I turn concepts into content for the web and social media, I find the audiences for that content and I report to you on the engagement of your audience with your content. That’s been my basic job description for the past 15 years as owner of Metapilot. I’m also on the road a lot–as in, on the road backpacking. I’ve explored more than 20 countries–many for weeks or months at a time. Typically, work with my clients and explore at the same time. The satisfaction I get from traveling sustains my client work and my success working with clients helps to sustain my traveling.
It kind of all started when I met my wife-to-be in Paris while on what was supposed to be a two-month backpacking trip through Europe in 1989, which was after I had dropped out of college to enlist in the Navy, where I fixed jets on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier for four years. I’d move often growing up but the navy introduced me Europe and Asia and ever since, it seems, I’ve drawn back towards them in my life and in my work.
Those two months of backpacking turned into more than a year overseas, while I worked under the table delivering baked goods for an American-style bakery throughout Paris in between forays we made together throughout Europe and Morocco on Eurail passes of rather dubious validity. The two of us experienced one of the most beautiful cities in the world as only a native artiste Parisienne and an American national may before we decided to get married there and then head over to the States as a couple.
Stateside, we worked together for a while for a non-profit environmental organization for a few years, then she, for a natural foods store (long pre-WholeFoods). But our feet got restless again and two weeks before executing a cross-country move to California, an errant wanderer stepped into my wife’s store and chatted her up about having just returned from a backpacking trip to India. According to this customer, it would cost us about as much to backpack in India for a year as it would for us to rent a little Uhaul and drive our few belongings to California to begin anew there.
So, instead of California, we landed in Delhi two weeks later, to commence a one-year backpack adventure. Six months after landing there, on our visa run to Nepal, we ran into that customer from the health food store on the backstreets of Kathmandu–completely out of the blue. It was one of many experiences during that trip–and subsequent ones–and previous ones, for that matter—that seemed to confirm time and events and people play by different laws of nature once one cuts loose to drift in the energy that transports travelers along on their journeys.
Our $10/day budget and our energy almost lasted the full twelve months in India. When we were drained and could go no further, it was back to the U.S. with us to make some “real” money, we decided and we landed in Chicago in the midst of dot-com boom. It turned out that we could make real money, and a fair amount of it, to boot. So we bought the home, filled it with the stuff, and built up the debt that goes along with it.
We suffered through those years of accumulation telling ourselves that it was what success looked like, but eventually, it became too uncomfortable for us. We sold the home, the cars, and unloaded all the stuff that was sellable on Ebay and craigslist and moved to South Florida to try our hand at flipping houses at the height of the housing boom, eventually to get caught short when the housing market collapsed.
For the next dozen years, we gradually dug ourselves out of the awkward financial situation in which the collapse had stranded us. Yet what better place to be stranded, perhaps, than that little spit of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Biscayne Bay they call Miami Beach?
In that time, we managed to get back and forth to Europe occasionally, I started Metapilot, my wife worked at some of the top names in the hospitality industry, I continued my love for competitive sailing that had begun back on Lake Michigan, and we made a bunch of great friends.
But 12 years in one place is a long time for people who had never managed to stay put for more than four, prior to that. When it first began to look remotely possible to get back on the road we began preparing for it. We set a date, again, we sold our stuff or gave it away to friends or the local charity, sold our condo overlooking the Bay, sold our scooters (we didn’t have cars) and we set off back to India to drift again in the energy that replenishes travelers on their journeys.
We’ve been on the road ever since. While working remotely for clients, we’ve backpacked through
much of India via 2nd class sleepers and government buses, motorcycled from Cambodia, through Laos, to Vietnam, and relaxed in the shadows of volcanos in Indonesia. Currently, we are back in India, living, traveling and working online from the small southern city of Pondicherry that we call our temporary base of operations.