5 Years of Nomad Living, Lessons and What’s Next

Do you know the best way of dealing with the speed at which time keeps passing by year after year? It is truly believing you are living the kind of lifestyle you want. And this week, is our nomad living anniversary, or simply we call it; our 5 year Nomadaversary. Our last day of conventional life was Jan 2, 2015.

nomad living - traveling in new zealand in low season

The journey to get here was completely worth it, but it took us years to find the courage, and then act.  Now we live as digital nomads – no fixed address, living debt-free, with ownership of a limited number of things, and living,working and traveling wherever we want.

We can sum up the last 5 years of nomad life from 2015 until today with themes, highlights and key lessons  

If you want to skip to our 2019 highlights CLICK HERE 

Year 1: The Year of Uncertainty and What The Hell Are We Doing?

Travel in year one was the focus.

We spent a year having a blast traveling to 10 countries, all of which were new to us, except for Thailand where we were married 10 years earlier.

We discovered quickly that our goal wasn’t about the number of countries we ticked off a bucket list, it was 100% the journey and the experiences and figuring out how this nomad living works. Our year 1 video in two minutes is our best example of 2015.

We are asked all the time what our favorite place was – Our first year was Myanmar for some many heart-opening, surprising, comfort zone-opening and unusual ways. If you haven’t been to Myanmar, you need to go 

Year 1 we often felt entirely out of control and stressed, usually it was because we were exhausted by all the work we did to finalize our departure. Funny thing is --we probably would have enjoyed it more, but logic got into our heads with Ill-fated questions like: “How do we behave in this new world?” “Who are we in this new life?” and the dreaded and “what are we going to do the rest of our lives?”

Big lesson in 2015 - We need to get out of our heads and stop the future expectations self-talk and just embrace what is in front of us. 

Year 2: Less Travel - Let's Figure This New Life Out

We discovered the joy and value of slow travel- living somewhere for a more extended period is much better for us – mentally, physically, to be able to work online, to establish routines, to exercise – for everything.  Ideally 2-3 months stay in each place was ideal for us.  

Living/working together as a couple -We had to learn who we were, in this new nomadic life and working and living together pretty much 24/7. The first year we fought a lot, in year 2 we found our groove. Oddly, we had such different lives in our past life, although our values are the  completely the same.

We fell in love with Colombia and planned to make it more a home-base so we could work, spend time with friends and explore the whole country slowly.

We learned how to better spend our money, so we could afford this nomadic lifestyle as long as possible and figure out how to make sufficient income and become less reliant on our savings.

We got inspired like hell with incredible people and talks while attending the World Domination Summit for the 3rd time in a row, and sadly we lost a big source of inspiration in my life - my cousin Colin who lost his 9 year fight with cancer while we're there.

We discovered the world of Experteering – Volunteering our career skills to social enterprises and we worked in Northern India with MovingWorlds

Our nomad living lessons in Year 2:

We ASK all the time – we do it for survival, it is not a sign of weakness. We ask for opportunities to work, to connect with people that can help us on our journey, to get reviews for our website, to do a work exchange, and applying for many pet sitting jobs to reduce our cost and enjoy living with pets while we work online. You don’t need our lifestyle to enjoy and benefit from the exchange economy. These are some of our best tips! 

Perception is not reality, and its what you make it. - We traveled to India for 3 months after putting it off for years due to fear. India was definitely our best travel experience ever, mostly because of our attitudes of how we approached it. And we love the response from Indians and people curious about India when they see this video! and we love that this has come one of our most viewed videos on Youtube.

Year 3: Comfort In Our Own Skin

I found a love of a ‘new’ career: I (Dorene) realized when I walked away from my past marketing career in Canada, I really missed aspects of it – coaching, working directly with people, and helping entrepreneurs with all aspects of their business. Troy was creating videos for travel clients, now we added marketing consulting to our services, since it was happening organically anyway, it made sense to focus my work time here. As a result we started our business Travel Life Media.  

My Spanish and I (Dorene) got past a lot of baggage and limiting beliefs in learning a new language – My Spanish is getting much better after getting out of my own way. (Troy definitely needs to get back into lessons.)

We worked on some of the most rewarding projects in our lives in Colombia.  We worked on a marketing and video project with a foundation to protect the Colombian rivers. We also  helped ex-criminals in Bogota with a video about how they give back now and make an honest living.

We helped our friends and entrepreneurs with their new lifestyle design and moved and started a travel business in Nicaragua. If you want to relax this is the place for you! Check it out.

We petsat for our friends on one our most favorite places on earth an incredible organic farm on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua and ‘delivered’ and cared for baby chicks through a tropical storm! 

