How I built a startup traveling in 20 countries

Original author: Jay Meistrich
  • Transfer
  • A year ago, I left San Francisco, sold and gave everything I had, and "moved into a large backpack."
  • I traveled 45 cities in 20 countries, three Disneyland and one island with rabbits .
  • I also managed to work 50 hours a week, developing and launching a startup
  • It cost me less than the price of renting an apartment in San Francisco.

Travel is not a vacation

The community of “digital nomads” is actively developing on the Internet. These are entrepreneurs, developers, designers, journalists, engineers - representatives of professions related to the online sphere, who are enthusiastically doing their job and at the same time traveling around the world.
I made sure that traveling is an effective way to build a company. My startup is an online product with great ambitions.
I develop it on my own from around the world. Going on a trip is the most responsible choice for the benefit of my company, my finances and my personal development.

I became a nomad by accident

Three years ago, I decided to leave my work at Microsoft, go to San Francisco and create a startup. When I shared this decision with a friend, he asked: “Why go to San Francisco if you can work on a computer from anywhere in the world?” The question seriously puzzled me. Later, I thought a lot about him and began to doubt many of the principles of “normal life”, which have little in common with the reality of the modern world.

I do not recognize the ridiculous "working hours"

I want to explore the world while the sun is shining, and not sit in the office and dream about the next vacation.

I do not recognize the need to settle

I want to learn new cultures and try new dishes, and not get stuck in the city area.

Boredom is alien to me

I am constantly surrounded by new places, people and gain new experiences. I have not been bored since I began to travel. During my travels I didn’t even think about watching a TV set or playing video games.

Making a list of what I need to achieve in life is not for me.

I have a list of things to do and I do them.

With these crazy ideas about life, I set off on a journey. Spent six months traveling in Australia, Asia and Europe. But everything went not very smoothly.
I gave up and returned to San Francisco. Traveling was great, but I had a good business idea and I needed to focus and work on it. Is there a better place than Silicon Valley to build a startup?
Soon I realized that I felt too comfortable and began to slow down, get bored, and watch TV for a long time. He sat at the computer for 12 hours a day and, despite this, did not feel productive.
Once I went to New York and when my friends went to work, I went to work in a cafe in Central Park. Suddenly, I began to notice that I was able to do much more work in a cafe while traveling than in 12 hours at home. The same thing happened a few months later when I was in London. My ideas were much more interesting in the new environment that stimulated my brain.
Having noticed an interesting pattern in this, a year ago I left San Francisco to devote myself to travel. But this time there was a feeling that I had revealed the secret. I am happy, productive, meet new interesting people, learn the real global problems and successfully run .
This is what I understood in the last year.

Traveling is cheaper than staying at home.

These are my expenses with my personal habits. Your numbers will be different.

This is my average monthly stay in Seattle, one year in San Francisco, a year of travel in 20 countries, and one month at a hotel in Bali. Traveling is much cheaper. But since my main expenses are trains and planes, it’s even cheaper to stay in one place.

My friends from San Francisco and Seattle often ask me: “How can you afford to travel so much?” The fact is that I cannot afford not to travel. I start my company and life in San Francisco eats all my savings.

The total cost of my travels around the world is 2921 dollars per month. Now I live in Bali for $ 1,200 a month. But you can live in Chiang Mai (Thailand) for 641 dollars a month .

I am more effective when traveling

When I just started traveling, I was a good tourist - I photographed everything around and did everything that was written in tourist guides. After a couple of exhausting weeks, it dawned on me that this was not a vacation. Now this is my life. I paused and realized that there was a whole month to explore the new city, and there was no rush. I can walk around the city for several hours a day and still manage to do the necessary work.

I was extremely surprised to notice how much more productive time travels. That makes sense. If I came to Rome for just a week, why should I spend time on facebook? Being constantly surrounded by novelty does not leave me time for boredom and improves my concentration, even makes me feel healthier and more creative.

My performance in Seattle in June compared to traveling in September, measured with RescueTime.

I returned to Seattle in June to work with my colleague and think about plans for the future. The development results were worse than the results obtained during travel. I sat at the computer for the same amount, but was easily distracted by TV or the Internet.

In September, traveling through six cities, I was extremely effective working 48 hours a week. Self-discipline during work helps to spend better free time, it turned out to be extremely important.

Work from 9 to 5 is ineffective

Instead of working during the day and having fun in the late afternoon, I prefer to have fun during the day and work at night. I get up faster when I have a walk, and if I do not need to go anywhere, then I have much more time in the afternoon. I like working seven days a week with flexible hours so I can take a day off any day or enjoy an empty cinema at two in the afternoon.

When I worked in the office a lot of time was wasted, due to the need to get to the office and frequent distractions on the Internet. Now I distribute the work throughout the day and can take long breaks to get acquainted with the outside world. After I worked for several hours, I leave to travel around the city until the moment when I want to work again. Or, if I run into a problem that I can’t solve in any way - I walk until the moment I solve it. The frequent shift between fun and work makes the day less stressful and makes me less prone to chronic fatigue.

Stop at LivitBali was the most fruitful time of my life. This place combines a place for work and life (including food) - everything so that I can focus on work and do not care about anything at all. And all this costs $ 1,500 a month, cheaper than just renting a house in many large technology cities. This is a great trend and I am glad to see that such startups appear in Bali and other parts of the world .

Travel broadens my mind

I now have friends all over the world whose life experiences are very different from mine. They bring a new angle to my ideas. I learn about real problems that affect the whole world, such things make me a successful entrepreneur.

While traveling, it is easy to find good people from whom you can learn something new. In many cities there are a large number of coworking, where the "Internet nomads" can meet people from all over the world and find people with whom you can collaborate. Travelers give each other valuable advice on traveling and working in Reddit or on the forum , there are already more than a thousand of us (but we are still growing) in the hashtagnomads chat , the community also organizes rallies around the world.


For travelers, the moment has finally come when it has become easier to work and live while traveling. Traveling is cheaper, more fruitful and more inspiring than staying at home. Work in the office is an anachronism of the past.

The Internet nomad revolution is just beginning and I am glad that I am contributing to this in every way. I hope that we meet someday, somewhere there.

** Thanks to Marina Yaneiko for helping with the Russian language

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