Author Archives: laurastraveltales

About laurastraveltales

Born in 1973 in a small seaside Italian town, I migrated with my family to Australia in 1986, where I developed an extreme fondness of warm temperatures. After a trivial yet cataclysmic ‘a-ha’ moment in 2004, I left behind all that was familiar, safe and warm and embarked on a 6 year stint as an overland tour guide. My travels saw me discover South America (over and over again) and venture into the black depths of Africa, from where I emerged tanned and happy. A year long stint through the Middle East cemented my belief that I am inherently tropical, and has spurred me onto the next adventure: a motorbike trip from Europe to Australia, starting in August 2012. Crossing Siberia in winter is most definitely not on my agenda…yet 

Busting the Top 15 Digital Nomad Myths

Visiting the Acropolis...on an average day 'off' work

Visiting the Acropolis…on an average day ‘off’ work

So you think you want to be a digital nomad…until you meet someone who bursts all your bubbles by listing 101 reasons why it’ll be impossible. Let ‘em. Let them finish talking that is, but never let them burst your bubble!

There are countless myths flying about on jut show difficult it is to create a location independent life. Well I’m here to tell you that most of them are complete and utter rubbish, some are somewhat valid and a select few are spot on, but only if you happen to be partial to pessimism.

Want to know the truth? The only thing that will ever stop you from achieving any goal (including that of becoming a digital nomad) is fear. Fear will stop you dead on your tracks and prevent you from taking forward steps to making life-changing choices. Manage to remove the element of fear to your decision making and you’ll be surprised how many problems you’ll be able to solve.

Time to bring in the myth-busters…

Myth #1: Traveling around the world as a digital nomad is expensive

I’ve been traveling for almost 10 years and have been a digital nomad for the last two. In the last 12 months I’ve spent a total of € 6,000 ($8,400 USD). Yes you read that right; less than most people spend on a two week vacation. Granted I am a motorbike overlander: I enjoy camping for most of the year and lead a minimalist travel existence. I do this because I enjoy it very, very much, yet the financial benefits are rather obvious too. No, this does not mean you should follow suit, but it does mean that if you open your eyes you will realize that traveling the world can be as cheap or as expensive as you’d like it to be. Always has been, always will be.

Myth #2: Working whilst traveling ruins your ‘vacation’

One of the hardest myths to bust is that which leads people to believe that digital nomading, and long-term traveling in particular, is just one looooong drawn out vacation. I’m not on a holiday here, this is my life. It includes work, entertainment, cooking, cleaning, food shopping and playing. There’s a perfect time for each and every one of my activities. Does your job ruin your life? As much as I would like you to answer ‘no’ to really drive my point home…if your answer is yes then you should definitely consider becoming a digital nomad!

Myth #3: The life of a digital nomad is a lonely one

I have been lonelier in a room full of people who didn’t share my way of thinking and my philosophies, than I have ever been on the road. I have also been lonelier during week-ends at home (where all my friends were busy with family commitments) then I have ever been as a traveler abroad. Not only can you be in constant contact with people who think like you and live like you (they’ll be sharing your hostel dorm or working as digital nomad themselves in your chosen city), but you will also have the freedom to control your exposure to people. You get to hang out only with people you really like! How’s that for fun?

A recent study has shown that there is an increase in depression among adults in the world’s most developed cities; this is due to the fact that people are working harder and ‘living less’ than ever before. I dare say you will be no more lonely as a digital nomad abroad than you would be working your butt off at home. For someone else.

Myth #4: You’ll get bored with moving around all the time

If there is one thing which absolutely bored me to tears in my previous life (as I like to call my pre-digital nomad period) was the fact of being in the one spot ALL.THE.TIME. Driving to the same office every day, lunching at the same place, doing the same thing every day in and out…SHOOT ME NOW! Is what I wanted to scream by the time I hit 30. So, if the thought of living in a new place sounds utterly boring to you then perhaps no, this choice may not be for you. Most digital nomads rate the extra stimulation of new places as the top perk of their lifestyle choice.

