The Case for Taking a Mini-Retirement or Two

By Josh Hoffman, Contributor, on March 13, 2018

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Conventional wisdom says we should work long and hard until our ’60s or ’70s, save as much money as possible and then retire into the sunset. Appealing, right?

But this is the truth: The opportunities we have and the risks we can take in our ’20s and ’30s are usually much easier to tackle sooner rather than later. In his book “The Four-Hour Workweek,” Tim Ferriss coins the term mini-retirement: ongoing travel breaks throughout your life. Heck, you can even work and travel simultaneously if you want to earn money on the move. But when I say “travel,” I don’t mean a week here or 10 days there. I mean multiple months, years — or as long as your heart desires.

There are a few reasons to challenge conventional retirement wisdom and take a mini-retirement: More travel can actually boost your career growth, because it exposes you to a greater network of people and potential clients. As a bonus, it stimulates additional creativity, which will enhance the services you offer. Of course, frequent breaks present some challenges, as an inconsistent routine can affect your sense of discipline and having plenty of distractions can affect your progress.

Here are five ways to integrate mini-retirements into your indy life, without staggering your career growth:

1. Create a Set of Online Services

Assuming you want to take an extended trip somewhere far from your current locale, develop a suite of services that doesn’t require a local, in-person presence to execute (e.g. blogging, digital marketing, graphic design and web development). For a more hands-off option, consider consulting services.

If it’s not quite possible to offer remote services based on your expertise (e.g. photography, event planning), consider turning your knowledge and insights into digital products like Stephanie Gilbert did, and offer your in-person services by marketing yourself in your destination of choice. To create a digital product, or a set of digital products, consider offering do-it-yourself tutorials related to your expertise.

2. Leverage Currency Exchange Rates

In order to achieve the epic combination of making and saving money during a mini-retirement, use various tools (e.g. Square and PayPal) that allow you to accept payment in a relatively strong, stable currency (e.g. dollars or euros).

Identify destinations that have favorable currency exchange rates so your money will go farther in your destination of choice. Popular countries for this include Thailand, Portugal and Colombia.

3. Explore the Sharing Economy

When you picture a vacation, what comes to mind? Hotels? Rental cars? Expensive restaurants? With tech like Airbnb, Uber, EatWith and several other options in the sharing economy, you’ll be able to enjoy your destination of choice like a local — without breaking the bank.

As Ferriss points out, “When you recognize that the costs of travel are mostly transportation and housing costs, and that you can rent a posh apartment for three to four weeks for the same price as staying in a mediocre hotel for four days, things start to get very, very interesting.”

4. Act Local, Think Global

Regardless of whether or not you decide to take mini-retirements, the “act local, think global” mantra will change the way you approach your freelance business. To “act local” is to take action in your immediate environment to raise your profile and attract desirable clients locally. To “think global,” on the other hand, is to utilize the internet to raise your profile and attract desirable clients across city, state and country lines.

In the case of a mini-retirement, you can “act local” by hosting lectures at coworking spaces and meetups in your destination of choice, while executing a digital marketing strategy (e.g. LinkedIn) to land remote clients in your native homeland or elsewhere.

5. Plan Ahead

While there isn’t a “best time” to take a mini-retirement — the time is right when you decide to make it right, as I like to say — spontaneity isn’t exactly recommended. Do plenty of research about the destination you desire, including Wi-Fi reliability and time zone differences in relation to your current and future clients. Nomad List is a great resource for this sort of thing.

Sure, the concept of mini-retirements isn’t exactly how our parents raised us to think, but they also taught us to never get into a stranger’s car. When was the last time you took an Uber?

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