travel-money1

Life

  • October 3, 2017 Well I’ve just gone and done something I never thought I’d do in a million years, something further stamping the cliche “digital nomad” label on my forehead. But, for better or worse, I’m excited: I just signed up for an online “sell a product on Amazon” e-commerce course.    I see your eyes rolling. And mine definitely were too when I plunked down a couple grand of savings on my wacky intuition.    I start the course tomorrow so I wanted to make a public post now to 1) be able to compare my perspective before, during, and after the experience, 2) to promote some accountability in myself because now all of you know I’m doing this so I have to take it seriously and actually make money, and 3) I thought other people ... READ MORE
  • September 1, 2017 I work with a lot of people on career transitions: helping them change industries, find jobs overseas, or work for themselves. What many of them don’t realize is that the entire strategy for getting them to the other side lies well within their reach — the opportunity they’re waiting for already exists somewhere in the tangled web of their personal network.   They just have to sit down and untangle that web.   However, most of these people also hate networking. My job then becomes to show them how painless networking can be if you just take a slightly different approach.   The ones who bite the bullet and use my approach wind up changing their lives. One of my clients went from managing a store in Virginia to working for her dream company, ... READ MORE
  • August 27, 2017        Last week I sat on a wide grassy plain with 30,000 people watching a total solar eclipse as part of the Oregon Eclipse – Symbiosis Gathering. The last total solar eclipse visible in the United States took place in 1979, so this was really worth traveling 6,000 miles from my current base in Berlin, Germany to witness.   The elders of several Native American nations from both North and South America sang and danced, cries to protect the Earth’s water rang out from leaders of the Dakota Pipeline protests, and groups of older men and women who sat at Woodstock in 1969 held hands and howled as the moon passed over the sun and a dark, cool, eerie light shown down on this gathering of artists, free spirits, entrepreneurs, families, and activists.   I ... READ MORE
  • July 12, 2017 If you missed me spilling my guts to millions of people, check out my latest piece for Fast Company: I'm Living Proof That It's Time to Redfine the American Dream. This piece put me in a really vulnerable place, so if you read it and liked it, send me an email at elaina@lifebefore30.com — I could use some love and reassuarance or just to touch base with readers after this one.    In doing research for the piece, I polled my Facebook friends (a very scientific methodology) about how they defined success and wanted to share the results. I found many of their replies to be really insightful and motivating. Enjoy!     "These 3 quotes always speak to me as guidelines: 'A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to ... READ MORE
  • June 28, 2017   That would be me holding a one way ticket to Berlin last week, embarking on a new chapter and another twist in my wacky, unstable, unconventional adventure through life.   Over the past two weeks I've flown from work in New Zealand to home in Buffalo, NY and finally over to my other home. in Berlin — three continents in 10 days and my mind and body are just catching up to start asking what I know some people around me must be thinking: What are you doing with your life?!   In short, I left Uber after 8 months on the international operations team of their global mapping deployment. I was traveling almost every two weeks to launch a new city, working in 15 cities in 3 countries (Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand), and picked up a lot of new skills and experiences thanks ... READ MORE
  • May 29, 2017 “Why should we all use our creative power…? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold, and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” — Brenda Ueland   Money is an inconvenient but necessary evil we all have to deal with. We’re too far down the rabbit hole to pretend it’s less important than it really is.   In my own life, I’ve been able to change jobs, leave jobs, travel to 55 countries, and build my own small business mostly because I’m an expert at managing my money — and I’m always motivated to help more people become financially savvy. Because if you can stay out of debt, become a minimalist, and save religiously, you can purchase your ticket to freedom.   As Ralph Waldo Emerson once ... READ MORE
  • May 21, 2017 I’ve come to accept that being a blogger means giving all my secrets away.   Today I’m going to tell you my biggest secret for coming up with new ideas, getting and staying inspired, and maintaining my creative productivity while still working a full-time job.   It's pretty simple. At least once a month, I spend a Sunday in solitude from sunrise to sunset — no technology or other people allowed — and take the day to fully disconnect myself and engage in purposeful thought, creative exploration, and self-care.    I call them Sundays for the Soul and they are a sacred practice in my life. They help me get inspired, work on important projects, and recalibrate my physical and mental health.    My kind of Sunday for the Soul   Today was one of my Sundays for the Soul, so I'll ... READ MORE
