Making decisions is fascinating to me. Once you build a base level of competence, where you can trust that you will follow through with whatever you decide to do, you could say that your life is largely an exercise in decision making.
There's a concept we've all probably heard of, called paralysis of choice, where when given too many options, it becomes difficult to choose one specific one. There's a gelato place in Las Vegas called Gelatology that has twenty or so new flavors every day. It's nearly impossible to choose just one or two.
On the other end of the spectrum, I think when our choices are artificially narrowed, we have a tendency to forget that other choices exist.
I get asked a lot if I'm ever going to settle down. Right now I visit maybe twenty or thirty countries per year, plus another five or ten cities within the US. It's a pace that I find pretty comfortable, but there are downsides to it.
But settling down? One place? If those are the two options, I guess I keep traveling.
Why are those the only two options, though? Who made that rule?
Buying an island with ten friends was a major eye-opener to me. It seemed too good to be true, but then turned out to be even better than expected. Outsiders predicted interpersonal disaster, but it's strengthened friendships and created new ones. What an amazing model, though: each of us feels as though he has his own private island, yet bears only ten percent of the cost. Plus there's a community aspect that wouldn't exist if any one of us owned the thing alone.
So why not do it again and again?
I bought just about the cheapest housing you can buy in Las Vegas and then spent an above-average amount to make it really functional and nice. In San Francisco I have my RV. With those and the island I have three homes that cost me less than $1000 per month combined. Over the next few years I want to buy places in Budapest, Tokyo, and New York. Budapest is cheap enough that I'm shooting to do it within a year, Tokyo is possible now if I buy on the outskirts and split it, but New York will have to wait a bit (though I do have a plan...).
So in the end I'll have six home bases. In Vegas and San Francisco, the two "mature" home bases, I have really great setups for the things that are important to me. I have a great desk, comfortable ergonomic chair, second monitor, access to healthy food, and everything I need to make top-quality tea. By the summer of 2017 I should have most of that at the island as well.
That gives me a ton of stability. I can work at full capacity at any of my home bases and don't have to waste time booking accommodations, finding a gym, or finding food. My experience can be consistent across the different home bases, causing no interruption to my routine.
At the same time, it gives me even more freedom and flexibility than pure travel does. Each one provides me with a hub from which to explore a region of the world. San Francisco gives me West Coast, Las Vegas adds in the rest of the US due to extremely cheap flights, New York gives me the east coast, Budapest gives me Europe, and Japan gives me Asia.
I don't think this is a great solution for everyone, of course. I like organizing things like this and there's decent overlap in places I love and places where real estate is inexpensive. But that's the point-- you don't have to choose between the two most common options. You can think about what maximizes the attributes that you value and figure out how to make it a reality. For me that's six minimal home-bases. For you it could be anything.
Photo is a path in Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo. I was just there and caught the tail end of the cherry blossoms.
Shout out to Ergo Depot for giving me an awesome huge adjustable desk, chair, and other stuff for my Vegas place. It's now my favorite place to work that isn't a cruise ship.
Tynan, you are always so disciplined, organized and living your life to the fullest at your age -- quite impressive! Though i do not or cannot do what you do, it is inspiring.
After a lifetime of moving around and one huge earthquake in 2011, I am pretty averse to owning property. Having said that, nice plan. Have you considered SE Asia in terms of an Asian hub though? Singapore really does have cheap access by air to pretty much anywhere. Japan, not so much.Look forward to hearing more about the project. I'm buying an old 'manshon' (condo) in Sendai this year. Get out of Tokyo and the prices come down by 2/3 ;)
When people ask you "when are you settling down?" they are mainly telling themselves "I made the right choice by settling down".
The first part of this post reminds me a bit of this piece from Snarky Nomad: This is the stupidest question to ask a travel junkie
I think setting up multiple home bases is the most likely long term path for me. I've been doing the same with SFO/ORD for a while, and have much of the same gear there - 4k HD monitor, temperature controlled tea kettle... :)
What I like about Tynan's blog is that life doesn't have to be going down a checklist. Most people live like they have to do the following checklist: high school, drivers license, college, college sweetheart, find career job for 20-30 years, get married, have children, buy big house in the suburbs, work long hours at a job they hate, spend money on everything that others will be impressed by, retire, wait to die while watching TV in a nursing home.
I've been traveling consistently now for over eight years. In that time I've visited around seventy countries, many of them several times. But how I travel has changed considerably over those years.
While I might think that there are some "wrong" ways to travel, I don't think that there is one correct way to do it. Goals and circumstances change, and different travel styles accommodate those changes.
