Our digital nomad lifestyle is a bit of an unconventional one and we often get a lot of questions about it. What we do is quite unfamiliar to most people, so naturally we meet people who are confused and intrigued by it. After being asked the same questions many times, we decided to create a digital nomad FAQ to put all the answers in one place.
In our Digital Nomad FAQ we will cover a few of the most common questions that we get asked as digital nomads. If you have a question for us that I haven’t covered in this digital nomad FAQ, please leave it in the comments below and I will answer it.
Digital Nomad FAQ
Where’s home for you?
It’s complicated. Kelly is originally from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and Lee is from Accrington, Lancashire, UK. However, that is where we are from and not where we “live”. At the moment we do not have a house or even an apartment anywhere in the world.
We live permanently on the road so sometimes our “home” is a hostel, sometimes it might be a hut in the jungle, sometimes it might be a Couchsurfing host’s spare bedroom. Our home is wherever we are and it is likely to be a completely different place from one week to the next.
Where do you keep your stuff?
Everything we own fits in two backpacks which we carry with us. Yup, that’s right, we don’t have anything in storage, except for a few sentimental odds and ends. We sold it all or gave it away to friends or charity. Do we miss having “stuff”? Not really. It was a little bit heart-wrenching at first to get rid of a few things that were sentimental, but we haven’t really missed them. In fact, it’s truly exhilarating to be able pick up everything you own on your back and head in any direction you choose.
You must have won the lottery! How else could you be able to travel indefinitely?
Although we are traveling around the world and doing a lot of amazing things, we are not rich. We have not robbed a bank, won the lottery or inherited a fortune.
The reason why we can travel the world for years at a time is because we have low expenses from not owning much (no car payments, mortgage, etc.) and because we make an income online. All we need is our laptops and a WiFi connection and we can make the money that we need to fund our long term travels.
So is your life pretty much like being on holiday all the time?
Not exactly. In the destinations that we visit we run into a lot of people who are on holiday and their lifestyles are very different than ours. They go out on tours, treks and expeditions every day, they go out for dinner every night and they stay up late drinking every evening. They have a blast while we are sitting in the hostel working away. However, we only see those people for about a week or so, then they have to go home.
Our lifestyle is not really like being on holiday, because a holiday is one week that you have been saving up for over a period of months and you want to cram in as much fun as possible. Our life is more similar to living in one place, working 4-5 days per week and fitting our work around our activities. The difference is that our location changes every few weeks.
But it must be terrible to have to work while you are traveling the world! Isn’t it hard to sit inside on your laptop when there is so much to explore?
Yes and no. I really enjoy my job and I don’t mind working because I know that I didn’t get the work done then I wouldn’t be able to travel the world. I learned this very early on when we first began our digital nomad lifestyle in the Algarve. In this post I write about the struggle to stay indoors and write when Portugal’s beautiful beaches were beckoning me from outside my window.
My work is what gives me the freedom to travel, so it’s silly to complain about sitting down at the computer to bang out a few articles. Especially when my office is often somewhere so beautiful and exciting.
Don’t you miss out on things because you are working while you are traveling?
We don’t miss out on anything because we are able to stay in every destination for as long as we want to until we have seen everything we want to see. In some places we spend three days, some places two weeks, some places a month or more. We stay for long enough to be able to get the right balance between work and enjoying the destination.
If I get a bunch of writing work sent to me and I get too busy to go sightseeing, we simply stay for a few days longer so that I can finish the work and see what I want to see. Unlike the holiday goers who only have a week or two to cram everything in, we can linger as long as we want so we never really miss anything or leave any place feeling like we didn’t get a chance to explore it.
How do you make money online?
We make a little bit of income through advertising on this website, Global Goose, but the majority of our income comes from my freelance writing career.
Here’s the story of how I built up a career as a freelance writer while working full time in childcare in the UK.
Who do you write for?
I get this question a lot and I think people expect me to have a simple answer like, “Lonely Planet”. However, I am a freelancer so it is much more complicated than that.
I do writing work of all different sorts for a wide range of clients, often with several clients on the go at the same time. I have written about nearly everything under the sun including web copy for plumbing and construction companies, financial blogs for a bank, articles about fashion tips, theater reviews for a Canadian arts guide and so much more. I love to write and I enjoy the challenge of “finding the story” in any topic and doing my best to make it interesting and relate-able.
Most of the writing work that I get these days has to do with travel, as this is the niche that I have established myself in. Travel is one of my favourite things to write about, as it is such a passion in my life. Many people have hired me to share my expertise in the form of travel guides, tips and articles and I have worked for travel clients such as Ethihad Airlines, Radisson Blu Hotels, Global Visas and Select Resorts. If you want to learn more about my freelance writing services after reading this Digital Nomad FAQ, you can visit kdunning.com.
You must have to make a fortune to be able to travel full time?
You don’t have to make a lot of money in order to travel, especially in cheaper destinations.
We have managed to build up a decent chunk of savings along the way, especially when traveling in cheap countries such as Southeast Asia where our expenses are usually less than half of our earnings. We try to keep our expenses down to around half of what we earn, so that we can save money for a rainy day.
Read this post to find out how traveling actually saves us money compared to what we would spend if we lived in one place.
How did you get into a job like this?
It didn’t happen overnight. One thing about a freelance career is that you have to build it up gradually.
You won’t make a lot of money in the beginning as it will take time to grow your portfolio. I started doing freelance writing online while I was a penniless backpacker in New Zealand in 2009.
I built up my writing contacts in my spare time while working full time over a year in England in 2010. It took about one year to go from full time 9-5 worker to totally location independent freelancer.
Here’s the story of how I built up a career as a freelance writer while working full time in childcare in the UK. Check out my guest post on the Successful Blog, How Working Abroad Helped Me Start My Dream Business for more information on how I did it.
Is this what you studied at University?
Not at all! I actually have a silly “Visual Arts” degree that didn’t really teach me much and was a bit of a waste of time, but that’s another story. I have no “official” writing qualifications but writing has been my passion ever since I could remember. I think I have learned a lot more about writing and the writing industry by making it on my own as a freelancer than what I would have learned at school. I think you don’t need a degree to be a digital nomad.
Do you have any plans to stop traveling? Are you ever going to settle down/have a house/have children?
Yeah, we might stop traveling full time at some point, buy a house, settle down, have kids, etc. However, we have absolutely no idea when this might happen and it is totally not something we are worried about at this point.
We get asked about this a lot, which is why I included it in the digital nomad FAQ. At the moment we plan to travel the world until further notice, as we can’t think of a more amazing way to spend the next few years of our life. When and if we are ever ready to make a nest somewhere and stay for a while, we will let our future selves cross that bridge when we come to it.
I imagine that travel will always be a huge part of our lives, even if our lifestyle does become less nomadic. But for now, the pressure is off and we are free to explore the world with no plans, no deadlines and nothing holding us down.
This Digital Nomad FAQ is meant to answer to some of the frequently asked questions we receive from a lot of people we meet. We like to share our thoughts, pictures and travel tips so if you would like to hear more please like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. After reading the Digital Nomad FAQ, you might also want to head to the Start Here page for an organised glance at all of the travel topics that this site covers.