Digital nomads stories – how they work & travel (Part 1)

Digital nomads stories

In the past year I saw and read so many articles about becoming a digital nomad. Some of them are relevant and useful, others talk solely about the disadvantages, but most of them talk about the dream job and working in paradise. I really believe this is an amazing lifestyle, but because of all the media coverage, people started believing that it’s all honey and milk; that digital nomads are in a continuous holiday. Thus, everybody is asking how can these people afford it. They must have rich parents who help them.

Actually, most of the digital nomads are way past the age where they are being supported by parents. They had a few jobs, even leading positions, they gained experience, they know how it is to have a corporate job and decided that’s not for them anymore.

So… who are they?

Recently, I was on a transatlantic cruise ship with 100+ other digital nomads, where I had the chance to meet amazing people. I talked to them and I decided to share some of their stories with you.

 

Lodi Planting, Lodiplanting.comLodi Planting (LodiPlanting.com)

Can you briefly tell us who are you and what do you do for a living?
I spent my days doing what I love. As a digital nomad I travel the work while I am doing awesome work. I sell websites to freelancers, I manage a team that makes them and I teach them how to get new clients by blogging. Click if you would like to read more about me (in Dutch).

How did you become a digital nomad and what made you decide to adopt this lifestyle?
Since university I knew that I would like to travel and work at the same time. It sounds easy but every time I backpacked, I came back broke. Then I had to start working again to save money. This cycle repeated a couple of times.

When I read The 4-Hour Workweek, I started thinking about becoming self-employed. I trained myself to get the necessary skills, built up a network around me and thought how to get customers to work with me.

After I tried a few different things (e.g. consultancy, where I still traded time for money), I traveled to Thailand in November 2014. This was my first trip as a digital nomad and I do what I love most ever since!

 

How much time did it take you to get here?
In the end it took me 9 years. This doesn’t mean it should take this long for everyone. Back then there was no term for location independent workers, freelancers were still a minority and nobody coined the term digital nomad.

I mean right now you do a Google search and you’ll find everything you need to know. And this brings us to another important topic: mindset and execution. I think a lot of people want to travel and work at the same time. But they don’t do it because they don’t want it badly enough nor do they take actions to execute their idea.

On top of that, it’s a big misassumption that traveling costs a lot of money. In many cases, depending on the country where I am at, it’s cheaper to be somewhere else than to live in my home country (the Netherlands) or citizen country (Belgium).

 

What problems have you encountered on the way?
This, not executing my own ideas, was definitely true for me in the beginning. Too many distractions, not enough focus and many people giving me uninvited advice. If you really want it, go for it, surround yourself with like-minded people and do everyday one thing that brings you closer to your goal.

Don’t wait for the perfect plan like I did.
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@AncaMuraru”]There is no perfect plan. The only certainty is that no plan will work exactly as you have planned.[/tweetthis]

This being said, you need to have a rough idea of two things:
1) What would you love to do?
2) What are you good at?

If you have answers for these two questions, you can start thinking about making money with your talent. What are people willing to pay for? And what not?

 

Did you fail until now? And if so, what did you learn?
All the good intentional advice above comes from my failures. But I don’t see them as failures. Instead I see everything as a learning or growing opportunity. This way I easily decide to go left or right without feeling guilty or any other bad emotion.

 

How much time do you spend abroad and how much “at home”?
I left home (Belgium) last summer and I am not intending to go back soon. Not because I don’t like home, but I don’t have any reason to go back anymore. My relationship ended after 5 years and now I can focus 100% on becoming a full-time nomad.

Of course I have friends and family that I miss. On top of that all my clients are Dutch speaking and my business partner is based in Belgium too. But thanks to modern technology we can keep in touch.

Let me say this: now I can decide when I want to go home (instead of “I need to go home”) and that feeling is absolute freedom.

 

What’s the most important advice you would give to someone who wants to become a digital nomad?
Buy your ticket to (fill in your preferred destination) and execute your idea!

 

 

Barbara, Barbaralicious.com

Barbara 1

Tell us a few things about who are you and what do you do for a living

I studied to become a translator and interpreter. Two years ago I started my blog just for fun. After some time I realized that being a blogger is actually a job and that it’s possible to do it for a living. After one year I had my relaunch. It was more or less at the same time that I started my life as a digital nomad by going on a trip around the world. Since then I travelled to four continents and more than 15 countries. I wrote two books (Meine Weltreise and Reisen Fuers Schmale Portemonnaie) about it, which are only available in German so far.

 

How did you become a digital nomad and what made you decide to adopt this lifestyle?
I think it was never about taking a decision. I always knew that I didn’t want to become an employee. When I grew older I realized that I feel healthier in warmer regions and vice versa – that I get sick of the cold and rainy weather in Central Europe. When I heard about the digital nomads, I felt that I already was one and that this would be the only thing I really wanted.

