Meet Amanda Smith – the novelist exploring the challenging side of travel, reintegration

Meet Amanda Smith – the novelist exploring the challenging side of travel, reintegration

In our Member’s Spotlight series we feature interviews with the lovely girls in our community! This week we talked to Amanda, Novelist!

Hi Amanda! Please tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m from Australia, but yearly vacations didn’t suffice so I set off on a two-year adventure around the world. I’ve visited over 50 countries, lived in Bali for six months and now I’m hoping to call New York City my home.

Digital Nomad Girl Amanda Smith – the novelist exploring the challenging side of travel, reintegration

 

What is your location independent job?

I’m a freelance journalist, copywriter, creative writer and soon-to-be self-published author. I write conversational, humanised content for a variety of PR, marketing and advertising agencies, as well as editorials and feature stories for magazines, news platforms, websites, and blogs.

I’ve had the honour to work with over 120 clients in Australia and globally. Some of my clients include News Corp, Google, TedX, South Australian Tourism Commission, Royal Caribbean, and Japan Tourism.

 

How did you get into this line of work? How can others do the same?

Yes, I’ve always worked in communications. I studied public relations, then returned to university to complete my masters in journalism.

 

What motivated you to pursue a life as a travel writer?

I love travel because it’s the best way I learn – about myself, other people, and the world. I wanted my writing to be a platform to convey my worldview (and encourage others to understand theirs).  

Digital Nomad Girl Amanda Smith – the novelist exploring the challenging side of travel, reintegration

I’ve always had an affinity for people and places. Writing became a way for me to make sense of the world. I’ve travelled extensively, so fusing my passions, travel and writing, was a natural progression for me.

I’m not just a travel columnist for News Corp (among other brands), I’m also an essayist for Loco Travel Magazine – a platform I launched to satisfy my truth-seeking thirst for human-centred depictions of travel.

 

Can you go into a little more detail about this ‘truth-seeking’ part of you?

We travel-loving ladies are all guilty of scrolling through Instagram and getting FOMO for a place we haven’t been. But how often do we see photos that capture the come-down effect of travel?

Well, for starters, there’s nothing exciting about being delayed and waiting hours in an airport, draped across the departures floor.

Because of this, we tend to form a skewed idea of what travel is. And more importantly, how it changes us on a deeper level. I wanted to use these lessons to empower my stories.

 

What challenges have you faced as a traveller? (How did you overcome them?)

Interestingly, of all the journeys I’ve been on, both creatively and in my travels, it was the emotional process of ‘coming home’ that was most challenging, and, as I later discovered, the most rewarding. What began as a cathartic travel debrief to help understand my emotions upon returning home, turned into a book, The Inner Fire.

It’s an exploration of what I call the “phoenix cycle” experienced by all travellers: New experiences growing into great joy then fading, followed by absence and grief, and then back into something new.

Western society teaches us that loss equates to grief. Travelling teaches us that the Little Grief is everywhere; that this grief isn’t about experiencing a death of some part of us.

I explore the question of ‘what if this is just the spark of something new?’, and answer it through my two years living in the “phoenix cycle.” Peppered with the lives and experiences of others who have experienced life-changing shifts, this book takes you on a journey: An emotional ride through some of life’s deepest, sometimes unexpected, feelings.

Culture shock is a well-used term and something that, as a society, we know to prepare for. But what about the opposite – reverse culture shock? Whether you’re a leisure traveller, volunteer, a digital nomad or expat, the psychological journey of ‘coming home’ is a topic that doesn’t get spoken about enough.

Although it’s not fully understood, almost every traveller experiences it in some part.

Travelling is so much more than sightseeing. It’s an unpeeling of layers, as I like to call it – a removing of the lens. All experiences we have accumulate and change our identity.

Digital Nomad Girl Amanda Smith – the novelist exploring the challenging side of travel, reintegration 4

Often, we don’t realise how much we’ve grown until we return. We come back with an evolved character, yet we’re expected to slip back into our old environment, like nothing has changed.

 

Tell us a bit about your book:

I use personal anecdotes to colour this part-narrative, part self-help book, which weaves through themes such as home, place, loneliness, identity construction, memories, addictions, and psyche. I introduce the voice of both travellers and non-travellers, because we all go through major identity shifts in life – something that I wanted to draw comparisons between.

The Inner Fire provides readers with frameworks and suggestions on how to overcome detachment in an empowering way, using real-world examples and psychological input.

For example, one theory I explore is the W-Curve Hypothesis Mode, which details the four phases to leaving and coming home: The honeymoon, crisis, recovery and adjustment.

Upon returning ‘home’, the traveller experiences a honeymoon period where they are the centre of attention, for a short time, reconnecting with old friends and spending time with family.

Everything is still new, something that the traveller has become accustomed to while being away. Yet cultural differences and the stresses of re-entry soon replace the honeymoon period. This can happen quickly and plunge them into severe, reverse culture shock.

Readers will learn about psychological adaptation and can use my findings to help their own journey.

The Inner Fire will be released early next year.

 

What advice would you give long-term travellers who struggle with this reverse culture shock?

We all go through it. Whether you returned from a two-week trip or have relocated and are visiting family, the emotional journey of ‘coming home’ is a process every traveller experiences. So, just remember that you’re not alone in this, and it doesn’t mean that you won’t reconnect with your culture. Sometimes, it just takes time.  