Myth #5: You’ll get homesick and miss your family and friends

This myth introduces an interesting conundrum in the life of a digital nomad. Yes, in fact, you will get homesick but the feeling will be temporary and, besides, there are loads of ways you can combat it. First of all, what digital nomads miss in fact are people, not places per say. Luckily, people you can talk to! Make regular Skype dates with the loved ones in your life and plan for yearly get-togethers. You’ll be surprised just how many of your friends will take advantage of your new found lifestyle and come visit you. YEY!

Myth #6: Changing your lifestyle takes years

From the day I woke up thinking ‘Enough now, it’s time to make a change’ to getting on that plane, only four months had passed. In that time I sold my flat, quit my job, sold off most of my belongings and convinced my mother not to lock me in my room forever. Last one was the most time consuming.

It may take you years to decide to change your life, but if you’re a cunning organizer and multi-tasker you can work down your to-do list in just a few weeks once the decision has been made. Promise.

Myth #7: It’s harder to be a digital nomad with a family in tow

Whoever came up with this myth must have been a real genius. Well of course quitting your routine home-life and moving abroad will be more complicated with family in tow, yet that is only because LIFE is more complicated with family in tow!! This isn’t even a myth, it’s just a simple, logical conclusion; but I can tell you that I have met plenty of young families who have found a way to make it work. Simply because they wanted to. Want to know the truth? Their kids were the most open, experienced, mature and philosophical children I have probably ever met. The sheer amount of extra stimuli and cultural experiences shaped them into incredible human beings indeed. If you want all the extra benefits for your children as well as yourself and your partner then I know you’ll find a way to do it. Very simple really.

Myth #8: Being a digital nomad is not something you can do/be forever

Here’s another myth for the recycle bin! At the risk of sounding a bit too esoteric, I shall state that, at the end of the day, you can be anything you want for as long as you still want it. Other than that, logic also tells us that technological advances mean this kind of life will simply get easier with the passing of time rather than harder. Make the transition for location independent and I dare say you’ll never need, or want, to return to a ‘normal job’ ever again.

Myth #9: Working on your computer abroad is just like being at home. (What’s the point?)

There are infinite points actually, but I’ll just mention a few here. I may be sitting in front of my computer right now (which is what I would do at ‘home’), but the moment I shut down the PC and walk out the door I will be in the middle of the Caucasus Mountain range…not in the middle of a suburban Sydney street. Yes it’s true, when I am ‘zoned’ into my work I could be anywhere, but the convenience and excitement of knowing I am in a foreign country is not only amazing to know once I stop work, but it also helps me enjoy my work a lot more. I never resent my job because it allows me the freedom to travel where and when I like.

Myth #10: Digital nomads can only enjoy fleeting, superficial friendships

Oh how wrong this is! Some of the deepest and most intense friendships I have ever made have been with fellow travelers I met for just a few days. Let me explain how this is possible.

There is a certain mysterious pull which bonds like-minded travelers together and makes their connection intensely intimate in a very short period of time. I call travel ‘the BS-filter’, if you’ll pardon the expression. Meet people on the road and you’re bound to be sitting down together and philosophizing about the meaning of life within just a single day. This is something which hardly ever happens at home, because people’s lives are decorated with fluff small-talk like ‘gosh I had a tough day in the office today, and do you like my new shoes and how about those Mets uh?’

Once distractions are removed you are free to communicate with a person at a much deeper level, much faster. I must admit that I have had more deep and meaningful conversations with new on-the-road-friends than I have had with some of my best buddies back home.

