Wandering Earl

My name is Earl.

(Actually, Earl is my middle name, but that’s what everyone calls me. Derek is my first name.)

My Life as a Permanent Nomad

On December 25th, 1999, I left the USA for a three-month, post-graduation trip to Southeast Asia. It’s now been over fourteen years and that trip has yet to finish.

The adventure has involved over 85+ countries (view the list here) on 6 continents, work as a Tour Manager on board cruise ships, two years in India, experiments with meditation, muse-creation, mountain-climbing and movie acting, volunteer work, an inappropriate amount of time on tropical islands and eating inappropriate amounts of street food, a two-day kidnapping, being placed on the US ‘terror watch list’, teaching English in Asia and a fruitless search for a pair of sandals with sufficient arch-support for my flat feet, among many other things.

It was exactly three days into my first trip back in 1999, as I celebrated the Millennium at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, when I became inflicted with an untreatable addiction to world exploration. So addicted in fact, that the thought of returning home literally made me sick to my stomach. Therefore, without any other option, I made a decision to change paths in life. Instead of going home to follow my original goal of becoming a Sports Agent, I now embarked on a mission to transform myself into a permanent nomad so that I could continue my travels, and more importantly continue learning from those travels, for as long as possible.

The only problem was that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and I only had $1500 to my name.

Therefore, as any good problem-solver would have done, I ignored this one fact and worked on creating a solution anyway. Miraculously, and perhaps with the help of some determination and refusal to accept anything less than the achievement of my goals, I eventually managed to create the nomadic life I envisioned.

Ever since, I’ve spent my time constantly traveling around the world, always in search of that eye-opening first-hand education that only travel can provide. I don’t travel to simply check countries off a list. In fact, as a permanent nomad, I have little interest in the actual sights that a particular destination may offer, instead preferring to focus on the human interactions and lessons learned along the way.

And when I combine the rewards that such travel provides with the fact that I can pack all of my possessions into my one backpack and hop on a flight to anywhere in the world on any given day, perhaps you can see why I don’t plan to give up this exhilarating lifestyle any time soon.

To learn more about my travel philosophy, check out my “New Breed of Explorer” page!

Join Me On My Global Adventures!

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  • Comment on the posts you read – Help foster a more rewarding experience by sharing whatever is on your mind with the Wandering Earl community.

Why You Should Follow WanderingEarl.com

WanderingEarl.com came into existence in late 2009 upon realizing that I wanted to share my adventures with a much wider audience while being able to connect with other like-minded folks at the same time.

And what you’re looking at right now is the result.

I don’t claim to have any answers. To be honest, most of the time I don’t even know what the questions are, and truthfully, I don’t worry too much about that. What I am able to do is try and prove that a life of travel is not a crazy fantasy, but a realistic lifestyle option instead.

And I can also…

  • tell you where to find a heavenly mango lassi (topped with cherries!) in Calcutta
  • share entertaining tales of my travel adventures
  • offer useful, proven advice on how to live a life of extended travel
  • force you to think about how and why you want to explore this world
  • and perhaps, inspire you to live a life without regrets

Towards the beginning of my journey, people were quick to tell me that I was wasting my life by refusing to ‘settle down’. Yet over the years, all of those dissenting voices have become silent. I now receive a good chunk of my motivation from the fact that many of these original naysayers have broken free from the conventional life themselves and joined me as fellow permanent nomads and global citizens.

Will you join us as well? The world would certainly be a much better place if you did.

154 Responses to About

  1. Guest says:

    You, Earl with your blog made me interested in traveling around than stay in the US! However, I am afraid of what is out there. I wear a headscarf religously and I don’t think going to Europe or many countries I accually want to go is safe for me to go alone.
    Have fun and embrace every minute you got! :)

  2. henrik says:

    Hi Earl!
    Your story is really inspiring!
    But can i ask you how do you earn money to live life as a permanent nomad?

  3. Arry says:

    Hi Earl!
    You are a real motivator for me and I really respect the fact that you achieved the dream life you wanted, as most people do not have the guts to do so!
    Thank you so much for the inspiration you pass on to so many people! I am girl and it has been my dream to travel the world! But whenever I plan to achieve my dream, my family stops me by saying that as a girl I may face many difficulties and I won’t be able to travel and enjoy to my heart’s content. They say that all this sounds easy but is not safe for girls. Still, I don’t care and I will be leaving for a long tour in 2 months. But I just wanted to ask you, is it true that the great life you live may not be possible for a girl?
    Thank you!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Arry – That’s an easy question to answer…just look at my Links page and all of the blogs listed…many of them are written by females who are out there doing the exact same thing, traveling all over the world and living this lifestyle! So, it’s very possible for you to do the same.


