An Interview with remote businessman and traveler, Matt Mitchell on work, travel, and keeping your wits in the modern 9-5.
Interview by Jeremy Lux, article written by Eric Gasa
Matt Mitchell is the modern everyman. He’s had every suit, expensive tie, company car, business perk, and 9-5 to prove it. The difference between Mitchell and the salaryman climbing up the corporate ladder though is that Matt can still be his own person on his own time. For him, there is no withering corporate grind, no pesky punch cards, or taken parking spaces in the next area code; Mitchell calls the shots from his home or sometimes even the beaches of Costa Rica.
It sounds like the get rich, live-large scheme some corporate jobs like to promise, but for Mitchell his approach is authentic, if not more importantly, completely possible. It’s all about tailoring his workflow to fit the shape of his lifestyle.
On the Life in Motion podcast with Jeremy Lux, Lux’s college friend, Matt Mitchell speaks on how he struck the perfect balance between work, play, and travel, and how the working person can still travel the world while on a working budget.
“I did the corporate world after college a few years and I still work for a kind of corporation now, but it’s on a remote basis. It’s given me a lot of flexibility and autonomy which has been great,” explains Mitchell.
Lux and Mitchell have known each other since middle school, bonding all the way through college with their love for biking and traveling.
Mitchell hasn’t stopped traveling since. He’s been to Aruba, Ireland, the Dominican, and traveled all over California; within the first two weeks of his remote job he took a trip to Costa Rica for 10 days.
“When you work for the weekend you really limit yourself to 48 hours every seven days, enough time to do what you want and then go right back to work…” says Mitchell, “I came to this combustion point where I wanted to take a step back and figure out how to mend my work around my life versus the other way around.”
Mitchell needed a change, an escape, complete immersion within a new place.
He calls them “nomadic vacations” but what Mitchell enjoys doing is landing in a surrounding town, renting a car, booking a few Airbnbs across the map, and hopping from town to town, meeting new people, seeing new things in places he’s never been to. He says the experience is much more active rather than just sitting at a resort all day long.
“You're going to get off the grid, you're going to drink some drinks, you're going to sit in the sand and get a nice sun tan. But at the end of the day, what did you bring back from that vacation?” Mitchell asks, “was it a tan or a new perspective?”
For Mitchell, much of the satisfaction in his life seems to come from his attitude and appreciation of experiences, and though he knows that some people’s options are limited he recommends travel as a remedy to a happier life.
“We’re not gonna have giant social security checks for us every month…You know there’s things that you can’t do when you’re 65, things that you can’t do when you’re that old and having kids,” Mitchell says, “All these great joys will come later in life. But right now, there’s so much more than just work to be done.”
Mitchell breaks it down into terms any working person can understand: you don’t smile when you check your 401k account, but you do when you’re on your way to the airport, plane ticket in hand.
As for budgeting for a trip, Mitchell recommends baby steps and putting away 1% per day or $5 a week or more into a dedicated travel account or fund. Shaving expenses from the monthly budget or acquiring a job with a flexible schedule are other ways to ensure time for travel in our busy lives.
He cites FlexJobs, a site online for remote and telecommunication work, as well as jobs in the freelancing field and gig economy to gain that occupational freedom.
“I can almost vouch for anyone listening to this, you’re probably pretty hirable. You probably have a relatively good skill and some sort of education. You can probably get another job,” says Mitchell, “And it's just looking at who's in the driver's seat: is it me and my employers riding shotgun, or the other way around?”
For Mitchell it’s a matter of making your job work for you to ensure a better quality of life. He talks about holding on to our resources, no, not our money or 401ks, but our nonrenewable resources like time and shared experiences. It’s a simple idea but the way Mitchell puts it sounds like the fight for our lives.
“You work damn hard for your paycheck. Whatever you're doing. So how are you going to spend that?” but Mitchell poses an even better question: “Better yet, how are you going to spend your life?”
For more info on Matt Michell and his travels check out his Instagram and Twitter @m_haydon where he can answer any questions on travel or remote work. To hear the full recording of Matt Mitchell’s interview with Jeremy Lux and some details on his career and trip stories, be sure to check out the Life in Motion podcast on iTunes.