Myth #11: There is an age limit to this lifestyle

Incorrect: there is absolutely no age limit to this lifestyle. If you can type on a keyboard and (most importantly) you still want to, then by all means feel free to disregards this myth. Does it get harder the older you are? I imagine so, yet mostly because one’s desires can alter the more time passes. My own travels are changing slightly as the years pass yet so are my desires. I no longer want to travel super-fast and prefer to stop in one spot for longer than a few weeks. What hasn’t changed is my happiness-level. You can still do what makes you happy till the last breath you’ll ever take.

Myth #12: You must work in IT, Internet marketing or be a writer to be a digital nomad

At the risk of sounding repetitive; nope…this one’s not true either. The limitations of your online work opportunities are only restricted by your imagination and your ability to think a little laterally. Over the last few years I’ve met freelance teachers, accountants, editors, marketing analysts, graphic designers and quite a few therapists, psychologists and even yoga teachers who conducted their appointments over Skype. Nowadays, there is not much one can’t do remotely and, to be completely honest, you can be an anything– nomad, you are not even bound by the digital part of it at all. If it’s location independent you want to be, then your options are just as numerous offline. I’ve also met plenty of jewellery makers, masseurs, hairdressers, beauty therapists, podiatrists and all sorts of colourful characters who made a perfectly respectable living offering their freelance services wherever they happened to stay awhile.

Myth #13: Digital nomads are not as productive as those who work in an office

This is a really difficult subject to broach because it’s the one which digital nomads feel most passionately about. We don’t like this one at all. Not only have we worked damn hard to establish our reputation as reliable professionals but, if anything, we believe we are more productive than our in-office colleagues simply because we are happier to work. Having a relaxing and friendly workspace has been proven to improve productivity; and what better place than the one you create for yourself? Digital nomads also have extra incentives; not having the protection of an employer who pays into health insurance funds or covers sick leave means we are in complete control of our work output. The less productive we are, the less we earn; if that doesn’t create an environment beneficial to productivity…then I don’t know what will!

Myth #14: You need a large cash injection to become a digital nomad

Just as you don’t need much money to live overseas as a digital nomad, you also don’t need a lot of money to get started. The accepted rule of thumb is that you can feel free to set off as soon as you have secured your yearly minimum income requirement which, if you’re planning to spend the first six months in a cheaper country like Thailand, can be as low as $500 a month. Of course, having a financial buffer is ideal, yet at the end of the day many people leading ‘normal lives’ never have this luxury either; most people live payslip to mouth so, as long as you are apt at finding alternative work (bar-tending on week-ends for example) in case your digital work falls short, then you won’t need much at all to start with.

Myth #15: Being a digital nomad is the ultimate life dream

I was quite adamant that I wanted to add a ‘positive myth’ to my list and I do believe I’ve found the perfect one. No, this is not true: not everyone dreams of being a digital nomad. This is not any sort of utopian existence, but rather just one of many other lifestyles one could choose to lead. Believing this could work for anyone can be a dangerous thing because it may lead people to believe they are missing out if they don’t consider it. Stability and home comforts are extremely important to some people and if there’s one thing I dislike is if someone believes I am critical of them just because they love their 9-5 jobs, big homes and nice cars. Hey, I’m not here to judge anyone! All desires are valid and all dreams worthy…being a digital nomad was simply mine.

If it also happens to be yours, then rest assured nothing could ever stand in your way.

Written by Laura Pattara

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Filed under Digital Nomads, Location Independence, Motivation, Working Remotely

Budgeting for Your Breakaway: How to Determine the Costs of Moving Abroad

The big cull: if it didn't fit into the back of the bike...it was sold!

The big cull: if it didn’t fit into the back of the bike…it was sold!

Budgeting for a big move is a prospect often fraught with angst. Whilst I agree it may well be the hardest thing you’ve ever done up until now…it need not be all that difficult. I’ll start by admitting that helping digital nomads determine the actual cost of their move is a futile exercise, considering the endless contributing factors: where do you live now? Where do you want to move to? Are you single or with kids in tow? Are you planning to ship your car and a container full of belongings? Etc etc. You get the gist.

