I'm a British citizen, born in London in 1955. I was a software engineer for most of my professional life, and in that role I have lived and worked in England, New Zealand, the United States and France. During my last few working years I was the technical director of a small software company.
At the beginning of 1996 I decided to undergo a change of life and get involved in some things I've always believed in and been interested in. I got rid of the house, the car and all the bills except my Internet account. I put my personal possessions into my mother's attic and for six years I lived out of my backpack most of the time. When I was at "home", which was usually only for a couple of months every year, I lodged at my mother's house in London.
I spent most of those six years doing international voluntary work. I tended to do projects in or near Europe in summer and went for voluntary work in more tropical climates in winter. As you can see from my web site I did quite a few projects, ranging from two weeks to three months, since I started voluntary work in February '96 going as a witness on a humanitarian aid convoy to Sarajevo. These tended to fall into four broad categories: humanitarian, third world development, conservation/environmental, and archaeology/local history.
Being a "perpetual traveller" might well sound exotic and of course it has its ups and downs. However, while I have been to quite a few places I haven't actually spent much time "on the road", preferring to stay somewhere and be involved in doing something useful, rather than just being a tourist and travelling around.
Many people ask me how I did it: having some savings from working for 22 years helps of course, although I've met several people who've travelled for extended periods (years) by working at various jobs along the way to keep them going, so having a financial reserve isn't really necessary; it's largely a matter of expectations.
I've found the most important thing is being willing to undergo a total change of life style. Sleeping on a camping mat in a mud hut might not appeal to everyone, but as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tse said:
"He who thinks he has enough is rich."
I then underwent another change of pace and started my own international development aid charity, called AidCamps International, that raises funds for international development by offering volunteers the opportunity to participate in short term local development aid projects in developing countries. This meant the end of non-stop volunteering for me as it involved my staying in England for considerably more of the year than I had been used to, but still give me the opportunity to be involved in, indeed to organise and run, voluntary projects that I believed to be worthwhile.
Now, after over seven years of running AidCamps International, I'm taking a (well earned :-) break and pondering the future...