Hi! I'm Lukas Sommer, I travel the world bartering my skills for experiences! AMA

Hey everyone,

I’m Lukas, a professional web developer, designer, part-time photographer and and a wannabe writer. I’m travelling the world bartering my skills for experiences with my project Good Things Everywhere. I started to travel over one year ago and offer my skills for a room for the night, travel expenses or anything good really.

In the past I spent a few years building crazy websites for the Michelberger Hotel in Berlin, worked for advertising, run a non-profit music project, wrote blogs, played music and people danced to it.

I’m travelling since late 2013 and my journey has led me working for projects from Berlin where I used to live and work to Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Portugal, Holland and I’m now to Brazil. I barter with mostly sustainable businesses, charity, eco-tourism and community projects that very often need an online specialist and don’t have the funding to pay for an agency or professional.

I traded work for a recycling network in New Zealand, for a volunteer organisation in Thailand, for a University in the Netherlands and now I’m at a sustainable eco village in Brazil, among many others. I’ve been having the best time, using very little money and living beyond the tourist path.

I publish photos on Instagram, stories on Maptia, write on Medium or you can talk to me on Twitter.

Marina from Nomadlist.io already asked me a few questions in an interview on the blog. Feel free to ask me anything. :smile:

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Hi Lukas,

I’ve read the interview on the Nomadlist blog, and your story was very inspiring.
You mentioned that actually finding new opportunities is not hard at all, and I would like to hear more how you have got all those interesting opportunities along with your own itinerary and vision.

My last year was hectic, I worked for a while for a co-working space in AUS, and got some event coordinating projects here and there while I contributed articles for a media company in Korea. But all things happened by accident, those were not something I could predict or plan at all, and I was not the one who could control and manage things along with my own itenerary :frowning:

Before people send you all kinds of invitations, how did you find projects what you wanted to get involved with? And which skills would be essential for that?

Thanks in advance :wink: and looking forward to hearing your next journey!

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Hey @youjindo!
When I started my journey in Australia my first projects came through contacts in Berlin, then through friends I made and a few recommendations. At the time I had no idea how it would actually work… but luckily I had a few first connections to get started. In the beginning I just googled and contacted everything from charities to surf schools, but often with very little success. Then I was lucky enough to get featured by GOOD with an article and what followed was a ton of emails with invites from all over the world. My mind was blown at the time and it looked like the concept of bartering work for charity and non-profit really hit a sweet spot, when you have access to the right network. It felt like the world suddenly opened its doors. I kept getting a lot of invites from then on and I could more or less choose, and plan an itinerary around these placements. However, one thing I didn’t want was to always plan everything, since I actually like some things to happen by accident. For example, when I arrived in Phuket in Thailand earlier last year I read through my Lonely Planet ebook and stumbled over Openmind Projects, a volunteer organisation in Nong Khai. I wrote them an email and a few weeks later was sitting in their office on the border to Laos… these spontaneous opportunities are very welcome and too much planning won’t make them possible. So generally I can say that I just keep eyes and ears open for projects I like and then I reach out… after the initial trouble in a majority of times I got a positive answer (or at least an answer). I also got many invites from just normal people who loved the concept, not to work but just to hang out.

Regarding skills I think you just need to be good a communicating that you’re not coming to waste anyone’s time and sometimes I even did like an assessment of a web project or suggested things that I could be working on. And when there is no project straight ahead I take it easy and visit a new place… or do freelance work that occasionally pops up and that I survive from too.

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Hey Lukas,

I would love to hear how these projects would run on a day-to-day basis. I come from an agency background (since then moved to product development).

How do you handle scope? Scope creep? How have you agreed on what’s fair in return for what length of stay?

Have you ever run into a situation where what you’ve done didn’t meet the expectations of whoever was providing accommodation / board?

Have you ever run into administrative burdens (country you’re in assumes because you work, you have to pay taxes, for example, even though no money has changed hands).

Best,
Gabor

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Hey @javorszky :slight_smile: Good question!
Often it gets pretty chaotic! Like right now I’m in a simultaneous content, concept, design and development phase… pretty much doing everything at the same time because there’s little time and although planned a few weeks in advance everything always changes when someone wants a new website and starts to be aware of the possibilities. It’s always a new challenge… every type of organisation being used to different (or no) processes. I learned to be very patient and unorthodox, compared to projects phases that I’m used to from the past…

When I started I just agreed on room and board in advance, more recently I always try to get my travel expenses sorted too. Other than that it prefer not to come with a big list of thing I want, but deliver a first week worth of work, giving my best. I’ve realised that this is sometimes what people need to understand that I’m not just travelling and chilling, but really want to build cool stuff or make a difference. Depending on the amount I work I’ll usually get lots of unexpected generosity, like travel expenses, but without agreeing on it. That has happened often…

I never had anyone unhappy with my work but it has happened that I didn’t manage to fully finish something that I started. I’ve always tried to finish afterwards, which is a pain when you’re somewhere else… easier to extend your stay if you can (therefore easier to plan with a few weeks between projects).

Regarding administrative burdens I haven’t had problems but well… many countries do consider bartering working, but it’s a hassle to get work visas and all that, if you’re around for a few weeks only. Depends on the length of my stay I guess… :smile:

AMA is now closed. Thanks @goodthngs for doing this AMA and answering all questions! :slight_smile:

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