It’s time for a bit of preliminary reflection. We’ve now been on the road for about 3 weeks. Not a long time yet, granted. We’ve barely scratched the surface of our 4.5 month trip, let alone the 5 month trip we have planned next year. But one key to long-term travel is getting into a groove. New locations, accommodations, languages, cultures…it can be a bit overwhelming if you let it. Instead you need to relax and enjoy it!
There’s no question in either of our minds that we’re doing the right thing: for us, for our relationship, for our mindsets, for our health, for our quality of life, for tons of reasons… But we thought we’d put together a quick list, tongues firmly in cheeks of course, of how traveling beats working in finance.
All-nighters are by choice
In investment banking, Trevor pulled many all-nighters to support clients. Some were necessary. Most were not. None saved any lives. Every earnings season, Christine would work many nights until 2-3am, only to be back at work by 6:30am to disseminate her research before the trading day started. Needless to say, now neither of us pulls an all-nighter unless we WANT to. And at 37, our “Party all night and sleep all day” has changed to “Party into the evening, then get a decent nights’ sleep”. But that’s our choice goddammit! It really comes down to freedom, and freedom is always better than having your life dictated by someone else, 100% of the time.
Since January, Trevor has worn a suit on…maybe…3 occasions. And at least 2 of those times didn’t involve a tie, so don’t really count. And with the exception of attending a wedding this summer, he has no intention of wearing a suit in the near future. Whoever thought men wearing wool clothing in the summer was a good idea, is an idiot!
Low cost of living
This is one thing most non-nomadic people don’t realize – Living on the road can be cheaper than being stationary. Add together rent/mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities, cable/internet, your car, lunches from the food court at work, etc etc – it all adds up pretty fast. When we’re on the road, we stay in fairly budget accommodations (AirBnb mostly, some hostels, some short-stay apartments), travel mainly by local buses or trains, and we self-cater often. Anyone willing to couchsurf or opt for overnight buses rather than the occasional flight can live on even less. We’ve also cut out most of our expenses back “home”. We now spend less on the road than we did living in Toronto. Granted, we also earn less, but let’s not think about that for the time being! Mo’ money, mo’ problems and all that.
No excel or powerpoint
Neither of us have opened up powerpoint since we left finance. Not once. For most people, this may not seem like a big deal. To anyone working in finance, their head just exploded. Trevor did open excel the other day, wrote 4 lines of excel code, filled right, and saved. That was it. Done! All killer, no filler.
Less time spent with assholes
Don’t get us wrong…. many of the people we worked with in finance were amazing. And then there were some complete assholes. They know who they are. The problem was, we couldn’t choose who to spend our time with. Nowadays, when we run across a complete asshole, we can be like “You’re an asshole, I’m not wasting my time with you” and just walk away. Regardless of whether you make quite the extreme lifestyle change that we have, everyone would benefit from being able to walk away from the assholes in their life.
Finance professionals are typically Type-A personalities – people who are ultra competitive in one area of life tend to be in other areas of life as well. People will brag about rocking out a set of 250lb deadlifts before coming into the office or how they ran 10km while taking a client call on their blackberry. In reality, finance is an incredibly unhealthy lifestyle. Just no one brags about the times they spent 30 hours on an airplane, watched 5 movies, drank the equivalent of 2 bottles of wine, all while burning approximately 100 calories.
We both tried to remain active while working in finance. Christine ran often. Trevor played tennis occasionally. But while we were in Spain and Portugal for just 3.5 weeks this past April, Trevor lost 10 lbs. That’s roughly 5% of his body weight. And all while eating tapas and drinking port/sherry/wine. Please buy Trevor’s upcoming book “The Wine and Tapas guide to Weight Loss”, available at fine retailers later this year. But seriously, that came from eating smaller meals (no expense account), eating healthier (we have time to cook for ourselves), drinking less (no free booze on flights or at client dinners) and a more active lifestyle (we probably walk on average 10-15km every single day). Who would have thought that increasing your caloric burn while decreasing your caloric intake would result in better health?
Actually experience the places we visit
This has to be one of the biggest benefits. When you travel for business, you take the latest flight that lets you arrive in time for your meeting, then return on the first flight taking off after your meeting ends. On several occasions, Trevor has flown literally half way around the world for a single meeting. Roughly 40-50 hours in transit and all he would see of his destination was the airport, the train or highway into the city, the hotel to take a shower (but not spend the night), and the client office. Now, we get to travel to places that interest us, and while we’re there, we get to explore. Traveling without the ability to experience the place you visit isn’t really traveling at all.
So that’s it. Maybe later in the trip, we’ll write an update that is a bit more serious and a bit more along the lines of how this experience has changed us (for better and for worse). We don’t mean to downplay the challenges (how are we ever going to earn a living again? Where/when will we settle down again?), but we’re still in the honeymoon phase of our adventure. And despite being rational people, we have faith that those challenges will work themselves out. We already have several ideas for start-ups, entrepreneurial ventures, and potential career changes that ultimately have just come from having a clearer mind and gaining a broader perspective. This is obviously not a path that everyone can or should follow, but so far it’s working for us!