So last week I embarked on one of the biggest scariest adventures of my life. And I don’t mean scary in the crazy jumping of a bridge with nothing but a bit of rope tied to you kind of way like I did in Ecuador. Or crazy in a booking a one-way ticket to Mexico with nothing more than a backpack, and partying my way through Latin America kind of way.
This for me is far greater of an undertaking. When I started this blog in September 2012, I had just got out of a 8 year relationship, was burnt out with my career that had been my passion for over 10 years, and had to leave Canada where I was living at the time. I shyly uploaded my first post onto the internet, Building up from rock bottom.
I Sold everything I owned (for the second time) and began my first proper trip travelling solo through Latin America for 5 months, on a journey to discover myself and share both my adventures and my struggles with the world. I wanted you all to see that if a shy nerd in his late 20’s, who had never even stayed in a hostel before, or even travelled solo could do it then anyone could.
Fast forward now almost 3 years later I have travelled over 26 countries across 5 continents. I’ve trekked through the amazonian jungle in Ecuador, Climbed the ancient ruins of Machu Pichu in Peru, walked the deserts of the Sahara in Morroco. Wandered the ancient streets of Rome in Italy and that guy that had never stayed in a hostel before? He has lived in hostels the last 20 months. (Crazy right????)
It certainly has been one hell of a crazy few years, And even looking back at it now as I write this from a coffee shop in a foreign country. (no Spooiiiiilers) I still feel like I’m going to just wake up back in my bed with this past few years all have been some crazy dream. But while I have had some truly amazing experiences and adventures it has not come without sacrifices and hardships.
To name just a handful:
- Living a nomadic lifestyle means your always on the move and constantly saying goodbye to new friend’s.
- I have had to live in hostels in shared accommodation 2.5 out of the last 3 years to save money.
- I’ve gotten more 15-30-hour bus journeys instead of a 2-hour flight just to save $50 (USD)
- I haven’t seen my family in Australia in almost 2 years.
- Due to constantly moving and living and working cheap, I have very little possessions and savings. Mostly just what I can fit in my two backpacks.
But you know what I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’ve met so many amazing and truly inspirational people in my travels, many of them while living in hostels who I would have otherwise not met. I’ve bonded with many travellers and locals on long bus rides and even ended up living with 200 hippies in the Guatemalan Jungle for a week all because I got on a bus. While most encounters were brief, I feel like each person has had an influence on me in some way and helped guide me on my path. Even though I may not be rich in money I feel spiritually richer than I ever have before in my life and that the last few years I have grown beyond measure as a person. And I don’t think you can put a price on that.
Which bring’s me to my next exciting chapter. Ever since I started my travel blog and was thrust into an amazing online community of bloggers, backpackers, adventurers and digital nomads. It’s truly inspiring to see so many other people out there following their dreams and living location independent lifestyles.This in turn has ignited a fire inside me a drive to one day live, travel and work as a digital nomad.
I took my first big step towards this at the end of 2013 when I attended Blog house Dublin where I was taught by some great veteran bloggers and nomads like, Pete and Dalene from Hecktic Travels, Michael from Go See Write, Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic and Michael and Lynda from the Indy travel podcast. I also got to live in a castle with many other aspiring travel bloggers and nomads, Many of whom I am still great friends with today. Over the next two years that followed I spent my time in Europe travelling around and attended another 6 travel conferences, two Tbex‘s World Travel Market in London, Travel Blogger Destination in Italy and two traverse events in Kingston and Newcastle.
During this time, I have met so many amazing bloggers and nomads. Attended countless seminars and networking events. Giving me a greater understanding of the travel blogging industry and better preparing me towards my own dream of being a digital nomad.
However, although I was gaining all this knowledge, I still had very little money and no freelance work so going nomadic was not an option. However luckily I have a working holiday visa for the UK and got a job in my favorite UK city Edinburgh doing game testing for major video game company. Although this job did not allow me with much spare time to work on my blog. It did, however, provide me with the money I needed to invest in additional camera equipment and a new laptop that I desperately needed.
Which brings me to the last two weeks, with my 2-year working holiday visa in the UK rapidly coming to an end (expiring in September) and my work contract was not getting renewed. I was left with one of those big life choices that I’ve had to deal with multiple times before. What comes next? I had very limited money, I could stay in the UK and get another job for my remaining month’s till my visa expired. I could return back to my home of Australia and settle down and be responsible and get a proper job.
Follow my dream of being a location independent digital nomad. I knew that money was going to be an issue which meant that staying in Europe wasn’t really an option. So the day my contract expired I booked a one-way ticket from Edinburgh which had been my home for 16 months to Chiang Mai in Thailand. This gave me 6 days before my flight to plan and pack everything.
First on the list was downsizing my life back to two backpacks, It’s amazing how much crap you manage to accrue in such a short period of time.(16 months)
At the start the task seemed almost impossible. But after a couple of days and being ruthless I managed to ditch about 90% of the clutter and crap out of my life and get everything down to two backpacks.
Next was sorting out a visa for Thailand. This was a lot easier than expected. A one day visit to the Thai Consulate in Glasgow and less than $150 USD later I had a 60 day triple entry visa for Thailand. (woooo)
Then after a lot of heartfelt goodbyes to the friends I had made in Edinburgh I jumped on a plane to start my 3 flight 27 hour journey to Chiang Mai to begin to my life as a digital nomad. I knew it was going to be tough as I had never properly worked freelance before and I had less than 3 months of savings to my name but figured having a little bit of pressure would help.
I’d love to tell you that as soon as I got on that plane I had a pure feeling of joy and freedom, and while I did to a certain extent, although it might seem like as an experienced traveler I would be used to situations of constant change. But to tell you the truth it doesnt get that much easier at least for me. I think it’s only natural to be scared of change, fear failure and worry if the decisions we make are the right ones.
But despite all of that I feel like this is something I’ve been building towards the last few years, Few great things in life happen without taking a bit of a risk, a leap of faith as it were. So here I am writing this post to you in a coffee shop in Chiang Mai Thailand where I have been the last few days. I have already got an awesome little apartment with a pool in the complex (High five for not living in a hostel anymore).I’m slowly adjusting to the life of a digital nomad being on my laptop in coffee shops, All while I race against the clock to find some freelance income before my money runs dry.
There are good days and there are bad days. This may work out or it may not, But at the end of the day it’s one of those things that I know I’m never going to look back on that time I gave it my all and tried to make it as a digital nomad here in Chiang Mai Thailand.
I look forward to sharing my amazing adventures in Chang Mai and digital nomadism with all of you over the next few months. Special thanks to all of my amazing followers, friends and fellow bloggers and nomads who have encouraged and inspired me along the way. I wouldn’t be here today without you.
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