3 Lessons I’ve Learned as a Digital Nomad

Hey, hey! My name is Angela, I’m a digital-nomad-in-training (currently in Spain, after being in Paris and Ireland, and heading to Africa next). I’m also the owner of an awesome branding and web + graphic design agency (Hot Mess Consulting), which allows me the opportunity to work remotely from anywhere. 

Ok, you got me, I’m already lying! There’s no such thing as a digital-nomad-in-training. Because being a digital nomad, kind of like being a business owner in general, came with no guide book. And that’s the first thing I want to share about my journey thus far: there are no rules, there is no one right path, and good gravy: if I can do it – you can too! 

Working in my CA Apartment

Let me back up a little bit though. Just a year ago, I had not a single clue that I would soon be embarking on such an epic adventure. In fact, I didn’t even have my passport yet! The idea of world travel was just something I would slap on my latest vision board and think, yeah one day! I also had just hired my first two employees for Hot Mess and they worked with me right in my apartment (I was able to squeeze three desks into my living room/kitchen area) because I wasn’t ready to handle the unique challenges of training and managing remote employees (quite yet, anyway). I was also still running my other business (Thongin’ It Boutique), an online + mobile women’s clothing boutique, out of the garage underneath my apartment (with my huge pink converted fed-ex truck parked in the driveway when one of my girls wasn’t out selling from it at a show or local market).

The truth is that as I type this out, I realize how crazy it all may sound. But I never really had time to stop and think or worry about that, all I had time for was to keep on going full speed ahead. And if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that if I decide I’m going to do something, there’s very little that can stop me (even my own fears and insecurities, which there is no lack of, believe me).

Switching my business responsibilities from needing to have a physical presence to be able to lead a fully remote team, was not originally about travel. It was just more about freedom. I was burnt out, and I knew what I was doing wasn’t sustainable for me. So ever so slowly, I transitioned my employees to remote (we are now a team of 5), and eventually put my boutique on hold altogether. 

As I was emailing a new friend of mine, Sorcha (yes the Sorcha of Sorcha and Matt’s Grand Adventure) about how burnt out I (still) was, she mentioned that I should meet up with her in Champagne France late November and make a couple of weeks out of it. Suddenly, something just clicked for me. NOW is one day, the one day I said I’d travel! And, instantly, I knew two weeks in Champagne just wasn’t going to cut it. I was really ready to do this, to go all in. And less than 5 weeks later, I was headed to my first stop (Ireland). 

So that’s my story, in a nutshell! I’m still only about 5 weeks into my digital nomad adventure, but I’ve already learned so much. Here are some tips if you have even an inkling of doing this yourself one day or have just started planning for your adventure:

1. Get real about what is getting in your way.

It’s easy to think it’s money – but most of the time, that’s just not the truth. Through pet-sitting or even just AirBnB rentals, it’s actually quite affordable to live abroad. And even the travel itself doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. I got to Ireland for $333 by choosing the lowest cost day/time to travel that I could. And hopping from one country to the next by plane, now that I’m here, has only been around $150-190. It will be a little more costly to get to my next destination (Africa), but I will also be staying with one of my Hot Mess gals while I’m there (whom I’ve never met, but I am so excited to meet, by the way)! 

Blarney Castle Gardens

And while having money saved up would be a great idea, really the main thing you need is just a solid source of income (that you can earn remotely). This doesn’t mean you have to own your own business either, you just need to find a remote position (and listen, if you think it will be impossible to find a job like this then you are right, but more and more companies are building remote teams these days, so it’s really not that far-fetched)!

2. Know that it isn’t always as glamorous as it may seem.

If you are going to be making a lot of sacrifices, and big decisions, in order to make this digital nomad dream come true, then there is something else you need to know. And that is this: whatever your internal struggles are, they will be coming with you; whatever your physical struggles are, they will also be coming with you. In other words, you are still going to be living this crazy thing called life, you will just be living it abroad. And I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a picture-perfect vision of mental or physical health myself, so if you are – maybe this won’t apply to you. But personally, I deal with anxiety and depression at times, and I’m pretty darn overweight too (so walking, in general, is honestly a challenge). 

Anyway, my point is that every day is not an amazing adventurous walk in the park (and even if it were, I’d run out of breath or my feet would start hurting real quick, so there goes that lol). Ok jokes aside, I still have to wake up and decide that today is a new day and it’s going to be a great one (even if I couldn’t even get out of bed at all the day prior). And if I could turn this all into a lesson for you? It would be: don’t wait just because you don’t have everything else all figured out (or you could be waiting forever). And be kind and patient with yourself. This is all about YOU. It’s your life. It’s your journey. You can go at whatever pace you want. You can carry whatever baggage you’re not yet able to let go of. You can cut the day short if your heart or feet are throbbing. You’re allowed to be human. Even on your glamorous journey abroad. 

Eiffel tower photo taken from below while tower is lit up at night.
Photo of the Eiffel Tower

3. On that note, again, it’s all about YOU. There are no right or wrong answers to anything.

Ok if you’ve made it this far, you probably have already figured this out. But just in case you need another reminder. There is much to be learned from those ahead of you, but at the end of the day, the decisions are yours to make and there are no wrong ones. From where to travel, or what to pack in your bag with the precious space you have, to what sort of accommodations you will be staying at, what to do each day, how long to stay at each location, whether to cook most of year meals instead of going out to eat, whether to spend time learning some of the language of the countries you are in or not, whether to use Uber or take advantage of the affordable modes of public transportation, whether to swipe right or left on that cute Spanish boy with the amazing eyes and then whether or not to actually meet up with him, and everything else in between. The important thing is for you to learn how to listen to yourself (and trust yourself) above all else. What do YOU want? Ok! Go there, do that! 

Picture of me with Horse in Ireland

I’m sure in another few months, I’ll have a whole new list of tips for you. But until then, I’ll be walking in that amazing park (MY amazing park) and I hope you are walking in yours too!


Angela, Hot Mess Consulting

Follow my business and travel adventures on Facebook: www.facebook.com/hotmessconsulting