 

And what advice would you give a girlfriend who wanted to start out as a traveller?

Go for it girl! It’ll give you gifts that you never would have imagined. But, try to avoid going in with an idealised view of the lifestyle. Like everything, it has its downsides too.

Digital Nomad Girl Amanda Smith – the novelist exploring the challenging side of travel, reintegration 2

Make sure to follow my character-driven travel essays on my travel platform: https://www.locotravelmagazine.com.

For business enquiries, contact me via my creative writing business: http://www.amandasmithwriter.com.au.

 

Quick Fire Round:

When I feel lonely, Iremind myself that there’s a difference between loneliness and being alone. Usually, I’m not lonely, I’m just physically alone.

My favourite location for travelling workers isI fell in love with Lisbon, Portugal, last year.

The one item I always pack is my MacBook.

My favourite tool/app/resource isto be honest, I love checking out local Facebook groups whenever I get to a new city or country.

In 5 years time I want tobe speaking on a TedX stage as a thought-leader on the topic of reverse culture shock and how movement affects our identities.

My all-time favourite quote is

love the life you live, live the life you love.

Thank you SO much Amanda for sharing your story with us! If you want to find out more about Amanda you can connect with her on Travel Platform or Website.

Amanda Smith Digital Nomad Girl Novelist Inner Fire Reintegration Travel book pin

Thank you so much, Amanda, for sponsoring this blog interview ahead of your upcoming book launch! We wish you all the best with your launch. It’s also coming at a great time because I think as digital nomads, a lot of us are familiar with the struggle of reverse culture shock when returning to our home countries.

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Deya – Project and Content Manager

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Deya – Project and Content Manager

In our brand new Member’s Spotlight series we feature interviews with our lovely DNG Inner Circle members! This month we talked to Deya, Project and Content Manager!

Hi Deya – please tell us a bit about yourself!

Hi everyone! My name is Deya. 🙂 I’m German/Spanish from my dad’s side and Taiwanese from my mom’s side, so I was born into a very favorable-for-nomadism life. I was flying before I could walk, and we moved around a lot growing up. Nowadays, I’m based in Munich, Germany, freelancing full time and travel throughout the year!

deya member spotlight project content manager digital nomad girls

Deya says this is her default state: comfy couch, concentrated face, and laptop in lap

 

What is your location independent job?

I’m a Project & Content Manager, which basically means that I help online entrepreneurs with their digital content (think blogs, websites, podcasts, courses, membership sites, etc..)

I help them with a bit of everything: building out their content processes, managing the day-to-day workings of their products, setting up project management tools, managing small teams, developing project launch timelines, proofing all types of online content, etc.

 

How did you get into this line of work? How can others do the same?

It actually took a long while before I stumbled onto this. When I first started exploring the possibility of freelance, I tried absolutely EVERYTHING, and I really mean, everything. I did voice-overs, copyediting, proofreading, graphic design, translation – yeah, I know. I just wanted to try ALL the things. I was essentially dipping my toes into all the ponds I could find to see which felt the best for my interests and skills.

I think a lot of times when I talk to people who are interested in working online or living the ‘digital nomad’ life, they’re either overwhelmed by where to start or overwhelmed by the options available. I get that!

Analysis by paralysis is no stranger to my over-thinking ways. But honestly – just take that first tiny, tiny step. Apply to ONE gig, write to just ONE potential person you’d be interested in working with, or just take ONE course in the field to see if it’s how you imagine it to be. It’s okay if you don’t end up enjoying the work, it’s okay if it doesn’t end up working out; the least you can do is just try.

There’s no harm in trying, and there’s no harm in testing the waters to see what you’d be interested in. To continue the analogy, I’m now wading in the pond of project and content management, and absolutely loving it. All it took was that first little step!

deya digital nomad girls member spotlight germany

 

What motivated you to pursue a life as a digital nomad?

I think growing up, I was very privileged in that I was able to experience a lot of cultures and a lot of different countries. We moved around a lot, so I ended up at international schools where we were studying with people from all over the world. It was the best. Country Information Days at school meant going classroom to classroom, tasting delicious food from all over the world (aka. the best week ever).

As I grew older, I fell into that stressful rat race path of going to university, doing internships, getting into a good job, etc.. It was after doing two full-time intense internships that I realized ‘Hmmm… perhaps this is not the right path for me because I feel like it’s literally sucking my soul out of my body?‘ So that’s when I got to work – googling, researching, experimenting. Any resources I could find on anything digital nomad, online business or working remotely related, I devoured.

In my head, I felt that there was no alternative. I didn’t think I could sustainably live my life happily doing the traditional path that everyone else was following; I knew I had to do whatever it took to make this other path work, to put freedom back into my life.

So it took a lot of late nights and weekends working 4-5 hours/day online, building things up, but eventually, it was enough money and reassurance for myself that it was feasible enough to do full-time. I feel extremely grateful and so lucky that I found this path and that I was able to find my way through the jungle that is the online world.

 

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy? Were they supportive?

I think I was more freaked out than anyone, to be completely honest. I was really worried about what people would think, about failing and what other people would say, which is all ridiculous because almost nobody is thinking about your life as much as you are. Life is too short; don’t let others’ opinions keep you from pursuing something you think may be right for you!

