Becoming a Shaman

I've been teasing you with tales of transition for months now. So finally, here it is: my next big step in life - I'm becoming a shaman.

Becoming a Shaman Becoming a Shaman

Financially Sustainable Travel: My 2014 Income

Every year, I publish my annual cost of full-time travel as well as my income. Here's my 2014 income, where it came from, and what's on tap for 2015.

Financially Sustainable Travel: My 2014 Income Financially Sustainable Travel: My 2014 Income

Financially Sustainable Travel: My Cost of Full-Time Travel in 2014

What does it cost to travel full-time? That answer varies, as it has for me over the years. Here's my cost of full-time travel in 2014.

Financially Sustainable Travel: My Cost of Full-Time Travel in 2014 Financially Sustainable Travel: My Cost of Full-Time Travel in 2014

In June, I spent an entire month (offline!) in the jungle of Peru, furthering my studies to become a shaman with a plant diet. If you missed it, here are the first four parts so you can catch up:

Part 1: Iquitos

Part 2: What to Bring and Expect

Part 3: Animal Life (For Better and Worse)

Part 4: Doing a Plant Diet and Ayahuasca Retreat

In this final installation of this jungle-series, you’ll read some excerpts from my jungle journal, which will give you an idea of what it was like to live in the jungle for a month, on this multi-faceted adventure. Enjoy!



Day 1

I’m so happy to have arrived in the jungle – a trip I’ve anticipated for many months now! I get a great feeling from don Francisco (the shaman who runs Sachamama retreat centre).

My orientation included a run-down of what to expect, which includes two daily meals, at 9am and 3pm. I’m already a wee bit concerned about hunger (especially with the dietary restrictions that come with doing a plant diet), but I know I’ll survive, and hey – I could stand to lose a couple of pounds.

Meals are brought to my tambo – an open-air hut, which is very basic and very small, but lovely and (dare I say) romantic. So it’s going to be an isolating experience, but I’m pretty happy about that challenge too. No internet connections, no work, and lots of luxurious time to myself. Although I worry a bit about boredom, I also have an open mind; maybe – hopefully – I’ll be surprised and love every minute.

I’ve been here for half a day and the sun is soon setting. In a few minutes I’ll be cozied under my mosquito net in bed, reading, relaxing, resting, and sleeping. I expect this to be a status quo for the next month.


Day 2

I slept over 12 hours last night, and yet the five-minute walk to the main house to get water nearly killed me. I’m not so much hungry, as weak.

My bed isn’t even (as my whole tambo sits on slanted ground), so I also spent the night trying not to roll out of bed. Mental note: I’ll have to fix this with some sort of shim.

The temperature was lovely though; cool enough for pants and long sleeves with a light blanket. The overnight rain was also lovely on the tin roof of my tambo-without-walls. The orchestra of night sounds is even louder than the jungle sounds by day, and it’s a beautiful soundtrack for sleep.


Day 3

I feel so peaceful here…not a care in the world. I’m feeling a personal shift, into flowing and acceptance of life’s circumstances rather than fighting against them. I see the harmony of all jungle life and am inspired by it.

But I’m hungry! Already fantasizing about sweets, granola bars, fruit, ice cream, chocolate – you name it. I keep reminding myself of the gift of detoxification that I’m receiving, not to mention the clarity of this plant diet overall…but it’s hard when even the young saplings of trees around my hut look yummy enough to gnaw on.

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In this series, we’re exploring the various careers of world travelers, and how they make ends meet financially while living abroad. Yes, financially sustainable full-time travel is possible!


wade shepard

Wade Shepard has been living and working on the road for 16 years. He has lived in and traveled through over 56 countries with his wife (and now with their young daughter), with regular extended stays in China and Mexico. He chronicles his journeys at Vagabond Journey. Find out more about how he makes ends meet here:


Please describe what you do for income.

I am a journalist, a blogger, and an author. I write for the South China Morning Post, the New Statesman’s urbanism site, CityMetric, and many others, including Thompson Reuters and China Daily. I have also been blogging almost daily since 2005 on My first book just came out in the Asian Arguments series of Zed Books.


How many hours per week do you work on average?

It is difficult to say where the work day ends and when my free time begins. My job consists of going to interesting places and interviewing interesting people, so while it’s the way that I make money it is also what I do for fun as well. So if every aspect of the work is included then I definitely am putting in over 60 hours per week.

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My impetus for spending a month in the Amazonian jungle of Peru was to further my studies to become a shaman by doing a plant diet and ayahuasca retreat with my teacher’s teacher at a place called Sachamama, about 20kms outside of Iquitos.

There are many such retreat centres in the jungle, and each one has a different flavour and system, largely according to the presiding shaman. Here is a general overview of the process, as I experienced it.

Me and don Francisco, an ayahuascero/perfumero and the owner/founder of Sachamama



Isolation is a key element to doing a plant diet. Both isolation from communication (such as internet) and society, but also isolation from others. You’re not even supposed to touch anybody during the time that you’re on a plant diet.

I was initially terrified of the idea of having no connection to the outside world and nothing to do and very little interaction with others for a whole month, but after a week or so, I got into a groove and appreciated the experience. I even considered it a holiday. How luxurious not to have to do much of anything, and just to be with myself! This is something we rarely (if ever) afford ourselves in life.

I started off occupying my time as much as possible with books, walks, yoga, and anything else I could find to do, looking often at the clock during the seemingly interminable days; but eventually I took joy in simply swinging on my hammock, listening to jungle sounds, and napping.

The reasoning behind this isolation is not only for introspection, but also because plants are pretty quiet (duh), with subtle energy. When doing a plant diet and connecting with the spirit of a plant, you need to quiet your surroundings – inner and outer – to become sensitive to the plant’s wisdom.

Ceremony table, with a half-full bottle of ayahuasca in the background

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Financial Case Study: Tim Leffel, Travel Writer & Website Manager

08 | 10 Financial Case Studies

This financial case study is the 1st post in a new series to show you how to travel and live abroad. Meet Tim Leffel: travel writer and website manager!

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A Month in the Jungle, Part 3: Animal Life (For Better and Worse)

08 | 03 Peru

During my month in the jungle of Peru, I had all kinds of animal encounters – some better than others. Here’s a humourous excerpt of my experiences.

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A Week-In-The-Life of Mak and The Cap

07 | 27 Week-In-The-Life Series

Want to know what it’s like to live on a 41′ sailboat in the Caribbean? Join Mak and The Cap for a week-in-the-life of their adventures!

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A Month in the Jungle, Part 2: What to Bring and Expect

07 | 20 Peru

After spending a month in the jungle of Peru, I learned a few things. Here’s what you can expect, and recommendations for things to bring.

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A Week-In-The-Life of Angela and Chris of Nomadic Lifestyle, in Scotland

07 | 13 Scotland

Enjoy this week-in-the-life of nomadic travelers Angela and Chris, from Nomadic Lifestyle, traveling through Scotland!

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A Month in the Jungle, Part 1: Iquitos

07 | 06 Peru

I started (and ended) my month in the jungles of Peru by visiting Iquitos. The Amazon river, Belen Market and the moto traffic; here’s more info on Iquitos!

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