Nora Dunn

Nora Dunn – aka The Professional Hobo – sold everything she owned in 2006 (including a busy financial planning practice) to travel full-time. Seven years and a few dozen countries later, she has perfected the art of travelling full-time financially sustainable way, using techniques like getting free accommodation around the world, hacking frequent flyer miles, and travelling slowly… living around the world rather than passing through it.

She rode 25,000kms of trains in 30 days between Lisbon and Saigon, milked goats in Hawaii, had a pet kangaroo in Australia, survived two natural disasters, had a near-death experience in the Caribbean, and much, much more.

She is an international freelance writer on the topics of travel, personal finance, and lifestyle design, with regular columns on sites like Wise Bread, Credit Walk, and Transitions Abroad.

She has written books on getting free accommodation around the world, living large on a small budget, and working on the road. If you’re interested in this lifestyle, you can sign up for her free 2-week e-course on financially sustainable full-time travel.

You can work pretty much where you want to – on the road, do you find it hard to work or do you just have fun and work when you come back home?

As The Professional Hobo I have no home, so I'm always working on the road! However I rarely if ever tend to take my laptop out to coffee shops or the like; instead I dedicate my work time to whatever place I'm currently calling "home" - my room, the house where I'm house-sitting, etc. I find it much easier to concentrate and get things done when I'm in a dedicated space for working. That way when I go out, I can just have fun!

But time management is a precarious thing on the road... I've wrestled with the time-management / life balance / travel lifestyle on and off for years.

Do you feel many people are envious of your lifestyle?

If the dozens of emails I get each day from people asking me how to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way are any indication, yes - many people are envious of my ability to have sold everything I owned (in 2006) to embrace my dreams of a full-time travel lifestyle. Of course, the grass is often greener on the other side; no lifestyle is perfect. Having said that, I wouldn't trade in my life and experiences (challenges and all) for anything else.

In which countries have people recognised you, even when you thought nobody would?

I've never been approached on the street by anybody who recognized me from my online endeavours, however I have had a few cool experiences:

Once in New Zealand, when I was living and volunteering in trade for my accommodation at Mana Retreat (a place very close to my heart), I picked up a new volunteer who just arrived. She looked at me, dropped her bags, and said "Oh my god. You're the reason I'm here"! She had read my post about Mana Retreat, and booked her trip right away. And she's not the only one; there has been a steady stream of volunteers at Mana Retreat who went there because of reading about my experiences there.

More recently, I'm currently in Peru. The day after I published a post about the magic that brought me to Peru and the place I am staying, a reader booked herself in for a month long stay! (She arrives in two weeks).

Which three items would you never travel without?

I travel full-time with carry-on luggage only (here's my packing list). So just about everything I have is indispensable! However if I had to choose three things I couldn't live or travel without, they would be my laptop, my smartphone (which is also my camera), and my notebook.

Are there any specific souvenirs or other things you collect from the places you go to?

Since everything I own fits into my carry-on bag, anything I buy must replace or complement the few things I own! Thus just about everything I buy becomes a souvenir of sorts! I have opals from Australia, a scarf from Peru, a dress from Switzerland, amber from New Zealand, a hat from Panama, and much, much more.

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