneurs and fly them across the world to live, work, and play together.

We take care of the bullshit that comes with location independence, so each entrepreneur can focus their time on crushing their next project.  Examples include: Each person gets their own villa with private WIFI router, onsite chef, free local transport, guaranteed community of like minded people, etc. 

 

What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?

Such a hard question – I like them all for different reasons!

Since Jeremy won’t let me get away with that answer… I’ll say Nepal!

We spent 15 days in the Himalayas trekking the Annapurna Circuit. Turned out to be one of my top travel experiences to date. The people were so welcoming, the nature was world class, and we got to unplug for 2 weeks.

 

What's your worst travel experience?

Well this one is pretty embarrassing, but here it goes…

We were having dinner and drinks with some friends on a rooftop in Saigon. I went inside to use the restroom and in the process… I walked straight through a glass door, which of course shattered all over me. So now I’m bleeding all over this restaurant, the staff is wondering how and why some dumbass walked through their door, and my girlfriend, Anne, is getting worried for my safety. 

Anne convinces me it’s time to go to the hospital. We meet with a doctor who informs me I tore a tendon in my thumb and that I’ll need surgery within 24 hours if I want to use my thumb again. Of course it’s on my dominant hand. No brainer, time for surgery.

The next morning, I’m getting emergency surgery from an Argentinean doctor in Vietnam.

Luckily everything turned out great. Had a great experience with both the hospital and doctor, my hand has a new scar and is fully functional, and World Nomads travel insurance covered the $2,500 bill!

It was a busy couple months as Anne had just got hit by a motorbike in Bali!

 

Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?

If you’re happily working a 9-5 job, start by asking your corporate overlords (i.e. manager) to work from home one day per week. Absolutely crush it on the days you work from home, documentiing everything. This will build trust with your manager and prove to them that you get more done while working remotely.  Slowly increase the percentage of time working remotely. Use this new freedom to take long weekend trips locally without burning your precious PTO. Scale this as you see fit.

What if you’re already in a situation that allows you to work remotely?

Awesome, now the fun part begins! Go somewhere where other remote workers hang out and dive into the world of digital nomadism! Treat it like a 3-6 month experiment. You’ll learn quickly whether or not this lifestyle is for you.

Now of course I’m a little biased, but we have a few open spots left to join our temporary community of digital nomads in Sri Lanka. The 2-month experience starts February 1st. Full details here.

Or just quit your job and buy a one-way ticket to India. 


Brandon is a former corporate sales rep turned nomadic entrepreneurial yogi. Street food ninja, avid outdoorsman, craft beer geek, and live music junkie. Brandon creates temporary communities of entrepreneurs and flies them across the world to live, work, and play together. Apply now @ ShiftSpaces.com

 

 

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Lia Martinez, Denver Bartender to Vagabond Geophysicist

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Lia Martinez, Denver Bartender to Vagabond Geophysicist

What is your professional / educational background and how did that
enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?

I grew up in a suburb of Denver, Colorado in a very outdoors-oriented family. I've always had a keen interest in travel that began when I discovered National Geographic magazines as a kid. After my first trips to Spain and the UK in high school, I continued to search for ways of working travel into my life. I spent a summer in St. Kitt's for school project in college, another summer in California studying earthquakes, a month in Hawaii studying volcanoes, volunteered for a program and road trip throughout Mexico, and spent a year studying abroad in the Netherlands. In 2007 I received my a Bachelor's of Science in Geophysical Engineering from a small local engineering college, the Colorado School of Mines.

Finding ways to travel while staying ahead in such a rigorous engineering program was difficult, but if you want something badly enough, it will happen. After undergrad, the typical 'career track' sounded like death to me. I decided to become a bartender instead because it would allow me to work infrequently enough an take off large periods of time to travel. I was also somewhat shy at the time (classic engineer) and decided the only way to get over it was to force myself to be social for a living. My friends and family thought I was crazy and told me "I was throwing away all of my hard work". According to them, no one would hire a bartender for a 'real job' in the future. 

I'm glad I never listened to any of them. While bartending, I decided to start studying archaeology as a Masters degree at the University of Denver. This allowed me to spent multiple summers in Ecuador studying and excavating a pre-Incan civilization. During this time, I also visited Egypt and Colombia.

