In our Digital Nomad Girls interview series, we feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs. This month we talked to Sonia Jaeger, an online psychologist and psychotherapist.
Hi! My name is Sonia and I am a psychologist and psychotherapist from Germany. I have a dual citizenship, my mum being French and my dad German. I grew up in Munich where I went to a French school, switching between languages and cultures has always been part of my life. I started travelling at a very young age, but Australia, where I am at the moment, is definitely the furthest away I have ever been from home. I just turned 35y last week, and I love it! It just keeps getting better.
You’re a location independent online psychologist, please tell us a bit about that.
Yes, I studied psychology and trained as a psychotherapist in Germany. I worked for a few years in different settings, like in a psychiatric hospital and also did some research. After finishing my PhD in 2014 I decided to take a break before settling and opening my own private practice in Germany.
Well, I opened my practice online instead and haven’t regretted it at all! I can keep travelling, work from anywhere (as long as there is decent Internet of course) and still do the work I love. I really enjoy my work, helping people from all over the world to face and overcome their mental health issues. Most of my counselling is through video chat, but I also offer phone, chat and email counselling.
Why did you decide to carry out your job online?
At first, because I didn’t want to settle! Opening a private practice would most likely mean staying in the same place for the next 40 years or so… with not much more than 3-4 weeks of holidays at a time. To be honest, I had no idea that I could carry out my job online, until I met a girl on beach in Thailand who told me, that she skypes with her therapist… That’s when I started researching it and discovered, that it actually could work.
Now that I have been doing it for a while, I can see, that it is not only amazing for myself to work online, but also for my clients. I am much more flexible, easy to contact and I work on weekends (I really just don’t care that much about the day of the week anymore and love taking days off during the week when everyone else is working!).
Was there a lot of red tape or was it quite straight-forward to start practicing online?
There is a lot to take into account regarding privacy and security issues, but in the end, it wasn’t that complicated. My main problem was, that I am based in Germany, but in Germany, psychotherapy has to be face to face. Which does make sense especially in more severe cases, and acute crises.
It would be really hard to deal with a really suicidal client or admission into a psychiatric clinic while being that far away. Counselling on the other hand, is not really regulated that much in Germany, so almost anyone can do it. Which actually is a problem for potential clients, who should check the credentials of any online coach or psychologist. Where did they study, what kind of therapy training do they have, what work experience etc.
Are your patients mainly digital nomads themselves?
No, but most of my clients are expats. I also have clients who travel a lot for work and are not at home long enough to attend regular psychotherapy sessions. But many of my clients are more sedentary and choose online counselling because it is a lot easier for them than to go see someone, sometimes because they are to scared or because they simply don’t want to wait.
Many digital nomads are not making a lot of money and even though they might struggle with mental health issues, it seems more difficult for them to decide to invest in this. Maybe that is also an age phenomenon; a lot digital nomads seem quite young whereas most of my clients are at least in their 30ies.
Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy or were they supportive?
Haha, yes! They did initially support my sabbatical, but opening my practice online was a bit hard to understand for them. Especially because I didn’t hate my life back home, on the contrary, I love Leipzig, it’s an amazing city and I still enjoy spending time there every summer!
But they did come around eventually, once they realised that I was serious about it (and working and making money). I am very lucky to have family and friends who love to travel, so I actually get to spend more time with them now, than I used to. My mum came to Vietnam with me 2 years ago and to Laos last year, I went to Thailand and Cambodia with my dad and my brother visited me in Thailand twice.
Recently I travelled around the east coast of Australia with a childhood friend and went hiking and camping in Tasmania with another friend visiting from home. So yes, I think they are pretty supportive now. Actually, I am getting requests on where I should go next, so that they have a good reason to come visit.
What do you think digital nomads struggle with most mental health wise?
I think that there are two answers to that question:
1) Digital nomads deal with all the same issues that everyone is dealing with. Studies show that about 50% of us will suffer from at least one mental illness during the course of our live; some estimates even go as high as 80%. New data from the WHO shows that 322 million people suffered from a depression in 2015, compared to 35 million having cancer. Sadly, mental health issues are still something, that most people don’t feel very comfortable talking about. But it really is much more common than you would think. And there is absolutely no reason, why digital nomads should not experience those same issues.
2) The digital nomad lifestyle itself can lead to specific mental health issues or accentuate some underlying issues. One thing that most digital nomads learn at some point along the way: you can’t run away from your problems. Changing location may help short term, but real issues will find their way back to you, no matter where you are.