Maybe more than anything, I'm using talking about travel to illustrate something that I like to harp on: the idea that you should constantly reevaluate your habits and patterns to make sure that they suit you. Sometimes we build identities around things we do rather than things we are, and that's unhealthy.
My first serious international trip was nine months long. Todd and I sold everything, packed small bags, and circled the world. Some of our stops were short, but several lasted for a month or two.
Back then my goal was to just see and understand the world. I had a vague idea that my outlook on life was limited by my surroundings, and I wanted to see what life was like in different places. Staying for long times and removing myself from the United States accomplished that.
I can't say now that I've seen and understand the whole world, but that's no longer a weak point. I understand a lot more and have seen a lot. So while I still move closer to those goals when I travel, they're no longer the primary reasons I do it.
Now I travel in much shorter bursts. I'm in San Francisco for three days, was just in Las Vegas for four, Austin for two, and San Francisco for a few before that. I don't think I've been in any one place for more than three weeks consecutively in the past three years.
At the same time, I return to the same places over and over again. It's impossible for me to count how many times I've been to Tokyo, Vegas, San Francisco, the island, or New York in the past few years. Budapest is new on my radar, but I've been four times in the past year or so.
A big principle in my life is flexibility. I try to build myself into a flexible person. I don't need to be a master of too many skills, but I strive to be proficient at a basic level across as many disciplines as possible. At some level I can program, dance ballet, speak ten languages, rap, lead groups, entertain people, write, do construction, appreciate art, cook, and do many other things. I'm a beginner in many of those areas, but having any proficiency gives me a lot of flexibility in what I can achieve and where I can be useful.
This principle also extends to travel. My goal is to be able to be anywhere at any time if the situation calls for it. If there was a good reason to be in Shanghai tomorrow, it wouldn't be a big deal to get there. I've got frequent flyer miles banked, can counteract jetlag, can work on the plane as well as at my destination, and can get by in Chinese. In the same way that someone's day might be altered but not totally disrupted by a change in weather, my life is altered but not disrupted by changing my location.
While before I used to go to places for the sake of the place itself, now I move around more because of the people. I always come back to San Francisco because it has the highest concentration of good friends. My friend Nick and his family invited me to go on a cruise with them in the Baltic Sea this summer, and my friend Jimmy was planning on being in Europe afterwards, so I'll spend the late summer and fall in Europe.
The hassle of switching locations used to be a big deal, so I would try to minimize it by staying in one place for long periods of time. As I've grown accustomed to it, moving around a lot impacts my productivity and schedule far less than it used to, so I do it more.
I've also found that certain types of travel aren't as valuable to me as they used to be. I used to find solo travel exciting, but now I'm most likely to hole up in my airbnb and work if I'm by myself. So if I'm going to be by myself, I just go back to Vegas where cost of living is low and productivity is high. Traveling to new countries just for the sake of seeing a new place is also less exciting to me. I still enjoy it, but it's less revelatory, so I only do it if there's some other reason to go.
This is how I travel now, but I expect it will change in the upcoming years. If I was traveling this same way ten years from now I'd be concerned that I had stopped evolving as a person. After all, our habits and routines should reflect who we are.
Maybe I'll even stop traveling. It's hard to imagine that now, but you never know. Part of being flexible is having the flexibility to stay in one place if there's some reason to.
Travel is a big part of my life, so it's worthwhile to examine it and make sure that it still reflects my priorities and goals, and isn't just a vestige of an old identity. It may not be travel for you, but it's worth examining those things that take up a lot of your time to make sure that your time is being spent in a way that aligns with your goals.
Photo is a bamboo forest in Noumea, New Caledonia. Probably the most "off the beaten path" place I've visited recently.
My new book sales have been really bad! I still enjoyed writing the book, but you readers have spoken... I will only write self-help books in the future. I'll probably write the next one I have planned in the fall.
Uber, a San Francisco startup, is ruffling lots of regulatory feathers, as reported recently in the New York Times. I also wrote about my experience with Uber back in 2010.
I'll be the first to agree that car sharing services like Uber and Lyft present difficult problems for regulators. But that's not what this post is about.
My problem is with a statement made by Matthew Daus, the former chairman of NYC's taxi & limousine commission. He said, "New Yorkers deserve an apology from Uber for price-gouging them during the hurricane." Besides having a hopeless conflict of interest as the former commissioner, he's throwing out the bully phrase "price-gouging" as if basic supply & demand economics didn't apply to him or his industry.
If Uber doubling its rates (or more) after hurricane Sandy to adjust supply with demand is price-gouging, then I'd like to coin an equally demeaning term: "time-gouging."