Experience Sharing Series: Being a Digital Nomad 101
Hi. My name is Marae, and I want you to travel the world and be a digital nomad! For the last six years, I have lived a life many dreams of 6 months traveling around the world and the other six months working. However, I realized, the reason others don’t live the dream that I do is that they don’t know how to. So along with my podcast, today’s blog is the quick version of how I began to be location independent and should give you a taste of how to become a digital nomad.
Although I am fully living the digital nomad lifestyle right now, it hasn’t always been that way for me. Before I took this leap, I had been traveling for most of my life. I’m originally from Cuba and emigrated to the US when I was 12 and was lucky enough while in high school to get a scholarship. I got to experience life and travel to all these different European countries; it was truly amazing. The traveling lifestyle had got me.
I came back to the states, finished high school and went to college in Argentina and San Francisco. It was here I started traveling for at least three months of the year; not always going abroad but I’d take off and visit family, go camping, go on discovery trips. But I needed more; I didn’t want to go a few weeks here and there; I wanted to see the world and experience a country or place.
A great way to do this was to do seasonal work in the country I wanted to go to. For some reason during this point in my life, that was Australia. So, whilst living my life in LA, trying to get an acting career going and getting sick of city life and the rushing around, I began to research spending a year on a working visa in Australia. Whilst I was looking into this, I came across this ad. I don’t even remember what it said now, but it was for working in a jewelry store in Alaska, and I just thought ‘Hey why not? I can do this’. Me, having a job in my first year of college at an accessories outlet, so I thought it would be easy to do the job in Alaska… Boy was I wrong!
The job was one where one had to stand for like 12 to 13 hours a day, for six days a week, trying to sell super fancy jewelry to people coming off cruise ships. They were coming into the shop for coffee (we had a Starbucks in the same building) not for jewelry. It was such a hard job!
But this company was paying me a fairly decent wage, and Alaska was terrific for me; not just the place but also for my future life. I had met my future husband while working there. But the best part was the fact we could spend the winters working in their Virgin Island’s store and the summers working in Alaska. My goodness, it was perfect; two experiences for the price on one!
We, my future husband and I, took a few months off between seasons and then headed to the Virgin Islands. We had the perfect set up exploring a bunch of places all over the island. It was a paradise that paid us to be there. But then it had to end as my now-husband got a new job working for FOX-ABC in Texas, his dream job having studied broadcasting and journalism. So, we dropped everything and moved to Texas.
I knew no-one in the town of Laredo, yet this was going to be the best decision of our lives; it was to be the first step to us having our new lifestyle, we just didn’t know it yet.
After nine months we wanted to go back to Alaska, we missed it. We transferred to Anchorage, sold everything from cars to furniture to move again and on paper everything was great. We had these great jobs at FOXABC; me as an account executive, my husband as the leading producer of the news show. But we would come home every night to this furnished home, huge fridge, closets of clothes and we realized the only thing we wanted to do with this financial freedom was travel. But we couldn’t, the jobs that were making the extra financial freedom were holding us back.
They only allowed for two weeks a year off and you had to take your computer. So here we were with great jobs but not feeling like it was us, we wanted to travel!!! So we decided to be brave, we quit our super awesome jobs and sold everything for a second time.
We took off and drove across Alaska, reclaimed our jewelry selling jobs and began to save up for another round of traveling between the seasons. This time we took off for like, 3-4 months. We drove across the country visiting all these out of the way places, went off to Europe and explored more. At the end of it, all ended up in Miami where I had a family. But no idea what to do next. After a quick discussion, it turned out hubby had never been to the Florida Keys, so drove down there. With the idea of doing something like diving, he fell in love with how pretty the water was and… we decided to move to the Florida Keys. Crazy.
We searched Craigslist, found someone who would teach us to dive at a discount in exchange for working and helping them out, found jobs in a restaurant and a guy who needed someone to take over his apartment for a bit and we moved. Simple. We worked at this restaurant and dive shop; made good money and saved for the next trip. But this was to be the last time we had serious “think about it when you get home” kinda jobs. This was also when we started to think about being a digital nomad.
The wages we had saved became the base for our first lot of uninterrupted travel, we had finally done it; realized our dreams of working and traveling, not a compromise but both. Seasonal work allowed me to see so many new things and meet the love of my life.
I’m no longer working seasonal jobs and have become what they call a ‘digital nomad’. I still believe that seasonal jobs are one of the best ways to make a lot of money and save up. Especially if you’re not confident in going full time online for whatever reason: qualifications or confidence. If you want to slow travel, that is also great as you can still make money while still seeing the world and places
For me, travel has added so much to my life. I am here to tell you that yes, you can have that lifestyle and dream while making very good money and enjoying yourself. Eventually, you may decide to transition online and make a digital nomad lifestyle your own, but until then there are other ways to have the life you want.
Let me know your thoughts and any questions you may have as well as any future blogs or podcast topics in the comments below.