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Income Opportunities for Adventurers

Income Opportunities for Adventurers
William Cate

If you want to spend your life seeing the world and not forty years condemned to an office cubicle, how can you do it? In the past, the solution was to write books, articles and give travel lectures. The demand for adventure literature has been in decline since the 1960s. Today, you can't expect to use your communication skills to fund your wanderlust.

If you are an adventurer, the secret to a sustainable income is to export a quality item that has little value in the country where you are acquiring it. The same item must have great value elsewhere the world. Whatever the item, it can't have broad enough appeal to interest major import/export firms. And, it must be legal to trade in the item.

Examples of Exports that Haven't Work for Adventurers

You can find high quality, handmade textiles in the Andes. In the 1970s, a few South American explorers saw the potential U.S. Market for these woolens. They bought wholesale and exported to friends and small shops in the States. The Andean Indians sold their wares in quantity. For the weavers to meet export quotas, the quality of the handmade items quickly declined. Meanwhile, major American retailers saw the demand for the woolens and sent their buyers to South America. It wasn't long before the American Market was flooded with poor quality, handmade woolens from South America. The lesson is to avoid dependence upon volume buying of handmade anything.

Too many adventurers realize the fact that a tropical bird fetches a few dollars in Asia, Africa and South America and hundreds or thousands of dollars in the States. They buy the birds or hire locals to collect baby birds in the nearby rainforests. About this time, they learn that it's illegal to ship the birds to the States or the European Union and often it's illegal to export them from whatever country was the source of the tropical birds. The adventurer loses money. The local environment loses part of its tropical bird breeding population, since few of the birds will survive, if returned to the jungle. The lesson is find out what is legal, before you do anything else. Avoid hassles, loss of limited resources and wasted time and effort.

A Few Examples of Exports that Have Worked for Me

Few niche exports have consistent consumer demand over time. Often the local people see that you are making money and either go into competition with you or make the export illegal. Also, you face the risk that the retail price for the item becomes known to your local suppliers. That usually means that the cost of the item to you will jump, often beyond where you can export it at a profit.

Capital preservation was a popular

investment defense in the 1970s. The gold price was moving up and inflation was on the horizon. Two West Germans approached me in South America with a proposal that I supply them with preserved and mounted jungle insects. The proposal was simple and profitable. I returned to the Amazon, hired a few local Indians and proceeded to collect, preserve, package and ship assorted insects. The business went well for about nine months. The prices I was being paid steadily rose to dizzying heights. Then, the local military commandant declared the exports illegal. He argued that the business was having a serious impact upon the local jungle environment. I replied that the DDT, still being sprayed in the local towns, was doing far more environmental damage. I lost the argument and went out of the insect business.

I flew to Bonn to collect my last check. For nine months, I'd been wondering what the West Germans were doing with all those insects. When we met over dinner, I asked them about their insect business. They were selling the insects as "investment grade" insects to hard currency German investors. Apparently, insect prices had held strong against Deutsch Mark inflation. I wonder how many Germans still hold insects along with their gold for the next period of high inflation.

Next to precious metals, gemstones were a favorite investment of the hard currency crowd in the 1970s. I'd buy small amounts of good quality gem rough in Columbia, Venezuela and occasionally in West Africa. I'd sell it in New York and Amsterdam. As the miners came to realize that gem prices were radically moving upward, their prices to me adjusted accordingly. Within about three years, I couldn't make a profit in the gem trade.

The one item that has consistently been profitable has been buying junk overseas and selling antiques wholesale in California. Many countries outlaw the export of anything made before 1958. My advice is confirm what antique exports are legal and avoid countries that make antique exports illegal. The buy junk sell antiques can be a consistently profitable business for any adventure traveler.

Anyone can see the world and make a good living doing so. If you need help finding buyers for your high value exports, contact me at: or visit the Beowulf Trading website: From experience, I have a variety of tactics that can keep you on your Royal Road to Adventure.

About the Author

William Cate has been supporting his global travels with high quality imports for decades. He can be contacted through the Beowulf Trading Website: the Beowulf Trading website:

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