Live a Travel Channel Life – 5 Tips For Global Nomads

There is a growing number of people around the world throwing their cares to the wind, quitting their jobs, and making a new life for themselves on the open road traveling from country to country. Whether you are making an all-out lifestyle change or easing into it a little at a time, there are tricks and techniques for doing it right.

To life like a star of the travel channel, try these 5 tips:

Tip #1: Carry only the essentials from country to country:
When you embark on your journey, you may find yourself packing two nice, big suitcase full of clothes and goodies from REI. Hint: try narrowing your luggage down to what will fit in a backpack or a single suitcase. Either way, as you travel from country to country, you will notice that your list of essentials grows shorter. All you really need is a bit of cash or travelers checks, your passport, maybe a good travel guide and a couple changes of clothing.

Tip #2: Buy cheap:
If you are going to make a life or significant hobby out of living the travel channel life, you need to learn the insider secrets to buying cheap airfare. Do the research ahead of time. For you, airfare will become as significant an expense as is a mortgage and car payment for your more sedentary friends and family. Do your homework now and save thousands and thousands down the road.

Tip #3: Know the best countries to visit for saving your cash:
As you can imagine, the cost of traveling and living in the various countries of the world differs dramatically from country to country. If you are planning to life for months or years away from home, plan your global route according to your budget. For example, if you are planning to travel Asia, visit South and Southeast Asian (e.g., India, Thailand, and Vietnam) when you are low on cash. If you just made a withdrawal from the bank account in your native country or got a paycheck from your online business, head to East Asia (e.g., Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan) to see the sites there. The same pattern applies in the Americas, Africa, and Europe as well.

Tip #4: Double up when you can:
If you are traveling along, you will find that it is usually very easy to meet people on the road. When you do have the opportunity to meet up with someone you can trust with whom you can share accommodations or even a taxi ride to the airport, I highly suggest doing so. At the same time, you will need to say goodbye to these travel bodies not infrequently, so be big enough to say “I have to go my own way now” then the time comes.

Tip #5: Use Internet cafes to maintain a travel blog:
Traveling this big world can be pretty lonely sometimes. A great option that global travelers have today that was not there even a few years ago is to keep a travel blog. Your regular entries of text and (when possible) photos will give you a sense of continuity and will give your friends and family back home a much better sense of what is going on with you as you have the time of your life.

To live a travel channel life, make sure you educate yourself about how to buy cheap airfare and accommodations. Be sure to pack only the essentials and educate yourself ahead of time about which countries will be cheaper to live in. And, take advantage of the Internet to keep yourself centered and your family and friends up to date.

The Switzerland of Asia Shines

In many respects, Singapore is the Switzerland of Asia.

Begun in 1819 as a British trading colony, the Republic of Singapore was founded in 1965 under the leadership of the current Prime Minister’s father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. While it is only 1/5 the size of Rhode Island and three times the size of Washington D.C., it is perhaps the most strategically important global trading, finance and service nexus in Asia.

Here is why you should consider investing in Singapore.

While Hong Kong and Shanghai will argue, Singapore is the busiest port in Asia situated next to the vital trading channel, the Straits of Malacca.

Unlike South Korea and Taiwan, which are heavily dependent on the cyclical electronics industry, Singapore has a well-diversified economy. 70% of its GDP is attributable to finance and services.

Singapore’s accounting rules and regulations are amongst the most conservative in the world. For example, its rules on inventory accounting and the expensing of stock options are more conservative than those in the United States.

Trade Surplus

Despite only 1.6% of its land being suitable for agricultural activities and having to import almost everything including water, Singapore manages to have a trade surplus.

Singapore has a balanced budget, a stable currency and still manages to allocate 5% of GDP for defense.

It represents a multi-ethnic society with 77% Chinese, 14% Malay and 8% Indian.

Singapore has a parliamentary form of government, an English common law judiciary system and is corruption and drug free. Slowly but surely, a freer political climate is developing with a Speaker’s Corner instituted in 2000 and the ability to express one’s views freely anywhere with the exception of the sensitive topics of race and religion

Singapore’s educational performance is legendary. The fact that it has twice as many Internet users as television sets is telling.

Singapore’s New Resorts

Singapore is also changing with the times. To generate more investment, tax revenue, and add a bit of sparkle, Singapore recently approved the development of two large casino resorts. It is part of a strategy to reduce the country’s dependence on manufacturing and to position itself as a livelier tourism destination. Of course, there will be restrictions. Singaporeans will have to pay a $60 entry fee and the gambling areas will be restricted to just 5% of the resort. According to projections, the resorts will lead to $4 billion in investments, $3.5 billion in annual revenues, 35,000 jobs and $350 million per year in taxes and fees.

Singapore has also made great strides in patching up misunderstandings with its neighbor to the north, Malaysia, from whom it split in 1965. Tax issues, water supply agreements and transportation arrangements are all moving much more smoothly.

