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Sunday, March 25, 2012

On permanent vacation

I just spent ten days on the road, traveling around the North Island. After my two-week housesitting gig in Turangi (near Mt. Tongariro on the map), I took a bus down to Wellington. I spent a week there, then traveled to Hawke's Bay (the area around Napier) - wine country - for a few days. From there, I went to Rotorua to meet up with my friend from Hamilton over the weekend. Then we drove back to Hamilton together on Sunday.

On the way, I saw sheep & cows & rolling hills. I saw an opera sung in Maori, & stayed in a rural Scandanavian settlement of 300 people. I tasted award-winning New Zealand wine, & saw a village excavated from a lava flow.

Total expenses for four weeks, including food, transportation, accomodation & entrance fees: $687 NZD (about $561 USD). That's less than I would spend if I had a permanent home. The rent alone would be more than that.

& I was able to find time to do a little work too. I'm starting to get used to traveling around, shifting from place to place. I'm seeing some amazing sights, but since I work online, all I need is an internet connection & a decent block of time, both of which have been easy to come by so far.

It may seem like I'm on permanent vacation, & in a way, I guess I am. But I'm still making money while I'm traveling around. It's not a lot of money - I'm not going to get rich doing this - but it's definitely enough to keep me going. I'm seeing the world - & the experiences are their own wealth.

Part of the secret to making working online work is finding cheap places to stay (Couchsurfing, housesitting), & avoiding all the crazy expensive things that normal vacationers do. I didn't go skydiving in Rotorua since that costs a few hundred dollars, but I did do the luge ride down the mountain, which cost $10 - WHEE! I don't stay in five-star hotels or have lavish dinners, but I do meet some pretty amazing people who are willing to share their spare bedrooms for a couple of nights. & still I feel like I'm experiencing the real New Zealand, even though I'm doing it cheaply.

I think the key to living the life of a vagabond is letting go of the idea that you need a lot of money to do it. You don't. Of course, you won't make a lot of money trasping around the globe either - that could be the most difficult idea to accept. It's a different mind-set, one that I have been trying to embrace ever since I left the US for a life abroad.

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