Hi! I’m Frannie,
originally from Massachusetts, USA (a perfect beachy corner of the world, called Cape Cod). I started my career at a networking company in NYC and spent 5 years there doing all kinds of marketing, but mainly email. As the company grew I knew I wanted to learn more digital marketing skills and make my resume more valuable so I sought out all kinds of ways to learn these skills. Not only that but I knew I wanted more from my job… I had no idea what that was at the time but I was in search of it. So I read blogs, I signed up for email newsletters, I took online courses, I took in person course, I asked my boss to give me better projects, I started to grow the company’s social following on Twitter, Linkedin, & Facebook… I literally did anything and everything to try and learn more about marketing.
During this journey, I stumbled upon the freelancer / digital nomad lifestyle.
(I had no idea it was called that back then) and knew it was what I wanted. And I had no idea how to get there but was determined to figure it out. I even remember one specific day when I thought back on a conversation I had had with my best friend in college. We talked about how growing up wouldn’t be so bad as long as we could figure out how to work from our laptops while we sit in hammocks on the beach. I remember thinking that when we had that conversation the idea of that was only a dream world to me, not even close to something that could be a reality….but finding out about this nomad lifestyle gave me my first hint that it could actually happen.
Fast forward a few years.
I had some new, trendy digital marketing skills under my belt and I had spoken with some freelancers about how they made their moves so my confidence was growing. I talked to anyone and everyone that would listen to my story and asked them for advice (life hack: ALWAYS ask anyone and everyone you can that’s in a place you want to be, or even a step above you, for advice. People feel important when you do that and they share their knowledge with you, saving yourself a lot of time and wasted energy).
Luckily I happened to have an Uncle that was growing a completely remote agency.
We chatted a bit and he mentioned that he’d be happy to teach me more niche skills (Facebook advertising) and that maybe it was something I’d want to explore more. Well, we did that, and I spent early mornings, late nights and weekends learning everything I could. For about 6 months I worked basically 2 full-time jobs. My 9-5 and my #sidehustle.
Eventually I got the courage and was making enough money, to leave my full-time job. For me leaving with the security of a guaranteed income was absolutely the deciding factor. I’m totally willing to take big risks in life, but they have to be calculated. It’s hard enough learning a new skill and managing new clients, nevermind trying to take care of starting your own business, too. I totally admire those that have done it but for me, it worked out differently, and it worked out in a way that I was most comfortable. That’s when I had finally made it to a place where I could afford most things I wanted. And I definitely didn’t want to go back to the early post college days where I had to eat dollar slices and search the city for free things to do. I wanted my income to stay where it was at.
So that’s how I landed where I’m at…
Lots and lots of hustle and the help of amazing people. (A very special thanks to my Uncle who I definitely would never have gotten to where I’m at without). I’m currently living in Portugal for the summer and will likely spend the fall on an island in Southern Spain or off of Africa. I work as creative director for my uncle’s agency (on contract, so still free) and I’m building my own Facebook consulting and management business dazed creative (www.dazedcreative.com). I also have a passion project in the works, but I’ll save that story for next time.
What’s your favorite part about of being a digital nomad? & What’s the opposite – least favorite?
Favorite: Exploring new cultures, learning about local arts & crafts, connecting with new people.
Least favorite: Being away from family my nieces.
What are the hardest things to keep up with while being a digital nomad? What’s your suggestion for dealing with them?
There are actually a lot of things, but I’d say friends. Family is easier because there never going anywhere and you always go back to them but with friends it’s harder. You have a lot less in common and you miss the everyday stuff so it does get hard. The ways I deal with it is to try and facetime whenever I can, to still tag them in insta posts or text them when a memory comes up that they’re in but mostly make the time to visit them or invite them to visit you. You can go on a trip together somewhere or just have a slumber party. Don’t’ be afraid to invite yourself to their place for a couple days… This way you get to spend some really solid time together. And as long as you’re a good guest I’m sure they’re super happy to have you around since you’re normally gone for 10 months of the year.
All the things you have to do when you go home. Doctor appointments, ordering things on Aamazon, stocking up on vitamins or toiletries you can’t get overseas, visiting everyone, planning for your next trip. My old answer used to be stay organized, make lists, and do a little each day. But my new answer is to outsource that stuff! Spend $100-$200 getting someone to take care of all that for you so you can enjoy the end of your time in a certain location and enjoy the short time you have at home.
Are there any online resources you find really useful and essential for your digital nomad career? If so, please share some!
Facebook Groups! Search for “Digital Nomads X Location” everywhere you go, you’ll get the best info. Also ask coworking spaces for the same info (coworker.com will show you coworking spaces in the location you want). You can find out things like visa requirements, where to look for short term housing, the best company to use for your AIM card, etc.
https://flyonward.com/en/ for when you need a ticket somewhere but aren’t ready to commit #nomadprobs. For example, some countries want you to show a ticket to prove that you’re actually going to leave. This site lets you ‘rent’ a ticket.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about digital nomads? Is there any way we can try to change that?
That we’re constantly on vacation and life is all rainbows and butterflies…that we don’t have normal issues and gripes just because we get to live anywhere we want.
