No one has been left unscathed, have we? We have all had to adjust, re-jig, process life, handle loss, and take stock …every single one of us? Same storm, different ship, right?
Amidst all the “stuff” going on globally, I recently listened to my heart and launched my 5th book, titled “10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree.” Originally planning to launch it much earlier, I waited until the time felt right and until I had the right energy to tackle it. I honestly feel that now, more than ever, we need to keep our dreams, ideals and possibilities ALIVE and top of mind.
Even if we are a bit stuck now, our thinking and feeling do NOT have to be stuck.
In the process of writing this book, I wanted to offer readers some varied perspectives and thus set about interviewing 16 awesome folks to get their views on living this lifestyle. When the book was released just 2 weeks ago, I really wanted to check back in and get their updates on living “LocationFree.” We are all between 40 and 60 years old, living our own version of this lifestyle all around the world. Essentially I wanted to see how the year had shaped up for them since our initial interview – to see if they were more hellbent on continuing this vagabond lifestyle, to understand if something fundamental had shifted for them, or if perhaps world events have made them reconsider lifestyle choices related to all things #LocationFree?
#LocationFree is my preferred term, but it is often referred to as Global Nomad, Digital Nomad, Location Independent, Portable Pro, etc. The name is less important than what we live day-to-day.
I wanted to update myself, too. I have honestly had a profoundly ‘interesting’ year. I’m definitely NOT saying it was easy and straightforward, but that I dug deep and found ways to try and accept and lean into what was going on rather than resist it all. The latter option felt futile and counter-productive in every form. I contracted and tested positive for the covid lurgy back in March 2020 after hurriedly exit-ing South Africa. I was out there to launch my 4th book, “Write your Book in 100 Days,” with my business partner. We had multiple book launches and events, live interviews from some major PR rolling out. It was our chance to inspire and reconnect with all the wonderful South African writers in our community. Plus, all my annual medical appointments were booked for what might have been my last regular visit to South Africa.
As I tuned in and reacted to what was unfolding, I knew I needed to get on a plane fast, to the UK. I was due to travel via Dubai to visit a friend stationed there but decided to hotfoot it directly to the UK, just a couple of days before lockdown kicked in. After all, South Africa was officially no longer any form of “base” for me after the break up with my partner, so I didn’t fancy getting “stuck” there.
I knew I wanted to get to my mum in time for the first proposed lockdown so she wouldn’t be on her own. Well, for sanity, company, and a bit of TLC more than needing to “look after” her – she’s a super strong woman! But before being able to get to her, after testing positive for covid (I only ever experienced mild symptoms, thank goodness), I had to isolate myself for a month before it was deemed safe for me to stay with mum in her presidential home. We then ‘enjoyed’ three months of strict lockdown together. Lucky we had too much TV, laughter, wine, great food, daily walks, and I also celebrated my birthday with her. Zoom Style with friends around the world.
One of the hardest business challenges was letting go of our international Writing Retreats that were booked. It often takes folk at least a year to decide, book, and pay for one of our retreats. Writers from all over the world were joining Sarah and me in Greece, Italy, and Spain for a total of four retreats and residencies. We had to face cancellations, field the uncertainty with massive deposits we had paid across to secure hotels, and handle the non-refundable deposit challenge. We initially postponed and shuffled dates later in 2020 in the eternal hope that we could still host them later in the year, and had clients ready to hop on planes… and then finally releasing them all in favour of 2021 dates. We “lost” some clients who couldn’t move to the new dates, and have not yet been able to start filling those spaces for 2021. That was my main income revenue down the sink. I know the entire world understands all the drastic financial challenges of the year and I am not alone in that.
The moment it was “safe” enough to travel, and the world eased open a bit in the UK, I travelled to a wee Scottish island, Iona, for an overdue, personal and significant retreat. I had been wanting to reconnect with Iona to organise a writing retreat, so I was fulfilling two objectives. It is a very sacred isle that offers deep healing and was just what I needed. Mum was happy (and I guess sad) to finally wave goodbye after three intense months together. The year has allowed me to live what I call a “revised version” of living location free – with restrictions and other things factored in, like everyone. I was planning on spending 2020 starting to look for my next Northern bases, so that has obviously been postponed. My heart is being pulled by the idea of setting up some version of flexible homes in both Scotland and the Mediterranean – but that will need to wait until I can travel abroad to explore that option more fully.