  • May 3, 2017 I've been living in Australia for the past two months and I have to admit the laidback, quirky, and creative Aussie energy has resonated deeply with me. In Sydney, I lived with a bunch of seriously talented Brazilian DJs, dated the lead singer of a heavy rock band, caught up with a friend from Mongolia who started a small leather goods business, then moved in with film students in Adelaide, met the full-time bassist for another major Australian rock band, made friends with the only non-Japanese member of a Japanese techno group, SCUBA dived with a bunch of badass dive instructors who live full-time on a boat out on the Great Barrier Reef, and later rented a house from two professional circus performers.    Yes, circus performers.   When I told my pink-haired AirBnb host that ... READ MORE
  • February 16, 2017   I’ve been living outside the United States for four years, but I still can’t help it. Yesterday at the supermarket in a small Mexican town, I found myself shifting from side to side, sighing, and crossing and uncrossing my arms as I waited for the woman in front of me to exchange a litany of pleasantries with the cashier before searching for exact change and finally meandering off with her carton of milk.    For most of us, there’s no difference between waiting in line at the supermarket and planning out the rest of our lives. There’s this ingrained understanding in American culture that time is money, so we’ve been raised not to waste a minute or a dollar in getting there, somewhere, anywhere. We live our lives in the express lane, ... READ MORE
  • January 17, 2017   I’m coming up on four full years a nomad in March of this year. Given that this is roughly the same amount of time it would have taken me to get a PhD, I’ve become an expert at arriving, settling in, and temporarily making a life for myself everywhere from Ulaanbaatar to Johannesburg.   Earlier this week I pulled up on my rented bicycle (with no kickstand, no lights, and quirky brakes, but it’s perfect) to the little casita I rented while working this month in the city of Merida. The is backyard full of overgrown tropical plants, the swimming pool is surrounded by 17th century stone walls, and I literally wake up to the sounds of birds at sunrise.    Merida itself is charming, crumbling, creative colonial town that sits on the tip ... READ MORE
  • December 29, 2016 Besides the 9 months I spent in the womb, no consecutive period of time has been more critical to my development as a human than this past year.   2016 took me to eleven countries, and a few beautiful images stick out in my mind: Being served chai by young sadhu babas on the top of a silent, misty mountain in India, running into a herd of furry yaks at 14,000 feet in the Himalayas, and hitchhiking in pickup trucks in the Nepalese highlands with a hopelessly charming Israeli, snow-capped peaks and emerald lakes flanking our vistas.    Most of all, I’ll never forget riding on the back of a motorcycle in south India, racing past villages of colorful blocks stacked on green swampy rice fields with a gang of fellow bohemians thinking without ... READ MORE
  • December 20, 2016 It’s a blazing, sunny Sunday afternoon and anyone with a brain between their ears is outside basking in all its life-giving glory. I, on the other hand, am locked up in my hotel room with the drapes pulled shut. There’s just so much to write.   I’m pretty much one of those loner writer types who thinks of herself as her own favorite person. But if I can’t just bask in my own company, ideally with a leather-bound journal in my right paw, I’ll happily accept a book as substitute.    I do like people, being a loner doesn’t mean I begrudge my fellow humans, I just prefer them hanging in a delicate balance with my treasured creative time, a sensible counterweight to life’s most pleasurable activity, which for me would be nestling up ... READ MORE
  • December 14, 2016 I’ve been working with professionals who are unhappy in their day jobs for several years now, helping them to use love, creativity, and minimalism to break free of social and economic conventions and find the work and lifestyle they love. We usually succeed and it feels amazing for all of us.   Right now, I’m doing the entrepreneur two-step, alternating between working stable 9 to 5 jobs and then traveling and pursuing my own stuff full-time for as long as I can afford it. It’s an unconventional way to set my life up, but it works for me. There’s no one way to set up a life that let’s you do what you want, which is why I don’t preach that everyone should quit their job or become a digital nomad or ... READ MORE
