Don't just collect countries, invest in them!

When you look back at your travels in a decade, ensure a bigger ROI than just passport stamps and memories

I’ve been a location independent entrepreneur for as long as I can remember – really, since about 1999, if I consider doing work for a client in another city and communicating by phone and email.

But really since the early mid-2000’s, when I started traveling a lot and was able to continue working on my laptop while on the move.

Finally, I went international with it about a decade ago and haven’t looked back. I was earning in one currency, paying my contractors on the other side of the world in their currency, and living by flag theory in a tropical paradise before Tim Ferris and the 4-Hour Workweek told the world it was possible, certainly before it was trendy to do so like it is now.

I’ve been ahead of the curve and seen a lot of macro trends long before they happened – and I do say this to brag, because I’m proud of my ability to see over the horizon – but there’s a really harsh punchline for me, and that is, I didn’t take advantage of what I knew was happening.

Maybe in some small ways, but not to any level I can really say I took to the bank, made a massive difference in people’s lives. I was focused on the path that I had chosen, which was building this really niche whitewater sport into something viable.

And I succeeded in some senses with that, and I made some incredible connections, and of course I had these amazing experiences traveling the world and exploring rivers and places in the outdoors that few humans ever get to see. And that was the choice that I made, and I was able to do that because I was still working on small stuff on the side.

But here’s the thing – traveling is awesome. Ticking items off your bucket list is great. And seeing the world is honestly one the best things an individual can do to gain a deeper understanding of humanity and how things work on this planet. But it’s also fun to travel, and it’s cool in a competitive way to count the number of countries that you’ve been to, the passport stamps you’ve gotten.

Listen – this is so important! DON’T JUST COLLECT COUNTRIES – INVEST IN THEM!

Really if I have to say what’s the biggest regret I have in my life to this point, it’s the fact that I’ve been to so many countries and see so many trends over the past decade and a half, and haven’t focused on finding some way to take advantage of them.

Frankly it pisses me off, at myself, for for not being more tenacious with things.

Don’t look back in 10 years, and be like “sweet, man I got 60 countries, 100 countries, or I hit every country in the world and have nothing to show for it except for passport stamps and a famous instagram account.

Those things are great – but in 10 years you’re going to look back and be fucking pissed if you don’t invest in at least one, or several of the countries that you really like and see opportunity in as you’re traveling. Trust me!

You don’t want to be in your 30’s and realize you missed out on planting those seeds that would have been so easy to plant years before, and have something growing and flourishing now, when you’re looking back.

I wish I’d had a mentor, someone to tell me, dude! don’t just collect countries and experiences, fucking invest in the places you believe are going to become something over the next 5, 10, 15 years! Find a way, partner with locals, invest a chunk of all you earn, convince your friends and family like “this is the next hot spot!” if you’re able to see those trends developing.

And if not, work on that skill! Learn to see the signals of positive growth and change in these amazing places that you’re traveling, learn to get a sense of what is needed in those growing cities or countries or regions, or to see what could be exported from those places to the rest of the world.

Or even just to say this service or this product could meet a need that is here in this place right now, this place that is growing, and build it yourself if you have to, take 6 months, or 1 year, 2 years, and build that business if you have to, do it in a way that creates a system that you can empower local people to work in, and still manage while traveling, if that’s your goal. Or find a partner that wants to be on the ground there more permanently, and invest with them, and then you go do your thing, but keep closely connected with it.

Is it risky? Yeah! But so is working a desk job, so is the stock market, so is crossing the street in the morning to get your latte! Everything in life has risk. This isn’t about the risk – that’s not what keeps people from investing in the frontier, and it definitely wasn’t what kept me from doing it, heck my whole life was engrossed in constant risk on the river.

This is about a conscious decision to go beyond just traveling, or even traveling and volunteering – it’s about deciding I’m going to find a way to plant seeds, to plant something of substance, with roots in these places that I come across where I see potential and opportunity for long term growth.

So travel, see the world, share those experiences, have the time of your life – but please, don’t just collect countries, invest in them. Your future self will thank you, your future impact will likely be a lot bigger.

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