7 Work Ideas for Your Freedom Year

7 Legitimate Work-at-Home Jobs for 20-Somethings

By John Pacenti  |   Bankrate.com — Mon July 16, 2012
(Original Article on Yahoo.com here)

Work at home in your PJs?

One ad reads, “I will juggle three fire clubs with a firework on my head for $5.” Another offers a 45-minute Spanish lesson on Skype or professional advice on buying real estate. All are on Fiver.com where anybody can sell a service for $5, many through the Internet.

The website is indicative of how the work-at-home job scene has evolved in just the last few years.

“We are now seeing younger and younger people working from home,” says Michael Haaren, co-founder of RatRaceRebellion.com, which has tracked 17,000 telecommuting jobs since 2007.

“Three years ago, the person who typically worked at home was a mom who wanted to be there for her children. Now it’s skewing younger — and the young people, they are multitasking.”

Many young people have turned to telecommuting due to the lack of entry-level jobs in a struggling economy, Haaren says. These jobs can vary wildly and do not always pay well, but for the intrepid they can be pieced together to pay the bills.

[Related: High-Paying, Low-Stress Jobs]

From more lucrative positions to the usual telecommuting stalwarts, Bankrate took a look at seven industries where a computer in a spare bedroom could mean lots of spare change.

From old-school to new-school

Job: Teacher/Tutor
Pay: $10 to $14 per hour

Hiring for online instructors is robust, as for-profit universities, such as Kaplan and the University of Phoenix, grow, Haaren says.

And colleges aren’t the only schools looking for teachers. All the teachers at the Florida Virtual School, which enrolls children from grades 6 to 12, work from home.

Jennifer Kohn, spokeswoman for Tutor.com, says the company has about 2,500 teachers on contract and a waiting list of thousands. She says tutors teach students of all ages and levels. Recent graduates, and even those still in college, are a good tutoring fit as long as they pass the application process. It also offers those who are retired a great way to supplement their retirement income while giving those taking a break from the real classroom a way to still have income.

“The people who can really do calculus and chemistry get paid more,” she says.

One reason online tutoring is growing is that the students like the anonymity of the service. “It takes away any sort of biases,” Kohn says. “It’s just about the work.”

As for the tutors: “People like the flexibility,” Kohn says. “They can set their own schedule. They can change their hours weekly as they see fit. You can tutor at 9 o’clock at night if you want.”

Shop ’til you drop

Job: Mystery shopper
Pay: $5 and up per assignment

One of the more unusual trends for those working from home is employment as a mystery shopper. More than just liking a store and buying a sweater there, the motive behind it is to help a company’s workforce development, says Dan Denston, executive director of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association, or MSPA.

The workings behind a job are relatively simple, albeit detail-oriented. A mystery shopper works as an independent contractor reporting back to a company on various areas and experiences in the store. Depending on how difficult and time-consuming the job is, payment ranges from $5 to $160, Denston says. And with some assignments, shoppers don’t even need to leave home, making phone calls to businesses to examine their customer service.

While they won’t get rich, mystery shopping gives new graduates still looking for a traditional 9-to-5 job an opportunity to help pay the rent, Haaren says.

As the mystery-shopping industry grows — 7 percent from 2010 to 2011 — it’s important to be on the lookout for scams. It’s extremely important to use credible sites to find companies looking for undercover consumers. Denston says his company, MSPA, backs all the secret shopping companies they have as members because they know they are legitimate. “You should never have to pay for a list of mystery shopping jobs,” he says. “It’s a tell-tale sign of a scam.”
[Related: Flummoxed by Failure—or Focused?]

Peddle your goods online

Job: Crafter
Pay: Varies

Selling homemade goods online is a modern turn on old-fashioned small business. Leslie Truex, who runs WorkAtHomeSuccess.com, says these are true cottage industries.

Some of these businesses are even bringing assistants into their homes to help them produce their products, which can be clothing, jewelry or any number of assorted knickknacks. The crafters then advertise their products on popular websites like Etsy, Artfire and Craftsu.

Selling goods or crafts can be a good way for a student or recent graduate to make a few extra bucks if it’s something they enjoy doing, but they need to think about the time involved in their work and whether it will pay off.

“Most people will fail, but a few will be successful,” Truex says. “The key is the ability to market themselves.” You need to be able to know your market, and know where your potential clients can be found, she says.

James Dillehay, author of “How to Price Crafts and Things You Make to Sell,” lives near Santa Fe, N.M., and says it’s important to build up a customer base.