Instead, I think the best option is to share some tried-and-tested tips on the best way you can determine the cost for yourself and (perhaps more importantly) include some insider tips on how to reduce these costs.

After all…I’m going to go out on a limb and assume this may be everyone’s priority 😉

Separate the must-costs from the maybe-costs

Your first priority should be to make a list of all the costs you envisage for your move. Things like flights, above-mentioned container shipping; apartment and/or car rental and so on. Then, think long and hard about which costs are avoidable and which are not. Yes you will have to get yourself there somehow, so flights are (for the majority) unavoidable. Tick.

Apartment rental? Nope, don’t need that yet (more on this later.) Car? Definitely not at first. Double tick.

Now your turn.

Get at least three quotes on all the must-costs

Once you have determined what you must absolutely pay for (if you’re still undecided keep on reading) then best to get quotes as soon as possible. Making the move during low-tourist season in your target country can keep flight, shipping and accommodation costs down for example, so always keep this in mind when doing your research and you could save a small bundle right off the bat.

Sell more…take less

You know how I mentioned getting a quote for shipping all of your personal belongings? Yeah…not. Stop right there.

I know how enticing it is to want to duplicate your life at home once abroad but this does contrast with most of the reasons you decided to make the BIG move in the first place. This isn’t about duplicating, this is about reshaping. If you do want to take ALL of your material possessions and envisage placing them in your new home overseas, you may want to rethink your reasons for moving. It’s a hell of a lot of hassle just to get away from the mother-in-law! Just kidding…

Placing everything in storage and leaving with the bare necessities is a great option, although if you can stomach the idea, I suggest you actually sell off as much as possible before you leave. Not only will this generate more cash (there’s your flights!) but the psychological impact it will have on you may allow you for greater flexibility in your new home-country.

I did in fact leave all my belongings in storage before going travelling. The next time I saw them was three years later when I dashed home to sell it all off: I had spent $2000 a year on storing things I never thought about, nor needed, ever again.

Food for thought? Goodie.

The dreaded housekeeping

One of the hardest decisions you’ll make will be whether or not to keep your house, if you happen not to be renting at home. This is definitely a tough choice to make. Due to my fatalist philosophies I will come right out and advice you to get rid of it; the only thing it will gift you is hours and hours of worry and work; both things you can do without. However, I also understand and accept that this may be easier said than done. Well, I did do it and it was rather easy, but you get my point.

Factoring in the costs of keeping your home at home can be hard-going. Will you rent it out? What about unexpected repairs? Will you leave someone else in charge of managing it? What about the extra expenses: can you factor them into your digital nomad income?

It will soon will become painfully obvious that keeping your home is a huge commitment, one which is hard to maintain if you happen to be on the other side of the planet; and this is just taking practical matters into consideration. I can only imagine how many digital nomads have lost countless nights’ sleep over a major issue with their homes. I don’t envy them one bit.

You’ll need less than you think

This particular credo works for just about everything you can think of. Please excuse the hanging preposition.

First of all, let’s talk high tech gizmos. By and large, I would suggest that whatever you need for one full day of working remotely from Starbucks is all you’ll ever need. I’ve seen digital nomads look like walking computer stores, whilst all I own is a small netbook, an external hard-drive and a couple of memory sticks. All three, by the way, can be purchased in almost every corner of the globe. I keep things stored on Dropbox and continually email my work to myself. Should the inevitable happen (things also go walkabouts in every corner of the globe) I won’t be jumping out of a 4-story window in despair.

Here’s something else to think about. Just because you can’t go down the road to buy milk without hopping in your car, it does not mean you ought to export this habit to your new home-country. Living without a car is not only possible and incredibly refreshing; it is also much easier to do it from the moment you arrive, when you have not yet become accustomed to the luxury of depending on one. Shipping your car overseas can be an awful waste of your heard-earned cash so I suggest you don;t even contemplate it. Likewise, leave the car rental/purchase expense in your new home country for a few months down the track. Unsurprisingly, most digital nomads who live abroad never even make this step, even after many years.

