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How I Travel with a Full-Time Job

*As featured on Rappler on July 12, 2017 🙂

From January 2015- January 2017, R and I have travelled to 35 countries across four continents. We had the chance to walk around the Acropolis, marvel at the wonders of Cordoba, do long drives around the UK, and do our weekly groceries at souqs in Casablanca. The travel bug struck R and I big time and since then, we’ve visited four more countries and have already booked our trip to two more countries for later this year.

You might wonder– and this made us wonder as well– how can we travel so much while working full time, able to save for our future life together (more on that on a later post), while earning just enough?

We receive a lot of questions from family and friends on how we get to travel the way we do. Here are some of our “secrets” that help us live a traveler’s life that we’ve always dreamed of:

1. We work remotely

Working remotely is the biggest gift that we’ve received in achieving this dream, and is the main reason as to why we can sustain our travels.

Let me give an overview of how we work:

As for me:

I work remotely 8 hours a day, 5 times a week. I am lucky because my schedule is quite flexible that I can spread out my 8 hours as long as I cover at least three hours of New York business time.

Aside from my day job, I also work as the auditor of two co-owned small enterprises, both based in the Philippines. I do daily and weekly audits, and dedicate at least one hour a day to communicate with the manager on-site. I’m just thankful for all the technology available today that I’m able to do this task even when out of the country.

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How we usually work, with a standing desk in tow so we can take a break from sitting for too long (Kirkby Malzeard, Northern Yorkshire)

For R, his work schedule is more demanding. Since he works as a Support Engineer for an irrigation company, he has to work long hours and should be available for calls any time. He works 10- 12 hours a day for 5 days a week, then 5 hours for Saturdays. Sometimes, he also has to work for at least 2 hours on Sundays. The hours are really long. What’s great with his job, though, is he can work from his phone for some tasks so what he does is he purchases a local sim card and signs up for data. He does this for every country that we go to.

So, when we travel, we manage our day based around our work. Our work is top priority since without it, we cannot live this kind of life that we want. Usually, we only travel around on weekends; and we only go out on weekdays for dinner after all work is done.

2. Through research projects

As an anthropology practitioner (for I can’t really call myself an “anthropologist” just yet), I get to receive research contracts in and out of the Philippines. But these do not come to me as manna from heaven. I need to work for and apply for them. I’ve received more turned-down applications than accepted ones, so when I get them I make sure I give my best so I get referred to other projects, or I get to continue with the project when it gets extended.

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Who would have thought we will find ourselves staying in a container van in the middle of a moor for three months? (Kirkby Malzeard, Northern Yorkshire)

I would say the biggest factor as to why I got into research contracting is because of this UNDP research project that I luckily got accepted to back in 2013. More projects came pouring in after that, and I’m really thankful for the opportunity. There is a lot of room for improvement though since I only have a bachelor’s degree, and some projects are reserved for those with masters and PhD degrees.

It is through this job that R and I get to travel to off-the-beaten tracks including Itogon (Benguet), Kirkby Malzeard (Great Britain), Casablanca (Morocco), and Jaipur (India).

3. Through business trips

This opportunity is thanks to R’s company who is kind and generous enough to shoulder both of our travel expenses when R has a workshop, seminar, meeting, or conference to attend. He travels once a year in the US, once around Southeast Asia, and once in Europe. So in a year, we both get three trips cared of by R’s company!

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Staying in a country club: one of the many perks of R’s business trips! (Singapore)

And since R and I both travel smart aka within our means, it’s a great chance for us to travel beyond what we can afford. We get to travel on business class, stay at 5-star hotels, and eat in nice restaurants. Oh, why oh why do these kinds of trips have to end!

4. Through company trips

Once a year, in summer, our family receives a free trip thanks to a Philippine-based company that my parents are co-owners of. All the co-owners’ families receive this free trip, and so we all make sure we are available for this trip. It is definitely one of the rare opportunities for all our families to bond.

