Being a digital nomad isn’t just a lifestyle for me – it’s a story built over years of work, challenges, and a love for freedom. I’m not the classic digital nomad always on the move. I’ve got a home base in Bansko, Bulgaria, where I spend most of my time. But every few months, I hit different digital nomad hubs for at least a month, connecting with like-minded folks.
In this blog, I’ll share my digital nomad life – how I’ve been working remotely for more than 10 years, managing a home base, and dealing with the challenge of having two cats. Let’s dive into it.
How do I describe my digital nomad life?
Digital Nomad is a broad term that describes a group of people who work independently of location. I wouldn’t describe myself as a pure digital nomad because I have a home base – Bansko, Bulgaria, where I spent most of my time. Every few months I travel to a new destination, primarily another digital nomad hub, where I spend at least a month.
- My work is fully remote for over 10 years.
- I have a home base – Bansko, Bulgaria, but I travel a lot.
- I seek communities, mainly digital nomads, wherever I go.
Moreover, I have 2 amazing cats at home which are a huge part of my life. Whenever I travel, I organize catsitters to stay in my apartment and take care of the cats while I’m away. This is not always an easy task as it involves a lot of planning, costs, and sometimes stress, in order to find someone suitable to live in my apartment and watch the cats. But it’s not impossible 🙂
What do I do? How do I make an income?
This is the most commonly asked question I get. Every time I mention that I work remotely, people comment how lucky am I. The thing is – it’s not luck. It’s almost 10 years of hard work and experience, financial challenges, and hardships, to get where I’m at.
I’ve been hustling and working remotely since my early days at uni – I got my first online writing gig almost 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve been trying to get any part-time or contract work – very underpaid, but always remote, alongside my university studies. My PhD study. where for 3 years I received scholarships from the university. let me pursue my remote career in travel writing and tourism.
At this moment, I work for 3 freelance projects in tourism:
- Travel Massive – Content & Campaign Manager since 2017
- RaizUp – Content Manager in 2021, 2023 & today
- Travelling Buzz – my own travel blog
For each of these three projects I get to decide how many hours I work – usually a set amount of hours every month with fixed rate. Before I got these three projects, I’ve done hundreds of hours of pro-bono work, voluntarism, community work, event organization, and mainly just pro-actively doing (for free) what I really wanted to do.
Every now and then I also work on a short-term projects such as the Bansko Nomad Fest, Social Entrepreneurship Competition in Tourism, Coliving Semkovo, and more. All of my experience is listed on my LinkedIn profile where I can keep track on what I’ve done in the past.
What is my digital nomad life like in 2024?
I’m starting the year with a 3-month digital nomad stay in Japan. A group of us, all location-independent workers, booked a house near a winter resort where we can ski & snowboard during the day, and work in the evenings. It’s a wonderful setup for us!
Japan has been treating us really well (more on that in a separate blog post). Everyone in the house is pretty responsblee about their jobs so it’s really motivating to see people work when they have to. After all, that’s the thing that gives us the freedom to spend time in a wonderful new place such as Japan.
I’ll be here until the end of March 2024 and then I’ll go back home to Bansko. I love having a place to come back to, a place that feels like home, where there’s familiar faces and a comfortable environment. After March, I haven’t thought about my plans for the rest of the year but I’m sure it will still be great. Because I have the freedom to either stay and enjoy the beautiful place that Bansko is, or just go and visit somewhere new.
In 2023, I spent a lot of time in Portugal and Greece both of which places I loved. But now, I’m actually excited to stay a bit in Bansko and re-center myself.
How long have I been a nomad?
Since I don’t call myself a true nomad, it’s hard to say a proper time frame. I consider the start of my journey back at the time when I started my first remote gig – around 10 years ago. Even though I was tight to a location back then because of uni, I still had enough freedom to travel and explore the world while studying.
Where have I traveled?
I’ve traveled almost everywhere in Europe as it was the easiest and most reachable place for me. My trips in Europe are countless and there’s many destinations I’ve come back to over the years such as Greece and Spain. Outside of Europe, I’ve only been to a few places – Morocco, India, and Japan.
I lived in a few different countries over the years which also gave me a good intercultural experience – Spain, The Netherlands, and Slovenia.
How did my career and journey start?
It all started with the creation of my travel blog.
It was almost 10 years ago when I decided to create this space and share more stories of my travels. Back then, there were not so many travel blogs out there and it seemed like people doing so were having the time of their lives. So I got the idea from a few other blogs I started reading and few of them mentioned how they actually worked with brands and destinations to travel more and even get paid.
Having this travel blog opened all the doors for my future career in travel. I started as I travel writer, then continued to event organizer, and ended up doing Content and Event Management for B2B brands in Tourism – all because of where my travel blog led me.
Thanks to my blog I visited many places in and out of Europe, and made a great network of people in the travel and tourism sector.
Why did it all start?
I’ve asked myself this question many times. Why none of my childhood friends or peers ended up with this lifestyle? Why did I chose a different path?
I think it’s all because I couldn’t every really find my comfortable place in the world. Since I was a kid, I have not enjoyed “normal” activities – going out a lot, drinking,
I was definitely an odd one out. I was good in school, not so good socially. I was mocked and never really understood. So I spend time on on education, on the internet, searching for a “place” for me. That search led me to great places. 🙂
One thing I wish I knew when I started out?
It can be a very lonely journey. Not many people have worked the same way I did in my surroundings when I started. So many of my friends wouldn’t understand what I was going through. And it was hard talking about my unconventional journey. Luckily, now, this lifestyle it’s way more clear and common.
What are my challenges being a digital nomad?
- Always craving the next new thing. Being a digital nomad is giving you the freedom to be everywhere, and do everything you want. That comes with a price. Chasing new experiences, places, and connections gives you a rush that might fade quicker than you like. We end up with always craving something new. Learning to enjoy the slow and calm life is a challenge.
- Pet owner vs World Traveler. I can’t just pack my bags and leave. Every time I plan a trip, I have to find people to take care of my cats while I’m gone. I usually start the search 2-3 months in advance. I’ve dealt with several people who had to drop out last-minute. The whole process is stressful. Luckily, so far it has always worked one way or another.
- Job unpredictability. As a freelancer, it’s not always clear if and when my projects will finish, or when I’m going to get a new one. It’s been a challenge over the years to find a job you like and make it last long-term. For that reason, I’ve been working on building my personal brand to help my career opportunities in any circumstance.
What are my top tips to people who want to do this digital nomad life?
- Don’t settle for less. If you don’t like where you are in your life, don’t settle. It may take years but do some steps to get further. Even if you don’t know where you want to go yet.
- Give in order to get. Do internships, voluntary work, personal community projects/events. I’ve always been a huge promoter of work in exchange of experience. That leads to many connections and new opportunities.
- Be pro-active. Don’t wait on others to make your day. Find answers, suggest solutions, share your ideas. People love pro-active team mates.
- Choose your environment. Surround yourself with people you admire, people that motivate you, that bring you up and mentor you. You have to do that intentionally.
- Be humble. You can never know everything. Ask questions, be humble, learn, and be curious.
Digital Nomad Resources:
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