When it comes to selecting a destination for where we are going to be traveling, it is usually a combination of elements that revolve around the cost, what we can see what we are on-location, the cultural components, time of the year, and what we are going to get out of it personally and financially for business. As full-time travel bloggers, and more importantly, business owners, we rely heavily on the analytic side of things as opposed to the emotional.
I’m an atheist. I’m also a regular drinker; a borderline alcoholic. I’m not ashamed to admit this fact. I also like to smoke weed. As a result, you will never see me staying in a country where I am not allowed to drink alcohol, where weed is a punishable/jailable offence, and where I have to worry about my anti-religious views.
As far as visits go, business is business and money is money, but long-term stays (immersion travel, our area) = out of the question if we can’t live the lifestyle we want or choose to have.
Meanwhile, Cristina is religious. But I would never subject her to a country where she would have to dress a certain way, say certain things in a certain way, or act a certain way, all for fear of being stoned, raped, or in some other way violated for her way of life decisions.
Right off the bat, this eliminates quite a few destinations on the planet off of our list of places we might choose to go. Some people might say that we are limiting ourselves by not visiting these places; long-term readers know that I am one of the foremost proponents of equality. One planet, one people. That being said, I don’t believe I should have to censor myself because of someone else’s belief system. Especially if that belief system revolves around physically harming or killing a person for not adhering to the belief.
But it’s not just about belief systems. Another major component in choosing where to go is whether or not the destination in question has the infrastructure needed to support our online enterprises. While Cristina and myself run a travel blog, it is not just the blog: I’m also a social media marketer and manager for a variety of clients, and I can’t just up and go somewhere where there isn’t an Internet connection.
So another determining factor in choosing the best destination is whether or not they have the Internet infrastructure to support remote working. 3G and 4G networks are also important, because I need to know that there is a backup solution in case the Internet goes down because of weather or repairs.
Cost is also another component. One of my trademarks here at the blog has been keeping our cost of living down around US$800 per month for the past few years that she and I have been living together; before she came along I was doing it for around $600 a month. I’ve got a blog post on How Living Abroad Made Me More Frugal (or being the cheap bastard my friends love to tease), and of course our best-selling flagship product The Expat Guidebook details the entire journey from January of 2008 until now.
And yet we aren’t living the budget backpacker lifestyle. We very much live a middle-class existence, we simply choose to be frugal and focus on long-term accommodations as opposed to hotels or hostels. We prefer to rent apartments, but we also aren’t afraid to spring for all-inclusive from time to time. We also follow the immersion travel path. Otherwise known as slow travel, we prefer to go to destinations where we can stay for several months at a minimum.
This is why you don’t see us hopping around from place to place every single month. Instead, we pick a place we want to go based upon the surrounding sights and sounds and culture that we want to experience for the next six months or so. Then we go there, negotiate a better rental price than anyone else, and we spend the next six months or so immersing ourselves in that environment and exploring everything is there is to explore and the surrounding areas.
Another major factor for us is whether or not we can make business connections while we are on location. It is almost impossible to build up working relationships of people if you are only going to be there for a couple of days or even a couple of weeks. If you are consistently coming back to the same place over and over, you have a better chance of making a connection with the owner of a local business, who you can then go on to become business partners with.
Something else I tend to do while I am on the road is host social media seminars as well as teach Internet marketing classes. This only happens if I am in the destination for a prolonged period of time and have the opportunity to build up these working relationships with owners of hotels and co-working spaces that have the venues where I can host these events, and who are willing to do so in exchange for a cut of the profits.
Time of year and weather are also important. Cris doesn’t like the cold, and I don’t like the heat. I don’t mind a beach destination because I can jump in the water to cool myself off, but living out in the middle of the jungle just doesn’t work for me. It’s always hot, it’s always humid, it’s always sticky, and it just makes me grumpy to always be uncomfortable. I don’t have a problem doing adventure tours in the jungle; we love them, and we run our own. But these are limited-time features, and that’s enough for me.
Meanwhile, as much as I would love to live in the mountains, I never want to see snow ever again, and Cris doesn’t like it either, so we choose not to go to places where it is snowy and freezing cold. Again, visiting a snowy destination in the mountains is completely different from living there. Vacation is one thing; using it as a base of operations is quite another entirely.
Thankfully we still have our health and we are still fairly young, so we haven’t yet started worry about whether or not the destinations we visit have specific medical facilities. That being said, the vast majority of cities in the world are completely modern and have all of the medical facilities that you would ever need if an emergency were to arise. This is another benefit of living out of cities as opposed to backpacking in the middle of nowhere.
At the end of the day, neither one of us are backpacker budget travelers. We don’t do chicken buses, we don’t do hostels, and neither one of us has a desire to live on street food. We appreciate fine wine, cold beer, gourmet cuisine, and an upper middle-class lifestyle. We need hot water, fast Internet, modern infrastructure, and equal rights.
We understand that this limits our experiences and we will never see certain parts of the world. We’re okay with that. We much prefer living life on our own terms as opposed to someone else’s, and being able to dictate our own lifestyle is exactly why we do what we do with the blog, and travel the way that we do.