This post is a follow up to the post I shared a few months ago about some of the changes I’ve been making in order to cut my carbon footprint, you can read it here. I want to show that, yes, a digital nomad can be a climate activist, an no, we’re not all hypocrites.
Also, this post is going to be a bit rough around the edges as I’m writing this the evening of the 6th October 2019, before heading down to London in the morning (by train 😉 to join the International Rebellion by the global climate justice movement, Extinction Rebellion. And I still need to pack → see classic nomad problems. ?♀️
This morning I woke up super excited, super nervous and also a little scared, I’m not gonna lie.
Am I a hypocrite?
See, for the past 6 years (nearly to the day) I’ve been travelling around the world with my boyfriend, first as backpackers, then as working-holiday-ers and for the past 4+ years as digital nomads. So I’m not going to beat around the bush: my carbon footprint has been huge. Those planes burn a lot of fossil fuels. ✈️
And don’t get me wrong, since waking up to this reality, I’ve felt both guilty and like a hypocrite. Because I’ve always seen myself as a bit of an environmentalist, not only because I used to volunteer for Greenpeace.
But you don’t have to worry, this post is not about guilt-tripping any of my fellow digital nomads into changing your ways, stopping to fly or giving up this lifestyle. Not at all. We’ve all worked hard to create a life we love and we should be proud of that. ?
But I do want to talk about the responsibility I’ve personally been feeling to take a closer look at my lifestyle, how it has evolved over the past 6 years and whether it’ll be sustainable (both environmentally, physically and mentally) to keep it up this way. And what exciting ways there are to adjust it (this is for a future blog post).
You see, I love travelling. I still do and I probably always will. It’s one of the greatest pleasures and privileges of my life to be able to travel and see this amazing planet. ?
And that’s also why I feel so strongly that I need to play a role in trying to save it. There’s simply too much at risk not to step up now.
We only have around 8.5 years of carbon budget to burn as a society, after that we’re heading straight for at least a 2°C warming (and that’s a conservative estimate) at which point feedback loops and tipping points will kick off leading to runaway climate change which we won’t be able to stop anymore.
Now, my natural digital nomad approach to a problem of this scale would usually be to book a plane ticket for as far away as possible. I’m not kidding. It would be much easier and much more fun to simply run away and try to ignore this.
But once you see the scale of the crisis, it’s impossible to unsee. So here I am.
In Wiltshire, UK. At my in-laws home packing up to spend the next week in London, joining the International Rebellion through non-violent direct action.
The perks of being a nomad
And after the rollercoaster of emotions had worn off a little bit, I realised how grateful I am that I created a business and lifestyle that allows me to spend a week away from my laptop (almost a whole week, we’ll be running a live event from the Rebellion together with my brilliant friend Sophia Cheng, read her Titanic-themed blog post about becoming an activist here) and join this movement.
And it’s my digital nomad lifestyle that allowed me to do this. So yes, a digital nomad can be a climate activist. ??✊
So if any fellow digital nomads are reading this who wondered if you can take part in any of the actions, marches, and protests happening around the world or whether you are hypocrites, I want to let you know that we’re no more hypocrites than everyone else living in this broken system. Yes, individual action matters, a LOT. But without the systemic change needed, it won’t be enough. So let’s start there as time is running out. (watch my friend Sophia’s Stand Up for the Planet comedy routine, she touches upon this topic in a hilarious way ?).
As the saying goes, we don’t need 1 climate activist doing everything perfectly, we need millions of climate activists doing things imperfectly.
So wherever you are in the world, get involved. Give a talk at a coworking space. Join a protest. Volunteer to admin a local Facebook Group for XR or any other movement. I believe there’s a role for each of us and yes, a digital nomad can be a climate activist.
There are so many things we can do together imperfectly. Now’s the time.
I will write again after my time in London to keep you posted about what’s going on.
Love and rage,
I can’t even believe it’s been three years since I started Digital Nomad Girls and the Facebook Group. What started as a fun way to meet new people and ask some questions has turned into a full-time passion project, business and movement of girls from around the world. I get so many lovely emails and messages every day and one of the questions I get asked all the time is “How can I get involved in the DNG Community”. Well, I thought it’s about time that I put some ideas together for all of you who want to get stuck in!
Of course, you can decide how involved you want to be. Maybe you love organising meetups, or you’re more of a quiet person who prefers to hang out in our Facebook Group. Maybe you want more in-depth connections and accountability in our DNG Inner Circle. There’s no right or wrong way, so pick and choose whatever works best for you!
