I’m putting myself out there. Raw. Honest. Vulnerable. This is the second post in an ongoing series of articles that delves into the mind of one nomad travel blogger on a slow travel journey in life whose writing aims to entertain, inspire, or otherwise distract you from your office cubicle job.
Baking, Quiz Shows, and Antique Hunting
It’s not one day in my life that I want to share, rather the daily reality of being a travel/wedding blogger. Perhaps this post should be titled, “How to learn to bake, become a quiz whiz, and an antique expert … all while writing interesting stories.“
The television is always on in the background, mainly to provide soothing white noise for our canine house sit friend. The pooch seems to like it and I don’t mind at all. The problem is that I find myself too often drawn into learning how to make Chai spiced ginger and date tea loaf along with other tasty baking treats.
If you want to become an expert in a variety of subjects, I suggest becoming a digital nomad with a travel blog.
My 15 minute break times coincide with the Irish/UK daytime television schedule. They love their quiz shows and baking shows over in the UK. Of course, the love affair with both of those two genres pails in comparison to the utter obsession with antique hunting. I think it is impossible to turn on your T.V. and not find an antique show in the guide.
I have become an expert in identifying which ledge a contestant should pick on Tipping Point. I become giddy when someone beats one of the quiz masters on The Chase. Yes, this is what I quit my job and made my life into …
If I was writing a baking blog, that would be great. If I wanted to study full time to become the next Ken Jennings on Jeopardy, also a good use of my time. Or, if I wanted to pad my wallet through buying and selling old antiques in Europe, daytime television is where its at.
Alas, none of those align with my goals for the next 3 years.
Technical Solution: BOSE Around-Ear Headphones
Besides turning off the T.V., which isn’t really an option because it would probably upset the dog, I present my technology-based solution: BOSE headphones.
“Oh great,” I hear you say, “Now he’s trying to flog headphones on a travel blog.”
Yup, I am.
I use them everyday and consider them one of the best technology gadgets I have bought in many years. Hands down. I have gotten much value from my headphones and will continue to for many years. If I could buy common shares in BOSE corporation, I would. Sadly they are a private company and not publicly traded on a stock exchange.
Another name for this post could be, “A Review of BOSE around-ear headphones … and how they helped me get where I am today.“
I bought these specific headphones a few years ago and have enjoyed using them ever since. The sound is fantastic, they fit comfortably around my above-average sized ears, and the noise cancellation is superb. I where them in the same room as the T.V. and can’t hear the cooking shows.
These headphones have been with me every step of the way over the past few years in my business and blogging journey. Anytime I feel over stressed or just need to chill for a bit, my BOSE are usually involved by playing music, podcasts, or YouTube videos.
The sound from each of the over 1000 (est.) podcasts that I have listened to by greats such as Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, or Amy Porterfield to name a few, has streamed through these earmuffs.
When I initially purchased them, I did my homework. BOSE really sets the industry standard for headphones, their audio products business has been around since 1964. My model AE2 black ones offer excellent value. Unfortunately, the model was discontinued in 2014.
I suggest looking at reviews of other great BOSE headphones on the market! I’ll get to crafting my own review at some point in the near future.
Digital Nomad Stress
I was recently chatting with my mom via Skype and she made a comment to the effect, “[Andrew] You are doing the right thing, traveling and living the lifestyle you are. You can get up when you want, you don’t have to answer to a boss, and your stress level must be so low.”
At the time, I didn’t really agree or disagree with what she said. I thought about what her motivation was for saying it and responded, “well, there is always stress in life, it is just different with this lifestyle.” I didn’t want to disagree on any level; I agree with everything she says. Travel is wonderful. I can do what I want and get up when I want. And my stress level is noticeably healthier and more manageable. I recommend everyone try slow travel once in life.