  • October 24, 2016 Thirty years ago, a job title told others how you earned money; today a job title tells others who you are.  In a highly capitalistic society, it makes sense that our sense of self would be derived from how we earn money. We’ve been taught that there’s who we are, what we love to do, and how we earn money, and somehow those all need to be one thing. I think this is why there’s so much pressure to find a job that encompasses our passion — ultimately, we want to be able to easily communicate who we are by saying what we do for a living. This leads to a lot of rhetoric — and a lot of myths — around “finding” passion. It’s become this elusive thing we have to find and then ... READ MORE
  • October 17, 2016 No time to stop being busy and just be good To return calls, and show up on time To smile, to look each other in the eye To serve others without recognition To focus on how we live versus what we do. All these things you busy people do  You think they make you who you are But it’s all just mass confusion We’re forgetting our humanity, fragility Our leisure and our lore The biggest mistake we make is Trying to be successful, to be recognized To fight the reality that someday we will pass away And be forgotten Like billions before. READ MORE
  • September 30, 2016   If you’re a regular reader here at Life Before 30, you’ll notice a few common themes running through the blog: identifying meaningful career and living opportunities, finding purpose and direction, embracing travel, adventure, and play, and mastering the art of change and self-evolution. Today’s topic falls in the last category: I want to share an insight that’s changing everything about how I enact change.    Personally, I have a huge appetite for change. I’d rank high in the personality type for “openness,” which describes people who hunger for new experiences. I travel constantly, read psychology and self-development books by the pile, and write non-stop about ways to improve myself, my peers, and society at large. And I’m still trying to work out the balance between accepting myself and things exactly as they ... READ MORE
  • September 25, 2016 It’s no wonder 70% of millennials are unhappy in the workforce — most of them haven’t had time to consider what they’d actually like to do after graduation, or they simply can’t afford to do what they really want because they’re in debt. So the poets are bankers and the designers are consultants and the activist has gone into advertising, which results in a huge portion of our youth becoming marginalized, misplaced, and frustrated in large part because of a financial burden they couldn’t possibly comprehend at the age of 17. READ MORE
  • July 15, 2016 When it came to my professional life, I felt small, alone, lost, and just unable. I had the enthusiasm for work that cats have for baths. What was happening? Then a couple of weeks later, I experienced a shift in my thinking that helped re-spark my usual excitement for life. Along with taking baby steps in the right direction — forcing myself to read, writing the outline of an article, going to just one networking event, staying focused on my health and physical well-being — I re-conceptualized my relationship to the world and to work in a way that got me right back on track. READ MORE
  • July 1, 2016 Do you ever walk away from a conversation (or from stalking someone on the Internet) and think to yourself, “How does that person have it all figured it out?” Everything about them gives off the vibe of success — or imminent success. The public health undergraduate with experience in East African rural medicine, working at the intersection of IT and healthcare for a Fortune 500, and applying to top medical programs in her spare time. The public policy guru who just published her first book and is beginning her foreign service tour in Asia, all before the age of 27.    Then there's you. You're working at a decent company in a job unrelated to what you studied, fantasizing over a job you're under-qualified for, and have no idea where you'll be in ... READ MORE
  • June 24, 2016 I do believe there is something to be said for “natural talent.” Gifts have their roots, but it is the proper time and cultivation that enable them to flourish. I like to think that any of us could salsa like that Brazilian dancer if we simply devoted the time, energy, and focus. The real question becomes: to what do we devote ourselves with this kind of passion? READ MORE
  • June 20, 2016 Every month I work with dozens of young people from around the globe who have no idea what they’re doing with their lives (truth be told, most of us have no idea what we’re doing, yet we’re still here, doing it anyway), and I spend half an hour once a week telling them everything I know.    I find a lot of common threads in these conversations and want to share my top takeaways with the hope they may help more people than those who choose to step into my virtual office.   Here they are, just 7 key words, and I hope they stick to you and start transforming your life, too.    1. Wants.   Most of my dear clients have no idea what they want. Some have a story they tell themselves about what they’re doing ... READ MORE