10 Fun ways to get involved in the DNG Community:
1. Join our FREE Facebook Group!
That’s definitely the starting point and also how it all began. I created the DNG Facebook Group in August 2015 as a way to connect with like-minded girls who also wanted to become digital nomads and to ask them lots of questions and hear their stories. Fast-forward three years and we’re a bustling community with over 17k girls from literally all corners of the planet.
Every day there are interesting conversations about all aspects of the nomad lifestyle, important feminist topics, or travelling in general. We have pretty strict rules (read them here before you join) and our admins make sure everyone plays by them. That way we make sure the FB group stays a fun, safe and supportive place for new and established nomad girls alike.
2. Download our free motivational desktop wallpaper for 24/7 inspiration
Feeling like you could do with a little inspiration while working at your laptop? Download one of our 5 free motivational desktop wallpapers with pretty photos and cute quotes. My favourite is the flamingo wallpaper…or maybe the one with the palm trees…not sure! Which do you like?
3. Keep in touch by email and receive our awesome weekly newsletter every Friday
“Another newsletter?” I hear you yawn, but don’t worry, this is a fun one! I started the newsletter as a way to keep everyone up to date on our events inside the FB group and local meetups, and now I also share inspiration, blog posts and my own journey of running a location independent business. If you want the rundown on what’s going on, but don’t have time to check in to Facebook every day, sign up here to stay in the loop.
4. Check out our interview series
I think there’s no better way to get inspired and learn about the digital nomad lifestyle than reading real-life stories from real-life digital nomad girls who are already living their dream. A great starting point is our 3-part blog post “50 DNGs share their Online Jobs”, where we show you more than 50 jobs of real girls in our community that you can do from anywhere in the world.
5. Join the DNG Inner Circle for more support & accountability
Whenever I ask other Digital Nomad Girls what their biggest struggle is, it’s usually loneliness and a lack of accountability. I totally get it, it’s hard to stay productive and motivated when you’re your own boss and move around a lot. That was the main reason I created the DNG Inner Circle, I wanted to create a special place for those of you who want to get more out of DNG, like accountability, learning, and working together. I call it the Virtual Coworking Community that travels with you!
We run virtual coworking sessions together, a guest expert creates a mini-course on a different topic every month, we have monthly goal setting, travel talks, live Q&As, monthly habit challenges, and much more! If you’re ready to join us, the doors will open soon. Sign up to the waitlist here.
6. Tag us in your nomad photos on Instagram
Are you more of a ‘grammer than a Facebooker? Then tag us in all your wonderful nomadic and adventurous pics on Instagram (#digitalnomadgirls). You can find us @digitalnomadgirls and we love re-posting our favourite shots from all around the world. I especially like the #viewfrommyoffice kinda pics and showing the reality of the DN lifestyle, not just droolworthy Insta shots (although we love to share those once in a while too!).
7. Organise a meetup in your city
Online friends are awesome, but nothing beats meeting them in real life! That’s what our local DNG meetups are for. If you’d love to meet girls in a new city, why not host one yourself? We help you setup a Facebook event, so you can share it easily and make awesome new DNG friends locally! Let us know where you’d like to host your meetup here.
8. Join us at one of our retreats
The DNG retreats were born as an idea in our Facebook Group in 2016 and just a few months later the idea turned into reality at our first ever retreat in Javea, Spain. For one week, 14 DNGs from 10 countries masterminded, coworked, explored and, most importantly, made friends for life. It was probably my favourite week ever! We’ve run 3 retreats (check out our past retreats here) in total and are planning more events starting in early 2019.
Sign up for our retreat waiting list and newsletter here so you’re among the first to find out where we’ll be heading next!
9. Share your favourite digital nomad destination
We love finding out about awesome destinations for digital nomad girls around the world. And what’s the best way to do that? Well, ask people who’ve been there of course! We have awesome mini destination guides on favourite nomad cities around the world, if you’d like to share your top destination with us, fill in the guest blogger form here.
10. Show you’re a DNG with our new Swag
After soooo many of you asked me where to get a DNG t-shirt like the ones we wear at our retreats, I finally set up a DNG Swag Shop on our website. You can now get your hands on our awesome DNG tank tops, tote bags or t-shirts, which are perfect for travel days and airport wear and identify you to other DNGs wherever you travel.
