Digital nomads trading resources

Shortly after our very first backpacking trip to Thailand, we started asking ourselves whether digital nomads trading resources could not be a meaningful, mutually beneficial way for fellow travelers to help one another achieve their goals. The goal to “de-cluttering” their lives and escaping the prison of the 9-5 work days. At 47 and 48, respectively, we took the first step towards fulfilling our dream – travelling wherever we want, whenever we want. We took a backpacking month away in Thailand as our first step. On our return, we took some further steps to see whether we could utilize the digital world, together with property we own & the skills we possess to help facilitate our future travels & overcome the restraints that stop us from doing so:

Digital nomads trading resources

Is there a demand for digital nomads trading resources?

Time & money restrictions

As you can probably imagine, breaking away comes with two major restrictions: time and money. Of course, the two are often interconnected. In our case, we need time to work and cater for our day-to-day expenses. In reality, what stops us from travelling fulltime “right now”, is actually money.

Why we are in a favorable position and ready to travel:

1.) We have no children, so we don’t have any commitments, holding us back.
2.) We have no debt at all.
3.) We have a number of small income-generating rental properties, so we have a constant income stream.
4.) Any fixed expenses, such as life coverage, medical bills or insurances, are paid out via this passive income.

This means that our day-to-day expenses, such as food, accommodation and travel costs, need to be covered by “something else”.

This “something else” is the income we would need to generate while traveling. Unfortunately, neither of us is tech savvy enough to monetize the act of travelling alone by working as a travel photographer or writer. Neither do we know how to create an online business. We have a lot to share, such as our real estate experience, and even the potential to brand the “midlife backpackers”. Yet we can’t really put our sales and marketing abilities to practice, since we happen to be born in a generation just prior to the Internet era. Our IT skills are therefore lacking.

Our skills are in property management, customer service, sales, branding and marketing.

Our experience in the world of real estate provides us with understanding of not only how property management works, but what our clients might want, too. This has helped us create our home-stay living experience. This is a self-catering garden apartment that’s ideal for frequent business travelers or anyone, who would like to feel at home while staying in this stunning garden apartment.

The idea behind this project we are busy completing, is to connect us with people who would like to experience this sort of accommodation and would also be willing to provide us with any help with the technical nature with this blog. Digital nomads trading resources with us in a mutually beneficial way. We are looking for guidance, tips or assistance in the tech side of the online business. Help with things such as affiliate marketing or any sort of income generating tool we can use to create a conservative income to keep us on the road.

Questions regarding digital nomads trading resources:

Are digital nomads trading resources at the moment & to what degree? Questions arise about this subject:

1. Would internet marketers, bloggers and digital nomads consider free accommodation in exchange for their knowledge and assistance?
2. What is the demand for experiencing South Africa with this unique way of accommodation?
3. Is there a demand for luxury, self-catering accommodation within the residential South African suburbs?
4. What is the niche market for middle-aged backpackers like? Are there other MidlifeBackpackers like us and is there an actually an untapped market out there, catering to their needs?
5. Do we actually have many like-minded individuals – middle-aged people, wanting to travel, but not like package tourists?

6. Will this blog enable us to connect with them?

7. What is the demands for products and resources within this group?

To Summarize:

We would love this blog, as well as our Facebook page, to become a platform for sharing experiences. Getting opinions and providing feedback from travelers, who feel just as passionate as we are about the nomad lifestyle. We want to create a place, where people can learn about the opportunities to live and work from any place in the world. We believe connecting with like-minded individuals is a mutually beneficial solution. That it can help us understand what we can offer one another and encourage cooperation. In this way we can fullfil our midlife backpacker dream together.
We would love to hear your thoughts or feedback, or any relevant experience you might have. You can reach us by email, or go through our Facebook page. We are always looking to connect with others, who feel passionate about the nomad lifestyle, whether midlifebackpackers or not – so get in touch and we’d love to hear more about you!

