Where did you come from, where will you go? Carving out your own path, and digital nomads in 2019.
By: James Asquith, CEO and founder of Holiday Swap.
“How did you afford to travel to every country in the world?” I must be asked this on a daily basis. No, it wasn’t a rich mum and dad, and a huge loss or respect for anyone who assumes this, or indeed jumps to simple conclusions with any situation. My parents did everything I could have always asked for, and sent me to a school they struggled to afford. I will always be indebted to them for the start they gave me. We actually lived in a caravan for about half a year when I was younger when we didn’t have a house. Ever since then I tried (and failed really badly) at washing cars from the age of 12 to help my parents. I’ve always paid my own way, and when I can, paid for those around me too. Since the age of 15 I worked 3 jobs at the same time and became determined to save money.
I wanted a big house and to settle down. Well, that all went to shit when I discovered the education that traveling around the world could give me, and that money for a house went on traveling to every country in the world. The one thing I haven’t forgotten along the way, is to stay humble and true to my roots and where I came from. My passion for travel came from my parents and every time I can, I’ll get them another trip somewhere – they deserve it after all!
There came a time when I thought I had it figured out. I got a degree in economics and worked in investment banking. Now this meant waking up at 5am every week day and sitting at a desk. Now don’t get me wrong, that job taught me a lot, mostly about people, greed and what lengths certain stupid people will go to to make a dime. I also made some great friends, and they are the people that largely convinced me to get back to the roots of my passion – travel.
Now, don’t me wrong – if I hear another person say they want to quit, travel the world and write another blog that very few people will care about I may in fact attempt to headbutt myself. I never wrote a blog – I wrote a book about my travels instead, and that was solely for myself. I barely plugged the book and self published. It was to get my thoughts in my head and my travels on paper. I personally feel the mistake that many idealistic ‘bloggers’ make is that they think their ‘just another’ blog will be life changing for others. Unless you begin by writing for yourself, you may well just be chasing some idealistic dream fantasy of sipping on chai tea in the hills of Bali penning your next blog post. There are some great and truly talented people out there that blog, and because the lifestyle seems ideal, then understandably most people want to do it, and many make the mistake of thinking that anything they write will go stratospheric in terms of popularity.
My point here, is that bloggers (and similarly influencers) are saturated and it’s a hugely competitive market. To quit your job, and follow your passion (and for so many of us that is indeed travel), does not have to mean starting a blog. This is 2019. The opportunities to work remotely are abundant, global and can even be entirely self- created. Even ‘traditional’ office jobs are now becoming remote, so don’t feel tied to not only a dated idea of a job that doesn’t allow you to be remote, but indeed that a remote job has to be confined to just a few options – it can almost be anything in 2019.
Personally, despite using social media as an important platform, I do not live for social media or any paid posts for income – I am not an ‘influencer’ (see previous article). I work at least 10 hours every day of every single year (including Christmas) on Holiday Swap, and I’ll continue to do so to change travel. Arguably, I created my own remote job by creating this company, but for so many of us, that commute to an office every day is no longer necessary. There are remote and shared office spaces popping up everywhere, and we all have both skills and passions, so don’t feel too scared about taking that leap and becoming what the cool kids these days seem to call; a Nomad.
It is certainly one of the most liberating experiences; being able to become ‘remote’. However, it also takes discipline. When I travel around the world, it’s mostly for meetings with Holiday Swap, or even work with tourist boards and airlines. However, I’m also lucky enough through hard work and discipline to be able to to choose many locations that I want to spend time in where I work. Lots of awesome people reach out to me in the places I visit telling me about cool stuff to see or wanting to meet up but the reality of the situation is that I set myself a lot of work to do every day. Living a lifestyle of being on ‘holiday’ versus discipline of working remotely, would likely mean this concept wouldn’t have even started for me.
Working remotely also ties into the idea of how you perceive success. As I said, for me it used to be a big house and comfort. Now that’s the last thing on my mind – I want to enjoy life to the fullest and not go through my life with bucket list trips I never embark on, having to live vicariously through other people. With that comes almost no personal possessions, A full passport and a literal lifetime of memories. But again, it is what you make it, and you craft out your own experiences entirely. Just remember wherever you end up, to remain humble, never forget where you came from and basically, don’t be an asshole. We are all guests of the world, for a short period of time, and if you work remotely around the world, you’re also a guest in others’ countries, so try to understand the past and the present and always learn. I will try to giveback as much as I can. Whether that be with Unicef in Yemen, or inspiring travel through giving away all of my air Miles, but no matter how you define success, or how successful you become; whether rich through experiences, or in your bank account, stay humble. I will still travel low cost airlines and budget economy possibly mixed with a First Class flight the next day. I’ll visit some of the world’s most beautiful locations and then dangerous and difficult destinations. The contrast is always a great reminder of not letting yourself forget that whether you work in an office, or from a beach – you’re still not ‘better’ than anyone. Just be the best person you can be, and the rest should reward you.
So here are some of my favorite accounts that either spend most of their time on the road or work remotely:
@christhefreelancer – Christopher learned to code, hit the road (excuse the accidental rhyme), and the rest is history. A true definition of working remotely – Christopher switched it up and has since branched out into blogging and YouTubing.
@trulynomadly – If you were to look at Sharanya’s Instagram, you may think she is always on the road travelling, and in reality, you would likely be right. Reality, all in one person’s journey, with a lot of hard work to get there.
@shesgoing_ – Sam is not an influencer, she’s a business woman. I met Sam in New York And shortly after she moved to London where she is the definition of a remote worker. Working in property and across multiple locations, Sam brings a very real personality to her page.
@onceuponajrny – Roxanne and Maartje are two girls travelling together that keep it real and make you feel you’re on their journey with them. Their chemistry is as real as their blog.
@traveltomtom – you would be forgiven for mistaking Tom for Thor at times, with his fantastic head of hair, but by keeping it real AND creating great content at the same time, you feel like you’re with Tom every step of the way, which is how it should be, cutting out a lot of the fake stuff!
@activitymonster – with a list of talents that you could take around the world with you, from drone pilot to true content creation, Monster Travels could travel around the world and take us on the journey with her – and that’s exactly what she does!
@impulseodyssey – Alex takes good but real pictures, travels when he can, and brings reality to travel. No edit preset bullshit, just a real journey, captured in a realistic way with personality.
@hippieinheelsblog – Rachel ups roots – moves to India for 5 years, writes an E-guide about her time in India, and then moves to Mexico. If this isn’t a true nomad I’m not sure what is, but Rachel also keeps a great Instagram account real, cutting out the filters.
@wanderingkamya – Kamya hit the road in 2015 and doesn’t seem to have looked back since. With plenty of NHO giveback initiatives, I guess you could call Kamya a nomadic philanthropist.
Stay tuned for more to come…