When I was growing up, my father would take our family on long road trips in the Western United States. We would camp and fish a couple nights, then move on to the next state or national park. My dad loved to drive. He loved adventure and exploring. After riding for many hours in the back of our station wagon, my brother, sister and I would get cranky and want to stop. We’d start complaining in hopes he would relent. I remember my dad always saying, “Oh, come on, guys! Let’s see what’s over the next hill!” And there we would go.
In 2006 I was living the dream in Southern California. My friends were bond brokers, entertainment attorneys and bankers. I owned a great business that paid me a ridiculous salary. I was heavily invested in commercial real estate and my bank accounts were fat. My nights would start with after work martinis at Banderas in West LA. Next was dinner at Maestros in Beverly Hills or Cut at the Rosevelt Hotel (I liked steak.) Finally, we’d end up at a party in Bel Air or a nightclub in Hollywood mostly watching the beautiful people (models and actors) spill their drinks all over the dance floor (Why people dance with drinks in their hands is beyond me.) It was a cool life. Then the Southern California real estate market hiccuped… then it belched… then it barfed all over its party dress. Values plummeted. Refinancing became impossible. I watched in stunned amazement as my financial starship cratered itself right into the ground. Within a year I lost everything… my business… my investments… my fat bank accounts… my house… It took another year before I was forced to sell my Mercedes and artwork, but those too evaporated like a genie in a bottle. For me, the stock market crash in 2008 was anti-climactic. I was already broke and my credit cards were maxed out.
So, there I was surrounded by the burning wreckage that was once my really cool life. More than anything I was embarrassed. How could I be so stupid? So greedy? I kept trying to convince myself that I made it once, I could make it again. But I was too depressed… and even worse I had lost my confidence. I sat watching CNBC for weeks on end as the economy slide further into the abyss joined by my hope of rebuilding my life. Nothing was working for anybody. Most of my friends ended up broke too. I was drinking heavily… the cheap stuff… it was all I could afford. At some point during my self-pity-fest, I began questioning what I really wanted out of life. You see when you are at the bottom of the pit, strangely, all things are possible. Since I was now nothing, I could become anything. As I dug deep into my soul I was surprised by what I found. What I really wanted was freedom.
There I was flat broke forced to live with my family (Thank god for family!). My credit was shot to hell and all my cards had been cancelled, so no more monthly credit card bills. I had no assets, so no more property taxes. No house, so my mortgage was gone. No car, so no lease payments or insurance. When I looked at my financial condition I suddenly dawned on me that while I didn’t have any real income, but I also didn’t have any overhead. I had stumbled into a kind of financial equilibrium. My balance sheet and income statement were almost in balance for the first time in my adult life. It was a strange new world for me.
Plus I had lost everything. I longer had a lawn to mow or house to clean. I no longer spent my weekends shopping for furniture or tires for my car. I didn’t need to spend time at the dry cleaners or at my taylor since I no longer owned any suits or had a business that required that I wear them. My things no longer enslaved me. For the first time in my life, I had a lot of free time on my hands. It was an epiphany. I was free from my things. They no longer tied me down. I no longer wanted to be part of the top 5% and hang with the in crowd. I no longer wanted to own expensive art, drive a Maserati and live in Beverly Hills. I had no desire to keep up with my wealthy neighbors and friends. I had chosen a different path.
I wanted to live in the real world… and I wanted to see it all. The whole enchilada. My world. I started making a plan. A list of countries and things that I wanted to see. There was Angkor in Cambodia, Petra in Jordan, the fjords of Norway, the great wall and the forbidden city in China… It was a really long list. It would take years to see it all, maybe a lifetime.
Next came a budget. What would it cost per month of travel? Should I buy RTW tickets or just wing it as I go? Hostels or hotels? Finally, I started working how I was going to pay for everything during my journey. The funny thing is, that was the part that least concerned me. In my life, I had started over 20 different businesses with an 80% success rate. I just needed to come up with a business that could managed remotely and provided me with steady positive cashflow. Piece of cake! My confidence was returning. I was like a tiger on the hunt. I was hungry and excited. I spend two years doing research. Figuring out how I could pull it off.
Once I had a plan, I began making it a reality. My instinct kicked in; like flipping a switch to autopilot. In the depths of my depression, I had forgotten who I really am. I am an ordinary guy that does extraordinary things by using a simple formula. I desire. I plan. I execute. I try not to overthink things too much. It’s simple. It works. The haze was lifting. I was on my way back! But this time it was different. This time I would be free.
I am writing to you from Phuket, Thailand. I have traveled around the world twice so far. I just started my third RTW journey. This time around will take me to Thailand, India, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. 26 Countries in all. It gives me chills just thinking about it. I am happier than I have ever been in my life. I travel 365 days a year. I own nothing. I live everywhere. I am Nomad.