Digital nomads trading resources

Digital nomads trading resources can be mutually beneficial

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MidlifeBackpackers first trip

MidlifeBackpackers first trip to Thailand in 2015

Myself Menno & my wife Janneke are not your typical backpackers. For one thing, we are older than the average backpackers. In 2015, we decided to embark on the first of many trips with a backpack & a flexible schedule. Destination: Thailand. The video clip in this post is a short collage of the midlifebackpackers first trip.
We are not the average “package tourists”. In fact, we are not even regular travelers. At 47 & 48 years young, we realize that we are not too old to backpack to far off, dream destinations & do it in the best way possible, to see the country & it’s people in the most real sense possible. The Midlifebackpackers first trip to Thailand was a “test run” to see what we thought about traveling without a formal tour package.

The midlifebackpackers first trip to Thailand started off flying from South Africa, via Doha & then to Phuket. After travelling around Phuket, we traveled up to Bangkok, then to Chiang Mai, back down to Krabi, Ao Nang, Koh Lanta, and back across to Phuket. On this 30 day journey, we learnt how to communicate, how to get around, what to eat, where to sleep & how to go about doing all these seemingly routine things. In a strange country, with a strange language and culture these things are not as routine as one might think.

This is the difference between traveling as backpackers without a set plan & that of package tourists. A package tourist never has to think about where he/she needs to go, how to get there, whether it is suitable or not and so much more. The package tourist does not have to think but merely follow the instructions. The unpredictability, the mishaps, getting lost, getting misunderstood & generally needing to think on one’s feet all the time, is part of the backpacking adventure. This is what we signed up for & this is our dream that we are now living for! The next adventure!

Here is a short video collage of our midlifebackpackers firts trip through Thailand. Hope you enjoy it:

 

 

 

 

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New Zealand guests. Inspiring a road trip?

This week, my brother & his girlfriend came to visit his home country, South Africa after having immigrated to New Zealand some 8 years ago. It has been great to be in touch again, but sad that we can’t get together more often.

Kiwis in Cape Town

Kiwis in Cape Town

For New Zealanders, Cape Town & South Africa is of course an affordable holiday destination. With  the NZ$ currently weighing in at ZAR 8.90, this means they can enjoy a lovely affordable holiday visiting us. Of course this is not the same for South Africans who would like to visit places like New Zealand, as we find our hard earned Rands become worth less by the day. I recall visiting my brother in Auckland about 5 years ago at which time the New Zealand Dollar cost me around R5.50.

In Cape Town, we are used to seeing droves of tourists and especially young, budget backpackers roaming the sights, enjoying the beaches, the sporting and adventure activities & the diverse landscape.

Which brings me to a number of questions I have:

  • Can a South African travel New Zealand on a budget?
  • What would be the best option, backpacking or a campervan/motorhome roadtrip?
  • Is it practical for middle aged backpackers to backpack through New Zealand?
  • Would the accommodation costs saved by using a camper van justify the cost of the campervan?
  • What would our total expenditure be to backpack New Zealand?
  • How would that compare with the total cost of a Camper van or car road trip?
  • Would car or camper van be the better option for a road trip?
  • What are the pros & cons of camping versus sleeping in the camper van?
  • Buying or renting a vehicle for a New Zealand road & camping trip?

Inspiration for a future trip?

Ewold & Wendy’s visit has broadened our horizons as we are sure it will broader theirs, as travel and interaction between people from other countries does. We wonder how many middle aged South Africans there are who consider backpacking a dream as we do, whether there are others out there who share our dreams & ideals. We consider ourselves young at heart and see no need to go on package tours as it seems most other “midlifers” do. We are just an average South African couple, with a dream to see the world. We do not a dream about doing what so many foreign travelers do. Having all their home conveniences & luxuries at hand, mingling with other tourists & staying in resorts which are isolated from the locals of a country.

One thing that I do know for certain is that having taken on the midlife backpackers challenge in Thailand, we have so much more confidence to take on challenges like this in the future. We already have a good number of Kiwi Dollars saved, just to motivate ourselves to step up to this future challenge. So, while we are currently “stuck at home”, while the Kiwis enjoy our amazing country, we’ll be sure to start researching these and many more questions that arise.

Good company

Good company

Blouberg & Table Mountain

Blouberg & Table Mountain

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Sunset over Big Bay, Blouberg

The Blue Peter

The Blue Peter

Janneke with the Kiwis

Janneke with the Kiwis

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From home extension to self contained apartment.

Why would a couple need a 270 square meter home, with 3 living areas, 2 bathrooms & 4 bedrooms? This is what we originally had in mind when we planned & starting building an additional 2 bedrooms & bathroom as an additional to our already large, 200 square meter home. We completed the “shell” a few years ago.

