The 4 Cornerstones of a Location Independent Lifestyle

The 4 Cornerstones

Guide to Location Independence

Guide to Location Independence

1) Arbitrage
2) Passive Income
3) Infrastructure
4) Residence

Note: nowhere in my writings or in my Location Independent Guide do I state that any of the following factors are critical to Location Independence:

1) Language Skills
2) Savings
3) Experience

Arbitrage

Arbitrage is the ability to live in a cheap market but earn in an expensive one. You can live a millionaire lifestyle at a snip.

If you are location dependent, you are paying a premium for your lifestyle. You are paying double for your house, utilities and cost of living. You have to maintain an expensive car and travel to work. These costs all add up and are just an extra tax on your income.

Without these overheads you can not only save more money but live a better lifestyle. What if you could live in a luxury 4 bedroom villa by the sea with pool for the price you’re paying for a 1 bedroom apartment back home?

Now we’re talking. This is the power of arbitrage and I’ll explain how it works in my Guide to Location Independence.

Passive Income

Full Location Independence needs Passive Income. I mean the ability to make money while you sleep. If you have a well paid job, what happens when you stop working, take time out or want to travel? You lose the money. But Passive Income keeps on rolling.

In “Fire Your Boss Sell Your Car Travel the World” I’ll show you how to start building your base of Passive Income.

Using the internet there are many sources of Passive Income available today from online publishing to teaching. Use your existing skills to start building a small base of Passive Income right now and you also start your journey towards Location Independence.

Infrastructure

You will need access to the internet above everything else. Flights, shopping and entertainment are important but without the internet you are stuck.

Location Independence requires good internet connections but there are many places you could live.

In my book Fire Your Boss Sell Your Car Travel the World, I’ll show you where the best places for internet connectivity are, what to expect and how fast you really need it.

Residence

You can’t be Location Independent if the place you want to live won’t let you live there. You don’t want to be hopping around like a tourist, never connecting with the local culture. You might be able to live for a short term under tourist visa allowances, but the goal is to stay longer, enjoy the culture and immerse.

You need to know about visa and residency requirements beyond the standard tourist visa. Some countries are easier than others. Some are downright headaches. I’ll share with you what I know about the processes and pitfalls of living beyond the tourist visa in my Location Independent Guide.

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Are Bucket Lists Making Us Sick?

In our social media age of travel bucket lists, are we missing the point? Has travel become a point scoring exercise to impress others?

Flying out of Auckland to Fiji I sat next to a young lady traveler who told us about her journey around the Polynesian islands.

Coral Beach, Fiji

Coral Beach, Fiji

From Fiji she’ll make her way across the islands through Tonga to the Cook Islands and then on to the Marquesas. The latter being little known islands out on the eastern arm of the Pacific.

In all, she’ll make 12 stops in 20 days. She said she didn’t have enough time off work and would have to complete the other islands next year.

“Sounds like quite a hard schedule,” I said a little surprised.

“I want to do them all by the time I’m 35,” she said.

“Why?”

The young lady thought for a moment, having not really considered the answer to this question, then replied,

“Because it’s my bucket list”

In this world of social media, bucket lists are everywhere. There are websites and apps devoted to the subject. But just because it’s common does it make it the right thing to do?

Bucket lists are powerful ideas. We set ourselves a goal then go full tilt to complete that goal.

My life, I guess, was once a bucket-list.

“I’ll be a millionaire by 30!” I told myself (and others).

I didn’t happen.

“I’ll own my own company. I’ll be successful etc”

I had my own bucket list of things I’d do from skydiving here to climbing up there.

After some time, I found the appeal of the bucket list wear thin. I completed the items I set out to achieve and then thought “what next?” I realized that the list wasn’t lived for our own happiness but because of our fear of what others think of us.

Those who live for the approval of others will also die by their rejection.

Bucket lists compel us to live other people’s agendas. We build our lives in the image of what we think other people will think of us. We think other people will respect us more if we travel 30 countries by aged 30.

This social pressure forces us to value quantity over quality. What happens is we become obsessed by completing the list rather than enjoying the completion. We achieve the things we wanted to achieve but we deny our happiness in achieving them.