My family was curious but also very supportive, and my friends were a little weirded-out at first (because it’s so out of the norm in Asia and Germany) but they are supportive now as well. Just make sure to always keep in contact with everyone!

I think my family and friends were also supportive because I didn’t really share it all very publicly until I was already pretty underway with my freelancing; once I was making money, it was a proven thing and there wasn’t much that could stress my family out. I was kind of like ‘Oh, by the by, I’ve been doing this for a few months now and it’s been going great. ANYWAY. What are you up to?’ (It was a little sneaky of me.)

 

What challenges have you faced as a digital nomad and how did you overcome them?

I think every time I go to a new country, it takes me a while to settle in and find my groove. I think my default reaction is always panic and worry, so it takes me a little bit till I set up properly and figure the city out. That’s always a mini challenge for myself; I adapt well and I make friends quickly, but that initial stage of being somewhere where you’re 100% unfamiliar with anything is a real test to yourself and how comfortable you are with being uncomfortable. I’m still working on it!

deya lisbon digital nomad girls member spotlight

Deya in Lisbon this past June!

I also struggle with literally traveling and working, which is so ironic because that’s what being a digital nomad is all about. It’s so hard to work while you’re running around airports or sitting on planes exhausted. It’s also hard to work in a new city when you just want to explore and experience without worrying about your work or finding good enough wifi.

The lifestyle is not quite as glamorous or ‘easy’ as people make it out to be, but it’s still hands-down the best lifestyle I could possibly imagine for myself.

It’s easy to complain about whatever lifestyle you choose for yourself, but whenever I put my lifestyle in the big picture and grand scheme of things, I can’t imagine my life any other way. It has been the BEST decision of my life – super cheesy, but has to be said.

 

You’re a member of the DNG Inner Circle, yay! Why did you decide to join?

YAY. The Inner Circle is amazing! I decided to join because working freelance from home all day can get a bit lonely at times.  I have my boyfriend, but it’s a little different to have female company. The Inner Circle filled that gap completely for me! Having a group of ladies who are in the same spot as me, and are happy to hop on a coworking session whenever and just chit chat is so much fun.

It’s so important to get involved in a community that you love to be a part of and that makes you feel good about yourself. If you’re feeling a little lonely working from home by yourself (been there, girlfriend), get involved! Get involved in a local community or a digital community that you love.

 

What is your favorite part of the Inner Circle? What makes it special?

I love the co-working sessions, I LOVE the accountability buddies. I love the events. I’ve also met up with Inner Circle members “in real life,” and they’ve become good friends of mine.

We meet up regularly to cowork and to hang out – I’m so grateful to the Inner Circle. Having that support network of girls who are doing exactly what I’m doing, who are struggling with exactly what I’m struggling with – seriously priceless. I mean – you can’t really put a price on genuine friendships, right?

Deya met Lou through the Inner Circle, and they’ve been coworking ever since!

 

Who do you think would benefit from joining the DNG Inner Circle?

Honestly, I think all girls interested in the digital nomad movement could benefit! If you’re a digital nomad, if you’re an aspiring digital nomad, if you’re just discovering the concept and think it’s pretty cool – join us in the Inner Circle!

It’s amazing to be surrounded by women who just ‘GET IT’; you don’t have to over-explain anything about your life, your interests, your values. They’re on the same page as you in life priorities, in business, in lifestyle. We’re all different and diverse in the Inner Circle but we’re so united by our same passion for travel and working remotely. It’s such a supportive and special community.

They’re SO encouraging, so creative, so interesting in their own unique ways. It’s really a one-of-a-kind community; I highly, highly recommend it.

 

What advice would you give a girlfriend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Take. that. first. step. Just do it! Stop worrying, stop overthinking, and stop overanalyzing (there’s plenty of time for that later). If you’re having trouble taking that first step, feel free to write me. I’ll hold you accountable for that first step. 😉

[By the way: If you’re not sure where to get started or which job to do online, we have a great blog article on 50+ jobs that digital nomad girls are doing to inspire you!]

 

Quick Fire Round:

The coolest thing I’ve been able to do thanks to being location-independent is… mostly related to eating all kinds of food. I feel very blessed with how much good food I’ve been able to eat on my travels: soup dumplings, pastel de natas, proper ramen, fluffy pretzels, stroopwaffles, Belgian waffles, the list is never-ending.

When I feel lonely, I… cuddle a cat!

My favourite digital nomad location is … Lisbon was absolutely amazing and such an underrated city, but I also love the good ol’ southern coast of Spain and Taiwan!

deya max digital nomad girls member spotlight

Deya and her boyfriend when they spent a month living by the beach near Almeria, Spain!

The one item I always pack is… sweatpants! There’s nothing like feeling at home anywhere in the world when you can slide on your most comfortable and soft pair of sweats.

My favourite digital nomad tool/app/resource is… the Inner Circle, duh! Favorite business tools: Asana, Photoshop, Google Drive and Slack!

In 5 years time I want to … hopefully be doing exactly what I’m doing now, just much better and much, much bigger!

My all-time favourite quote is …

“This too shall pass.” The good, the bad and everything in between – it’ll all pass eventually. So hold on to the good moments as long as you can, and don’t forget that the bad times will always pass. 

