“Digital nomad story” is a weekly story series sharing experiences and tips from nomadic entrepreneurs all over the world. Join the journey!
My name is Travis Bennett,
and I run a website agency that’s completely remote. I started freelancing after leaving the corporate world, and I quickly built up a client base that was more work than I could handle so I started expanding my team and we grew from there. I also run a side project with free resources to help aspiring digital nomads succeed, it’s called Nomad Stack.
What’s your normal daily routine as a digital nomad?
I work pretty standard office hours, so I’ll be up early to check emails and ensure my client’s are OK and no issues have been raised from my team overnight. I’ll then work 8am till about 6pm, about 50 percent on client projects, the rest is outreach, pitching for new business, and putting time into any side projects we’re working on.
What’s your favorite part about of being a digital nomad? & What’s the opposite – least favorite?
My favorite has got to be the freedom. With my laptop and an internet connection I can work from anywhere I like. The downside is that you usually end up working all the time. Because you’re essentially building a business (even as a freelancer), every minute you’re not working you’re not making money. You’ve got to find a balance between the two.
What’s the first adventure that comes on your mind from your DN career?
Trying to find a stable internet connection in Yangon was rather fun. The infrastructure is still being developed, so my apartment would regularly have blackouts along with the internet just dropping out. To battle this I bought a mobile router and two different SIM cards, so I always had a backup, then a backup for each backup. It was a tad overkill, but it worked.
What are the hardest things to keep up with while being a digital nomad? What’s your suggestion for dealing with them?
The hardest part has got to be the friends you leave behind. Being a nomad can put a huge amount of strain on your friendships back home, especially once you’ve been on the road for a few years. It becomes harder to relate to them, and you lose the familiarity that you’d have if you were around more. You also tend to miss all the big important events back home, as it’s just not possible to be coming home for every birthday, engagement, wedding and birth, especially when they start happening every month!
Are there any online resources you find really useful and essential for your DN career?
It sounds a little boring but Dropbox and Skype are two fundamental pieces of software for my business. We also use DeskTime to track the time spent on every project, and I personally love Evernote because I can store whatever random thoughts pop into my mind, even at 3am on my phone, and have them synced with my laptop ready for action when I start work mode.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about digital nomads? Is there any way we can try to change that?
I’m not a big fan of that term, I’m really just an entrepreneur who runs businesses over the internet and loves to travel. But we’ve still got to work. My biggest peeve is when I see people overly glorifying this lifestyle. I could never imagine taking my laptop to the beach, or working from a hammock for more than about 10 minutes. There are too many digital nomads making it seem like all they do is drink coffee and relax in their hotel pool. I think there needs to be more light shone on the reality of this lifestyle, so people get the full picture.
Being a digital nomad may include a lot of traveling. What are your tips & tricks for better travels?
I’m all about comfort, so I’d say make sure you’ve got warm and comfy clothes, a good set of earbuds, and if you’re doing a red-eye flight take a little melatonin to get a decent sleep on the plane. I don’t look too hard for cheap flights, normally AirAsia has enough specials for you to get a decent deal. I take a rolling suitcase with most of my clothes, and a smaller carry on for my electronics.
Where have you experienced the strongest nomad community? Also, please share, if there is any place where you’ve found a lack of it!
Chiang Mai has almost become a mecca for digital nomads, and is definitely the go-to place for anyone wanting to test out the lifestyle, but I much prefer Bangkok. It’s got a nice mix of events, a strong community of foreigners, and plenty of coworking spaces too.
What’s your favorite way of meeting new people as a nomad?
You’ve got to make an effort that’s for sure, but no matter where you are in the world there’s events on. Meetup.com is a good source of things to do, but most cities will have a local entertainment guide, and there’ll be something on almost every day. Whether it’s a pub trivia night or a photography workshop, salsa lessons or a proper business networking event. It’s up to you to actually find these, then to go out and be social. No one will force you, but if you don’t do it, you’ll look back and wish you did.
Top 3 places to visit as a digital nomad
Osaka. Lovely people and great food, plus there are so many amazing cities (like Kyoto) which are just a short train ride away.
Bangkok. The cost of living is incredible, and you’ll be able to find whatever it is you’re looking for in the city.
Budapest. It’s a peaceful little corner in Europe that’s a fraction of the price of anywhere else.
Gathering all your current experience – what would you now say to your old self, back when you just started?
Instead of growing the business organically, bite the bullet and drop every dollar you have into setting up your advertising pipelines and building a strong team. It was simply a risk I was unwilling to take initially because it would have taken every dollar I had, but we could have jumped ahead two years if I took that roll of the dice on day one.
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