It is difficult to be so robust to the social pressures around us. We are social animals. In our social media age we surround ourselves with the lives of others. We are under constant pressure to impress.

Bucket Lists are a great idea. They motivate. They help us find the energy and enthusiasm but Bucket List culture is also making us, as a society, sick.

We have to be brave enough to take time out to value quality over quantity.

The young lady on the plane is like many of us – compelled to complete a bucket list for the sake of others.

She knows, deep down, she would have much more fun, have much more of a rewarding travel experience by visiting just one or two of those islands. She could stay for a while. Rather than rush madly around she could integrate and learn something about the culture by being part of it.

When you focus on quality not quantity each experience becomes special. You discover things that aren’t supposed to happen.

But then what could she share on Facebook? What would she blog about?

When it comes to travel, quality time is happy time. Don’t be afraid to take it slow, to do less. Don’t feel compelled to travel everywhere, see everything because it’s “on your list”. You will blaze through your destinations and think “so what was that all about?”

Rather, understand that less is more.

Take time out to allow the unexpected to happen. Magic happens in the gaps, especially in travel.

In life, like travel, there are no prizes for doing the most or finishing first. All that matters is you did it on your own terms.

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Location Independence: 8 Factors to Consider when Choosing where to Go

View of Sky Tree from Asakusa Dori, Tokyo

View of Sky Tree from Asakusa Dori, Tokyo

Download the Shareable PDF version of this article:

1) Arbitrage opportunities

Whenever we think about the next chapter in our adventure, the first question is always,

“How much arbitrage opportunity exists?”

If you set your work and business up in a way that you can source your income from different markets, you can leverage arbitrage. There are many places to live that are cheaper than what you’re used to. The challenge is changing where you live, not where you work.

If you were earning in San Francisco but living in Spain, you would be leverage arbitrage. You could be living a luxurious life on a small income.

A question to ask is,

“How much will $1,000 last here?”

$1,000 is less than a week in London or Oslo.
$1,000 is 2-3 weeks in Istanbul, Turkey and up to 2 months in Chennai, India.

Check out the Ultimate Travel Cheat Sheet for more information on cost of living

2) Accommodation

Quality and availability of accommodation is a major factor in your travel experience. In markets with little competition, landlords overcharge and under-service their properties.

In competitive AirBnB markets, you can get some real bargains.

Consider that in Singapore you’re paying $220 a night for a decent 2 bed AirBnB apartment. That won’t include much more than the 2 rooms. By comparison, next door in Kuala Lumpur you can find bigger apartments for $120 a night. If you want to go even further, you can find a luxurious paid in Hanoi for just $40 a night.

3) Internet Connectivity

Internet is your lifeline for long term travel, especially if you are working remotely or running a Location Independent Business.

The best connections aren’t where you think they will be.

Sure, Asia leads with Hong Kong offering an average 83MBps per connection. But It’s cities like Bucharest in Romania that stand out as unique. The average Romanian internet connection is 56MBps, higher than the American equivalent of 25MBps.

Some countries are slow. New Zealand for example offers an average of 20 MBps, South Africa 6MBps and the Philippines just 3!

4) Ease and Cost of Flights

Some parts of the world are just expensive to get to. Cost often has little to do with how far these places are away. Almost always, a lack of competition allows national carriers to charge extortionate fees.

South America and Africa are expensive to travel to with a limited number of routes available.

By contrast, cheap travel hubs should feature in your travel plans because they give you easy access to other cities in your itinerary.

There are many cheap flight hubs in Europe and Asia. Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh, London, Istanbul, Oslo and Amsterdam all offer a wide range of cheap flight options.

Using cheap travel hubs allows you to build cheap Round the World tickets. Don’t go buy a group RTW ticket (e.g. One World etc) or those packaged by travel agents. With the right tools you can tailor-make one yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Mainstream planners offer tickets in the region of $4-6,000. I have built my own RTW itineraries for less than $2,000.

5) Visas

We often overlook the importance of visa planning. When most people only know short vacations, visas aren’t an issue.

But long term travel requires careful planning.

If you plan to stay anywhere long term you will have to be mindful of the visa rules.