Our nomad living lessons in Year 3:

I stopped caring what people think. I used to get offended with names like: gypsy, bohemian, or nomad (or even retired) from friends and family. Now I don't. I worked hard in my 20 year career and these terms bring up feelings from the past - like I'm not a hard working human being, but they are just labels, and  I am labeling this lifestyle however I want. 

Year 4: The year of what was physically possible

Big physical goals achieved: This was a massive year for Troy, he committed to running in a BIG WAY! – And ran 4 Marathons in 12 months, topping it all off with running the NYC marathon just this last November. And he did this turning 49. He wasn't always a runner,in fact he only took it up seriously a couple years ago. 

nomad living - Troy finishing the NYC Marathon

NYC Marathon finish and still looking fresh! 

Finding new inspirations, new people and communities- 
We decided to participate in some new conferences to spark some new ideas. We connected with location independents who live a nomadic life vs. settle life at the 7 in 7 conference and we spent time working on all levels of our health, work, soul and vitality at the integrated life retreat.

nomad life - opportunities to take in all kinds of inspiration like this integrated living retreat.

The Integrated Life Retreat - our team! 

Our new business venture is challenging the hell out of ourselves with creating our own project - An Online travel company course – it has taken over a year now, and many distractions, changes, and problems were getting in the way, but we have a new commitment to it, and it's almost ready to launch!

Despite some big wins, this year has been the biggest regarding hard lessons –probably because we feel there are things not working and some things we want to change.

Our nomad living lessons in Year 4:

Old patterns emerge even when you live this lifestyle - Just because you are somewhere else (sometimes perceived as "paradise") and you can switch up our home base, it doesn’t mean old habits, feelings, and limiting beliefs don’t emerge – they do. We both recognize that meditation time, and inner soul work are essential. For me, in particular, I feel I’ve hit a wall with a lot of old feelings, and emotions that I need to manage alot differently.

Setting Boundaries – Funny. I don’t have a workplace to go to, or a boss to answer to. However, I do need to set boundaries on my client work,  often at the expense of my own projects  or my well-being. And I can’t do this anymore.

Knowing the things we don’t want to do any more – We went through the lesson of figuring out the kind of work and projects we want to do, and what is consuming our energy instead of nourishing it, and the wonder of saying "No".  

Year 5: The Year of Energy Shifts for Work and Life

Big Wins and Goals: 

We made it back to India at the beginning of the year, the place that had more of an impact on us, than anywhere else. We volunteered again at Peepal Farmthe animal rescue farm that gave us the most confronting experiences, but also the most rewarding. The impact these guys are making is incredible  and you have to see the work they do to help animals, change views, and  run a totally sustainable farm. We managed to do a little traveling in India to Mcleod Ganj and Rishikesh.

nomad living destination: Rishikesh

Rishikesh- yoga, Indian culture and great for digital nomad life 

Views from Peepal farm in Dharamsala - later that week we were caught in a snowstorm up in Mcleod Ganj amongst those Himalayas!

We finally made it to Nepal, and New Zealand to travel and attended the 7in7 conference again, this time in NZ. It's a business, lifestyle conference for for people who live,work and travel like us. Following New Zealand and we decided to petsit in Turkey for December, where I've dreamed of taking Troy here for years, since traveling there back in 2001.

One thing we know for sure about this life, is traveling and discovering new places (and busting our comfort zones ) still lights us up. 

Bandipur india, one of our nomad travel stops in 2019

Bandipur,Nepal - one of our favorite small towns

Nomad living for 2 months in New zealand - this is cathedral cove on the north island

Cathedral Cove - North Island New Zealand

Tauranga, North Island of New Zealand - great for nomadic lifestyle

Tauranga, New Zealand

the boardwalk in fethiye turkey

Fethiye, Turkey - a wonderful place to spend time, especially in low season

Running – I caught the bug: As the loyal sidekick and cheerleader for all of Troy's  6 marathons,  I love the atmosphere and the community. Troy encouraged me to run, so I gave it a go.  I love how it clears my mind and that I can get quality exercise without finding a gym virtually anywhere. I also love the routine and the schedule. I ran 2- 10K races in Auckland and Medellin this year, while Troy ran 2 more marathons. 

nomad life - running the maraton de medellin last summer

Reward - after running the Maraton de Medellin - Troy did 42K, I ran 10K

Spanish – I'm confident in my Spanish now, to the point that I enjoy it and its fun too! That has made a huge difference in enjoying my time in Colombia and confidence in overcoming something big for me.

We were featured in our favorite Canada Magazine!  – Although we don't feel we need an endorsement for what we do, it is fun to see our lifestyle choice featured in mainstream media. Toronto Life, a magazine that I loved living in Toronto, did a feature on digital nomads  like us. Sometimes we forget that the nomadic lifestyle are still a small fraction of the world (but growing exponentially). This article makes it easier for our families to explain what the heck we are doing!  You can read our interview in Toronto Life  here, and the whole article on digital nomads here. 