Singapore is adept at holding on to its manufacturing base even as several large semiconductor manufacturers such as National Semiconductor announced plans to move plants to China and Malaysia. For thirty years, Singapore has relied on electronics as the backbone of its manufacturing sector but is making the transition to a more service and R&D economy. Electronics is about 40% of manufacturing output but accounts for only 5% of employment. Surprisingly, some firms are moving manufacturing centers from China to Singapore due to its infrastructure, logistics and laws protecting intellectual property. Exxon Mobil, Shell and Sumitomo are expanding petrochemical facilities and Singapore added 27,000 manufacturing jobs last year by moving up the food chain.

After 8.4% GDP growth in 2004 and a weak start early this year, Singapore’s economy posted 12% plus growth in the second quarter and should be a solid performer over the next few years. Continued strong global demand for transportation, communications and logistics services, increasing IT spending, rising consumer spending and property prices and expanded tourism all point to continued growth.

An easy and smart way to invest in Singapore is through the Singapore iShare (EWS) which tracks the Singapore Straits index. It is up 26% over the past year and up 9.4% year to date. Its largest positions are in Singapore Telecom, United Overseas Bank and DBS Bank. Even better, it is tax efficient and has an annual expense ratio of only 0.59%. Trading at 14 times projected earnings, the Singapore market is still attractive. By comparison, the Switzerland market and iShare (EWL) is trading at 18 times earnings.

The epitome of quality and increasingly creative, Singapore is a great core holding for any global portfolio.

Carl Delfeld is head of the global advisory firm Chartwell Partners and editor of the Chartwell Advisor and the Asia Investor Intelligence newsletters. He served on the executive board of the Asian Development Bank and is the author of The New Global Investor (iUniverse:2005). For more information go to http://www.chartwelladvisor.com or call 877-221-1496

A Visit to Rebel – Held Area in Asia

We started our journey towards Kilinochchi and reached the Omanthai Military Check Point, the Northernmost Frontier of the Sri Lanka Army in the mainland and stopped for clearance.

Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene spoke to the Military Officials and we were cleared after a few procedures and set on our journey towards North. In a few minutes’ time by passing the No Man Zone, we reached the LTTE Check Point. I spoke to an LTTE member who questioned me about our mission. I explained our mission and introduced the German team and others there. I told we had already informed the Political wing of the LTTE about our mission.

They were highly concerned about our mission as we were about to visit the Mulaitivu region which is an LTTE stronghold. The German Television crew had come with satellite equipment for direct transmission of disaster immediately from the spot. We thought whether we would be facing any difficulties because of the security issues. But we had been cleared and were on our way to Kilinochchi.

While we were traveling we found both sides of the highway were a blend of dense forests and the paddy lands created a lot of excitement within me. Peacocks were everywhere, busily foraging in the paddy lands.

After two hours of our journey we reached Murukandy, a stopover for passengers where a small Hindu temple is found. It has become a tradition for passengers to stop there and worship the God, which was enshrined in that small temple especially if they were Hindus. Others too used to stop there as a pastime and buy a variety of foodstuff available there. We too stopped for a while but not very long, as we were already late according to our schedule to reach Kilinochchi. We had to arrange accommodation for more than twenty-five persons. I was highly worried as there were fifteen German nationals, and they would expect reasonable accommodation for the night. When we reached Kilinochchi it was early night.

We went to meet LTTE’s media spokesman who was coordinating our mission in the LTTE-controlled areas. He was startled at the number of people on our mission. He asked his subordinates to look around for places to accommodate us. Visiting NGO members and the media people had already occupied the available places. We were stalled for a couple of hours.

The German T.V. crew and the German Praktikum (Internship) students were in their vans for hours and it was sad to see their situation. Some of the youths who came with us from a local T.V. channel started to scold me, as I was the coordinator in those areas. But I had to pacify them saying after all it’s a relief mission, and we were prepared to bear the hardships.

Some how or other the LTTE’s Political Wing found accommodation and I had to take some of the German students to the lodgings, which had been arranged for them. My responsibility had been narrowed down. The German Television crew had also been assigned a place.

Some of the students were asking whether their rooms were equipped with mosquito nets. I had to find rooms with mosquito nets for them. But one room with nets, I had to reserve for a Sinhalese couple as promised. I had taken some extra care that they should not feel that they had been discriminated in a Tamil area. I had told the students I had to keep that room for the couple. All the students got rooms with mosquito nets in that complex except two students. Then I went to the LTTE’s Political Wing office to check what was happening there.

AGSEP’s Director Dietmar Doering said he would be staying where the female students and some of the AGSEP staff were staying for their safety and went with them. The young Sinhalese couple got a room at the LTTE’s Political Wing office. The incident might be as surprising as an Israelit couple taking night shelter at the office of the Palestinian rebels.

I returned to one of the lodgings, where the students were staying and got into the room, which had a mosquito net, which became available, as the couple had found room at the Political Wing. I was a little worried staying in my room because of my German friends. Would they have any misgivings about me? So, I knocked at their room doors, but got no response from them.

The exhausting day-long journey had overcome them with deep slumber.