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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Interview with The Professional Hobo

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo. She was an actress and a Canadian financial planner for six years, but by the time she was reaching 30, she knew she wanted to travel the world long term. Nora is not currently retired nor financially independent, but rather she finances her full-time travels by freelance writing, trading labour-for-lodging and other creative approaches to living on the road. To learn more you can visit her website The Professional Hobo.

Retire Early Lifestyle: Nora, for those who do not know who you are and what you do, could you give us a quick synopsis?

Nora: I'm Nora Dunn (not the one who's big in Hollywood – although I have been in Hollywood movies) and I'm The Professional Hobo. Over six years ago, I sold everything (including a busy financial planning practice) to travel the world full-time. More than a few experiences (running all gambits) since then, I've perfected the art of full-time travel in a financially sustainable way, and now I help others achieve the same goals.  

Exploring Kathmandu

Exploring Kathmandu

REL: What was your net worth when you decided to set out on your discovery?

Nora: I was approaching 30 and my net worth was about $150,000. A lot of it was locked away for retirement, some of it was coming to me in the form of a 2-year income from the sale of my business, and the proceeds of the sale of my stuff plus ongoing investments made up the rest.

REL: How are your investments structured today? stocks? bonds? annuities? options? Did the 2008 meltdown alter your allocation?

Nora: Before I left to travel full-time, I “bomb-proofed” my portfolio, sheltering it from tax and diversifying the instruments and holdings to bear many markets. I'm a fan of mutual funds (which adds diversification within each investment sector and is managed actively), and of selecting a portfolio that best suits my asset allocation needs for the short, medium, and long term.

So like everybody, I didn't make any money in 2008, but I limited my losses, and the worst-hit money is in it for the longest time frame so it has time to recover.  

REL: How much of your income and lifestyle is dependent on your web based business? And what do you spend per year? 

Nora: I don't draw a penny from my investments; rather I like to put away money when I can!

My specialty is financially sustainable full-time travel – and I sustain my travels with income from my freelance writing and website – all the while creatively keeping travel expenses low.

I don't budget per se, but I religiously track all my expenses and income, and I know when I need to tighten the belt or conversely can spend extra. For 2010 and 2011, I spent $17,000 each year. In 2012 my income went up, as did my expenses.  I write more about the particular breakdowns on my website.

Highest Skydive in New Zealand for a TV Show

Highest Skydive in New Zealand for a TV Show

REL: Why would anyone want to do what you do? Why not live a lifestyle more people could relate to, with family nearby, saving your money and enjoying yourself along the way? Why be so “radical?”

Nora: Ha ha! You don't mince your words, do you? :-)

You're right. I could have chosen a different (perhaps an easier) life. The thing is, I did. I had all the accoutrements of a comfortable lifestyle and shining future in Toronto. I had a successful business, I was acting/singing/dancing in theatre and appearing in movies and TV shows/commercials, I was a Rotarian, a Toastmaster, and I was even married for a while.

But gradually, everything unraveled. My marriage ended, but I filled the gaps with work and theatre. I got into two car accidents in a week, but I still wasn't late for the seminar I had to give. And then, I got really sick.

I was teetering on an overfilled schedule of activities subconsciously designed to distract me from a nagging inner voice that wouldn't shut up; a voice telling me I needed to see the world.

 

When I got sick, the game was up, and I had to face my despair at the idea of “keeping up with the Joneses” for the next 30 years awaiting my true dreams of traveling the world long-term. Traditional vacations weren't cutting it; even a month spent in South Africa left me with more questions than answers.

So in a way, I almost didn't have a choice but to plunge myself into this radical lifestyle of full-time travel. And you know what? It was the best thing I've ever done; designing my lifestyle and career to leave me free to explore the world and snap up unique opportunities.

REL: What’s the worst thing you deal with in your chosen lifestyle? Your biggest challenge?

Nora: My biggest challenge is managing the work-life balance between traveling, volunteering in trade for accommodation (which I usually do in one form or another, from house-sitting to milking goats), and earning an income to cover the rest of my expenses through my freelance writing and website.

I've faced many challenges in my full-time travels (natural disasters, head-on crashes, dengue fever, heartbreak – you know, regular stuff!); life's challenges can be harder to deal with on the road, in the absence of your support structures at home and knowledge of local processes.