Thank you SO much Deya for sharing your story with us! If you want to find out more about Deya you can connect with her on LinkedIn or Facebook.

deya member spotlight digital nomad girls

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Anna – Copywriter and Content Marketer

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Anna – Copywriter and Content Marketer

In our brand new Member’s Spotlight series we feature interviews with our lovely DNG Inner Circle members! This month we talked to Anna Codin, Copywriter and Content Marketer!

Hi Anna! Please tell us a bit about yourself 🙂

I’m originally from Singapore, and I currently live in Costa Rica. I started out as a freelance Web Developer and Graphic Designer in 2009, but transitioned into Writing and Radio/Podcasting years later. I’ve been location independent since around 2012-ish.

Anna Codin Digital Nomad Girls Interview

 

What is your location independent job?

I’m a writer for a podcast production company and have worked alongside companies like Evernote to create their podcast. I’m also starting a new company, which focuses on content marketing and social media marketing.

Shameless plug: I’m currently doing market research for it, so if you need help with your content marketing or social media needs, message me and I’d love to interview/help you :).

 

How did you get into this line of work? How can others do the same?

It was a bit random to be honest. It basically came down to knowing a guy who knew a guy. I knew a guy who was a writer and needed help with business stuff, so I became his business partner. I knew a guy who was a program director and needed a new radio host, so I became a radio host. That’s how it started.

I know that’s not super helpful. The real takeaway though is it’s okay to try new things when you’re the least qualified person in the room. Don’t psych yourself out. You’re more capable than you realize. I thought I was going to be a web developer forever, but things change.

Here are also some other ways that other DNG’s have gotten started online!

 

What motivated you to pursue a life as a digital nomad?

I was working in customer service and I hated it. With a passion. I wasn’t making that much money, but I saved all I could and spent all my money on a solo trip to France for two weeks. It really opened my eyes as to what I could achieve with a little bit of hard work.

It led me to realize that I had choices and I was not forced to do something I hated for years and years. I could create opportunities for myself, and those opportunities meant I could travel whenever I wanted and still be a responsible adult. Back then, it was called ‘being stubborn’ not ‘being a digital nomad‘. Ha!

 

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy? Were they supportive?

I had a really hard time. My parents were definitely concerned. The friends I had did not understand what I was doing and really discouraged it. It was a very lonely and a difficult journey in the beginning, but you just gotta know what you want and not let the grenades stop you.

Anna Codin Digital Nomad Girls Interview

If you’re going through something similar, don’t let people put fear into you. You’re going to find your way back to the same conclusion eventually, you’ll just be a little bit older.

 

What challenges have you faced as a digital nomad and how did you overcome them?

When my business partner and I decided to go our separate ways, and due to the sudden departure of it all, I found myself flat broke with no clients for a couple of months. That wasn’t fun. I was able to recover from it by reaching out to old clients, but it was embarrassing. I hadn’t spoken to some of them in years.

Cultivate relationships before you need them. Don’t be like me. Check in with past clients to see how they’re doing and let them know you appreciate them. You remain top of mind in case anything comes up and you’re also able to recommend them to other amazing people. Win-win!

 

You’re a member of the DNG Inner Circle, yay! Why did you decide to join?

To meet awesome ladies and network! It’s always great to know someone in a different country and do meetups in the future.

 

What is your favorite part of the Inner Circle? What makes it special?

In the Inner Circle, I love the goal setting workshops, the expert talks/packs, and the community. I’m a bit of a lurker, but I see everything. Haha!

 

Who do you think would benefit from joining the DNG Inner Circle?

Anyone who needs more friends that ‘get it’. It’s difficult running your own business and sometimes you just need a place to vent.

 

How do you connect with and meet people when travelling?

Meetup.com has a lot of stuff happening all over the world. AirBnB now has an ‘experiences’ section where you can take local tours and meet people. I’m pretty introverted though and typically keep to myself when I travel or I’m just super focused on work/attending conferences.

 

What advice would you give a girlfriend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

A lot of people fail because they jump in with no safety net and no plan. Don’t quit your day job just yet. Develop an emergency fund of at least 6 months of living expenses and work on your business part-time.

For now, schedule in your work hours during your days off. It will be exhausting. Get diligent about managing your time and get realistic about the kinds of things you will have to give up (going out, buying things, seeing friends, etc). If you have kids, see what kinds of things you can outsource so you can focus.

When you have 2-3 clients and a year’s worth of savings, then consider quitting. If you’re consistent with your work, then expect to stop living paycheck-to paycheck around the 2-3 year mark. You’ll have the ability to travel without things exploding around the 5 year mark. This is just a general rule. Results may vary.

Today, I’m reaping the benefits of work I did years ago. It only took 9 years of trial and error.

 

Quick Fire Round:

The coolest thing I’ve been able to do thanks to being location-independent is…. Take dive lessons and see baby whales underwater.

When I feel lonely, I … Eat sushi and journal.

My favourite digital nomad location is … Nooo don’t ask me this. Montreal?

The one item I always pack is … Wireless foldable keyboard. I tend to pack minimal.

My favourite digital nomad tool/app/resource is … The app ‘Money lover‘. Tracks spending in multiple currencies.

In 5 years time I want to … Have my business up and running with a small team.

