In this interview series we share the stories of real Digital Nomad Girls who’ve all created a life of travel and freedom and who have joined the Digital Nomad Girls Retreats. Nothing is as inspiring as meeting real people living the life that you’re dreaming of. Find out how they did it!

This week we meet Digital Nomad Girl Melissa, a branding and marketing consultant from Australia.

Melissa is 33 years old from Brisbane, Australia where she is based again at the moment for the first time in 4 years, after travelling around the world with her husband over the last year.

1. What is your location independent job?

I’m a brand strategist and marketing consultant. I help start-ups and small businesses build strong, cohesive brands, because a brand doesn’t begin with a logo – it begins with strategic thinking.

2. We met at the DNG Retreat in Javea, yay! What made you join the retreat?

I was about 4 months into my digital nomad journey at that stage and while I was hanging out in Chiang Mai, Thailand with loads of other Digital Nomads, I was lacking that authentic connection. So my main motivation for joining the retreat was to meet other serious female Digital Nomads – I wanted to find women who aspire to genuinely support other women, to get inspired and feel a part of something bigger.

Digital Nomad Girl Melissa 1

At the DNG Retreat in Javea, September 2016.

3. What did you get out of the retreat? What was your favourite part?

I got so much out of the retreat, and without wanting to sound cliché, it really changed my life. It opened my eyes to what life could be like and I was so inspired by the girls I met (and continue to be inspired by them today).

It’s hard to pinpoint my favourite part, but I’d say, heading out and exploring beautiful Javea (now my favourite city in the world!) together with the group after a day of masterminding and workshopping was just the best.

4. Who would benefit from joining a DNG retreat?

Oh my gosh, every DNG should go!! I’d say someone who’s thinking about starting out can learn a lot from others who’ve been working and travelling for a while, and those who have been doing it for a while get an injection of inspiration and new ideas.

Jenny, you’re so careful in choosing a great mix of girls with the right intentions to come along and make for an interesting and valuable exchange of ideas and skills. And there’s a perfect balance of work and play J

Digital Nomad Girl Melissa 2

5. What has happened since the retreat?

I have caught up with 6 of the girls in person in their respective home cities and elsewhere around the world on my travels. We have ongoing mastermind groups on Skype which is great for motivation and accountability. I’ve since settled back in my home town (for now!) but I would definitely say if it weren’t for DNG and the amazing friends I’ve made at the retreat, I wouldn’t have believed I could continue working for myself even while back home.

6. How did you get started with your location independent job/business? How can others do the same?

I come from having managed brands in large multi-national food businesses, so I have an existing skill set that I saw was an opportunity to help online businesses. It can be overwhelming when you dive into the online world, because there’s a lot to learn and it can feel like if you’ve not already been blogging since forever that it’s hard to get in and offer anything new. The reality is this is the perfect time to get in, and you probably have loads of skills that you actually undervalue and that people really need and would pay for.

7. What made you pursue a life as a Digital Nomad? 

Ultimately, I wasn’t happy with corporate life and I knew there had to be something that was more fulfilling and would allow me to spread my wings creatively. I was living in Sydney, had been working for big companies for over a decade and needed a change, so when I joined the DNG Facebook group and saw so many women making it happen, I wanted to be a part of that.

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

My husband and I had both come to the same conclusion about wanting to ‘run away’ so I had someone to face the ‘craziness’ with right from the start. For the most part our friends and family were really supportive. I think a lot of them saw what we were doing as a backpacking holiday. The opportunities online for genuine work are still a bit far out to a lot of people though!

Digital Nomad Girl Melissa 4

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

Finding reliable wifi was a struggle in some places which made it a bit stressful at times! But generally, being present. When I’m in a new place for a short time, I have to remind myself why I decided to leave the cubicle in the first place and that is to experience the world and give myself space to just be.

10. How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?

I seriously use the DNG Facebook group as a first port of call for advice or to see who else might be where I am… then working in coworking spaces is usually a good way to meet people. I learned that there are not too many degrees of separation in the world – and being open to reaching out to friends of friends you may not have met before opens up a whole social network to tap into while you’re away.

10. What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Obviously I’d tell her to join DNG, but also to just do it. There is no better time than now and you will figure it all out… and you needn’t be motivated by money. There’s a LOT of hype about ‘six figure’ this and ‘income report’ that, but it’s not a race to the top of the ladder (that’s what corporate is for!). It’s about achieving a lifestyle and balance that works for you, sharing your unique gifts with the world and finding reward in non-material things.

Quick round:

When I feel lonely, I….ask my sisters to send me cute pictures of my nephews and niece J

My favourite digital nomad location is….Sun & Co at Javea! I’m not even trying to suck up here – it’s seriously my favourite!

The one item I always pack is …Noise cancelling headphones. Great for planes and trains and noisy coworking spaces!

In 5 years time I want to be….past the hustle phase of business and enjoying longer periods of downtime while travelling.

My favourite digital nomad tool/app/resource is… Work Hard Anywhere app to find good cafes with wifi.

My all-time favourite quote is….

“You cannot make everyone happy. You’re not an avocado.” Ha ha love that one but don’t know who originally said it.

But also, I love “Two elements must therefore be rooted out once and for all – the fear of future suffering and the recollection of past suffering; since the latter no longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet” – Seneca.

Thank you, Melissa for sharing your story with us! You can connect with Melissa on Instagram and Twitter, and find her on her website MelissaPackham.me

If you’re curious about joining our next retreat in Javea this September, you can find out all the details and apply here.

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