Is this the best job in the world?

Some reality check indeed for all those who aspire for these ‘best job in the world’ roles. Ben sure brought in a dose of realism as he shared how he went through one the first of these roles (here for the article).

We are sure many of you would have experienced this. You read a job ad. The job description is given to you. It reads to be really exciting. You start to dream about the kind of things you will be doing on the job. The interviewer? Well he (or she) did not paint a bleak picture either. And so you sign on the dotted line…


Three months later you are wondering what were you thinking. This job ain’t what it was advertised and sold to you! So you rant. Oh how often has this occurred to you? Perhaps one time too many? Maybe you were lucky enough to find the right fit in the right employer. All the time. Lucky you.

So is being a travel ambassador of sorts really that dream job?

Well according to Ben – we think it hinges between yes and no. Granted that he traveled the length of the Great Barrier reef in almost every imaginable transport device from land to sea to air. But it was certainly no bed of roses either with the hectic schedule visiting 60 islands in 6 months while conducting a bevy of interviews, shows etc. In fact, this might sound like a rather high end corporate role. Except it might not pay as much nor come with some of the benefits one can expect from the behemoth transnationals of the world.

But that would not be the point isn’t it?

We are sure Ben will have the memories of his 6 months etched somewhere in his mind for a long time. Would you apply the next time such an opportunity comes along?

Rise of the AI travel planners

The rise of AI powered travel planning is beginning to accelerate as this article in the NY Times suggest. Soon, searching and creating your travel journeys will be a shopping experience, one where you will be interacting with intelligent “beings” that are not human.Languages.jpg

I am sure you have had experiences in chatting with web bots for customer service inquiries. How frustrating it must be that you cannot be fully understood.

As we highlighted in the piece on translators, semantics and slang is not quite the domain of “intelligent” systems yet. And because people create new acronyms, slangs or evolve the meaning of expressions, it is not easy to keep up. Even for a real person.

We probably all know the difference in meaning of tags such as “fag”, “shag” etc (if you are old enough) just to name a few. Depending on where you use these, the meanings and messages conveyed are significantly differernt. We just don’t see AI adapting to that so soon.

Perhaps we are getting it wrong.

It could be that we (ie real people) are being “shaped” and “herded” into re-orienting our natural language to suit AI. This influence on language should not be under estimated. There has been a call to preserve languges and dialects worldwide as they are disappearing fast (that would be another story) . It would not surprise us that the growing use of AI-based applications will influence the development of a “standardized” set of natural languages.

So it goes beyond just travel.

If history is any guide, it has been the increased cross border interactions of people that led to the need for “common” lingua franca(s). That in itself had seen the demise of numerous local languages. And with globalization of businesses large or small, it has accelerated. But we stand at a crossroad, where the technolgy can move the pendulum either way.

Which way do you prefer?

Funds do run out YOLOing

See how this couple spent the first four months on the road and already they have been looking at work to fund their travel. If you are going to inspire anyone to drop all you have an go travel the world, the idea is still to plan a little ahead.

Not too much, cos that will stifle your creativity and put up so much doubt in your head that you may reconsider, and possibly give up.

Because you know all this is really not new. Many years ago (wow this makes us sound old), I recall friends from university putting on a backpack and setting off on the day after the last exams. Destination? The open road. Some went all over the UK, others took the ferry across the channel and went all over Europe. The adventurous ones ventured into Eastern Europe, which had just pulled down the iron curtain 2-3 years back. And you know, the really nerdy ones actually shared their adventures on bulletin board services (aka BBS, go look it up), the forerunner of social media in our opinion.

Now that really tells you how old we are!

Four+ months, this is how long the couple has been on the road. So far, checked off India and China. They are actually working in China to top up the original £24,000 they’d saved up before stepping off the precipice.The original sum is quite impressive for a budget to start off, but obviously it will deplete rather fast as the activities on the road consume that stash.

Looking at their bucket list, there are a number of pricey items. A stay in MBS and the Grand Prix in Singapore might cost a fair sum. Maybe we should give them some clue on how to enjoy Singapore affordably!

Maldives is never truly cheap and there are no budget airlines or hotels there. And flying to South America for that steak is also going to take some contributing to airline profits.Southeast Asia is possibly more affordable and where they can stretch their pound. But with the sterling recently “pounded” by all that Brexit uncertainty, making additional income along the way could be handy.

The one thing about being on the road forces you to improvise. And one of those would be the choice of what to do in order to earn an income to keep going. They chose to become dive instructors. But only after getting qualififcations when they next get to Bali! I hope they have dived frequently themselves! Frankly, we think it is unethical for the less qualified or experienced folks to teach high risk sports like diving. Between us, we’d rather be taught by more experienced dive masters.

Old interns

You know the old saying about living till you’re aged and still learning. I guess this is about us old dogs learning new tricks.

Today, ageism remains a bane for older workers. When a middle manager gets laid off (not laid), there are frequently few avenues to turn to except back to what they know. That’s why the saying goes about the old dogs right? Perhaps it’s time for us old dogs to shed off the old skin and really learn new tricks. This intern role will probably have been filled by the time you read this, and you probably don’t qualify if you are reading this post anyway.

For older dogs that have experienced the life on the road before, it would be excellent to have a platform to share this. And be able to engage in meaningful employment sharing and advising travel as a second career.

Would there be a way for us to engage with the travel industry to create more of such roles? Perhaps they can lower that age criteria a little to say – 45?