My all-time favourite quote is …

If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” – Peter F. Drucker

Thank you SO much Anna for sharing your story with us! If you want to find out more about Anna you can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Member Spotlight Anna Coding Digital Nomad Girls Pin

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Heidi – Sailor and Wellness Coach

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Heidi – Sailor and Wellness Coach

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Heidi

In our brand new Member’s Spotlight series we feature interviews with our lovely DNG Inner Circle members! This month we talked to Heidi a wellness coach who lives on a sailboat.

 

Hi Heidi! Please tell us a bit about yourself

After 25+ years as a graphic designer and web designer in Seattle, I was losing my creative spark and needed a change. I didn’t feel like graphic design was fulfilling my Dharma (life’s purpose.) LOL, I’m still searching! 🙂 My mom instilled in me an interest in holistic health and wellness. So six years ago I earned a certificate in Holistic Health & Nutrition.

I was shocked to learn how many toxins are in our food, environment, and health and beauty products, and how sick they are making us. Why don’t people know this?! I had to share what I was learning. So I started blogging and using social media to help educate others. And I’ve been blogging at happywelllifestyle.com, and health coaching since then.

My husband “Captain Kirk” and I have lived aboard our sailboat for 16-years planning our “world cruise.” Three years ago we sailed south from Seattle to get WARM, and I’ve been working location independent ever since. We are currently living in Mexico with our two cats, Tosh & Tikka, and hope to continue sailing south to Panama and beyond next winter.

What is your location independent job?

I wear a few different hats. I still do a bit of graphic design for long-term clients. I am also a US sales consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies, organic health and beauty products from the UK. I can run that business entirely online, customers order via my website, the company ships directly to them, and I spend my time online marketing, and following up with customers.

Although I’ve been blogging about holistic health and wellness for six years now, that has yet to pay the bills. As a graphic designer, the brand and look of my blog is critical to me, and don’t want it littered up with Google ads everywhere…even if that would bring more income. Sustainability is important to me, and I personally vet and share a few affiliate products. I also have personal integrity, so I won’t ever advertise anything on my blog that I don’t use myself or can’t stand behind.

And I’m currently working on creating my own online course in Holistic Health & Wellness (and possibly creating a member-site, which is one reason I was intrigued to join DNG’s Inner Circle, and see what it’s like on the inside!)

 

How did you get into this line of work? How can others do the same?

Blogging: In my passion to help people get toxins OUT of their lives, I originally posted on Facebook. But that soon turned into blog writing as my posts were getting very long. There are several free blog platforms out there to help you get started. But don’t expect to get rich from blogging, it’s a lot of hard work and paying it forward. I pay attention to SEO, Google Analytics, etc. Lots to learn, know, and keep up on.

Independent Consultant: When I ditched my main-stream, toxic health and beauty products, I had to find something else. I discovered Neal’s Yard Remedies and immediately fell in love with this amazing UK-based company and their products. Being an independent consultant is a great way to create a location independent income.

Online Courses: In an effort to create my own online wellness course, I’ve taken many other online courses to learn what I need to know. My background in graphic design and technology has definitely helped. These days there are online courses available for just about anything you want to learn. And creating your own course is a great way to share your knowledge with others while creating a passive income stream.

 

What motivated you to pursue a life as a digital nomad?

SAILING… I LOVE Sailing. I met my husband sailboat racing 28 years ago. And we’ve always had the dream to sail the Seven Seas. We bought our sailboat 2-years later and got married aboard a year after that. We raced her from Seattle to Maui a few years later and worked and saved for many years to head out cruising. My husband is a few years older than I am and has retired, but I need to keep working and saving for my retirement. So I knew I had to have a mobile career.

I also knew that trying to send large graphic design files using third-world-internet would never work. So I looked for a new career I could easily take on the road (or the high-seas!) I initially got certified as an ESL instructor. Then with my passion for holistic health and wellness, I earned a holistic health coaching certificate from IIN and started blogging and health coaching. I’m certified Reiki Level III and am also a 200 RYT certified yoga teacher. So I have several tools in my back pocket for the nomadic lifestyle we live. And I’m always looking to add more modalities in the holistic-wellness realm.

 

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy? Were they supportive?

Sailing has always been a big part of our lives. And our sailing friends “get” our lifestyle. Our close sailing friends were instrumental in helping us cast off the lines, and sail away. A few of them have sailed passages with us or visited us. And most of our family is supportive.

But some of our friends think we’re crazy for living in 250 square feet of space, on the water. And many assume we’re just “living the dream” drinking margaritas all day long. (Aside from being a digital nomad, there is a lot of WORK to living aboard.) Some may be jealous that we managed to escape the cold, rat-race and for the warm tropics, for many, it’s “out of sight, out of mind.” If we’re not there doing things with them, they forget about us.

However, our sailing blog has a good readership. Our blog post e-news has a 50% open rate which is amazing for any mailing list. So some people are living vicariously through us and don’t think we’re completely nuts. My parents were sailors, so I think they somewhat understand. But missing family and friends is the hardest part of this lifestyle for us.

 

What challenges have you faced as a digital nomad and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge by far has been finding reliable, high-speed Internet. Mexico has pretty slow wifi, and it’s expensive. I currently have three different data plans with different companies because you can only get about 10GB of data a month on plans here. And that’s just not enough for me.