“Because there is so much competition, don’t put all your hopes and resources into developing an Etsy store while ignoring face-to-face markets,” he says.

Etsy reported $62.8 million in goods sold in March — or more than 3 million items sold. The site charges 20 cents to list an item and 3.5 percent of sales. But don’t think you must stick to just Etsy. Other craft sites out there are free, and some just charge a flat fee.

Take your business idea to the Web

Job: Internet entrepreneur
Pay: Potentially millions of dollars

The idea of the struggling artist has given way to that of the ambitious entrepreneur.

Marissa Feinberg says she sees a number of these dreamers at her business, Green Spaces, which provides them with an office setting when needed.

“Everyone is trying to be the next Facebook, the next Mark Zuckerberg, the next Instagram,” she says. “They are getting new funding and circulating their ideas.”

Haaren describes the Internet entrepreneur movement as a “tanker full of gasoline.”

He pointed to the website Kickstarter.com and Crowdfunding.com, where creators of innovative projects can seek money.

Haaren also says new legislation supported by President Barack Obama will allow entrepreneurs to hold “mini IPOs” to get their businesses off the ground. One startup, he says, raised $3 million to fund its idea of synching electronic devices to a watch-like gadget.

Success stories such as Omgpop are fueling the fire. The one-time struggling startup hit it big with the Pictionary-styled smartphone game “Draw Something.” The popularity of the game drew the attention of media game company Zynga, which purchased Omgpop earlier this year for almost $200 million.

The customer is always right

Job: Customer service agents
Pay: $8 to $15 per hour

The backbone of the work-at-home sector is customer service. And it’s attractive to the younger set still looking to enter the job market because all one needs is a telephone and time.

Haaren says the service can vary widely. “Generally it’s for inbound calls,” he says. “It could be ‘I need help ordering a pizza’ (or) helping people with their credit cards.” U-Haul, American Express, Apple and AAA are increasingly using home-based customer service agents, he says. Amazon is also looking to wade into the waters.

“That’s a big deal,” Haaren says. “Amazon is like the 500,000-pound gorilla.”

Allstayathome.com says customer service jobs are very plentiful, but unlike other jobs done from the residence, many companies require a set work schedule. The upside, though, is they may hire customer service agents as permanent employees rather than contractors. This means regular paychecks and benefits.

The downside to being a customer service agent is that companies often require a background check, for which that applicant may have to pay. And, of course, dealing with unhappy customers comes with the territory, so a high threshold for abuse is often a necessity.

‘How may I assist you?’

Job: “Virtual” assistants
Pay: Up to $44,000 per year

Young adults are flocking to virtual assistant jobs, Haaren says. Ads for this line of work vary. Some call for someone who can assist bank customers, others ask for a computer-savvy employee who knows Microsoft Word. Haaren says Internet research jobs such as these are some of the most abundant home-based jobs at the moment.

Another area for virtual assistants to explore is the integration of social media into businesses to get out their message on Facebook, Twitter and other bulletin board sites. “It’s a lot of work, and a lot of people would just rather pay someone to do it,” Truex says.

Indeed.com, a leading online job search site, says virtual assistants can earn as much as $44,000 per year, but there are young people offering their services as virtual assistants on the Internet for as little as $3 per hour.

Exercise your writes

Job: Writer/editor
Pay: 10 cents to $2 per word

Jobs for writers and editors are out there in abundance. Blogging for newspapers that have gone online is one job that’s expanding. If you are more of an editor, that kind of work-at-home job is needed for manuscripts of all types, including textbooks. Recent college graduates and even those still in college can use these blogging and editing experiences to build up their resumes while bringing in some much-needed cash. For those more-experienced journalists and writers out there, this type of freelancing from home could be a profitable endeavor.

Susannah Nesmith, who worked at The Miami Herald for six years, got caught in the crunch of newspaper downsizing but has found freelancing to be highly lucrative. She writes stories for national magazines and newspapers.

While some publications want her skills at a discount, Nesmith won’t work for less than 50 cents a word, and some magazines offer a basic rate between $1 and $2 a word.

The best part about working from home now is the extra freedom she has. “One of the things I like about freelancing is I can fire my bosses. And I have,” Nesmith says.