Cool ways to impress

Picture this,

You quit your job. Sold all your belongings (house, car, cat etc). You buy a one way ticket out of your home country and start traveling to see the world. In a period of less than a year you have traveled to many places that your peers will envy, all while setting up a lucrative online buy and resell business. You even had time to set up a marketing company with assistants recruited out of nowhere. Of course there was the boyfriend to help around…

While you travel luxuriously on a six figure income from all of that, you take time out to write an e-book and mentor people who wish to start up their own business. In this period of time you have achieved a lot by trying out many things, even as you soaked in daily activities of traveling exploration. You’re on top of the world. You tell everyone it’s possible! It just take guts to take that step off into the precipice.

Sounds too good to be true? At least this is how I read the story here that does not seem work well for me. In all my life I had never been able to juggle my 24 hours sufficiently well. This gal’s seems to have hit the sweet spot. As an exercise, let’s examine this instagramer’s purported life on the road.

Did virtual assistants took that wefi?

Sometimes the different parts of the story have gel well together. I don’t know about you, but I sure can’t take a ← wefi the way these guys did. It looked more like an staged model shoot than a spontaneous photo op.

I hope they uploaded this to shuttlestock. I mean, is that what they really post on instagram? Ah, perhaps that’s where they made some money. How could I have missed that?

And then there is the explanation on how all of these were funded. I noted that initially our globetrotter paid out of pocket. but then,Fake2.jpgNote the part on initial hard work? 12-hour days? At least that was slipped in there. If anyone thinks that it is all a bed of roses, then this should give a big hint! In life, you most likely cannot get something for nothing. So we all need to produce something to exchange for something. I have been pondering really hard what these things that can be found in ‘foreign countries’ are? I would sure like to source them and resell them for a tidy sum!Fake4Some of the ‘glamorous’ experiences aren’t what it is hyped up to be. They look familiar. And they should be. We’ve done them too and they are not that glamorous. You can buy a 15-minute helicopter ride for $500-700 (depend on location). Been there, done that – on three continents…But what I do want to learn is how to spend the time working in the morning and evening and have the time to go out discovering. Pulling together blogging content is not easy, so it’s a real stretch.Fake5Add in the publishing of books online and running e-courses, how will you do that all in the mornings and evenings only? And running that marketing company as well? Presenting to clients even with virtual assistants can be a whole lot of coordinating…I suspect that there are quite many days in between the glamour and luxury pictures where some hard slogging takes place.

We should encourage sharing not just the glam-side but also the downside. This guy on the other hand, I really respect. Real backpacking dude.

About that quitting your job to travel…

You know some weeks back, I had written a post (read here) about the potential for the twentysomethings of this world to drop everything and go travel for some.

Come enjoy the world the nymphs of YOLO calls, and you’d be better for the experience. And you can get paid for doing all of that! Or, at worst you can find resume bulking work along the way to sail around the globe. Then when you are done, you can always return to start your life of work drudgery, paying off that student debt (if you are in the US) or take on the role of debt slave making mortgage payments (especially if you are in Asia, perhaps Europe as well).

Well, sometimes it is good to see things from another angle. Ben tells it from another perspective. You know, we do love to travel and by now you should know that Mel does not really like to do business travel. Unless, it is mixed with some personal travel (“bleisure”). And it is not like we like to travel all the time. We have other hobbies and interests too! More web reads here.

Travel Bloggers
Perspective, that what it is!

The allure of dropping everything and just go travel is that there you also drop your obligations and commitments. But then you might find it hard to get someone obligated to go along with you too! And that living in uncertainty for weeks and even months on end can be psychologically taxing. You may find that quitting your job to travel becomes a job in itself!

And then there is financial aspect of it all. Sounds sexy to teach English somewhere to help you pay for your journey. Get freelance work here, here and here? It can be a lot harder than you think! And be careful where you think you can work. You might run into trouble with the local tax authorities. In Singapore, there is no short term work visa for foreigners. So unless you want to break the law here…you should want to know the consequences here in the little red dot (no we don’t cane you for this).

I guess it is ok as a sabbatical, when you know how long you wish to take a break from the rat race. But for perpetuity, that could turn out to be a chore or some folks would call it a mistake. Besides, would anyone really plan to be on the road till they are in their 50s or even 60s? This all sounds like the hippy guy with a long lock of hair who never went back to ‘normal life’ after Woodstock (antique reference huh?). It’s more probable that even the hardest core nomad will eventually settle down. Somewhere, especially when you find ‘the one’ or worse, have children (lol).

On the bright side there are success stories, folks who successfully built a life around being on the go for sometime already. A good place to start the research for the aspirants.

Funny thing is that in these few weeks of researching this subject, I came across more blogs and articles that positively promote quitting your current life to go travel. As opposed to those who moderated or refuted. Perhaps I need to start trawling the web in other languages as well.

Maybe it is the dearth of opportunities for social mobility and sense of purpose that we are seeing worldwide.

But here in the eastern hemisphere, things can be really different. First of all, comepetition here is intense. It isn’t easy to convince most employers in this part of the world with your two or three year ’round the world trip’ experience is all that valuable. It’s a pity though, but no amount of huffing and puffiing is going to change these bygone attitudes very soon. Unless you are in some niche area for which such experiences do count.

Journeys need not be long. Ours are not just travel, it’s a series of journeys with a purpose. You don’t need to quit your job for that.