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Living Under the Radar in Antigua

I have been living under the radar in Antigua, Guatemala. This is a town full of fun, excess, exquisite restaurants, extravagant hotels, expensive bars, and lots of money spending. I have no money, I cook my own meals, and I have to work long hours to ensure that when I need the bean money to come in, it will be at my doorstep. I am preparing for when I go belly up, and I reach into my pockets to find not a dime. I should be in the Middle East or East Africa by the time this happens. I know that I am going to need a little $10 a day boost to keep me going through. I need to work now so that I will be able to open a back door for the travel funds to sneak back in and fill my pockets as quickly as they are emptied. I need to find a balance. I need to keep my fractions constant.

There are times in travel of excitement, and there are times of even-keeled hard work. These past few months have been made up of the latter.

Tied up, hemmed in, bogged down. These feelings can only lead to the Open Roads that surely lay around the next bend. Everything balances itself out, as one extreme invariably shifts to the other.

I have been working a lot here in Central America, and the overhaul of Vagabond Journey.com is nearing its completion: the index page is satisfactory, the navigational scheme is satisfactory, and the photos index and presentations is pretty good – or so I think. The site’s content is also grow, ever growing. I like this work.

But working means putting my head down and living under the radar. I need to save as much money as I can these days, as I take actions to earn enough to keep traveling. I know that I can not be going to bars, getting drunk, eating at restaurants, or buying stupid things if I want bring forth the spoils of my efforts. If I wanted to party and spend money while traveling, I would have to work far more than time has allowance for. If I live frugally in travel, then I have a running chance that I can continuously come up with the bean money to keep traveling. Andy says that, “it is easier to save twenty dollars, than it is to make twenty dollars.” If you want to travel the world, then you must learn how not to spend money. You must learn how to say no to luxury, bars, and girls; or else you will find yourself broke, home, and working a real job. I do not like working real jobs, so I have to come up with ways to live like a king of a pauper . . . under the radar.

I have been living like this – under the radar – in Antigua, Guatemala. It is a prosperous little city whose arms are open wide to tourist, expats, and wealthy Guatemalans. It is a very modern place with an ancient name, and all of the toys of the twenty-first century shine brightly. Such being, Antigua is a good place for me to work. There is very good internet here and comfortable guesthouses that have free WIFI. I need a good internet connection to publish on the websites, and when I have it, I must be sure to take full advantage of it. So I find myself working long hours. But this is OK with me, because I know that I will be on the tramp again soon, and will be far out in the middle of nowhere, far outside of the iron grasp of the internet and work. Working is a balance. I know that if I put in a few hours of hard work everyday, that I can have the rest of my day for playing. This is not a bad way to travel. It is balanced.

When I first began traveling I did not yet have this idea of balance. I would just work 60 to 70 hour weeks in archaeology for a few months in the summer and then take the rest of the year off and just travel. Working 70 hour weeks is not fun, and backpacking continuously for nine months on end without mission or project can make a man feel a little useless. I have found that a few hours of work a day keeps me balanced, my mind occupied, and my feet ready to keep traveling on.

But I soon believe that I will be able to hold off on the reins of Vagabond Journey for a while. I think that it is getting to the point where I can just fill it with content – the fun stuff. Once the frame of the site is set, once the templates have been designed, once I have it all organized, it should just be a matter of filling in the blanks for a while.

Well, until I come up with a new idea and overhaul the whole thing again, or come up with new sections to add to it.

Vagabond Journey is, and always should be, a work in progress. It changes and grows much as I, myself, do while traveling on the Open Road.

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Filed under: Guatemala

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3169 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Puketi Forest, New ZealandMap

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