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Traveling inter-country by private bus. Again, something I can’t afford without this annual travel opportunity 😛 (Cologne, Germany)

Again, for this one, I make sure I get to join because I am able to enjoy a kind of travel that I cannot afford. Traveling around in a private hired bus, staying in 4 to 5-star hotels, and having private guides– It is the kind of travel that I wouldn’t want to miss!

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These are the many ways by which R and I can travel so much for the past few years. When we set our sights three years ago into exploring the world together until we grow old, we did our best to achieve location independence with our work. It took us some years to get to where we are today, but it is not impossible to achieve.

We may not be able to afford many of the physical luxuries in life, but we definitely appreciate and are always thankful of the life we have today. We are now where we want to be, and we are forever grateful 🙂

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Why You Must Stop Worrying and Find Work You Love

I used to think that being in a 9-5 job was expected for everyone, except for a select enterpreneurial few. After two years of being in one, I became involved in a research contract that changed my life. I haven’t looked back since then.

I am reposting this because I want to share why I think it’s best for us to pursue work that we love. This article hits the right points on how I feel about the issue. Thank you to Yes Magazine for letting me repost this 🙂

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The idea of fulfilling work—a job that reflects our passions, talents and values—is a modern invention. Open Dr. Johnson’s celebrated Dictionary, published in 1755, and the word “fulfilment” doesn’t even appear. But today our expectations are higher, which helps explain why job satisfaction has declined to a record low of 47 percent in the U.S., and is even lower in Europe.

If you count yourself amongst those who are unhappy in their job, or at least have that occasional niggling feeling that your work and self are out of alignment, how are you supposed to go about finding a meaningful career? What does it take to overcome the fear of change and negotiate the labyrinth of choices, especially in tough economic times?

Here are six pieces of essential wisdom drawn from some of the best brains in the field:

1. Confusion is perfectly normal

First, a consoling thought: being confused about career choice is perfectly normal and utterly understandable. In the pre-industrial period there were around thirty standard trades—you might decide to be a blacksmith or a barrel-maker—but now career websites list over 12,000 different jobs. The result? We can become so anxious about making the wrong choice that we end up making no choice at all, staying in jobs that we have long grown out of. Psychologist Barry Schwartz calls this the “paradox of choice”: too many options can lead to decision paralysis, and we are like rabbits caught in the headlights.

Then add to this our built-in aversion to risk. Human beings tend to exaggerate everything that could possibly go wrong, or as Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman says, “we hate losing twice as much as we love winning,” whether at the casino table or when making career choices. So our brains are not well calibrated for daring to change profession. We need to recognize that confusion is natural, and get ready to move beyond it.

2. Beware of personality tests

Many people are enticed by personality tests, which claim to be able to assess your character, and then point you towards a job that is just right for you. It’s a reassuring idea, but the evidence for their usefulness is flimsy. Take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the world’s most popular psychometric test, which places you in one of sixteen personality types. Despite its ubiquity, the Myers-Briggs has been widely criticised by professional psychologists for over three decades, partly due to its lack of reliability. If you retake the test after five weeks, there is around a 50 percent chance that you will be placed into a different personality category than you were the first time.

Moreover, according to Marshall University psychologist David Pittenger, there is “ no evidence to show a positive relation between [a person’s Myers-Briggs] type and success within an occupation…nor is there any data to suggest that specific types are more satisfied within specific occupations than are other types.” He advises “extreme caution in its application as a counselling tool.”

So don’t let any anyone tell you what you can and can’t be on the basis of a personality pigeon-hole they want to put you in.

3. Aim to be a wide achiever, not a high achiever

For over a century, Western culture has been telling us that the best way to use our talents and be successful is to specialize and become a high achiever, an expert in a narrow field—say a corporate tax accountant or an anesthetist.