 After being hired as a geophysicist in my current job (which I explain in the following question), I've had to balance traveling 30-40% of the time with being at home. My dog and garden probably suffer most from the lack of attention. Luckily my boyfriend and friends understand that travel is a passion of mine. I try to work them into travels in any way possible, often having friends or family come stay with me in hotels and sightseeing in my free time on weekends. It would be pointless to visit without taking the time to enjoy or learn from some aspect of the local culture. 


How did you end up in this career / role?

One day, after my second degree was completed and I'd been bartending and working service industry jobs for 5 years, I decided I was ready to look for my 'real job'. I applied for a few positions online, but none of them really seemed like anything I'd be interested in anyway. Then, a near surface geophysics conference was being held in town. I volunteered as a student (even though I was long out of school) and attended because I was interested in the research being presented. 

A company there had a flyer posted on the job board that said something like "lots of international travel" within the first few lines. I did some quick research on the company, what they did, where they are located, etc. I had no experience doing this type of work- well logging equipment, so I introduced myself to the owner at their exhibition booth. Luckily he was very nice and din't ask too many in depth questions. Later, after going through a three step interview process, I was hired. I was told later that I was hired for 2 main reasons: I could speak Spanish and I had customer service abilities from bartending. Thus, even with a great educational background, I would never had landed the job I currently have without my unconventional prior travel and work experience. 


What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?

My favorite place to travel is my home. Too few people take the time to explore where they live and it's a lost opportunity. In Colorado, I have an entire playground in the Rocky Mountains and the deserts around Moab located nearby. I could spend a lifetime discovering new places, views, and trails and still never be bored. I love it because after growing up here, I feel like these mountains are a large piece of my soul. 

Outside of Colorado, I'm happiest in the Andes of South America. This is also likely because there are climactic and geographical similarities to my home state (dry, hot summers, cold winters, high altitude, etc.). I've also fallen in love with the local indigenous cultures, stories, and food. Speaking the local language and knowing the archaeological history of the region has fostered this connection I feel with the people and traditions of the altiplano. If I were to permanently move anywhere, it would be the high Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile or Argentina. 

 

What's your worst travel experience?

I learned early on in my traveling that 9 times out of 10, if you take the chance and roll the dice on doing something you're unsure of, it works out in the end far better than I could have predicted. Human nature is to help. If you can stay positive and flexible to changing plans and comfort levels, things will likely work out. 

For example, this happened even on my recent trip to Indonesia. I discovered I had very little cash after traveling 3 hours by bus to a remote village on the edge of a caldera. I had planned to stay 2 nights, but without enough to pay for a room or food, I was looking at having to leave early the next morning. Luckily, a British guy I'd met 2 minutes earlier offered to cover all my cash for the next 2 days if I paid him back we left the caldera (we were leaving at the same time). Two days later, there was no ATM at end of the bus ride and a kind, local man offered to give me a ride on his motorcycle to the ATM a mile away- free of charge. It all worked out and I was able to pay my new British friend back. This a a simple example, but things like this happen all the time. If you believe it will work out, it generally does. 

 

Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?

I think most people fail to travel out fear. Sometimes it's a fear of the unknown, equating the unknown with danger, and other times it's a fear of leaving a routine or place in which they're comfortable. But fear has never made sense to me. Life is just too short to worry and put limitations on ourselves and our experiences. 

That being said, my advice would be take steps to stop being afraid. If you're afraid a place will be too dangerous to travel alone, start by taking smaller trips alone nearby. Build up your confidence. If you're afraid you don't have enough money saved up to take your dream vacation (an idea I generally disagree with because most people don't understand how inexpensive travel can be), start educating yourself about budgeting and how you can make that happen. 

Take a good, long look at your life and imagine getting to the end of it without doing any of the travel you currently picture yourself doing "someday". Now, that is something truly frightening. 

 

Lia transitioned from a quiet lifestyle in Denver, to a role as a traveling Geophysicist, furthering her career and gaining the opportunity to travel the globe. Feel free to reach out to her with any questions.

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Zach Green, Teaching abroad and how it can elevate your career

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Zach Green, Teaching abroad and how it can elevate your career

What is your professional / educational background and how did that
enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?

I went to Penn State University for a B.S. and M.S. in accounting.  Between my junior and senior year, I spent one month in China and got hooked on traveling immediately.  I graduated one year later and spent my first summer as a ‘real person’ studying for the CPA exam.  After three months of hiding from the sun in the library, I passed the test and rewarded myself with a two week trip to Argentina.  A few days after landing back in the U.S., I began my post-grad career as an auditor with Deloitte. 

