Meet The Dropouts – Migration Mark Wiens


Meet Mark Wiens, a 25-year-old foodie who isn’t following the traditional school-university-career track that’s expected in most Western countries.

Taken by his missionary parents to live in France and Africa when he was a boy, Mark is now based in Bangkok where is he working on building an online business that will finance his dream of traveling and eating his way around the world.

Migration Mark

Mark runs two websites, Migrationology and Eating Thai Food. In this first post of the “Meet the Dropouts” series, Mark talks about his lifestyle and how he designed it.

Hi Mark, can you introduce yourself?

Yah, my name is Mark Wiens. I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but when I was five years old, my parents made a big lifestyle leap. We moved to France for one year where I attended my first year of school, then on to the jungle of northern Democratic Republic of Congo for about four years.

After Congo, my family relocated to Nairobi, Kenya where I attended an international school for eight years until graduating from high school. I then returned to Phoenix to attend university. I studied global studies with an emphasis on art and culture.

You have two great websites. Do you also have a “real” job? Tell us about your life, your home and your work.

Haha, thanks so much! At the moment, I guess I don’t really have a “real job.” I sit on the computer all day (and most nights) attempting to figure out how to make a little bit of money through freelance writing, blogging, food, and a few other niche websites. Right now I’m based in Bangkok, Thailand, though I travel in and out of the city quite frequently.

Migration Mark

Mark in Vietnam

I live in a studio apartment on the outskirts of town with friends of mine that also come and go. Our apartment is sort like a half storage facility, half anyone-can-crash-for-the-night place.

Life sounds great for you. Are there any drawbacks to your lifestyle?

I do really enjoy what I am doing at the moment, writing about travel, and living in a location surrounded by a smorgasbord of heavenly street food – but yes, there are a few drawbacks.

It’s tiring to sit in front of the computer, sometimes for 15 – 20 hours a day. I try to do some freelance writing for other publications and sometimes the words just don’t flow like they should.

At times I miss seeing my relatives and family. My parents live in Tanzania now but I have the majority of my relatives, including my sister, back in the States and I haven’t seen them in a few years.

Can you explain how you fund your lifestyle? (I think this is the burning question for many people who are stuck at a desk looking forlornly out the window at the wonderful world outside.)

Yes, here’s the deal, I really don’t make much money now. In fact I could easily make much more money at the lowest paying job back in America. However, what I think is this: it takes time and patience to develop your own company, or to find your own personal way to make enough money to survive.

Migration Mark

Mark moonlights as an ostrich jockey to make a bit of travel money*

My apartment costs $100 per month, and that’s normally split two ways, my half being $50 a month. I eat huge street food feasts (my hobby and passion) for less than $5 a day. Overall, I can easily get by in a month for just $200 – $300.

I’m not living a glamorous life by any means, but I really enjoy it, have everything I need, and it buys me time to sit on my computer all day – making very little money while trying to build a foundation that will hopefully pay off in the future.

What advice do you have for people considering a lifestyle like yours? What are the first steps they should take?

I’d recommend trying new things, even if you have no idea if you’ll like it or not. We’re all different, have different ideas, passions and skills.

I used to despise writing, reading, and well, basically anything scholastic that didn’t have to do with sports or outdoors. I barely even used the internet until the middle of university. Then I decided to start taking photos and decided to try something called a “blog.”

I never thought I’d like using the internet, writing or reading – but ever since I tried it, I found I really enjoy it!

Another example: I taught English for a year, it was great and I learned a lot; I also learned that I don’t really want to teach English full time ever again – it’s not for me.

After that of course, comes the well known leap of faith, making the jump to actually do something, move somewhere and relocate your life.

Where did you get the idea that you could make money online? Was there a lifestyle/business guru who inspired you? Are there online resources you use for your business?

I basically set a goal that I wanted to make a sustainable living from anywhere I happen to be in the world.

Even though I might like to remain in one place for a while at a time, I still live for the feeling of being able to up and go anywhere at a moment’s notice. Using the internet really opens the doors when it comes to location.

Migration MarkWandering Earl is one of coolest travelers out there, a huge inspiration for me. If you haven’t checked out his blog, you should now.

For internet marketing and the optimization side of the web world, I often look to guys like Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income and Corbett Barr from Think Traffic.

I just launched my first product, the Eating Thai Food Guide** and I used E-junkie to handle all the sales, a great and easy tool to use.

