Leave America Become a Vagabond

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe” ~Anatole France

How To Leave America and Become a Vagabond

So you have been working the 9 to 5, just getting your paycheck and saving as much as you can for that amazing vacation. Finally you are able to save $ 5,000 dollars for your 10 day dream vacation to Spain.

Next thing you know you’re sitting at the air port looking at a great big sign that says, “bienvenidos” (welcome), and regretting that you did not pay attention in your Spanish class. You go to the curb, wave down a taxi and tell him “el centro por favor” (downtown please).

You unpack your things, grab a tourist map in the hotels lobby and out you go. The next few days are filled with: La Familia Sagrada (Church of the Holy Family), more amazing churches, extremely modern architecture, paella (Rice Dish), the Olympic Stadium, Gaudi Park, a drunken night at Las Ramblas, and the Picasso Museum.

While I love to take vacations, the problem I have with them, is that a vacation like this one is almost like a drug-induced high. In only a few days you have radically shocked your system by exposing it to a completely foreign environment.

Ten days are not enough time to make sense of it all. When you arrive home and think about your experiences, your mind is flooded with imagery. After a few months go by being able to recall those feelings of joy become harder and harder to do.

In order to really have a fulfilling and truly educational life experience, you need to get off the tourist path and onto the path less traveled. I feel that to really get a decent feel for a new country about 1-3 month’s of normal day to day living is about right. What I propose is that instead of taking a 10 day retreat, use the same five thousand dollars to set up shop in a foreign country for 6 -12 months.

This will be enough time to really absorb the nuances of a new environment and culture. If you are committed you can really get creative in supporting your self (food, housing, entertainment) and below I will list a few possibilities.

Who this would be good for:

  1. Someone who needs a change.
  2. Someone who has not figured out a long-term career.
  3. Has little to no obligations (married, kids, big financial liabilities)
  4. Someone who is burned out and needs some time to explore their inner self while exploring the world.
  5. Someone who has never left the states.

Before You Make the Leap Things to Keep In Mind:

The Vagabond lifestyle is not without its difficulties. If you have never left your country for an extended period you may end up having problems adjusting. You may think that it’s no big deal to pack up and move as long as you make prior mental preparation, but culture shock is very real and can affect your ability to deal with your new environment properly.

Some possible issues you will run into include: language barriers, transportation, cultural and religious differences, financial infrastructure, climate, loneliness, politics, access to medical care, and food are all things you need to consider and prepare for as best you can.

At the same time just remember that all the challenges I listed above are part of the adventure and a matter of perspective. Just be open to the challenges and opportunities along the way. Keep reminding your self that this is a major life learning experience and one day will be one of your greatest memories.

Getting out of your comfort zone in retrospect will be one of the most fulfilling things you will acknowledge. Once you make it through some major hurdles you will be proud of your ability to stick it out and adapt anywhere.

 “The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience.  The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him.  He goes sight-seeing.”  ~Daniel J. Boorstin

Starting a new life and some potential ways to make it happen:

You have a job or business that’s not bound to a location: Many companies have chosen to increase productivity by outsourcing jobs to people who want to work from home. All that is needed is an Internet connection and the discipline to be productive from home.

If you have something that you love and that your good at, research all the possible ways on how you could make money doing it. If you want this lifestyle  bad enough, you can make something work, or at least discover new opportunities.

If you would like to know how to start a “Freedom Business“, check out my buddie Mark’s Guide “Escape Plan”. The guide is composed of the essentials of living and traveling abroad, and practical online business  ideas to make your dream a reality.

Teaching English: Teaching English is one of the easiest ways to support your self while living in a new country, and helps to integrate you into the society. Teaching English will also help you meet new friends who will be happy to show you the ropes to your new city. Don’t expect to get rich from teaching English, however if you find a good program or school it will usually be enough to live very comfortably. Many teachers supplement their income for luxuries and travel by teaching private lessons.