  4. Darryl says:

    Hey Earl,

    I love your story and I have a little bit of a random question for you. You mentioned that your original goal was to become a Sports Agent. I would imagine anyone with that goal has a deep passion for sports and I was wondering how your relationship with sports has changed since you’ve chosen the life of a permanent nomad and if you ever miss that aspect of your life. Cheers.


    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Darryl – That’s a good point but actually, I fall into the minority I guess. I chose to be a sports agent simply because I was looking for something that I thought I would be interested in, even though I was definitely not a sports fanatic. I only liked sports, but not much more than that. So, once I left that idea behind, I pretty much lost track of most sports back home. However, I love learning about new sports around the world and interacting with people through their games, matches, etc. So it still plays a role in my life but nothing major.

  5. Alan says:

    Hi Earl, your website is truly inspiring me to up and leave on a world of travel. I’ve had a bad 3 months or so and my life here is Scotland just dragging me down! I’ve saved up £3000 and my plan to begin with is to maybe take a month to relax (was thinking turkey maybe) and then think about work. The only problem is keeping the money going, how do u get jobs on your travel when you have no contacts to begin with etc ? I am running away, I admit, but I feel like Ive wasted the last 12 years and I’ve got nothing and I feel like “running” will give me humanity back! If you have any advice that would be great and maybe we will bump in to each other one day!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Alan – First, you can do plenty of research ahead of time so that you don’t just show up in a random country and hope to find work somehow. You should look at all the options that other travelers are doing (there are many) and decide which appeal to you. And then you can narrow it down and look at the countries where you might be able to follow through with that kind of work. That’s how I would do it because if you just show up somewhere without any research on what kind of work you want to do and whether or not it’s even possible, it could get tough.

      But again, there are options. You just need to figure out which are best for you and find the parts of the world where you can hopefully make it happen.

  6. Vicky says:

    Your blog is absolutely wonderful. There is no better teacher than travel, and your point about not wanting to go back home…I’m right there with you. I moved to Europe 4 years ago, and I’m not sure I’ll be ready to leave anytime soon. Safe travels, and I’ll definitely be stopping by your blog to check out your latest adventure. All the best.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Vicky – Thanks for that comment and perhaps I’ll see you around Europe at some point!

  7. Lucy says:

    Adore your blog. Super big fan. (That isn’t suppose to sound sarcastic, I genuinely love reading your escapades)
    But, if you ever have children on the road, would you please insist they write a blog and call it Wandering Early?
    Hehe! Cheers! Lucy xx

  8. Annette says:

    Wow, I just sat here and read your blog with absolute envy. What a remarkable lifestyle you lead. My 18 year old son left home last month to start his backpacking journey, his first stop being Europe. At the moment he is on a work exchange in Bucharest, Romania and I have sent him the link to your blog. I look forward to reading more of your stories :)

  9. John says:

    Wow your blog is so refreshing and inspirational to me. I just found it and I am so thrilled that I did. I wish I could do what you’re doing, truly. My girlfriend and I have actually been toying around with a cruise ship opportunity that may come about. I live for travel and photographing the journey. Perhaps one day we’ll join you on one of your adventurous tours. Happy travels friend.

  10. Victoria says:

    Hi Earl,
    I assume that you’re not into awards n’ stuff and that its really for “fresh” bloggers such as myself, but I like your blog so much as it’s full of inspiration for others and I wanted to mention your writings, so I’ve nominated you for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award.
    I’ve also written a few words about you and your blog. Feel free to take a look. ‘Hope you like it?


  11. Inaraa says:

    Hey Earl,
    Greetings from Malaysia! I saw how much u enjoy Romania and i have to thank you so much! Its been awhile since , I’m finding a good reason to visit Bucharest, but all i got is negative feedbacks until i saw ur post about it!

  12. Sarah says:

    Hey Earl!
    I wish you could see how extremely happy I am because I came across your website! I recently got a new job as a receptionist for a tax company. It’s not that I “hate” my job… lets just say, when I was a little kid and someone asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up, being a receptionist was never on my list of goals. All of my life I have dreamt about the day I set off and see the world! but I had no idea how. I come from a small town in California. I have yet to meet people that have the same goals and dreams as myself. I want to meet new people and experience the world so bad!!! And I guess all I can as for now is help.
    Derek Earl,

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Sarah – Welcome to the site! And it’s always a good feeling when you suddenly realize that the impossible is actually possible. My advice is to have a look through my “Getting Started” page as that will bring you to the posts on this site that have proven most popular and useful. That should help get you on the right track!


