Robert Schrader in 2016

Seven Years Ago, I Left

The tellers were laughing when I entered the bank, but their expressions hardened as I got closer to the counter.

The blonde one cleared her throat and stared accusingly at me. “Can I help you?”

“I’d like to make a deposit,” I slapped my unemployment check—my last one—down in front of her.

As she processed the transaction, her fingers tapping nervously on the keys like the sleet that was falling outside, her colleague cracked a smile. “How are you today, darlin’?”

“I’ve been better,” I conceded, “but that’s all about to change.”

“And why’s that?”

“I’m moving to China this weekend,” I said, to stares of disbelief. They’d seen me walking along the highway access road, no doubt, and I was depositing a check from the Texas Workforce Commission. As far as they knew, I was some drug-addicted drifter and “China” was the codename for my new halfway house.

They humored me for the duration of my time inside the bank where I had opened my first checking account six years prior, but I could hear both of them cracking up as I walked back out into the cold.

I had the last laugh, of course: That Sunday—November 7, 2009—I landed at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport. I was more bushy-tailed than bright-eyed, to be sure, but I was determined to never again be the object of a stranger’s ridicule.

As I walked off the plane, I wondered whether it had been foolish to use my last open credit card to purchase a ticket overseas and take a job teaching English, sight unseen. As I walked out of English First 10 months after that, I wondered whether setting off on the road, supposedly to create a travel blog but in reality being sustained by mindless articles I wrote for $15 a pop, was a suicide mission. As I accepted my first press trip invitation and, shortly thereafter, signed my first advertising agreement, I wondered whether I’d caught a long wind of good luck, or if I could find a way to control my own flight path.

Seven years later, I’m proud to say I did.

I travel when I want and when I don’t, I live in a beautiful, waterfront apartment in one of my favorite cities in the world. I have plenty of free time to devote to my friends, my family and causes that are important to me. I carry myself with a level of confidence and emotional stability I didn’t even know was possible the first quarter-century of my life. I earn 100% of my income—more, by several orders of magnitude, than from any job I ever worked—from my writing, photography and Travel Coaching service.

Seven years later, I am living the dream that I dreamed into reality.

Whether you’ve been reading Leave Your Daily Hell this whole time or just started today, I want to thank you for allowing me to share my story—and to remind you that my primary goal in doing so is to inspire you to write your own.

After all, if I can go from walking along a highway with an unemployment check in my pocket to flying across the Pacific in business class, just imagine what you can do in seven years.


About The Author

is the author of 1088 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!


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Daniel J. Carey November 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Congratulations on your seven year anniversary

Faye November 7, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Congratulations. Hope that you’ll not be weary of sharing your thoughts.

From Desk to Dawn November 8, 2016 at 2:27 am

Congratulations on your wonderful achievement. I’ve recently started my travel blogging journey and it’s so heartening to know that it IS possible to make it work! I have one question for you – do you think one needs to be continuously traveling to make a travel blog a success? Or, would travel on and off work?

Robert Schrader November 8, 2016 at 5:38 am

I think you need to have at least some period where you are continuously traveling, probably more toward the beginning than the end, in order to keep people interested. Traveling continuously also helps you get more content faster!

Robert Schrader November 8, 2016 at 5:43 am

Thank you!

Robert Schrader November 8, 2016 at 5:43 am


Ryan Biddulph November 11, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Hi Robert,

Brilliant dude! I am coming up on 6 years. And yep, I cashed my New Jersey unemployment check a while before I left….except mine was at a shady check cashing place…no bank account LOL! Amazing how life changes when you make freeing, fun and sometimes highly uncomfortable decisions. So much fun to follow your journey as you continue to inspire others. Thanks for sharing 🙂 And keep on inspiring!


Robert Schrader November 11, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Thanks Ryan <3

fat gwailo November 14, 2016 at 8:01 pm

takes a lot of guts to do what you did and I am happy for your success. My wife and I last month decided to do the same. Have been married for 20 years and have a successful business in Salt Lake City, Utah and real estate ventures in Las Vegas. We left it all to a few of our employees to manage, loaded up our 9 year old son and moved to my wife’s hometown in the Fujian province of China. I am documenting my story in a blog at

Am 2 weeks and 10 posts in, it has great pics, content etc….what have you found the best way to promote your blog?

Imran Khan November 19, 2016 at 4:44 am

Congrts!! On your wonderful achievement. You complete seven years leave your daily hell. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Imran Khan November 21, 2016 at 11:51 pm

Congratulation!! On your seven year anniversary.

Shaun November 22, 2016 at 3:03 am

Hi Robert,
You’ve probably heard this a million times before. But I’m really new to this whole blogging and following thing. I don’t have fb + this will certainly be my only blog that I’m following. It’s quite difficult to talk to you personally if I’ve no clue how to get hold of people like you. But I like your story and the places you visit. I too feel clustered and caged in this democratical world I’m living in. All I want to do is break away. Enjoy what the world offer us and learn all about cultures and beliefs and don’t exclude food! If I get half that chance I would go in a blink of an eye. It’s sad how someone can be so passionate about something but cannot express it like you want to because the cruel everyday ‘hell’ slowly drains us from this passion. But it will always burn..

Imran Khan November 22, 2016 at 11:29 pm
Imran Khan November 25, 2016 at 1:56 am

Amazing post. Congrats!!!!!!!!!!

Imran Khan November 25, 2016 at 11:31 pm

Lots Congrats!!!!!!

Imran Khan November 27, 2016 at 11:49 pm

Congratulations on your wonderful achievement. Thanks!!!

A July 15, 2017 at 7:33 am

Oh, so recognizable it almost made me bounce in my chair, with joy and laughter!!!

I have lived in and traveled to several countries, been self-employed for years, and then I accidentally got stuck in a foreign town where many think or thought or want me to be a crazy bag lady (and as many variations on that as they can think of when they’ve had a drink too many) and it means my life is now often soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo boring (because the nutty rumors about me limit what I can do and where, but hey, the mindset itself already does that too).

It’s also often hilarious, but “hilarious” tastes so much better when you have people to share it with, and food in your belly.

I too walk a lot, but that’s also because I like walking. I discovered that there is actually nothing wrong with walking three hours because you can’t afford to get to some place some other way, and that walking three hours can be highly enjoyable, in fact, because you get to see things and walk places you’d have missed otherwise.

There is a lot more to my situation, but hey, it doesn’t really matter.
China, here I come! (Wherever and whatever my China will be.)

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