When all your friends are working 9-5 jobs, raising kids, and settling down, it can feel like you’re the only one on the path towards location independence.
Sometimes you may even wonder if you’re kidding yourself, if this kind of lifestyle is even possible. When you don’t know anyone who’s living the life you’re working towards, you might wonder if your dream is just that – a dream.
Well, let me tell you, my friend, that it is not a dream! The location independent lifestyle is very real. There are plenty of digital nomads out there, traveling the world on their own terms every day.
And you can be one of them!
The Importance of Community
It’s important to surround yourself with both people who are living the lifestyle you want and people who are working towards the same goal as you.
This is why I created Location Indie – a community of people helping each other kick ass in business and travel.
It’s also why I’ve put together this roundup of my fifteen favorite digital nomads. When you can see that other people are out there doing what you want to do, you start to believe that you can do it too.
I’ve collected together some of their top tips for becoming a digital nomad, dealing with the realities of being a digital nomad, and making the most of this lifestyle.
Ready to be inspired? Dig in!
My 15 Favorite Digital Nomads
1. Dan Andrews & Ian Schoen from TropicalMBA
Dan and Ian help people build location independent lifestyle businesses. They’re all about helping wannabe digital nomads to create businesses that let them do the things they want to do, whether that’s spending more time with their families, traveling, or changing the world.
Here’s their advice on sticking to your guns and doing things your way, even if you get criticised for doing so:
If you’ve made a difference in your community, or just made a stack of cash, you are probably pissing a lot of people off. That’s because you’re in the game. You can’t build a road without paving some meadow. You can’t build a team without firing some people. You can’t write a blog without driving people nuts, and you can’t have a point of view without miffing those with the opposite.
Your business, if it’s gonna pay you, will effect a lot of people’s lives– hopefully for the better. In the process of making the world a better place, you are gonna piss people off.
Get used to it.
2. Travis Sherry from Extra Pack of Peanuts
Travis is on a mission to convince anyone who will listen that travel doesn’t have to be expensive. Armed with bucket loads of frequent flyer miles, he travels the world for under $100, and he wants to teach you to do the same. Travis is also the co-founder of Location Indie – our community of digital nomads.
But despite his love of travel, Travis also values the days he spends at home. Here’s his take on the phrase “carpe diem.”
It’s time to start living EVERY day to the fullest.
Whether I’m traveling…or not.
Whether I’m in Calcutta….or Collegeville.
The Philippines…or Philadelphia.
A hostel….or home.
“Carpe Diem…wherever you are”
“Seize the day…EVERYDAY”.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Travis:
- Your Ultimate Guide To Travel in South East Asia
- How To Plan Ahead For Travel + Why Budget Airlines Rock
- Location Independent: The Unsexy Truth Revealed
- Epic Trekking : Best Treks In The World
- 16 Ways To Meet Locals (Part 1)
- 16 Ways To Meet Locals (Part 2)
- 16 Mindset Hacks To Help You Travel Long Term
- Coffee Talk: The 16 Best Coffee Experiences Around The World
- How To Fly For Free Anywhere: Travel Hacking Credit Cards Using The App-O-Rama
3. Benny Lewis from Fluent in 3 months
Benny is a digital nomad who travels the world, learning languages and teaching others to do the same. Despite not being able to speak any language other than his native English until he was 21, Benny is now fluent in several languages. He’s figured out a simple way to learn to speak new languages in a matter of days, weeks, and months rather than years, and is passionate about sharing his method with wannabe polyglots!
He truly believes that it’s never too late to learn a language:
ANYONE can learn a language. When I was 21 I thought I couldn’t do it, but one day I put all the bullshit excuses to one side and just spoke it. Speaking a language from day one is the ‘secret’ to being able to learn it quicker and at any age.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Benny:
4. Sean Ogle from Location180
In 2009, Sean hated his life, so he quit his job, moved to Thailand, started his own business, and began living a life he loves. He now teaches other people how to build businesses to become location independent and fill their lives with amazing experiences.
He believes that lifestyle design is a fundamental part of building a life that you love:
The “lifestyle designers” that have been successful did so because they recognized that in order to design a life that they really wanted, one with freedom of time, money, and influence, they couldn’t simply rely on their sparking personality.