(Original Article on Yahoo.com here)

A Woman’s Guide to Using Squat Toilets

A Woman’s Guide to Using Squat Toilets

by Brooke Schoenman on April 9, 2012
(Original article on gobackpacking.com – here)

squat toilet on Thai train

Squat toilet on Thai train (photo by villadavida)

Iremember the first time I encountered a squat toilet on my travels.

It was in a small bar in Verona, Italy where I studied abroad, and the first thing I did was stand there in disbelief for about 5 minutes before I could get to the realization that I had to squat to pee in this Western country’s bathroom.

I was still new at this overseas travel thing, and thought that only the bidet was a unique toilet experience I would have to encounter in Italy.

I learned a lot that semester — especially about the art (or the tragedy) of using squat toilets, and that knowledge has grown through months of travel in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

In my Woman’s Guide to Using Squat Toilets, I lay out some of the facts, questions and tips I’ve acquired concerning squat toilets and the female traveler.

squat toilet middle east

Squat toilet in the Middle East (photo by goldberg)

Where Squat Toilets Exist

Squat toilets are actually quite prevalent around the world.

They may be rare in North America, but travel to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America and parts of Europe, and you will quickly be introduced to an experience or two using a squatter.

Popular tourist destinations will tend to cater to the Western traveler with hotels and expat locations installing the sitting style toilets.

Issues with Squat Toilets for Female Travelers

The main issue for females attempting to use squat toilets is the risk of getting urine on you and your clothing — especially a pant leg.

The risk is combined with the stress that comes from having to use new muscles in your legs just to use the restroom.

Unlike men, who only have to squat for half of their squat toilet encounters, women will have to squat for 100% of them.

It can make even the best of us shaky afterwards, and I’ve heard many a girl fear that they might fall over (or in!) a squat toilet because of it.

spare toilet roll

Spare toilet rolls always necessary (photo by jdm1979uk)

Before You Go

There are a few things I like to have with me before venturing into a squat toilet: toilet paper, a light backpack, hand sanitizer, and a Ziploc bag.

If you know you will be traveling in areas with squat toilets, it is best to have these items with you at all times.

1. Toilet Paper

Toilet paper is just not a necessity in some cultures. Instead, you might be given a hose or a bucket of water, or the toilet paper stock might not ever be… stocked. Toilet paper or a pack of tissues can save a girl a lot of trouble.

2. Backpack

A light backpack might seem like a bit much, but there are stuffable daypacks that can fit in your palm.

Throw one in your purse because when you get to a squat toilet with no coat hooks and a dirty floor, you’re going to want a place to hold the stuff on your body without getting in the way of “business”.

3. Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is kind of a no-brainer. This is always in my bag — even when I’m not traveling.

4. Ziploc Bag

A Ziploc bag is for the times there is no trash can in your toilet, and you’re in a country where you can’t flush paper.

If you are a paper-all-the-time kind of gal, then pop in the Ziploc bag until you can find a proper trash.

japanese style squat toilet

How to use a Japanese squat toilet (photo by tamaiyuya)

Best Methods for Using Squat Toilets

The basic rules for using squatters are as follows:

  • Roll your pant legs up to your knees to minimize risk of splashback hitting the bottoms.
  • Place your feet on the foot grooves on the side of the toilet hole.
  • Pull your pants down as far as you can comfortably go (preferably to the knees), but this will vary with the type of clothing you are wearing.
  • Squat to the point where you can’t squat no more. Just like the limbo, you’ll want to go as low as you can go in order to get your stream as close to the bowl as possible.
  • Shoot for the hole as hitting anywhere else on the bowl has a higher chance of causing splashback.
  • Wipe or rinse according to what’s on-hand.

Optional:

Many women claim that they can only get by in a squat toilet if they remove their bottom half of clothing completely.

Unlike men, it is harder to control the stream, so a woman might occasionally shoot sideways or just get splash from the toilet on their pant legs.

If you do remove your clothing, you will need to find a hook or place to hang it to keep them off the often questionable ground.

This is where a daypack can save the day — giving you a place to keep your belongings off the ground while also staying out-of-the-way unlike a side sling purse or bag.

Trust me — been there, done that!

Wipe and Flush

All squat toilets are created differently, so in one location, you might have an actual flush toilet, and in another you might have to scoop buckets of water into the bowl to clean it out for the next user.

One location might use toilet paper and expect you to place the paper in the trash bin, while another might cause you to rely on a water hose to wash your backside down after use.

