Getting my Travel Mojo Back

You get really complacent by spending all your time in one city.  Living in Portland, I’ve noticed that life is no longer a challenge.  There is hardly any adventure.  I’m not learning or growing as much as I was while traveling.  My passion for life has been dwindling.

Today, I decided that I was going to plan out my next adventure.  My lease here in Portland is up at the end of September, the best time to get out of town before another dark winter.  What better place to go than South America.  I’ve got my eye on Bogota or Buenos Aires.  Or both.  While I’m there, I’d like to visit Ushuaia, Argentina (southernmost city in the world) and take a cruise to Antartica.  That way, all I have to do is hit Africa and I’ll have successfully visited every continent in the world.

Once the summer ends in South America (April-May-ish) I’d like to head up to Sweden to visit my brother who will be studying abroad there.  Then off to Denmark (I passed through DK twice on my last trip, but never stopped to smell the roses) and ideally a tour through some Eastern-European countries over the summer.  I’m thinking: Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Romaina, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc.

Finally, once the summer was coming to an end, I’d make my way through Africa, down to Cape Town, South Africa for the summer.  At this point, I’m forecasting nearly 2 years out, so who knows what will actually end up happening.  If all goes according to this plan, and I head back to the US indefinitely afterwards, I’ll have enjoyed 5 summers in a row.  I better bring my sunscreen.

The whole point of me coming up with this travel plan and posting for all to see is goal setting.  I’d like to have my business and investments almost entirely automated before leaving on this trip.  I’m setting deadlines and planning out how I’m going to have everything structured and worry-free by the time I head south.  Now I’ve got some tangible goal to look forward to.  Some light at the end of the tunnel.  Some reason I’m putting all this hard work in.

 

Due to the recent popularity of some of my Flippa auctions, I’ve had a flood of emails/inquires asking about how I’ve been finding/buying the sites that I have been selling.  I’ve all but been ignoring these requests, seeing them almost as competitors, but realized that I’m NOT buying websites anymore.  I’m free to share the strategy since I won’t be competing in this niche at all anymore.

The strategy is pretty simple: buy aged sites from sellers who built them 10+ years ago and don’t know anything about internet marketing.  However, the specific way I went about doing this was pretty involved.  I’m sure a lot of you guys would want to do this, but doubt that many of you will create a system anywhere similar to mine.

It’s going to take me a few weeks to properly lay out my strategy in a blog post (or series of posts).  It took me nearly a month to develop the system, and I suspect that it could easily be recreated in a week.  Also, don’t worry about other people stealing the idea.  There are MILLIONS of websites out there to go around!

 

2011 In Review – Is the Adventure Over?

Sure as heck feels like it.  Right now, I’m in my 100-year-old house located in a questionable neighborhood here in Reno, NV.  It’s 11:28am, and I’ve only crossed off one item on my daily to-do list.  I’ve been sitting at my desk, staring at my computer screen, paralyzed from over-thinking my daunting list of to-do items that need to happen before my next adventure.

2011 started out insanely fun, spending time in San Francisco, then traveling the world.  I learned so much and met so many interesting people during my 5-month tour through 3 new continents.  Things slowed down in the summer when I returned to the US, moved my business from CA to NV, and decided to settle down in Portland for a bit.  While it was my decision to stay put for a while, I’ve had a tough time adjusting to the lack of adventure.

Some of the things I’ve done in 2011 include:

  • Going to Vegas for my first time (twice)
  • Going to the southern hemisphere for the first time
  • Traveling to 3 new continents (Australia, Asia and Europe)
  • Visiting new 16 countries: Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Czech, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Scotland
  • Flying and jumping out of a plane (not at the same time)
  • Buying my first house

This lack of adventure combined with the work of restructuring of my business has really taken a toll on my motivation.  Logic tells me to just start getting things done.  However, I still seem to be paralyzed in my state of overwhelm.

The things that I need to do include the following: (You should probably skip this part.  I just need to bitch about things for a minute.  Seriously, don’t read it.)

