This morning I had a consultation with an American living in Mexico who is itching to add self-employment to his portfolio. Not surprisingly, his next step was hiding in plain sight and incorporated several of his passions and skills while giving him the opportunity to exercise his curiosity.

It was perfect.

By the time we finished talking on Skype (a favorite tool of expats), I was contemplating  a trip to Mexico. His enthusiasm was quite contagious.

It seems to me that—more often than not—entrepreneurs are explorers. Those explorations take many different forms, of course, but keeping their wanderlust well fed is a high priority for many.

As an intrepid traveler myself, I’m always gathering ideas and travel tips. Over the weekend, I came across a few old favorites that I’ve shared in Winning Ways newsletter and decided to pass them along here.

If you’re traveling to a country where a different language is spoken, it makes sense to learn a few key phrases in your host’s language.

Travel writer Catherine Watson says, “Learn how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in a dozen languages. And then use them at every opportunity.

“For a real payoff memorize how to say, ‘I am sorry but I don’t speak your beautiful language,’ in the tongue of every country you’re going to visit.”

I wondered how you’d say Joyfully Jobless in another tongue so I paid a visit to a couple of online translators. (If you actually speak any of these languages, you might translate differently.)

Should someone ask you, “What do you do?” here’s how you might reply.

Afrikaans—blydskap werklose

Czech—radosti bez pracae

Danish—glaede arbejdslose

French—joyeusement le chomeur

German—Freudig arbeitslos

Italian—gioia senza lavoro

Norwegian—gledelig jobblos

Spanish—alegria por desempleo

Swedish—gladje arbetslosa

Your travel also can be enriched by having a project to explore. When I was visiting London several times every year, I always gave each trip a theme. One time I would visit gardens; another time bookshops were my focus.

Catherine Watson puts it this way: “For added pleasure, have a quest. It’s a lot more interesting to search for the Holy Grail than just sightsee.

“Start with something that means something to you at home. Say you collect antiques, pursue genealogy, love horses of just plain have a smart dog. Use that as a way to get inside the culture you’re visiting.

“Abroad, you could go to local auctions; end up in Alpine villages connected to your family; seek out country horse trials in England; talk to sheepdog trainers in Scotland.”

Of course, entrepreneurial gypsies are on the lookout for business ideas. That’s what Howard Schultz did when he decided during a European visit that what the US needed was a neighborhood coffeehouse.

As a result, thousands of neighborhoods now have their very own Starbucks.

When you travel, read local newspapers and magazines, visit small businesses, keep your eyes and ears open. You never know when an idea that charms you in a faraway place might be ready to come to life in your part of the world.

That’s precisely what the late Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, discovered. She said, “I’ve always said that travel is the best university; getting from one place to another means more than physical movement.

“It also entails change, challenge, new ideas and inspirations….I had this idea of making little products like shampoo and so forth using ingredients I had found when I traveled.”


2 Responses to “A Few Tips for Entrepreneurial Gypsies”

  1. Tony

    Very much agree that travel is the best University. I have learned so much about myself and life from travel – it has been my best educator. Just getting out there and mixing it up teaches you loads. As a writer and programmer I’ve been able to work from some very interesting locations – temples, high-rise apartments, beaches, cottages, coffe shops and many other weird and wonderful locations. It wasn’t an overnight process though – I had to decide I wanted to have a more mobile lifestyle and then work towards it. That’s a journey that will last my whole life. All the best, Tony.

  2. rob

    If done right, the amount of learning that transpires either living or visiting another country is endless. By done right, this means not living in a gated community, attempting to learn the language, and visiting places off of the beaten path. During my last trip to Europe which was first trip to Paris, I learned that more fun was to be had spending less money and not following trip advisor recommendations.
    Barbara, btw, you are always invited down here to Mexico and thanks for the positive feedback! Just send me an email and we will plan next steps.

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