Just remember to do what you do in accordance to the local criteria.

asian squat

Other cultures are more accustomed to this position. Practice before you travel. (photo by gregwalters)

Extra Tips

  • Practice a squat before you travel to destinations where squat toilets reign supreme.
  • Do squat exercises to build up the leg muscles that will be in use.
  • A disposable female urine funnel can be very helpful for the traveler that just can’t seem to master squat toilets on a her own. These are fairly inexpensive and can be tossed in the bin after use.

Further Reading

About the Author:

is the author of 16 posts on Go Backpacking.

Brooke lives a thrifty lifestyle so that she can travel the world at every possible opportunity. She shares her travel tales, including everything from sleeping in a yurt in Kyrgyzstan to becoming an expat in Australia, on her personal travel blog, Brooke vs. the World. Female travelers might enjoy the stories and tips of her monthly Female Travel Underground newsletter. Join her on Facebook and follow her onTwitter.

5,000 Miles Away Over the Holidays and Worried About Feeling Too Homesick ? Well, Don’t Worry, Be Happy – and Find Great Mates for a Picnic

Argentina – A Champagne Picnic in Salta on Christmas Day

As I travel around the world and share stories with other travelers and people back home this becomes one of the major reasons for NOT traveling — the holidays.  Listen, don’t let it be.  You can have very memorable experiences abroad over the holidays.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be at home for a week or so over Christmas, but with flights $1,000-$2,000, I don’t think so.  That could easily buy you another month or more traveling depending on the country.

Special thanks to my new friends, especially the beautiful English gals for putting the picnic together.  Cheers !

Felices Fiestas Everyone !

Felices Fiestas (Happy Holidays) Everyone !

I’m in Salta, Argentina for the Holidays and the festivities have begun!  I enjoyed a lunch of empanadas and local Malbec wine followed by watching A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Later, I went shopping and found the perfect gifts for our secret Santa tomorrow amongst 7 Brits, 1 Aussie, and yo – the lone Americano.

Tonight we have a massive BBQ and an OPEN BAR from 9-1 am !  And, manana we have  a Christmas morning champagne breakfast followed by our Secret Santa and a big picnic in the park where it has been a sunny 85 degrees this week.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all my Friends & Family back home!

5 Timeless Lessons that Long-Term Travel Teaches Us

1) Time = Wealth
2) Be Where You Are
3) Slow Down
4) Keep it Simple
5) Don’t Set Limits
 

5 Travel Lessons You Can Use at Home

Written by 

Rolf Potts is one of my favorite writers, and his book Vagabonding was one of only four books I recommended as “fundamental” in The 4-Hour Workweek. It was also one of two books, the other being Walden; Or, Life in the Woods, that I took with me during my 15+-month mini-retirement that began in 2004.

The following is a guest post from Rolf on the art and lessons of travel, all of which you can apply at home.

Enter Rolf:

Last fall I spoke at the excellent DO Lectures, which brings innovative thinkers from around the world for a series of talks in rural Wales (Tim was a speaker in 2008). My talk, which is available in full via the video link above encourages people to make themselves rich in time and to become active in making their travel dreams happen.

The talk itself contains essential advice and inspiration regarding travel — but what struck me on re-watching it was an improvised moment at the beginning of the talk, when I pointed out how “these aren’t really travel-specific challenges — these are things that can apply to life in general. Think of travel as a metaphor for how you live your life at home.”

Indeed, travel has a way of slowing you down, of waking you up, of pulling you up out of your daily routines and seeing life in a new way. This new way of looking at the world need not end when you resume your life at home.

Here are 5 key ways in which the lessons you learn on the road can be used to enrich the life you lead when you return home…

1) Time = Wealth

By far the most important lesson travel teaches you is that your time is all you really own in life. And the more you travel, the more you realize that your most extravagant possessions can’t match the satisfaction you get from finding new experiences, meeting new people, and learning new things about yourself. “Value” is a word we often hear in day-to-day life, but travel has a way of teaching us that value is not pegged to a cash amount, that the best experiences in life can be had for the price of showing up (be it to a festival in Rajasthan, a village in the Italian countryside, or a sunrise ten minutes from your home).

Scientific studies have shown that new experiences (and the memories they produce) are more likely to produce long-term happiness than new things. Since new experiences aren’t exclusive to travel, consider ways to become time-rich at home. Spend less time working on things you don’t enjoy and buying things you don’t need; spend more time embracing the kinds of activities (learning new skills, meeting new people, spending time with friends and family) that make you feel alive and part of the world.