Now that we want to travel more & work less, the original plan does not make sense, so we have amended it to better reflect our “ideal life” (Thanks for the borrowed phrase which Warren Talbot from marriedwithluggage.com uses so often). The new extension will hopefully be an asset to our home as well as travel plans.

Original Plan

Showing the original extension which was to be incorporated into the main existing home as an addition.

Ammended Plan

Showing the conversion to a self contained, 1 bedroom apartment, separate from the main home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have yet to see what the purpose of this extension will be. Various options, however would compliment our dreams of travelling as we pursue our dreams of life as midlifebackpackers:

We could:

-Rent the apartment out thereby generating additional passive income,

-Rent out the original home, while using the apartment as base when we are back from extended travels,

-Use the apartment, the original home, or both sections as Airbnb‘s,

-Use one or both these sections as Home Exchanges.

Whatever the outcome, we are pretty sure it will be a step in the right direction & what’s important to us now, is taking that actual step to start with the building.

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Can our house generate a passive income while we travel?

Having both been property professionals for some 23 years, we have always realized the value of owning property, both as security, as well as a form of generation passive income for retirement “one day”. Which is why we have always saved like crazy to fund & ultimately pay off the few investment properties we own, thereby creating a source of passive income. This passive income is by far not sufficient to “pack up” and travel the world, although we wish it were. We still need to work. Which raises the question: “How else can we generate passive income, while backpacking and seeing other countries?”

Let me first qualify the term “passive income”. This is income that is generated each month, whether we work, play, travel or were to be sick in hospital. In other words, this is not the same as working abroad, or getting paid for ones skills while travelling, like teaching a foreign language or any of the other jobs people do while travelling. When one owns a property (or a few), other than one’s primary residence, these create a rental incomes & can be managed by others in the absence of the owner.

Usually, one’s primary residence does not seem to lend itself to being an asset in this respect, as rather than create an income, one’s home is an expense. When we go away, over and above the usual expenses like rates & taxes and maintenance costs, someone needs to get paid to look after it. Is this emotional attachment & view we have about our homes short sighted?

Over the last few months, rather than view our home as a burden when we are away travelling, we are trying to take a fresh look at our home, with “new eyes”. Some years ago, we started with an adventurous project to add on a really large, luxurious master bedroom, with a lovely garden & pool view patio, a luxurious en-suite bathroom, separate toilet and a small additional utility room. The external structure was built, and the next phase would be completing the inside layout & finishes. In the meantime, our priorities have changed somewhat & we would be quite happy retaining our existing bedroom and home as it currently is.

So, now let’s look at the potential of that same, large, incomplete home extension that we really don’t need. It could easily be completed as an entirely self contained, 1 bedroomed apartment, with an open plan kitchen, living room, separate bedroom, and modest en-suite bathroom, all within the same 60 sqm footprint.

The incomplete exterior of the extension, with entrance door.

The incomplete exterior of the extension, with entrance door. Approximately 60 sqm in size.

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The living area with sliding doors onto incomplete entertainment, BBQ & patio area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does this all mean? We are not too sure yet, but somehow with this new layout, various options come to mind:

-Rent out the separate apartment on a permanent basis, thereby boosting cash flow, while at the same time having someone  there to keep an eye on things while we are gone,

-Rent out our main home as well as the separate apartment fully furnished while we are travelling,

-Rent out one of the portions of the home, while using the other as a base in between travels.

-Create an Airbnb type unit to be available when we are home to run it, and let someone stay there to look after our home while we are travelling,

-Use this apartment to barter with and use as a HomeExchange with people in other places or countries,

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This will eventually be an open plan kitchen area with breakfast nook adjacent to living room.

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Living room with sliding doors leading out to outside patio/BBQ area overlooking garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever the scenario, it definitely makes sense to change the way we intend completing the extension, as the two of us really don’t require it to be incorporated into our existing home. We really don’t need such a massive, many roomed home. We need a home that lends itself to:

  • Ease of maintenance,
  • Security while we are not home,
  • Lock up & go liveability,
  • Flexibility,
  • Simple living.
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The incomplete patio/BBQ area outside ouside of the sliding doors.

