Celebrating 6 Years on the Road, We’d Love to Help You Become a Digital Nomad Too!
This time next week (May 16, 2018), Katharine and I will be celebrating our having successfully lived as digital nomads for six full years, with the start of our seventh year beckoning us into yet more adventures ahead!
We decided on a whim to give up our lovely rented home in the South East of England while out on a walk along the Sussex Downs on Easter Sunday 2012. We’d been planning on spending some time in France that coming summer, most likely when the world would be descending upon London for the then-upcoming Olympics extravaganza. But while making the short drive to the Downs, I posed the question to Katharine, “What if we, instead, head across the English Channel (along with our trusty Fiat Punto) without a return date?” — thereby throwing caution to the wind and giving up virtually all that we had, including our locally based businesses, to slow travel around France, and Europe generally, for as long as we could.
That is, to simply hit the road with no end in sight.
By the time we were walking from our car towards the top of the Downs, which overlook that same English Channel from atop the famous white chalk cliffs, we’d both already responded to my rather radical question with a resounding, “Yes!”.
We gave ourselves exactly five weeks to make this a reality, as we had one week before we’d be making the following month’s rent payment at which point, if the decision still seemed right, we’d need to give the requisite month’s notice to our landlord.
When it was time to send off that next month’s rent payment — and to accompany it with our month’s notice to vacate our beautiful maisonette on the High Street of one of Britain’s liveliest and most creative towns — both Katharine and I remained every bit as enthusiastic about the adventures into the unknown as we were while out on our Easter Sunday walk the week before.
To say the least, our final remaining month was one fast and furious countdown during which we had to dive headfirst into innumerable and potentially quite intimidating unknowns.
How were we going to get rid of the vast majority of our things? Were we going to sell them, give them away? How were we going to go about selling them? (Answer: part publicized sale within our home, part selling them off to an auction company in town, and part having a client-friend of ours continue selling off the remaining things on our behalf while giving her a cut of the proceedings.)
We also had to kit out our car for the year ahead, get an out-of-phase MOT (UK state inspection) so that we’d have a full twelve months ahead of us rather than just a partial year before which we’d need to return to England for another MOT. And we needed to research and source long-stay European car coverage, new camping equipment, and do much the same as it pertained to technologies we’d need for the road (e.g., car battery adapters for our laptops, extra camera equipment), replace some of our clothes for the year ahead, and research, procure, and fit a roofbox on our car (we highly recommend the KAMEI Delphin model, which still graces our car six years down the well-traveled road).
And, in short, a million and one other things that we had not only to consider but to very quickly execute on as well.
We had no explicit period of travel in mind. Rather, the plan was to simply hit the road, ferry across to France, and take it from there.
That month of preparations was such a whirlwind of excitement and enthusiasm infused with all sorts of unknowns that when we got off the ferry in France, we, literally, didn’t have a game plan as to where we were going to drive that day, or where we’d be laying our heads that night. We’d been so focused on trying to get so many things done in such a short span of time that we took no time, whatsoever, to consider what we’d be doing once we’d actually managed to traverse all the unknowns such that we’d successfully left England and ferried across the Channel to France.
Furthermore, we first drove to Hay-on-Wye, Wales for a couple of weeks, which provided for a perfect test run of our camping equipment and assumed necessities, so that, upon our return to Sussex, we were able to replace our leaky tent with a new and much roomier one, and otherwise reconsider what we could take and what we should leave behind when we left for France. We even managed to pick up two short-term restaurant jobs in Hay-on-Wye given that their world-famous literary festival was underway. And I ran a couple of creative writing workshops during that time as well, which is how I’d earned my full-time living, pre-travels.
Six years on, we’ve slow traveled to and through a still-growing number of European countries, and have lived for large swaths of time all around France, seven-plus months in Burgos, Spain, a few months on an olive tree farm in Tuscany, a whole summer in Berlin, six weeks in Bulgaria, nearly six months on the Greek island of Ithaca (plus driving all over Greece, with a week’s stay in Athens), another summer in the mountains of Austria, south of Salzburg, plus shorter spells in both Slovenia and Croatia, Hungary and Switzerland, and traveling the full length and breadth of Italy, etc. And we’ve combined this with living in a great many places throughout Britain as well, from both the northern and southern coastlines of Cornwall to Parsons Green and Nine Elms in London, from the rural Lake District, Dartmoor and the Cotswolds to various parts of Scotland, including Edinburgh, where Katharine lived during her late teens and early twenties.
And we’ve learned a heck of a lot along the way. We’ve become one of TrustedHousesitters‘ top-ranked house- and pet-sitters, and in 2017 we developed our personal housesitting site, Experienced Housesitters. At other times we’ve CouchSurfed our way around Europe, or rented flats for longer-term stays via Airbnb or directly from the homeowner. We quickly organized private English lessons in our flat in Burgos, Spain, which provided for a wonderfully relaxed means to enjoy our extended stay there, while likewise having the day-to-day freedom to become local Instagram and Twitter stars, and producing a book of our best photographs taken in and around the city.
To get a 20% discount on your TrustedHousesitters membership, enter the discount code RAF4133 at the checkout. (We’ll get 2 free months of membership for each person who joins using the above code, so it’s a win-win!)
In 2013, while in Scotland, we started a web design and marketing business that continues to this day. Plus we’ve been running #CreativeTribes for nearly three-and-a-half years, after being struck with inspiration to create the business in the autumn of 2014, while living in Greece.
I also continued to organize writing workshops in England and France during our first year of travels. And Katharine still runs her Mac Made Easy business, which she’d likewise founded pre-travels, working with clients both locally and, now, worldwide via Skype.
If you’ve been wondering how to become a digital nomad, or begun researching the possibilities, you’ll soon see that all of us who’ve lived nomadically have done so through a necessarily unique combination of exploring and tapping into all sorts of creative opportunities as a means to earn our living while traveling. Flexibility, creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit are key! Some folk like to jet around the world, while others, like Katharine and me, prefer to slow travel as a means to live more like locals wherever we happen to be, and to connect up — and soak up — the myriad places in between.
Although often challenging, we wouldn’t trade these six years of living all over Europe and Britain for anything. We’ve learned so much — about the world and about ourselves — throughout this time. Along the way, we’ve also learned to have great faith, when it became indisputably clear that God’s guiding and protecting hand was with us throughout our travels. And we very much look forward to the continuing adventures ahead, as we embark upon the start of our seventh straight year of traversing this and other parts of the world, with our laptops and the essentials of life in tow.
And we’d LOVE to help YOU make your dream a reality — by mentoring you through the transition from your desk, or other relatively static, job to taking your (long-time, recently acquired, or perhaps previously unconsidered) portfolio of skill sets on the road as you chart your own course of adventure ahead!
Just drop us a note and we’ll help you, right away, to start preparing for your unique adventure — through one-time or ongoing (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) digital nomad mentoring via Skype, email, etc. — and help you to work through some of those heart-stopping questions that might be holding you back and keeping you from taking the leap.
We can promise that should you take that leap, you will almost certainly NOT regret it. We can also wholeheartedly say that we’ve yet to meet or even read of anyone who, having become a digital nomad, regretted having done so.
The day-to-day upsides of life on the road — earning your living through various creative means while traveling — altogether swamp any possible downsides. To say the very least.
So if you’re ready to take that crucial first step towards becoming a digital nomad, we very much look forward to hearing from you!