 

Things were going well – I was in a stable position with a promising career path ahead.  Then one day, my wife (girlfriend at the time), Alyssa, hit me with a game changing idea – we should quit our jobs and move to South Korea to teach English to children for one year.  I loved the idea, but the more I thought about it, the more I became terrified –  I wasn’t scared of what would happen when I lived in South Korea, but when I came back to the U.S. and wanted to re-enter the professional world after a one-year hiatus.  Eager to rationalize this pipedream in any way possible, I set up meetings with experienced professionals so that I could get their feedback about the idea and how it might impact my career.  Luckily, I received positive feedback and built the courage to share the idea with my bosses at work, both of whom ended up being quite encouraging.  Two months after committing to a one-year contract, Alyssa and I were on a plane to Seoul, South Korea – we were away from our family and friends for fifteen months, became English teachers without having any prior experience, and lived in a country where we didn’t know the language or a single person. Soon after arriving, we created a home and found ourselves surrounded by a welcoming expat community of family and friends.  Deciding to quit my job and teach English in South Korea was the best decision of my life.



How did you end up in this career / role?

Flash forward from my time living and traveling in Asia – I now work at Alvarez and Marsal in the Transaction Advisory Group and focus on buy- and sell-side financial due diligence for mergers and acquisitions of companies held by private equity funds.  As my position is heavy in accounting, finance, and excel, my background as a CPA and auditor helped me become a fit for this role. More importantly, I would not have gotten my job if I didn’t live and travel abroad.  My position requires frequent travel, and my travel experiences showed that I could handle it.  Before moving to South Korea, I was scared that I would fall behind in my career path.  Ironically, I am in a better position now than I would have been if I stayed in the U.S.


What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?

Very general answer, but I love travelling in Asia because I always feel so out of my element, like “what am I doing here?”  When traveling, I know that I’m in the right place when I instinctively stop in my tracks and say to myself, “Dude, you have no business being here…”  That’s the best feeling I can have while traveling.

 

What's your worst travel experience?

My wife (Alyssa) and friend (Katie) were in our last week of backpacking through Southeast Asia, and we were in Bali, Indonesia.  While visiting the Uluwatu Temple in south Bali, we decided to spend a night in a nearby bungalow – picture a collection of freestanding hotel rooms perched atop a cliff towering above the Indian Ocean – it was spectacular.  Our first night in the bungalow, we fell asleep in peace but woke in a panic.  It was morning – I reached toward the nightstand to check my phone for the time – but, my phone wasn’t there.  “Alyssa,” I said, “where did you put my phone?”  As the three of us looked around the room and saw our bags ripped opened with our belongings scattered throughout the room, we realized what had happened – we were robbed while we were sleeping.  The robber, whom we were convinced was some sort of ninja, stole two iPhones, an iPad, and all of our money – he was nice enough to leave us our passports, one cell phone, and one credit card.  More than anything, we just felt degraded – a stranger was in our room, literally inches from us while we were sleeping.  Thank god we didn’t wake up.  When the ninja was robbing another bungalow that night, a mom woke up and the ninja held his machete high in the air and declared that he would kill her son if she made any noise – she stayed quiet.  Anyway, here’s how it happened – the bungalow had an open-air style bathroom without a roof.  The ninja climbed over the bathroom wall from the side of the building, opened the door to our bedroom, and made his way in.

 Also, thanks to the Find My iPhone app, we were able to see exactly where my phone was – so, we went to the police, but after hours of bribing them with food and coffee to do their jobs, we realized that they had no interest in actually helping us.  We accepted our losses, checked out of the hotel, and checked into a luxury cliff-side resort with the single credit card the ninja had left us.  At the resort we were welcomed by new friends who treated us to sympathy drinks all night long.  The three of us have recently overcome having nightmares of strangers in our room robbing us while we are sleeping.

 

What's the most fortuitous (read, lucky) experience you've had
while traveling?