What are you planning to do next? Business expansion, more travel, start a family?

Not fully certain at the moment. Another big reason my home base is in Bangkok is because of my Thai girlfriend. Not sure when, but hopefully a family in the future!

I do hope to expand some travel related freelance writing and a friend and I are trying to break more into the Thai food scene. I just love to eat so much that if I can do anything in life related to food, it puts a smile on my face.

Yes, travel is always in my mind, hoping to visit China and India by the end of this year.

Migration Mark

To read more about Mark’s travels (and to see him wearing a man dress), head over to Migrationology.

*Mark has never worked as an ostrich jockey, as far as I know. I just felt like making a joke.

**I’ve joined the affiliate marketing program for Mark’s Eating Thai Food guide and I’ll make a small amount of money on any book sold through this site.

***These are affiliate links and Mark will make a small amount of money for any sales resulting from these links.

For more foodie photos and other fun, follow Dropout Diaries on Instagram and on Facebook

6 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Currently on a year-long World School adventure with my two kids, seeing what this wonderful world can teach us.

26 Comments

  1. inka says:

    As you know, interviewing fellow travel writers is very much en vogue but this one about Mark I read from start to finish because a) it’s so well done and b) I just like the guy, his passion for food and his determination.

  2. very cool!! i love his site- great to know the back story! thank you!

  3. Grace says:

    You did a great job on this one. I think some of the things Mark shared where answers to questions that I had in my head. I will check out the Thai Food Guide.

    P.S. I like your MP shirt Mark.

  4. Jeremy Branham says:

    Great interview with Mark! He is one of the more unique travelers out there because of his story. I really enjoyed getting to know him better and hope he finds success in his blog and niche sites. He definitely has some ideas and I just encourage him to keep doing what he is doing!

  5. Enjoyed this interview very much! It is very encouraging to read about people who are going after their dreams and trying to make their life their own.

  6. Eileen Ludwig says:

    Very interesting story. Do all this traveling and living in group homes while you are young and can live on 100s of dollars a day. Have fun

    Eileen

  7. I’m a huge fan of Mark and all his food posts make my mouth water!

    This really was a great interview, and it answered some of the questions I had about the dude behind Migrationology. 😉

  8. Mark Wiens says:

    Thanks so much for the “dropout” interview opportunity!
    I loved the touch – (and see him in a man dress)! I’ve worn it a few times recently to some very peculiar looks and smiles.

    • The Dropout says:

      You’re most welcome Mark. Perhaps you should be known as Man Dress Mark. Although that could convey the wrong message, with you in Thailand.
      Thank you for being my first interview subject. It was great gettting to know you a little beter. 🙂

  9. Wow, living on $200 a month! That’s great. And I thought I was clever being able to live on $800/month in Chicago. Nice interview – I like how the questions are specifically tailored to Mark, one of my pet peeves is when sites ask every subject the exact same questions 🙂

  10. Maria says:

    Great site, so much so I haven’t gotten much else done today but read this post and go through archives. Thanks for the delightful distraction.

  11. adventureswithben says:

    Building a business takes time. It’s all about baby steps.

  12. What an excellent interview! Best of luck in your online endeavours Mark — your videos alone should make you famous…. 🙂

  13. vira says:

    inspiring! I’m starting my website with my friend as well 🙂

  14. steph says:

    Hi there! 🙂

    Happened to come across your awesome site while i was surfing about RTW trips (Always a dream of mine and hopefully, I will be able to fulfill it soon!). Thank you so much for the very insightful post and in a way, it’s a true reflection of how sometimes in life, what we really need is the interest and passion for things to drive and motivate us. I’m currently stuck in a job i dislike and even though it pays well, i do feel like an empty shell at times. Hence, it’s always so inspiring to read about how others are leading their dream lives, even if it’s the less-trodden path! Will definitely be following ur blog 🙂 Keep it going!
    steph recently posted... all work and no play makes me a dull girl .

  15. Glenn says:

    Hi Mark,

    I was searching on Youtube about Burma and came across your videos and loved it so much I showed them to my elderly mum. I was born in Burma my parents migrated to Perth, Australia in 1971. Never been back only recently got interested since the country is showing signs of change. Can you add those Burma visits of yours to your web site I’m sure there are many expats and cultural adventurers who would be interested to see them.

    PS: Some day you might think about writing a book of your adventures with lots of photos of course, a sort of travelers survival guide for food of these countries you’ve visited.

    Glenn

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