Imagine you could live your life hopping from topical island to tropical island, making your living for what you write on the Internet. How good would that be?
Damn, it’s that exact vision that pushed me to quit my job and become a writer. And while I’m not quite there yet, I know someone who is. My good friend, Ryan Biddulph.
Sharing tips on how to blog better, travel smarter and just be an all-around better person, he makes his living helping people over at Blogging from Paradise. I’ve managed to catch him between islands for a quick interview.
Today, we’re talking about: quitting your job to travel the world, balancing work and life on the road, landing house sits in the most beautiful parts of the world, and what it’s like to live in the Costa Rican jungle.
Let’s dive into it, shall we?
James Johnson: Hey Ryan, thanks for joining me! You’ve managed to build an entire career on Island Hopping and travelling the world. What made you want to give up your full-time job and become a traveller?
Ryan Biddulph: I craved freedom above all else. I was laid off from a job where I put in 8 to 18 hour days sometimes, for 5-6 days each week. I had 5 vacay days a year and only took off 2-3. American style, LOL! So I knew traveling and blogging would both be ultimate freedoms for me. I could be my own CEO. I could help others live a life of freedom too, if I had success with my blog and if I fell in love with traveling, as I figured I would.
JJ: Freedom is what it’s all about! But it comes at a cost – especially time invested in your work. You write and incredible amount of blog posts and eBooks each month, how do you manage to balance work, travel, and life with your wife?
RB: Honestly James, this ain’t hard!
Most people struggle to find a balance between online work and offline play because they CHOOSE TO do online WORK and then, to devote offline time to play. I do online play and offline play. I love writing. So I write 95% of the day or more. I don’t do drudge work, I don’t waste time following rules or to do lists, I just follow my fun. I align my energy, and then, get to playing with writing posts, guest posts, blog comments and the like. Then, since I’m having so much fun, I make an impact in all I do and can get the hell offline after playing/working 5 to 6 hours, so I can devote the remainder of the day to enjoying my travels and sleeping.
Then, since I’m having so much fun, I make an impact in all I do and can get the hell offline after playing/working 5 to 6 hours, so I can devote the remainder of the day to enjoying my travels and sleeping.
Some work to make money. I play to have fun. And the money, influential friends, and success find me with increasing ease.
JJ: I’ve seen you do a lot of house sitting while you travel. What made you get into that, and how would you suggest other travellers use it to their advantage?
RB: Oh yes, we love house sits!
My wife told me about house sitting, that’s what go me into it.
Really, we saw it was a way to live rent-free in some of the world’s most amazing spots for months. So we applied for sits and eventually landed a job in Fiji for 4 months. Then we house sat in Bali for 6 months, then we did sits in NYC, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Cyprus.
I’d say: be open and transparent on sites like TrustedHouseSitters. Set up your account. Share your story. Link to your Facebook page and blog. Let homeowners know you are a real person.
Most of all – and I really mean this – get hyper clear on your energy around house sits.
We landed some of the best house sits on earth for months by getting fully clear on the house sits we wanted. We have no interest to do sits in places like France and England, even though those sits come up all the time. Europe seems nice but we love the tropics. So we did not chase European sits. We just focused on landing tropics-themed sits.
JJ: One of my favourite things about your blog is the stories you tell. They’re always stupidly funny or dangerous. What’s your favourite story from on the road?
RB: James, I have so many stories it’s tough to keep track. I’ve even been pitching NetFlix on these.
If I had to pick one I’d say living in a remote Costa Rican jungle for 6 weeks.
Most of my stories span seconds or maybe minutes. From when I faced down a spitting cobra or when I was attacked by 2 Nepali wild men. Or when I was accosted by 2 lady boy prostitutes.
But the Costa Rican house sit could honestly be made into a movie.
First off, the homeowner sold it as a 3-mile bike ride into the jungle. Instead, it was an Indiana Jones style, wild trek through the remote wilderness, where we sometimes found ourselves knee deep in mud, unable to get out. You had to wear rugged boots. You had to be inside before 5:30 PM because by 6 it got REALLY dark and by 6:30 PM, everything went pitch black. Scary as hell. We had candles and a flash light, and read for an hour or 2 when it got dark but usually just went to bed at like 7 or 8, then woke at 4 AM or 5 AM to mimic jungle rhythms.
We spent 6 weeks 3 hours deep into the jungles of Buena Vista, Costa Rica. We lived in a glorified hut. No electricity or running water. One human being lived between us and the nearby town 3 miles away. We saw our house invaded by 10,000 army ants – twice – with scorpions scampering all over the hut to avoid being butchered. I routinely whipped bullet ants from the kitchen sink (they have the most painful insect sting on earth). Poison dart frogs were a dime a dozen there. We saw 2 types of sloths, toucans, 2 types of monkeys, mealy Amazon parrots, centipedes, huge golden orb spiders, exotic wasps, and snakes on an almost daily basis.
We had to cross 4 jungle streams – which became dangerous, roaring rapids that flowed close to your hips, after 3 days of torrential downpours – and a mile high jungle mountain with a 30% grade in some spots. And I had to carry our groceries for the week through this rugged, wicked terrain.
Me and my wife watched a dog named Thunder. She was a 90 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback. Badass dog. They were bred to hunt lions. She once scaled a 30 foot high VERTICAL cliff. Like something out of the movies. She dove into impossibly thick jungle to hunt all types of creatures and I sometimes walked her on a 30-pound heavy chain before I found the lighter leash. I felt like the baddest man on the planet walking her through these remote, unexplored areas.
To show you how far off the grid we were, monkeys were so unused to seeing humans that they would trash the trees, tear off leaves and throw them at us, and attempt to urinate on us when we walked below them.
JJ: Thanks so much for joining me today, Ryan. One final question before you go. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned travelling that you’d never have learned in an office back home?
All of the most fun, enjoyable, freeing, wild, brilliant, crazy, happy experiences of this quick journey we call “life” happen outside of your comfort zone. If it feels highly uncomfortable for you now to spend money, buy 10 of my eBooks. Conquer a fear or 10 and get inside the mind of a guy who lives in a fun, happy, fulfilling, uncomfortable zone. Start the blog. Write the eBook. Whatever you’ve dreamed of, freaking do it NOW! Now is all we have. Only the moment exists. When you get that, truly, you will never look back. I may even run into you in a remote Costa Rican jungle. Just make sure to be back home by 5:30 PM. It gets really dark after that 🙂
You can check out more about Ryan and his eBooks on his site Blogging from Paradise. Or, find him on Twitter!
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