  13. Milly Day says:

    Hmm, sounds like I have a fairly similar story to yours! Set off for three months, it’s now been over a year…let’s see if I can become a permanent nomad too! To be honest, it’s my absolute dream, but I’m aware it takes a lot of work and patience. Anyway, thank you for inspiring me to make this dream a reality :) and by the way, my dad’s called Derek too- great name!

  14. Jenna says:

    I’ve always wanted to start traveling and your blog has been truly inspiring to me, but I also have my fears and doubts. I read on your “about me” that you’ve been kidnapped before. What happened and what are the chances of that or any other life threatening situations to happen to any traveler?

  15. Nina says:

    I came here via a random search about travel blogs to sate my own itchy feet with. You, Mister, are living a dream and I would love to follow virtually. Keep it up!

  16. Daniel says:

    Earl, I gotta tell you… it’s such a breath of fresh air to read your upbeat, “can-do” remarks about full-time travelling. Most other sites I have visited in the past, despite being amazing in many ways, warn you so much about how hard it is to travel, and how much work you have to do (I have read up to 90 hours per week!!), and how little money you usually make, and how most travellers quit in the first few months… some articles almost convince me that my 65-hour/week cubicle job that leaves me with virtually no time to enjoy life outside the office is a dream job! I get all the challenges, and I understand full-time travelling is not full-time vacationing in 5-star resorts. But the experience seems so amazing, and I am hard-pressed to believe that most people would not find such a lifestyle appealing, even after going through its hardships. Your writing only reinforces my beliefs. Thanks, and good luck!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Daniel – Glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog, although, I think some of those articles you referred to are ones that I actually wrote :) It is indeed hard work to travel long-term and it does take an incredible amount of effort, but for many people, the benefits are well worth it in the end!

  17. Nnika says:

    I just stumbled across your site while at work (lol) in my cubicle desk job. My husband and I have been talking about living abroad for about a a year now. Our youngest child is almost 16 and will be graduating high school in June 2016.We can hardly wait. My hubby works two full-time jobs and we feel like rats in cage. We were talking about moving abroad when we reach retirement age (we are both in our 40′s). But the more I come across blogs like yours the more I want to leave now. Because my daughter only has a few years left of high school we going to have to wait at least until then sign :). I have only read one of your post so far though I intend to read more. You give me hope that living a free spirited lifestyle is indeed possible. I have been talking to my husband about me teaching ESL when we do make the plung overseas that way we dont have to wait until we are 60+ to take the leap (I have a Master’s Degree). My husband asked me just yesterday what could he do to make money once we leave the U.S. He has worked in Law Enforcement (cop,corrections officer, Segarent, LT, celebrity bodyguard, hotel security,correctional case manager) for the last 20 years. After reading your 42 ideas of ways to make money I have a some additional suggestions I can give to him now. I suggested to him last night that perhaps he could teach self-defense classes (he trained in martial arts as a teen) and or write a little handbook about self-defense and how to be safe when staying in hotel. What do you think about this idea? Sorry to be so long winded in this post.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Nnika – Welcome to the site and seems like you’ve already figured out that a little creativity can go a long way in helping you achieve your travel goals earlier than you had originally planned! As for your idea, teaching self-defense classes is a solid idea for sure as that’s something that people are interested in learning in just about every country on the planet. As for the handbook, you would have to do some extensive research first to see how many people would actually be interested in learning how to stay safe in a hotel so that you can determine if someone would pay for that information. But teaching classes seems to be a great match.

  18. Harshit Asthana says:

    Hi Earl! you are really inspiring and I would love to do what you are doing. however the only question that comes to my mind is the VISA. I am an Indian citizen and I would need a Visa for travelling to developed countries like UK, US, or any other European country. What kind of VISA will I have to apply and will that allow me to work?

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  21. mike.m says:

    i will always read the site. expect a donation and a couple questions in the near future.
    stay safe. -later

  22. mike.m says:

    Hey Earl! I just want to say, you are my hero. I think everything about you is so interesting. I love the entire blog. Thanks so much.

