Since I started travelling full time I've had several friends and acquaintances message me to ask about my journey.
Here's some common sentiments that I've recieved:
- I am so jealous, you are living your best life.
- How does your job work again? I want one.
- I really want to travel more but I can't because of insert reason.
- Are you staying in hostels and doing the backpacker thing?
- How do you fit your life into a suitcase?
All of this is fine. But, I wanted to answer some of these questions and give an honest insight into what life is really like as a person who works and travels full time.
Being nomadic is amazing, but it's not without sacrifice
I don't want to be negative or put a downer on this, or to discourage any one who really wants to try the travel/work thing for themselves.
It really is an incredible opportunity, but it is what you make of it, just like any other lifestyle. I am only a few months in to having no fixed address, and I certainly haven't got everything figured out yet.
I've had some ups and downs already. I think everyone makes sacrifices to do the things they love. Missing family and friends is a big one for most people who go down the nomadic path.
Right now, in Bali, I got to a point where I felt I sacrificed my independence. You can't really walk anywhere here, there's no public transport, and the taxis are unreliable. The only way to get around is to ride a scooter - which is something I am having to learn and gain confidence with.
It's probably the first time in my life that I've struggled to adapt to a place, and that made me question myself in so many ways. As a result I got into some bad habits of working too much and not taking enough time to figure these things out for myself.
This can happen where ever you live, and whether you travel or not. For me it was putting myself out of my comfort zone that made me have a level of anxiety that I haven't had since I was in my early twenties!
But overall, I am glad that I am having these challenges and hopefully growing as a person on the other side of it.
I'm jealous, you are living your best life
Sure, it looks like that. But it's not all beaches and sunsets, and yes, I do post my best bits on Instagram – who doesn't do this?.
We can all be guilty of this: posting our best lives on social media and constantly comparing our worst bits to the best bits of everyone else's lives.
For me - this does feel like my best life right now, and I am very grateful for the opportunity. But behind the scenes my life is pretty normal just like it was before I left the UK. I'm not suddenly a different person, I just live in different places and have to balance my life around new experiences and ridiculously long flights.
I still work hard and I spend the majority of my time pushing keys behind a keyboard. Work-life balance can actually be more difficult when you are on the move, or in a difficult timezone. This is something I have really struggled with living in Asia, and I still haven't mastered it yet.
How does your job work again? I want one
I work for a software company that is 100% remote. My co-workers are based all over the world and we communicate online the majority of the time, apart from twice per year when we all get together in a new destination.
It's the most fulfilling job I have ever had, without a doubt. But that isn't just because of the fact I can work from where ever I like. The team is great, the projects I get to work on are interesting and challenging, and there's no office politics.
If you were wondering, I found my job on remoteok.io. I had actually applied for some other remote jobs in my field (Marketing) before. But I didn't have the right experience and I had absolutely no remote work or even freelance experience.
So what did I do?
I spoke to people who did have experience, I found out what was required, I moved jobs for a year to get the right experience, and then I tried again.
This isn't the only way to get some location independence of course, it was just the right one for me. You also run into many founders, entrepreneurs and freelancers who live a similar lifestyle on the road.
I really want to travel more but I can't because reasons
If you want to do this, and I mean really want to do this, then you will find a way.
So many people say, I can't because I have a house or a car or a job I can't travel with. But all of these things can be changed. You need to want to change them, and be willing to deal with the sacrifices.
It certainly isn't for everyone, and that is totally OK too. Just remember we are all sharing our best bits. It's up to you to decide what you want your best bits to be :)
Are you staying in hostels and doing the backpacker thing?
Not at all. Though some people do, this isn't what I choose for myself. I still want a decent quality of life and some creature comforts, which for me is a private home. The one thing I am willing to spend more money on is accomodation. I am nearly 30 and I have worked hard to get to this point, so this is the thing I can comfortably splash out on.
It's the thing that makes me feel "at home" in every new home I go to. It also helps me to have a space where I can go and relax, or work, or do what ever I need to in privacy.
It depends on the country but this means I am renting private apartments, condos, villas, and occasionally hotels, or what ever I can find that suits my needs in each place.
Another thing I am happy to spend money on is a co-working space, so that I can have a place away from home to work, and make new friends.
This is just my personal preference, and I am not usually spending any more money on rent than I would have done back home in Nottingham as a rule. Certain places, like Vancouver, mean breaking this rule, but that's OK too.
How do you fit your life into a suitcase?
This bit was the easiest of all - it was theraputic getting rid of things. I even managed to raise over £500 for Oxfam by donating my clothes. Who needs that many clothes? What was I thinking?
Don't get me wrong I still love shopping, and I still go shopping. But the excess of it when I lived in one location was clearly just something I did to fill a gap, to fill some time.
Now when I buy clothes, or anything for that matter, I have to think "do I need it?", "what can I throw out or recycle to make room for this?".
I travel with one cabin baggage sized suitcase and one backpack. That's it.
Sometimes it can be frustrating when you really need something specific and you are in a country where you can't get it, but that is pretty rare.
Simplifying my life into a suitcase has free'd up more time for me personally than I thought possible, and weirdly, despite having less outfits and cosmetics, I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I did before.
It's surprising how travelling soon becomes normalised
Many things do change when you live out of a small suitcase. But you still have to work, you still have to fit everything in, like eating, exercise and generally looking after yourself.
You have to put in extra effort, usually, to make friends. And you have to repeat that process every time you move.
My life changed, but I'm still doing normal shit every day
Most of all you have to learn to adapt and adopt a high level of self awareness. When your environment changes frequently, you have to adapt to it. If you like routine (surprisingly, many nomadic people do), then you have to find ways to get a routine in different locations.
If you like adventure, then you need to figure out how to balance going on adventurous trips, with living in places that have the infrastructure you need. I need the internet to work. This cuts off a surprising amount of locations for me unless I am taking a holiday.
If you are guilty of working too much (raises hand) then you need to remind yourself to take a step back and enjoy the places you visit. Otherwise, what's the point?
The good stuff
I guess this post has mostly been saying that travelling full-time isn't too different to living in one place. Which is true, to a point.
But I wanted to end on a positive note, because I still believe that this is an incredible experience that more and more people are taking advantage of. For me the greatest things about this lifestyle that have lived up to my expectations are:
- New experiences and cultures
- Meeting new people
- Living outside of my comfort zone and challenging myself
- Spending more money on life and less money on things
- Getting the chance to figure out where I might live permanently one day
Oh, and a break from the computer can look like this
Always happy to chat about this stuff, so you can slide into my Telegram DM's @kymellis too.