The luckiest experience I’ve had while traveling was meeting a travel video producer while on a three-day boat trip down the Yangtze River in China.  We docked at a random village to reload our fuel, and were explicitly told that we were not allowed to leave the boat under any circumstances.  As the producer, my friend and I were sitting in the producer’s cabin polishing off a bottle of baiju (Chinese liquor), the producer began asking why we were sitting on a boat when there was an entire village outside to explore.  He made a valid point – we were, after all, told that we would be docked for the next four hours.  Within minutes we were running off the boat, literally pushing past security guards as they yelled at us to come back (I don’t understand Chinese, so I’m guessing that’s what they were yelling).  Before we knew it, we were free.  It was Friday night and the village was alive – we found ourselves in the heart of the village immersed in an ensemble of hundreds of locals performing traditional Chinese dances in harmony.  Every person who saw us stopped dancing immediately and gazed at us in awe – was it that obvious that we didn’t know the dance?  Quickly, we realized that no one in this village had ever seen a westerner before – to them, we were celebrities.  As we weaved through the mass of dancers, we were ushered into a nearby restaurant by a random man.  We were forced into seats and given beer and nuts.  Then, an entire crowd of people watched us in amazement as though we were monkeys at a zoo.  When we finished our beers, the restaurant owner refused to accept our money – he was so grateful to have met real, live westerners.  We decided that we had enough excitement for one adventure, and we began making our way back to the boat.  But, when we got to the harbor, we were once again forced into seats around a table of locals.  The table was filled with baiju, cigarettes, and snake – yes, snake.  For an hour, the three of us chain-smoked and were force-fed alcohol and snake by random Chinese men who didn’t spick a lick of English – we sat there overlooking the Yangtze river as the sun set over the adjacent mountains, and I remember the three of us looking at each other without saying a word.  But, we knew exactly what we were all thinking – wow, this is cool. 

 

Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?

There is no “perfect” time to travel.  But, I promise it will feel perfect while you are doing it.  It can be scary asking our bosses for a vacation or extended absence from work, especially for those of us that are career people and might “fall behind” in the rat race.  Create a plan with goals that will help you accomplish your travel aspirations and stick to it.  Ask people for help and advice – people who travel love to help other people travel.  Take advantage of vacation days at work.  Tell human resources that you would love to work on a project that requires travel.  Become a traveling consultant, bartender, photographer, or blogger.  Quit your job entirely and backpack for one year.  Go to Thailand and teach English.  Move to India and figure it out when you get there.  There are a million ways to travel, but no matter how you decide to do it, you will never regret it and will always remember it as the highlight of your life.  Now, where are you going?!   

Zach managed to quit his job and move to Asia, all the while further his career in Finance. Feel free to reach out to him with any questions.

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Josh Puterbaugh, Global Finance & Accounting

 

What is your professional / educational background and how did that
enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?

I majored in accounting and graduated from The Ohio State University in June 2011. While not the most exciting way to spend a summer, I spent the summer after graduation before I started working full-time pursuing my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license and ultimately passed all four parts of the licensing examination before starting with KPMG in Chicago during October 2011.  I feel that having a background in accounting and my CPA license helped me achieve my work/travel balance because accountants are always in demand and the skill set is generally the same, regardless of the country.



How did you end up in this career / role?

I participated in KPMG's Global Internship Program between my junior and senior year of undergrad and that's what really made me interested in a global career.  I had the opportunity to spend four weeks working abroad with KPMG in Dublin, Ireland and had an amazing experience.  After working for KPMG after graduation for about a year, I was approached by a recruiter who was working on a job with a telecommunications company that would "pay for me to see the world".  This opportunity was one that I could not pass up and I interviewed and was hired into the company's internal audit group.  In that particular role, I would travel for three weeks at a time and visited Brazil, Tanzania, Germany, India, China, South Africa, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, and Finland for audits.  I also had the opportunity to visit other surrounding countries on the weekends when I wasn't in the office.  One of my favorite memories from that role was beginning with the company on aMonday and then heading down to Sao Paulo, Brazil for an audit the very next day.  I've since moved on to a different company, but it was that role in internal audit that made me realize that jobs with international travel exist and aren't just a fantasy.


What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?

My favorite place to travel is Cape Town, South Africa.  I've traveled a decent bit, and have yet to find another place as unique as Cape Town.  Within 50 miles, you can observe penguins on a beach in their natural habitat, participate in a wine tasting at a winery in a world renowned wine region, and take in breathtaking views from the most southwestern point of the African continent.  The views from Camps Bay are also unrivaled by anywhere else I've visited.  I'd move there today if I had the opportunity.  

 

What's your worst travel experience?

My worst travel experience involved food poisoning during one trip to South Africa.  I got a little too adventurous and tried some questionable food from a street vendor and ended up spending the next three days in my hotel room.  One of the days I was sick was Valentine's Day and my fiancee at the time (now wife) was a little upset that I didn't email or call that day - she completely understood once I explained the situation.

