Using frequent flyer miles to travel around the globe seems like an idea lifted from the Adam Sandler-starrer, Punch.Drunk.Love, and for some people, an impossible goal to attain. But globetrotter-author-entrepreneur Chris Guilllebeau has made it possible, and that too, without having to buy any pudding cans. In fact, he makes good use of the banking credit system to earn as many flyer miles as possible.
He spent $479 getting credit cards, which earn him free flyer miles. Guilllebeau used those free miles to travel around the globe, of course his personal expenses were separate, but it didn’t cost him a bomb. He has already been to 190 United Nations-recognised countries, and hopes to cover three more by next year; of course at a minimum cost. So, is he excited that his journey is coming to an end, soon?
“I am excited, but I enjoyed the journey more than coming to the end of it. I would like to keep it going,” says Guilllebeau, author of The $100 Startup, who was in Mumbai last week, to speak about his writing and travels.
Spending plenty of time in Africa with an NGO opened his mind to travel to new places without fear. He also learnt to earn by travelling. Guilllebeau calls his journey as investments. “People invest in cars, houses, I invest in travel,” he says.
During his journeys Guilllebeau met people, who started their own businesses at a minimum cost — some were forced out of their jobs because of recession, and others felt that working for someone wasn’t really their thing.
From those who sold mattresses to a locksmith, who’s available 24x7, he met people from all walks of life. “There are lots of people around the world, who have built small but good businesses. And, they are doing very well and supporting their families, like in Dharavi in Mumbai. We always read about big businesses, but nobody’s telling the stories of these people who built sustainable businesses and yet chose not to grow. I wrote the book to tell their stories, so that people can learn from it and do the same,” says Guilllebeau.
He made a note of all the people he met during his journeys, got back to them via Skype, email, Facebook and every possible medium. After two years of research, he was ready with The $100 Startup. “The world has much to learn from Dharavi’s residents, and other people like them who have build a support system for their families without giving up their freedom. My book is an attempt to help others follow and start a new life on not more than $100,” believes Guilllebeau, who is currently touring India to speak and share his message of freedom. “There are people who have made it happen, and so can you,” he says.
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Photos: Deepika Padukone, Sushmita Sen with daughters at Mumbai airport