• What?

    I've decided to leave the United States indefinitely. Although I plan to visit, I have no idea when (or if) I'll be returning to live. I'm open to the idea of returning in a few years. I'm also open to the idea that I'll discover another place that I would like to settle.

    Why?

    I think that we have a lot to learn from other people, places and cultures, and I would like to spend a substantial amount of time living on each continent (except Antartica -- visiting will be sufficient). I plan to travel in a slow, immersive way to truly get a feel for the way of life in various locations.

     

    Although I remain passionate about consulting, I'm reducing my working hours to ~10-20 hours a week to free up my time for exploration, new language acquisition, business development, international development work, and one of my millions of passion projects.

    When?

    I left to head to Bali, Indonesia in early February.

    How in the world can you afford this?

    For the details and steps, join my free mini-course. But I will say now that this is way more attainable than you think, especially if you're flexible, and you have the advantage of starting early.

     

    1.) Let's walk through a hypothetical scenario: if at the age of 20 years old, you decide to invest $50,000 into index funds (nothing fancy!), and you decide after that, to contribute nothing else, ever again, not even a $1, but you hold onto to those funds, with an aggressive asset allocation, you will have about $5.4 million dollars at the age of 65. If you do this at 25, you will have $3.2 million dollars at 65. If you do this at 30, you will have about $1.9 million dollars at 65. If you do this at 35, you'll have $1.1 million dollars at 65. If you do this at 40, you'll have $670k at 65. Compound interest and ETF's are a beautiful, beautiful thing.

     

    2.) Travel as a full-time lifestyle is not expensive as you think. It's expensive when we manage it while also maintaining our daily life: we are responsible for all of the usual bills, AND the travel costs on top of it. We pay a premium on flights because we're typically doing it on weekends and holidays when prices peak. When we have the flexibility to look at Google Flights and select flight based on cheapest price rather than date, when we can take advantage of weekly or monthly discounts on hotels / apartments, and we eat, explore and get to know the area like the locals, we spend much, much less than we would at a week in a resort, not to mention we can have a richer and more authentic experience. Check out my recent trip to Mexico for an example. In fact, many travel bloggers estimate that their round-the-world travel costs significantly less than their life in their home base -- some have estimated the overall cost to be closer to $20,000-$30,000/year. This is especially true if you concentrate in low-cost areas, such as Southeast Asia, where you can live abundantly for $1,000/month, including serviced apartments and weekly massages. I'll be publishing "Budget Guides" that detail cost of living in different areas to prove this point. In summary, travel as a lifestyle is much, much cheaper than typical vacation travel: you don't have an itinerary and a tour to pay for every day, you probably don't eat every meal out, etc.

     

    Once the decision is made, the money is actually the easiest part to figure out. If you don't believe me, shoot me an email, and I guarantee that I can customize something for your specific situation. It's my superpower. The hard part is saying goodbye to a thriving career, 99% of my material things, my wonderful friends and family, and venturing out into the unknown. It's exciting, yes, but it can also be a challenge to your identity, especially if you're someone who derives a lot of your identity and esteem from accomplishments and career prestige.

    If the money part is so simple, why work at all then?

    1.) I enjoy my work! I just don't enjoy doing it 50+ hours, five days a week and in a set time and place. :-)

    2.) I don't touch my investments or savings and unlike the above scenario, I intend to keep investing on a monthly basis (say yes to dollar-cost averaging).

    3.) Multiple streams of income >

    4.) I want to be over-prepared to face any major future expenses, such as having an elaborate, over-the-top wedding, and investing heavily into my kid's education and enrichment.

    5.) Interestingly enough, as soon as I put my intentions into the universe, I was presented with an offer that I couldn't refuse - ~20 hours a week, 100% employer-paid apartment (nice place by the way - my floors are heated), sponsored visa, generous vacation allowance, fantastic health insurance, and 5% pension that's refunded to me when I leave, on top of a salary.

    Where are you going?

    Another complex question: everywhere. I may experience a new country every month. I'm planning to set-up a home base per continent for ease of movement without having to go 100% nomadic (which is just a logistical pain). Specifically, I spent the month of February in (Doha) Qatar, (Chiang Mai & Bangkok) Thailand, (Denpasar, Bali) Indonesia, and (Kuala Lumpur) Malaysia. My current base is Gwangju, South Korea, which allows me to visit many, many countries in Asia for very little money (I'm serious -- roundtrip flights to China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, etc. are under $200 and are only a couple of hours). I will be here until at least March 2019. Feel free to scroll to the bottom to see my (always-changing) destination map and planning.

