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Becoming a Digital Nomad: our approach

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Becoming a Digital Nomad. A year ago we had no idea what exactly a Digital Nomad was. It was a revelation to us. I had taken quite a few weeks of vacation after a particularly stressful period on my office job. When the holiday was over, it suddenly felt different. I couldn’t get the motivation to do the work I had been doing for a few years. In fact, I no longer had the motivation to work for my career, something I had been doing (with great success) for years. That was quite a shock. Because what would be next? What happens once you decide – regardless of the cause – that your current life is no longer sufficient? It feels fucking weird, I can tell you. And scary. But it can lead to something so beautiful.

Google search: “Digital Nomad”

When I decided that I was no longer happy in the life I led, I started looking for the “WHY”? Why was I no longer satisfied with my life? The answer actually came quite quickly. I was tired of working from 9 to 5. Tired of working my ass off while at the same time experiencing a very limited sense of freedom. I was tired of being in traffic jams for 20 hours a week. I wanted other work. Closer to home. Doing what I enjoy, not just doing work that I’m good at. And yes, those are two different things in my case.

The internet is a wonderful medium and my search through Google soon led me to websites about working independently of location, making money online and countless ways to obtain money. I also learned a term that was completely unknown to me until then. The “Digital Nomad”. In my mind I saw a bum with a Macbook in front of me, but I couldn’t do wrap my head around it.

“I was tired of working from 9 to 5. I was tired of working my ass off while at the same time experiencing a very limited sense of freedom.”

Six months have passed and by now we know a lot more about it. A Digital Nomad is someone who earns his or her money regardless of location and usually combines work with a healthy portion of traveling, without needing a permanent residence. In short, you can say that Digital Nomads are people who use remote work, such as keeping a travel blog, or other remote jobs. Armed with a telephone and laptop, they are able to support themselves and do so well that they can combine it with traveling to breathtakingly beautiful locations in the world to do their work from there.

rental camper
Driving a rental camper to get in the right mood!

But how do you actually start?

I have read a lot in my life. I like to read exciting thrillers, but I can also enjoy myself with some inspiring books. The horrible thing of inspiring books or inspiring people is that often a single event caused someone to have a complete turnaround in their existence and a miraculous recovery followed. On the internet you will be thrown to death with the end result of 6 weeks of “Abs training”, of setting up your own successful blog or the result of 20 weeks of dieting with some gruesome milkshake. The ending generally looks fantastic. There is always very little to find about the beginning. Or the endless struggle inbetween. The focus always seem to be on the highlights.

The power of social media

The life of Digital Nomads form no exclusion to that. There is quite a shitload of blogs from successful Nomads. Such a Nomad who has his website full of insanely beautiful photos and where he (or she) tells how incredibly successful he is as a Digital Nomad. There are also a lot of sites of people who start writing or filming as soon as everything has started to run smoothly. Good news is fun to share, right? That is exactly why Facebook is mainly used to lie to everyone how incredibly fantastic your life is. And everyone just lies with you at the same pace.The power of social media, right?

Anyways, what is almost impossible to find is material about experts who keep track of what has come their way from the very first day. Little can be found about the choices that have been made. About the concerns. The lows. The moments when it didn’t go well, and how it was subsequently given a certain twist to make things run better. That is exactly why we started this website. We want to inspire people and take them into everything that has come our way, so that it may help you. Or just to make sure you see that things have not been easy for everyone. That other people (us in this case) also had to make concessions. Made changes to what they planned. Have setbacks. And that the way up is always accompanied by trial and error here and there.

One of our favorite quotes is “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

Our first steps

For now, the plan is to travel through Europe with my girlfriend (by then my wife), dog and camper, while maintaining our income with remote jobs as content creator, online marketer, copywriter and blogger, video editor and photo editor. We have set aside three years for ourselves to further expand our savings and have (critically) looked at our income and expenditure. It is plausible that we will earn a lot less than when we both had a nice earning position within a large corporate multinational. In addition, our spending pattern is based on our previous income and we also had to make a number of choices. The aim is therefore to earn at least monthly (together) € 2500 net income within 3 years, so that we can pay for our future lives.

Mariska driving our camper Wickie for the first time
Mariska crushing it while driving our camper Wickie for the first time!

The plan is to save up funds to cover us for an entire year without any income. We don’t want to experience the pressure of being broke or having to work 80 hours a week to make ends meet. Once we have saved up to that much (say approx € 25.000 – € 30.000), we should be good to go.

“The plan is to save up funds to cover us for an entire year without any income.”

The first six months

So I quit my job after having worked at the company for 15 fulltime years in a row. A decision that I didn’t take lightly. But it’s mandatory to pressure myself into a new situation, otherwise things will never change.

Admittedly, the first six months were strange. There has been a lot of time in finding assignments, finding new customers and performing on existing assignments as well as possible. What we had to get used to the most is that income does not come in on a fixed day per month, but spread over several days a month. One month is also better than the other month. Sometimes you have a lot of work and sometimes you are mainly busy with acquisition. It is a completely different world than being employed.

Still, the feeling of freedom, of setting your own agenda and arranging your own schedule is a wonderful feeling. We can walk the dog whenever we want, we can sleep in whenever we want and sometimes we work here and there for an evening or on a weekend. Just because it’s possible.

Thinking of becoming a Digital Nomad?

What has worked tremendously for us is to choose what kind of work we like to do and then start working on it as a hobby. If you read a bit in the market, try some things. Once you feel comfortable enough to stand on your own two feet, you can always take the plunge. Reward yourself the kindness and time to acquire a new skill.

Becoming a Digital Nomad: our first draft on paper

On a rainy day, we grabbed some blank sheets of paper and a pen and simply started writing our final goal and what it takes to actually achieve it. These end goals were mainly financial (savings and X euros in income from location-independent work), but also materialistic (Because we went out buying a camper). We then looked at the differences between where we are today and where we want to grow.

Reward yourself the kindness and time to acquire a new skill.

Ultimately, of course, this entire process is different for everyone. Are you young and alone? Then you probably take certain risks easily. The risk profile that you are comfortable with when you are young and alone in comparison to when you have three young children and a life partner is very different. You would like to keep them alive when you want to set up your life as a Digital Nomad, right?

We consciously choose to survive a year without a penny of income, without breaking off our dream. Others may choose to leave with (much) less savings and prefer to go out two years earlier. There is no right or wrong. There is mainly a way that feels good. For you, or for us. Welcome to our journey. And perhaps: welcome to your own journey!

Ultimately, of course, this entire process is different for everyone.

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