They had to provide real value. In order to do that they not only had to learn how to encapsulate their current skills, but they needed to learn something new (or a lot of somethings) in the process.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Sean:
5. Emilie Wapnick from Puttylike
Emilie is a multipotentialite – someone with multiple interests and creative pursuits. But despite her inability to stick to one interest, she’s found a way to make a living no matter where she is in the world. The key to her success? Embracing her multipotentiality and creating a business that incorporates all of her interests.
Emilie’s all about forgetting what you’re supposed to do and doing things because they feel right to you:
And this is what I’m finding to be the most wonderful part of traveling: if you move from place to place with the intention of simply connecting with people, you’ll begin to notice energy pulling you along, showing you signs of where to go and what to do. You’ll meet people you never would have met, you’ll hear about their lives, and you’ll learn to be present.
Don’t worry too much about hitting the sights. Go where the people are. When coincidence and synchronicity happens, notice it, use your intuition and trust yourself. If an opportunity feels right, embrace it. If it doesn’t feel right, go do your own thing.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Emilie:
6. Ethan Waldman from Cloud Coach and The Tiny House
Ethan is a technology coach and tiny house owner who loves helping people to simplify their lives. He likes to teach small businesses and individuals how to use technology in such a way that it works in harmony with the rest of their lives, helping rather than hindering them.
One of Ethan’s biggest tips is to use automation to save time:
Back when business and communication was done on paper, it was imperative that you (the boss) had an assistant of some kind, to file those papers. Respond to those letters. Find those documents.
So in the absence of having someone who can do this for you, say, in your email inbox, you do it yourself. […]
Applying automation to your inbox takes the job title Secretary away from you, and gives it to the cloud.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Ethan:
7. Chris Guillebeau from The Art of Non-Conformity
Chris Guillebeau is a bestselling author and blogger who writes about living an unconventional life and doing remarkable things in life, work, and travel. A few months ago, I interviewed him about his quest to travel to every single country in the world by the age of 35.
Chris believes the best way to change the world by doing work you love is to use convergence:
As we’ll examine it, convergence represents the intersection between something you especially like to do or are good at doing (preferably both), and what other people are also interested in. The easiest way to understand convergence is: the overlapping space between what you care about and what other people are willing to spend money on.
Not everything that you are passionate about or skilled in is interesting to the rest of the world—and not everything is marketable. I can be very passionate about eating pizza, but no one is going to pay me to do it. Likewise, any particular person won’t be able to provide a solution to every problem or be interesting to everyone. But in the overlap between the two circles, where passion or skill meets usefulness, a microbusiness built on freedom and value can thrive.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Chris:
8. Derek Earl Baron from Wandering Earl
In 1999, Earl set off on a three-month trip to Asia. Well over a decade later, he’s still going. Earl aims to show people that long-term travel is not only perfectly possible but also a completely valid lifestyle choice. Although he’s been to over 85 countries, Earl is less concerned with seeing the sights that the world has to offer and more interested in meeting people and learning about life along the way.
Earl has one piece of advice for working out whether or not you should make travel a part of your life:
If you close your eyes right now and think of travel, and a smile forms on your face and you feel a surge of positive energy spread throughout your body, then travel is definitely a good idea for you.
Don’t let others dictate your life or influence what you know in your heart is the right decision. I know it’s not easy to ignore such negative reactions, but you must push forward.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Earl:
9. Natalie Sisson from The Suitcase Entrepreneur
Natalie has been traveling the world since 2006, using her online business to support her lifestyle. She is passionate about teaching other wannabe digital nomads to start online businesses that will enable them to live out of their suitcases too.
Natalie believes that, when it comes to starting a business you can run from anywhere, the important thing is to have something to sell, someone to sell it to, and a way to get paid:
The most important principle to remember is to focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. You don’t need a lot of money or an MBA to start a small business. You do need a product or service, a group of people who want to pay for it, and a way to get paid. That is the most simplistic way to describe a business that will work for you.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Natalie:
10. John Bardos from JetSetCitizen
John has been living abroad since 1997. He used to run a business in Japan with his wife, before they decided to get rid of everything they owned and become digital nomads. He believes we’re living in a time of incredible opportunity because the internet has made it possible to work from anywhere and do amazing things.