There you go! These are 10 fun ways to get involved in the DNG Community, and I’m sure there’s something for everyone! If you have other awesome ideas for DNG, why not jump into the Facebook Group and share them with me!
This is a guest post bu DNG Nadia who travels in her VW bus with her boyfriend while working as an equestrian and canine writer (yep, that’s a thing!). Nadia shared how she lives her life, stays productive and lives the tiny Vanlife for Digital Nomad Girls.
Hey Girls, I’m Nadia, but you can call me Narnia – everyone else does! And much like many of you, I’m a digital nomad – but, with a bit of a vintage twist.
You see, I travel full-time, but not in the conventional sense, instead; my preferred form of transport is a 1969 VW Adventurewagen named Red.
As well as being my wheels (of the raddest variety!), Red also happens to be my home!
Yup, that’s right, I live, work, travel, and throw tea parties out of my 7.5 sq meter home, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
The official term for my lifestyle is “Vanlife” so that would make me a “Vanlifer”, this lifestyle is pretty big, and growing fast (Unsurprising when you consider the fact that I can be anywhere in the world and not pay rent – boom!).
Today, I’m going to be talking to you guys about how it’s possible to live, work, and travel from the road.
What’s Your Day Job?
I am a specialist equestrian and canine writer, so I can be writing anything from reporting on an international horse show to helping readers choose the perfect dog breed for their family. It’s incredibly varied, and I love what I do so it rarely feels like work!
I grew up on a farm in the Yorkshire countryside, and we had quite the menagerie of animals, from horses and dogs to the not so common meerkats and llamas.
I starting writing for equestrian magazines when I was only ten-years-old, so I’ve been doing this for quite some time!
But, writing wasn’t always my full-time job, I started out in the fashion industry, then switched to the tech industry before deciding to write full-time for the complete flexibility that it offered.
What’s It Like Living Tiny?
Other than when I was eighteen years old and wanted a grand equestrian estate, I’ve always been interested in tiny living!
For some reason, it took me years to work up the courage to jump in and go for it. If I knew then what I know now, I would have started living tiny years ago.
Many of you may be thinking “Wow, 7.5 sq meters – I could never live in that”. But for the majority of you DN ladies who live out of hand luggage, let me tell you; having space to store things again like paddle boards and mountain bikes (plus three times the amount of clothing – jackpot!) is such a luxury.
How is Your Day To Day Life Different?
My daily life is pretty similar to when I lived in apartments; In the bus, we have all the comforts of home – a kitchen with sink, gas burner, fridge/freezer, a dining area with fold-out table, a living area with three-seater couch, and a bedroom area with memory foam bed!
The main difference is the fact that being in such a small space encourages you to get out more, which is one of the things that I love most about vanlife.
I used to have days where I would sit inside of my apartment working for two days straight without leaving once – crazy right?!
But now, we’re in a new town or city every few days; I wake up wanting to explore – wanting to make the most of my time in a spectacular Spanish city, or tiny French town!
How Do You Work From The Road?
The two most challenging things about working on the road are finding power and internet, but there is an easy solution for both!
We have a TP-Link Mifi with a sim card from EE that gives us 30 GB of data for £30 per month, and also a Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Battery for charging devices.
The Goal Zero takes around six hours to charge when plugged into an outlet — we charge it at coffee shops — and then gives enough power to charge a MacBook Air fully up to seven times; that means we can be wholly off-grid but still be able to work.
We do always go over the 30 GB allowance (don’t tell the fella but I think it’s from watching cute puppy videos!), but we can top-up for £15 for every additional 10 GB.
The coverage has been incredible, and in the past year there have only been three spots that we didn’t have any service, and they were all right out in the sticks.
How Do You Stay Productive?
Having been a digital nomad for most of my working life, I’m pretty good at just getting my stuff done when I need to. I love my lifestyle, so every time I have a deadline, I work towards it as though, if I miss it – the lifestyle goes away and I have to get a “normal job” because realistically if I don’t keep my clients happy, one day – I will. That keeps me hella focused.
For me, staying productive is all about having a good work/life balance. I used to work all hours of the day and night; you know what I’m talking about ladies – the hustle is real!
But now that I’ve worked my way to the top and considered an expert in my field, I can be much more picky about the projects I take on, and the hours I work. I now work three days per week, Monday through Wednesday and I’m far more productive because of it!
Every week, we have a four day weekend, because life should be filled with memories of actually living, shouldn’t it?
I want to reminisce about the time that we hiked up Table Mountain in Cape Town – or went boogie boarding down a snow-covered sand-dune in Utah.
