5 Questions to Grum

  • Age: XX

  • Years as a DN: 6
  • Profession: video producer, social media work, digital media content creation, freelance writing, travel hacking and customer service
  • Nationality: Australian

Interview 13 of “30 Digital Nomad Stories: How to Work Remotely and Travel the World”. One day, Grum realized, the lifestyle of working more to earn more in order to be be happier, is not a lifestyle that makes him happy. As a result, he quit his job and then worked on his dream of travelling and experiencing the world. He makes money with filming for different industries, social media work, digital media content creation, freelance writing, travel hacking and customer service.

Why did you decide to begin a nomadic life and what does it mean to you?

To be honest, I didn’t start this all thinking I wanted to be a digital nomad. I was already on the road, when I learned what one was. It was a gradual shift over the past 5 or so years. Prior to that, I was trapped in over a decade of corporate life with the notion, that working more hours equals more money, resulting in a happier life.

I realised that I was spending money on things, that just made my life more complicated and I was never truly happy. The “great Australian dream” wasn’t going to work for me. So I quit that lifestyle, encountered a massive shift in the perception of my own world and worked to get to a point, in where I could drift amongst the globe experiencing new cultures and people. In the end, the “Digital Nomad” lifestyle is just a means to an end – I just want to experience this planet.

How do you earn an income now?

Currently I’m a jack of all trades. I do freelance work in a number of different industries, with video production as my main bread winner. On the side, I do social media work, digital media content creation, freelance writing, travel hacking and customer service. I’m still feeling my way around, trying to figure out the best fit for my lifestyle. Tomorrow, I may decide to become a rails developer or perhaps join the circus.

What is your approximate travel budget for a year? Any tip to lower it down?

I don’t have a budget allocated for travel since I don’t really know where I’m going. My plans extend to about 2 months from now and that’s it. During this time, I monitor the prices of flights out of the closest airports and often I’ll impulsively purchase a flight when they’re cheap. The other week, I was chatting in a digital nomad chatroom, when one of the members mentioned a flash sales on hotel rooms. Out goes the credit card and I nab myself a week in Malaysia, not even knowing if I can get a flight there.

Looking back over the last 12 months, I’ve spent AU$717.55 on transportation costs – this covers flights, busses and taxis. Just on air travel alone this has allowed me to travel a total of 29,929kms. All of this has allowed me to travel throughout Asia and Australia – I’d like to break away from the region and head towards America or Europe in 2015 but those plans may change tomorrow.

I suppose I could lower my costs by being less impulsive – but travel in Asia is incredibly cheap. Right now its getting a wee bit chilly in Northern Thailand – if I wanted to warm things up, I could jump on a plane and fly to Singapore for less than $100. This is almost 3 times the cost of a ‘cheap’ flight, but it is the Christmas/New Year’s period and still incredibly cheap compared to international travel in other regions. I believe, being strict on travel plans can be more expensive in the end.

For example next month I wanted to visit Australia to catch up with some friends and deal with the tax man back home. If I had a strict schedule, I would have flown direct but for the same money I am able to fly to Australia indirect, stay a week in Kuala Lumpur as well as Bali and still have money left over.

What would you consider to be one of the best tools for becoming a Digital Nomad?

The willingness to adapt to change and having access to a support group for times when things get tough or complicated. One of the common problems, that I have seen with a lot of aspiring nomads is, that they get hung up with the preparation and drag their feet too long. Get the money ready and go. Sort out your plan of attack on the road. Figure out, what tools suit you bes,t when you’re thousands of miles away from home.

Do you have any advice for those starting a DN life?

Always tie up loose ends before you go. You don’t have to go to the extreme of selling off everything like many have for this lifestyle, but you need to be realistic. If you leave “home” for a year or more, will that car of yours survive not being used? Past commitments will always haunt nomads. You don’t want to be on the other side of the planet and suddenly realise, you need to go back, because your storage unit was broken into. The less you can call a certain location on the globe your home, the more free you can become as a person. Home should be where you hang your shoes, not where your collection of CDs gathers dust.