 

How much did it take you to get here?
Unfortunately I can’t make a living of it yet. I covered my costs during the first year by savings and the income I had every now and then. I hope this will change in the next months. So I guess it will be like 18 to 24 months in total until I will be able to live from it. But there are still possibilities to go on with the lifestyle even if you do not earn enough. For example by doing jobs with workaway or other things that make you go on without having costs. I worked the whole summer as a freelancer for a German company: I was testing beaches with a group of 15 people in Spain and Portugal and they paid me transportation, a rental car, the apartment and food. Additionally I got some pocket money. So there are ways, if you really want to live like a nomad.

 

What problems have you encountered on the way?
I have the feeling that society is not ready for the nomad lifestyle. Therefore people react in really strange ways when you tell them why you are working on the computer the whole time instead of doing tourist stuff. The same happens with my family. They still don’t understand what I am doing and why there is no other way of life for me at the moment.

 

Did you fail until now? And if so, what did you learn?
Well, I failed in making a living of what I love to do. I failed in growing my audience fast. And I failed in making my business a priority because I have to do other jobs to earn money. I leaned that I need to be patient and that it’s better to worry less. I worry so much that I am not efficient anymore. That became a vicious circle and it’s difficult to get out of it.

Barbara 4

Was the reality according to the plans or did you have to adapt many times on the way?
It was as I hoped it would be. I love this lifestyle and at the moment I can’t imagine to live in another way. Although I am dreaming of having a house and kids and dogs… I wish that I will be able to have both one day: a place that I call home but still lots of possibilities to travel or live some time somewhere else.

 

How much time do you spend abroad and how much “at home”?
Well, in 2015 I was three times for about ten days “at home” (which is my parent’s place). That makes four weeks in total. I guess it will be some more next year. But I enjoyed staying on my own for such a long time, being able to travel where and whenever I wanted and just being independent.

 

What’s the most important advice you would give to someone who wants to become a digital nomad?
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@AncaMuraru”]Believe in yourself and in your ideas. Give it a try![/tweetthis]

 

 

Stefano Ginella, StefanoGinella.com
Stefano

Can you briefly tell us who are you and what do you do for a living?
My name is Stefano, 32, from Italy. I’m a web designer, web developer and a photographer. I’ve started freelancing about 4 years ago working mostly with European clients, and I slowly started a digital nomad lifestyle about 3 years ago, mostly in Spain between Barcelona, Las Palmas and Andalusia. Right now I’ve embarked in a long-term plan to travel across all Latin America.

 

How did you become a digital nomad and what made you decide to adopt this lifestyle?
I started hearing about “digital nomads” in 2010 when, due to the global financial crisis, I lost my job at MTV Italy. I didn’t want a 9-to-5 office job anymore, with tons of useless meeting, conference-calls, bureaucracy and where nobody gives enough credits to someone’s work, so I started my own business with the hope of being able one day to afford this lifestyle.

 

How much did it take you to get here?
The 1st year was the hardest one. Doing one of the most common errors made by new freelancers, I was underselling my job and I was not able to support myself. So I had to go back to live with my parents, while trying to set up a new client network able to pay for a full-time traveling lifestyle. With time I managed to learn from my errors and I’ve found some reliable long-term collaborations. Thus, here I am now.

 

What problems have you encountered on the way?
The biggest problems I’ve had were finding new clients and giving the right value to my job (and of course making the client understand this value). Only experience and a lot of trials and errors can help you with this.

 

Did you fail until now? And if so, what did you learn?
I didn’t have any “big” failure, but I can definitely say that I had a lot of minor failures in the beginning, mostly related to not being able to evaluate the amount of work needed for a project.

 

Was the reality according to the plans or did you have to adapt many times on the way?
Of course you always have to adapt along the way. The digital nomad’s world is still relatively new and it’s in a continuous evolution. So, the best plan is not to have a precise one, but just a general idea of your goals and adjust your actions accordingly when it’s needed.

 

How much time do you spend abroad and how much “at home”?
I rarely go back “home” (where my parents live in Italy). Normally it’s just 2-3 weeks every year.

 

What’s the most important advice you would give to someone who wants to become a digital nomad?
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@AncaMuraru”]Never undersell yourself and try to diversify your income sources. Don’t be afraid of big changes, the only difficult part is taking the fist step, all the others will follow! ;)[/tweetthis]

 

If you liked this article, stay tuned for the second part with more digital nomads stories.

7 thoughts on “Digital nomads stories – how they work & travel (Part 1)

  • Thank you so much for sharing these stories! I just embarked on my new lifestyle a month ago and it feels like 6months already! My every day is so full yet I am scared I will fail and use up all my savings.. It was nice to see I am not alone in this and that more people like me have the same fears, are faced with similar problems but keep the faith and keep going! Thanks!

    • Hi, Ioanna! Firstly, congrats for facing your fears and embarking on this journey. Secondly, indeed, most digital nomads have issues, especially when starting. It’s not only the amazing life people see from outside; we have to face things that others don’t even think about. But if this is what you want and love, it’s worth it, isn’t it? 🙂
      This is one of the reasons I decided to share the stories of these awesome people. I am preparing more interviews and stories, which I hope will also be useful.
      Have amazing trips!

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