John believes an excellent life comes from everyday experiences rather than material possessions and one-off events:
A meaningful life does not come from crossing off items from a bucket list, getting stoned on exotic beaches, or getting stamps in your passport. Personal excellence is reflected in all the little decisions you make in your life everyday.
11. Rob and Mish Slade from Making It Anywhere
Rob and Mish are a couple of digital nomads who left London in 2012 to try and “make it anywhere”. They define “making it anywhere” as running businesses they love from wherever they want to be, while at the same time earning more than they did in their old jobs!
They don’t believe being a digital nomad is for everyone:
Living the life of a digital nomad is probably not something that everyone can do. You need to be willing to be independent. You need to be comfortable with people thinking you’re a bit weird because although lots and lots more people are doing it these days; your still in the minority if you’re going to be doing it.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Rob and Mish:
12. Tim Ferriss from the Four-Hour Work Week
Tim is an author, entrepreneur, blogger, and motivational speaker who is best known for his concept of the four-hour work week. He teaches that it’s possible to live a rich life by working only four hours a week. He applies the 80/20 rule to every area of life, carrying out lifestyle design experiments to optimize his life.
Tim recommends focusing your efforts on the things you’re good at:
“It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair.”
13. Cody McKibben from Thrilling Heroics
Cody is an entrepreneur, writer, and traveler who “woke up” in 2004 after the deaths of two of his best friends. He vowed to stop wasting his life and quit his job, started his business, and moved abroad. He’s now a location independent digital nomad who helps others build their own online businesses.
Cody acknowledges that fear is a part of every journey to location independence:
Failure doesn’t have the same sharp teeth and claws that it used to. If you’re trying to do big, remarkable things in business or in life, then failure is unavoidable. It’s part of the journey, part of the learning process. And in fact, failure is only going to teach you what you didn’t know already, and it will teach you lessons to apply in your next attempt at success.
14. Dave Dean from What’s Dave Doing?
Dave Dean is a corporate runaway and permanent traveler. He’s tried to settle down several times but somehow he always ends up back on the road. To fund his travels, he’s become a blogger, writer, and small online business owner.
Dave doesn’t believe in wishing for the future you want. Instead, you have to make your dreams come true yourself:
If you want your dreams to come true, you’re going to need to make some sacrifices too. You won’t enjoy it. I don’t enjoy it. Nobody likes being denied something they want. The secret is to want something else in the future so damn badly that you can deal with not having some other things now. Delayed gratification. You know what? It’s ok.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Dave:
15. Dave Sperling from Dave’s ESL Cafe
Another Dave! This Dave is the founder of a phenomenal site called Dave’s ESL Cafe – a site that empowers students to learn English, and English teachers to find work all over the planet. The site’s been going since 1995 and it’s a hub of information and activity for world travelers.
Dave advises travelers to understand that living abroad for long periods of time isn’t the same as traveling for a holiday:
In my experience there are three stages in culture shock. In the beginning, you love the country you are visiting. Then you get a job, start working and a couple of months go by and you start hating everything about the place (laughs)! You get frustrated and annoyed with things that seemed exotic at first. And then comes the third stage, where you have somehow settled in and you’ve adjusted.
Zero To Travel Podcast episodes featuring Dave:
So Many Nuggets of Wisdom!
The best way to believe this lifestyle is possible by surrounding yourself with people who are already living it.
If you’re looking for even more inspiration and advice from digital nomads who have been there and done that (whether “that” is start an online business, live out of a suitcase, or travel for free), be sure to check out the following resources:
- The Zero To Travel Podcast interviews
- The Travel Podcasts Directory
- Location Indie – the community of traveling entrepreneurs
Being a digital nomad isn’t easy but it’s one of the most exciting and rewarding lives you can have.
I’m on a mission to make unlimited travel attainable for anyone who wants it, so if you’ve got any questions about travel that I might be able to answer for you, please get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org.