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March 10th, 2007

Visa Requirements and Embassies

Virtually all countries require work permits or visas before you can work there legally. Most will only allow foreign workers to fill positions if there are no locals who are qualified. Some countries even require an employer to release wanted ads in newspapers for a particular position for a specified time period. If no qualified local responds to the ad, then a foreigner can be hired for the position.

Different countries have a different set of requirements and standards for those who wish to obtain work permits. One of the best ways to find out how you can obtain a working visa is to ask expats or prospective employers.

The following site will link you to some pages that will provide some information on travel requirements and obtaining work permits:

Foreign Consular Offices and Embassies in the U.S.
This is a complete listing of foreign consulates and embassies throughout the United States. It is useful and usually necessary to contact them to inquire about visa requirements before planning any overseas trip.

Remember that trying to find an overseas job is much like looking for any other job. You must be able to sell yourself. A first impression, or good packaging, will do you wonders, but it is far more important to have quality within that package than anything else.

Finding decent-paying computer work overseas, especially after arrival, is feasible but difficult. I recommend telecommuting with a company in your home country. It is easier to find work, the pay is better, and you can take advantage of good dollar exchange rates and low costs of living.

Posted by Wade as Jobs, Plan at 7:58 AM UTC

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Consultant Directories

The following are directories of consultants on the Internet.  These can also be useful for marketing your own consulting services:

Guru.com
This directory of “gurus” has lists of gigs and gurus.  Many job postings specify whether the work is to be done on-site or off-site.

Consultant Directory
This is an extensive directory of consultants listed by category with keyword search functions.  There is no listing of job postings.

Freelancers Network
Another large database, this consultant directory also has listings of thousands of consultants worldwide along with extensive search capability.  You can also search and post specific projects.

Posted by Wade as Jobs, Money, Tools at 7:54 AM UTC

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Working in a Road Office

If you think there are problems telecommuting from home — ­the distractions, setting up a home office, communicating with coworkers — consider the potential hang-ups when you’re telecommuting from Bolivia to Buffalo.  Most telecommuters work from home one or two days a week.  You’re gone for weeks, months or even forever.  Nomadic telecommuters do not have a cozy home office to work from.  Their office changes from hotel to hotel every day.  You can dispel any thoughts of amenities such as ergonomic chairs and office romance.  I sometimes stick a pillow behind my lower back when using straight-back chairs without a cushion.

Obviously, an office in most affordable hotels, recreational vehicles or campsites is not for people who require a strictly ergonomic work environment.  I’ve typed on my laptop computer several hours a day for years on plain old tables without any physical problems.  Ergonomic experts claim the arm should be at a 90 degree angle when typing at a keyboard.  You might be able to improvise by resting your arms on a rolled-up towel in front of your laptop while typing or sitting on pillows to elevate you closer to the keyboard.  Few less than world class hotels in developing countries cater to business customers with amenities like data lines and office chairs, and they are usually too expensive for a nomad.

Hotel room selection is an important decision.  You need at least a chair with a back and a table you can work at.  A telephone may or may not be essential, depending on how often you have to contact your clients.  Some cheap hotels have in-room Internet but no phone, and that is much preferable to a phone but no Internet.  Try to get a place with in-room Internet, either cable or wi-fi.  If I can’t get that, I often choose a hotel because of its proximity to an Internet café.  Another option is to use space in the hotel office for a few hours day (at an extra fee, of course).  If you’re going to stay in a place for longer, rent a place where you can get broadband.

Posted by Wade as Jobs, Places, Plan at 7:51 AM UTC

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Smart Phones

You just might want to leave that laptop at home.

Multifunction PDA/cell phone hybrids include the Nokia Communicator, the Blackberry and the Palm Treo.  This is a good idea for many, including those who want to reduce the number of gadgets to carry around.  I carry both because I need the larger display of a dedicated PDA for images and as an ebook reader.

They do much more than a cell phone. These all-in-one performers allow you to send and receive calls, faxes, and e-mail around the world.  A built in browser lets you surf the web on the fly.  The personal organizer helps you keep track of meetings and contacts.  These phones typically offer hands-free function with features that also include SMS, contacts, notes, calendar, clock, world time and an alarm clock.

