My 6 Month Experiment
When I was in the corporate world you could have thrown one of my gold plated pens through the office and hit 5 people who would quit at that very moment to be somewhere else...except for life. Just an ounce of encouragement they said...was all that was needed and they would be out the door.
I tried it and failed...well not so badly. A life of freedom doesn't work for 99.9% of you and here is why.
Most of us are tied to a small geographic area by that thing called "life". Mortgages, rents, food, shelter/clothing and the list is long. The job that sucks your soul dry by the time Friday arrives is at the very center of it all. I walked away from that "the first time" after a long weekend. I got into work, took a look around my office and said...not today. I stretched that "not today" thing out near two years just wilding through countries one after the next. Then I got scared and ran back to a safe job wearing a suit and tie.
On my way to the death house each morning I stopped into various coffee shops all packed with 20-30 somethings with their heads buried in laptops and whispering to each other about the Digital Nomad Lifestyle. Own very little, live nowhere and maintain attachments to nothing. It was like hearing them describe a hippie commune complete with long hair and thread-bare clothes. Laptop + Internet = Freedom to Work Anywhere.
Lately I've been hit up by quite a few photo colleagues who are now "Digital Nomads". So they literally travel around the world doing odd-job photography (Travel, Lifestyle, Food...etc.) When I get pictures from wherever they happen to be (at the moment) they usually look like the above...lot's of nice looking people, chillaxin' with drink in hand just living life. Funny thing is...I don't recall it being like that my first time around but I was willing to give it a shot.
So fast forward to about a year and a half ago.
I strolled into my Doctor's office for my annual checkup review and left over an hour later with a big ol' bag full of lemons. I did as usual...squeezed them, made lemonade and a plan to go find rum to spice it up. When your close friends and family hear that your on the way out, you tend to get a lot of room to operate. I took that freed up time and gave the Digital Nomad life thing another go....failed at it again but at least I know why this time :-)
For the better part of 6 months I traveled and worked (retouching/video editing etc), tethered to home only by an internet connection which at best is "good enough" unless your staying at very high end hotels. (P.S. I didn't stay at any high-end hotels) I hit the small guest rooms, apartments...hostels and the odd resort. Low and behold...they were always filled with Digital Nomads. Some of the very same ones who post pictures on instagram from much more luxurious digs.
By the way, this lifestyle is not without risk.
Kind of like the Social Media craze, I arrived at the party too late. This kind of lifestyle either needs a very young age range or a certain type of personality. Most of the ones I met were squarely between 25 - 35 and they all had some other key things in common. They owned nothing beyond what they carried and could live on a very (restrictive for me) tight budget. It's common to see a 20-something with $20K worth of gear over the shoulders. Not a lot left over in the bank for high living. That means lot's of hostels, no-star hotels/motels, sketchy transportation and questionable food. I can put up with a lot...I draw the line at questionable food.
The older Nomads were far more interesting but fewer in number and I got the impression most of them were runaways from blown-up relationship or complicated past lives. When I was younger the term was "ex-pats" and they pretty much continue to see themselves that way. I love the laid back/chilled way they live. I just can't do it myself.
See here is the thing...I failed my six month experiment before I even packed my bags.
Most of the people I met during my travels would rather be anywhere but "home for whatever reason...excitement, adventure, maybe even self-discovery. I've got that covered already and frankly I've done the heavy lifting on myself. I know very well who Leigh Miller is so the search stopped long ago. Years in the making I also hammered the "life" stuff into order and built a really nice environment around myself free from soul sucking work and negative people.
I still enjoy travelling, sometimes without a real destination in mind. I also love the feel of the return ticket in my pocket!