Every so often, I wake up and there’s a brief moment of confusion where I have no idea where in the world I am. Wait, am I in Panama, or Greece, or Singapore? Oh wait, none of the above. I’m in Latvia.
And that feeling is quickly followed by an overwhelming wave of happiness and wonder that this, travelling the world perpetually with my best friend and doing what we both love, is my reality now.
When people remark about how lucky we are to become F.I. at such a young age, I make it a point to stop and correct them. We didn’t buy Apple at $10, or build Snapchat in our garage. Luck had very little to do with it. Becoming F.I. is simply the process of tracking your expenses, following some simple, reproducible steps to investing your savings, and then letting the power of MATH propel you to freedom.
But one thing I must admit we are very lucky about is something we all share: being born in this century, in this time period where technology has advanced to a point where this crazy nomadic lifestyle we live is even possible.
Today, I can board a plane in Athens, be in Singapore the next day, and have a place to stay, friends to meet up with, and things to do, all while having complete and uninterrupted access to my family back home, my money, and my online businesses via a plastic-and-glass square that fits in my pocket. That is nothing short of miraculous.
It didn’t used to be this easy. 18 years ago, a movie named The Beach was released featuring a shirtless Leonardo DiCaprio travelling across Thailand and discovering a secret, secluded island paradise. Adventure and sexiness ensue, as is often the case with Leo D, but in the movie he is completely cut off from the rest of the world until the end when he finds his way back to the mainland and re-establishes contact with his friends/family using an Internet cafe (remember those?)
Here we are on the exact same beach in Koh Phi Phi.
At no point did we lose 3G service.
10 years ago, there was another movie named A Map for Saturday, a documentary about what it’s like to travel the world for a year. The name comes from the fact that when you’re travelling, every day feels like a Saturday, a feeling I have become extremely familiar with.
Anyway, it’s a great movie that you should totally watch if you want to see what it’s like to be us, but some of his frustrations in that movie are just completely alien to me. Using a paper guide book? Showing up to a new city and getting lost? Not understanding street signs? Whaaaat?
So I thought I’d use today’s article to give a bit of a shout out to all the awesome technology out there that makes my life so fricking easy.
Oh, AirBnb. No one company has impacted our lives more than this one. When people ask us “Where do you live?” FIRECracker likes to answer “AirBnb.”
We basically live on AirBnb now. In Asia there are still hotels that we book using services like Agoda.com, but in Europe, North America, and South America, AirBnb is king. Because not only do we get a space we can call our own, we get a kitchen which allows us to cook and keep our food costs down. Plus, we often get a host who is more than happy to show us around the city. We still keep in contact with some of the people we’ve met via AirBnb, because we’ve become friends. You don’t get that with hotels (or landlords).
And AirBnb works the other way too in helping you become F.I. In our travels (and especially our Chautauquas) we’ve met so many people who have used AirBnb as a way to monetize their spare rooms. Or rent out their investment properties via short-term lets (avoiding the headache of a bad tenant who refuses to vacate). Or even forming a business around linking up maid services and property managers with AirBnb hosts who don’t want to physically manage their property. A business like this wouldn’t even have made sense just a few years ago.
If you’re thinking of travelling somewhere and using AirBnb, click here to get $40 USD off your first trip.
Car Sharing Services
I hate cars. I may be the only engineer in the world that hates cars, but the financial burden of owning one of these damn things stresses me out. The cost of gas, maintenance, depreciation, insurance. Ugh. It made my spreadsheets cry.
And that’s why I never owned one. Instead, I relied on public transit, happily paying the $140 a month it costs for a monthly Metropass in Toronto if it meant I never had to deal with getting shaken down by some shady mechanic.
But sometimes, I needed a damned car, to haul groceries, or pick shit up from IKEA, or whatever. So what was I supposed to do then?
I haven’t written extensively about these, but essentially how a car sharing service works is first you sign up and give your driver’s license and other information. Then either through the website or (increasingly) an app, you sign out a car for a specified block of time. Once confirmed, you go over to the lot, find your car, tap your card or dongle or whatever on the windshield and it unlocks for you. You only pay the hourly fee for the time you actually spend using it. All the other costs (gas, insurance, maintenance) are included in that hourly fee.
Using car sharing services, our auto-related costs totaled about $20-$30 a month.
If you’re interested, click the banner below to get 50% off your first month.
The Global Financial System
Now, I don’t like giving credit to the banks. Most of the time, they’re trying to screw people over and that is not cool. But when it comes to travel, I have to give the Global Financial System props.
20 years ago, travellers had to rely on these stupid things called Traveller’s Checks. They were these stupid, cheap-looking paper slips that you bought from American Express before you got on your plane, and when you landed you prayed that you could find someplace to cash these things and get pounds or liras or whatever back. And if you didn’t spend all your cash? Well, too bad. Now you had a pile of worthless bills to show off to your friends all the places you’ve gone.
Now? I can use a credit card to make most purchases, and that credit card will convert from euros or baht or whatever back to my local currency at the posted XE.com exchange rate. If I need cash, I can slide in (heh heh) my debit card into any random ATM in the world, get cash out at the posted exchange rate, and have any ATM fees I incur refunded at the end of the month.
Want to know more? Here’s an article we wrote about exactly this.
Life is Awesome
Truly, this is a wonderful age we all live in. Financial Independence is a pretty great idea just on its own, but the ability to travel the world and do what you love at the same time is just mind-boggling. And all thanks to the tech companies of Silicon Valley that helped make me rich in the first place.
And the most exciting thing about all of this is: What is your retirement going to look like?
Because technology is just going to get more and more advanced. And the (very minor) struggles that we face these days are just going to get more and more miniscule as time goes on. Our retirement has been awesome, but that’s just going to get easier and easier as time goes on. One day, when you retire, you’re going to look back on the two of us having to use our primitive phones to figure out where we’re going and laugh at the absurdity of it all.
What do you think retirement will look like when you pull the trigger? Let’s hear it in the comments below!
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