  • March 31, 2016 So how do you come to know what you want in a life that’s constantly assaulting you — through the media, education, friends, family, religion, government, literature, and every other expression of social attitudes that originate outside of you — with ideas of who you should be, what you should want, where you should live, what kind of lifestyle you should have, etc? READ MORE
  • March 7, 2016 I recently spent 10 days in silence in India, studying Vipassana meditation. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like 120 hours inside your own head to start seeing the world from an entirely new perspective. In Vipassana, we observe our bodily sensations with an equanimous mind, teaching ourselves not to entertain feelings of craving or aversion, which are the default settings of reactionary human behavior. Because every experience in our lives creates sensations, we essentially live in a constant state of craving pleasant sensations or hating unpleasant ones, a road never leading to peace, compassion, and enlightenment — unless we use meditation to reprogram our mind-body relationship. Like everything in my life, meditation was, at first, a game: I wanted to be good at it. I wanted to “win.” When my ... READ MORE
  • March 1, 2016 Applying surface-level changes to a lifestyle that is fundamentally off-balance is like trying to throw a new coat of paint over a broken-down 1976 Volkswagen and pass it off as a “restored vintage.” If the engine’s shot, you’re just wasting paint. READ MORE
  • January 15, 2016 “Everyone has something to teach us” — a simple mantra that reminds us to look for the gifts and inspiration each person has to share with the world, and to remember that we, too, are important teachers. READ MORE
  • January 12, 2016 Earlier this year, I faced one of the harder decisions of my career to date.   I had spent weeks preparing an application, went through two rounds of interviews, and finally, after months of anticipation, received an offer to join the 2016 class of a prestigious business fellowship in Africa. I was one of a dozen selected from thousands of applicants. And in the end, I said no.   Even as I write this I still feel a tinge of regret. I mean, how could I say no to something that would have looked so good on my resume? And after all that work to finally get accepted? The network it would open up for me? The money?   Essentially my decision boiled down to a more important set of questions: Am I doing this because I really ... READ MORE
  • November 28, 2015 “You don’t see the world as it is, but you see it as you are.” This is great news, because it means you are 100% in control of yourself and who you choose to be. Happiness is a choice. Being generous is a choice. Living the life you’ve always wanted is a choice. You just have to decide to be that person, to live that life, and to be what you want to receive. READ MORE
  • November 4, 2015 The most important thing is that you woke up. Don’t curse the dream or the dreamer, don’t focus on the what ifs and the shoulda-woulda-coulda, and, whatever you do, don’t try to come up with all the answers now. READ MORE
  • August 14, 2015 A positive alignment of your life based on a conscious determination of your priorities and values will fill you with the excitement and inspiration to naturally forge the correct path ahead — for you. It’s not so much about saying ‘no’ to X, but about being so motivated to reach Y. READ MORE
  • May 19, 2015 Go turn off your phone, rip out your wifi router, curl up on your own makeshift “shrink sofa” with a laptop or a Moleskin in your lap, and spend the next hour becoming your own therapist. Mull over the following big ideas, savor each one at a time, take notes, sip your coffee (or red wine), stare out the window, and be alone with your soul. It’s the least you can do to tune-up and self-service your mental and spiritual health. READ MORE
  • May 16, 2015 If we don’t stop processing and start being human, we will wind up in relationships, friendships, and even jobs where the whole chain of events that led us to the present moment has been a carefully, collaboratively, socially-endorsed game of Battleship played on the defense. We cannot live our lives being petrified of making the first move, of being shot down for making mistakes, or acting with the irrational passions that make us warm flesh and blood. READ MORE
  • May 14, 2015 In order to create change in our modern lives, we have to defeat our animal brain that enshrouds us in a dark paradigm of fear, scarcity, doubt, and vulnerability that was once useful for our survival as hunters and gatherers. Especially when we are making difficult decisions or taking risks, we need to confront and dismantle this “dark paradigm” and literally talk ourselves into the light. By removing harmful ideas, influences, and belief systems, we make way for ourselves to dream, achieve, and flourish. READ MORE
  • April 16, 2015 It has to become our mission to discover what our real talents and interests are and align them with the greatest challenges we see in the world today — before we free-fall into the first open rung in America’s corporate ladders. If we stay focused only on what we are already familiar with or passively exposed to, we close ourselves off to the opportunity to learn about problems in the world that we didn’t even know needed solving, the very problems that we may be best suited to solve, the very problems that may spark new career paths chosen with true purpose and perspective. READ MORE
