This post was written by Colleen – a digital nomad who said goodbye to her corporate job in pursuit of traveling the world. She works wherever she has Wi-Fi and is determined to collect experiences instead of things. You can follow her adventures at Travel Meets Happy, or like her Facebook page to stay up on her latest travels.
Remember the question you were asked as a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
The most common answers are a doctor, a veterinarian, a chef, a ballerina, but a digital nomad? Probably not. As a kid, and even as an adult, I didn’t plan to be a digital nomad, but this life found me.
I still remember sitting at my office cubicle in Kansas City, half listening to a conference call that seemed to never end, and perusing travel blogs. When I came across the term “Digital Nomad,” I was instantly intrigued. For those of you who haven’t heard the term Digital Nomad before, it’s someone that completes their daily work through the internet, but typically lives a nomadic lifestyle.
This would mean I wouldn’t be restricted to the three walls of my cubicle, worry about taking too long of a lunch break, and working an 8-5 job, Monday through Friday. The world could be my office and I could make my own schedule.
The Digital Nomad dream turned into a plan that I was determined to pursue. I started joining Digital Nomad communities online and doing research on this exciting lifestyle. The one thing I struggled to figure out was how am I going to make money?
I explored different options, trying to see where my skill sets could support me. It wasn’t until I met a guy named Eric in an online community, that I discovered my next career opportunity. Eric taught me how to do Search Engine Optimization for websites. I rolled up my sleeves and started building websites in my spare time.
While I was working a full-time corporate job, trying to build my own business, and saving up as much money as I could, I started to prepare for my new life. I was determined to completely downsize. I sold everything that I owned, except what I could fit into my backpack.
I even made a detailed schedule for my friends to come to my apartment, look through my closet, and take as many items home as they could. What was left I donated to charity. I was sleeping on an air mattress in an empty apartment with the bare minimum of clothes in my closet.
The day I became a true Digital Nomad was quickly approaching, which also meant that I needed to quit my job. This was the final and most terrifying step in my Digital Nomad plan. After putting in my notice, I knew there was no turning back.
Surprisingly, the news of my quitting quickly made its way up the food chain at the corporation. So far up in fact that the vice president personally reached out to me. I was a little star-struck that this guy would even know my name. What I wasn’t expecting was a counter offer, which made me question this path I was pursuing.
The VP offered me one hell of a deal: a raise, an international office of my choosing, a new project, and even new bedroom furniture. I had told him I was sleeping on an air mattress, which he found amusing.
I thought long and hard about his offer. A year ago, this would have been the answer to all my desires. But, then I started thinking about how hard I had been working for this Digital Nomad lifestyle. I had been preparing for a year. If I took this offer, would I regret it? Would all my planning and efforts have been for nothing? This was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
After mulling over my options for a week, I had made my decision. I was going to be a Digital Nomad. Even though the path I was choosing was going to be difficult, I had to give it a try. A week later I boarded a flight to Dublin.
It’s been a year since I made the chose to leave my successful career in pursuit of a full-filling life of traveling and being my own boss. My travels have taken me all through Europe, from swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, to sipping wine in Northern Italy, to being a cat-sitter in Warsaw, Poland.
Even though I didn’t dream of being a digital nomad as a child, this path has shown me more adventure and excitement than any conventional careers.