Serial traveler Sharkman tells you how he spent a month on Isla Mujeres, got paid and lived like a rockstar. You can’t afford NOT to travel and here’s why.
I’m going to alter your reality by showing you a whole set of ideas and strategies that break the conventional rules and allow me to travel way more often than any guy who earns what I earn should be able to. And I don’t do it by maxing out my credit cards and burying myself into debt. That’s just stupid. I’ve chosen to live Above My Means rather than live beyond my means.
As I write this, I’m sitting on a deck looking out at the Caribbean Sea on a bluebird day. It’s 80 something degrees and I’ve just popped an ice cold Victoria – my new favorite cerveza. I’ve been hanging out here on Isla Mujeres, a small island off of Cancun, Mexico for almost a month. Here’s how I did it.
Get a J-O-B…in the Adventure Industry
For two weeks, I’ve been snorkeling with hundreds of whale sharks, SCUBA diving on reefs & wrecks and chillin’ at a $3 million dollar villa with private chef. I booked the villa for two groups and busted ass running two adventure trips. I organized the entire expedition and made all the arrangements with the villa, private chef, in villa massage therapists, SCUBA diving operator and whale shark snorkeling boat. I taught people about whale sharks and guided divers underwater. It’s a LOT of work but I love it and made a nice income from it.
Don’t own your own travel company? For the first 10 years I didn’t either. Find a travel company and work for them part or full-time. Gain incredible experience and get paid to travel the world.
Do the Math
For another two weeks, I was living in an apartment in a local neighborhood, going to the beach almost every day and buying achiote roasted chickens from this guy who lives around the corner and chile rellenos from the lady across the street.
How did I budget? I did the math- I call this GeoFreedom. GeoFreedom means understanding the dramatic cost of living differences around the world and leveraging those differences. When you start looking, you will find that it is far less expensive to live in most areas of the world rather than over paying for a condo in random US of A. To compare the cost of living in two or more locations check out a cost of living calculator.
The idea is for you to earn in Dollars or Euros but travel and live in Baht, Rupiah or Pesos.
And just as important, pay local not international prices. A one night stay at the Four Seasons Bosphorus in Istanbul costs more than the net average monthly wage in Turkey – which is USD$634. See the huge disconnect?
On Isla Mujeres, my girl and I, scored an upstairs apartment that includes a kitchen,WiFi, Sky TV and a deck with outdoor lounging area, gas grill and a small pool. Cost? $35 a night. We shop at the local grocery store down the street. Happy hour is on our deck and when there’s no time to pregame, cervezas are less than $2 at the beach bars and margaritas are not much more. I found a kick ass tequila that is USD$3.75 a bottle. Yes, very dangerous! I use a local SIM card in my Droid that costs almost nothing and gives me a local phone number where friends can call or text me. The average per capita yearly income in Mexico is USD$6143. It has to be cheap here.
If you do the numbers, you can’t live at home as cheaply as you can live here. You can’t afford NOT to travel.
Get Some Plastic
For the round trip airfare, I racked up free frequent flier miles with my airline of choice using their branded credit card. I earn miles for everything I buy on the card (including paying for the villa) and make a point of charging everything I can. When card companies offer a new card with sign up bonus, I get it and rack up even more miles. Cost of roundtrip airfare? About $75 in taxes. There are plenty of mile rewards and points to get you on your next flight.
After my groups left, I “paid” to continue SCUBA diving and whale shark snorkeling by writing a great article about the island and the dive/snorkel operators that I was working with. This article will be published on the top underwater photography site on the web.
So I know what you are already saying to yourself because I hear it all the time. Instead of getting busy on your own set of strategies, you are convincing yourself that you can’t do any of these things.
It’s Not Rocket Science
Destroy the old paradigm of “You’ve got to save for a trip that’s going to cost you a lot of money” and replace it with “leverage the differences
in the cost of living to make it so you can’t afford NOT to travel”. By doing this and going more local – which is far more interesting than sitting at the swim up bar of a nameless, all-inclusive resort that could be anywhere in the world – you travel and live under a dramatically lower cost structure. You spend less to travel than you would to live at home and you enjoy yourself more. Find an adventure travel job and you can pursue what moves you without starving.
And that’s exactly how I lived like a rockstar on Isla Mujeres for a month and got paid.
About the Author
Sharkman is one of the world’s top expedition leaders, a high altitude climber, technical
SCUBA diver and member of the prestigious Explorers Club.
The Adventure Couple, Sharkman and his wife Mantagirl encourage more excitement in your life with adventure and travel. Their latest book, Travel Like a Pro, is available on their website: live-adventurously.com