 

What's the most fortuitous (read, lucky) experience you've had
while traveling?

One of the most fortuitous travel experiences I've had while traveling was being able to visit Kiev, Ukraine in October 2013 before any of the recent conflict began.  I was shocked to see "after" pictures of major landmarks in the city once the conflict began and it really made me appreciate the time I spent there.  

 

Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?

If you work for a larger company and are looking for company-paid travel, I'd recommend looking into the internal audit group.  At the companies I have worked for, the groups have occasionally pulled in "guest auditors", or people working in non-internal audit roles, to assist with audits.  Outside of internal audit related travel, make sure that your manager and/or HR are aware that you are open to travel opportunities.  Many people view travel as something negative and may not necessarily see it as rewarding so it's important to make it known that you'd be open to travel instead of just hoping and waiting for it to fall into your lap.      


Josh has traveled around the globe without compromising his career in Finance. Feel free to reach out to him with any questions.

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Casey Rosengren, Hacker Paradise

 

What is your professional / educational background and how did that
enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?

I currently work & travel full time while running Hacker Paradise, a nomadic community of developers, designers, and other creative types. People join us for anywhere from 1 week to 3+ months to work and
travel with other interesting people.

I learned some basic HTML and programming in high school, and then in college, I studied business and took a few additional programming classes. I also organized a hackathon and worked for a number of
startups while studying, which gave me experience in event management and getting a business off the ground.

All that came together when I started Hacker Paradise - I was able to put up a landing page quite quickly, promote it, and then put together an experience that people enjoyed.


How did you end up in this career / role?
Serendipity. I initially was planning to just freelance and travel, but I was disappointed to be leaving the tech/startup community I'd had while living in Philadelphia & Tokyo. When I found a hotel that was looking to try out new ways to bring in customers, I pitched them on the idea and it just snowballed.
 


What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?
For traveling, I really like Ubud, Bali (which is actually where I am right now). I care a lot about living healthy, and there is a culture here of healthy food, yoga, meditation, and exercise. I find it's
great for work/life balance.

 I also love going back to Japan, as I lived there for 2 years while studying. It's a nation with an amazing culture & history, but is more expensive than some of the typical "nomad" destinations in Southeast Asia.

 

What's your worst travel experience?
I was flying from Cebu, Philippines to Hanoi, Vietnam last year on Cebu Pacific Air. The flight was delayed and the airline staff was unhelpful, so I ended up missing my connection in Manila. They ended up having to re-route me to Ho Chi Minh, as there weren't any other flights to Hanoi for 3 days. They also lost my baggage. All in all, it was a major inconvenience, and Cebu Pacific Air was utterly unhelpful. But the occasional inconvenience is worth the benefits of travel. Lessons learned: avoid Cebu Pacific Air if possible and always buy travel insurance.

 

What's the most fortuitous (read, lucky) experience you've had
while traveling?

I guess the most fortuitous thing that's happened to me while traveling is starting Hacker Paradise. It was unplanned, and came about through a series of completely unpredictable events.

Also, I was once traveling in Kyoto, Japan with family, and at a random little hole in the wall restaurant, I ran into someone from the U.S. who I went to high school with. It wasn't a windfall per say, but
it was so random. Now whenever I travel, I'm on the lookout for random people I knew in the past.

 

Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?

You can travel cheaply. It's possible to find freelance work, and if you can't find anything, there are always sites like helpx.net which allow you to exchange labor for room and board in places around the
world. Taking the leap and beginning to travel feels like a big risk, because it often feels like you don't know what you're doing, you don't have a plan.

As Steve Jobs said, "You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."


Casey runs Hacker Paradise, a traveling community of developers, designers, and entrepreneurs. He spent the last 5 months in Asia, and will be spending the summer in the U.S. and Europe. Learn more about Hacker Paradise and get involved here: www.hackerparadise.org

 

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Alex Portera, Global Goulet and filmmaker

What is your professional / educational background and how did that
enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?

I went to Washington University in St. Louis and got a degree in economics. After graduating I got a job in Management Consulting which I did for over two years. The only way this helped me get my current job is because of the network I built up. A friend introduced us to the company who I am now working with to create a travel TV show.

 

How did you end up in this career / role?