I’m taking that particular snippet of conversation above public because I want to dispel any myths that others may harbor. I appreciate my mom telling me what she thinks, as I suspect it is inline with how many think we nomad folk actually exist:
- Pack or sell all your worldly possessions except a laptop and suitcase full of clothes
- Leave for a few years to pursue aspirations in far flung parts of the world
- Live a life of self indulgence, full of adventure, travel, and no stress
I thought about it more and more because it seemed to be a central theme of how people in my life now think about me. Friends back in Canada have used the word jealous and lucky many times. Equally, associates from my past life as a government worker communicate sporadically at best. Even family – the people who have known me my entire life – find it hard to understand aspects of my life. Sadness, excitement, and loss all mix together to fill the void left by the absence of myself and Meredith.
I get the sense people think living as nomads in this moment is:
- Delusional/Irresponsible for leaving a safe, well paying government job with defined retirement plan
- Inspiring for having the courage to follow my own path
- A bit of both
There is always a fourth option, “just doing it to become Irish, cause Irish folk are definitely some of the nicest people I have met on this earth.”
Travel Blogging Realities
Stress is inevitable no matter what endeavor one pursues in life. I don’t care if you are a government worker, CEO of a fortune 500 company, retired old guy spending time ice fishing all day, or a travel blogger. Stress will rear its ugly head. The way one deals with that stress is what counts most.
The reality of a digital nomad and mobile creative is that the way my body and mind react to stress is much more productive and balanced these days. In the past, I was sick a lot with flu, aches, pains, restlessness, and other boring ailments more fit for a geriatrics anonymous blog. I am grateful to live how I live, and nourish myself with the abundant source of energy provided by slow travel. Stress is put into perspective and dissipates much quicker these days. I simply have to look at what I am doing, where I live, and realize it is my reality.
Since working full time as a digital nomad throughout 2015, I feel more alive than ever. I haven’t been sick (knock on wood) for longer than I can remember. Even when poor Meredith was out for seven days straight with a nasty flu during our house sit in Dulwich Village, I was able to avert the worst of it and take care of her.
It is hard work sitting in an office chair pounding away on the keyboard all day long. Crafting stories and travel content worthy of posting on a travel blog can be tedious. Writer’s block can creep in, or on the flip side ideas flow so effortlessly that you just can’t stop writing an article. Three hours later you realize your shoulders, arms/fingers, and neck all hurt from poor posture. The amount of mental energy and physical stamina required surprised me.
Becoming a content producer (a.k.a. blogger) is a process. Just like any other professional undertaking, you don’t start out occupying the top floor corner office space. Even if you have the skills as a writer, editor, photographer, and myriad other specialties needed to make it in the biz, you still have to pay your dues.
I work more now than I ever did as a government worker because I both want to and think I need to – usually the former. No one tells me when to go home or when to stop. Some work sessions I realize that it is 1:00 a.m. and I have been typing for the past 5 hours straight.
When one is in the zone and producing great content, it is such a wonderful feeling. To create and deliver amazing stuff you have to get that feeling at least once in a while, preferably once a week or once a day. That was one aspect that was lacking in my previous work life. In 5 and half years as a government employee I never once got that feeling.
Blogging For Money
I have read enough discourse from bloggers in other niches on the topic of how to make money from your blog that I know it is both possible and extremely difficult. Should you blog? Maybe. But, don’t expect riches to follow.
Meredith and I survive by blogging for our established business (Love & Lavender Weddings), our necktie and veil companies, and this blog. With the exception of Love & Lavender, the other three are niche businesses that we started from scratch. And there is no guarantee of getting paid this month … or next.
We all need income to survive, but it shouldn’t be the motivation to create. Which is why I will keep producing for Nomad Newlyweds regardless if it makes money or not. Right now it is decidedly not making more than a cup of coffee a month.
Take this article as an example, it approaches 3,000 words in length and is offered completely free to anyone who wishes to read it. Yes, there are a few choice affiliate links added to this article for which I would make a few dollars if you were to buy something. That is how the blogging/affiliate marketing game works, and one way that bloggers are able to eat, sleep, and survive. Like other great bloggers before me, I heed their advice and only recommend products or services that I use and love. Trust is everything in blogging. Hard to earn and easy to lose.