I am just not a ONE HOME type of gal. Any future partner I have in life needs to know that a deep love for travel and adventure is wired into my cells. But I am starting to consider a couple of bases to move between, with loads of side- travel too!
So I relished a much quieter work year. I was already planning on taking time off from running regular online writing mentorships as I needed a break from that intense type of work, and then all our summer writing retreats retreated into the distance. So I took most of the year off to be in the GAP. I stayed in quieter retreat –type mode with myself.
I embarked on an intense, personal retreat process on Iona to recalibrate again. I went offline for 3 weeks and 80% offline for a further 5 weeks. The poor wifi signal helped that switching off process. But this was not about covid. To be honest, it was more related to where I am in my life and business cycle. I needed to do a mammoth, triple-angled closing out process. One was the ending of my relationship after five years, and another was leaving South Africa, and the third closing out a few aspects of what used to make up my business. But all that was happening despite covid’s impact. You can read more about that journey here.
On Iona I also fell headlong into a fantastic new heart-based hobby with the actual “making” of books, learning the art and skill of “Book Binding” or BookArt. I am smitten and have a bag of tools, paper, ink, and waxed linen thread to lug around now. If ever you come on a retreat with me, you will be sure to make your own book from now on!
Uhmmm, yes, the irony is that my motto is #LIVELIGHTELIVELARGE, so excess clothes can get turfed out of the suitcase but my new bookmaking tools will have to stay put for this #LocationFree gal.
I am still 100% pursuing my own version of living #LocationFree, just with the added goal of looking for a couple of places to call a “base” in 2021.
Love Kate x
***Here is what some OTHER global Nomads say about how this year impacted their gallivanting lifestyle around the world. All of these amazing folk below have contributed to my latest book to offer their take on being #LocationFree.
* My global nomadship is NOT over yet! Dee
Before COVID-19 stopped us all in our tracks, I had been already considering my global footprint and thinking about how I could still travel and work as a nomad, but with more and more respect for the environment by reducing my use of fossil fuels.
Since being “stuck” at my daughter’s house since March 1st, I have had more time to contemplate my next move, and I think I will be much more mindful about the “gigs” I say yes to in terms of length. Instead of jumping from plane to plane and delivering multiple workshops or events in one week, I will spaciously alter my availability and only offer one city a week for short jobs. In addition, I’m considering “putting myself out to hire” to communities for 3-6 month, longer-term projects.
As for this crazy year, I have still felt like a “nomad” because most of my international work has continued online, but I’ve been receiving some “snail mail” at my daughter’s address where I’m staying, and I don’t like it. My daughter and friends tease me, saying, “ooh, look, you have mail!” which I vehemently deny! Haha!
I did join a gym in my daughter’s town but, I made sure it was one of the franchise-type ones that proliferate Australia so that when I’m back on the road, I can still make use of the membership.
I still live out of my suitcase. It’s on a shelf, in the cupboard, in my daughter’s spare room, and I have deliberately done very little extra shopping this year and still buy my suitcase-sized “top-ups.” All my purchases have still been with the thought that I will eventually be back on the road.
As of December 2020, bookings for work in early 2021 have started rolling in, and I’m feeling the pullback towards the actual road (not flights) that will most likely be my future for at least the next 12 months until our international borders and flights are safe again. My global nomadship is not over yet!Yours in Community, Dee
Dee Brooks is a mum of four adults and is a passionate community development practitioner and trainer with over 20 years of experience. She has been an Intentional Nomad since 2015 and has travelled and worked in over 20 countries, creating impact through capacity building and knowledge sharing. http://jeder.com.au
*What is COVID offering US in terms of new perspectives? Martin
When Covid struck, all my jobs and activities came to quite an abrupt halt. But organically, other things suddenly needed to be done. My life in a nutshell… Go with the flow, take things as they come, and run with it as best you can.