It is very easy to feel lonely as a digital nomad. As digital nomads we often don’t have a very strong (real life) support network, most of our families and best friends are far away and many new relationships remain superficial.
We have a lot less routines and rituals compared to a more settled life. Especially in difficult moments, routines can be very helpful to “make it through the day”. Another aspect that doesn’t only affect digital nomads but is very common among DN too, is related to being self-employed. Most self-employed people work a lot more and are under more stress than employees.
You have to be very pro-active, be super-organized and goal-driven to succeed. It is very easy to get lost in the process, to procrastinate and not get much done while at the same time not taking very good care of your physical and mental health, because “you need to work more”. Or to feel bad, because you spent your day at the beach but should have done something else.
And if on top of that, you don’t feel very supported by your family and friends, while still feeling like you need to keep the show on social media, then this lifestyle can become very exhausting and challenging.
How can we make this lifestyle more sustainable for our health?
By taking better care of our mental health and us in general. First by acknowledging, that our mental health is an important issues. The sooner we see that and do something about it, the better. A balanced lifestyle, where work and private life are equally relevant, would also be a good start. I know that this is not easy for many, as those often get mixed, especially once social media become as much a work thing as a way of keeping in touch with friends and family.
Creating routines is really helpful, a morning and evening ritual that doesn’t involve a phone or laptop, good sleep, exercise and healthy food are something I would always recommend. And opening up to friends and family about struggles, fears and inner demons. Or, if that is not enough, talking to a professional of course.
How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?
I do like to meet people offline, by simply talking to them in a café or bus etc. I love spending time on my own, but if we are the only two white people in an Asian restaurant, then I will probably start talking to you. Other than that, I meet a lot of people online, networking with other digital nomads or fellow psychologists.
What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?
I love my noise-cancelling headphones! And red tiger balm, especially for sore backs after sleeping on a bad mattress or doing too much yoga (not sure if there is such a thing as too much yoga, but I definitely know that there can be sore backs involved!).
What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?
If you can, save up money beforehand. I have met many digital nomads really struggling financially and who then had to take on side jobs while trying to set up an online business. It is possible, but so much harder!
Figure out what work you really want to do. Don’t do it only for the lifestyle (unless you can afford to not work at all of course!).
My main advice would be: go for it, try it. See for yourself if this is the life you want. Look behind the glossy social media pictures! And it is ok if you decide that this is not want you want after all!
What are your next travel plans?
I am leaving Australia in a few days. My next bigger stop will be a month in Vietnam. I am really looking forward to discovering the north, where I haven’t been yet, but also going back to Hanoi and Halong bay! And then back to Europe for a few months, starting with Paris and then travelling around over the summer.
And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (or cheesy) quote you’d like to share?
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. No matter how long the journey or how difficult the task. Break it down and take the first step. And don’t forget to get the help you need. You don’t have to do it all alone.
Sadly, mental health is still a bit of a taboo topic. Digital Nomads struggle with it just like anyone else, so let’s break that taboo and talk about it. Please share in the comments or get in touch with Sonia.
You can find Sonia on Facebook, and Instagram . Check out her website and get in touch with her if you have any questions or would like to get her help.
Welcome to our brand new Quick Tip series on the Digital Nomad Girls Blog! Every week we will bring you simple, quick tips that will help you run your location independent business. How to Save Time & Sanity Using Email Templates.
Please put up your hand if you’ve ever wanted to throw your laptop at the wall because you were struggling with a niggling tech issue for hours and hours.
Is your hand up? Thought so.
And often all it takes to figure out your annoying tech problem is to ask one of your clever friends and suddenly you can’t even remember why you struggled with it so much in the first place.
Like every Digital Nomad, I have been there so many times and that’s why I thought it would be awesome to share all these little tidbits of wisdom with you, to help you save time and sanity. In bite-sized chunks, or quick tips.
The first one I’d like to share is a tip my awesome friend Susannah, a freelance writer, shared with me today.
No matter if you’re running your own business, are a freelancer or a remote employee, emails will probably take up a good chunk of your time each day. And often it feels like we’re writing and sending the same email over and over again, right?
Well, that’s because we often are doing exactly that. Today I found out that you can save emails that you use all the time directly in Gmail to re-use future, which is super helpful if you get the same question or request over and over again. And I’ll quickly share with you how that works so you can save a ton of time each week and not feel like you’re going crazy repeating yourself.
