It’s most people’s dream – to set up a location independent lifestyle which will enable them to generate an income online while travelling the world. Though these days this is more than just a dream – more and more people are realizing the infinite potential of our online age, and creating opportunities for themselves to work online, affording them the flexibility to set up their office from their computer while continually jumping around the globe. Sara Schneider is one such pioneer.
After having set up a jack-of-all-trades marketing company specializing in online communications, Sara was looking through her finances one night when the lightbulb moment hit; the crazy realization that she could easily survive off the income she was bringing on from just her clients, and there was no need anymore for her part-time job.
She morphed her part-time employer into a client and immediately started taking advantage of her newfound freedom with trips to Costa Rica, India, and climbing crags across the USA. And why not? All of our ancestors were wanderers and explorers of this new world at one point, she tells us, so why not embrace our heritage!
This is Sara’s story.
What do you love the most about travelling?
The people. It’s that simple for me. Travelling is the only way to truly immerse yourself in another culture and meet others in their natural environment. It’s all about the relationships; those are what stay with you beyond your travels.
Whether you stay in touch or not, the bonds you form abroad always come home with you and continue to impact your life.
What inspired you to start travelling?
I attended a small private day and boarding school from preschool through eighth grade that was filled students from all over the world. I don’t know if I was consciously “inspired” to travel back then, but I do think that growing up surrounded by students from places like Nigeria, Korea, Japan, Pakistan, and Mexico taught me to embrace cultures different from my own.
It made me realize that there was a whole world out there to explore beyond the confines of my immediate community. Getting to know where my friends were from, learn their stories, that was probably my first inspiration.
What is “Saradipity Media” all about?
Saradipity Media is my jack-of-all-trades marketing company specializing in online communications. It was not something that I dreamed about doing my whole life, but rather evolved from a need. The causes and activities I was passionate about needed some help engaging the public, forming a community.
I offered what little wisdom I had acquired from my English and Art degrees, and it turns out I knew more than I thought. Five years later and clients keep coming my way leaving me no choice but to get involved and invested in their causes, their passions, their conversations.
I love getting right into the thick of their projects. Who knew my writing skills would take me on a 200-mile bike ride or into a watermelon eating contest? It’s just Saradipity!
So you have established a location independent lifestyle which allows you to travel the world?
Yes! It was a total accident. In 2011, I moved to Portland, OR with a handful of current clients and a part-time job lined up. After a few months, I was looking at my finances and had this crazy realization that I could easily survive off the income I was bringing on from just my clients.
I morphed my part-time employer into a client and immediately started taking advantage of my newfound freedom with trips to Costa Rica, India, and climbing crags across America.
What advice do you have for others who want to do what you do?
Again, it’s all about the relationships. All my clients have stemmed from people, activities, and organizations that I have been involved with. The climbing gym I attended, the yoga teacher I trained with, a fellow dancer’s specialty grocery store, an organization I volunteered at.
Conversation is a powerful thing and building meaningful conversation around what you do and what you want to do can lead to some pretty serendipitous situations.
My advice is to just get out there and connect with your community. Share your skills.
What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started traveling?
The power of collecting miles! If I had started working the frequent flyer system of a few select airlines when I was a teenager, I would be sitting pretty in first class on almost every flight I fly by now.
If you are an avid traveller, be sure to get in the know when it comes to airlines and credit cards. It is one of the easiest ways to fly for free, and what is better than a trip that begins and ends on a fully paid-for flight!? (Probably one that doesn’t end eh?)
Tell us about some of the most memorable moments from your travels to date?
Hmmm. One that sticks with me is from my time in Kerala, India. I befriended a group of young boys fishing on the beach. The oldest two had learned a bit of English and started asking me questions about America.
After sharing some of my stories, I asked them to share some of theirs. They proceeded to point to objects and teach me the Malayalam (local dialect) word for each of them. After my brain could handle no more new words, we practiced yoga together, then they showed me how you can use the juice from a certain flower to pretend-bleed all over.
Before I was about to head back to my lodging, they asked one final question: “Do you know Gangam Style?” Ha! Of course, I did! I pulled up YouTube on my phone, and we had an epic dance party on the rocks.