Pre-Covid, I was housesitting, hiking, travel guiding, and occasionally giving sushi workshops. When all that stopped, for my dad, who lives alone, all his support and social engagements/contacts were terminated as well. So I kind of organically transitioned into being his only daily visitor and part-time caregiver. A foundation I occasionally volunteer at was seeing a huge dip in the (mostly 55+ aged) volunteer availability, so my “whenever I can, I’ll let you know” volunteering turned into a fixed few days a week. With the rest of the time, I worked on my campervan conversion, which I was not really getting around to before Covid. So you could say that just as in life, Covid took but replaced other things in its place for me to make a difference… And no less important, it also gave me space to remember what I was passionate about and the time to work on it as well.
Looking forward, my future perspective has not changed much with Covid. I will keep living as a nomad, primarily housesitting going from place to place, alternated with some hiking travel guiding and volunteering here and there, and being a self-supporting van-lifer the rest of the time. What Covid did do, however, is make me realize how positive and stable this self-supportive lifestyle made me, as when mass-hysteria struck, I accepted it as it came and just took it in my stride.
To me, the best way to approach the whole Covid-situation is to look at what it is offering in terms of new perspectives, rethinking priorities and time away from work, commuting, and stress in favor of me-time. It is pretty much nailed on the head by this little quote by Karen Salmansohn:
You gotta look for the good in the bad, the happy in the sad, the gain in your pain, what makes you grateful, not hateful. And if there is no good in the bad, or happy in the sad, then you are put in that spot right there, right then, to help create it for yourself and the people around you…
May you be happy and well, Martin
Martin Van Den Berg is a full-time professional housesitter, capable with all animals but specialising in big or “difficult” dogs and packs. Willing to travel.
* Will we resume nomadic life? Nancy
It was sheer coincidence that we moved into a long-term rental the day that Spain went into lockdown! A day later and we would have needed approval from the police to move, to drive elsewhere other than to the supermarket for essential supplies. My unexpected pulmonary embolism in April 2019 had stopped our travels and, due to ongoing medical treatment, necessitated us staying in Oliva for a while. As we liked it here, at the end of that year, totally unrelated to the pandemic, we decided to stay in the area longer and, in January 2020, found a new home near the sea.
Even if we had booked another Air B&B, ready to travel again, it’s unlikely we’d have been able to. As a new tenant hadn’t been secured for the townhouse we’d been renting, we would have had to stay there longer. This would have been so frustrating! I was always excited when moving-on and to have no choice but to stay would have been very hard. Instead, we could look forward to our new home close to the beach!
My online work continued despite the pandemic, and my weekdays didn’t really alter as I sat at the computer in my home-office as usual. The virus situation has definitely changed our nomadic mindset, though, and now I’m not even sure if we’ll resume our journey!
The pandemic in Europe and ever-changing border restrictions make it difficult to travel, so for now, we’ve accepted it’s necessary to stay-put. Instead of looking forward to exploring new places, we appreciate the opportunity and extra time available to visit our own area, which is very varied and beautiful. We’ve also made some friends here and, in a time when we cannot easily see family in the UK, these relationships are all the more important.
As we’ve not had to pack-up the car to move-on in a single journey, we’ve also gradually acquired more possessions and are making our current rental a ‘home.’ The more we become settled, putting down roots, it’s so much harder to consider moving away. Maybe one day we’ll revise our wanderlust, maybe not. Perhaps we’ll take holidays again instead. We’re just not dwelling on that.
Although we’ve always had a flexible attitude, this year has taught-us that absolutely anything unexpected can happen! We’re OK, and we have each other, our health, an income, and a home, so do appreciate this as never before. Kind regards, Nancy
Nancy Benn is a versatile virtual assistant with more than ten years’ experience providing efficient support to clients. Working remotely from her home office, Nancy helps entrepreneurs achieve more time and headspace to develop their business by supporting and encouraging their endeavours by providing outstanding, skilled admin and secretarial support.
*Coincidence doesn’t exist. I always believed that! Jan
What happened to this digital nomad during the Covid pandemic? I guess the same as with all the others: being stuck in one place and not moving anymore. In my case, I’m stuck in Budapest in Hungary. Coincidentally, as a Dutch citizen, I already had a house in Hungary, and I am a resident in this country. Something that, after the fact, turns out to be a good thing. I will explain, and this explanation shows once more, that coincidence doesn’t exist. It was for a reason that I got stuck here.