I’m taking a lot of online courses to learn how to create my own online course, which eats a ton of data. So I end up spending a lot of my time in Starbucks using their free wifi. It’s pretty fast (NOT T3!), but you still see a noticeable drop in speed when everyone gets home from work, or on the weekends. Luckily this summer, we’re condo-sitting with high-speed wifi and I plan to work 24-7 and take advantage! 🙂

We’ve been stationary in Puerto Vallarta for the past 18-months due to some health issues my husband had. But the 18-months before that we were always on the move, and there would be 3-5 days at sea with no wifi. So I’d plan my work around our passages and when we’d have wifi. I’d work a lot for a few days before we’d sail off again.

Meet DNG Heidi - sitting on the yoga mat at the beach

You’re a member of the DNG Inner Circle, yay! Why did you decide to join?

I really love people and connecting with people wherever I go. I have a minor in anthropology, so people have always fascinated me. And it’s one of the things I miss most being a digital nomad. So connecting online with others in a similar lifestyle is a huge plus for me.

As I mentioned, I’m also working on creating my own course, and there is a lot I don’t know! So it’s great to connect with people who have different business backgrounds, to share ideas with. I will likely need a VA soon, and I think this group will have good recommendations for that. And because I’m thinking about creating my own membership site for holistic health and wellness, I also wanted to see the inner workings of how a membership site could work.

 

What is your favourite part of the Inner Circle? What makes it special?

So far the 30-day challenge has been one of my favourite things, making me draw and colour every day! YAY!! Already looking forward to the next one. Having that accountability to do something on a daily basis is great.

And I LOVED the social mixer that I attended, looking forward to another one soon. I can’t wait to get into the Expert Pack courses. I need to make time for those as I’m sure there is a lot of great info there that could help me with my online course creation. And having a place to ask questions and get answers is also fantastic.

 

Who do you think would benefit from joining the DNG Inner Circle?

Any digital nomad GURL who wants to meet people online (or in person!); anyone who needs accountability, or a little extra nudge to move their business along or boost their own self-care. I think Inner Circle has a LOT to offer those of us who are location independent.

 

How do you connect with and meet people when travelling?

Taking daily yoga and Pilates classes is a great way to meet people. My husband is very outgoing and chatty, so he’s always meeting people and getting us invited to events and dinners too.

I occasionally host organic skincare workshops or holistic health workshops on my boat, or elsewhere if I can find someone or a location to host them. These are free, and a way to give back and pay it forward. Sometimes I ask for a donation and donate it to a local charity like an animal shelter or kids club. I always have Neal’s Yard Remedies products available to purchase if people want to. So it’s a good way to help supplement my income and meet people at the same time while giving back locally.

As travellers, we really enjoy meeting and making friends with locals where ever we are. We shop locally, buy what and where locals do, eat where locals eat and meet many locals chatting that way. We are a part of a large sailing community, but many of them are retired (including my husband) so I’m often the odd one out going to work while they are all playing!

 

What advice would you give a girlfriend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

As a freelance graphic designer for 15+ years before I became a digital nomad, I was used to the roller-coaster ride of a freelancer. You need to be comfortable with the “feast-or-famine” of freelancing if that’s what you’re doing, and not panic every time you don’t have a job lined up. Tide comes in, tide goes out. Rinse and repeat.

If you’re not comfortable with the roller-coaster ride of freelancing, then consider a more permanent gig that lets you work from afar or set your own hours. Getting paid in US dollars or Euros and living in a developing country is also a bonus as your money goes much further.

And make time for self-care. This can be hard when you have deadlines or are on a tight budget. But I firmly believe you either pay for your health now or later. I’m a big proponent of regular massages, acupuncture or other bodywork, as well as treating yourself to things like pedicures that make you FEEL good. I also practice daily yoga and meditation. You have to put on your own oxygen mask first so that you have the health and energy to get your work done and play!

 

Quick Fire Round:

The coolest thing I’ve been able to do thanks to being location-independent is….

Live on my sailboat and sail from Seattle to Mexico, explore the Sea of Cortez, Baja, and northern Pacific Mexico. Swim with whale sharks, hear humpback whale songs through the hull of my boat and see those humpback whales up CLOSE. Snorkel, kayak, swim in the ocean, hike, and play with my cats. Meet amazing people and experience new cultures, food, and languages. I have to set a WORK schedule otherwise I would just play the days away!

When I feel lonely, I … Text or call my friends and family back home.

My favourite digital nomad location is … Mexico… for now.

The one item I always pack is … Organic Defence Hand Spray!

My favourite digital nomad tool/app/resource is … Hubspot CRM

In 5 years tim,e I want to be … Living in the Caribbean, on passive income.

My all-time favourite quote is … “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde

 

Thank you SO much Heidi for sharing your story with us! If you want to find out more about Heidi you can check out her website and connect with her on social media.

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Alison Rakoto – Career Strategist, LinkedIn Expert and Mum of 4!

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Alison Rakoto – Career Strategist, LinkedIn Expert and Mum of 4!

In our brand new Member’s Spotlight series we feature interviews with our lovely DNG Inner Circle members! This month we talked to Alison Rakoto a career strategist, LinkedIn expert and mum of 4!