Posted by Wade as Tools at 7:48 AM UTC

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Staying in Touch

If you want to continue to communicate with home and get mail there are many mail forwarding services that cater to nomads.  They will provide you with a permanent address, then hold your mail until they from you with instructions on where and how to send it.  Even local mail box rental services will take care of this for you.  I suggest using a local service if you will be spending several months at one location.  For real nomads try one of the international mail-forwarding specialists listed below.  When choosing a mail forwarder, make sure you understand their rates and that they don’t charge two or three times what UPS or the U.S. Postal Service charges for shipping your mail.

Some forwarders offer a “toss the junk mail” to save you money on shipping.  Some even set up an Internet account where you can see a list of your mail.  Then you can decide what to throw away or forward to you in Iceland.  Also, make sure you’re going to be at the place when you expect your mail to arrive.  When moving around frequently you may need to use an express method while overseas.  The cheapest overseas express method from the States is Global Priority shipping from the U.S. Postal Service.

Posted by Wade as Plan at 7:46 AM UTC

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February 26th, 2007

Crocs and Cattle Drives in Australia

From croc-filled rain forests to desert cattle drives, from beaches with the world’s best surfing, to the urban delights of Sydney’s world-famous opera house, it’s hard to imagine a more diverse and romantic destination.

In my travels throughout Asia I have met many Australians.  In fact, most of my friends – or mates, as they say — are Aussies.  I enjoy their easy-going, fun-loving attitude more than the occasional arrogance you might encounter from a Brit, Canuck or Yank.  If you happen to visit Australia‘s wild west, where Perth is the largest city, you may have trouble understanding them.  I hung around with a couple Aussie miners from near Perth while holidaying in the Philippines.  They were great drinking buddies, despite my not being able to understand half of what they said. 

As for the women, I can’t speak much from personal experience.  Sailors I have spoken with raved about Perth as a favorite port of call.  They particularly enjoyed being greeted by the hundreds of young Aussie women waiting for them at the dock.

Romantic opportunities abound.  The urban centers of Sydney and Melbourne offer all the sophisticated city delights, from opera to casinos, one could ask.  Red meat lovers will find the quality of beef and lamb every bit as good as the American versions.  While Aussies may scoff at popular American beers such as Budweiser and Miller as “beer flavored water,” their wines are world class award winners.

If the seaside is your idea of romance, Australia is a vast dream.  It boasts more beaches than any other nation, including the world famous Great Barrier Reef.  Sample the local vintage in the vineyards of the New South Wales wine country.  Nature lovers may find relaxing at a spa in a rainforest more their style.  Escape the mainland, if you must, with a visit to the World Heritage site, Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, and enjoy the many lakes and rainforest.

A stay in this diverse island nation with your Aussie lover will be an event you will never forget.

Posted by Wade as Places, Romance at 7:48 AM UTC

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February 21st, 2007

How to Get Free Accommodation (and Make New Friends)

Web sites are appearing that can save you the cost of a hotel room. They match people who are willing to offer a free bed, couch or floor to total strangers. Vagabonds seeking a free place to stay register at sites like CouchSurfing.com and GlobalFreeloaders.com. Believe it or not, there are thousands of people around the world willing to let you sack out on their floor. Lucky folks might even end up in a bed. For example, I went to CouchSurfing.com and found 18 people in my current town, Chiang Mai, Thailand, willing to put up with you. GlobalFreeloaders.com lists over 14,000 members in the United States. I’m thinking about offering my extra bedroom.

Posted by Wade as Lifestyle, Places at 3:52 AM UTC

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February 20th, 2007

Become a Computer Nomad without a Computer

Your tool for this venture into a nomadic lifestyle is simple: a laptop computer.  Don’t think you need to lug around more than a five pound computer.  Actually, you can get by without a computer.  There are thousands of cybercafes around the world, from tiny provincial capitals to busy cities.  The famous backpacker hangout in Bangkok, Khao San Road, has numerous cybercafes with countless cheap and plentiful computers with Internet connections.  I’ve used cybercafes worldwide from Phnom Penh to Rio de Janeiro with good results.  A portable printer is not necessary since you’ll be sending your work over the Internet.  Many third-world countries have poor telephone systems, but cell phones are ubiquitous even in poor, remote parts of the world.

Posted by Wade as Jobs, Tools at 5:16 AM UTC

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Traveling Alone Means Fun and Freedom

If you haven’t traveled overseas before, it can seem like landing on a different planet. If you’re traveling to look for a prospective lover, you’re in for a great time. Don’t hesitate to travel alone. You don’t have to be alone for long. Don’t feel you have to make some contacts before you travel.