Homes are highly overrated and I do mean this in the nicest possible way. Yes it would be nice to land in Calcutta and head straight for your rental apartment, but the problem with this is that you’ll never really know how good a choice you’ve made until  you’ve seen it, smelt it and lived in it. Food and accommodation are life’s basics costs, yet holding off just a wee while on the latter can see your initial costs reduced drastically. First of all, you may want to spend a few weeks scouring suburbs of your intended abode and decide which one suits you best. Secondly, I don’t care what expat blogs/guide-books say, you are the only one who can determine what is good/bad for YOU so you do need to see it all for yourself.

Spending a few weeks in a cheap hostel will not only reduce your initial moving costs but it can prove to be highly beneficial in lots of other ways. I love hostels because they give me the convenience to stay in the heart of a city or town whilst giving me the freedom to suss it all out. You can get a private dorm to yourself/ves and enjoy the convenience of cooking your own meals, thus saving you money on food consumption as well. Most hostels will discount for long-term stays so consider it a bona fide genial option. The great thing about doing this is that you don’t need to yet budget for a rental-apartment deposit within the first few weeks. Give yourself some time to recover financially from the move before forking out even more cash and you’ll be a much happier digital nomad.

Budgeting for your move abroad is a task best tackled with nerves of steel and a sunny disposition; although most seasoned digital nomads will tell you to just chill right out. The whole point of this life-changing decision is to simplify your life and get back to the basics.

May as well start your spring-clean today.

Written by Laura Pattara

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Filed under Digital Nomads, Finances and Budgeting, Location Independence, Preparing to Breakaway

The wandering digital nomad challenge: how to achieve a work-travel balance

View from my desk in a campsite on the Albanian Coast. It's a hard life, I know...

View from my desk in a campsite on the Albanian Coast. It’s a hard life, I know…

‘How do you manage to work and travel simultaneously?’ is possibly my most oft-asked question. Whilst some digital nomads are indeed blissfully located somewhere, usually for an extended period of time, I am a member of a small group of challenged individuals who are actually located everywhere, all the time. My partner and I are currently riding our motorbikes from Germany to Australia; we’ve travelled through 15 countries in the last 15 months, lived in a tent most of the time and I’ve managed to write almost 500 travel-related articles along the way.

Challenging enough? You could say that…

Yes it is true that wandering digital nomads face a few more challenges than their more settled (and some would say sane) counterparts, yet finding a way to earn money whilst travelling is by no means an impossible task to accomplish.

If you’d like to know how I manage my own work-travel balance, and get a few ideas on how to tackle this challenge yourself, now would be the time to continue reading.

1)      Establish good working relationships

If you’re planning to become a self-employed digital-nomad, feel free to skip this point altogether. If your income will depend on others however, do take special note.

All digital nomads will spend a serious amount of time setting up a good virtual job before they start packing their bags. Most of the time, they won’t consider making the big move until they’ve secured their needed income. This is, suffice to say, an excellent choice.

Vagabonding digital nomads however, must also establish work contracts with people who understand that they are going to be constantly moving around. This turned out to be easier than I had anticipated, although I admit that the fact I only work within the travel niche may have something to do with it. Travellers dig travellers!

You can start off every month with the best intentions in the world, but let it be known that the life of a long-term traveller is one of complete and utter chaos. Most of the time. Finding a sympathetic ‘boss’ (or three) was my top priority before leaving, and something which I recommend you do as well. No matter who it is you work for, they must realize that whilst you’ll endeavour to deliver/contact/skype/email, sometimes you just won’t be able to, end of story. The internet will be down; you’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken bike-part, you’ll be sick etc. This is why it is just so imperative that you build up a good reputation as a professional and conscientious worker and establishing a trusting relationship with your work provider. Should the inevitable happen, this will ensure the boss is not left disappointed and you are not left unemployed.

