Thinking back to that first day when I decided to throw in the towel on my job and take the plunge into freelancing, it seems like a lifetime ago. I remember the feelings of fear, apprehension and excitement - all at the same time. It was a big decision and a huge step to give up the stability of a monthly pay cheque and rely completely on myself to make a living. Today those feelings are all back again, as I take my next big leap of faith.
Working for yourself has one huge advantage that often goes overlooked: It doesn't really matter where you are. As long as you have a decent internet connection and some electricity... you could be working from home, or a cafe, or... anywhere else really.
At the end of 2009 I landed a new contract with Virgin Atlantic Airways to design and build a new travel blog for vtravelled, their social-travel web application. The next summer, vtravelled were invited to attend a travel-blogger press trip to Valencia, Spain which would include attendance to the 2010 Formula 1 European Grand Prix. Having an understandably busy schedule, no one from vtravelled had time to go on the trip but, knowing my love for Formula 1, they asked me if I'd like to go on the trip on their behalf. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation.
What followed was one of the most amazing weeks of my life, I couldn't help but write about how much I'd learned from the experience.
As some of you already know, I have some experience with travel. I was born in Scotland to Irish and English parents, I grew up in The Netherlands (learning to read and write Dutch well before English), before spending six years in The Philippines. I only came to live in the UK for the first time (that I can remember, anyway) in 2005. When people ask me where I'm "from" ... I genuinely don't know what to tell them.
Growing up all over the world had its advantages. I was exposed to more cultural diversity and given more opportunities than many have in a lifetime and I was unbelievably lucky to do so much in so little time. But the grass is always greener, and while people who have grown up in one small town long to travel and see the world. I longed for somewhere to call home, for friends who I'd known my whole life, for a place which felt like I belonged there.
To this day there are only about 3 people who I'm still in contact with who I've known for longer than 2 years. My Facebook profile is filled with 338 acquaintances. People who I once had something in common with.
So initially my interest in the trip to Valencia was purely based on Formula 1 - I wasn't that concerned about "travel". But then again, I didn't expect to meet such an amazing group of people. I definitely didn't expect for the trip to change my outlook on work, life and everything in between. But it did.
I got on well with the organisers for that trip. Before long I was being invited back on other travel-blogger press trips to Spain not on behalf of Virgin Atlantic, but just as myself. I also started speaking at travel conferences and events, often talking about WordPress - but directed at users, not developers. Quite a difference.
The more I travel now, the more I realise how much I enjoy it. The more I travel now, the more I feel like I'm doing something with my life.
The more trips I went on, the more I met people who live a location-independent lifestyle. They travel non-stop, moving from country to country living and working as they go along. About 6 months ago a realisation finally set in: I've been location-independent for two and a half years... I just haven't been doing anything with my independence.
I can work from anywhere and, at the end of this year, I plan to make 'anywhere' my new home.
In November I'll be speaking at WordCamp Gold Coast, in Australia - and I'm not coming back. I'll be staying in Australia for two months with friends in Sydney, before starting my new life in early January by revisiting the Philippines and then going on to China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. After that, I don't really know where. I'll figure it out when I get there.
My office will be a Macbook Air, my living-room will be an iPad, my bedroom will change depending on wherever I am, and my entire life will fit into a single carry-on-luggage-sized bag. I've already sold half of my possessions in preparation.
I'm petrified. And I can't wait.
I've had this post sitting as a draft for over a month. Not only have I been waiting for final plans to be confirmed, but I've also been pretty scared of publishing it. This post is my own, self-imposed, point of no return. If you're reading this... then I've successfully located the 'publish' button. There's no going back now.
More to follow.