So here’s our first quick tip: How to Save Time & Sanity by Using Email Templates
Step 1: Activate Gmail Templates
Click the gear icon in Gmail and click on Settings
Then click on Labs in the top navigation bar
In the search bar type ‘canned responses’, then tick the enable box and save the changes.
Step 2: Create an Email Template
Click on ‘compose’ to write a new email.
Write the text you’d like to use as a template, then click on the little grey downward arrow in the bottom right corner, select ‘Canned Responses’ and then ‘New Canned Response’.
You can then give it a name and hit save.
Your template will now be saved and you can insert it into any new email. Here’s how:
Step 3: Using your Email Template
Click ‘Compose’ to write a new email. Then click the little grey downward arrow in the bottom right corner, ‘Canned Responses’ and under Insert pick the saved template you’d like to use.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to change your Subject Line because Gmail will automatically use the name you gave your template email. That could be awkward, right?
Then finish customising your email, add your recipient and hit send.
Ta da!! You just set up and sent your first template email. Woohoo!
I really hope this tip was helpful for you and will save you heaps of time in the future. Do you have any handy Gmail tips? Please share them in the comments below!
International Women’s Day is here and what better opportunity to take some time and celebrate some incredible women with our favourite 10 Inspiring Travel Quotes by Female Travellers. Under the theme of #BeBoldForChange IWD will raise awareness of pressing issues that still need to be tackled: equal pay, fundamental rights for women, control over our own bodies, trafficking, and many more.
This year we’ve seen millions of women around the world come together, raise their voices and stand up for themselves and their rights. And as hard and disheartening it can feel at times that we are still fighting age-old battles, there’s also a lot to be proud of and thankful for.
As digital nomad girls, we all have in common our love and passion for travel. It’s important to remember how privileged we are to be in a position to explore this beautiful planet, to travel (mostly) freely and safely and have millions of other female travellers to connect with.
So, we thought this would be a great day to celebrate some famous female travellers and role models by sharing some of their most powerful and inspiring travel quotes.
This one is for all the adventurettes, explorer babes, travel girls, wander women and nomad girls among us. We hope you get some inspiration from these quotes, not only today but the rest of the year too!
“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.” – Virginia Woolf
“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” – Amelia Earhart
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” — Susan Sontag
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney
“The more I travelled the more I realised that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends” – Shirley MacLaine
“Travel is the frivolous part of serious lives, and the serious part of frivolous ones.” – Anne Sophie Swetchine
What other female travel quotes do you love and inspire you? Please share them with us in the comments!
And if you’d like to celebrate International Women’s Day in style, read our top tips here 🙂
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As Digital Nomads we have to juggle a lot at once: working (often for ourselves), travelling to wonderful new places always searching for good wifi wherever we go. We also have to stay productive, keep in touch with family and friends and get all our work done so we can enjoy ourselves and explore new countries.
But don’t despair, because the secret to it all is in the name: digital nomad. We have access to a host of incredible tools that helps us stay focused, organised and on track. Here are our top 13 productivity tools for Digital Nomad Girls:
Let’s get started!
There are hundreds if not thousands of project management tools available and it’s so hard to pick the right one. Don’t worry about looking through them all because we’ve picked our favourite ones for you: Asana and Trello.
Trello is available for free for smartphone and desktop and you can use it to basically organise your whole life. Based around project boards and cards, it’s a visual tool that is simple, flexible and even fun. You can add different members if you’re working on a collaboration, assign due dates to different tasks that are added to the integrated project calendar. Team members can use the message function which makes communication quick and easy. Plan any project, from your start-up to your next visa run or family holiday with Trello.
Asana is another free tool that is really popular for project management, especially if you’re working with a team. Asana is list-based but now also offers card view, similar to Trello. We really like that you can set recurring tasks, assign tasks to team members and set due dates for each task which then show up in one central calendar. It’s definitely a powerful tool and can help you organise anything from projects to your blog or a whole launch.
While Trello is perfect to plan any project, Evernote is like your virtual filing cabinet. Need to keep a receipt? Snap a pic of it and file it away in Evernote. Lost that business card of that awesome girl you met at a networking event? No problem, because you’ve snapped a pic and filed it away carefully. You can add to-do lists and create folders for every aspect of your life. Don’t worry about carrying important documents around with you, they are all safely stowed away in Evernote.
If you’re like me you’ve spent many hours of your life cursing at the screen because you can’t remember a password. We are told we should use unique passwords for every site we log in to, but seriously, there’s just no way to remember a million passwords without help.