The fact that I also held a daytime job and learnt a new language during my pre-departure period is testament to the fact that…

2)     You should learn to be a multi-tasking-master

Juggling several balls simultaneously is what I do best and something with which I have the most experience. Before meeting Chris I’d worked as an overland tour guide for five years and mastered the skills of multi-tasking. After spending years answering 24,000 questions a day whilst making a mental food-shopping list and finding time for email answering, account keeping, problem solving, activities booking, mental-breakdown-preventing, leg shaving and travel itinerary researching… I knew I could do anything simultaneously 😀

Squeezing 27 hours out a 24 hour day is child’s play (once you get the hang of it) and a perfect skill to have when desiring to work and travel concurrently. The most important part of this talent is that teaches you what I call ‘mental multi-tasking’: the ability to switch your working and travelling brain on and off at will. This was by far my most challenging hurdle in the first few months; I needed at least two days to go from sightseeing and bush camping to writing a coherent enough travel article my boss would be willing to pay for! The process is getting easier and easier as the time passes and I have gotten to the point where I can go from spending five days crossing the Caucasus Mountain Range to churning out a decent amount of work, with just a good night’s sleep, a decent shower and a strong cup of coffee.

The good news here is that this is indeed a learned talent and something anyone can actively practice. Manage your work time efficiently and you won’t ‘waste’ a minute of your day.

3)     Find your groove & perfect your work routine

Whilst I may be a mental-ninja, I’m not superhuman, which means I can’t actually visit a historical site and write a travel article at the same time.

The options of work routine are various, so you may have to try out a few scenarios before you know what works best for you.

What I have managed to do is set up a completely imbalanced life balance which seems to work a treat for me: I travel most of the time and only work some of the time. I’ll stay put for a week in one spot with good internet and comfortable living quarters and work (at a campsite with a cosy cafe’, hostel or rental apartment), then travel for 3-4 weeks after that. Sometimes I also play it by ear and fit in a couple of working days when the weather sucks or if I happen to be in a particularly productive mood. This is also the reason I only accept monthly travel article requests; knowing ahead of time what I need to deliver in a month gives me the freedom to rearrange my days as I see fit.

I’ve known of digital nomads who travel and work on a 3 or 6-month-rotation basis and this may well turn out to be your preferred method. In the digital-nomad world, this is called ‘cycling’. It actually sounds perfect to me personally, yet my particular trip is so physically demanding (I’d never even ridden a motorbike before) that I really couldn’t travel non-stop for three months straight without a week-long break somewhere along the way. My work week has also become my rest & recuperation week. See? There’s that multi-tasking thingy again 😉

I plan my work-week about two months in advance and research what seems to be the ideal place to stop. A capital city, for example, will always be a good bet even in the most undeveloped countries; chances that you’ll find a decent place to stay with good Wi-Fi are surprisingly high the world over. This little plan has turned out to be ideal for me, because I don’t particularly like cities. Having to bunker down and work for a week straight in the big smoke is infinitely less painful than trying to do the same in a gloriously small beachside campsite on the southern Mediterranean coast in Greece in July. Now THAT was painful.

4)     Slow is key

When all is said and done, the only thing which will ensure your success as a wandering digital nomad is time. Give yourself lots of it; you’ll need it.

The only way Chris and I can manage to live as we do is because we travel so incredibly slowly. We cover only about 1,000kms a month and usually only visit a few places in each country. We’ll ride just a couple of hours each day and usually camp for a few nights in each spot. We tend to move faster during summer and spring and a little slower during the colder months, when bad weather can see us ‘stuck’ in one place for two weeks at a time, or more. When you’re a digital nomad you’ll never resent a rainy day on the road!

