How to become a digital nomad – my story
If you’d like to work online anywhere in the world, this post might be an inspiration for you. Yes, it’s doable. I’m going to share my personal story about how to become a digital nomad. Let’s see how I managed to do it and how you can, too.
What I did before becoming a digital nomad
It was back in 2010 when I was still working as a flight attendant for a low cost airline in Europe. Already at that time I was pretty sure I loved to travel but at the same time I did not enjoy having a boss and working for someone else.
Let me be honest, I was just never fond of authorities. And I also might be too stubborn to listen to others, sometimes.
But maybe my insomnia was the main reason for me to become a digital nomad. Not just being a rebel.
Working as a flight attendant meant having morning shifts one week, and afternoon/evening shifts the following week. One week I had to wake up between 4am and 5am to go to work, while the next week I would just come back from work at 11pm to midnight, sometimes even later at night when the flights were delayed. Unfortunately, this messed up with my biorythm way too much to function properly.
I used to spend nights watching movies and learning Italian, trying to get more tired to finally fall asleep. Let me be honest, it was not working. Once my body would finally adjust, I had to change my entire sleep pattern once again due to the change of the work shift.
It was frustrating.
Why I decided to be a digital nomad
And then one night it happened. Something shifted in me.
It was 4 am already, I was still up, finished watching yet another movie but I was still not tired enough to sleep. My head was spinning. So I started thinking what else I could do at night instead of movies. I wanted to be more productive. I didn’t want to waste my time but do something useful instead.
Thoughts like ”what do I really love doing’?” started coming to my mind.
”Traveling” was the immediate answer.
Not sure where it all came from, maybe I was enlightened haha, or just my intuition worked very well that night but I googled what you could do with traveling and ”travel blog” showed up. Straight away I did a research if there were any travel bloggers out there and if it was possible to make a living out of a travel blog.
Yay! The articles seemed positive.
Being an ”all or nothing person”, I could not wait any longer. It was now or never.
That very first morning I started my own travel blog. The one you are reading right now.
And as I saw that some American travel bloggers could make it, I told myself that a Slovak girl could not be any less than that.
My goal became clear.
I needed to learn asap how to become a digital nomad so I could travel the world being my own boss.
That was on the 30th September 2010 when my baby, a.k.a. first travel blog was born.
In my free time I spent the following months studying everything I found about blogging and making my own travel blog. If you are asking about the strange name of my blog, well, that was the way my friends and co-workers used to call me. Yes, all my days off I would just buy cheap flights and visit a new place for a few days until I had to go back to work again.
And as you can imagine, nothing better came to my mind after staying up all night than using my nickname.
Then the 2nd year of my flight attendant job was finishing. After the first year based in Scotland, I was based in Southern Italy for the 2nd year, and I could finally do my final MA exams back at my University in the Czech republic. That was in January 2011 and as soon as I got my MA University degree from both English and Spanish philology, I went back to Italy and the very first day back at work I sent a 30-day resignation notice.
At that time only a handful of people knew about my travel blog. It looked terrible, and I was ashamed of it as I was the worst with technical things. I truly had no idea what I was doing. I just knew I loved traveling and wanted to work for myself.
Somewhere deep inside, my 6th sense was telling me it was a good decision to leave my flight attendant job after 2 years and start enjoying the world on my own terms.
When I told my mum about it via phone, she screamed at me, and I quote ”I’ve always known you were crazy but that much?” And that broke my heart into million pieces.
Well… my friends were not really supportive of me either and I spent days crying.
But I still knew that my intuition was not wrong. In any case, I could go back to working as a stewardess any time if I changed my mind later on, right?
My last month at work looked like this:
- I only kept 1 small suitcase of clothes, and a small backpack with my laptop and other valuable belongings
- I decided to sell a few important things I owned to get some money at least
- I sent a package home to Slovakia with other important stuff that I was not ready to let go of yet
- I gave 80% of my belongings to local charities
- all my free time I was working on my travel blog, learning how to deal with technical problems, writing new blog posts, and planning my first big trip.
And I booked flights to Mexico, my dream country, with a few day stopover in Spain to reunite with good friends before embarking on a new life-work journey.
Once I finished working for the airline, I happily packed a small backpack and a carry on suitcase and flew to another continent to enjoy 3 months of solo travel around Mexico.
I have to say that I was extremely lucky with timing and maybe the Universe supported my decision as well. At that time they did need extra promotion in tourism in Mexico after the drop of tourists due to the swine flu.
And as I did speak fluent Spanish and Mexicans are super friendly, we got along very well and I managed to get many collaborations with hotels and travel agencies while there. Yes, through my new travel blog and social media channels, mostly Facebook Fanpage at that time.
I also used Couchsurfing for a few nights there. Looking back, out of 89 nights in Mexico I scored 87 nights for free (or hotel collaborations or Couchsurfing, or friends’ houses) and had to pay only for 2 nights at a hostel but after the 1st night there I left anyway to stay an apartment of someone I’d met a few days before that.
That’s not bad at all, isn’t it?
As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
And that was exactly my case. THANK YOU!
How to become a digital nomad
There’s many things you should think of when you decide to be a digital nomad.
I’m going to mention the most important ones here:
- always check visa first to know exactly how long you can stay in that country and what’s the procedure if you wanted to stay longer
- choose locations with good and fast wifi that does not rely on weather. E.g. Philippines and smaller remote islands in general are usually perfect in many ways but wifi can be super low there. Sometimes as soon as it’s cloudy, you might not even get the signal.
- plan ahead when it comes to money = withdraw cash to have with you for destinations where it might be difficult with ATMs
- find out what helps you to work faster and choose the destinations based on that. Digital nomad destinations might work better for you, or instead, it might be remote destinations that are not crowded
- you can work at hotel rooms, coworking spaces, restaurants, coffee shops etc. Just find the right place for you. For me it’s always quiet places, e.g. my hotel room. I love writing when in bed or sitting on the floor, I usually drink loads of water while working and then go to the restroom very often, and I need peace and quiet to concentrate, so for me it’s easier to work when alone in an empty place withour music and other people chatting.
- you might get jetlag and simply be exhausted after every bigger move so always plan chill time after that, and try to avoid having to do urgent work things on your travel days
- pack power banks and adapters for different countries
- you can adapt to less stuff than you think you need. When traveling as a digital nomad, less might be more.
- it’s impossible to work online in the sunshine. You just can’t really see anything on your laptop screen.
- don’t forget to enjoy life, explore new places, meet up with people etc. You are not a digital nomad to spend all your life stuck in front of your laptopt working inside. Try to find some balance, or better: live more, work less.
- make a living by doing something that makes you happy.
- travel insurance (find more below in TIP 1)
TIP 1: One of the very important things to remember when traveling abroad is travel and health insurance. My recommendation would be SafetyWing that offer good Nomad Insurance 2.0. One of its advantages is being able to book it after leaving home when you are already traveling. They also cover many different sports and adventures, yay! For more information, please click on the SafetyWing Nomad Insurance. Remember, better safe than sorry, right?
TIP 2: To be able to stay on the road, I do a couple of different things to make a living: e.g. affiliate marketing, collaborations with brands, social media collaborations, health/vegan/detox coaching, teaching yoga etc. Feel free to check more in my post about 8 ways how I earn money to travel the world.
TIP 3: This post might give you more ideas about how to earn money while traveling as well.
TIP 4: Was visiting Mexico a good thing to do? Check out my 26 reasons why I love Mexico and you might, too.
Follow me on Instagram for more travel stories and yoga videos:
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Do you like my story? Do you know other nomads or you’d like to become a digital nomad yourself? Tell me in the comments below.