Starting a home base in Grenada, West Indies

Starting a home base in Grenada, West Indies

REL: What is exhilarating beyond words? Something you would never trade about your lifestyle to obtain “security?”

Nora: I'm glad you turned it around here, because although I can rage on about the challenges of travel, I still choose it, every day.

Why? Because I love adventure. I love change. (I also love routine, conflictingly, but that's another story). I have a lifestyle that enables me to go anywhere, and do anything that tickles my fancy (within reason). 

If I get a call from a friend who needs a house-sitter for two months in Switzerland, I can do it. (And I did). If a travel TV show filming in New Zealand, France, or Nepal invites me to come along as a host or travel expert, I can go. (And I did). If I'm offered a sweet yurt on a remote chunk of Hawaii in return for an hour a day of milking goats, I'm there. (And I was).

As long as I have a laptop and internet connection, I can make a living from anywhere in the world, and experience a new cultural landscape on my front doorstep.

Sailing in St. Martin

Sailing in St. Martin

REL: Don’t you get tired of traveling? Don’t you privately wish you could raise a garden or have a pet on a long term basis?

Nora: The answer to your first question: yep. The answer to your second question: nope.

Travel – especially fast travel – is exhausting. And without always having context or grounding, it can be dizzying. For this reason (and others), I'm generally a fan of slow travel, which broaches on necessity for full-time travelers. I enjoy being able to integrate and live in a place, not simply pass through.

On a more fundamental level, after six years, yes, I've started to tire of traveling in general. Or rather, I want a place to come “home” to every once in a while.

 

 

 

 

The place I've chosen as a home base is the Caribbean island of Grenada; a place that simultaneously feels like “home” but is different enough that I still feel like I'm traveling. And the cost of living here is inexpensive enough that I can maintain a home here while traveling abroad long-term in my usual frugal style of utilizing tricks of the trade like off-season travel and getting free accommodation.

REL: We have found that gaining perspective is one of the best gifts of travel. What’s your “biggest piece of wisdom” from your itinerant lifestyle that you could share?

Nora: 99% of the population of this world are fundamentally good people. However a good dose of precaution doesn't hurt. As the saying goes: “Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel”.

REL: What would you say to someone who is considering tossing the conventional lifestyle and living one of travel? What advice would you give?

House sitting in the Alps of Switzerland

House sitting in the Alps of Switzerland

Nora: Just do it! Don't burn bridges on your way out so you can come back to your lifestyle if you wish, but I suspect once you're out there, you'll discover a whole new world of possibility.

Also, if you're developing an online business or career that you intend to use to sustain your travels, get it up and going to a point first. Trust me, simultaneously learning and developing your travel style as well as your business is murder.

REL: Did you receive resistance from family members and friends, or did they encourage you in your creative lifestyle choice?

Nora: I initially received almost no resistance; rather I got envy and sigh-filled replies like “Oh I wish I could travel like that, I but I know I never could,” (for various reasons).

Although recently, I was strongly advised to “return home to an ordinary life”. 

REL: Have you left much of your possessions in storage in Canada? Or did you chuck it all?

 

Nora:  didn't quite chuck it all; I kept anything that I considered “priceless” or irreplaceable. Things like artifacts from previous travels, photos, tax files, and some heirloom china and silverware that my Dad would murder me if I sold – which all fits into about six boxes.

REL: Has it taken you long to digitize your life? Go paperless? What can you tell our readers about this process?

Going digital was relatively easy. Businesses had already embraced the concept when I started traveling, so registering for online banking and payment systems was a cinch. There are online services to hook you up with just about anything you need to manage your life from the road, from a mailing address to a phone number to a paycheck.

REL: What do you offer your readers? Why should someone stop by and read your blog?

As I said earlier, I teach people how to do what I do. One of the tools I use is my free intensive e-course on How to Travel Full-Time in a Financially Sustainable Way. In addition, you can check out my blog for both useful tips and saga-filled tales about life on the road.

And I'll soon be releasing some new tools, such as a guide that teaches you how to get free accommodation around the world. (So that's a reason to come back again)!

We'd like to thank Nora for taking the time to give us a glimpse into her lifestyle, and if you would like to know more about how to manage full-time travel, visit her website. Thanks Nora!

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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