2) Be Where You Are

A great thing about travel is that it forces you into the moment. When you’re celebrating carnival in Rio, riding a horse on the Mongolian steppe, or exploring a soukin Damascus, there’s a giddy thrill in being exactly where you are and allowing things to happen. In an age when electronic communications enable us to be permanently connected to (and distracted by) the virtual world, there’s a narcotic thrill in throwing yourself into a single place, a single moment. Would you want to check your bank-account statement while exploring Machu Picchu in Peru? Are you going to interrupt an experience of the Russian White Nights in St. Petersburg to check your Facebook feed? Of course not — when you travel, you get to embrace the privilege of witnessing life as it happens before your eyes. This attitude need not be confined to travel.

At home, how often do you really need to check your email or your Twitter feed? When you get online, are you there for a reason, or are you simply killing time? For all the pleasures and entertainments of the virtual-electronic world, there is no substitute for real-life conversation and connection, for getting ideas and entertainment from the people and places around you. Even at home, there are sublime rewards to be had for unplugging from online distractions and embracing the world before your eyes.

3) Slow Down

One of the advantages of long-term travel (as opposed to a short vacation) is that it allows you to slow down and let things happen. Freed from tight itineraries, you begin to see the kinds of things (and meet the kinds of people) that most tourists overlook in their haste to tick attractions off a list. A host of multi-million-dollar enterprises have been created to cater to our concept of “leisure,” both at home and on the road — but all too often this definition of leisure is as rushed and rigidly confined as our work life. Which is more emblematic of leisure — a three-hour spa session in an Ubud hotel, or the freedom to wander Bali at will for a month?

All too often, life at home is predicated on an irrational compulsion for speed — we rush to work, we rush through meals, we “multi-task” when we’re hanging out with friends. This might make our lives feel more streamlined in a certain abstracted sense, but it doesn’t make our lives happier or more fulfilling. Unless you learn to pace and savor your daily experiences (even your work-commutes and your noontime meals) you’ll cheating your days out of small moments of leisure, discovery and joy.

4) Keep it Simple

Travel naturally lends itself to simplicity, since it forces you to reduce your day-to-day possessions to a few select items that fit in your suitcase or backpack. Moreover, since it’s difficult to accumulate new things as you travel, you to tend to accumulate new experiences and friendships instead — and these affect your life in ways mere “things” cannot.

At home, abiding by the principles of simplicity can help you live in a more deliberate and time-rich way. How much of what you own really improves the quality of your life? Are you buying new things out of necessity or compulsion? Do the things you own enable you to live more vividly, or do they merely clutter up your life? Again,researchers have determined that new experiences satisfy our higher-order needs in a way that new possessions cannot — that taking a friend to dinner, for example, brings more lasting happiness than spending that money on a new shirt. In this way, investing less in new objects and more in new activities can make your home-life happier. This less materialistic state of mind will also help you save money for your next journey.

5) Don’t Set Limits

Travel has a way revealing that much of what you’ve heard about the world is wrong. Your family or friends will tell you that traveling to Colombia or Lebanon is a death-wish — and then you’ll go to those places and have your mind blown by friendliness, beauty and new ways of looking at human interaction. Even on a day-to-day level, travel enables you to avoid setting limits on what you can and can’t do. On the road, you naturally “play games” with your day: watching, waiting, listening; allowing things to happen. There’s no better opportunity to break old habits, face latent fears, and test out repressed facets of your personality.

That said, there’s no reason why you should confine that sort of freedom to life on the road. The same Fear-Industrial Complex that spooks people out of traveling can discourage you from trying new things or meeting new people in own your hometown. Overcoming your fears and escaping your dull routines can deepen your home-life — and the open-to-anything confidence that accompanies travel can be utilized to test new concepts in a business setting, rejuvenate relationships with friends and family, or simply ask that woman with the nice smile if she wants to go out for coffee. In refusing to set limits for what is possible on a given day, you open yourself up to an entire new world of possibility.

Naturally, this list is just a sampling of how travel can transform your non-travel life. What have I missed? What has travel taught you about how to live life at home?

(http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/02/25/rolf-potts-vagabonding-travel/) 

Footnote from Tim: Are you planning, in the middle of, or returning from a long journey? If so — and if you’d like your travel blog or lifestyle-design website to be featured as one of Rolf’s Vagabonding Case Studies — drop him a line at casestudies [at] vagabonding.net and tell him a little about yourself.