  • Get shoulder surgery to repair my torn labrum.  I haven’t been able to lift for all of 2011.  Recovery will include 2-6 weeks in a sling.  I’ll need to get a different car if I want to drive since my M5 is manual.
  • Finish taxes, both personal and business, and for both my CA and NV corporations.  This action involves doing bullshit paperwork, and then writing a check for hundreds to my CPA and a check for thousands to the IRS and CA FTB.
  • Finish selling all my websites except one.  This involves disclosing all I can about every website I own.  Also involves selling several websites for a loss.  So doing extra work to lose money.  Great.
  • Removing the notice of violation from my house in Reno so that I can rent it for much less than I would have if they didn’t make me convert it back to single family.  Dealing with the building department is like eating glass.
  • Move from my house in Reno into a unit in the apartment that I’m currently in contract with.  Just have to wait for the bank to approve the short sale, anytime between now and whenever they feel like it.
  • Fire the current contractor that is supposed to rebuild my main website.  They are already 5 months behind schedule and I’ve already paid them 60% of the contract value.  They have no idea what they are doing, and I’m going to be out thousands of cash, and 9 months of time.  Doing more work to lose even more money and time.
  • Find a new programmer that will be able to re-program my website correctly.  Figure out how to find a quality worker that knows what they are doing and won’t screw me over.
  • Manage my main site, which already feels like a full-time job.

After venting, I’m immediately starting to feel better.  I can already picture the end results if I tackle these problems correctly:

  • My shoulder feels great and I can start lifting again, not to mention do any other activity without any pain or worry.
  • Taxes are done, I’m completely removed from CA, and my accountant knows how to handle everything.  I have minimal interactions with my accountant, and don’t have to worry about any bullshit IRS crap.
  • All my websites are sold.  I just have one website to think about.
  • My house in Reno is fully repaired and in good standing with the city, rented out and managed by my property manager.  I’ve got all my stuff moved to the only one-bedroom unit in my new 8-plex.  The 8-plex is fully occupied, and I’ve got the property manager doing everything, automatically depositing the rents into a bank account, and the mortgage payments are being automatically deducted.  I sit back and enjoy the cash-flow and the essentially free unit.
  • I’ve found an amazing contractor who I can trust and will handle all the programming/design needs of my site.  I can just email him an idea for a new feature and he understands exactly what I want.  Users who find bugs simply submit a ticket with him and he fixes the bugs.  I don’t even have to know it happened.  He is in charge of making sure the site is live and properly functioning at all times.
  • The new version of my site makes managing everything ten times easier.  I’ve got my content manager more involved, and I don’t have to do any work, other than answer a few emails here and there.

Just writing this helps motivate me by painting a picture of the “promised land” in my mind.  I’ve still got an ocean ahead of me, but constantly visualizing and focusing on my goals will help give me reason to move forward.

Back to the visualization:  Boom.  I’ve just freed myself from all these nagging responsibilities.  I go out and buy the best travel gear (instead of using a free Bodybuilding.com gym bag).  I buy a one-way ticket to Vilnius, Lithuania.  Or Seoul, South Korea.  Or Rosario, Argentina.  Or buy a motorcycle and start riding south.  Or north.  I don’t even bring my laptop.  The adventure resumes.

 

I just watched the movie “The Company Men”.  I immediately recognized the setting: amazing Autumn foliage.  Crisp, cold air.  Beautiful New England houses.  It took place in Boston, starting in the fall and ending in the winter.  As you may recall, I got to Boston in the fall and left in the winter while on my RV trip last year.

For the past year and a half, I have written down what I do every single day.  After the movie ended, I opened up my journal and  read through my entire 8 weeks in Boston.  I was able to relive the whole thing.  I could remember how I felt each day.  Little events which had been long forgotten came back to me, without being specifically written down.

I was able to feel the adventure again.  So much excitement everyday: meeting new people, exploring new places, and having new life experiences.  My whole mindset was completely different than what it has been the last few months.