But don’t worry, your life will be much easier soon. Introducing LastPass, a FREE password management system, that helps you keep track of all your passwords and even helps you create safe ones, so you don’t have to use your birthday anymore. It’s easy to use and even available for smartphone for a small fee. Never fight with your passwords again.
Work Hard Anywhere is an Android and iOS app for freelancers, entrepreneurs and digital nomads to find wifi around the world. It’s basically a map that shows you cafes, libraries and coworking spaces around you with reliable wifi. They currently feature over 7800 places with wifi in over 1700 cities around the world. Users can add their favourite working spots, so the database is constantly growing.
If you have social media channels for your business you will want to use an app like Hootsuite to schedule your posts. Especially while in transit it can be a huge hassle to keep track of all your posts and platforms. And if you have to add different time zones into the equation it get’s really messy.
Hootsuite is free to use and will help you manage all your social media work, even if you’re on a 30 hour flight or on a multi-day jungle trek.
Nomad List is a great online resource that assigns a “Nomad Score” to destinations. The criteria taken into account are availability of high speed wifi, cost of living, weather and safety. It’s a great starting point to research potential new destinations and gives you 3 different monthly costs of living: local, expat and nomad. From our experience a realistic budget usually lies between the nomad and expat costs.
Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers on the market, and for good reason. One of the features that makes Chrome so awesome for Digital Nomads is the extensive library of free Chrome extensions. We will soon feature our favourite Chrome extensions in a separate post, but we wanted to mention a really cool one here: 1-click-timer is a super simple timer that is used for the Pomodoro technique.
Pomodoro means you set yourself a timer (a simple kitchen timer works, but is a bit cumbersome to travel with) for a certain amount of time and then work on one task or project without distractions for that amount of time. Between two Pomodoros you take a break of a few minutes to rest your eyes, and recharge a bit. The 1-Click-Timer extension is one of the best timer apps we found and is one of our favourite productivity tools for digital nomad girls.
It’s so hard to pick just one communication tool, but Slack is definitely our favourite one. It’s super simple, works on all devices and lets you streamline your messages by using different channels. Slack is really easy to set up and free to use. You can also customise your notification settings for each channel to make sure you take some time off and unplug once in a while.
What did we DO before Google Drive? I seriously have no idea. Google Drive is one the best tools to store your documents and files on the cloud. You only need a Gmail address to log-in to your Google Drive and Google even gives you 15GB for free, which is plenty. It’s such a great tool to share documents and photos with people and you can adjust the privacy of each document or folder separately which is often really helpful. Google Docs and Sheets basically replaces Word and Excel and all your files can be accessed from around the world. If you’re not using it yet, you’re missing out.
Another one of those tools where you ask yourself how you ever managed without it. Calendly is a simple appointment scheduling tool. You create a profile, set up different types of meetings (15-minutes, 30-minutes etc) and fill in your availability. Then you send out your custom Calendly link to your clients and friends and they can pick a time that works for them and book an appointment with you.
The best feature is that Calendly takes your time zone and that of the person booking the appointment into account. This means never missing skype calls again or showing up on (your) time just to realise the other person is still asleep. It has a free version to sue that supports one type of event (I use the 30-minute event) or you can pay a fee to enable more events and unlock other features.
If you’re not using Zapier yet, you’re seriously losing out on some productivity magic. Zapier basically lets you connect all your favourite tools, helping to automate your processes. For example, if you’re using Typeform (which you should) for a survey or as an application form, you can create a Zap (that’s what the connections are called) between Typeform and Trello (for example). Every time someone fills in your Typeform, Zapier automatically creates a new card on a list on board that you specified. And that’s just one of millions of options!
An oldie but goodie, Skype is still one of the best ways to communicate with people and whole teams world wide. No matter if you want to call your gran for her birthday or if you have an important conference call with your boss back home, use Skype for hassle free audio and video calls. You can even call landlines and mobile phones for a fraction of what it would cost to use your mobile or a hotel phone. Skype also lets you hold calls with multiple people and you can share your screen which can be super useful.
With so many awesome (and free!) tools you can stay productive and save precious time that is better spent exploring and making new friends. Are you using any of these tools? Or do you have other favourite tools? Please share in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Some of the links used here are affiliate links. What does that mean? It means that at no cost to you, we will receive a small commission if you use our link to sign up to some of these tools. We never recommend any tools that we don’t love to use ourselves. So, It’s basically a win-win 🙂
In our Digital Nomad Girls interview series we feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.
