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 Steven Kreimendahl. My background story is quite a long one. In the summer of 2014, my wife (girlfriend at the time) quit our jobs for a two month road trip around the US, as her student visa was expiring and I only had a few classes left before graduation.
Setting out on the road I had signed up for several online courses, my last requirements for graduation. I never realized how little of the country has a cellphone or data access until I need to pay for the internet for an exam while staying in the Grand Canyon. At this point, I realized I wanted work that allowed me to do something like this.
After the end of the trip we got married and moved to Ecuador for one year, where we did website creation and social media management for several local companies. At the same time, we never stopped traveling, so decided to start a travel guide website, Travel to Blank. We then moved to Spain for one year to receive a master in Visual and Digital Media from IE University. This whole time we were working on growing Travel to Blank. By the end of the program, we saw the potential for profitability and decided I would work on it full time, while looking for part time work and help my wife with our business in Ecuador. I now work in a part-time freelance digital marketing position, to supplement the growth of our own Travel to Blank business. In a way being a digital nomad is literally my job.
What’s your normal daily routine as a digital nomad?
First thing in the morning I check my email to see if any work has come in overnight. Depending on how much work I have that day I start out with my freelance work until lunch time. After lunch, I work on Travel to Blank until I am done working for the day, as there is no end to the work on it. Yet, my routine changes on the day, my mood and what else I have going on in my day.
What’s your favorite part about of being a DN? What’s the opposite – least favorite?
My favorite part of being a DN is it allows me to do my work at my most productive times of the day or week for that matter. My least favorite part of being a DN so far has to be traveling with friends who are on vacation. They are ready to spend 24 hours a day vacationing, while I still have to get work done.
What are the hardest things to keep up with while being a digital nomad? What’s your suggestion for dealing with them?
One of the hardest things while being a digital nomad is keeping up with friends from home and your travels. You can easily spend all your time working on your business, following up on emails and planning your next destination. Keeping up with old friends and acquaintances can easily fall to the bottom of your to-do list. The best thing to do is set aside a time on your calendar every day or week to keep in contact with people. This is not just for friends, but family and other acquaintances. These relationships are priceless and easy to maintain with a little discipline.
Is there any online resources you find really useful and essential for your digital nomad career?
Nothing is more helpful to me than Google Drive. I can still do my work anywhere and it is all saved to my account. This is key if I ever need to use a computer that is not mine!
What’s the biggest misconception people have about digital nomads? Is there any way we can try to change that?
The biggest misconception people have about digital nomads is that they do not actually work, rather they spend their days traveling and relaxing. There are so many websites that feature interviews with hard working digital nomads, but who reads those… digital nomads. The best way to change this misconception is to encourage more businesses to allow and promote nomadic workers.
Being a digital nomad may include a lot of traveling. What are your tips & tricks for better travels?
My biggest tip for digital nomad travel is to minimize what you need to get your work done. I used to bring my tablet on every trip because I thought its portability meant I could work in even more situations. It ended up getting stolen after using it one time in several months, a complete waste of space. If you can whittle down the list of work items, it means fewer things to keep track of, to lose and to have to fit in your bag.
One note though; for each trip make sure you are bringing the appropriate items. I do not need a telephoto lens when visiting a city, but if I am going to take wildlife photos, they would be lacking without it.
Many people are afraid of never being able to settle down after being nomads. What are your thoughts on this?
If you do what you love, love will find you. I have traveled to around 40 different countries over the past three years with my wife. So I believe that life will provide you with the right opportunities. I had to not be hired at a location dependent job long enough to realize remote is really what I wanted. I had to be in the job search long enough to spend all my time building up Travel to Blank. It might not make sense or even suck, at the time, but in the end these experiences lead you to the perfect opportunities.
What’s your favorite way of meeting new people as a nomad?
There are two great ways I found to meet people as a nomad. The first is to go to any digital nomad or startup event. Even if you are an introvert, head on over to these often informative events either way. At worst you learn more about the local digital nomad or startup community and at best other extroverts will introduce themselves to you. It is a win-win!
The second way is to follow the old fashioned way of meeting people, just talking! Whether it be at a bar, your hotel, on a bus, train or plane ride or just asking for help to a stranger on the street. We were all able to make friends before being digital nomads, so the only thing that has changed is our location!
What are the main things you are looking for when deciding where to go next? If you’re preferring to live a long-term in one place, how do you decide – which place will that be?
The most important thing for me when deciding the next destination right now is where I want to go. However, the only thing that makes it possible is finding business clients in that location. As a travel blog, we are often beholden to wait for destinations off-season. So, we start with our interested locations and let the business opportunity make the final choice.
What’s your vision of the future?
The long term plan is to live a more full-time digital nomad lifestyle for the next two or three years. After that the plan is to create a more physical home, always with the ability to travel as desired. However, I do not even know my plans are for this weekend, so thinking several years down the road, we will see as it comes.
What would you now say to your old self, back when you just started?
Do not be afraid to ask. This applies to everything. Do not be afraid to ask your friends for contacts, ask businesses to be your clients, ask anyone for help, anything. You would be surprised how quickly you can grow your business just by simply asking.
Life experience and work experience all rolled into one, that’s what it is like being a digital nomad.
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