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Apartment is set in a well established, private enclosed garden area which is shared with main house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not sure of the ultimate outcome of our project, but we are certain that it will be complementary to our dreams of enjoying “MidlifeBackpacking”, so watch this space.

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Can you see it yet? An AirBnB? An Home Swop apartment? A self catering holiday apartment?

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Great garden & pool views creating tranquil living for whoever gets to enjoy this home in future.

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Thailand backpacking expenditure-2015

Recording our Thailand backpacking expenditure

To keep track of our Thailand backpacking expenditure while on the road, we used a free app called “Expense Manager”. This app makes it fairly fast & easy to input travel costs on an Android device. There are different categories as well as sub categories that you can create as you wish. It also has a few summaries, graphs and other useful budgeting report features. You can also save the expenses from phone to a laptop or email the csv sheet to yourself to later format as you wish. Here is the link: Expense Manager

Here are our summarized costs:

Accomodation:                   20846 Baht

Transportation:                  12455 Baht

Restaurant meals:             10214 Baht

Snack meals:                       4572 Baht

Drinks:                                 6357 Baht

Tours:                                  6000 Baht

Misc. Groceries & other:      4320 Baht

Personal clothing:  2983 Baht

Gifts:      4030 Baht

Personal care:                     2957 Baht

Total:                                 74734 Baht

This is an average of R891/day. 

Opportunities for savings.

It would not be accurate to divide this by 2 to try and get to a cost per person, as obviously the single traveler would need to budget for more than when with a partner & sharing many costs such as accommodation & motorcycle for example. It’s fair to say that we stayed in rather luxurious accommodation, so could have saved quite a bit there. We also traveled fairly large distances from South to North. So where we could have saved on those, we could have spent more on tours & experiences for example. Restaurant meals are also fairly pricey compared with food bought from street vendors & markets.

Knowing WHAT you spend, helps you to know HOW to cut costs

Whatever the case may be, we could have spent way less, or way more, so now that we’ve found our travelling legs, we’ll be back to challenge ourselves & our budgeting abilities in the next chapter. The main thing though is keeping record, as if you don’t know where the money is going, there is not much opportunity for cutting cost.

Detailed breakdown of our Thailand backpacking expenditure:

For a complete breakdown of our day to day expenses, have a look at the detailed pdf document by clicking & opening the following link. We hope this is of value to you:

Detailed expenses-Download PDF

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Luxury Budget Accomodation for midlifebackpackers

A good friend and family member explained the phrase “slackpacking” to us, as being backpacking, but with more creature comforts. Accomodation in 3 star hotels & resorts, would therefore qualify as being suitable to slackpackers.  Hostels would be suited more for backpackers. We’ll just stick to calling ourselves “midlifebackpackers”.

Because we have never really been an avid travelers, and are only starting in our late 40’s, I think we can gently ease ourselves into backpacking, by taking a few shortcuts initially. After all, with the hardships of lugging baggage all over town in the seething heat, in a strange country, where nobody knows what you are saying while not having a clue where you are, deserves a few luxuries once you have figured out where you are, where you need to go, how to get there & who to trust & who to steer clear of.

The following hotels we stayed at are an example of clean, comfortable & well located hotels. They were all priced between 700baht to 1200baht (or ZAR250 to ZAR430) for 2 per day & sometimes included breakfast.

NAI YANG:  Naiyang Beach Resort & Spa

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PATONG:  Patong Swiss Hotel

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BANGKOK:  Trang

Hotel

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CHIANG MAI:  Eurana Boutique Hotel

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AONANG:  Tip Anda Bungalows

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KO LANTA:  Kaw Kwang Resort

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We found www.booking.com to be invaluable for various reasons.

  • We could see the locations of accommodation in relation to a place that we had just arrived at.
  • We could get a good idée as to what to expect from the photos as well as the reviews other travelers had left & the ratings they gave the accommodation.
  • We could book there and then, from a wi-fi restaurant, station or terminus we arrived at whether from our laptop or mobile app.
  • Once we knew we had a place to sleep on the day of arrival, found the place & liked it, we could just extend online too, or decide to move on & look for something else.