Money is a stress for anyone. Some have too much and want to hang on to it, others don’t have enough and want to make more. The nomad newlyweds are by no means wealthy, far from it. We work hard to survive. It helps that we don’t need much these days and can exist on a rather meager income. House sitting or living in cheaper countries works for us.
If I won the lottery tomorrow and suddenly found myself with an obscene amount of cash, I wouldn’t change much. I might upgrade my old laptop, get some new clothes, outfit my (non existent) wine cellar, and find a retreat that overlooks the ocean … I enjoy living a minimalist lifestyle. I am sure it stems from my time spent in Japan and embracing a culture where small space demands uncluttered surroundings – everything has its place. I enjoy my marriage and the happiness it brings. I love traveling, experiencing new cultures, eating delicious cuisines, and all the good stuff that I get to do in my life right now!
Losing Friends, Gaining Friends
Slow Travel Warning: I can tell you that when you move your entire life from one country to another, you will lose friends.
- Quit your job or take a very long-term leave of absence = lose friends.
- Move away from your regular Friday night pub crew = lose friends.
- Leave hometown school friends you’ve known a long time = lose friends.
Losing friends is stressful at any stage in life. We are social creatures and need human interaction and the bonds that friendship provides. Friends add another depth of meaning in life that enriches everything.
Of course, you may not lose those friends forever. You can always rekindle the relationship if/when you return, or you can try to maintain a level of engagement over the telephone, Skype, or text messaging. But it is simply not the same as connecting in person, and that is impossible when you are half a world away. You lose your sustained connection and your ability to feed that relationship. You lose the ability to co-exist in their sphere of influence on a day-to-day basis.
You may even outgrow a friendship. Traveling provides a unique first-hand perspective to interact with the world. You learn to view others as a reflection of yourself, how they work and how they live life. If you are the type to reflect and dwell on what that all means for ‘you‘ the individual, then you will ultimately grow into someone else – the person that you have always wanted to become.
Self development, learning, and growth are a natural and inevitable outcome of a nomadic existence. Travel long enough and you become a different version of your past self, building layer upon layer of growth. Old friends and acquaintances stuck in a non-growth lifestyle may not provide the fertile soil you require. They are no longer compatible to your fundamentally altered perspectives.
All hard trade-offs to come to terms with at first. For me, the heartache and pain of losing a friend is lessened because I’ve done it so many times in my life. A few times by choice, other times by circumstances beyond my control. I always lose a small piece of myself to that friendship, gaining life experience in its place.
“Friends come and go, but for the precious few that should hold on.”
When you move your life from one country to another as a digital nomad, you will also gain friends. You are almost forced to make new friends, which is both exciting and invigorating. The dynamics of making friends is so ingrained by the time we reach our 30’s that we don’t much think about it anymore. What’s interesting to me is that new friends and relationships that are formed while traveling seem to perpetuate a similar story line as old friends.
I find that fascinating. New people have no knowledge of my past being, yet seem to view us nomads as an adventurous and inspiring bunch. Many hold the illusive dream to travel when their lotto numbers come up. Your lotto numbers are not going to come up … I know the odds. But, can’t you travel the world now if that is what you also desire?
Do you want to travel?
The truth is that
everyone some have the capacity to make the same choice as Meredith and I. Not everyone wants to travel. Many choose not to, for a myriad of reasons.
Here are a few that can apply:
- I have kids and can’t just leave to travel for x number of years
- I have no money
- My parents or friends influence my decisions and don’t want me to leave
- I harbor a deep seeded fear of meeting new people
- I fear travel to unsafe foreign countries, fear of volcanoes, or any other irrational fear
- I don’t have the confidence in myself to do something like that
- I prefer the security of my dull job, which I hate by the way
Just don’t let reasons you know deep down are the basis for excuses get in your way. As my mom would say, ‘we do the things we want in life and make excuses for the rest.’ If that is the case, here is my response to the points above:
- Travel with kids is possible. See this travel blog and this one.
- Money is overrated. I’ve had money at a young age, lost it, and made more (and lost it). I realized that I don’t need much income to travel throughout many parts of the world that I want to visit. There are many ways to make money while you travel.
