In this interview, Tal Gur of BelowZerotoHero.com shares some insights into how travelling around the world has made him a better person. He also talks about how he has managed to build a largely passive income to fund his adventures. After six years in Australia and a 3 year round-the-world trip, Tal has now decided to set up a homebase in the US with his wife.
Please tell us about yourself?
I am originally from a Israel, though I feel at home in many places.
In 1996, aged 21, I took a long motorcycle trip in Australia and immediately fell in love. Years later I went back to complete my Masters degree in Information Management Systems and adopted Australia as a second home.
In 2009, after six blissful years in Australia, I packed a small backpack and left on a 3+ years ‘Round-The-World trip. I’m now in the process of adopting the U.S. as my new and third home. 🙂
What are your main websites about?
I own quite a few websites but the two main ones are Below Zero to Hero and Passively Free.
The first one has been crafted in the purpose of encouraging others to live their dreams, through the sharing of other people’s experiences, and in the relentless pursuit of my own, personal life goals.
The second one has been created around a year ago to inspire others to seek financial freedom by creating passive income sources. Freedom is one of my highest values and I’ve been getting a lot of questions in this area during my round-the-world trip, so I decided to share some of my (and others’) knowledge.
Please tell us about your RTW trip?
I’ve been travelling for roughly 3 and a half years with a short break in the middle.
My first RTW trip was alone. It was great! I began in Southeast Asia. From there I went on to explore Europe, South America and then up to North America. It was during this trip that I met my wife, Kyle, who, like me, is an avid traveler.
A few month later after this trip, Kyle joined me for a second RTW trip. We completed a 12,000 km journey around Australia and went to Asia, Europe and America. Kyle studied Ayurveda in India, while I trained Muay Thai kickboxing in Thailand. We splurged in Singapore with old friends, surfed Sri Lanka with new ones, and romantically celebrated the tastes of Italy with each other. More than anything, we cherished unforgettable moments with family in Israel and now in the States.
How much do you estimate you’ll spend on the entire trip?
Oh, gee, that would be really hard to guess 🙂 It’s got to be well over one hundred thousands dollars though.
How have your travels influenced your life or changed your way of thinking?
Travelling has many benefits but perhaps the most valuable ones for me, are increased flexibility and freedom. Breaking away from what is being expected (e.g. having a 9 to 5 “secure” job, owning the latest gadget each time it’s announced, etc. ) really has the potential to set one free.
Travelling has exposed me to many diverse views, cultures, and experiences. It taught me to hold my beliefs more loosely and leave space for other ideas to come into being. As a result of all of this, I’ve grown as a person, becoming even more independent — and happier… I hope, in some small measure, to motivate others to do the same and pursue their own dreams and goals.
How do you earn an income?
My main income sources are passive. I own informative sites that earn money using contextual and banner ads. For example, my first site, aust.co.il, went up in 2003 when I moved to Australia for further studies. I decided to build a site to help other expats who want to move abroad and not long afterwards I was approached by few companies who were interested in advertising on the site.
Other passive income sources include subscriptions to software products (For example “Habits Software“) and eBooks (for example, “Cure Facebook Addiction”). In general, I constantly work on developing these and new products, and especially in areas that I’m passionate about.
I also have a few active income sources such as coaching and web development. They require my attention but I do them because I enjoy helping others in a more personal way.
Can you give some advice for others trying to earn money online?
There are quite a few but the main one would be: consistent effort in one direction. Earning money online might take some time but if stick with it, the rewards can be lifelong.
Another important piece of advice is to spend some time identifying your target market, or “your niche”. This will save you both time and money. I wrote an eBook about it and you can download it for free from my passivelyfree.com site.
How much work do you think it is to get a full-time income from passive income alone?
It’s hard to estimate but I would say around a year. It really depends on your idea, your chosen niche, and your marketing skills.
Please tell us about the house building project in Peru.
Oh, I loved this project! When the Carnival celebrations in Brazil finished I looked for ways to help as a volunteer. I saw an ad on my hostel’s bulletin board for volunteers to help clear wreckages after a series of floods in Cuzco so I got on a bus and went to Peru.
The devastation was tremendous, people lost everything, and we only helped clearing the wreckage. I wanted to help out even more, so I took a video of a local who lost his house, built a website to take donations, and sent emails to friends and family. When the donation pool reached $2000 in less than 48 hours I knew that something amazing happened. A new house can be built I thought, and amazingly enough it did 🙂 You can read more about it here.
Now that your RTW trip is coming to an end, what’s next for you?
My partner and I are now in the process of building a home base in the US. We’ll keep travelling in the future but we now want a home base we could enjoy and come back to…
Below Zero to Hero