One of the most common struggles I hear from new digital nomads, is how they find it difficult to balance travel with their work. After 6 years of working and travelling full time, this is the journey to how I found my perfect balance and have fallen in love with the Slowmad style of travel!
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My Digital Nomad Journey – How My Travel Style Has Changed
Hi everyone. I hope you are all having a fantastic start to 2024. I already feel that this year is going to be so transformative, so huge in ways that we cannot comprehend right now, and I am just surrendering to all that this year has to offer.
I would love to take this time, this episode to kind of explain my travel plans for the rest of the year, not in terms of where exactly I’m gonna go because I feel like I never know that many months out, but how my traveling style has changed over the years and what it means for my chapter right now. I know that there are so many different ways to travel. I’ve experienced so many different ways, and as an entrepreneur, as an online business owner, we travel in ways that are different than people going on vacation. If you want to grow your business in a way that feels aligned in a way where your nervous system isn’t always on high all the time, there are better ways to manage your travels and your time. And I just want to go through in this episode what that looks like for me.
What Is Slowmading?
So I’m going to be talking about my life Behind, the Scenes of a Slowmad, which is what I identify with right now, Slow Travel and Business Growth, and the term Slowmad comes from slow Nomad on average since COVID. So since 2020, I’ve been spending two to six months sometimes a year in places, and I’ve found that that works incredibly well for me at this chapter of my life. But it didn’t always start from slowmading.
I would say the first time I traveled by myself was when I studied abroad in Italy when I was 19, and then I also did a semester abroad in Hong Kong when I was 20. And because I was studying and going to school full-time, I would take weekend trips with my friends when we had time off or when we had finals. And that was, you know, exploring a new city, a new country once every weekend, and it was usually really short trips. Then I took a few months to backpack around South America and Europe. After graduation, I volunteered, and that was kind of when I stayed a little longer.
So I was in Peru for two months and then I backpacked around Europe for a month. But I would still say in the grand scheme of things, I felt very rushed, especially in Europe when I was doing the backpacking trip. I would spend maybe like three to five days in a country and then take my next flight. And this was driven by the fact that I wanted to see as many places as I possibly could before I had to start working my corporate job because I had signed a return offer for Bank of America and I was going to start working in June, and I just wanted to fit so many countries within the last few months while I still had the time. Then when I entered corporate America, of course I had limited vacation days, and so my trips were around three to five days max.
I would fly somewhere, try to jam pack my schedule, I didn’t have to work, it was paid time off so I would fit in as much as I could on those trips. And in one of my previous episodes, I share about how I remember being so anxious when I was just sitting at a hotel with no plans or not seeing anything because I felt like my time was so limited I needed to have literally every second planned or packed with something to do or else I truly felt like I was wasting my precious vacation time. So it’s very safe to say that I think until my mid twenties, my definition of travel was very go, go, go for a purpose to see, to sightsee go on hikes, to see all the tourist attractions, do all the touristy things, meet people.
I stayed in hostels, I stayed in Airbnbs and hotels and it was really, really fast paced. Needless to say that as a business owner, like looking back on that, it was because I didn’t have a business to run, right? And I had limited time. I didn’t need to be making money, and so it was sustainable. But compare that with my life now, it just sounds so exhausting to me and not conducive to growing a wildly successful online business.
Travel Influencer style
So when I quit my corporate job and started the Wanderlover, I had not shifted my mindset and I was still on that kind of hamster wheel of wanting to create travel content and going to places for a week or two at a time. But even then, I was getting a little burned out my first trip after I had quit my corporate job and then broke up with my ex-boyfriend who I was living with at the time. I went to Australia and then I went to Bali and I was traveling from like Sydney to the wit Sundays to Bali all within like a week or two of each other. And that was a lot. I got a lot of content, but I truly wasn’t able to be as productive because I was always on the go, always meeting new people and it was really hard for me to find a routine. And that is why at the end of the year I decided I was going to plant some roots in Bali.