Visa rules are never uniform. Opportunities exist. Working Holiday visas are an excellent opportunity for younger travelers. University students aged under 25 can spend 6 months in Singapore. Under 30s 12 month in Australia. Canadians under 35 can stay in Costa Rica for a year. And various country citizens under 35 can stay in France for a year.

These are just a handful of examples. There are many types of visas available – from Working Holiday to Work Permits to Entrepreneur Visas.

6) Weather

Weather is an important factor in determining lifestyle options. If it’s cold and damp in your destination you’d better enjoy sitting indoors reading a book. But, I guess like most people you seek the good life – warmth and sunshine.

Most weather information available online provides daily hi/lo temperatures. But simple hi/lo can be quite deceptive.

One of the most important indicators of climate pleasantness is sunshine hours.

LA for example gets 3,200 sunshine hours a year. Cape Town 3,000. Madrid 2,800. Year round sunshine. At the other end of the scale Stockholm gets 1,500 and London 1,400.

There are many factors beyond hi/lo that shape the weather. The number of rainy days (rather than the amount of rain). Wind and wind chill. Daily and seasonal variation of weather.

7) Food and Culture

Food and Culture should be the reason why we travel. We live to eat, not vice-versa. By eating locally you can literally taste the culture.

Eating out varies in price by city.

Oslo is one of the most expensive cities to eat out in. Expect to pay $30 a head for a standard, “inexpensive” lunch. New York you’re paying $15. Hong Kong, although expensive to rent in costs $10. If you want real bargains go to Bangkok ($4) and Goa ($2)!

8) Health and Safety

Health and Safety isn’t a reason why you should go somewhere but it’s a reason enough to put you off, especially if you stay long term.

You may be able to get away with risky locations for a few days, weeks even. But, for longer stays you are exposing yourself to risks you may not be familiar with.

There are two diseases to pay particular attention to in your travels – Malaria and Dengue Fever.

Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are two good examples. While sophisticated modern cities, they are hot spots for Dengue Fever, a disease which has no known cure. Both have their own government prevention programs. I have highlighted them because it indicates how clean, developed may lull you into a false sense of security.

Similarly, it’s worth knowing where the Malaria hotspots are. Preventative medicine has a limited effect and this disease is one of the biggest killers n the world

These diseases impact travelers too. Unlike tourists they tend to take more risks, become blase and forget about the risks. Big mistake.

This isn’t a vacation. Stay informed. Know the risks.

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The Ultimate Location Independent Cheat Sheet: How many days can I live in [INSERT COUNTRY] for $1,000?

Download the PDF here

How long can I stay for $1,000?

I’ve traveled the world a fair bit, lived a few places and done plenty of research. One of the questions people ask me about my travels is how much does the Location Independent Lifestyle cost? Well, it depends on where you’re going. But here’s a brief overview of how far 2 people can get on a $1,000 US in the following countries. Prices are for accommodation and daily living expenses.

Less than a week

* Geneva
* London
* Oslo
* Zurich

7-10 days

* Abu Dhabi
* Amsterdam
* Brisbane
* Brussels
* Cairns
* Christchurch NZ
* Copenhagen
* Darwin
* Dubai
* Dublin
* Edinburgh
* Florence
* Frankfurt
* Helsinki
* Honolulu
* Hong Kong
* Kobe
* Los Angeles
* Lyon
* Manchester
* Melbourne
* Miami
* Milan
* Moscow
* Munich
* New York
* Paris
* Perth
* Queenstown NZ
* Reykjavik
* Rome
* San Diego
* San Francisco
* Singapore
* Stockholm
* Sydney
* Tauranga
* Tel Aviv
* Tokyo
* Venice

10 days – 2 weeks

* Athens
* Auckland
* Barcelona
* Belfast
* Caracas
* Chicago
* Havana
* Kuwait
* Las Vegas
* Limassol
* Madrid
* Montreal
* Naha
* Osaka
* Panama City
* Portland
* Rio de Janeiro
* Seattle
* Seville
* Seoul
* Shanghai
* Toronto
* Vancouver
* Vienna

2-3 weeks

* Arrecife
* Beijing
* Belgrade
* Belize
* Bogota
* Buenos Aires
* Cape Town
* Funchal
* Istanbul
* Johannesburg
* Koh Samui
* Las Palmas
* Lisbon
* Ljubljana
* Malaga
* Montevideo
* Phuket
* Prague
* Riga
* San Jose CR
* San Juan PR
* Santiago, Chile
* Sao Paulo
* Taipei
* Warsaw
* Windhoek
* Zagreb