- Its your life. Your parents or friends can’t live it for you. They will still love you. Do what makes you happy.
- Fear is overrated. Fear of anything can be overcome with one simple antidote courtesy of a shoe company: Just do it.
- Confidence can be gained. Read a self improvement book or listen to an uplifting podcast. Do what you must to gain confidence in yourself and your abilities.
- Jobs are overrated. You don’t need one, go create your own.
I don’t mind speaking truth to people who don’t want to hear. It got me in trouble, until I too was persuaded to keep my mouth shut. I don’t remember exactly how it happened. I suppose it was a combination of indoctrination to a government work environment that shunned individualism, personal apathy towards life, and a host of other intangible factors. I was beaten into submission and fell into a life I neither wanted nor dreamed about.
On the flip side, you may actually be quite happy with your life. That’s cool too. I don’t think I, or anyone else, needs to guilt trip you into believing that somehow you need to stop what you are doing and chase the travel dream. Many people love what they do, providing valuable service to their community and the world. Keep doing your thing.
Like I said, some have the capacity and ambition to live a slow travel lifestyle … do you?
9 to 5 Life of a Travel Blogger
If you do decide to become a full time blogger in any niche you will rarely work from 9 to 5, more like 5 to 9. Not the four hour work week we were all promised!
Working as a digital nomad means I have the freedom to choose how I spend my days. Most days I work in the morning from about 8 until noontime. A short lunch, followed by work in the afternoon until 5pm. After dinner I will try to do a bit more work for another couple of hours before winding down for a couple hours prior to bedtime.
Freedom to set your own schedule means you can go for a walk along the riverbank when it is sunny at 2pm. It means you can avoid peak transit times to complete all your chores like grocery shopping, banking, or getting a haircut. And, it means I can watch an episode of that addictive game show Tipping Point while eating my lunch in my pajamas. The perks are certainly something I never want to give up.
I don’t work exclusively on this blog, I split my time among my necktie company, wedding media business, and this blog. For Nomad Newlyweds specifically, off the top of my head I came up with the following task list:
- Researching ideas for new blog posts then writing and editing articles (I currently have over 30 draft articles in various stages of completion for Nomad Newlyweds alone!)
- Editing photos for our four websites
- Responding to client emails
- Keeping up with social media
- Draft, edit, and send newsletter
- Update WordPress plugins and back end code
- Test and tweak offerings
Some work is boring, routine, and monotonous. Other times I can’t contain the exuberant feeling I have and simply have to smile.
Sneak Peak: For example, Meredith and I viewed an exclusive 7 bedroom luxury castle the other day as a potential wedding venue for our new destination wedding planning in Ireland service. Set beside a river, with mountains in the background and sun streaming through into the rustic living area, I was struck by the sheer romance and nostalgic atmosphere.
It was like I had stepped inside a mini Downton Abbey. I wanted to get my suitcase and move in straight away, imagining myself as Lord Shackleford presiding over a grand house. Inspired and with a new castle owner friend, we sadly left the estate. Not everyone gets a personal tour from the owner of a once ruined (now half restored) 800 year old castle.
Creating something from nothing is what I enjoy most. Harnessing existing knowledge and skills to create value for others, and in turn opportunity for yourself, is powerful. Our new destination wedding planning endeavor is certainly one example of this.
Monday to Friday doesn’t exist anymore. I frequently ask Meredith, “Honey, what day is it today?” Usually she is equally puzzled by the answer and we both turn to our iPhones to see what the calendar says.
“Oh, its Monday. I love Mondays!” No more Office Space case of the Mondays …
When each day is equally important it makes the traditional five day workweek less meaningful. Seven days are equally valued and respected.
Slow travel, blogging and running your own digital nomad business for a living means no one directs your actions or dictates your schedule. The buck stops with you. Failure will happen, failure should happen often and early. The actions you take and how you spend your time are most important.
I wish you all the best in your own journey through life. Please leave any questions or comments below!