The Switch To Digital Nomading
I had fallen in love with Bali and I felt the community of entrepreneurs. I met so many other digital nomads who are building their businesses and I just felt really called to go there. Fast forward a year after relocating to Bali, I met Ragz and I was traveling to go see him in England. (Check out our full story here) We were doing long distance for a while, and then I had planned a trip to South America to Argentina in Uruguay with one of my really close friends, and Ragz decided to quit his job and come along to pursue his online business full-time and looking back at how the past few years have kind of just played out, it’s mind blowing because a few months after he quit his job was when Covid hit and we were in lockdown in Brazil, unable to travel to other states in Brazil, unable to leave the country.
We literally went from long distance to being quarantined together, and my friend who I was traveling with, she had gone back to California. So it was just me and Ragz exploring this new way of traveling AKA being stuck in a country. And what this forced me to realize was that my business was growing at a much, much faster rate by staying in one place, aka Bali and Brazil, than constantly having to plan out my next destination. Two weeks, three weeks, even like a few days in advance, having a base where I can have my morning routine, where I can start learning the local language, volunteer in ways that felt really impactful and aligned for me.
All of these experiences I didn’t get to experience while I was backpacking or country hopping. I knew as a business owner that because I have all the time freedom and location freedom and financial freedom, I was able to redefine travel. Plus, I was at a point in my life where I had gone to enough countries to really know what I am looking for in my next destination, whether it is to explore a completely foreign place, whether it’s to go surfing, whether it’s to be in the mountains or be by the water. And not surprisingly, over time, I am completely just admitting to the fact that I love my life by the water.
I love the ocean, I love surfing, I love the tropics, and that is where I spend a majority of my time. If you’re going to ask me to go to a completely new place where it’s maybe in the mountains or go back to a place I’m really familiar with and I absolutely love where I can be outdoors, where I can go surfing every day, I’m probably going to pick the one that is familiar to me, that I know that I love. (I have listed my top 5 digital nomad destinations for surfers here)
The Transition To Slowmading
So what I’ve learned there was the fascination of new experiences has an upper limit, and maybe this is just the chapter of my life where I know what makes me happy and I’m craving those experiences that really are going to fill my cup.
Before it was, I wanna see new places, I want to increase the number of countries I’m visiting, I want to really see the world, and now it’s like I wanna go back to the places I know I really, really love and the places that I want to explore even more. The other thing I’ve learned with staying in one place for an extended period of time is that there’s always something new to learn. If you are in love with the place, you want to know everything about it. You want to be better at the language, you want to learn how to make the local food. And when you have that connection with a place, I really don’t think you can stay long enough to be like, you know what? I’m sick of it. It’s almost like your second home.
And so since my one year in Bali quarantining in Brazil, I’ve spent six months in Mexico, six months in Hawaii. I’ve gone back to Indonesia a bunch of times where I’ve stayed for like up to a year. I’ve done 90 days in Europe, 90 days in the uk, and I’m very, very comfortable and familiar with this concept of slow matting. I absolutely love it.
The Benefits Of Slowmading
I get to have my business on a predictable schedule for the upcoming months. I know which time zone I’m going to be in. I can block out my calendar for days when I am exploring, you know, like going away for a day or two. I can block out my calendar without any surprises.
I can integrate with the local community. I can create and form my own local community and meet locals and meet other travelers because I’m staying longer in one place. And I think that is so important because your friendships aren’t as transient anymore. It’s not like you make friends with someone and then you’re like, oh wait, I’m leaving next week or I’m leaving next month. Looking back on all of the travel friendships that I’ve made throughout the last decade, a handful of them are still my really, really close friends. I am so grateful that travel has brought me to my soul sisters from around the world, but I will also say hundreds if not thousands of people I’ve met and spent time with.
