digital nomad interviews

What is it all about to live and work travelling around the world?

Enjoy the second part of our “digital nomads”-series! 

You haven’t read the previous part? Click HERE to get to the first part of the digital nomad stories!

13. Grum

Grum is a digital nomadWhy 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 best 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.

GRUM: Home should be where you hang your shoes, not where your collection of CDs gathers dust.

More infothisis.thatgrumguy.comtwitter.com/grum

14. Ben Cherry

A Remote workerWhy did you decide to begin a nomadic life and what does it mean to you?

As we become more connected, through better transportation connections and through the web, it is becoming increasingly realistic to be able to work anytime from anywhere in the world.

I have been fortunate enough to travel a lot and I can’t think of anything better than exploring somewhere new and meeting new people. Living a nomadic lifestyle allows me to stay longer than simply going for a week or two, so I can begin to get under the skin of a place and understand it better.

Though the world is getting smaller, thanks to an increasingly globalised community, there is still so much to see and experience. I want to take advantage of this opportunity as much as I can.

How do you earn an income now? 

I am a freelance photographer, writer and blogger, providing social media services for companies and individuals. Though my main photographic interest is nature and travel (I bet you guessed that one), my clients range from camera companies and natural history filming companies to the fashion and motorsport industry.

It is fair to say I have a varied client base, from Fujifilm to Aston Martin Racing, hair industry conferences to hair extension photoshoots! I am paid on a regular contract basis and for one-off jobs.

Landscape foto of a digital nomad

What is your approximate travel budget for a year? 

This is hard to say, my budgeting revolves around whether I have any work lined-up in a new location. If not, then I work hard to build up a travel fund and allow for  contingency plans. I like to overcompensate rather than to underestimate when it comes to money.

There is always a hidden cost, whether it is medical cover, specialised insurance for you and/or your gear or the cost of visas or local taxes. This may sound like a bit of downer and not the ‘digital nomad’ attitude to exploring the world, but for me planning is vital. If I can minimise unforeseen expenses as much as possible, then I am more likely to be able to sustain this lifestyle, which at the end of the day is the end game.

Any tip to lower it down? 

As with most things in life, travelling is as much a personal journey as an actual one, with more experience you start to understand how you can minimise your expenses and improve your experience.

Wise investments – investing in good quality products that aren’t going to break on you a few weeks into visiting a new place means that you’re not having to replace products as often and by the same token, you shouldn’t have to carry as much stuff with you.

Hopefully this will lower your mental baggage of things to worry about as well as your physical baggage. I love enthusiasm and spontaneity but some sensible budgeting can go a long way to keeping you out of the red and out there exploring.

Ape at sunset

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

This is difficult to say as I’m a bit of a techie geek through my photography. Because of the jobs I do, I LOVE my iPad mini, it gives me such a powerful tool in a carry-anywhere package. Combine that with the Fujifilm X-Series which I use means that I can travel with a much lighter set up than lugging around lots of DSLRs.

The latest cameras have wifi functions such as the X100T and X-T1, which means I can send photos straight from my cameras to my iPad to either send on to clients or to upload onto social media platforms.

Social Media is an amazing tool to utilise if you want to be a digital nomad, from advertising your services and meeting people in a new area to being a great way to keep friends and family updated with your experiences.

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

I am fortunate enough to have a skill set that allows me to work anywhere in the world, if you have such a skill set then you can really make a digital nomad lifestyle work for you. The beauty of a DN life is that it can be combined with other things, it doesn’t have to be full-time in the traditional sense.

Search around for jobs in places that intrigue you, but most importantly if you have the desire to explore then simply go out and give it a go. Life is a fragile thing and if we don’t grab it and try and make it our own then we will only live with that regret.

Go out there and make your dreams become reality. If you have any questions or just want to get in touch and chat then look me up on my social media sites:

Facebook – Ben Cherry Photos- https://www.facebook.com/BenCherryPhotography

Twitter – Benji_Cherry – https://twitter.com/Benji_Cherry

Instagram – benji_cherry – https://instagram.com/benji_cherry/

BIO: Ben describes himself as an environmental photojournalist and has been interested in photography since eleven, building on a lifelong love and interest for nature, which combined into his passion: “I love capturing moments that tell a story and taking landscape pictures that depict the essence of a location. I attempt to get the viewer to feel the way I felt when I took the image – it’s about experiencing the wonders of the natural world and how we relate to it.

Though he has a main subject matter, Ben has worked in a wide variety of different genres… Currently he is sponsored by Fujifilm UK: “Fujifilm UK are delighted to be working with Ben Cherry. Ben shows incredible maturity for someone of his age. His images have shown outstanding photographic knowledge and technique coupled with the ability to tell powerful stories – whether that is of natural beauty or of the people who inhabit those places.”

15. Robert Pearce

Robert Pearce at london bridge

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

Understanding that we each only have one life to live can be either depressing or inspiring—for me it was the latter. The go to school, get married, have a family and retire in comfort lifestyle is very much a product of “The American Dream,” though many of the influences in my life who attained said dream often remarked to me that they wish they had traveled more, been more adventurous and generally “lived” more.

The latter-day nomadic lifestyle is partially a response to (or even defiance of) the culture of rooting oneself in a single location and living out one’s life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being rooted, for this allows folks to build upon and improve their communities while giving their offspring a grounded sense of “home.”

However, for those of us without such rooting, the globalized world of today allows us a freedom of travel that may not have been available to previous generations.

In my opinion, it would be a shame to squander such opportunity. When I am old and gray, or if I pass tomorrow, I want to be able to look back at my life and say, “I have experienced and learned as much as I reasonably could and improved the lives of those around me, without regret.”

How do you earn an income now?

I write software and work for Articulate (www.articulate.com), a 100% remote company. As of recent months, we are the second largest totally virtual company in the world! It is exciting to work for a company that encourages its employees to grow to their fullest potential in their professional and personal lives.

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

This is a curious question, for being a digital nomad means that your travel budget is the same as your living budget. Thus, all expenses are budgeted as any person would budget their own regular finances at home.

However, in regards to the actual act of traveling, I highly recommend real ridesharing services, like Carpooling.com (now BlaBlaCar) or RidePost.com*, where people are already going to a destination and you can ride along with them at a much cheaper price than trains, planes or renting a car.

AirBNB, CouchSurfing, VRBO and other such services make finding cheap places to live much easier. Additionally, stop going out to dinner so often! Go to a local market, buy the inexpensive (and usually healthy) good’s and cook for yourself in bulk. Leftovers are a traveler’s cheapest friend.

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

Common sense is by far the best tool you can have in your tool belt. Confidence is the second. By this I mean being sure that you can solve any problem you have and get out of any bad situation.

On the technical side, the most useful tool is definitely Dropbox. While you’re on the move, sh*t happens. Lost/stolen/broken devices can be devastating when you’re trying to work. Being able to replace a device and get back up and running instantly is paramount, and Dropbox and similar services make that possible.

Do you have any advice for those starting a digital nomad life?

If you treat people with respect and exude goodwill, you will have more doors open for you than you can imagine.

* Disclaimer: I co-founded RidePost.com

BIO: Robert is a software developer, athlete and digital nomad. He has worked remotely for three years throughout Europe and the USA and is always looking for the next adventure. His employer, Articulate (link to www.articulate.com), is an e-learning software company that has been a totally remote organization for over 10 years.

For more info: https://www.robertwpearce.com/blog