In February 2019, I left the Netherlands and started my digital nomad existence. South America, Spain, and South Africa. In April 2020, I ended up in a very strict lockdown in South Africa, and after three tough weeks, I was finally able to return to the Netherlands on a repatriation flight. From The Netherlands, I flew immediately to my home in eastern Hungary. It was a safe haven in these bizarre times. It was also far removed from covid, with only 2 cases known out of the 3 000 inhabitants in the village.
After a few weeks of being in Hungary, a letter fell on the mat from the Dutch authorities. They stated that with retroactive effect to February 2019 (!) I was no longer officially living in the Netherlands, that I was not allowed to continue my business there and that I was no longer insured for medical expenses.
Pay attention! With more than one year retroactive effect!
Panic! What’s next? At that time, there was only one option: I would have to live 100% as a resident in Hungary and build a new company structure with two limited companies: one in the Netherlands containing all the customers and one in Hungary where I am an employee. Subsequently, I was accepted into the Hungarian health insurance system (which is cheap, but not the world’s best) and a perfect private health insurance top-up that will enable me to be anywhere in the world and still have good insurance!
All of this turned out to be a golden solution for me as a nomad. The taxes in Hungary are the lowest in Europe, and even after my retirement in some years, the 0% income tax is Europe’s best! I am currently renting an apartment in the heart of downtown Budapest, and at the weekends I visit my house in the countryside to relax. This is truly the ideal “snob-life’ of all the Budapest-inhabitants!
Coincidence doesn’t exist. I never believed in that. But all these puzzle pieces came together so precisely into one nice new picture. So with all that happened to me, I have to admit: coincidences might just exist!
While I am stuck in Hungary for now, I spend ALL my time preparing for the future! Jan
Jan Van Kuijk has been living partly in the Netherlands and partly in Hungary for more than 10 years. The two countries finally became too small for him, and in 2018, after 15 years of preparation, he decided to travel the world as a Digital Nomad. With his work on WordPress and Joomla websites, he is generating sufficient income to live his dream.
*Cruising (or not) with Covid – Debbie
Well, it’s been an interesting couple of months – thank you, 2020!
From being aboard ‘that ship’ which was disallowed docking in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico, to finally disembarking our guests in San Diego, after 29 days onboard! Our guests got an additional 15 days cruising on the house, and of course, courtesy of corona!
Then, many of us got ill and had to deal with “isolationship,” which in itself added a new dimension to both cruise life, as well and levels of sanity and productivity! Getting the South African crew repatriated back to our own country was another covid challenge, but we finally made it to home soil in June, three months after the break-out onboard our floating home. At this stage, a total of 60 days of “isolationship” had been achieved, and it is no small feat to spending that amount of time on your own in a room that is hard to pace 10 steps without having to stop dead!
Since then, the waiting to return to what we love has taken its toll in various forms, forcing many to find alternative employment sources. I have kept myself busy by doing some ‘self-reflection and tweaking,’ a vital step to recalibrating and accessing what makes it out of the covid crisis with you and what needs to be resolved and rested!
I have decided to study a diploma in HR to be better equipped in my line of work and where I see myself adding relevance; making memories with my family, and building a legacy in my gorgeous granddaughter’s life while watching the world continue to be crazed about vaccines and searching for new normals!
Living life #LocationFree post-covid will have its own set of challenges, but I am hopeful that we will be traveling and impacting more lives in the near future! Remember at this time, to be kind – to those who don’t understand or think the way you do, and it’s OK to be different – after all, that’s what it takes to live #LocationFree. Love Debbie
Debbie Botha courageously leapt at the chance to travel and showcase her training development, coaching, negotiation, and change- management skills within the world of cruising. She now wears officer stripes on her shoulders and a smile on her face as she explores international waters is studying HR, dabbles in Bitcoin, and revels in being a nurturing Nana.
linkedin.com/in/debbiebothaglobal Instagram: @debbiebothaofficial
*Life Has Shifted A Little – Chris and Jillian
We had moved places in Morocco a few times. We had decided that we needed our own space after two and a half months in the hostel we were painting in, and we moved into an apartment in Tinghir. Shortly after we moved into our new place, the lockdown was lifted. And even though we were some of the only foreigners around, we weren’t being hassled too much to come and buy things.
