It’s great to introduce our readers to other nomads who are out there making it happen, seeing the world and working as they travel.
Mike from Ohio, USA and Jürgen’s from Darmstadt, Germany are the guys behind the site 91 days
They met in Boston ten years ago (check here for things to do in Boston with kids) where they were both living and working; Jürgen’s a professional photographer, and Mike runs a couple internet sites, doing programming and development.
Before they were bitten by the travel bug, they were working, hanging out with friends, going out, and leading normal lives. They decided they weren’t content with being the eternal tourist so they took a different slant on travel and the 91 days concept was born: check out the interview below which includes some great travel tips.
1. Where in the world are you at the moment?
We’re currently in Palermo, Italy, which is the biggest city on the island of Sicily. It’s probably most famous for being the stronghold of the Mafia, who are still extremely active. We’ve been most impressed by the amazing churches, palaces and ruins – Palermo and Sicily have a history stretching back to Greek times. The city is a lively, stressful place, full of traffic and noise, and we’re having a blast here.
2. How did you come up with the idea of the 91 days “travel concept”?
We’ve both always been big travelers. Before embarking on this travel project, we had lived in the USA, Germany, Ireland and Spain, and always spent most our cash on taking long trips to other places. So, we were already travel addicts, and during one long, wine-soaked lunch, the idea sparked – we could travel all the time!
We could put our stuff in storage, and go see the world. But in a sustainable way. Always being on the move would be exhausting, but “living” for three months in one spot would provide some stability. Once the idea had formed, there was no shaking it, and a couple months later, we were off.
3. How many countries have you visited since the start of your blog and the 91 days concept? and how many do you plan on visiting?
Palermo is our fifth stop. We started in the summer of 2010 in Oviedo, (Spain), and have moved onto Savannah (Georgia, USA), Buenos Aires, and Bolivia. We plan on going for at least five years, which will get us to about twenty locations around the world. Of course, if we’re still having fun, we might decide to continue.
4. Do you have any advice or tips on the best ways to settle into a new location?
We try and meet locals right away. Twitter is a great tool for this, and usually it’s pretty easy to meet up with people who know the city like the back of their hands. You can get great tips, and the chance to meet and interact with locals makes you feel at home pretty quickly. We also try and learn the language a bit, immerse ourselves in the rhythm and schedule of our new homes, and don’t shy away from the local cuisine.
5. Is 91 days usually enough to spend in a single place or sometimes do you feel you need more or even less time in a place? Explain your experience so far.
Three months seems about perfect for us. It’s convenient, since 90 days is often the limit on a tourist visa (we’re not totally strict about the 91st day). It’s enough time to become truly familiar with a city, but not enough to become bored by it.
Of course, every place is different – we’d have never run out of things to do in Buenos Aires, but in smaller cities such as Savannah or Oviedo, three months was certainly enough for comprehensive explorations. This amount of time gets us to four places a year, which is exciting, but not overwhelming.
6. What happens if you don’t like the location after a couple of weeks, do you stay anyway or move on? Do you have a back up location.
We’ve not given up on a place yet; our philosophy is that almost every location has enough peculiarities to occupy three months, even if we just have to look harder. That said, when we first went to Bolivia, our plan was to stay in Sucre for three months. It’s a beautiful town, but right away we realized it would be too small, and we wanted to see the rest of the country. So we did modify our plans there – Sucre for a month, and then we moved onto La Paz.
7. Do you start feeling like a local by the end of your 91 days – if yes can you give us an example?
We’ve definitely reached mature relationships with most of the places in which we’ve lived. Even if we’re not “locals”, we’re definitely not newcomers, and often know more about the history and attractions than many people who were born there.
For the first couple months, we’re usually blinded by the excitement and novelty of our new homes, and we always find everything about them to be wonderful. But in the final weeks, we start to see the negative sides of each place. And that’s when we start to feel like locals – when the griping begins.
8. What has been your most memorable and worst experience while traveling so far?
The Salar de Uyuni in southwestern Bolivia is the world’s biggest salt flat, and the most amazing bit of nature we’ve ever seen. We took a three-day tour, and it was one of those things I’ll never forget. Beautiful and strange.
We’ve been lucky enough to avoid any really terrible situations, no robberies or broken limbs [knock on wood], but of course there have been disappointments. I’m a huge soccer fan, and we had a terrible time at the Boca Juniors game in Buenos Aires, so that was a real let-down, just so overpriced and artificial. And Jürgen got stuck in quicksand during a hike in Bolivia – that was a scary experience for him, and a funny one for me!
9. Can you explain the positives and negatives of working while being abroad and location independent?
You have to be flexible – if you’re the kind of person who follows a schedule, working on the road can be a nightmare. In Bolivia, internet was patchy, and we had to be ready to work at weird hours and in noisy cafés. I like to think we’re laid-back, but there have been times when I’ve been so frustrated and angry, I’ve wanted to quit. But the positives outweigh the negatives.
For Jürgen, as a photographer, constant travel is a real benefit – he’s never lacking for inspiration. And at the end of the day, just being in a new place brightens your outlook tremendously. It’s easy to plow through boring tasks, when there’s an awesome city waiting to be explored outside.
10. What are your future travels plans – do you have list of destinations lined up for 2012?
We try not to plan too far in advance, but we have chosen Sri Lanka as our next destination, from February to April 2012. I imagine we’ll probably stay in Asia after that, just to save on flight costs, but we have no idea where, yet.
5 quick fire questions
1. One place you wish you could have stayed longer
We definitely didn’t have enough time in Bolivia.
2. Best working environment you enjoyed so far?
In Savannah, we had a huge house, with plenty of room. And the tourist board there was great to work with.
3. Strangest food you tried so far?
The pani c’a meusa of Palermo, is hacked tripe and spleen in a bun. And doesn’t taste half bad!
4. Most delicious food or cuisine you have tried so far?
It’s hard to beat the cuisine of Buenos Aires. Massive, delicious steaks, cheesy pizzas and some of the world’s best ice cream.
5. Most embarrassing moment whilst traveling?
Right after flirting with the market girls in Sucre, Boliva, Jürgen spun around and smashed his face into a low ceiling beam. He’s 6’6”, and Bolivians are much smaller, so they found it hilarious – everyone in the market started laughing and pointing, callous to the fact that he had really hurt himself!
To find out more about Mike and Jürgen and their travels follow them @ for91days.com