As we sit in our rented apartment in gorgeous Hoi An, south Vietnam, we can’t help but reflect how our lives have changed since that one trip that we did a year ago, back in May 2015.
It was our 2 week holiday in Cuba that made us take a closer look at our day to day life, make a conscious decision to do something differently and to become location independent.
Travelling makes you see the world from a different perspective and it made us realise how lucky we are to even be able to travel. Just by meeting people and visiting new places we are constantly inspired, and through being inspired we want to inspire and motivate others to travel.
How Cuba and Cubans inspired us to become location independent
This was our second amazing destination after getting married and then honeymooning in Hawaii the previous year. Spending nearly a month on the amazing Hawaiian islands made us eager to travel more, but the trip to Cuba made us realise we wanted to make travel the main focus of our life.
Those 2 weeks allowed us to only lightly scratch the surface of this jewel in the Caribbean, it simply wasn’t enough time. We left the country with bitter sadness and a massive desire to become location independent.
As we explored magical Havana, chilled with the locals on the beautiful Malecon at sunset, tasted our first Cuban cigar, sipped rum by the beach and listened to the local salsa rhythms on the steps in the main plaza in Trinidad, we could feel the change was coming.
At that time we both worked for the companies that hardly inspired us. We tried to balance it out with short trips around the beautiful English countryside or quick city breaks. Charlie was always more interested in being self employment than working for someone else, no matter how good the job or pay was, being employed just didn’t stoke his fire.
In Cuba it was the local people and the surroundings that were inspiring us before we even knew it. If you’ve been to Cuba, you will have seen the locals doing their absolute best to make a living.
When you set foot into the country, you meet people who struggle to do things they want to purely because of the lack of infrastructure, government restrictions and limited resources. But they will keep on trying to make it work and to us these people were an absolute inspiration.[bctt tweet=”The Cubans opened our eyes to the freedom and possibilities we had, so why were we wasting them?” username=”maptrotting”]
How 2 week holiday in Cuba made us see the opportunities
The majority of Cubans are well educated, passionate and hard working, but most of them are restricted to what they can do and where they can go. Their opportunities are limited.
Opposite to Cuban lifestyle, coming from Europe we are free to travel the world, do things we love and create our own future. Once again, Cubans made us realise how lucky we are.
Cuba and its people made us see the luxury of endless opportunities that we, westerners, are blessed with but often don’t see them or even worse, ignore them. Because changing something in your life, if you aren’t content, is as scary as hell.
We are still scared of the uncertainty, still figuring things out and trying to make things work. But one of the biggest steps has been made, we made a decision and committed to it.
A big push to us was the fact that 2 weeks later we were flying back to London, going back to the jobs that hardly inspired us and would have to wait another 6 months until we could take another 2 week trip.
At that time we both worked jobs that we didn’t really believe in wholeheartedly and doing this daily is not only hard, but also brain draining.
During this trip we realised that 2 week holidays will never be enough for us. We will never be able to explore the world with only 25 days of holiday per year. Especially because I always used nearly half of my holiday allowance to go back home to Lithuania to see my friends and family.
When you are on a two week holiday, you just about start getting into the whole travelling thing and then it’s soon time to head home. Knowing that we have so little time to some extent made our trip less enjoyable. We always felt pressured to explore as much as we could and ended up worn out, not really the idea of a holiday we thought.
The trip to Cuba also made us realise that it’s not the holiday that we want, even if it’s 4 weeks long. We want it to be our lifestyle. We want to be location independent and be able to work from any corner of the world.
We finally saw the opportunity to do so and we didn’t let it go. We looked at our then current situation as an opportunity to start a new chapter in our life.
‘Ideas have souls’, said Liz Gilbert in her Big Magic book, they will visit you and will patiently wait until you make the decision to make the idea your reality. But if you hesitate and wait too long, the idea will go and find a new home.
How many times did you think that someone stole your idea and did exactly the same thing you wanted to do? It’s all true then. Everything starts with one decision, seizing the opportunities in front of us or at least trying.
Making the decision to become location independent and inspire others
It was well into our amazing visit to Cuba when we visited one of the most amazing beaches in the Caribbean, Playa Pillar on Cayo Guillermo, so vividly described in Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream.
This 500 m beach is covered in diamond–dust like sand, so fine that if you drop a handful, it will blow away before hitting the ground.
Whilst sitting on the the beach, glass of rum in one hand and cigar in the other, we decided something had to change. At this point we knew we wanted more experiences like this and that it was time for us to quit London.
So we made a plan and here we are. We’ve replaced office life with the freedom to work when and where we want, experiencing the world instead of just wishing we could travel ‘some day’.
When we came back to London we set a deadline of 6 months, during which we saved hard for our travel. We made a plan to start our location independent life in South East Asia. We bought one way plane tickets to Bangkok early to make it all very real.
After exploring Thailand, Laos and half of Vietnam, we are now renting an apartment in Hoi An where we are building our website, travel blogging and enjoying our location independent lifestyle.
We have a long way to go, are learning every day, but it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.[bctt tweet=”After being inspired by Cuba, we want to inspire others not be afraid of change. ” username=”maptrotting”]
Our ultimate goal is to show others how to travel smarter and enjoy a location independent lifestyle.
We know it’s not for everyone and it’s not all just sunshine and beaches. There is a lot of hard work involved to make it happen. Plus we do miss our families and friends, but we are happy we are doing something we both love, long may it last.