I’m hoping to get another adventure in the works soon.  I really like the idea of learning Spanish, but practicing it is SO BORING!  I’m considering getting a one-way ticket + 3 month stay to some remote Spanish-speaking city.  Ideally, nobody will speak English, and I’ll be forced to learn.  Furthermore, if I buy the ticket 6 months in advance, I’ll have a heck of a lot more incentive to start studying before the trip!

Any recommendations on fun, remote, Spanish-only-speaking cities?  Central/South America or Spain will do.  I won’t consider any cities in the US like Salinas, East LA, Santa Ana, etc.

 

Officially a Nevadan

That was much easier than I thought.  Go down to the DMV, give them some paperwork, sit back and watch them punch keys on a computer.  Get a new picture taken and a new set of plates handed to you.  Out the door in less than an hour.

Now I’ll have to tackle the boring task of updating my address with any company that has my address.  That includes car insurance, medical insurance, credit cards, bank accounts, cell phone, payroll, etc.  It will be tedious, but eventually everything will be set up in Nevada.

The move is a little more rough than I had imagined.  There were some unexpected permitting issues regarding the house that I bought, so I’m currently working with the city of Reno to get everything cleared up.  Everything will be up to code in no time flat.

Its great knowing I have a permanent address.  A permanent place to call my own.  A place I can store my stuff without worry.  A space I can use however I please.  Being a homeowner is a great feeling.

With so much bouncing around, its a nice feeling knowing I own a place that is staying put.  I can go wherever I want, and this place will be here waiting for me when I come back.

 

After over 2 months of searching for a suitable multi-family property in Nevada, I’m finally in contract!  Escrow should be short since I’ve already had the inspection and am paying cash.  I’ll be moving up there in a matter of weeks, and can finally move on with my life.

Once I close escrow, I’ll be packing my BMW with the few possessions I have and saying goodbye to California for good.  When I arrive, I’ll pick up the keys from the real estate agent and walk into a vacant, 95% finished triplex.  I’ll have all 3 empty units to myself.  During the few weeks it takes me to complete the minor repairs, I’ll have to pick one unit to call my home.

One is a tiny studio, another is a small 1 bedroom, and the last is a considerably bigger 1 bedroom.  Picking the best unit for myself means collecting less rent, so I’ll have to decide if it’s worth it.  Since I’m paying cash, I won’t have a mortgage, so regardless of which unit I occupy, I should still be cash-flow positive on this thing.  It will be a great feeling knowing that you are actually generating a cash flow from your primary residence.

I’m extremely relieved to have this deal underway.  By 2012, I’ll be 100% cut off from California and all California-based businesses.  Insurance, banking, healthcare, accountant, etc – all moving to Nevada businesses.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, one man moving his business out of California isn’t going to make a difference.  However I hope if enough people do this, it sends a message to California that what they are doing isn’t working.

I feel like I’m selling my stock in CA and buying stock in NV.  CA is falling apart, but NV is somewhat stable.  Eventually, I’d like to sell my stock in USA and go somewhere with a better outlook.  That whole discussion can be saved for another post though.

Once I get settled in Reno, I want to start traveling again.  I’d really love to do a lot of snowboarding…

 

With minutes to go in the Rialta eBay auction, the bid was still $12,000 away from my break-even point.  I’m nervously hitting refresh, getting more and more worried that the final bid won’t be anywhere near what I wanted.

Finally I see a little activity before a very pathetic ending.  I’m out nearly $10k  when all is said and done, not including the countless hours I put into installing all the mods.  I can’t be upset because this is what the market determined the value at.

The experiences I had while traveling the country in this rig were priceless.  It was a huge learning and growing experience, and I have absolutely no regrets that I went through with it.

Restructuring my life

I’ve decided to set up my home-base in Reno, NV.  I’m buying a 4-plex and calling one of the units my home.  I’m excited to be able to answer the question of “where do you live” in one or two words.

I’m still in the process of downsizing my entire portfolio of websites to just one.  Business will be much simpler with just one site to focus on.

I’ve been closing credit cards/bank/savings/investment accounts that I haven’t been actively using.  Trying to again minimize things I have to think about.