    With who?

    Me, myself and I.

    What about being lonely? Aren't you afraid of the danger?

    On Loneliness: I can count on one hand how many times I've felt lonely (literally - I can recall the two separate instances clear as day). I'm deeply, deeply comfortable in my own solitude. When I initially planned this venture a couple of years ago, I intended to have a partner. But since then, I've realized that you can't wait on other people to get where you're going. You need to make your own moves, and when you do, you'll organically meet people who are making the same moves -- no compromising needed. I also think that it's critical to spend time (yes, years) as a single woman to understand who you are without the influence of a significant other, learn how to deeply fall in love with yourself, and focus on your own accomplishments and pursuits. Then and only then should you consider accepting a suitor, and he should be an asset to your already fabulously-designed life. You'll have loved yourself so intensely that you won't be confused at what love looks like when it comes knocking again (i.e. it's not jealousy, betrayal, neglect, etc).

     

    On Danger: No. I hate to break it to you, but, life in the United States as a single black woman is hardly a utopia. Many of the dangers that are present in other countries also exist here (such as street harassment, etc.) and to be frank, many countries have substantially less violent crime (such as gun violence) than the United States. Let's not even discuss the political climate. I embrace the idea of becoming an expat.

    What is your business? What are these so-called passion projects?

    A short list of things I'm working on:

    • Happy, Healthy and Almost Wealthy: a course-based resource for millennial women who want to practice lifestyle design and build wealth
    • smartwork.greatwork: part consulting firm, part research lab for organizations who want to drive their businesses to a state of flourishing my focusing on employee happiness, health, engagement and satisfaction
    • I'm learning Korean (+ other languages)
    • I've been expanding my data science toolkit / skillset 
    • I'm working on Master's degrees 
    • My travel project: blogging and vlogging my experiences as a black female international solo traveler (and also producing budget / cost of living guides, like the one I just published for Mexico
    • Learning photography and video editing for the above project :-)
    • Working through my ever-growing reading list 
     
    Upcoming projects:
    • Learning how to salsa dance expertly
    • Getting my diving certification and diving in the world's best destinations
    • Gaining fluency in at least a dozen languages
    • Revisiting ballet and barre 
    • Revisiting yoga
    Plus a million other things that'll come to me. Learning and growth opportunities remain abundant. I'm sure you can imagine that having this many interests, working 50+ hour weeks, sleeping 7-8 hours a night and trying to maintain any semblance of a social life can be challenging.

    So what places are you planning to visit?

    Phew. No place is off-limits. This is just my foundational list but...

     

    2018:

    • Thailand
    • Indonesia 
    • South Korea 
    • China 
    • Japan
    • Taiwan
    • Hong Kong
    • Cambodia
    • Philippines
    • Vietnam
    • Malaysia 

    2019 (This is shorter because I'm assuming I'll want to revisit places I went in 2018 like China, which is massive, Japan, Thailand and Bali):

    • Russia
    • Singapore
    • India
    • Laos
    • Nepal

    2020:

    • Australia
    • United Arab Emirates
    • Greece
    • France
    • Italy
    • England
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Belgium
    • Spain
    • Portugal
    • Bulgaria
    • Germany
    • Croatia

    2021:

    • Cuba
    • Costa Rica
    • Colombia
    • Brazil
    • Argentina
    • Dominican Republic
    • Jamaica
    • Belize
    • Turks and Caicos
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • Egypt
    • Nigeria
    • Morocco
    • Ghana
    • South Africa
    • Ethiopia
    • Mauritania

    ....and so, so many more.

    Can I visit?

    Yes! I would love to host friends and family! Don't hesitate to reach out if you're interested -- I'm 100% serious. My Instagram is going to pin my location so you'll always know where in the world I am.

    How can we keep in touch?

    All the same ways! My phone number is not changing nor is my email address. Between Skype and FaceTime, I won't miss a beat. If you're interested in my travels, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram: @theElleMason

     

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