We are actually, for the first time in years, about to settle down for the winter in one single spot. I’ve recently been offered the amazing opportunity to write a long-term traveller’s guide book for a European publishing company and wish to do so from the comfort of a rental apartment in Tbilisi, Georgia. This will not only give me the chance to try ‘cycling’ for the first time ever, but it will also provide me with enough income should our intended crossing of Central Asia next year prove to be a tad work-challenging. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how that pans out. Keep you posted!

You should realize by now that there is no such thing as an ‘ideal work-travel balance’ for nomadic digitalists…different strokes for different folks really is quite the apt adage in this case. Find your own grove, routine and balance and, most importantly, remember to love what you do.

Manage this…and you’ll always find a way to make it work.

Written by Laura Pattara 

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Filed under Digital Nomads, Travel Tips, Working Remotely

Breakaway…how to free yourself from those invisible shackles

Breaking free from my previous life was not easy...but boy was it worth it :)

Breaking free from my previous life was not easy…but boy was it worth it 🙂

The decision has been made. You’ve spent months (sometimes years) debating with your soul about what it is, exactly, that you want from life. Once you’ve finally realized that breaking free is your ultimate goal, you think all your problems are over. That’s it! The hard part is over! You’ve made the decision to cut the shackles which are holding you back and to set off into the sunset; oh how wonderful do you feel right now?!?

Forgetting something? Not so fast there cowgirl…

Yes it is true that the hardest part, for me personally, was coming to the realization and making the final decision, that long-term travel was what I craved most. Yet this does not mean by any stretch of the imagination, that what came next was pure bliss. It wasn’t. It was a bit hellish actually. I had an apartment to sell and the contents to store, I had to disconnect from everything in my life, hand in my resignation, pay off my credit card, close all my accounts and, if all that wasn’t enough, I had to break the news to my mum. Once you learn my mum is Italian, then you’ll understand my angst ^_^

Handing over the keys of my former abode to the real estate agent felt like a huge relief. Sort of. You see, everything about the ‘breakaway’ was immensely contrasting for me: I was elated yet hesitant, adventurous yet cautious. Nothing about it was black and white and, to tell the honest truth, nothing has been ever since. I love travelling with every inch of my soul but at times I get homesick, friend-sick and mamma-food-sick. Whilst I cherish making new friends every day I miss having D&Ms with my life-long friends. I dare say that life for most long-term nomads is one of contrasts and contradictions, so I suppose the internal turmoil I felt when I was in the midst of reorganizing my life  was Mother Nature’s way of telling me ‘well you better get used to that kid…there’s a lot more where that came from!’

Being virtually homeless at the age of 31 felt a little scary although having a 3m³ storage space full of my ‘stuff’ helped alleviate my fears. This was my back up plan, my fall-guy, this was my way of saying that while I very much wanted ‘out’, I did also want to leave the door ajar. Just in case.

Considering that the next time I saw my stuff was when I flew home three years later to sell it all off, one would think that I’d be an ardent advocate for complete and total initial sell-off. But I’m not. Sure, sometimes I kick myself at having spent $6,000 over three years to store things I never needed nor wanted again, but I do think my gradual detachment from what I sometimes call my ‘previous life’ was exactly the right recipe for me. I’ve had people ask me how one just breaks away completely and sets off, but fact is I have no idea how anyone could do that either! I did it in steps and it worked a treat and this is something I would highly recommend to anyone who feels a little nauseous at the mere thought of ridding themselves of their life-long’s possessions. I can plead and beg and swear to you that you won’t give two hoots about them in two years time, but fact is everyone needs to get there on their own.

I left my car with a friend who paid and maintained it whilst she used it (sold that two years later), consolidated all my accounts into one and took a debit VISA card with me (incidentally this is still the only bank account I have) and I did take out an emergency MasterCard for the unthinkable. Knowing that I could buy a flight home at ANYtime helped put my mind at ease.