Last year I asked my company for three months off to complete the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile drive from London to Mongolia. I thought there was no chance they would actually let me take that much time off, but I asked anyway. Somehow they were more than cool with it. While preparing for my trip, a friend of mine told me his uncle was making a TV series about adventure travel, and would be interested in speaking with my travel friends and I. We met up with him and he decided to give us some camera gear to film our trip. We took the filming role very seriously, and when we returned he screened the footage and asked us if we'd like to go on a longer trip in order to make our own TV series. And so, I ended up quitting my job as a management consultant to be a full time traveler / videographer / producer.

 

What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?

My favorite place I've ever traveled to is India. It's unlike anywhere else in the world, and there's everything in the world. Every type environment, person, smell, taste, adventure. It can be chaotic and calm, confusing and clarifying. One thing it is not is boring. It's constantly challenging and I love that. I went to India for the first time right after I graduated college, before I started my job, and spent a month backpacking there on my own. That trip solidified my identity as a traveler and I haven't looked back.

 

What's your worst travel experience?

One time I was on an overnight bus in India. The ticket checker took my ticket at the beginning of the ride and as we drove I dozed off to sleep. At about 3am, he went around to check tickets again and when he asked for mine, I reminded him that he had taken it earlier. Unfortunately he had no clue what I was saying because he could not speak any words in english besides "Ticket!" We argued with each other until the bus stopped, and then we kept arguing. He kept yelling "Ticket, ticket!" and I kept yelling "I DON"T HAVE IT." At this point most of the passengers had woken up and this guy was about to grab me and pull me off the bus in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Just as he was grabbing me I screamed to the bus "DOES ANYONE SPEAK ENGLISH." One man lazily stood up and walked towards the back where the man and I were arguing. With broken english he asked me to explain the situation. He then turned to the ticket man and explained what I had told him. Furious, but with some understanding, the ticket man spit some words back at the guy, and then at me, and walked back up to the front of the bus. The man who helped me was not happy to have helped and said some nasty words to me before he returned to his seat, along the lines of "You're in India. This is not America. Next time you will not be so lucky."

What's the most fortuitous (read, lucky) experience you've had
while traveling?

Not dying in the above story was pretty fortuitous. 

 

Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?

You have to make it happen, and  you have to understand what you're willing to sacrifice for the travel. The sacrifice could be time with friends and loved ones (e.g., traveling over thanksgiving when you don't have to take as many vacation days off from work), opportunities at work, or money. But if you understand what you're willing to sacrifice for travel, you will find yourself traveling much more and saying yes to travel much more (assuming you actually want to get out there and see the world).


Alex is a former management consultant turned filmmaker and explorer. He's currently filming a TV show of his 10,000+ mile drive from New York City through Central and South America to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Follow his conquests here: www.globalgoulets.com

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Lara Christenson, hospitality and travel guru

 

What is your professional / educational background and how did that enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?

I've worked for 15 years in hospitality and food sales.  When I worked in hotels, I had access to sweet employee discounts on hotel rooms that made travel a much less expensive venture, and in food sales, I have the opportunity to travel for work to some amazing destinations, along with racking up miles, hotel points, and rental car points that help drastically reduce my travel expenses.  My entire life is based on the philosophy "Don't live to work, work to live!" and all of my financial decisions are based on prioritizing travel, because I regard it as an investment, not an expense.  I drive a used car, I buy flea market furniture, and I rarely eat out in order to travel as much as I can.  I use the "freebie" vacation days others overlook, like Memorial/Labor Day/4th of July and Thanksgiving in order to book a short European getaway or to explore somewhere in the US.  

 

How did you end up in this career / role?

I went back to grad school in 2008 in order to make the move to food manufacturing sales, and began working for my current employer in 2010.  I have a background in food distributor sales and hospitality as well.

 

What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?

Europe.  You are literally walking through history with every step you take.  In Berlin, you're seeing the physical manifestation of the Berlin Wall in dividing a country during the Cold War; in Greece, you're walking where the "gods" once tread.  Your stroll through the Forum in Rome is on the same ground as Julius and Augustus Caesar.  It's thrilling and exciting, and seeing these artifacts and structures really enhances one's own understanding of the world as it once was and how that affects us today.  And the castles!!  The  castles.  Castles are awesome.

 

What's the most fortuitous (read, lucky) experience you've had
while traveling?

