When I packed up my life into a backpack, I had no idea digital nomading will become my new normal.
I’m penning this post on a train journey through the Italian countryside, distracted by mountain-fringed lakes, dreamy villages and vineyards dotting the horizon. This is the first time in my digital nomading journey that I’ve hopped continents – from Germany to South Africa and back to Italy – without going to India. And to be completely honest, I’ve felt as much at home in the Mamelodi township in South Africa as in the remote villages of Spreewald, Germany.
In 2013, when I packed my home into a backpack and decided to hit the road indefinitely, I wondered how long it would take me to crave a “normal” life again. Turns out, a different country every few months, a different bed every few weeks and a different way of life every now and then, is my definition of normal now. I’m waking up in the traditional home of a Romanian family one day and celebrating Mopin with the tribal folk of Arunachal Pradesh on another. I’m having Sunday lunch with an Italian family in their 100-year-old Umbrian home one day and playing basketball with the Mayan folk of Guatemala on another. I can’t fathom living any other way.
A steady income, finally?
The last six months are the closest I’ve come to making a steady income since I quit my corporate job in Singapore, almost four years ago. From blogging partnerships with travel brands I love, to paid campaigns with tourism boards, to steady freelance work that pays my student loan, I finally feel like the restless nights of not knowing where my next bit of money will come from are behind me – atleast for now. I’ve realised that building a blog driven purely by the love of travel pays, and in ways I never could have anticipated. And for that, and for you my loyal readers, I’m eternally grateful.
Also read: Confessions of an Indian Digital Nomad
Work-life balance, which seemed impossible while digital nomading, finally.
Selling off India Untravelled – a company my friend and I literally built from scratch – was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But it’s also the best thing I’ve done for my own sanity. Running a business is more than a 24×7 job, as is running a travel blog, and I was fooling myself into thinking I could give both my all, while also living nomadically.
Now that I have only one hat to wear, my travels are no longer dictated by connectivity and long work hours. And finally upgrading to the iPhone 6 has changed my life – I can go days without opening my laptop or touching my camera!
If there’s one thing that’s severely degraded in this nomadic way of life, it’s my offline social skills. Let’s just say I haven’t had a social life in years (and that’s fine), but now I’m finding it increasingly hard to identify with people I meet in real life. I find myself incapable of making insignificant small talk, drinking myself silly, or laughing at petty jokes – and I know those are social skills that can cost me dearly.
Solitude has gone from being my introspective place to my happy place, and I can find it in the crevices of my mind even when I’m surrounded with people. This feeling drives me crazy sometimes, but I keep telling myself that my “normal” does not need to be everyone else’s normal, right?
My first book, The Shooting Star, is a reflection of my digital nomad journey after 5 years on the road!
What’s next on this digital nomading journey?
21 months on, I’m ready to spread my wings and build new nests in countries that have forever intrigued me – yet ones that will have me journey far from my comfort zone. I plan to spend the summer exploring Georgia (the country) and the Caucasus region, losing myself on the Sufi trail, and experiencing a world different from any I may have known before. Until today morning, this was only a vague plan, but I’ve just booked my flight to Tbilisi and it feels bloody exhilarating!
Is digital nomading on your mind? Do you find your definition of “normal” evolving?
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I’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star.
In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life.
Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.