You can find potential students in your city’s newspaper classified ads and online as well. If you do plan on teaching English, a good thing to get under your belt is to get certified to teach in a foreign country by getting your TEFL. You can complete most TEFL courses through intensive 4-8 week programs. Many teachers decide to get there TEFL through a language school in the country where they want to live. This is usually a good choice as most schools will help you find a job when you finish the program. You will also meet new people who you can potentially be roommates with.


While being in another country it’s also a smart thing to try and learn your host country’s language. It will really make your life easier and much more enjoyable and can also open up many new opportunities.

Volunteer: Volunteering in a new country can also be a great way to see the world while also contributing. Many volunteer programs will help you by giving you food and a place to live, so you simply bring money for travel and entertainment. Volunteer to gain a new perspective:


Find a job with a multi national corporation: Good way to build up your resume by adding international work experience, and many times your company will help you with obtaining your work permit and visa.
http://www.transitionsabroad.com a great resource if you plan to work, study, or live abroad.

Study Abroad: Overseas Universities and Schools can be a great way to further your education while having a very fulfilling cultural experience.

Freelance Your Skills and Knowledge: If you have a skill that you can freelance or be able to consult on, you are no longer bound by location. If you are a graphic designer, computer programmer, writer, etc. you can find people hungry for your services. Post your profile and look for jobs on:

Flexible Jobs and Companies: If you are not really the entrepreneur type, but would love to work from home to save on commuting to living a fulfilling lifestyle, you will find resources below on how it can be done.


Telephone based Customer Service Agents:

Medical Transcription, Coding and Billing:

Home Based Virtual Customer Service Agents:

I just want to thank you for reading my article, I hope I encouraged you to make the jump into the land of unknown and provided some options on how you can make it happen. Start making your plan and work towards it; I am very confident it will be one of your best decisions in your journey to experiencing life.- Ivan Campuzano

If you enjoyed this post please help me out by passing it along to your friends and ‘like’ our Facebook Page. Also, if you have any of your own insights please share them in the comments section.

Additional Resources:

http://www.meetup.com When you get to your new destination, you are going to want to make some friends as soon as possible. Use this site to find people all over the world who share the same interests as you.

Traveling Resources:
http://www.virtualtourist.com/ Travel Guides, Maps, Forums, Deals….

http://www.gridskipper.com/ Gridskipper is the decadent guide to the best in worldwide urban travel-hotels, restaurants, clubs, flights, and sights.
http://www.worldtravelwatch.com/ Stay informed of world events and odd happenings before you take flight on your adventure.
Tax Planning
Make sure you keep Uncle Sam happy while you are traveling or living abroad.

Cheap Air Fair:

Free Worldwide Housing:

www.couchsurfing.com I had many friends who let travelers on a budget crash on their couches. It was a great way to meet new and interesting people, making worldwide connections.
This is an online community, bringing people together to offer you free accommodation around the world. Save money and make new friends while seeing the world from a local’s perspective!

Cheap Accommodation:

Stay in touch with your friends and family with this free Internet Phone.

(editors note: this post contains affiliate links for “Escape Plan,” if you decide to purchase you are directly supporting my blogging efforts, thanks a bunch in advance)

24 Responses to Leave America Become a Vagabond

  1. It was a great article, thanks for taking the time to write it. I do have a lot of commitments and should have done more of this years ago. Even still it’s not too late, the barrier to doing something unorthodox is more in the mind than anything.

  2. homie IVan drops heat on the web/ you can call him spider without the net/
    he makes it rain/ he makes it snow/ his like the carter/ making the seasons glow/
    dont take him light/ cuz his a heavyweight/
    if your not a believer/ he’d really make it heavy rain/
    and if your too tight/ then IV make that chevy straight for them cuz
    Anyone done for a little travel.

  3. This is the sort of thing that I realized after I created a ton of obligations in my life. Probably the single most powerful choice a young man or woman can make when setting course into the unknown adventure we like to call life. Nice job!!

