How-to Hustle

How-to Exchange Comfort For Your Freedom—Through Travel

Have you ever wanted to uproot your life and take it abroad, to somewhere unfamiliar and unique?

I did so recently, for the second time actually. While the goals and circumstances of my relocation may not be the same as yours, the adventure was very fulfilling and informative for me. From my experience, you’ll see exactly how persistence and hustle can lead you to success, especially once you’ve exited your comfort zone.

This is the story of how my friend and I temporarily became hobos for nearly a week.

But don’t worry, there is a twist. 

The Moment

The order of events leading up to my relocation to Visalia, CA was nothing less than extraordinary. For personal reasons, it became necessary for me to move out to the west coast for the months leading up to my next excursion. I was waiting until I’d saved up just enough money to make the trip out. It was a simple matter of finding a paying job that I could stand for long enough to collect a few paychecks. This process was further expedited by getting some cash from gigs for my side business Clutter Control and some freelance writing work.

So after a few weeks in my parent’s house, I hit the point of cash on hand that was required to make my move. I’d decided that I would keep this temporary relocation to myself, only really telling my father and a few close friends. Admittedly, this was because I was a bit nervous and trying to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on myself. The week leading up to the day I was expecting to leave was a bit uncomfortable. I was frantically researching how to find my bearings immediately upon hitting California and the best way to find accommodations on my tightly-drawn shoestring budget of about $800. The only real respite I’d gotten from these intense periods of research were when I’d get burned out and take a break to see my friends.

One of these breaks was where things got really interesting.

I was just sitting with a long time friend of mine (he actually partially inspired my original journey to Las Vegas), when he started asking me some basic low budget travel questions. Like how much money I went to Las Vegas with, what it took for me to get established and how I figured everything out so smoothly. While in my particular case, the answer to that last question may as well have been hustle, patience and completely dumb luck, I had no trouble helping him with some more exact answers to the first few questions. It turns out my buddy, Anthony, was looking to get himself out of the rut he’d found himself in after spending 22 years in Chicago. His destination of choice?

California

This had to be a moment born in fate — A clause founded by destiny.

Okay, maybe that is a little dramatic. Regardless of mystical influence, though, this was definitely an unexpected twist.

It was just a few days before my under planned and underfunded pilgrimage to California. Odds seemed so unlikely that one of my best friends would tell me he is also planning to go. Though he wasn’t expecting such an immediate departure, my friend choked down his nerves and was on board by the end of the night. Both of us were excitedly nervous, knowing this would be a drastic change in our lives. While I was intent on using my working time in California to build my freelance writing career, Anthony would have an equally considerable challenge of finding full-time work to establish himself.

We decided to just say “fuck it”, officially opting to tag-team the journey.

And the best part about it all?

We booked no hotels or did any preemptive planning whatsoever; winging it the entire way.

The Trip

Originally, my intention was to find a spot in California where the weather was acceptable, temp work would be easily available if needed, and a room in a group house wouldn’t be horribly expensive. Until I found a particularly comfortable place to settle down in, I would be sleeping in my crowded Jeep. I had an awesome experience car-camping in Arizona. So I was actually excited to have another go at temporarily working and living from my car. So that was the plan. Of course with the addition of another human being with an adult sized body, some slight alterations were going to be necessary. Both Anthony and I were still up for the challenge.

We hit the road two nights after Black Friday, and from there it was an adrenaline and coffee fueled struggle. As we were leaving, I easily noticed from his body language that Anthony was in disbelief that he was actually on his way to California to start a new chapter of his life. I, having done this before, was a lot less in shock. Though, I was still excited to be hitting this new milestone. The first leg of the trip wasn’t very eventful. We discussed our overall intentions and expectations for once we hit our destination and loosely planned our approach to finding a spot to settle. On the way, we also decided to make the first stop in our trip in Denver, Colorado. An expectedly great choice for winding down after 15 hours in a crowded SUV.