 

Hi Alison! Please tell us a bit about yourself

I am from Boulder, CO. Moved to Bayonne, France in 2013. After a few months of looking into local work, decided to go remote. Started with elance (now Upwork). Did some interesting stuff, started freelancing through word of mouth, developed into strategic writing, resumes, LinkedIn profiles and the last year into career strategy and career coaching. I love it.

Alison profile

 

What is your location independent job?

Career Strategist + Visionary = I love to help people to listen to their heart, build on their strengths and find work they love.

 

How did you get into this line of work? How can others do the same?

I started out doing resumes and working as a VA that provides business strategy. I am good at it, I am good at hearing people and seeing through what they say to what they mean. I believe in setting goals and intentional decision making.

If you see patterns, if you see into people’s souls, if you see what makes people shine, and you can guide them to access their strengths and passions, if you can help them to define and tell their story, find their confidence and set their goals in motion, you can do the same!

 

What motivated you to pursue a life as a digital nomad?

I HATE the 9 to 5 office gig. My dad was a freelance illustrator and I loved his ability to set his schedule and to work hard for himself. I never pursued traditional jobs, but even the less traditional jobs I had burned me out, when I had to follow silly corporate rules or my bottom line had to be the financial line. I am all about making money, but I want to make the world a better place at the same time.

Working as an independent consultant I have the freedom to set my schedule, set my fees, pick my clients and help people in a way that both invigorates me and fills me with pride (the good kind vs the 7 deadly sins kind).

In my dream world, everyone works in an office with daylight, plants, fresh air and the ability to stop for a yoga break, go for a run or a hike and spend quality time with family and friends. No one should work to live, especially not in a lifeless life sucking office.

 

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy? Were they supportive?

My family is pleased and proud. I am challenged with navigating my schedule and working from home. It’s hard for fellow human beings to not get jealous when mom/wife/daughter is focused on a computer screen. My husband has promised that in our next location the first thing we’ll set up is my private office.

 

What challenges have you faced as a digital nomad and how did you overcome them?

I haven’t really overcome this… with two young kids, when we are on the move, getting all the work done that I’d hoped to get done is often a pipe dream.

My tactics that do bring some success are: getting up early (say 5 or 6 AM) when I know everyone else will wake up after 8 AM; hiding in a quiet office or workspace; scheduling task work that is less focus oriented for times when I have to work in public (like a plane or car). I have a terrible time/writing/thinking or doing creative work when other people are around me.

 

You’re a member of the DNG Inner Circle, yay! Why did you decide to join?

Because, through the general group I made a few real connections, found a real tribe of women and like-minded individuals for the first time since I moved overseas. When the Inner Circle opened up, I knew that connecting on a deeper level would be an investment I wouldn’t regret.

Today, I am thrilled to be a member, the benefit is more than worthwhile, from co-working to the special topics, to the questions and general convos I’ve been encouraged to raise my rates, be more accountable, branch out, focus, and on and on… I am certain this year would not be going nearly as great for my business if I hadn’t joined the Inner Circle!

 

What is your favorite part of the Inner Circle? What makes it special?

Connecting with smart, motivated and compassionate women who are driven to succeed on their own, but also draw pleasure from helping group members. The culture of the DNG Inner Circle makes me smile.

 

Who do you think would benefit from joining the DNG Inner Circle?

Anyone looking to boost her confidence and really hit the road running. Seeing successful women at work is a great motivator. Talking candidly about our dreams, our challenges, our goals is inspiring and helps keep us accountable.

If you sometimes feel alone and or uncertain about your ability to succeed, whether you are a nomad or you just dream of it, the Inner Circle is a beautiful place to find your tribe and set your goals, be intentional, be accountable and work towards the future you want.

 

How do you connect with and meet people when travelling?

Haha! I don’t. That’s my husband’s job. He talks to everyone. I just make the plans. And talk to people after they talk to me first.

 

What advice would you give a girlfriend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Believe in yourself and not the naysayers. Determine your financial comfort level and emergency backup plan. But don’t keep putting it off until you are “ready,” because you will never be ready. At some point, you’ve just got to jump.

Depending on your age, work situation, and field industry, it may be easier or harder. If you’ve got 20 years experience under your belt you can likely transition to a consultant or start your own biz.

If you’ve got a great skill that makes for a great remote job that is a super way to go to. And if you are uncertain what you can do remote/on the road then maybe save up for a 2 or 3 month sabbatical and just take off time, before you quit your job. Listen, watch, and experiment on your sabbatical, because maybe a new career will rear her head and you can make the leap (or plan your leap) from there…

I tell career transition clients that you’ve got three main foundations/pillars in your career: your industry knowledge, your technical knowledge (what you actually do), and your professional/social network. If you want to branch out, build off of at least one of these pillars, ideally two pillars, and use the third as a totally new transition point. This will make your leap easier.

 

Quick Fire Round:

The coolest thing I’ve been able to do thanks to being location-independent is…. prepare to move to Madagascar with my husband this fall.

When I feel lonely, I ... hug a kid. Call a friend. Call my mom.

My favourite digital nomad location is … soon to be Madagascar with better high-speed internet than France.

The one item I always pack is … Wet wipes.

My favourite digital nomad tool/app/resource is … The Inner Circle! Or AndCo, which I use for invoicing/contracts. 🙂

In 5 years time I want to be … A full-fledge career coach and business owner of an online school.