As with anything, with time & experience our confidence will grow & we’ll take more risks, try more accommodation options & grow accustomed to lesser levels of luxury & convenience in our future travels. On our 1st Thailand adventure however, we were happy all in all with the choices me made & the places we stayed that generally offered us good service, kindness & a comfortable place to rest our very weary heads.

See more on https://www.facebook.com/midlifebackpackers

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A good travel companion & comfort zones

I am writing this piece as a tribute to my lovely partner Janneke, who exceeded my expectations and proved that she would be well adapted to travel anywhere & under any circumstances with me. Not only did she constantly “go with the flow” but in fact shifted her boundaries beyond her comfort zones to make this a great trip & one that I would gladly do again with her, anywhere, anytime.

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Not everyday is a breeze & life on the beach comes only as a reward for some tough travelling obstacles that one needs to endure on a trip like like this. To her credit, Janneke overcame her fear of flying, with flying colours, especially bearing in mind that this has been the first time she has ever been overseas, so the long & arduous trip was no small feat, especially with a long 8 hour layover in Doha, Qatar where we did some sleeping on both chairs, as well as floors………..

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………whether hauling around a ton of luggage in the sweltering heat of the day, or getting soaked in Monsoon rains while the sweet is still mixing in with the drenching rain, was not a problem for her as she handled this with a smile….

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…..inconvenient travel, no problem. Whether in the back of a Songthaew, walking for km’s, on the back of a truck, heavily loaded on a small motorbike (& even once with three of us on a small motorcycle), she handled it all……

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…….and if ever she was ever scared of getting downright dirty, or had a fear of large potentially dangerous animals, well, she got over that too……..

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……..even drifting out in the ocean, or swimming through a dark, long tunnel in the rock face of an island, to get through to a tropical crater paradise, did’nt put her off……

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A trip like this is all about getting out of the rutt & that often means out of one’s comfort zones. This is most certainly what Janneke did. I am proud of her & look forward to many more, fun filled & sometimes tough travels with her at my side.

By Menno van Mechelen

https://www.facebook.com/midlifebackpackers?ref=hl

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Refuse in Thailand. What the brochures don’t show.

One really sad thing that is obvious in Thailand is the refuse & pollution everywhere. It’s overwhelming & something we did not expect here. Refuse is everywhere, whether it be city or countryside, town or beach. It really seems like the locals have no idea that they are being swamped by refuse. Everywhere we went, we saw tourists looking for dirt bins to dispose of their refuse. Yet, these are difficult to find & often just a refuse bag lying around somewhere has to serve the purpose. Even along the tourist beachfront strips, there is generally a stinking dump of accumulating refuse to be found.

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It’s actually really sad as it seems that it’s up to the Western Tourists to educate the local people on the fact that this refuse is going to destroy the beautiful country they have on offer here. From various discussions with visitors that have been visiting Thailand for decades, it also seems that the changing tourist visitors that visit also have a influence as more Chinese and Russian tourists start to frequent Thailand with little regard for the environment, where this in general is of concern to the European & Western tourists who are far more aware of their responsibility in protecting & preserving this beautiful country they visit. The neglect & filthy canals & rivers flushing out the stench of city rubbish into the sea with each high & low tide change, was the one really disappointing part of our trip & something we would like to raise awareness of.

See our Facebook Midlifebackpackers Page at:

https://www.facebook.com/midlifebackpackers?ref=hl

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Stray dogs living the beach bum lifestyle in Thailand

Our perceptions of the proverbial “dogs life” that many stray animals may have may have changed somewhat over the last few weeks that we have been in Thailand. We have seen a great number of seemingly “stray” dogs, loafing about in the streets & especially on the beaches. The difference in Thailand however seems to be that these dogs are always fed by whoever they choose to hang around with. Whether it be a Phuket service station where the petrol attendants care for, or a Ko Lanta “beach bum” dogs that seems to “belong” to the caring staff at the local resort.

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What does seem obvious though is that these dogs are all extremely friendly, relaxed & happy to play with one another, play in the surf, run around playfully encouraging the beach goers to give them attention & taking long naps in the cool of the beach brush & palms.

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It seems that the philosophy of the people has rubbed off on these dogs, in there calm, relaxed & “zen” ways. Also, they never seem hungry & are even quite choosy of what they accept when offered treats by tourists. They may just be living the life they choose, coming & going as they wish.

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