Website: I used to write for an amazingly awesome travel blog adventureivan.com but then my grandma discovered Telegram and I keep in touch with her that way now :)
Current Location: Chile
Next Destination: Canada
Behind the Postcards is an interviews series I'm doing with nomadic souls from around the world sharing their story from going from "normal" to nomad. Today I'm talking to Ivan who I met over in Santiago recently while we were both hunting for good coffee and better wifi.
N+C: G'day mate! Thanks for doing the interview. Can you share with readers who you are?
My name is Ivan. I’ve lived around the world for seven years now and plan to continue doing it in some way or form for a long time to come.
I love exploring new cultures, their foods and taking photos of my meals so my family doesn’t worry about me starving to death.
I don’t know the Top 10 coworking spots in Chiang Mai and I have yet to discover this one simple trick to make money online.
I suggest everyone to read a book about photography, so you know the basics about composition, light and how to tell a story, rather than taking the same snapshots that everyone else takes.
I have had the pleasure of meeting a lot of amazing people in my travels, and my life has been richer for the experience.
I’ve met a lot of people who come to Australia for a trip straight out of school. They often don’t have much money and have to budget tightly to make ends meet. I suggest rather than going to your dream destination and skimping, to save it for later and visit a cheaper part of the world first.
In no particular order, you can get a lot of bang for your buck in the following places: The Balkans, South East Asia, India, the Baltics, Central and South America.
If you go to Canada/USA, buy an old car/van and drive around and live in it. The place is made for road trips.
N+C: Very true. North America is made for road trips. On a similar note, what was your first solo trip abroad and what inspired you to go solo?
IVAN: March 2009. I didn’t have much of a plan, except that I was going for a long time, nine months to be exact. For the longest time I thought I was flying to South America, until I saw how expensive flights were. I found a good deal on a flight from Sydney to Vietnam, and so changed all of my travel plans (or lack thereof) with that ticket.
N+C: What is your travelosophy?
IVAN: I think it definitely shifts with time. Initially I had this strong aversion to package tourism, and organized tours, thinking it wasn’t authentic enough, and that everything had to be done on your own the same way that locals would do it.
These days, it’s not so important for me, fast/slow, on a tour or on your own hitch hiking. Sometimes I travel to explore a culture, sometimes just to get away from the hustle and bustle. Other times, it’s to find the adventures that occur in between the planned parts of the trip, and most of all finding the good people.
N+C: How have you been able to fund your travels?
IVAN: The first couple of big trips, I had spent a year saving up so that I could travel a year, I’d skimp on hotels and opt to hitch hike and couch surf as much as possible, and never refuse an invitation to stay with someone. My fondest memories of some countries aren’t what I went there to see, but who I met along the way.
For the past two years, I’ve been working remotely for an awesome WordPress agency, 10up. They’ve been fully remote since inception, and that’s just great for someone who has their heart set on exploring the world. I have colleagues on most (sometimes all) continents, and I’ve already had the pleasure of meeting some of them in their home countries.
N+C: When we first met and we were nerding-out about travel, you mentioned that you had residencies in multiple countries. How have you been able to pull that off and what advantages does that have?
IVAN: My family emigrated from the Soviet Union to Australia when I was young. Being an Australian, I can live in New Zealand, and obtain a permanent residence on the spot. I can also partake in work and travel holidays in a lot of countries. It comes with a lot of pluses to have a residency rather than a tourist permit, you can open a bank account there
N+C: So you’ve been living in Chile for a few months now in various cities/regions. What is your critique on Chilean culture?
IVAN: Chile is a huge land of contrasts for me. If you look at a map of the world, you realize just how far away and isolated it is from the rest of the world. That’s what has led to the country keeping its more conservative culture compared to more liberal places like Colombia and Mexico.
Punctuality, as in most Latin countries is not such a big deal. The country has a very big go with the flow, don’t make concrete plans kind of mentality.
The thing that surprises me most though, is how incredibly open this country is to foreigners, and how effective the government is. You can come to Chile as a tourist, apply for a visa as a person who can cover their living expenses and get a temporary residence for a year.
You get your ID in a matter of days, and if you want, open a company online, using Tu Empresa En Un Dia.
If you want to then go and hire anyone from abroad, you can get a working visa for them very quickly, and they can move to Chile too.
N+C: What’s the biggest mistake that you’ve made while traveling that you wish you could go back in time and tell a younger you DON’T DO THIS?
IVAN: I had an experience in Kyrgyzstan where I went off hiking on my own, and when the path looked too tricky, instead of turning back, I kept going, to avoid doubling back and losing time. At some point when I was sliding down a steep hill, with passport and camera almost disappearing forever, I reflected on the series of decisions that got me to where I was, and realized, sometimes it’s better to turn back than to plough on with no knowledge of the dangers that lie ahead.
N+C: Is there a city or country that you’ve been to that was totally different than you’d thought it would be?
IVAN: Uzbekistan, you don’t hear too much about it, ever, but it has some of the most amazing architecture in the world, dating back to the times of Tamerlane the great.
Armenia has a great combination of history, nature, amazing food and wonderfully hospitable people. It’s one of my favourite countries, I think there’s something about with the water in Dilijan :)
Mexico blew me away with its size, variety of climate, amazing food and great people. A friend and I planned to road trip through the country for a month, and ended up spending four months there. I’ve also lived along the Riviera Maya for a few months.
N+C: In general, which country has the most attractive women?
IVAN: I’m not going to answer this one, but I urge everyone to go out there and find out for themselves :)
N+C: Good advice haha! Lastly, what advice do you have for someone who wants to combine both work and travel for a living?
IVAN: I think it takes a strong entrepreneur spirit to find a role accommodating to a work and travel lifestyle. You have to work very hard to convince people that you know your stuff, and that you’re the best person for the role.
At the same time, being in the right industry helps, although if your field doesn’t pay much in one place, maybe you can move to a country where it does and live an expat lifestyle for a year or few.
Finally, if you can’t find a remote job, work on a remote business, find whatever field you’re passionate about and let it merge with your lifestyle so you can take advantage of the global marketplace to get it done. E.g. if you love fashion, head to India, Vietnam, or Bangladesh and see if you can start your own clothing line to sell back home.
If you love to play guitar, and you’re good at it, why not travel around Europe busking. If you have an eye for a bargain, why not stock up on knick-knacks as you travel and sell them when you come back home.
N+C: Ivan, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview! So much awesome insight on travel and working remotely. So true that it's the people that make the experience. (Although good food always makes situations better too.) When a local invites you somewhere, you have to jump on it! I agree 100%. Sometimes the weirder the circumstances, the better! And I support your opening advice on photography. Reading up on photography will help your Snapchat storytelling ability as well folks!