Don’t get me wrong this life is AMAZING and I literally cannot believe I get to live this way, but I’m still human. I still have shitty days, I still need to vent, I still have a lot of struggles. Sometimes extra struggles, like when an ATM machine eats my debit card and I have no way of getting cash or everytime I try to log into somethings and it needs to text me a pin code, (thanks mom!).
I work really hard all the time, including when I’m in a different country. Just because my weekends are spent hiking the mountains of Portugal or exploring Indonesian islands, doesn’t mean that I’m still not hustling super hard during the week.
I think the best way to change that is to start sharing more of the work, struggle, and normal daily stuff on our social accounts (I actually think everyone should do this) instead of just the ‘insta pics’. I’ve been seeing a few influencers I follow do this more lately and it really resonates with me. It’s not real to just see the perfect stuff, I promised myself I’d share some more of my struggles too.
Also, that we are “so lucky”. It frustrates me when people say this because no one living this lifestyle got there by luck. They achieved it by working extremely hard, by doing tons of research, by solving problems. At one point I pretty much worked 2 full-time jobs…before work, after, and on the weekends. I spent countless hours learning things online and practicing skills so I could get to where I am. I’ve spent days in airports, weeks in hotel beds sick as a dog, and have felt super lonely at times…but I pushed through all of that to have a life that works for me. It’s totally amazing, but it’s definitely not luck that got me here.
Being a digital nomad may include a lot of traveling. What are your tips & tricks for better travels?
This one is super personal I think. I tried living my nomad life out of one backpack and I didn’t like it. I don’t have a lot of stuff overall but the stuff I do have I want with me. So now I bring a big suitcase and my backpack with me and I don’t apologize for it. I try and stick to one spot for at least 3 months so that definitely makes it easier. But wherever I am I want it to be like home to me so I bring my stuff!
For flights, I usually use points and I have a company that helps me with that (http://www.abroaders.com/) they’re the best. Also, get their app Award Wallet (https://awardwallet.com/en/) to help you keep track of all your frequent flyer accounts, points, vouchers, etc.
Get Global Entry….it includes TSA pre check and it’s $20 more. It’s worth it.
Finally (and most importantly) I have a travel credit card that’s amazing and offers me a lot of great benefits. But the number one thing it does is give me a Prestige Priority Pass membership where I get access to airport lounges all over the world. Being in an airport sucks, UNLESS you have lounge access. I actually love going to the airport now. It’s so nice having free food (and good food!) and having unlimited coffee, water, a place to put my stuff down without having to worry about it. Not to mention the shower option at many airports. When you’re spending 2 days flying across the world this is the best thing that could ever happen to you.
Many people are afraid of never being able to settle down after being nomads. They can’t live long in one place, they can’t find partner who’d love to travel as much, etc. What are your thoughts on this? Have you experienced these feelings? And what is your cure for them?
I think exactly the opposite. Having the ability to travel so much and live this life of little routine and no ‘settling down’ makes me excited to someday settle down, have a house, and live that normal life. I don’t want it now but I will some day, I think! Or if I don’t want it, then that’s okay too. But I’m not afraid of that because I know whatever ends up happening will be what’s right for me and what feels best for my life.
There are a lot of people out there now living the digital nomad lifestyle. So even if you haven’t found a partner through meeting those that are settled in one location, you have the chance of meeting someone that’s also interested in a similar lifestyle!
What are the main things you are looking for when deciding where to go next?
I look for good co-working spaces, affordable apartments that are available for short term rentals. A decent nomad community, and just generally a place that I’m interested in visiting. Sometimes I think I want to be one place and then I start hearing about a different location I never heard of. Or start reading random articles that pop up and I completely change my mind! That’s how I ended up where I am right now, I was thinking about going to Nicaragua but am in Portugal for that exact reason.
Top 5 most memorable trips you had
- Scuba Diving in Sri Lanka (saw a whale shark on my 2nd dive ever!)
- Hiking Mt. Agung in Bali (we hiked from 11pm at night to 12pm the next day!)
- Meeting local artists in Bali and leanring about their crafts
- Riding horses through the jungle in Brazil
- A mission trip to Haiti
*(this question was really hard for me as all my trips and experiences are memorable in their own way and I never answer when someone asks “What’s your favorite place to travel to?” for that reason! Everything is special for different reasons #sentimental)
Gathering all your current experience – what would you now say to your old self, back when you just started?
I think I would just get started sooner without thinking too much into it. There are just some things you can’t learn until you get going. You can search all the Facebook groups, read all the blogs, and ask all the people but some things need to be figured out by hands on experience.
For example, I learned that Sri Lanka is a beautiful place to visit but for a longer term nomad place, it’s not for me right now. The community isn’t built up yet and I didn’t enjoy living there as a nomad. It might change in a few years or it might be right for someone else, but for me it wasn’t a great fit.
One simple suggestion for someone just starting:
On choosing your first (or next) destination: Do a decent amount of research, but then just let it go. Don’t overload yourself with information. Sometimes you need to trust yourself and just go with what feels right. You could seriously look forever as the options are endless but take a bit of time and really think in your head what is speaking to you the loudest and go with that. If it doesn’t work out, move to the next spot. That’s what I did from Sri Lanka that landed me in Bali.