In this interview series we talk with people who spend their time traveling and climbing, while still holding down a steady income. From nurses to coders, writers to outdoor guides, we want to show that you don’t have to go full dirtbag to live the itinerant life. Because contributing to your 401k while seeing the world doesn’t sound so bad.
Name: Jacob Bushmaker
I came across Jacob’s blog, The Wandering Climber, earlier this year when I was researching cheaper travel/ climbing destinations in South America. There were surprisingly few resources, but I eventually landed on TWC’s The Top 6 Rock Climbing Towns in South America – Why Should You Go?. It was great! I quickly dove into the rest of his pieces on Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and others. His articles are well written and full of useful bits.
1) What do you do?
I currently have two jobs.
1) I work as a sales agent for a company called Unbundled Attorney, where we connect people with lawyers who are looking for affordable legal representation.
2) I run a blog called The Wandering Climber, which focuses on providing climbers with beta on the world’s best rock climbing destinations [Editor’s note: Typically lesser known places].
I’ll be answering the questions in respect to my work with TWC.
2) What are some of the perks of the job?
A few things. Probably the most notable is it is completely remote, meaning that I can work from just about anywhere in the world. This is pretty much a necessity for anyone who wants to travel long term… unless you have some other source of income!!
Second is that I’m my own boss. I don’t have any set hours, deadlines or anyone to “answer” to.
It is also great to be creating something. It has its own intrinsic value which is sort of hard to explain. [I like to be able to] look back and be like, “yea, I did that.”
Lastly, this is a way for me to give back to the rock climbing community with my unique experiences and knowledge. This is a perk of the job I really didn’t anticipate, but it has been awesome to get so much positive feedback from people who have read my blog and used it.
“The only people who think this is easy are ones who haven’t done it before.”
3) What are some of the challenges?
There are a lot of challenges with running a blog as a business.
The only people who think this is easy are ones who haven’t done it before.
With the incredible freedom which comes from being your own boss comes the pretty obvious drawback that there is absolutely no one keeping you accountable.
This is particularly difficult when you’re posted up in one of the world’s top climbing destinations. As you might imagine, these environments aren’t exactly conducive to “hard work.”
Also, it is always an ongoing challenge that I have to learn how to do things on my own. I have never had a “teacher” [for this stuff]. At times things can be super frustrating.
4) What motivated you to pursue this path?
The whole journey started when I read the 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. It really opened my eyes to what was out there and has fundamentally changed my life in just about every sense imaginable.
I went from a 9-5 office job (I was a Civil Engineer) to working remote, visiting about 30 countries in 4 continents, and living abroad in South America.
There were the obvious perks of living abroad, such as learning another culture/ language and meeting new people/ traveling which appealed to me.
In addition, there are also some financial benefits of working abroad which don’t get mentioned as much, such as having a huge reduced cost of living.
5) How does this job allow you to travel and climb?
If I was just doing one of the two jobs, I would have plenty of time to dirtbag. I did so for about 2-3 years, but there sort of came a point where I started taking work more seriously again.
Over the past six months I have been much more “buckled down,” you might say.
The site launched in February of this year, and [so far] I’ve always had another full time job which takes up a ton of time. If all goes well, within the next 6 months to a year, I’ll be able to comfortably support myself with the income earned off the blog. [At that point] I’ll be able to make the decision whether I’d like to pursue it full time or not.
Right now, I work more than full time between my two jobs, probably in the 50-60 hours a week range.
“Travel and being an entrepreneur is romanticised, but I’m here to tell you that sometimes it just sucks.”
6) What do you wish you knew when first starting out?
The hardest thing about this lifestyle has always been things I left behind when I was an engineer: The “steady” job, “good” career, friends, family and security were all sort of thrown aside to live the dream.
Travel and being an entrepreneur is romanticised, but I’m here to tell you that sometimes it just sucks.
7) What is one lesson learned from your journey so far?
It is better to focus on the process than the goal.
Once you get going it just becomes another day in the life, and before you know it your on your way.
8) Anything else you’d like to add?
You overestimate what you can do in a year, but underestimate what you can do in five.
My point: Just get started now, be patient and incredibly persistent!