On Monday I wrote about developing the freedom to travel anywhere, anytime without getting fired. For many people, putting yourself in a position where you are free to go at any time and stay in the places you’ve always wanted to stay is a completely new experience and mindset. While it’s certainly not for everybody, a good number of people who start remote working realize that they have no desire to remain indentured to one place and nation anymore; they want to become a citizen of themselves and the world, and nobody else. There’s something about this sense of newfound freedom that has people re-evaluating their loyalties and priorities.
From here, there are two ways you can go. You can become a perpetual traveler or you can become a world citizen.
What’s a perpetual traveler anyway? In a nutshell, a person who designs their life so that they’re not the legal resident of any of the countries in which they actually spend most of their time. Usually the perpetual traveler will gain a citizenship in a country where you’re only taxed for money made in the country while they make their legal residence in a tax haven. They can then move about in various countries with their assets spread out and protected and without paying income tax so long as they don’t stay in any one country long enough to be a resident for taxation purposes.
There are many reasons for doing this. The most obvious: to avoid income tax. Since the hardcore patriots left the room as of the first paragraph, we can safely say that there’s no compelling moral argument for you to pay income tax to a government you don’t believe is spending your money wisely, or is simply taking too much from your efforts.
But it could be so that you can safely avoid catastrophes and crises; if you don’t want to be stuck in a country where war or economic disaster hits, if you’ve got things set up properly you can be out of there in a matter of hours. You might want to reduce your net worth to zero and spread your assets out amongst holding companies you create offshore so that no one government can touch it. It might just be a matter of wanting some privacy from the greedy and stickybeaking bureaucratic organizations of the world.
Whatever the reason, it means disowning your allegiance to your home country without giving it up to another. It means becoming a citizen of your own empire.
The world citizen is someone who decides to stop seeing the world as something segmented by nation, and look at it as the home of humanity where we’re all entitled to enjoy, and mandated to be be responsible for, the territory of each nation. The world citizen doesn’t see any sense in national citizenship and decides to stop seeing things through the lens of patriotism or from the perspective of the country they grew up in.
A world citizen can also be someone who uses their knowledge of the world and each distinguishable culture as their trade. I have met a cultural consultant who, in their role as an academic and after many years abroad, gave advice to businesses who were hiring someone from a culture they knew little about, or trying to market a product to a particular culture they weren’t familiar with.
Quite evidently, at the most basic, one of these concepts is about philosophy and one is about practice. They’re two of the roads people sometimes take after seeing the world — the third being to resume their life as a member of the nation they returned to, to work there, and eventually die there.
The third notion is certainly the most common. Once we’re back at home and we’re comfortable most people find little reason to think about the rest of the world anymore. It can be a limiting viewpoint. It is more common, of course, that people choose to become world citizens than perpetual travelers, and that’s a great attitude to have; it promotes tolerance, cooperation, and as the attitude spreads on a wider scale, it promotes trends in international trade and openness to trying new experiences offered by people from cultures other than your own.
The most interesting in my mind is the perpetual traveler. It’s not done very often. People don’t want to leave their home behind, and it can take a lot of effort to set up. But for the greater initial investment, there are more benefits.
In a nutshell, becoming a perpetual traveler is about minimizing your loyalty to any one nation-state or entity, while becoming a world citizen is about becoming loyal to the world as a whole before any one nation. The concept of the perpetual traveler is about reducing your dependency and responsibilities and the world citizen is about increasing your loyalty and your responsibilities. The commonality lies in how they can be conceived: through experiencing the world and deciding that allegiance to one nation is a silly idea.
After writing my last article I became curious about what Lifehack’s readers would choose to become if they could, so I wrote this piece describing each idea and the differences between them. On one hand, I figured that people interested in “hacking” their lives to better serve their purposes would be interested in the perpetual traveler idea. On the other hand, perhaps the world citizen concept is more in line with the philosophy of a group of people who are looking for every possible way to cut down on their time investments so they can enjoy life more — why bother going to all that effort and then having to move around all the time? You tell me which way you’d go in the comments.
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