This month we talked to Aline Dahmen, founder of Nomad Soulmates
I’m Aline, 23 years old and founder of Nomad Soulmates. I’m currently living in Chiang Mai for the next 2 months.
What is your location independent job?
I’m in a transition at the moment. I started as a Virtual Assistant, which I’m still doing, but also offering network marketing and coaching for community building. I’m also running the largest facebook community and startup for single remote workers called Nomad Soulmates, which I absolutely love!
You started a community called Nomad Soulmates. Please tell us a bit about it.
Nomad Soulmates is online dating for remote workers, digital nomads and location independent people. It is a quick growing and really awesome community in the facebook group. Most are very much involved in the developing process, helping us to shape an app that suits their needs. Together we are launching our Indiegogo Campaign for this app on February 14th.
How did you get the idea? Is there a personal story behind it?
Absolutely. I totally understand what others struggle with. I had a boyfriend for 5 years back home, but our values changed over time – I wanted to travel, see the world, bootstrap my own business and live independently. That was something he was not into. Also, a long distance relationship just would not have worked out.
Love has its own rules, but in general I found it difficult to find someone who was willing to join me on a location independent adventure. I was not really searching for a nomadic partner after we broke up, but at a big nomad conference I realized that many other nomads had problems similar to mine.
My first thoughts was “is there is an easier way to bring nomadic singles together”. My excitement for this idea also comes from our community. It’s simply my tribe and I love working closely with them. A lot of people are supporting our mission, which has been a mindblowing experience.
Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy or were they supportive?
Well, I didn’t study or have training back home after I finished school, which is why most were not really happy with my decision. They were scared that I had taken the ‘wrong’ path for my future, and for personal and financial security. My parents had a hard time with this, as I said no to all of those things and went to Asia with an 8kg backpack instead.
Over time I was able to support myself with the freelance work that I did, I learned everything myself and found a great passion in Nomad Soulmates, especially when it comes to marketing and building our community. It’s great to see that my parents now really believe in what I’m doing and are proud of what I’ve already accomplished.
My dad is an engineer and he would send me ideas how to market our crowdfunding campaign via whatsapp, which I find super lovely. And my mum is a pro in design and wording so she gave me her opinion on the app screens. I guess, little by little, they are understanding that this lifestyle makes me a very happy person.
What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work?
Hmm, I have a lot of great spots, but maybe this simple treehouse in Ko Lanta, right in front of the beach, was one of my favorites. At the moment, I’m a huge fan of Chiang Mai’s coffee shop culture.
What do you struggle with most when you travel and work?
Saying goodbye so often to many great friends. I know with many that I’ll cross paths again, but still – it sucks. Also when it comes to working, the worst feeling is working long hours but not being productive – I struggle to just stop, get a fresh mind, and then finish work later. It’s something I want to work on.
How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling (apart from Nomad Soulmate)?
I’m a great fan of offline connections and I’m an extrovert at heart. So I love going to conferences, events, hangouts and more that are happening around me. Plus I love connecting with locals, so I’m making a great effort to actually make local friends and learn about their country and culture.
What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack on her trips?
OMG, I’m so excited about my new bluetooth headphones! I can walk away from my laptop and still listen to my music – it is revolutionary to me, but not a new thing haha.
What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?
Passion played such a big role in my mindset that made it actually happen – for me there was no plan B at all. Be passionate about it, always be open to learn and make it to one of your first priorities to earn your first dollar online. Everything else comes (almost) automatically. You feel a lot more confidence for sure! Also, be prepared for hard times – I had to face very difficult times (disagreement with my family in the beginning, a lack of money, extra work pressure, different time zones etc.).
What are your next travel plans?
That’s a good question. Burning season is arriving soon in Chiang Mai. I might flee to Vietnam as my sisters will be there on holiday. Would be really awesome to catch up with them. But to be honest, I have no idea yet where I actually want to go next.
And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (or cheesy) quote you’d like to share?
I truly believe that whatever you wanna achieve in life, it’s will happen if you envisage your dreams and stick to them. But it’s not easy. Every single baby step I have taken so far was actually made so I could be here in Asia now, creating my own projects, AND enjoying life! I truly believe every journey is made by your own decisions. Choose wisely.
Do you find it hard to meet like-minded singles while travelling? Please share in the comments!
You can find Aline on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram . Check out Nomad Soulmates and check out her Indiegogo Campaign here.