ASHLEY: How Do Digital Nomads Live Differently? The Courage to Live Differently as a Digital Nomad.

Ashley is a long-time friend and I’m so grateful that we were able to keep in touch over the years. I’m incredibly happy to see that she’s having the best time as a digital nomad! I remember watching her Instagram stories when she and her husband flew to Alaska and it was just amazing.

It is truly a delight to have her write a piece for Friends on Channel Maddie. In this post, Ashley shares how she and her husband started their journey as digital nomads, what being a digital nomad entails, and how this lifestyle has allowed her to grow and have true freedom.

Socials: @thedigitalbabe on Instagram, Tiktok, Clubhouse | (upcoming blog)

Hola a todos! Hey everyone. My name is Ashley. I’m slightly obsessed with coffee, avocado toast and travel. Some might call me a “full-time traveler” or for a more official term “digital nomad.” As I’m writing this, I’m currently sitting outside in the garden of a hacienda in Mexico – how I got here? That’s another story.

When I received that Instagram DM from Maddie to guest blog, I was so excited! I’ve been watching her grow her blog in the most meaningful ways and I couldn’t be more proud of you, Maddie!

Sharing this lifestyle with people has become one of my favorite things to do because it has completely changed my outlook on life, my mindset and given me something I thought was too hard to obtain: true freedom. (Also, so that hopefully more people will join us on the road too 😉)

In the last year, I’ve traveled to 4 continents and 24 cities full-time. You might ask, how? Well, thanks to my little friend called the Macbook Pro. My husband and I run an online business that can be operated from anywhere in the world. But let’s take this story back to December 2017.

While living in Sydney, Australia, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw an ad about 2 girls traveling the world while building their own business online. My husband and I already owned our own agency and we were stuck at an office in Sydney. Why?! You got me!

We realized our entire business could be done remotely and 6 months later, we booked a one-way ticket to Bali, Indonesia to become full-time digital nomads.

What is a digital nomad?

While this term gets flung around for being different things (mainly because no one has really defined it) – this is my conclusion of what it means to be a digital nomad.

“A digital nomad is someone who values their autonomy and freedom enough to create an online business that enables them to travel the world full-time.”

I feel like digital nomads are showing society that there isn’t one way to live life, we’re redefining what it means to live, work and actually *enjoy* life every single day…not just living for the weekend.

So how do we live differently? Well…

1. Living Out of a 50lb Suitcase 

No fancy car. No big house. Nothing to my name. This 50lb suitcase is all I own and that’s okay with me. As my husband and I were preparing for our flight to Bali, we had all this “stuff”. How were we going to fit everything into our suitcase? The short answer: we weren’t. 

After watching a documentary on Netflix called “Minimalism”, we spent weeks reflecting on this discipline. We made the decision to donate/sell everything we owned that didn’t fit into our 50lb suitcase. 

This part of being digital nomads really made us think…”What’s actually important to us?” One quote that truly stuck with me from the documentary was “Love People. Use Things. The Opposite Never Works.” 

Now that we’ve been digital nomads for almost 3 years, we’ve stayed at 50lbs and have not gone a pound over. We’ve learnt to value the human connections and relationships over the things we have. I’m here to tell you that you can live a great and very happy life with very very little stuff. 

2. Traveling Full-Time, All Year Round

“Do digital nomads really travel all the dang time?” Yes, we do! One of the best things about being a digital nomad is that you can choose how fast or slow you travel. 

We’ve been taking it slower these days and staying 3 months maximum in one city. Other digital nomads leave a city once they feel bored or itching for travel which can be as quick as 1 month. 

Traveling to countries for 1-3 months truly allows us to explore the culture, live like a local and open our minds to how people live differently to us. 

Since we’ve embraced this lifestyle, we’ve called 21 airbnbs and Bali, Chiang Mai, Phuket, England and Mexico “home”. We’ve had some pretty great experiences and some not-so-great experiences. 

Through the years, we’ve learnt that travel isn’t always glamorous or comfortable…but the journey continues to change, grow and ground us. And that’s what matters.

3. No Place to Call Home

Sounds kind of weird, right? Even writing that, makes me a little uncomfortable. But it’s true, most digital nomads don’t have a place they can call home. 

We all have amazing parents that will always take us in (especially when COVID broke out) but mostly, there’s not that one place for us. For us, we feel like we are simply collecting a list of places that have stolen our hearts and keeping it in mind for our future (if/when we settle down).

4. Building a Business We Love

This may surprise you but…digital nomads are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. Some digital nomads are freelancers, some are remote workers for companies and some own their own business. We’re the latter. 

Since senior year of college, we’ve known that we don’t (as naive as it may sound) want to work for anyone. We have always wanted to be our own bosses, choose our own work days and have complete autonomy. 

I guess we always thought, “why dedicate our time and hard work for someone else’s dream…when we could be building our own dreams?!” There’s just something about being able to go to a co-working space, opening up your laptop and starting work on a business you actually love.

5. Freedom to Decide How We Spend Our Days

There’s a term swirling around the digital nomad community and it’s “Lifestyle Design”. 

The concept is that you are able to design the life you want to live. Not feeling like working today? Take the day off. Don’t want to work from 9am-5pm? Then don’t. Want to take Friday off and sightsee in this new country you’re in? Go for it! 

I’ve heard some digital nomads that only work 4 days a week and some that work 6 days a week. Again, it’s all about having the freedom to choose what you do with your days…and ultimately your life.

6. Being Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

A ‘safe’ job. A reliable income. An almost predictable routine. These are just some of the things digital nomads have given up as it doesn’t necessarily fit the lifestyle. 

Instead, we’ve traded the safe and comfortable for the unknown and uncertain. Traveling to a new country. Eating exotic food. Trying to communicate with people that speak a different language than you. Living in a completely unknown environment.

If not knowing where you’ll be in 6 months excites you rather than scares you – then maybe this lifestyle could be for you. Digital nomads are great at being adaptable to any environment, flexible with their schedules and they are happy to go on regular adventures – even if it may be uncomfortable.

7. Joining the “New Rich”

No, I’m not talking about becoming rich in simple cash. Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Work Week, defines the “new rich” who use a different kind of currency like: time and mobility. 

Joining the new rich means that you have the freedom to choose how you spend your time and you have unrestricted flexibility to move anywhere, anytime. Once you’ve learnt to value your time, your freedom and made the steps to become location independent then you’ve joined the New Rich.

The Freedom to Live Differently is…Pretty Sweet

These are just 7 of the many ways digital nomads live differently. There’s not one answer on how you should live your life and that’s really what being a digital nomad means. 

The ability and freedom to decide how YOU want to live your life (and not how anyone else thinks you should live it). We’re truly grateful we’ve found this lifestyle and hope that more people will join us on the journey. So…if you’ve ever thought about becoming a digital nomad, do it! We’ve never looked back since.

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