It’s 9:26 p.m and I’m just getting started on work today. I’ve spent the last 48 hours skiing in 2 feet of deep powder. It’s like Christmas on a Tuesday.
For the past few days, I have been anticipating the snow storm, reorganizing my schedule and plans around its arrival. No need to call in sick or take off work, prioritizing a strong internet connection and securing my friend’s condo for a few nights, was all that was in order.
This is what my life looks like. I work from my computer wherever and whenever I have wifi. I choose to be on the move constantly, travelling to as many places and experiencing as many things as I can. A few weeks ago, I was hiking a glacier in Iceland. Today, I was skiing in Colorado. In a few days, I’ll board a plane to see my sister in Belgium.
I’m a digital nomad, or as Vice refers to it, “a certain breed of travelers who have given up permanent homes for the chance to see the world, constantly on the move…in the age of remote employees, full-time freelancers, and entire industries that take place not in an office but on the internet, they’ve found a way to do it without sacrificing regular income.”
Digital nomads are redefining what making a living looks like. You no longer have to sacrifice personal happiness for a paycheck, or wait to travel until after you’ve retired. New digital nomads are popping up daily, like Shannon O’Donnell, National Geographic’s Traveler Of The Year and Founder of the blog A Little Adrift.
Shannon left her life in Los Angeles in 2008 with a one-way ticket to Australia.
Listen to Shannon’s podcast episode where she shares her story, detailing how to get paid to travel the world.
When Shannon left for Australia, she hadn’t been planning or saving money in preparation. It was a spur-of-the moment decision. She had a little money set aside, a part-time online freelancing gig, and an idea to start a blog to chronicle her journey.
Seven years, a thriving blog, and 55 countries later and she is still going.
Every day, through online community, Shannon lives her dream of telling stories. Through Grassroots Volunteering — a sister site she started as a way to connect travelers to local causes and communities — she gives a voice to the people and cultures she immerses herself in that often remain silent in the media.
Shannon shares, “What differentiates me from many round the world and gap-year travelers is that I worked the entire time. In the past seven years, I have only truly taken two long breaks from my SEO consulting work, my freelance online work, and the weekly upkeep on my blog.”
For Shannon, and for so many other digital nomads, there is no separation between life and work. Instead of planning a “vacation,” work becomes an extension of your self-expression. There is no difference between working at home in an office or working out of a coffee shop in Mexico.
As Software Recruiter, Nicole Tucker says, “If you’re a pro and you’re holding to your deadlines you can probably do it from anywhere.”
If creating your own schedule, working from anywhere around the world, and harmonizing work and play sound appealing, consider these tips for a nomadic existence:
Money is about experiences, not material things
Many people stress over the amount of money in their bank account. Whether your number is $500 or $5,000,000, it may never seem like enough. There will never be a “right time” to take that trip or vacation you’ve been wanting. Instead of buying a new TV or a new car, take yourself or your family on an experience that you can forever look back on. Money is a tool, you get to decide how to use it.
Honor the path you’re on, not someone else’s path
The work you do, the life your build, it should only look like the version of your life you want to live. Some digital nomads start from scratch on new, mobile career paths, others are able to tap into skills they honed in college. There is no “right” way to work as a digital nomad, only the way that works for you and your goals. As Shannon says, “what would it look like if you could create [your vision] from the ground up?”
You don’t have to sacrifice money for happiness
We have an unprecedented ability to craft our lives — the availability of internet access around the world means that we can find a way to balance those big goals in life with the need to earn an income as well. Don’t wait to read another blog post like the the “20 Brutally Honest Things Women Turning 40 Want All Women In Their 30s To Know” to regret not traveling or delaying your own happiness.
Opportunities exist everywhere
Shannon’s secret was to remain open to each new opportunity and not be stuck in the planning. “If you are only working towards this one idea you envisioned for the future then you miss all these other tiny pathways that may create something even bigger.” Part of that path is taking in lessons and information from everyone you meet. Whether you identify as a digital nomad, aspire to be one, or think the group of us is crazy, there are lessons to learn from every person and story.
If you want to win a free copy of Shannon’s book “The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook” subscribe to the podcast here then enter to win by following this link. Shannon has made this offer exclusively to Unconventional Life readers and listeners.
This article was originally published on Forbes.