  4. Nice piece. Wish you had submitted it to http://www.TransitionsAbroad.com, as since my father founded the magazine in 1977–which I now run as website– and we e have always been advocates of the type of travel you describe. We have thousands of articles and resources to inspire and help others to take the plunge at ESL teachers, volunteer workers, eternal students, or just plain long-term vagabond travelers.

    Great job!

  5. I work as an academic so I can do this stuff all the time, but of an outsider/loner I guess so it has its price, but I just can’t stop..

  6. Ivan, wow man. What you propose is blashphemy. Bless you man for being the outlier. If we oldsters up and stopped chasing/being chased by the demons we created and discovered our inner selves, we would become our brother’s keeper again.

    Thank you for taking the time, energy and effort to pen this. It is a treitse of finding oneself.

  7. @Gregory:
    Could I write a new piece for you sometime?…thanks for running such a great resource…once again thanks for your feedback…I really appreciate it – Ivan

  8. ivan….you figured this out (by your looks) at an early age! congrats!! i took a “soul journey” to barcelona in 2005 and stayed 6 weeks! as an artist and lover of enriched cultures i am forever grateful for my opportunities in this lifetime!! it takes more courage than one realizes tho to step into the unknown.

  9. the mother cat picks you up by the back of the neck and puts you where she wants you, where you need to be when you need to be there …. i have been in india and asia for more than a dozen years, but i didn’t “do” that … life did it …

    relax, enjoy, wherever you are … geography is no reason to do anything … do the NRXT thing, and geography will take care of itself …

    enjoy, gregory lent

  10. Thanks for the article. I am planning on going to New Zealand for a couple weeks my first time out of the states. Have you heard of ‘Helper Exchange” (www.helpx.net)? I have been looking into this and am seriously considering trying it out. Please let me know if you have tried it or if you know anything about it. Thanks!

  11. ‘Sup Ivan! I’m one of the people you found and added on YouTube in the past, back in fall I believe.

    Saw your YouTube vlog of this a while back and the idea’s never left my mind. Moreso an EXTREMELY enlightening blog to go with. Not only have I been thinking about leaving America (can’t relate to its direction, politics or religion) but also about transferring citizenship, and I‘m giving myself a 5-year deadline to decide and overpreparing as I do. That‘s plenty of time to immerse myself in research also, to the point I know various handbooks, laws and rules verbatim. I’m constantly escaping into la-la land thinking about the possibilities and scenarios.

    In the meantime some 5-year goals I’ve mapped out and committed to daily, that will ease me into my future choice, are (1) becoming a polygot by age 30, (2) staying on top of credits and courses, (3) setting aside x-amount of money each payday, (4) avoiding starting a family, (5) avoiding re-bonding w/ relatives I’ve been away from for a long time, (6) improving my personal marketabilty down to my personal appearance (I’m currently waiting in line for a cosmetic surgeon), (7) avoiding engaging in activities that would root me to this country, (8) gaining an extra 20 lbs. muscle mass, (9) perfecting various skills and crafts — i.e. tech savvy, wilderness survival under meager measures, town/city survival under meager measures, arms, martial arts, etc., and (10) sampling countries ahead of time in few-day stints.

    I’ve never been homesick so that wouldn’t be a concern. My biggest gripe in this entire idea are the family and relatives that WOULD become Cedric-sick, and it’s always been this way even when I was across the nation or overseas. It probably wouldn’t be bad if I stay on top of phone-calls and video conferences.

    Once again, great blog. I’ve clicked the links and clicked other links WITHIN those links and so forth — the advice, service agents, visas, testimonials, etc.

  12. The last thing I wanted to say is I might refer back to you for specific questions, via instant messenger or phone-call — I’ll keep you informed and let you know when. Questions specifically regarding your experiences and your opinions in these experiences and places.

  13. @Cedric:
    no problem cedric 🙂 I am excited for you 🙂 you have a lot of adventures ahead of you :)…send me a message whenever you like :)…thanks again for contributing and checking out my blog :)…..