I don’t keep in touch anymore. We are, we live in different countries, we don’t make the effort to see each other, and when you don’t invest time and energy into those friendships, they fizzle out. Of course, it was so fun, so exciting, so much adrenaline when you meet new people and you’re in a new place. But I think after so many years of doing that now I am also at a place where I truly value genuine connections. People who I see a future and a friendship with for an extended period of time. And not just small talk of where are you from, what do you do? Oh, you’re going to the next place next week, let’s get dinner.
And then you get dinner and then it’s like, okay, I’m probably never going to see you again. I’m not saying that is wrong and If, you love doing that more power to you. I’m just expressing my view that If, you do spend longer times in a place. You’re not gonna be the person that’s like, oh, I have to bounce. Like you have the time and the energy to be investing into those friendships, into the community and your business as well. If the concept of slow matting frightens you, let me put your mind at ease. Personally, I find it so much easier to stay in a place for longer periods of time because you are more familiar with the local market.
You can book Airbnbs for months at a time. It doesn’t just have to be for a few nights. You can apply for different visas that allow you to stay longer in a country, If you wish. And there are just so many resources that help you travel slower. You don’t necessarily need a base, although if you have like let’s say a one year lease and you want to Airbnb it out while you’re gone, you’re totally welcome to do that, but the concept of slow matting is so much easier when you just commit to it and figure out a lifestyle that works for you. In many places, you can rent a vehicle or a scooter or you could buy a vehicle if you stay longer, oftentimes your accommodation is actually gonna come out cheaper if you get a monthly or yearly rate than if you’re just paying for a short term rental.
And having a home in each of the countries that you are visiting enables you to focus on your business holistically. In a year’s view, where are you going to be for quarter one, quarter two, quarter three, quarter four? What projects are you going to work on? In which one of these quarters are you going to be traveling? And in which one of these will you be actually settled in in a home where you can afford to really tackle business projects and things that really require your attention versus when it’s predictable as well? Like you know, oh in, at the end of March I’m going to be moving across the world, so I’m just not gonna have any launches in that week.
Do you see how when you have a more predictable travel schedule and knowing that you’re gonna be in a certain place for a few months, it’s a lot easier to plan your business activities around that which leads to sustainable growth. We have some members of the Digital Nomad Society who have voiced that as they are traveling and trying to build their businesses, they get so distracted by people who are on vacation who don’t have a business to run, and the priorities are just different. And that is okay. When you are staying for a longer period of time, you’re able to go travel with those people, but then you have a base to come back to where you can then block out the next two weeks and focus on what it is that you want to achieve in your business. Having that balance is so, so key and it comes from learning what works best for your routine. (If you need tips on how to balance your time as a Digital Nomad, I have a podcast episode with all my tips here.)
My 2024 Travel Plans
What does slowmading look like for me in this upcoming year? While I am currently in New York, I intentionally wanted to stay here for somewhat of an extended period of time this time. And so I am staying put here until mid-February when I am going to one of my really good friends weddings in Mexico and we’re kind of doing like the same loop that we did last year and after Mexico, we’ll come back to New York for a few days and then head back to Indonesia at the end of February.
We’re going to go to two islands we’ve never visited before, but it’s always been on our bucket lists, so I’m really, really excited for that. Ragz has a few clients out there that we’ll be creating content for and staying at their like luxury villas right on the water right in front of this incredible surf break. I have a lot to look forward to and I think you can hear in my voice how excited I am, and this is what I want you to feel like when you are traveling, the excitement of planning new things, and this is why you also need to have that balance, right, because I know February is gonna be a hectic month. I wanna stay put in January because I have a lot of business projects that I’m currently working on, and having that deadline feels really good for me as a business owner, so I’m not always stressed and anxious knowing that I have the time and energy to dedicate to all parts of my life.
I hope this episode was helpful to you. If you have any questions about slow matting or transitioning to a slow travel lifestyle, please feel free to reach out. I know there are so many different ways of traveling and it can be really overwhelming at times. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions at all. See you in the next episode my loves. Have a fantastic week.
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