Most of us have, at some point, considered what we would do if we could travel back in time. Maybe we would give ourselves some hot investment advice and become millionaires, or change history for the better, or witness our favorite historical event.

One year ago, I left San Francisco, sold and gave away everything I owned, and moved into a 40 liter backpack. I traveled to 45 cities in 20 countries, 3 Disneylands, and 1 bunny island. I also worked 50 hours a week building and launching a startup. And my total costs were less than just the rent in San Francisco.

I spent Winter in Australia’s Summer.

Traveling is not the same as vacation

There’s a growing community of “digital nomads” who live a location independent lifestyle. We’re software developers, designers, writers, journalists, engineers, and all sorts of people who share a passion for the work we do and experiencing the world.

I propose that a nomadic lifestyle is a productive way to build a real company. I’m working hard on bootstrapping an ambitious startup, Moo.do. I’m traveling because it’s cheaper, more productive, and more inspiring than sitting in one place. Traveling is the most responsible choice for the sake of my company, my finances, and my personal growth.

I became a nomad by accident

Three years ago I was preparing to leave my job at Microsoft to move to San Francisco to start a startup. My friend asked me “but why do you need to be in San Francisco when you can work on a computer from anywhere?” His question made a lot of sense. As I thought about it more, I began to question my assumptions about a “normal life” which don’t make sense in our modern world.

I reject the idea of a 9–5 job. I want to explore the world while the sun is out instead of wasting the daylight hours working inside and dreaming of my next vacation.

I spent 6 months traveling around Australia, Asia, and Europe

But it didn’t work out so well.

After traveling for 6 months, I gave up and still moved to San Francisco. Traveling was fun, but I had a great idea and I needed to really focus and get real work done. What better place to build my startup than Silicon Valley?

But I soon found myself becoming too comfortable and slowing down, getting easily bored and distracted, and watching a lot of TV. I sat at my computer for 12 hours a day but didn’t feel like I was productive.

H1: Traveling is cheaper than staying at home

This is my average total monthly spending from one year living in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, one year living in San Francisco’s Upper Haight, one year traveling to 20 countries, and one month at a hotel in Bali. It is much cheaper for me to travel. Since the majority of my costs are from trains and flights, it’s significantly cheaper if I stay in one place.

H2: Traveling makes me more productive

This is my average total monthly spending from one year living in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, one year living in San Francisco’s Upper Haight, one year traveling to 20 countries, and one month at a hotel in Bali. It is much cheaper for me to travel. Since the majority of my costs are from trains and flights, it’s significantly cheaper if I stay in one place.

H3: 9–5 is not optimal

This is my average total monthly spending from one year living in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, one year living in San Francisco’s Upper Haight, one year traveling to 20 countries, and one month at a hotel in Bali. It is much cheaper for me to travel. Since the majority of my costs are from trains and flights, it’s significantly cheaper if I stay in one place.

H4: Traveling expands my cultural bubble

This is my average total monthly spending from one year living in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, one year living in San Francisco’s Upper Haight, one year traveling to 20 countries, and one month at a hotel in Bali. It is much cheaper for me to travel. Since the majority of my costs are from trains and flights, it’s significantly cheaper if I stay in one place.

H5: Traveling is not the same as vacation

This is my average total monthly spending from one year living in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, one year living in San Francisco’s Upper Haight, one year traveling to 20 countries, and one month at a hotel in Bali. It is much cheaper for me to travel. Since the majority of my costs are from trains and flights, it’s significantly cheaper if I stay in one place.

H6: I became a nomad by accident

This is my average total monthly spending from one year living in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, one year living in San Francisco’s Upper Haight, one year traveling to 20 countries, and one month at a hotel in Bali. It is much cheaper for me to travel. Since the majority of my costs are from trains and flights, it’s significantly cheaper if I stay in one place.

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I went to Tokyo Disney, Euro Disney, and Hong Kong Disney this year

Japanese street fashion has made the international news quite a bit this year, but not always for good reasons. From CNN and I-D Magazine to a much shared Quartz article to various unsourced blog posts, the English-speaking internet has been gleeful in declaring Harajuku “dead”. It’s a cliche at this point to dismiss stories as “Fake News”, but modern media feeds on shocking and upsetting headlines to get more clicks. “Harajuku is Dead!” sells far better than the more accurate “Harajuku is Changing”.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

– Maya Angelou

Image with caption.

I wasted a lot of time when I worked in an office because of commuting and the massive distraction that is the internet. Now I spread my work throughout the day and take big breaks for exploring. After working for a few hours, I reach a milestone and explore the city until I want to get back to work. Or if I hit a problem I can’t figure out, I walk it off until I’ve solved it. Cycling between fun and work makes my days less exhausting and makes me less prone to burnout.Peco has proven she’s uniquely tuned into the trends that matter most to Harajuku’s youngest generation of girls. If she says that the swinging 60s have arrived, we aren’t going to argue!

For bonus 1960s-inspired Japanese fashion, check these two groovy boutiques:

I went to Tokyo Disney, Euro Disney, and Hong Kong Disney this year

Traveling makes me more productive

When I first started traveling, I was a great tourist, taking pictures of everything and doing all the activities listed in tour guides. After a couple of exhausting weeks it occurred to me that I’m not on vacation. This is my life now. I slowed down and realized that if I have a month to explore a new city, I don’t need to do it all at once. I can explore the city for a few hours and still get a lot of work done.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.On a trip to New York, my friends went to work during the days, so I went out and worked in coffee shops and in Central Park. Suddenly I was hugely productive, getting much more work done in 6 hours than in my normal 12 hour days. The same thing happened a few months later on a trip to London. I was even coming up with better ideas because the new experiences and surroundings were keeping my mind more active.

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