Not just have memories of sitting in one spot sending emails and writing articles – no matter how good the writing may be, that’s not what life should be.
Where Do You Park?
Pretty much anywhere that’s out of the way! Sometimes we’ll stumble upon an amazing parking spot right on the beach, and other times we have to use apps such as Park4Night to find camper friendly parking.
This was one of the parts of vanlife that I was worried about before we got started, would we always be able to find somewhere to park? Would the police wake us up in the middle of the night telling us to move on?
In fact, since getting the bus we’ve had nothing but friendly locals coming by to take pictures and ask us about the bus! The police usually just smile and wave, and have never asked us to move.
From the many people we’ve talked to along our journey, it seems that of the biggest barriers for many potential vandwellers is the fear factor of parking – it was for me too – but seriously ladies, it’s not a problem.
So You Don’t Have a Shower or Bathroom?
Nope. But one of the absolute best things about living in a VW is that no matter what, I have to go to the gym to get a shower! You might be confused about why that’s a great thing, when many of you cana walk into your very own bathroom and take a shower right here, right now.
Well, it’s because it is the absolute easiest way to make yourself go work out, I don’t get to think about whether I feel like working out, or whether I’m just too tired today, I’ve just gotta get up and go!
We use public bathrooms, cafe bathrooms, and pretty much any kind of bathroom that’s available. It’s very rare that we’re not able to find a proper bathroom, but when that does happen I have a GoGirl which is a handy little device that makes it possible for ladies to pee in a bottle – so ladylike I know, but when you gotta go, you gotta go!
Do You Cook In Your Bus?
You betcha! We have a single gas burner as well as a fridge/freezer and a very sizeable pantry (well, by VW standards!), so we do tend to cook a lot of our own meals.
I had to get a bit creative when we moved into the bus to find recipes for one-pot meals as I was very much used to having four burners.
We could cook one thing at a time and use multiple pans – but as we have a 10 liter water tank for washing up, we try to be as streamlined as possible with our cooking.
Other than that, it really hasn’t felt any different to cooking in a regular kitchen. I have enough counter space for chopping veg and if I need more – I just pop up our dining table and use that.
We don’t have an oven, so sometimes I miss baking, but whenever we’re visiting friends and family – we make the most of their kitchens and bake up a storm which tides me over until my next big baking day!
Is It An Affordable Lifestyle
Hell to the YES! If you do it right, vanlife can work on a tiny budget. I’d go as far as to say that, in my opinion, it’s the best lifestyle for digital nomads!
If you’re starting out, you can afford to travel and see the world while building up a client base, and if you’re a more seasoned DN’er – then you can put money aside for your retirement, or splurge on some mega trips every now and then!
The most significant costs associated with vanlife are gas, insurance, and repairs! Then you’ve got food, gym memberships, and wherever else you choose to spend your money.
My boyfriend and I spend approx £1500 per month for both of us to travel full-time in Red, but I know we could do it for way less if we wanted to – we’re vegan, and coffee addicts so a chunk of our budget gets used up in those areas.
Do You Ever Get Me-Time?
Absolutely. Only working three days per week means that I have plenty of time to read, drink tea, and go on epic adventures. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a workaholic, so I do struggle to go completely work free for those four days, but I’m working on it!
My boyfriend and I were warned by ALL of our family members how much we’d get on each other’s nerves living in such a small space, but having already travelled together pretty much 24/7 for four years before buying our bus – we’ve learnt to be good at communicating when we need alone time.
So, even though we’re in the same little bus – he’ll play video games, and I’ll read – it’s actually quite lovely being alone, but together.
So Your Life Is One Big Endless Adventure?
Pretty much! Although I think everyone assumes that it’s all sunshine and rainbows – grass is always greener and all! But, we have to run errands, pay bills, and get our work done just as much as the next guy.
The difference is that we took the time to design and follow through on creating a life that makes us at our happiest. Which for us, means spending our time outdoors in the sunshine, going on adventures, and exploring as much of this great big world as we can!
Happy Travelling xx
Nadia is a badass digital nomad, currently travelling the world in her vintage VW, working three days per week as a specialist equine and canine writer, and spending the rest of her time going on adventures!
She recently launched a blog all about her journey to find the perfect work/life balance and say yes to life. To read more of her caffeine-fueled ramblings, and to find out how you too could live the vanlife – head over to SayingYes.is or follow her on Instagram @SayingYesIs!