  14. Thanks for all the tips and advices. Maybe I can add something by sharing my experience at a small scale. I’m from Lisbon, Portugal. About a year ago I really needed a job and I really needed some fresh air so I searched and easily found a job in a National Park (Peneda-Geres) where I could spend my free time in the Nature. I was only 450km away from home for two months and it came to me: “I should do this again, maybe other country and more time” but that was a start and maybe I was not prepared to take such a big step and, who knows, travel to Peru to work at a garage. Maybe I needed that huge experience at a small scale to realize something more about myself. i wish you all the best.

    Pedro Mota’s last blog post..(demolição)

  15. Absolutely, I’ve always traveled this way. May I also suggest joining http://www.usservas.org ? It’s a “peace through hospitality” network that has been alive since the 1940s. I lived this lifestyle so often, gradually I evolved a lifestyle based on it.
    Anyone want to live in Waikoloa, Hawaii for 4 to 6 months? I’m serious.
    I’ve evolved a “double agent” lifestyle of living in two places and would love to find the perfect other half who would rent my place while I’m gone to play elsewhere so I have a place to return to – there’s plenty of storage for you to do the same. Hawaii is the third world of the USA, and the Big Island is the most interesting place, with all but two of the world’s ecosystems here. It really takes years just to see the secret spots on the island, more to really appreciate how they change over time.
    Contact me through my website if you’re already putting your stuff in storage. I’d like to leave in Sept, but I’m flexible. My studio apt. costs roommate prices, but has privacy to keep any sleeping schedule. It has most civil amenities, including bath, (includes cable internet, etc.) Due to zoning, only married couples and singles are allowed, unless visiting.

  16. We drop out every year for about 8 weeks. My husband and I take our son everywhere we go. Each year, we go somewhere different. Sometimes, it requires taking our son out of school. But he gets the most amazing education while traveling.

    Before I was married, I took 4 months off and traveled around the world. It was the most amazing thing I ever did, and I went alone. And I must add, I don’t have much money and I don’t have family to help me. I’m just good at choosing travel over material things.

    I think the hardest thing for people to be able to do this is LETTING GO OF STUFF. We tend to accumulate STUFF that ties us down. Let go of your stuff, and be free!

    I wrote a post about how TO Live The Dream Life on my husband’s art website. You can read it here:http://drewbrophy.com/so-you-want-to-live-the-dream-life-heres-how/
    In it I outline how we’ve made it happen. It’s another take on this article here.

    Traveling = Happiness for me!
    .-= Maria Brophy´s last blog ..How Meditation Helps the Creative Process =-.

  17. Hi ! Thanks for this article. Today, I have more and more the desire to travel more. I’m still very comfortable, but I have to move instead of being passive. This motivates me !

  18. This is what I want to do except with the added complexity of a family. I see lots of young single people living this life but haven’t connected with many families that are doing something similar. I really want to experience life outside of the cubicle and I believe that it is entirely possible even for those with families. I’d love for my kids to have this world experience which is something you just can’t teach in books. I love that you included lots of links to references. Good stuff!

  19. What an excellent read. My day was pretty drab before I stumbled upon your page here, then after reading this I found myself refreshed and ready to get back at my work. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Great information you have provided in this article these information are really very useful in like hoe to survive in other country and how can u get good friends.

  21. This is cute and all but you leave out the most serious point of all. IMMIGRATION. As an American there is no place i nthe world you can go, much less the eu and not be hassled or imprisoned and banned from travling any where ever again. Also for the job thing. Unless you are some sort of corporate person no one is going to hire you and sponsor you. I have been trying for over 10 years and have yet found not one person to help me. i want out of the usa badly and never want to come back to this place. I hate american and feel trapped and emprisoned here. i dont want to be here and would even trade my citizenship if it meant that I could leave. I want to go and not one moment goes by that I do not feel the serious urge to leave this place. i really, really dont want to be here. I never want to come back, ever!

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