Taking the Leap: My Life as a Digital Nomad
I was definitely one of those people. When I graduated from high school I told myself that I was going to start traveling. Every year since then, even through college, I told myself the same thing, but there was always an excuse about why I couldn’t.
I always knew that I wasn’t going to live a traditional life; I just didn’t know in what way. If you would have asked a year and a half ago what I was going to do with my life I would have told you that I was going into government. I majored in political science, and I was determined for the majority of my college career to work in intelligence.
Around my junior year something started happening to me. I was so stressed out about the prospect of finding internships and the amount of work I had that I was having panic attacks regularly. Plus, I started looking into what my career was going to look like on a day to day basis in government. Many of the accounts I read said that I should expect to work 90+ hrs a week with no holidays off.
I needed a change. That wasn’t how I wanted to live my life.
I decided I needed to get out of my college town. Around the same time my girlfriend at the time got into a PhD program in a neighboring state and mentioned that I should come with her. I was so eager for a change that just a few months later I just packed up and moved.
Needless to say, I found out very quickly (about a month in) that I wasn’t ready to settle down. She was a nice girl, but she also had no time for fun, she expressed no interest in traveling, and told me that if I wanted to travel I’d have to do it alone. No problem. I broke up with her and bought a ticket to Europe the next week.
I didn’t have much money, but I did have a blog that I had started about a year earlier about kayaking. It was starting to pick up steam and was getting to the point where I was making legitimate money. I didn’t really worry about saving up a ton before I went. I saved what I could, I sold everything I owned, packed a backpack, and then left when it was time to leave.
A very important part of my story is that I am from Kansas City, Missouri in the United States. Before I landed in Iceland I have never seen the ocean in my life (I’m 26)! Iceland was amazing. I went on to Paris next, and I loved that city more than I ever thought I would. I then spent some time traveling through other parts of Europe. I lived with nudists, I tried crazy street food, I got robbed more than once, I met people who I spent a day or two with but haven’t stopped thinking about since, I’ve felt more alone than I have ever felt, but I also never wanted to trade it in.
I left Europe out of Frankfurt, Germany and headed for Brazil. I ended up landing in Recife, Brazil and stayed in a small coastal town near Olinda called Paulista. I stayed there for a few weeks before I found a place to live in Rio de Janeiro. Once I arrived in Rio it was an instant connection. I knew this place was going to be important to me for a long time. I decided that I was going to call Rio home indefinitely. That was never the plan, but there is nowhere else like it. I live in house in a favela with five amazing people who I consider family, we have the most amazing view of Rio, and it’s inexpensive.
However, I’m not done traveling. At the end of September I am going to Porto Alegre to train in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym for a few weeks, and then I am traveling to Colombia and up through Central American until I reach Mexico City. I also have plans on going to Thailand in 2016. But as of now, Rio is my home.
My story isn’t about a guy who has seen the world. I haven’t. I know many people who have been to many more places than I have. My story is about someone who wanted to travel and finally said “enough,” and just did it. It’s not incredibly difficult to build a sustainable online income. It also doesn’t take a ton of money to travel. It’s all about making the first move.
My life will never be the same. Life isn’t meant to be spent in cubicles running the rat race. I spend 4-10 hours a week working, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. I don’t have a ton of money, but I can pay rent, buy myself a beer, and eat well. I feel rich in the experiences I have and the people I have met. I go to the beach often, I have frequent happy hours, and I meet a lot of great people. I’m living the life I want to, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The name is Eric. I’m just a 20 something that loves all paddle sports, along with frequent happy hours, a good golf tan, and traveling the world indefinitely.
This is awesome. I wish I would have though a little more outside the box when I was younger. You did well to recognize what you wanted out of life early on. Over the past few years we’ve been going more minimalist so that we can have more time and money to do fun things like travel. We’ve been enjoying many short trips and we hope to set out on longer adventures soon.
AWESOME. NICE POST. GO FOR IT AND I HOPE YOU ACHIEVE ALL YOUR TRAVEL DREAMS THIS YEAR.
This one of the most refreshing posts. Its fantastic to read how you followed your gut instinct and life is what you want. I loved your honesty. Thanks heaps
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