  • December 31, 2014 My biggest rule with New Years Resolutions is to not over-commit myself. Each one of the items listed below is simple, practical, and linked to my core values so I actually care about doing them. Some of those values reflected include: intellectual enrichment, physical health, and personal relationships. READ MORE
  • November 22, 2014 Being “great” – enacting change in your community, extending your talents beyond your immediate environment, and providing inspiration and leadership to others – involves a lot of thinking, creating, and connecting. We are all capable of this kind of greatness, but achieving it is a mindset coupled with concrete action-steps. READ MORE
  • October 29, 2014 Taking a big step towards improving an important relationship does not have to be a long or complicated process. When a wall of silence descends from harbored emotional obstacles – petty or seemingly insurmountable, we tend to over-analyze how to repair or reignite ties with our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and lovers. READ MORE
  • October 5, 2014 Two years ago, I burned the association between my “stuff” and me. I sold everything I didn’t need, started traveling for my job, and chose to live out of no more than two 32kg suitcases. I also clicked off the TV, threw out the magazines, and turned down the volume of what I allowed to enter my intellectual diet. As a result, today I feel feather-light. READ MORE
  • July 15, 2014 Not many twenty-somethings want to be “tied down” before thirty, but many of us also crave something less superficial than a series of one night stands. This balancing act – of having fun while still learning how to connect meaningfully with other human beings – is a unique challenge faced by our generation of unmarried and exploratory twenty-to-thirty year-olds. READ MORE
  • May 25, 2014 Grad school should not be something you pursue because you don’t have a job or because you don’t know what you want to do with your life or because you feel you will lag behind your peers without a Master’s degree. It should be the product of a quality understanding of yourself and your career goals, born out of firsthand experience and exposure to multiple areas of opportunity in the world. READ MORE
  • January 27, 2014 Lead your life with an action verb at its core. Focus on turning potential into product, even if it means bearing your imperfections and facing failure head-on. READ MORE
  • November 28, 2013 On paper, I classify myself as someone who is grateful for what she has been given, but the devil is in the details. I am not sure my small, daily actions mirror the image of someone who is humble and appreciative of her life. Now I’m taking the time to ask: What do I share with the world? What are the tangible, positive outputs of my humanity each day? Who is grateful for me today? Who says “thank you” to me on a daily basis, and why? READ MORE
  • October 19, 2013 Our lives are a series of milliseconds strung together, but we perceive and reflect upon them in much larger chunks of time. Therefore, meaning is manufactured in these small moments. Unless you are satisfied by the tiniest of your deeds, the bigger picture will be a cloudy and unfulfilling reflection. READ MORE
  • July 30, 2013 Of course no one consciously chooses to distance themselves from the people they love, but we may not see the tangible value of strong relationships on an immediate day-to-day basis. We assume we can focus on one area of our lives a bit more than the other, and as long as we compensate for it sometime down the road, things will all balance out. READ MORE
  • July 18, 2013 As someone who has been financially independent since she was 17, there is one thing I know how to do: manage my money. But I know people think I’m secretly loaded when they see how much I travel. What they don’t realize is I plan, save, and spend meticulously. Now I’m going to teach you how I do it. READ MORE
  • March 1, 2013 This is what Seth Godin calls the “lizard brain” – part of our cerebral complex left over from when we had to escape predators, catch our dinner with spears, and generally minimize risk-taking because that’s what kept us alive. It still exists, and nowadays it’s a professional nuisance. READ MORE
  • January 1, 2013 For the first time in my life, I am going to make some serious New Year’s Resolutions. My 2013 goals are going to be realistic, quantitative where possible, and although some of these are definitely not going to be easy, the objective is to drive incremental growth in various areas of my life. READ MORE
  • October 26, 2012 Making your dreams come true, changing life however you want to see it change, all starts with the simple step of telling yourself when you are going to make it happen. READ MORE

About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

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