3-5 weeks

* Ankara
* Bali
* Bandung
* Bangalore
* Bangkok
* Bucharest
* Budapest
* Cancun
* Cebu
* Colombo
* Dhaka
* Goa
* Guangzhou
* Guatemala City
* Hanoi
* Ho Chi Minh
* Jakarta
* Kuala Lumpur
* La Paz
* Lima
* Manila
* Mumbai
* Nadi
* New Delhi
* Penang
* Phnom Penh
* San Salvador
* Sofia
* Vientiane
* Vilnius
* Yangon

By: neiljs

6-8 weeks

* Chennai
* Kathmandu
* Kolkata
* Yogyakarta
* Thiruvananthapuram

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Why Decluttering is the best thing since sliced bread

one of the few items of stuff I own - a bike helmet and a bike (which I need to sell)

one of the few items of stuff I own – a bike helmet and a bike (which I need to sell)

As a middle aged male, I hold up hand. Guilty as charged. I used to buy a lot of stuff.

Mainly gadgets. Stuff made out of carbon. Stuff I found on Ebay.

We accumulate a lot of stuff in our lives. More than we realize.

When we sold everything and traveled the world to live our Location Independent Lifestyle, we spent a whole summer decluttering our house. The boxes of stuff we found were endless. A whole Pandora’s box of toys, clothes, shoes, books and so on. Most of it gathering dust.

Now, as we prepare to leave our island onto our next adventure, I’m faced with the challenge of packing my whole life into two cases.

Why don’t we live minimally?

It’s hard work.

We accumulate “just in case”.

We become attached.

Stuff is our lazy way of finding happiness. It never works. What you own ends up owning you.

Accumulating stuff is like a hunger, an ingrained reflex that gets the better of us. You know what’s good for you, but somehow you aren’t able to throw that stuff out.

I think there is a sense of being afraid of letting go. It’s like riding your bike for the first time. When your Dad takes the support wheels off, there is that few seconds you feel like you are flying, giddily heading towards a crash. But it doesn’t happen. You keep pedaling. You are moving. You are in control.

Throwing out stuff is the same. It requires a leap of faith. You have to commit. We don’t like that moment when we aren’t in control, giddy and flying.

But if you are to travel far, you need to travel light.

You’ll be surprised how little stuff you really need to be happy. Funny how the least stressful travel experiences are the ones you had the least luggage. You didn’t have to line up to check in your hold luggage. You didn’t have to wait at the carousel, hoping your bag would appear. You had less to worry about, less to pay for, less to lose.

Decluttering helps us remember what’s important.

Think of it like a detox for the mind.

Sure, you’re a little wobbly at first, but after that, it’s like being back on your bike; that feeling of exhilaration.

Freedom.

When you travel you are forced to make choices. You think twice about buying and owning things. In our world of stuff, more stuff is just an Amazon or Ebay click away. We don’t need to think about the consequences of our behavior. And we get lazy.

For centuries, fasting has been employed by holy men and lay people alike as a way of strengthening the immune system and the mind. Anyone who’s fasted will remember that sense of clarity and often high levels of energy that comes from giving your body a break.

Decluttering is like a powerful mental fast too. You can free up the space to grow. Breathe out. Freedom.

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Why Island Living will Change Your Life

Looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, off the south of Lanzarote island

Looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, off the south of Lanzarote island

In my travels, I’ve visited a few islands.

I love islands. Don’t know exactly why but there is some island thing going on in my soul.

We’ve lived here on this island off the West cost of Africa for 18 months now. It’s been an adventure. At times challenging and frustrating but always rewarding.

The rhythm of island life is a different pace of life. Life slows down from the lonely sprint of the mainland to a more convivial saunter. In the mornings, life is unhurried. People go out walking along the promenade next to the sea before the afternoon heat picks up.

I guess the reason why islands are attractive because you have no choice. Surrounded by the sea, there is nowhere else to go. There is no place extra you can build, just miles and miles of ocean.

