Ever thought of quitting the 9 – 5 and taking your work on the road? For some a location independent lifestyle is not just a dream – it’s a reality. I interviewed digital nomad couple Brian and Noelle from Wandering On to find out how they achieved their work and travel lifestyle.
Digital Nomad Interviews: Brian and Noelle from Wandering On
Brian and Noelle are an adventurous Irish couple who live to travel. They left Ireland in 2009 to teach English in South Korea and have since become digital nomads. They have visited over 30 countries, across 5 continents and have no plans to stop anytime soon. Through their entertaining stories, fun videos and stunning photos, they hope to inspire others to live a life of travel. Follow their journey at WanderingOn.com on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and/or Pinterest. You can also add them on SnapChat for live updates from the road @ WanderingOnBlog.
The lifestyle of a digital nomad is a dream for so many people. So can you explain briefly how you make money online?
The digital nomad lifestyle is fantastic, there’s no doubting that. At the moment we have two primary ways of making money online. First, we have a small content writing business where we produce written content for websites, blogs and other media outlets. The second source is our travel blog Wandering On, which makes us a little extra income but right now most of our income comes form the content writing.
And what made you decide to work remotely like this and how did you make it happen?
We left Ireland in 2009 to teach English in South Korea. We loved living in a foreign country, being out of our comfort zones and having new experiences everyday, it was amazing and opened our eyes to the possibilities of long-term travel. After two and a half years, we left Korea and travelled for almost a year and a half through Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Sumatra and a month in Bangkok trying to figure out our next move. The sense of freedom was incredible but our savings were limited and the travels had to come to an end eventually.
We returned to Korea for one more year teaching and this time around we had a lot of ‘desk warming’, sitting in school dreaming of all the things we could be doing. We loved living in Korea, we really did, but our contracts tied us to being in Korea for a year at a time and after a while we wanted more. We wanted to have more freedom and to live life on our terms. Noelle’s uncle passed away suddenly and we couldn’t go home for the funeral due to our contracts. We suddenly realised how short life is and decided it was time to make the most of it!
This was a great idea of course but we had no idea how to make it a reality. Then we started reading about this concept of being ‘location independent’. The idea of making a living from our laptops seemed crazy but something we both wanted to pursue. We continued working on our blog and also joined Location Rebel, a course designed to give you the tools you need to work from anywhere in the world and started our content writing business while still working in Korea. In August 2014, we finished our jobs in Korea and have been location independent since.
But nothings perfect right? Are there any downsides?
All in all, it’s a pretty great lifestyle; we wouldn’t change it for the world. What many might consider downsides such as no security, no permanent home, no pension, no savings, we see as par for the course. The biggest downside is probably not being able to ‘switch off’. Travel blogging is a lot of work, there’s the blog itself, all the social media work and then all of the other ‘background stuff’ that we won’t even get into. Couple that with the writing business and we are always busy with a never-ending list of things to do. It can be hard to find a balance but it’s something we are always working on.
Do you have one standout highlight or biggest achievement?
There have been so many highlights in the last year, since becoming location independent. We cycled the east coast of Taiwan, we hiked Cuarrauntoohil (Ireland’s highest peak) twice, we walked 100km of the Camino in the north of Spain, summited Jebel Toubkal in Morocco (North Africa’s highest peak) in crazy weather, spent 6weeks snowboarding in Bulgaria, went on camel safari in the Sahara, we went home for a family wedding, made it to one of Brian’s best friends weddings in Spain, cycled from the Pyrenees to the Costa Brava over 3 days in Catalonia and Noelle’s family surprised her by arriving in Spain unknown to her to celebrate her 30th birthday! Through all this we’ve visited 11 countries, living in 5 of them. We managed to land our first house sitting assignment and our first press trip which were both amazing, and we also got nominated for the Irish Blogger Awards 2015 in the best travel blog category.
And what has been the greatest challenge?
Without a doubt the greatest challenge has been keeping everything going. We spent a month backpacking in Morocco where the internet was incredibly frustrating and another two months in a little town in the south of Spain where again we had a lot of issues getting online. But that’s the life of the digital nomad- chasing Wi-Fi around the world! Of course, being away from family and friends is always a challenge of long-term travel but our loved ones are very understanding of our lifestyle, which makes things that much easier.
What do you wish you had known before you started working remotely?
Honestly, we’re learning every step of the way. Being organised is hugely important. Moving around a lot, you need to keep track of everything from work to travel plans. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a scrap of paper, in an app or using something like Google Drive, keep a record of everything. It helps keep you organised- well, as organised as possible!
So, what are your plans and ambitions for the future?
At the moment, the plan is to keep working on our travel blog and the content writing business. We want to continue travelling indefinitely, visit as much of the world as we can, moving slowly, taking the time to really appreciate what we have.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what tips would you give for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
It’s simple, stop putting it off and do it. The location independent, digital nomad lifestyle is 100% achievable. It doesn’t have to be a dream or an idea; you can make it a reality. Find Facebook groups, courses, get in touch with people who inspire you and ask questions. All the information you need is out there, it’s up to you to make use of it and chase your dreams.
Thanks so much Brian and Noelle! What an amazing journey – best of luck with everything and many more adventures to come!
Are you a digital nomad or are you living and working abroad? Contact me to be featured in an interview.