  23. Yeeun Lee says:

    Hi Earl! My name is Yeeun and I am from South Korea. Your blogs are really interesting! I really love traveling and I am so jealous of all the places you have been able to experience. You should visit central and south america! You will love it. Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, etc.!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Yeeun – Thanks for the comment and I’ve actually spent a lot of time in Central America…I’ve visited every country in the region, and yes, I loved almost all of them!

  24. phoebe says:

    Hi Earl! When you initially left USA for Asia, did you already plan to continue travelling after that? Or was it simply because of the 2nd/3rd day?

    I can’t wait to finish high school, which is 4 more painful years, and get out there to see the world and experience it. I don’t know what obstacles would lie ahead of me in the next 4 years and how long I’ll be able to travel for but I hope I can go round SEA before my college, which will again be painful haha. :D And I love your blog!!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Phoebe – Thank you for that! It’s great to have you as a reader! And I had no plan at all to continue traveling when I first left. I really thought I would be gone for three months and that would be it. I guess I was wrong :)

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  26. manz says:

    Hi Earl,

    How old are you now? I am very interested in the type of lifestyle you lead (travelling) and you writings inspire me to want to do it as well. I’ll only have enough money in like four years though and by then I’ll be in my late twenties. Is that too late?


  27. Prudence says:

    Hello Earl,
    I am a bit of an adventurer too – though my longest trip so far has been only for 1 and a half years. I’m a bit older than you and a woman. Although I am a smiley person and don’t find it especially difficult to make friends I sometimes do feel lonely on my trips. It’s the only thing that slightly puts me off another adventure. Do you ever experience this?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Prudence – I don’t really feel lonely much simply because I am always around people. There are always new people to meet everywhere I go and I’m quite content with that. In fact, I usually have to force myself to spend time on my own because I find it difficult to get away from meeting new people all the time and sometimes it’s important to just wander by yourself for a while!

  28. T.p says:

    Hey earl could you please answet my question from “t.p” above?

  29. scott Mccullough says:

    Hi Earl, Scott here from Colorado I’m very intrested in living abroad. I’m from the US and am heading to Vietnam in a couple months. I have a way for income on th
    e internet my question for you is how could I stay indefinitly?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Scott – Well, before you talk about staying indefinitely, I would go and live there for a while and see if it’s really a place you want to spend that much time :) If it turns out to be the case, you can extend your tourist visa indefinitely for the most part over there, which is one reason why many foreigners who work online now live over there!

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  35. Micah says:

    Hey Earl!

    It’s been a while since I’ve visited your blog, BUT I’M BACK! haha I figured I’d start here and get back to navigating around your awesome posts. Also, I started my own blog: http://www.friendtheworld.com, and I figured you might like it. It’s something different than most travel blogs. Anyways, keep up the nomadic lifestyle. I’ll be there soon (;



  36. Michele says:

    Hey Earl,

    really… you are the coolest guy on earth. Hope I can join you soon somewhere in the world.

    Thanks for your 220 pages manual… Its the best investment I took during the past decade. For sure.

    Best greetings from Germany

  37. t.p says:

    Dont you think travelling like this so much you are pushing globalisation? We all know what that has done, ruin cultures, world becoming more interacting thus having nothing left to be explored by man.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      @T.P – At the same time, the interaction of cultures also leads to more open-mindness, more opportunities for people who never had them before, higher standards of living for many and a host of other benefits. I believe that life is ever-changing. Culture and people have been changing forever and so this is just a part of that change. What I’ve learned from my years of travel is that such a majority of the world’s problems and conflicts could be eliminated if people from different cultures spent more time with each other. Hatred stems from not knowing and too often we are quick to judge people we don’t know anything about simply because we heard some news story on television or the internet. And the only way to make those misconceptions vanish, and replace them with more human, more positive, connections, is to see the world with our own eyes and to learn from those we encounter along the way.

      • T.p says:

        I dont disagree that learning about cultures reduces barriers. But what i dont agree with is when these places are exploited and placed under Western hegemony, ruining their tradition, mass tourism occurs, english language forced down them, it takes the fun out of these places knowing its the same as home. I saw you did an article about how ‘tourism goes wrong’ and what iv studied is that the world being less intergreted, less media advertiseing of these places, it will eliminate those who are less interested in travel, and leave the door open for the true travellers is the only solution. 2012 hit 1 billion tourist for the first time in history. And racism, violence is still the same so… It is time tourism was reduced in order to preserve cultural heritage sites.

  38. Micah says:

    Thanks man, we’ll definitely see if we can hit up the north coast some! Thanks again!