In some cases, islands are the wild west. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an island Pollyanna. Islands can be madly frustrating. I feel the Canary islands are the poorer cousins of mainland Spain. Sometimes, with poor internet connection, we live in the lazy recesses of Spanish consciousness. Manana, manana. Life ticks over here, sometimes forgotten.

Inconvenience too can be a benefit.

Since moving here I have been unable to order anything on Amazon. We tried once but our package never arrived, so that was the end of that experiment. I wonder if that’s a bad thing after all. In ways, it’s changed us for the better. I mean, we were always ordering stuff on Amazon. Want something new? Order it on Amazon. Need new socks? Amazon. Thought of something? Amazon.

Now, however, we don’t have such luxuries and that’s changed us for the better. We stopped consuming like we used to. Now, lack of availability means you have to think twice about buying. Anything that’s beyond your day-to-day shop could need a 1 hour car drive. Consuming doesn’t become the default reaction to daily living. You start asking “do I need this?”

When you’re not consumed by consumption, you create time and space to focus on what’s important: a long, lazy lunch with friends; a weekend by the sea; a siesta in the heat of the afternoon.

Sometimes we need to change our environment to check our priorities. We can get caught up in the way of the mainland and the city and think this is the only option in life.

Who knows, perhaps if I am to return to the hustle of city living, I’ll snap back but I’ll always carry that feeling with me. As mad commuters and office workers hurry to their airless offices, perhaps I’ll sit for a while in the morning sun outside the coffee shop and watch the world go by. Perhaps I’ll go for a walk just for the sheer hell of it, with no destination in mind, see where it takes me. Maybe I won’t keep looking at my watch as I sit in a cafe with a friend one afternoon, wondering when I need to get back to the office.

This is the essence of island life and it’s changed me for the better.

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I’m really looking forward to… (a clue to where we’re going)

Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Excited about the next chapter.

I’m really looking forward to more green in August.

I took this picture at the seafront near where we live in Lanzarote. It’s beautiful and colorful… and rare. Lanzarote has a harsh, unforgiving landscape of stone, gravel and rock. It’s almost a desert in places. Well, it is right next to the Sahara.

Our next destination in our Location Independent adventure rains more. Quite a bit in fact. And it’s not England. So, it’s going to be an interesting adventure. I may end up hating the rain, I may love the green. We’ll see. Onwards.

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Why Moving Abroad will Make You Question Everything

doing what the locals do when everything shuts down - having a coffee

doing what the locals do when everything shuts down – having a coffee

One aspect of culture that takes a bit of getting used to living in Spain is time.

When we eat out here on the island, we’re often the first at the first in the restaurant because the locals don’t start to about 10pm.

I’ve heard tourists complain,

“Why the **** aren’t they open yet? Don’t they want our business?”

You are right. They are wrong. Silly locals.

At times, I’ve found myself thinking the same too. I blame it on the hunger.

But with a bit of adaption, we’re getting there. If you look at eating times as a matter of convenience, you miss the point. It’s about a more fundamental attitude to eating.

Unlike their counterparts in London, San Francisco or New York, you rarely find the Spanish eating in a hurry. Food is always taken sitting down. I don’t see many office workers rushing out of the coffee store with a cup in each hand.

Here on the island, everything closes for siesta. Don’t think you can go into town to buy something outside the main supermarkets at 2pm. Everything’s shut down. For these few precious hours in the middle of the day, you’ll see friends hanging out in cafe, chatting over a coffee.

And the same is true of the evenings. In my true North European style, efficiency sometimes gets the better of me. Eat, pay, leave. But the Spanish like to idle through the night. The reason tapas is a popular dish is that it’s conducive to chat. A few light bowls of food and a small beer. Nothing that interrupts the conversation. Nobody is hawking a plate of heavy food.

There are many things we take for granted, aspects of our native culture we grew up with. We build world views and behaviors around this culture. We never question it. And then boom… travel changes everything.

What moving abroad does is challenge that world view. Now, there is an alternative version of how things work. When feel detached when we hear compatriots wax lyrical about the virtues of their “homeland”.

I’m not suggesting either version of the world is better. I’m not suggesting there is a right or wrong when it comes to eating out or having lunch. Travel changes your ideas about right & wrong. You accept many of the answers are life are somewhere in the middle.