The most recent entry in my mental scrapbook is playing foster parent to two rescued joeys. While living in Port Hedland (aka middle-of-nowhere Australian desert mining town), I had the chance to volunteer with Native Animal Rescue.
I never knew how much I would get attached to Candy and Spartacus! They are such sweet creatures, and it was amazing to be part of an organization working hard to ensure orphaned wildlife returns to its natural habitat.
How has travelling changed you as a person?
I will forever be a type-A personality, but travelling has definitely expanded my tolerance for living with the unknown. I think this is the biggest change for me.
I have had my stuff in a storage unit in Portland for over three years now and cannot answer the easy question of “Where do you live?” I didn’t used to be so comfortable with the not knowing bit. Although, I still take sick pleasure in planning out my future, travelling has taught me to do so on a smaller scale.
Instead of a five-year plan, I tend towards a six-month loose outline nowadays, knowing good and well that my plans will probably change.
Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while travelling?
In all of the countries I’ve visited thus far, the biggest culture shock has been the varying degrees of gender equality. Every country has its own set of established gender roles and finding myself within them always presents a bit of a wake up call for me.
Growing up in a household where my mother worked three jobs while balancing three kids taught me a lot about independence and self-sufficiency. Even in places like Australia, that seem similar to America in terms of values, I found myself feeling trapped in the past stereotypes of gender.
Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?
The one that comes to mind is from when I visited Australia for the first time. I spent three weeks traveling around the country meeting all my boyfriend’s friends and family.
Although I had already learned a lot of Aussie slang just from communicating with my partner, I could not figure out why the heck so many of his friends kept telling me I had a “sweet ass.” After cute a few of these unexpected comments, I finally asked him about it.
Turns out they were saying “sweet as” (common term similar to “that’s cool”) and not checking out my bum after all.
Related: How to Tell an Australian Abroad
You’ve spent a lot of time in Australia as an expat, what are some of the things which inevitably happen if someone was to do the same and make the move to Aus?
If you don’t drink regularly, you will gain your Freshman 15 all over again. Beer is the beverage of choice for any occasion down under and tends to pack on the kilos if you’re not careful. There’s another… You’ll start thinking in the metric system.
All the sudden 30 degrees will be hot instead of cold, and you’ll love the fact that your body weight stays in the double digits (even after all the added beers).
What else? Of course words like heaps, mate, and cheers will make their way into most of your sentences, and you will eventually give into Vegemite. You can see more in my recent article on Matador Network.
What are some hacks and tips for road tripping through the Australian Outback?
The most important thing is stocking up on snacks, water, and fuel whenever you can. Service stations are SUPER far apart, and if you’re ill prepared, you’ll be stranded in the desert roasting away in the hot, hot sun with no cell service and no other cars in sight.
My road trip around Australia did teach me one handy trick for doing your laundry also. Keep a big container (with a solid lid) of water and detergent in the back of your vehicle and wash your dusty, dirty clothes while you drive. Let the bumpy Outback roads do all the hard work.
After you find a place to roll out your swag for the night, just pull out your clothes, give them a quick rinse, and hang them out to dry. Read more of my tips on Matador!
Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?
Iceland, Alaska, Mozambique, South Africa, and China. Oh and Europe. I still haven’t “done” Europe, and I think my French expat aunt has officially put me in the doghouse for not visiting yet!!
Most practical piece of advice for those planning travel?
Practical you say? The two most practical things that I would advise are: 1) pack less and 2) back up everything. You will never need as much as you think you will, and regardless of how much you pack, you will always end up needing something you forgot.
So, just stuff the basics in a good suitcase and hit the road. Before you do that though, be sure to back up all your shit. I’ve had computers and external hard drives crash, credit cards and bank accounts fail, and identification cards disappear.
To avoid any of these soul-crushing catastrophes, have back ups. Put it in the cloud, disperse your funds, etc. You won’t be sorry, I promise.
Three things you can’t travel without?
My journal, a good book, and my computer (it’s a love/hate relationship…)
Why should people travel?
People should travel because of people. We are all human and understanding what that means in every way possible is an exploration on which everyone should embark.
Travel does not need to be thousands of miles across the globe. We can travel within our own community by creating new relationships with unfamiliar faces in never-before-noticed places.
All of our ancestors were wanderers and explorers of this new world at one point, so go ahead and embrace your heritage!
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