But an increasing number of people feel that this approach fails to cultivate the many sides of who they are. For them, it makes more sense to embrace the idea of being a “wide achiever” rather than a high achiever. Take inspiration from Renaissance generalists like Leonardo da Vinci, who would paint one day, then do some mechanical engineering, followed by a few anatomy experiments on the weekend.

Today this is called being a “portfolio worker,” doing several jobs simultaneously and often freelance. Management thinker Charles Handy says this is not just a good way of spreading risk in an insecure job market, but is an extraordinary opportunity made possible by the rise of opportunities for flexible work: “For the first time in the human experience, we have a chance to shape our work to suit the way we live instead of our lives to fit our work. We would be mad to miss the chance.”

Ask yourself this: What would being a wide achiever encompass for me?

4. Find where your values and talents meet

The wisest single piece of career advice was proffered 2,500 years ago when Aristotle declared, “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” And he would surely endorse contemporary research findings showing that those pursuing money and status are unlikely to feel fulfilled: the Mercer Global Engagement Scale places “base pay” as only number seven out of 12 factors predicting job satisfaction.

The best alternative, says Harvard’s Howard Gardner, is to find an ethical career, focused on values and issues that matter to you, and which also allows you to do what you’re really good at. That might sound like a luxury when there are long lines at job centers. But consider that in the 34 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, the social enterprise sector, in which organizations strive not only to make profits but also to improve social and environmental conditions, is growing 250 percent faster than the rest of the economy.

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Rags 2 Riches: one of the most successful social enterprises in the Philippines. Image Credit: http://www.ls.ateneo.edu

So imagine yourself in three parallel universes, in each of which you can spend next year trying a job in which your talents meet the needs of the world. What three jobs would you be excited to try?

5. Act first, reflect later

The biggest mistake people make when changing careers is to follow the traditional “plan then implement” model. You draw up lists of personal strengths, weaknesses, and ambitions, then match your profile to particular professions; at that point you start sending out applications. But there’s a problem: it typically doesn’t work. You might find a new job, but despite your expectations, it is unlikely to be fulfilling.

We need to turn this model on its head. Instead of thinking then acting, we should act first and reflect later by trying out jobs in the real world, for example by shadowing, interning, or volunteering, testing out careers through experiential learning. Laura van Bouchout gave herself the thirtieth birthday present of spending a whole year trying thirty different jobs—a kind of “radical sabbatical.” She was manager of a cat hotel, then shadowed an Member of the European Parliament, and found that working in advertising was unexpectedly exhilarating.

But don’t think that you have to resign on Monday morning to try this. Rather, you can pursue “branching projects”—what organisational behaviour expert Herminia Ibarra calls “temporary assignments”—on the side of your existing job. Disenchanted with banking? Then try teaching yoga or doing freelance web design on the weekends. Such small experiments can give you the courage to make big—and well-informed—changes.

Challenge yourself: What is your first branching project going to be? And what is the very first step you can take towards making it happen?

6. Discover a little madness

Changing careers is a frightening prospect: of those who want to leave their jobs, around half are too afraid to take the plunge. But ultimately, there is no avoiding the fact that it is a risk.

Ask successful career changers how to overcome the fear and most say the same thing: in the end you have to stop thinking and just do it. That may be why nearly all cultures have recognized that to live a meaningful and vibrant existence, we need to take some chances—or else we might end up looking back on our lives with regret.

“Carpe diem,” advised the Roman poet Horace: seize the day before it is too late. “If not now, when?” said the rabbinical sage Hillel the Elder. Personally, I like the way Zorba the Greek puts it: “A man needs a little madness, or else he never dares to cut the rope and be free.”

It is only by treating our working lives as an ongoing experiment that we will be able to find a job that is big enough for our spirits.

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Note: Since I am reposting this article, I used rel=”canonical to properly attribute the work. This means, blog traffic goes to the original source and not to Anthroonfoot. I encourage you to use this when reposting someone else’s online work.