  39. Micah says:

    Hey Earl! I saw that you’ve been to Iceland. We’re heading there this May, and tips?!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Micah – It’s a great country…I would definitely try to get up to the north coast. Akureyri was a great place to base out of for a while and I really enjoyed the small community of Isafjordur as well!

  40. Sharon says:

    Hey Earl I just want you to know you are the luckiest person in the world! (in case you didn’t know that already! lol) I planned to do exactly what you are for the rest of my life and somehow ended up married, not going to happen now, so it makes me smile to know there are people out there able to enjoy such a life. I found you on stumbleupon and will be returning to hear more about your awesome life! :D I hope it is always as amazing as it sounds!

  41. Thank you for all that you do, Earl.

    How do you balance long-term dating/relationships/romance while traveling?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Kevin – Luckily, I have the freedom to stop wherever I want so if I meet someone that I want to spend more time with, nothing is stopping me from sticking around longer or traveling with that person. So it actually works out much better than people imagine.

  42. mahavir says:

    Hi Earl ,
    Very nice information i got from web. keep writing this kind of valuable info .It help us to see the world from View…..

  43. Donna says:

    Hey Earl…I really enjoy reading about your travels…as a person with a wandering soul, I soooo want to go on an adventure of my own…I’ll be 60 this yr & life is getting shorter by the day…island life or near an ocean shore with a laid-back culture would be the greatest thing…I can almost feel it now..lol…but my income if very limited ($1100.00/mth) & I’m a little concerned about being a woman who is traveling alone…any advice on places to go where I can afford to live cheaply for a few months, but safely?…I’m not one who is afraid of much, but then I’m also not stupid about things that can happen in foreign travel…I just know that after spending much of my life raising my children & doing what was expected, I want to do something for Donna before this life gives me the boot…any suggestions you have I will definately take under advisement!…have fun in Mexico & maybe one day our paths will cross….D

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Donna – All I can say is that the world is a much safer place than most people ever imagine, even for solo female travelers. Usually, if you use the same common sense you would use back home while abroad, you’ll be just as safe. As a result, there are many options for great places to live…from Mexico to Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia…to the Balkan countries, Turkey, parts of Central and South America. There’s too many possibilities to list!

      • Donna says:

        Hey thanks for taking the time to answer me…I’ve traveled a bit in my day..Austria, Spain, Baja Mexico(when it was a little safer), Barbados, & of course the usual island travel…but I’m just drawn to the ocean with the sand & sun…I’m looking into house-sitting opportunities to at least cut expenses, although I may find that too confining since I want adventure..but my health is excellent, I have the desire, & now I just have to decide where to start!… look out world..here I come!!.Again!!..lol

        Donna..The Oklahoma Wanderer

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  45. Lauren says:

    Hi Earl,

    I just found your site as I was doing some curiosity-driven searches on living abroad. This is something I’ve been considering seriously for two years now. I am a graduate student and I often think of spending one of my free summers away or spending the time I need to write my dissertation abroad. Anyway, your site has been really inspiring. I plan to look around. I’m curious to see the many ways you have employed yourself abroad–I’m sure you talk about it somewhere, so I will dig around to find out. Cheers.


    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Lauren – It’s great to have you as a reader! As for the jobs I’ve done, it’s basically been teaching English in Asia, working on board cruise ships and now working on line. Those are the three main positions that have allowed me to live this lifestyle. If you ever have any questions at all, just send me an email and I’d be more than happy to reply!

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  47. Olfa says:

    Hi Earl,

    I found out about your site via the site of Adventurous Kate and I must see I really admire what you are doing. This year we travelled for 5 months and I always thought that was my dream come true, but back in Amsterdam I just want to travel again and further and more!! So thank you for taking me on your travels and keeping me inspired!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Olfa – Welcome to the site and thank you for reading! Hopefully you’ll be back out on the road again at some point as I know how addicting travel can become!

  48. Kenny Ross says:

    I found out about you via nomdicalsabbatical.com and I’m glad I did. I applaud you for what you’re doing. It’s very inspiring. One statement you made that coincides with my way of thinking when it comes to travel was, “In fact, as a permanent nomad, I have little interest in the actual sights that a particular destination may offer, instead preferring to focus on the human interactions and lessons learned along the way.” This is the same objective I have when traveling. I wish you the best in your future journeys.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Kenny – Thanks for the message and I welcome you to the site. I look forward to communicating with you some more about travel on here!

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