Those who are intending to live an expat existence in another country will probably have an easier time I dare say, but of course cutting off from the emotional attachments in our lives will always be the biggest challenge. It really does help to keep in mind that, this being the 21st century and all, one can get back ‘home’ in two days from just about every corner of the globe. Your chosen financial step of choice (do you live off your savings a while, make virtual connection before you leave etc?) will also determine just how nervous you’ll be at the airport, yet I imagine that even the most organized wannabe-nomad will suffer many sleepless nights.

Taking all the necessary steps you need to free yourself from your restrictions is never going to be the easy part. Emerging from the other side unscathed however, will definitely be the most rewarding.

Welcome to your new life.

Written by Laura Pattara

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Filed under Digital Nomads, Location Independence, Motivation, The Breakaway, Working Remotely

Taking the plunge…when FREE is all you want to be

Cuddling a cheetah in Zambia, absorbing the serenity of Petra in Jordan, getting up close and personal with Galapagos seals and being overawed by Egypt's Luxor Temple. Choose to break free...and you can do it all

Cuddling a cheetah in Zambia, absorbing the serenity of Petra in Jordan, getting up close and personal with Galapagos seals and being overawed by Egypt’s Luxor Temple. Choose to break free…and you can do it all

As a long-term vagabond I’m often asked if ‘travel’ is the most important thing in the world to me. Whilst I understand how people may come to this seemingly logical conclusion, considering I don’t seem to be able to keep still in one spot for longer than a month, I am often left wondering why others don’t see what I see. Why do they not realize that this kind of life is not about travel per say? The decision to reshape my life and make it location independent is, and always has been, all about freedom.

Freedom is, above all else, my most precious possession.

To be completely honest, it may be a little presumptuous to assume everyone understands the true ideal behind living such a blissfully unrestricted life. After all…it took me long enough to reach that conclusion!

It was around the beginning of 2004 when I finally realized the cause behind my recent bout of unhappiness. Everyone in my life was telling me I had all the reasons in the world to be happy: I’d just turned 30, was in a highly paid job in the fashion industry and had just taken possession of a gorgeous inner-city apartment in Sydney, Australia. By all intents and purposes…I was on the ‘right’ track. But right for whom? Who on earth decided that this was the way we were all meant to live? Whilst my friends coveted my designer wardrobe and my parents were proud as punch I’d made a long-term investment; all I felt was that I was losing control of my life…inch by inch. I do understand that some people may look at their heavily mortgaged four walls and see security and long-term stability, yet all I saw was virtual handcuffs.

I felt claustrophobic, frustrated and not a little depressed to tell you the truth. It wasn’t until one totally unremarkable day that the famed light bulb was tuned on. I was staring at the photocopying machine watching endless copies of a document emerge from the out-tray. As the hypnotic sound and motion of the pages entranced me, I remember smirking and thinking ‘This may just be the personification of the rest of my life. Every day the same, every year identical; everything predictable and safe’. It was then that I saw my situation for what it was and I could finally verbalize what and why I had been feeling so unfulfilled. I didn’t want safe and predictable, I didn’t care about pretty clothes or accumulated assets; all I wanted was freedom. The only thing I wanted was control of my life.

Travel turned out to be my most fervent desire yet I do see this as a by-product of enjoying personal freedom. Making the decision to chase my dream of long-term travel was not the difficult part for me; coming to the realization that this is what I desired most was by far much harder. From beginning to end this process took two years of my life, yet of course this is neither regret nor a statement of self-admonition. It was a necessary process I had to go through in order to build up the courage to leave all my securities behind and to reshape my mindset.

If you happen to share my passion for travel and my fervent desire to be free of modern societal constraints, you may be wondering how on earth you could ever afford to take the plunge yourself.

Well, after nearly a decade of aimless wanderings, I’m here to ask you just one question…

How can you afford not to?

 

Written by Laura Pattara

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Filed under Motivation, The Decision