Digital nomad stories are weekly story series sharing experiences and tips from nomadic entrepreneurs all over the world. Join the journey!
Hi, my name is Alex and I’m a British girl who’s currently in Melbourne, Australia. I’m travelling with my boyfriend at the moment and in the last three months, we’ve moved around Australia and Indonesia.
Since graduating from university in 2007, I’ve always worked in marketing and have been lucky enough to work for companies which reflect my interests of food and travel. Around a year ago I quit my job to move across the country with my boyfriend and the company I was working for asked if I would be willing to continue working for them on a consultancy, part-time basis. I’d always wanted to work for myself and as I also write a food blog which brings in some revenue, I decided to make the leap. I said yes and that is how my freelance marketing career began!
What’s your favorite part about of being a digital nomad? & What’s the opposite – least favorite?
My favorite thing has to be the variety. I think I have quite a short attention span so I used to find it hard having to drive to the same place of work day in day out. It made me feel stagnant. I love the fact that I’m earning money whilst moving around the world and one day I’m working from a library, the next day in a cafe and so on…
My least favorite is the loneliness. I constantly miss my friends and family from home, especially over things like Christmas and birthdays. I make sure I speak to people via FaceTime and whats app which helps but ultimately, it’s natural to miss people.
What are the hardest things to keep up with while being a digital nomad?
As most of my clients are UK based, the hardest thing I have to deal with is the time difference, especially here in Melbourne where we’re 11 hours ahead and our working days hardly crossover at all.
The best way of dealing with this is to be organized so that we’re never in a situation where something is last minute or too late to do. I have an app on my phone which tells me what time it is there and I use scheduling tools like Hootsuite for social media so that I don’t accidentally send tweets out in the middle of the night for example! I also tend to communicate via email too rather than talking to people on the phone.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about digital nomads?
I honestly think people see me as being on an extended holiday! Sipping cocktails by the beach every day and off exploring new places 24/7. In reality, most of the time I’m working from a library or at the place we’re staying. We do explore and do all the exciting things but earning money to do those things has to come first.
Being a digital nomad may include a lot of traveling. What are your tips & tricks for better travels?
When we started getting ready for this current trip (which is six months long) we packed our bags really early and put everything we own into storage. This meant we spent almost a month still in the UK without the bulk of our stuff. So, by the time we left, we knew that the things we had with us were essential. Anything didn’t use in that time, we left behind. We’re definitely travelling light – one medium size suitcase each and a rucksack.
My main tip for better travel is again, to be organized. I have everything in both paper and digital form. Eg travel insurance, plane tickets, visa details. I also use an app called One Password which is totally secure and can be accessed on your phone and laptop to keep important information safe. We also have an old spare phone which we keep a UK sim card in for emergencies.
Many people are afraid of never being able to settle down after being nomads. What are your thoughts on this? Have you experienced these feelings? And what is your cure for them?
I don’t feel worried about this as much as I think others my age do. Probably because I got married when I was young and settled down too early. When that relationship broke down I realized that I’d missed out on a lot of things, like travelling and so, now that I’m in my mid-30’s I’m very happy with the freedoms I have in my life. I’m also lucky to be travelling with my boyfriend and if anything he loves to travel more than I do!
I guess for a lot of people, the fear is unfounded because eventually, they find somewhere or someone they really connect with and settling down happens without them really realizing.
What are the main things you are looking for when deciding where to go next?
For me, it’s all about the foodie culture of a place. Does it have something interesting going on? I need to be inspired to write my blog as we travel. Often I find places via other people’s blogs and also through peer groups on facebook (like Digital Nomad Girls). We’re heading Malaysia in a few months and will definitely be going to Georgetown in Penang thanks to recommendations I’ve found online.
Wifi and ability to work are really important too. For example, compared to the UK and Europe, not many cafes or bars in Australia offer free wifi and as a result, it’s harder to work from those types of places. This means you need to look for things like co-working places instead to avoid sitting alone in your room for days on end.
What’s your vision of the future?
This is something my boyfriend and I constantly discuss. We are planning to head home in April and we’ll spend probably six-month there whilst we work out our next plan. Currently, there are three options on the table and two involve travelling but it all depends on workload and our ability to support our travels financially. Longer term, we will eventually go home as we’d like to buy a house and get some cats!
Gatheringall your current experience – what would you now say to your old self, back when you just started?
Stay focused. Have a clear goal about what you’ll be doing work-wise and implement a routine early on which you stick to!
Are there any online resources you find really useful and essential for your digital nomad career?
I think this depends on your industry, I work in marketing and there is plenty of information online to take advantage of; from bigger, better freelance marketers, copywriters and social media experts.
The closed groups on facebook for nomads, bloggers and freelancers are really useful for bouncing ideas and questions around. They also help give you a sense of community when you don’t know many people in a place.
I also really recommend FreelanceWritingGigs.com for finding out about remote projects and jobs. I’ve tried sites like Freelancer and Upwork in the past but increasingly, I’ve found that there are too many people expecting a lot of work for barely any money.
Connect with Alex: