My journey began as far from the “digital nomad” lifestyle as possible.
For many people, their 20s are crazy years: years of traveling and exploring. This wasn’t the case for me. While the rest of my friends were globetrotting, working in meaningless jobs and figuring out what they wanted to do with their lives, I was probably writing some paper for class.
I went from graduating high-school to being an officer in the army for 3 years, to architecture school for the next 5. I had everything figured out. I was on track to achieve everything I wanted — a good career, marriage, 2.5 kids, and a house with a white picket fence. Oooh and a dog in the backyard.
So I graduated, got an apartment in the city, and landed a great job as an architect at a nice firm which even allowed me to travel a bit (safe inside my comfort zone and within the constraints of my vacation days). Things were definitely going according to the “plan”. I did everything “right” and my life was good. Actually, it was even kind of great. It’s the life everyone told me I should be living, but something always felt a bit off, like…’Is this it?’
And then one day I woke up and I was 30 (GASP!). The clock was ticking louder and louder with every moment. Life felt like it was passing me by as I sat in an office for 10 hours a day. Don’t get me wrong — work was good, and life after work was fine, and traveling was nice… But I had this undeniable desire for something more, something greater.
Living in the same city for all my life – I decided that I wanted to travel, to see the world. I had all the reasons why NOT to: I wasn’t sure how I could take so much time off work, I was a bit scared to do it on my own and in general it felt like it might be “too late”. Almost everybody around me had settled down already, were married and had children (like “proper adults” in their 30…). There was also the thought that “middle of life” travel was crazy or impossible. But if I were to do it, how would I. I had a career and life goals that I wasn’t ready to compromise on.
Being an architect was my dream since I was very young – planning buildings, concrete, shop-drawings, you name it – not exactly one of those swanky millennial jobs everyone talks about these days. I’d been working hard to make it a reality for a long time. But with modern technology, the concept of 9 to 5 was (and still is) becoming less and less relevant. We take our work home with us on computers and phones — sometimes we even bring it on vacation. There is no longer a total separation between work and “life”. So, I thought, why not blur the lines even further?
I’d seen full-time travelers on Instagram and travel blogs before but had never thought this lifestyle could be for me… until one day I saw an ad pop up on my screen and it was like all the dots finally connected: an organized group of travelers, my age (and older), with a passion for traveling, living their best life in exotic locations around the world. AND the kicker: they did this while still maintaining their careers. Bingo!
I convinced my boss to give it a try, just for a couple of weeks, and packed my bags for Brazil. I spent a month in Brazil with 20 other like-minded remote working professionals. Working, living and traveling together. It was an unbelievable experience – A definite mental switch from “vacation mode”. It was a month of finding the balance between working and resting; between traveling and living like a local (doing groceries, laundry, etc) and of course a month filled with new places, adventures, sunshine, beaches, sunsets, amazing people, Caipirinhas, creativity, deep meaningful conversations, discovery, and re-discovery.
I was hooked.
Once I came back I knew it wasn’t going to be long before I take off again. The desire to live my life to its fullest was now greater and more important than any other goal. While in Brazil, I started working on a blog founded on an understanding of how busy we are, and knowing that leisure usually goes to the bottom of our list and budget. The Leisure Hacker was created to inspire people to cultivate more leisure in their lives and to find creative and easy ways to do so. I wanted to share inspiration on how to easily sprinkle some happiness on top of different aspects of daily life.
Knowing I wanted to create the best life possible for myself, it wasn’t long before I quit my 8-6 job and was traveling again, this time with Hacker Paradise to Mexico, working on my blog and starting a business that will allow me to combine my passion for architecture and the desire to be location independent.
Traveling opens your eyes and your heart. It enriches your world with new sights, smells, sounds, memories, and life-long friendships. It makes you step outside your comfort zone in the best way possible. It challenges you and teaches you so much, especially about yourself.
The best part of it all? Being a part of a group of like-minded individuals. Part of a true community. Sharing stories, worries, and experiences with others makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger. You get to meet open-minded, friendly, fun, amazing people from all over the world, forge meaningful connections and travel-friends for life. In these groups – nothing matters – not how old you are, who you once were, what you do or where you came from. Everybody is there for the same reason.
Being a part of a group helps you to be productive, accountable and to develop personally and professionally. Being understood, supported and encouraged while traveling is the next best thing to a feeling of home.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not all beaches and butterflies. Traveling can be hard at times, it can be lonely and frustrating and overall an emotional roller-coaster. And although it may not seems like it from all the sunset and waterfall pictures, it’s not a holiday. Well, not exclusively. There is real work involved.
If your heart desires to travel. Do it… No matter how old you are or what’s your work/personal status – if you really want it, you can find a way that works for you. Like Thomas Jefferson said: “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
You only get one life to live so might as well live it the best way you can.