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This is the latest interview in a series featuring digital nomads talking about their lives and lessons (click here if you want to be interviewed). The goal is to help demystify the process of making money online, wandering the world, and living an unconventional life!
Sarah has an excellent story of turning her career into location-independent work. She offers fantastic advice for solo nomads worried that life will be lonely and shares our love of traveling slowly. Check out her writing on wrkfrce for awesome content on remote work.
Thank you for hanging out with Freedom Is Everything, Sarah!
*Since interviewing Sarah, she’s joined Kona, a Slack integration that allows managers to get a pulse on team morale, as Head of Content Strategy. She’s excited to continue to advocate for remote work alongside a company that helps managers become more empathetic and supportive towards their remote staff.
Key takeaways from Sarah’s interview:
“Traveling full-time has given me a new appreciation for the opportunities I had growing up in a small community in the U.S. but also helped me realize that I can shape my life around what I want to do versus what is expected. And meeting people who were raised in different cultures helped me realize that we’re all inherently similar. Even if you don’t speak the same language, practice the same religion, or grow up with the same financial means, there is one common denominator: we all have hopes and dreams.”
“I’m no different than millions of other U.S. graduates: I have student loan debt. But to the surprise of many, this lifestyle has helped me pay it off quicker. I cut out most monthly bills I had while living in San Diego, such as rent, utilities, car, and gym payments, and typically travel to regions with a lower cost of living. I also rarely shop since I travel minimally, so living without a home base has helped me pay off student loan debt ahead of schedule.”
“Before traveling solo full-time, one of my biggest fears was being lonely. So much so that I waited several months to start traveling despite working remotely since I had no one to do it with. But I’m so glad I pulled the trigger because there are plenty of people out there just like me. I met people almost instantly when I started my nomad journey and had more trouble carving out alone time than group time.”
Introduce yourself! 🙂 Who are you? What do you do for work? And what is your nomadic story?
I’m a content marketing manager and writer originally from the United States. I was raised in Massachusetts and lived in California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Italy before selling everything to travel full-time in 2018 (first stop, Madrid!).
Since then, I’ve travelled across five continents, spending 1-3 months in each city while working remotely full-time. I’m currently in Switzerland, a dream spot for me as an avid hiker.
What inspired you to start nomading? And how has nomading changed your perspective on life?
I never felt like two-week stints of PTO were enough to truly experience a different country and culture. At the end of a two-week trip to Colombia, I turned to my friend and said, “I’m going to find a way to turn this into a lifestyle.” And when I returned from vacation, I pitched my CEO on transitioning to remote work.
He approved! With some changes to my role and responsibilities, I started working remotely full-time and never looked back.
And I’m so happy I did. Traveling full-time helped shape me as a person.
It’s given me a new appreciation for the opportunities I had growing up in a small community in the U.S. but also helped me realize that I can shape my life around what I want to do versus what is expected. And meeting people who were raised in different cultures helped me realize that we’re all inherently similar. Even if you don’t speak the same language, practice the same religion, or grow up with the same financial means, there is one common denominator: we all have hopes and dreams.
Beyond that, the digital nomad community is full of incredibly smart people with diverse backgrounds. Being surrounded by people who constantly push the envelope has encouraged me to go beyond my full-time job by freelancing and enrolling in a part-time MBA program in conjunction.
Please tell us your detailed story of how you got into your line of work and how you turned it into a remote career.
I studied P.R. and landed a job at a P.R. agency right out of college. I was lucky to be on a number of accounts for CVS Pharmacy, which was exciting since it was when they had removed cigarettes from shelves and were offering more healthy food options. I had a chance to secure high-tier coverage, plan media events, and grow an ambassador program. It was a great way to kickstart my career, but I wanted a chance to write more, create content, and work cross-departmentally with designers and developers.
That led me to a role at a content marketing agency in San Diego, where I spent four years developing content strategy for a number of brands. In that time, I transitioned from working in the office to working remotely full-time through a pitch I gave to the CEO.
Within the past year, I landed a role as Content Marketing Manager at Anyplace, a housing marketplace geared towards digital nomads and remote workers. It felt like the perfect move as I’m a big advocate for the lifestyle and often stay in co-living spaces or monthly furnished apartments myself. Now I’ve been working remotely for three years, and it’s dramatically improved my work-life balance, accelerated my career, and gave me a new outlook on life while simultaneously traveling.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about nomading?
Before traveling solo full-time, one of my biggest fears was being lonely. So much so that I waited several months to start traveling despite working remotely since I had no one to do it with.