Intermission

Though our combined budget was rather tight, we were inclined to enjoy ourselves a bit while on the road. This was by no means a vacation or sightseeing trip, but as they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So we ate some cheap local food, took part in the local recreational activities (see video below), caught a shower and workout at the local Planet Fitness and got back on the road. More than ready to take on the next 16 hours on the road.

Back On the Road

This is where things got a bit scary. We absent-mindedly forgot to check the weather before heading out. This lead to us running into some tricky weather while traversing the Colorado mountains. Iced over roads, blinding snow winds, and routes packed tightly with snow. You name it. There was even a point where I spent roughly 4 hours driving at about 20MPH on deeply sloped mountain roads, as it would have been a deadly mistake to do otherwise. To keep the butterflies in his stomach from becoming spiders and roaches, Anthony slept through most of this leg of the journey. This wasn’t much of a problem, though, as I didn’t need anyone distracting me during a drive that required so much of my focus.

Aside from a few missed turns and the torture of traveling through those snow covered mountains, there was little else to be upset about. We made it to our destination of Visalia, CA and started working on the plan. 

The Plan

While a plan is usually something that is thoroughly thought out and binary, we were content with just going with the flow. If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out my car-camping series so far, I’ll be making a video update to give you a better representation of how we made things work, even with two bodies in the car.

  • Using the hell out of a 24-hour gym. I go with Planet Fitness because they are widely available nationwide. These places have massage beds, massage chairs, comfortable showers and all of the workout equipment you could ask for. (Maybe not in the case of Planet Fitness, they have no free benches or squat racks)
  • Get comfortable. Being comfortable is hard when you are trying to fit two adult sized men inconspicuously into an SUV for sleep. By alternating who got the more comfortable spot laid out in the trunk and the spot we referred to as “car hell”, across the front seats and center console, we were able to achieve an acceptable split between comfort and convenience.
  • Use public resources. I would argue that a Starbucks can be one of the most useful resources a city has to offer when you are without a personal residence. Free wifi,  coffee, and a chance to interact with locals. We spent at least 8 hours a day putting out applications for local work, meeting strangers, and looking for the most reasonable long-term accommodations.
  • Budget, Budget, Budget. Sticking to a tight budget was key to us not getting stuck and having to beg for help. Though I do have the resourcefulness to make some income in an emergency, finding a place to rest our heads outside of an SUV would definitely take a nice chunk of change. Food, drinks and light entertainment all took a backseat to spending on a security deposit and first month of rent.

Breakthrough

After a few days in the car-camping routine, we had put in a lot of effort and a convenient breakthrough finally came down the line. On the day we went to get laundry done, I managed to find a landlord on Craigslist who was looking to immediately fill a vacancy in his 3 bedroom rental home for cheap. We had just enough liquid cash to cover the deposit, and  I’d secured some work through a temp agency and gotten some writing contracts to carry me through the month. Though I was very proud of my ability to stay confident while living from my car, I was also very appreciative of an opportunity to sleep in a house.

Who wouldn’t be right?

Where are we now?

So far, things are going great. Anthony and I are completely amazed that we’ve managed to uproot our lives and take them to the other side of the country unscathed. Though our living conditions aren’t exactly the best, we consider ourselves quite fortunate as the outcome for two guys who took such huge action on a whim could have been a lot worse. Luckily for us both, I have the experience and knowledge to handle the issues that come up on the fly. We are living in a group house of about 6 other people, all of which are very kind and generous. Anthony is in the process of finding ongoing employment and I am steadily growing my business as a freelance writer.

Luckily for us both, I have the experience and knowledge to handle the issues that come up on the fly. We are living in a group house of about 6 other people, all of which are very kind and generous. Anthony is in the process of finding ongoing employment and I am steadily growing my business as a freelance writer.

Lesson learned

As I continue to step away from my comfort zone, I find that doing so really changes your perspective on what you believe yourself to be capable of. Just a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought that I could handle taking these huge steps to create the life of my dreams. Now I find myself craving the next challenge and anticipating the next failure. Put in the work, and you will see results.


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