And right there in the middle beyond right and wrong is where we can let go of ideas and signposts that hold us back. You don’t have to think a certain way or feel a certain thing or say certain words because you’re British/Spanish/American/whatever. That’s living life on your own term. That’s freedom.

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2 weeks left on the island

Fishing boats on Lanzarote volcanic beach
(pic Fishing boats on Lanzarote volcanic beach)

With just over 2 weeks left on this volcanic island, time to start decluttering, start selling, start packing. I have to pack everything into a 20kg suitcase and my carry on luggage when we finally flight out of here. That’s all I own, in those two bags. Could you do it? Could you only ever own 2 bags of stuff in your life? What would it take? What would you miss?

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5 Reasons You Should Fire Your Boss, Sell Your Car and Travel the World

Pic - view from near our house in Lanzarote

Pic – view from near our house in Lanzarote

1) This ain’t a rehearsal

If not now, when?

The sand in that hour glass disappears as we speak.

You will never be younger than you are right now. You are not going to win the lottery. You are not going to get any less busy than you are right now. How you live today is how you are going to live the rest of your life.

I guarantee your final days will be spent with regret if you don’t seize the opportunity to accept what stirs in your soul right now.

2) Travel is life

Without travel, there would be no human society as we know it.

Any innovation, art of culture of worth was created by the interaction of different peoples.

On the road you too will be inspired. Not necessarily by the things that you think will inspire you. Yes, the Cistine Chapel, Sagrada Familia and the Golden Gate bridge are pretty awesome, but these won’t be the sights that move you. You will be inspired by the people, the ideas and the feelings you have never experienced.

Tastes, sounds, smells and emotions – all these sensations will be magnified.

Being Location Independent, you will notice the smallest things that fall under your radar back home.

You will appreciate the things you eat, the clothes in your suitcase and the times you spend together with friends and loved ones more than before because this is all you have.

You will feel alive.

3) Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

You’ve pretty much walked every day of your life. Ok, given the rather sedentary nature of our modern lifestyles, we still do a fair amount of walking even if that’s to the refrigerator to locate snacks. Despite this daily exercise, our leg muscles are rather modest in size and strength. If you were to work out in the gym on a muscle set every day for years and hours on end your muscles would be massive. So, why doesn’t this happen with our legs?

What happens to our legs is an analogy for what happens in life. You see, walking is a very comfortable exercise. You could walk for years and years and see no real development in your leg muscle. The same is true of our personal growth. Everyday we do the same things: eat the same foods, think the same thoughts and talk to the same people. Like walking, our growth muscle isn’t recruited to perform beyond what it’s capable of. We always live within our physical and mental comfort zone. Any fitness coach will be able to tell you about the importance of pushing your muscle beyond its natural capacity. It’s only here does the muscle grow.

In life, too, almost all our daily existence plays out below this natural capacity. But, on the road, things change. We are forced to think differently about the world around us. We eat new foods. We experience new sensations. We learn about languages, history and culture. We are forced out of our comfort zone and we grow.

4) Life is an experiment

Life rewards those who take risks.

I think that life without risk isn’t life at all, merely an existence.

Where will you go? Who will you meet? Will it all go wrong?

When you travel you embark on one big experiment.

But you know what?

Even if it does go wrong, you will survive to tell the tale and, boy, what a tale it’s going to be!

When you are old and gray, you will look back on your gallivanting and re-tale these stories. They may be uncomfortable and a little risky right now but in time, you will reflect on them with a smile and sense achievement, even in your failures.

5) In time, you’ll forget about your boss and your car, but it’s the memories of travel you’ll look back on and smile

I have had money. I have had the recognition and reputation that goes with a successful career.

But, now, what do I crave?

I don’t look back fondly on the cars I once owned, the expensive restaurants we used to dine in or the tailored suits and shoes I used to wear.

Instead, I browse through photos of our travels. I see how my son has grown, even in a short time. I watch a short video of him playing on the swings with the other kids, a short moment in time I had forgotten about. I look at how we have grown. Now, a little more gray hair, a little less fresh faced, a little more wrinkled. I see the changes. I sense the sheer unimportance of anything apart from these memories and being happy right now because in years to come, I may come to regret not taking the chance.

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