But I’m so glad I pulled the trigger because there are plenty of people out there just like me. I met people almost instantly when I started my nomad journey and had more trouble carving out alone time than group time.
If you’re in the same predicament, book yourself a room at a coliving space. Properties often offer a private room and bathroom with a common living room, kitchen, and coworking area. There are also often group activities like yoga, communal dinners, or wine nights to help you get to know the community while staying there. I’ve also found that it doesn’t take going to a digital nomad hotspot like Bali or Thailand to find these communities. Even in a rural area of Montenegro, I joined a tight-knit group of nomads.
Another way to counter loneliness is by traveling slow. It’s easy to want to see the entirety of a country within your visa allotted time, but it can lead to exhaustion. It takes time to adapt to living out of a suitcase and being without a home base — give yourself that time. And it’s nearly impossible to learn about local culture and people if you’re hopping around every couple of weeks. Find a routine like going to your favorite coffee shop or bakery, setting a running route, or joining a club in the city you’re in for a few months. It will give you a sense of community.
What are the 2-3 favorite places where you’ve lived/traveled to and why?
I think every full-time traveler can agree that this is a tough question! But I’m a big hiker, so Argentina, Chile, and Switzerland top my list.
The expansiveness of Patagonia is unmatched. My friend and I rented a Toyota 4Runner in Punta Arenas and drove hundreds of miles through the unpaved roads of southern Chile and Argentina. We listened to the glaciers crack at Perito Moreno Glacier before tourists arrived, hiked in Torres del Paine National Park, and shared a sandwich under the towering Fitz Roy. After the road trip, Bariloche was the perfect place to slow down and get some work done.
Switzerland is also one of those places you can’t get enough of. Although I rarely eat out due to the high cost of living, it’s worth it for the endless activities — hiking, biking, skiing, sledding, rollerblading, and much more to keep an outdoor enthusiast entertained.
If you had debt/student loans when you started nomading, how did you handle or think about this, and what advice would you give to other people with a similar situation?
I’m no different than millions of other U.S. graduates: I have student loan debt. But to the surprise of many, this lifestyle has helped me pay it off quicker. I cut out most monthly bills I had while living in San Diego, such as rent, utilities, car, and gym payments, and typically travel to regions with a lower cost of living. I also rarely shop since I travel minimally, so living without a home base has helped me pay off student loan debt ahead of schedule.
What does a day in your work life look like? Paint a picture for us :).
Anyplace is fully distributed, so I collaborate with team members all over the world. We mainly work asynchronously, but we’re all in touch on Slack and engage in a few video call touch bases throughout the week.
I’m on a marketing team of two, so I tackle a number of to-do’s like editing blog posts, growing the affiliate program and perks program, launching SEO initiatives, building a community, and more. No day is the same in the startup world, but that’s what makes it so fun!
In the evenings, I use my experience to brainstorm and write for wrkfrce, a remote work media company. And I’m about to begin an online MBA program at Boston University in August, so I’m gearing up for a packed (and exciting!) schedule.
What digital tools do you use for your work?
Juggling an array of projects means that documentation and organization is key. Our team uses Notion to document processes, so we never have to repeat work. For example, I hire many freelance writers in my role, so I make that process repeatable by writing down the job posting, first correspondence, test project, and hiring process in Notion. It makes life a whole lot easier.
We also use Asana and Jira for project management, Slack and Zoom for communication, and Ahrefs and Google Analytics for marketing.
For someone interested in getting into your field of work, what’s the best advice you would give? And what books, podcasts, thought leaders, or other learning resources do you recommend?
If you’re interested in content marketing, I’d recommend joining John Bonini on Patreon. He shares actionable tips for developing content strategy and breaks down what companies are doing well in regards to SEO and content marketing. That $10 per month was a game-changer for me.
If you’re interested in remote work in general, follow leaders in the space on Twitter and LinkedIn. They often share tips on how to land a remote job and react to remote job posts, which will start showing up in your newsfeed.
What small change has made a big difference in your life?
Morning HIIT workouts are a game-changer for me! It gives me the energy I need to start my day. I usually look for classes at a local studio, but since COVID-19 hit, I’ve been taking online HIIT classes with B.U. Fit and Alo Moves.
If you only had a few minutes to live, what are the most important life lessons you would share with the world?
Don’t live by someone else’s expectations. You do you. Pursue what makes you happy in life and know that it’s not always easy to get there, but it will be worth it.
What do you travel with that you couldn’t imagine traveling without?
How can people learn more about you and your work?
Feel free to head over to my portfolio, check out what we’re up to at Anyplace, or read up on my recent work for wrkfrce. You can also find me on and LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram — happy to connect!