We moved out to Rissani after two weeks, which was located at the edge of the Sahara. The roads were now just starting to open up for people to move between towns and cities. After a few weeks there, we read a news headline saying that all foreigners had to leave Morocco by August 10th. We then decided that we wanted to spend some time on the coast, so off we went to Essaouira.
We ended up renting an Airbnb for a really good discounted price inside the medina. There were still very few tourists around, and we were getting hassled by more people to come and buy things. We had booked a flight to leave on the 8th, and a few days before the day, the flight was canceled. We then read more information about needing to leave and found out that it was fake news and didn’t need to go.
We rented the place for two more months, and it was nice to have our own space and work on our own projects. The owner of the Airbnb had upgraded the wifi to accommodate our needs, and we accomplished a lot of much needed online work. The locals’ mood had dropped, and eventually, we had started to see drunk people in the day fist fighting at random times. This was not normal, so we felt that it was time to go.
We booked a direct flight to Turkey, and we travelled to Casablanca to exit the country. There were not many people in the airport, which made the experience one of the easiest times we’ve had travelling. We were told that we would expect to get tested for Covid when we arrived at the airport, this didn’t happen. We were also told that we would expect to get tested when we arrived in Turkey, this didn’t happen either. Turkey was open, and everything was business as usual. In the last two weeks here, the Turkish government has started implementing some restrictions. Restaurants are closed except for takeout, a weeknight curfew of 8:00, and everything except grocery stores are closed over the weekends.
We have no doubt in our minds that this is the only way we can live our lives. Travel has probably changed forever due to Covid, but we will deal with it. We won’t be returning to conventional life, and we find too much happiness in this way of life
Chris de Cap I’ve been an artist my whole life, more than half of which as a tattoo artist. I spent the bulk of my adult life being nomadic, however, mostly in Canada. Now I’ve taken my nomadic habits out into the world.
*Clearing the decks and learning what it means to be resilient
I feel like 2020 is the year that we were all forced to stop, take a deep breath, and look at how we are living. The word that kept coming up for me this year was resilience.
Here in Spain, we experienced one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe and in a city like Malaga where we are used to being active and social life quickly started to feel a little surreal. I remember saying to friends that it felt like I was living in a Netflix movie. Deserted streets, no noise or energy.
There is a thriving community of entrepreneurs and freelancers in the city and I organise a co-working meet-up. I remember our last in-person event just before the lockdown happened. I don’t think anyone realised just what was coming! After that, we took the meet-ups online like many events and it proved a great way to stay connected and motivated when we weren’t able to meet up in person. I launched my first retreat in October at an amazing venue called Vega House. This was one of my big goals for 2020 and after nearly a year of putting things on hold, I was determined to make it happen.
I have experienced lots of personal and professional shifts this year and it feels like it has been a bit of a baptism of fire. I know I have learned to be more present in how I live. I have become much more conscious of time and not wasting it this year. This has affected my relationships, friendships and priorities as a whole.
I had planned to do more international travel this year and instead found that there was so much more on my doorstep than I had realised to explore and appreciate. Slowing down and living with restrictions has helped me and I am sure others to find joy in unexpected places. I think I am going into 2021 with a renewed sense of optimism around what is possible for me. I am focusing on staying grounded and appreciating the here and now.
Victoria Jane Watson is a business and media mentor working with female entrepreneurs leading the way in the health and wellness industry. She gets to the heart of what makes her clients unique, showing them how to leverage their story and expertise effectively so they can build a personal brand that supports their business goals.
www.victoriajanewatson.com Instagram: @victoriajanewatson
“10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree” is available on all Amazon stores
Search under the title or by using:
Print ISBN: 978-0-620-90868-9
Digital ASIN: B08P7FQ94G
IN SOUTH AFRICA YOU CAN ALSO GRAB A PAPERBACK ON TAKEALOT.COM