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Today, I’m super excited to introduce y’all to my friend Clover, over at SimplyCloverLiving.com. Clover and I met at last year’s Chautauqua, and we immediately clicked. Not only did we both grow up in Canada, we had to deal with the pressures of living in a high cost city with a crazy housing market, and both of us got bit with the travel bug!
But while I slogged away at my engineering job for a decade, hit FI, and then started travelling the world, Clover had a much, much faster solution that let her do it even sooner than me, but without giving too much away, I’ll let her talk about that.
Clover, welcome! First of all, tell us about your love of travel. Where did it all start?
I have been working in the travel industry for 14 years, but I actually didn’t really catch the travel bug until a few years ago! I did the annual trips to Japan in my 20s, but the true transformative moment was November of 2016, when my friend couldn’t join me for a Hawaii trip. That was when I decided to go solo. That trip opened the floodgates and showed me how empowering it is to see the world on my own, experiencing all types of adventures, cultures and have connections with diverse groups of people.
I actually love personal development and travelling hits all the right spots in terms of self discovery, pushing outside my comfort zones, and being more open minded with the world. Since then, I have been to 6 continents. I have tried scuba diving, skydiving, hiking Machu Picchu and Mount Everest Basecamp, swimming long distances in the Red sea and Greece, cage diving with crocodiles in Africa, camping out in the Peruvian Amazon Jungle, to name a few, and I am just getting started!
Tell us about your job. Where do you work?
I work as a flight attendant at a Canadian airline.
So coming from a cubicle-dwelling corporate background, being a flight attendant is about as different as you can get. What’s a typical day like for you?
I guess the difference with our job is that there is no typical day! We are working with ever changing environments, people and schedules, and every airline differs. Having said that, at my company, a typical flight involves getting on board an hour or more before departure, to prepare the cabin and do a briefing. We board the passengers, take off, and then do our services during the flight. And of course, ensuring safety is always a priority.
After we deplane, we head to the hotel as a crew and start our layover. Most layovers at my airline is usually 24 hours or less. I am usually exhausted after a flight, after leaving out time to sleep and eat, there is still some time to walk around the city, go for a few bites and buy some groceries. Sometimes, I even get to meet up with people I met on my travels. Just like I did that one time in Zurich with another Chautauqua participant! There are occasions where some layovers can go up to a few days long, but I am not senior enough to hold those yet.
I’d imagine a job like that has some pretty interesting side benefits. Do you get massive discounts on flights?
I am very fortunate to pay only the taxes on the flights when I travel. However, it is at a standby basis. If the flight becomes full, we don’t get on. That’s when we have to adapt and try different routes, cancel the trip or go to another destination all together!
In terms of schedule, my company allows us to bid for our routes every month based on seniority and language. Therefore, every month could look different with our destinations, who we work with, and when we have time off. The average is about 71-80 hours of work per month. I am fortunate to be able to fly to Asia due to my ability to speak Mandarin, and since each flight is 14+ hours each way, I can bank 28-30 hours in 3 days, that brings me to working half or even one-third of the month. With all that time off combined with affordable flight tickets, I have been travelling lots!
How do you go about getting a job like this? Do you need any special certifications or training before you apply?
For my company, you could apply online when they have an opening. Depending on the airline, you might need a second language that is used at one of the route they fly to. It is very hard to pinpoint exactly what each airline is looking for, because I think it could differ depending on the company culture. I would say having soft skills such as being a good team player, being able to handle stress, being adaptable would be some qualities most companies look for.
Most airlines don’t need prior training since they will give you formal training once you are hired. I do know there are flight attendant schools out there, but to my knowledge , most of my colleagues don’t have previous training. The 6-8 weeks flight attendant training itself can be grueling but that is how they see if you would be a good fit.
You also have some experience in the military, right?
Yes. I have done the basic military and soldier qualification in the Canadian armed forces. I like to challenge myself and that was definitely more challenge than I would ever imagined. But if a skinny girl like me could do it, I think a lot of people can do it too. I think in our society, we just have different limiting beliefs that hold us back. But you don’t know until you try, and that’s my motto. That was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but I am proud that I accomplished it and I actually think that helped me stand out in my flight attendant job interview.
You also mentioned that your living arrangement as a flight attendant allows you to do did something interesting on the real estate side as well. Tell us about that.
In 2016 I bought a condo in the hot Toronto market. Since then I travelled so much and I was barely home. In 2018 when my mortgage was up for renewal, I was contemplating renting my place out while I go travel. But I was introduced to your blog by a colleague and started mathing shit up. I then decided to sell my condo instead and invest my equity in index funds. Now I rent a room in a house with other flight attendants and the difference in savings allowed me to travel more often or it can accelerate my path to FI.
Way to MathShitUp, girl! I love how you broke down your decision process in your article “Why Did I sell My Condo to Rent a Room.” You showed that you would’ve actually lost $145 a month by renting it out. Was it difficult to go back to renting after owning? Or was it easy because it was purely a mathematical decision?
To be honest, it was a very hard decision despite seeing the logical benefits behind selling the condo and investing in index funds. Emotionally it was still very difficult to ignore the whole owning notion I was ingrained with for so long. It took me two months of comparing spreadsheets, staring at my pros and cons list and reading countless FI articles.
However, my love for travelling and wanting to live my life to the fullest has outweighed that fear. Worst comes to worst, I can move to Southeast Asia with a smaller portfolio and I would do just fine! Downsizing to my room and seeing the world has taught me that I can be happy without much. I value experiences so much now that I don’t want to be tied to material possessions.
How often do you travel now out of the year?
I have slowed down a little more this year of 2019 since I am more careful with wanting to reach my FI number sooner. But I would say 4-5 times out of the year would be minimum for me. This still allows me to have a saving rate of 42%. At the height of my travel, I would go almost every month!
And finally, financial independence. What does it mean to you? Because it sounds like you’re already pretty close to your ideal life.
It means to have the time and mental freedom to pursue a higher purpose. Having the luxury of so much time off, it has allowed me to question the meaning of life. I am still at a stage of discovery about myself, the planet and the people. But I have realized that contributing back to society in some ways would fulfill me in deeper meaningful ways.
By writing my blog and sharing my journey, I hope it can inspire others to ask themselves what they value, and go after the things they love, and give them some ideas of how beautiful our world can be. As cliche as it sounds, I honestly believe that if more people travel, and see for themselves that at the end of the day, we are all humans with the same desires, we can all share this planet in harmony and celebrate the differences between us and learn from each other.
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