Toronto life magazine article on Digital nomad living - we were featured!

Big challenges:

We have lost friends or family every year since we left Canada. This year, I lost a dear friend of twenty years, as her health deteriorated for over 2 years. Lynne fought hard with an autoimmune disease, which claimed her life, just after we saw her in February. Even though I am not living in Toronto anymore, I made the time and travel for quality visits with her. I'll never forget our long walks, our honest conversations, and how her illness changed me too. It's been a difficult year to actually getting used to the fact, that she is gone and gone far too soon.

me and my friend lynn - RIP - our friendship over the years

Me and Lynn -this pic resurfaced when we were honoring her life. Oh, how the years go by.

December 2nd was also the 5th anniversary of losing my Dad. It's still so surreal how our biggest fear of leaving a normal lifestyle, was getting a call that a family member was in an accident. Exactly one one month before we left Canada, my Dad passed away. This is just another reminder to enjoy life, I wish my Dad had more joy during his retirement years.  

Our nomad life lessons in Year 5:

This year we asked ourselves honestly where we want to put our energy and focus, on the type of work we do, what kind of business we want to do, and who we want to work with.Just because we've done this king of work before, and we have skills in it doesn't mean we want to do it anymore. So why should we settle for what isn't working? (which we used to do all the time in our past life) 

Energy: where we are putting our effort 

Our Tourism marketing business: 

I've put my major focus into the thing that gives me the most joy – helping tourism businesses with their marketing and purpose, with Troy's help with technical and video help. -- We hired a business coach to help us work through all the steps to move our Travel Life Media business online, and build our client base. The last 4 years of my work has been entirely word of mouth. This focus has moved this business in a new direction.

Downsizing the video production side:  You may notice we haven't produced any of our own travel videos in over a year. This is deliberate. We realized that we felt compelled,stressed and severely time crunched to make videos for our blog, which has taken away the joys of travel for us. More often, we are enjoying travel with our own eyes, instead of behind a lens. Travel videos are a huge amount of effort and energy, so instead, we're redistributing our efforts into fewer video projects, and most will be for our Travel Life Media business and a few passion projects. However we've made almost 70 videos the last 5 years, many of which we are super proud of.  You can find them all here on Youtube.

Travel Life Experiences – You've probably noticed we've been less active on our travel blog, and for many of the same reasons – energy, and looking in the mirror and saying to ourselves, "what is the content and information that really matters for our readers in today's world, and what kind of message do we want to put out in the world?" As a result, you will start to see some more changes and shifts to our blog in 2020. 

 2020 Outlook and Plans 

A few things are on the horizon – some more shifts too.

We are losing weight: (our stuff that is) 

We are going to downsize our stuff. We have done this before, but this time its going to be more drastic. When we travel for 5 months, carrying tripods, a drone, camera lenses,video equipment and running gear and clothing, makes travel exhausting. We are selling our bigger equipment and moving to lighter gear. After all, we can virtually do anything with a smartphone- even create great quality videos, and photography just like a professional camera. 

Learning and Growing 

I'm heading to the Berlin Travel Festival to connect with the travel industry and learn some new skills. 

I'm attending the World Domination Summit – for its 10th and last year – probably the most awe-inspiring event that changed our view on life and the world. (Troy hasn't decided if he's joining yet) 

As always, we both buy a lot of online courses, attend events, and have a huge list of podcasts and books that we read. In this nomad life we both manage to dedicate time for our individual learning.

Travel Plans

We are on our way to Portugal next week until mid-February to travel and petsit – it will be our first time there! 

In March,  we are back in Colombia – our home base for at least 7 months, with family visits to Canada and Florida in between.

Our big travel plans this year? – Morocco! our new to us country, followed by time in Spain – a country we are considering as a possible home-base in the future as our visas in Colombia expire in 2021.

Health and Fitness:

Troy is running the Chicago Marathon, in October; his 7th marathon!

I'll be running my first half marathon in Colombia in April. 

Right now, the boardwalk along Marmaris, Turkey has been a great place to continue our training. 

Nomad living location - the boardwalk in Marmaris Turkey

No better place to run and train- Along the water in Marmaris, Turkey

Thanks for reading, and of course, we would never be able to live this nomad travel  life without supporters like you – our family, friends, and readers. THANK YOU! 

So now tell us, what was 2019 like for you? and what are your plans for 2020? 

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an example of nomad living - and traveling in New Zealand

About the Author Dorene

Dorene is a marketing consultant and freelance writer. She quit her 20-year career in marketing to redesign her career and lifestyle on her own terms by living location independent. Now with her husband Troy, she helps people who want to redefine their midlife and make conscious changes at TravelLifeX. She also trains & coaches travel and hospitality clients to improve their marketing at TravelLifeMedia.com

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