My all-time favourite quote is …

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. James Michener (This is my motto)

Thank you SO much Alison for sharing your story with us! If you want to find out more about Alison you can check out her website and connect with her on LinkedIn.

If you’re interested in checking out the Inner Circle, I have good news: we’re opening up again soon! Join our waitlist to be the first to get all the deets >> Click here.

Member Spotlight Alison Rakoto Pinterest

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Sienna Brown – Founder of Las Morenas de España

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Sienna Brown – Founder of Las Morenas de España

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 meet Digital Nomad Girl Sienna Brown, founder of Las Morenas de España

 

Hi Sienna! Please tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Sienna and I’m the founder of Las Morenas de España (a site focused on diversity and cultural immersion in Spain) and I also run communications at Sun and Co. (a coliving space in Javea, Spain.)

I’m originally from New York but have been location independent for the past 3 years living in Spain. (p.s. this is where we held our 1st and 3rd DNG retreats, check out what we got up to here and here)

Although I don’t move to different countries often, living abroad has allowed me to create a balanced life and do meaningful work while also travelling the world. Becoming location independent has opened up endless doors for me both personally and professionally.

It’s amazing to see how embracing and adapting to life in a different country can teach you so much in such a short amount of time.

 

 

What is your location independent job?

Las Morenas de España (LMDES) hosts events and retreats around the country, which allows me to travel frequently for work. My communications job at Sun and Co. also gives me the freedom to take off and work remotely, which allows for me to travel quite often. Aside from that, I also have quite a few speaking engagements throughout the year.

 

How did you get into this line of work? How can others do the same?

Three years ago, I quit my communications job in NYC because I was looking to create a life abroad. As I built my own business with LMDES, I was simultaneously teaching English, which allowed for me to deal with the visa process abroad quite easily.

Quite often, people start their journeys without a sense of patience or understanding that it’s a process and my biggest piece of advice is to take it slow and find what works for you.

Once LMDES took off, more and more work started coming in to help people find community and take the leap to move abroad themselves. Life came full circle last spring when the due diligence of immersing myself in Spanish culture and creating a name for myself led to the job opportunity at Sun and Co., and I had to say yes.

 

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Sienna Brown Image 2

What motivated you to pursue a life as a digital nomad?

I think that most people envision DNG’s as travelling the world all of the time and never stopping, but for me, I pursued this lifestyle because I wanted the time to enjoy life and not be overworked. Living in Spain previously was one of the happiest moments of my life and I wanted to bottle up that feeling, which is what inspired my move back.

I think it’s so important to live a life that we’re proud of, and I feel like I’m living my truth each day. I was motivated to create a sustainable lifestyle where I was truly happy. Now, that looks like me doing work that I love, living in a beautiful city, being able to travel when I want to and also helping others realize that they can do the same.

 

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy? Were they supportive?

I’m so lucky that my family was extremely supportive throughout the entire process! Although it was/is really hard because I’m so close to my family, I’m blessed to be able to see them at least once a year.

My mom was the most supportive and knew that the move would be for the best… not to mention, it gives her the perfect excuse to travel to Europe more often with my little sister!

Although being away from loved ones is really hard, it’s always satisfying when they see you truly happy and living your best life… in turn, making them proud!

 

What do you struggle with most when you work and travel?

I think the biggest struggle when working and travelling is finding a routine. I’m someone who is big on habits and efficiency, and things can be thrown out of whack when you’re always on the road.

My way to deal with it is by always keeping a morning routine, no matter where I am in the world and also being more patient with myself and deadlines while travelling.

We don’t go to new places to be behind our computers 24/7, so I find a way to do 1 or 2 extremely important tasks in the morning and then explore in the afternoon.

I also prepare myself before I know I’m headed away and do as much as I can so I don’t feel guilty while on the road!

 

How do you connect with and meet people when travelling?

I LOVE using Instagram to connect with people while on the road. I’m always using the app, so when heading to new places I make the most of it. I also use my current networks. I’m grateful to know a lot of people in a lot of places, so I normally share that I’m headed to a new place and, odds are, I’ll get recommendations of who to meet there.

Before heading to a new place, I also do a bit of research on cultural happenings in the area and then I head there solo. When I do, I almost always meet someone interesting!

 

What advice would you give a girlfriend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

My advice would be to take the time to find what works for you when you’re starting out as a digital nomad. I think that society has over-idealized this vision that living abroad or being a DN, meaning you’re always on the beach and never doing work, but it’s just not true.

I think that all of us need to find what works for us to figure out if we want a home base, if we want to be on the road all the time, how often we really want to be travelling, etc.

Also, realize that life happens in waves and embrace the slow moments. When you’re first starting out it’s vital to take your time with the process.

 

Quick Fire Round:

When I feel lonely, I … call my grandmother and have a good laugh.

My favourite digital nomad location is … Jávea, Spain. Ironically, I live here now!

The one item I always pack is … my journal.

My favourite digital nomad tool/app/resource is … Whatsapp

In 5 years time, I want to be … financially independent and in a loving relationship.

My all-time favourite quote is … “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” – Nelson Mandela

 

Thank you SO much Sienna for sharing your story with us! If you want to find out more about Sienna you can check out her website and connect with her on social media.

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