Expect unusual reactions when people find out you are planning a trip to travel alone overseas. I used to read a book on Thailand while on the bus to work. I got some surprising comments. One woman on the bus said her male friend was looking for an Asian wife because he was fed up with American women. A man warned me that communist guerillas were planning an imminent invasion (that was early 1984, and we’re still waiting). Another woman groaned in disbelief when she found out I was going to Asia, of all places, alone, for a vacation!

Planning Your Trip

This book is designed to supplement, not compete with, information available in commercial travel guides. There are many excellent travel guides available, and I will make some recommendations at the end of this chapter. I recommend you read up on the country you plan to visit before you leave. If nothing else, a good travel book tells you what to expect. That and good planning can save you time and money and enhance the enjoyment of your trip. Do your research before you leave rather than waste precious time while overseas. The more you know about the culture and country you visit, the more you’ll enjoy your trip.

Traveling alone can sound intimidating to rookie travelers, even if you have someone special waiting for you at the airport. Some people — undoubtedly those who don’t enjoy life to the fullest — may tell you that it’s unsafe, that all kinds of potential mishaps await people who travel overseas alone. They’ll talk about terrorists, communists, wars, thieves, malaria, even AIDS — anything to keep you from going abroad and having the time of your life. They haven’t got the guts to go themselves and are jealous.

Several people may ask you why you traveled alone overseas, without any friends or contacts to meet when you arrive. It comes down to two fears: Weren’t you lonely? Weren’t you afraid? You need not be either. It is safer walking down the streets of Bangkok than in most American cities. As for loneliness, it is ironic that people should be concerned about that, of all things. One reason you’re going to travel to exotic places is to get rid of loneliness. Most people, once they know what they’re doing, will feel less lonely during their travels than they ever have.

Making Friends after Arrival

Should you decide to travel overseas without previous contacts, you will meet interesting people after arriving. The easiest way is to just head for the singles bars. Don’t overlook the opportunity to meet and make friends during your travels. It can actually be easier to make interesting friends overseas than it is in your home country. There are many English-speakers living and traveling in popular travel destinations. The best places to meet them are in the bars and restaurants frequented by international travelers and businessmen.

People in many parts of the world are open, friendly and interested in getting to know you. Chances are they will take you to meet their families, who will be extremely hospitable. They will be eager to help make your trip to their country as enjoyable as possible.

You will find many places to meet people: thriving open markets, universities, stores and discos. Just hanging out in one of these places gives you an excellent chance of meeting a friendly and nice-looking local eager to practice their English on a native speaker. This is especially true of university areas, where you are most likely to meet a young, English-speaking student for companionship. Most people in the tourist service business also speak good English.

Posted by Wade as Lifestyle, Romance at 5:14 AM UTC

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February 17th, 2007

Become a Permanent Traveler

Imagine the thrill of becoming a permanent traveler, without ties to a home, a nation or a routine.  Often referred to as a “PT” – a permanent tourists, previous taxpayer, perfectly together – or whatever.  A PT arranges her paperwork and lifestyle so that she resides either nowhere or in a country deemed advantageous to her tax situation or style of vagabonding.  If you are one of those freedom-loving individuals who loathe ever-sprawling big government, the constant infringement on personal life, feel current levels of taxation to be repressive, then maybe the life of a permanent traveler is for you.

Hopefully you will learn how to use a computer and the Internet to achieve the ultimate personal freedom.

What is the best time in the world to travel?  Many will advise you that the only time to go is when you are young, typically right out of college.  The truth is you can go anywhere, anytime, even with a minimum of cash.  You can take a sabbatical from that career now.  Rent that house and crank up that computer, then hit the road.  Don’t wait for retirement.  Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old, too successful or have too many kids.  Don’t be afraid to tell the boss you want to telecommute part-time from a sleazy oil boom town in Ecuador for the next year or two.

Still not convinced?  Try it out with a semi-nomadic lifestyle.  If you’re a schoolteacher, spend the summer on the road and see if you can finance your travels with your computer.  A professional?  Use the techniques described later in this book to persuade your employer to take an extended sabbatical while you telecommute part time from Estonia or Morocco.

Posted by Wade as Plan at 3:33 AM UTC

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