?  My sister and I travelled to Istanbul in November 2014 and on our first day, we visited the Grand Bazaar and were promptly terrified at the aggressive selling.  The next day, we had a cooking class and our instructor gave us a tour of a small market and recommendations for other less tourist-y markets, and a fellow classmate gave us a wonderful recommendation for rugs.  The other markets and rug seller were both great-we were able to browse and look at merchandise without getting shaken down, and we both ended up with unique Turkish rugs as a travel memento.

 

Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?

First, make it a priority.  Apply for an airline credit card-there are usually 25,000-50,000 mile bonuses when you sign up.  60,000 miles will get you almost anywhere in Europe on United.  Be flexible-watch last minute sales on airline sites and you might catch a great fare to a place where perhaps you hadn't considered visiting before.  If you want to visit Europe, Rick Steves' books are a must have-they are well-researched, organized, and the recommendations are always top notch.   

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Lindsay Snyder, an American in Australia

 

What is your professional / educational background and how did that
enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?
How did you end up in this career / role?

I grew up traveling often with my parents and brothers, from weekend road trips to 2-year stints in Hong Kong and Singapore. I was captivated by the variety of cultures we came across in our travels, and I've never stopped itching to peek into different corners of the world and see how they tick.

In college I ended up knee deep in mathematical proofs as a math & stats major, which landed me a job testing software for an electronic medical records company. Very innovative, exciting, and important work, but not a path that easily lends itself to jet setting, so my feet quickly grew itchy from so much desk time and not enough adventure time. It wasn't long before I had transferred to a different department at the same company. In my new role, I hopped on a plane every week, visiting hospitals everywhere from Austin to Amsterdam and assisting them with the harrowing task of changing everything they do from an old system (paper, usually) to a newer, safer, more efficient system. I loved the travel and I loved the work, and apparently it loved me too because last fall I was offered the exciting position of opening up the company's brand new office in Melbourne and taking on the company's first Australian client. So here I am, navigating a new city and a new industry with new lingo and customs and culture, and I couldn't be happier.

With a new office and a new life to build, I haven't had much time to escape the city yet, but with my few extended weekends so far I've headed to the mountains a few hours west of Melbourne. I grew up near the mountains in Colorado, so mountains have always held a special place in my heart. 

 

What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?

With over 25 countries under my belt, Colorado is still my favorite place to travel. Breathtaking views are plentiful in the Rocky Mountains, and I love that the more you exert yourself the more you are rewarded. The landscape changes its face completely from season to season, bringing new wonder to old trails again and again. And the culture you'll find nestled in between the majestic peaks is so communal and comforting, I just want to have a beer and a chat with every person who is lucky enough to call the Rockies their home.

 

What's your worst travel experience?

I've experienced many ups and downs in my years of traveling, but only the good times stick out in my memory. What could be described as the worst travel experience I've had was probably Valentine's Day 2014, when a nasty blizzard hit the East Coast and rendered every airport from Burlington to Charlottesville useless. I happened to be in Maine at the time, and wanted nothing more than to return home to my boyfriend in Madison, Wisconsin to eat the heart-shaped pepperoni pizza he bought me. After two days of unsuccessful flights out of Portland, the best option the airline agent could offer me was a flight out of Detroit. So my co-workers and I packed into a rental car and drove the 14 hours to Detroit, by way of Niagara falls, the birthplace of the Buffalo wing in Buffalo, and the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland. Not such a bad detour after all.

What's the most fortuitous (read, lucky) experience you've had
while traveling?

Although it's rare, the airlines can sometimes cause good fortune as well as bad. One on return trip from Turks & Caicos, I was lucky enough to get delayed in Dallas for over 24 hours, which allowed me to spend an unexpected weekend with some cousins I rarely get to see, and stave off the cold Wisconsin weather a bit longer. For once, I wasn't grumbling about another airline delay.

The attitude I try to maintain during the good and the bad experiences is simply an optimistic one. Even an unexpected 14-hour road trip or a 24-hour flight delay can be an adventure if you want it to be. I try to see these things as an opportunity to be creative, rather than an excuse to shut down and yell at whoever is in front of me. 

 

Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?

Every step is an opportunity, and I'd say the same to anyone who is interested in traveling but doesn't know how to start. Start small, with people you know and places you have easy access to. For me, what began as parent-planned trips turned into self-propelled weekend getaways and ultimately arrived at a career in which travel is inherently baked into my new ex-pat lifestyle. Slowly widen your circle and keep your ears open for new opportunities. Then just say yes! 


Lindsay is an American-born lifetime nomad, currently stationed in Melbourne, Australia. 

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