I have already set up a new Nevada corporation, and I’m in the process of moving everything under that one: bank accounts, payroll, addresses, accountants, etc.  I’ll be entirely out of California by the end of the year and will have dissolved the CA incorporation I currently own.

Different type of travel

I’d like to be spending more than a month at each location.  I’m thinking 3-6 months at each city, and renting a room with locals rather than staying at hostels or in an RV.

US Destinations I’d like to live in:

  • Denver, CO
  • Austin, TX
  • Portland, OR (again)
  • Somewhere in the south?

Foreign destinations:

  • Summer in Stockholm
  • Long trip through Eastern Europe/Russia
  • Summer in New Zealand
  • Summer in Argentina/Moto tour through South America
 

Rialta Posted on eBay for One Dollar

I had a bunch of emails, calls and appointments to show the RV, but only one person actually showed up.  I forgot how frustrating it can be to try and sell something on Craiglist.

I went ahead and posted the Rialta on eBay with a starting bid of $1.  This will guarantee that the thing sells and provide some form of accountability for whoever places the high bid.

Here is the link to the eBay auction if you are interested in placing a bid:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220818470139

 

Time keeps on slipping…

It has been 8 days since I came back to the states, but feels like I arrived just yesterday.  This is because my life has become extremely routine; wake, eat, work, errands, eat, sleep.  Each day is no longer a new adventure.

Furthermore, it is difficult to differentiate one day in my memory from another.  What did I do Tuesday?  Worked.  Ate.  Slept.  What about last Thursday?  Worked.  Ate.  Slept.  The days seem to just run together and become forgotten in my mind.

The positives of a routine

It is a relief to be back on a routine after bumming around for 5 months.  I’ve become extremely productive, and have mostly caught up on all the work I’ve been putting off for so long.  It is also easier to incorporate a healthy diet and exercise regimen into your daily routine.

What next?

I’m currently looking for a 4-plex in Reno so I can establish my business and residence in the great state of Nevada.  Once I get that whole deal set up (~4 months) I’ll be able to hit the road again as long as I’m not spending lots of time in California.

Changing the way I travel.

While the last 5 months was tons of fun, I’d like to slow down and spend 3-6 months in each place.  3 months is enough time to get a feel for the town, make new friends, stay productive, but also short enough to always keep life exciting.

Possible domestic destinations in the coming year include Portland (again?), Colorado, Austin, and New York.  International destinations include Stockholm, Russia?, Spain/Argentina?, South America, New Zealand, Singapore?

What did I actually miss about the US?

Last week, I posted about stuff I missed in the US.  I’ll go over what I think about it after being back for a week:

Pandora: Ah yes!! I missed you!

Reliable and Unlimited Internet: I’m still grateful every moment I use the internet.

PST: I still think about what time it is for anyone that I call.

English: How convenient everything is now!  It only took a day to get re-adjusted to this.

Not Being a Foreigner/Familiarity: Like I said above, it is more convenient, but life is no longer an adventure when everything is so familiar.

Laws/Traffic: Its nice to know them all, but we still have some silly ones.

In n Out: I’ve already been twice.  Just as good as when I left.

Smoke-Free Environments: Definitely noticeable.  Way better.

USD: It only took a day to get re-adjusted.  I’ve completely forgot about currency exchange rates and all that jazz.

Condiments: Another thing that immediately goes unnoticed again.

 

Selling the Rialta!

The Rialta spent the last 5 months in storage while I was busy visiting Australia, Asia and Europe.  I came back and really didn’t have much interest in doing more trips in her.  I’d like to spend a lot more time out of the country, and I can’t really take the Rialta along with me.

I made the decision to sell before I got back to the states.  I pulled it out of storage the day after I returned, got it smogged the next day, cleaned it up and finally have it listed for sale.  I’m going to be really sad to see it go, however happy knowing that I won’t have to worry about it anymore.

I figure that if I ever want to do another RV trip in the future, I can always buy another RV and do it again.  Modding it out is half the fun!

Here is the official CL ad: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/rvs/2496392261.html