Interview with Digital Nomads John and Alicia


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Meet John & Alicia. John and Alicia met the summer of 2006 in Minnesota and got married November 2009 in Aruba.  The pair discovered early on that they’re good travel companions and enjoy trying new things together. John is an ex professional poker player who got the taste of travel and together with his wife Alicia decided to never stop.

When and why did you choose to become a Digital Nomad?

My wife, then girlfriend, and I started taking trips to Las Vegas. I was a professional poker player at the time. So I paid for the trips by playing poker a few hours during the day and we went out at night. Because those trips were fun, we tried taking other trips. The trips got further and further away, and for longer. Trips to Mexico became Aruba, then Costa Rica, then Bora Bora, then Thailand, and then Spain.

One evening in Spain, my wife said: “I don’t want to go home. We should just travel forever”. I responded: “Then that’s what we’ll do”.

While I was already working on my own, my wife had insisted on building a career at a Fortune 50 company and extended travel was not on the table for that career path. However, getting passed up for a promotion really angered her and soured her on the traditional path. Why let other people dictate your life?

It took us 9 months to prepare before we finally left. And while we will return to the US, we will never go back to our old lives..

Where are you from, and where have you been?

From the USA. Have been to ~15 countries across Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Will visit another ~10 countries this year as we complete the second portion of our round the world trip.

How do you manage to sustain your travelling lifestyle?

My wife and I have a small online marketing business. We manage paid search and paid social campaigns for companies. We worked traditional jobs for several years. Kept in contact with people that we met along the way. Over the years, your work contacts will number in the hundreds. When we decided to go work for ourselves, we contacted everyone we knew in search for opportunities. We got a few hits, and our business was born.

Preparing financially wasn’t an issue as my wife and I don’t spend carelessly. I drove an old, beaten down car while our neighbors had their Lexus and BMW’s. We save money on the large expenses, which I share here.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

We don’t work a whole lot. Maybe 5-10 hours per week. We have conference calls every week that we need to wake up for since they are on US time and we are not. Then after the call we make changes to the ad campaigns based on new goals and feedback. That sums up our work life.

Some days we are just lying around in the hotel/Airbnb room watching movies, reading books, or playing games. We try to do a tour every few days. Food tours and cooking classes are some of our favorites. It’s possible to learn so much about a culture through their food, and we try new restaurants all the time. We frequently go out and just get lost. Literally pick a direction and explore.

We work out several times per week. In the gym if the place has one or with body weight workouts in the room if there isn’t.

Previously we moved around quite a bit, changing locations every 2 weeks. The problem is that it’s exhausting. Every move you have to figure out how to get money, where to eat, can you drink the water, and even how to use the toilet. Going forward we are staying for a month in each spot. It’s more productive for our work life and we can spend more time at the places we enjoyed.

Do you have any advice for aspiring Digital Nomads?

The life of a digital nomad is difficult but rewarding. Nothing is guaranteed and your life is completely in your own hands. The uncertainty is too terrifying for many people. But for those of us who can stomach a little mental discomfort, the rewards are endless.

Any last comments, stories, thoughts that you would like to share?

Most people just assume we’re millionaires. The fact is: you don’t need to be a millionaire to live like one. We’re spending less abroad than we were at home in the US. You can live like a rock star for only a few thousand dollars (USD) per month.

The life of a digital nomad can also be lonely, and not just because you are travelling abroad. People living traditional lives talk about traditional things. They talk about their jobs, commutes, cars, homes, and weekend plans. You have none of these. Your problems are that there are too many places in the world you want to see and you only have so many years on this planet.

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