Jenny, the digital nomad, previously wrote a guest post for getButterflied where she talked about Why Its Ok to Give Up an Old Dream for a New One. Today we profile her and her story in more detail.
Tell us a little more about Jenny…
I am 33 years old, originally from Munich in Germany but have a British mum, so I am half/half German-British. I studied chemistry for nearly 10 years, in Munich and later London, where I also got my PhD. I was so tired of research after all those years in the lab that I decided to go on a year-long round the world trip, with my boyfriend Simon, and somehow we’re still on it 2.5 years later.
I always liked the idea of travelling a lot but never really thought that I could do it too! It started with me getting obsessed about travelling to Jamaica, but nobody wanted to go with me when I was around 19, so I never went. Years later I was in a similar situation but this time I didn’t wait for others to join and went to Israel by myself, that kind of kicked it all off. I still haven’t been to Jamaica, but it’s high on the list, maybe next year 🙂
Where are you currently in the world?
I’m in Rome, Italy now. It’s always been a dream to live here for a while and I met a girl online who I’m collaborating on the Digital Nomad Girls project, who helped us find a room. So it was pretty easy to move here for a month.
What is your favourite travel destination and why?
There are a lot of them, but one region I really want to get back to is Central America. It was my first ever proper tropical location and I loved it. Especially Nicaragua, Panama and Belize. I love the food, it’s much less crowded than South East Asia and there’s so much to see and do.
What is your favourite travel quote?
Again, there are lots that I love, but on of my favourites is “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. It’s kind of true.
You launched a site called Square Hippie. What’s in the name?
I didn’t want it to be just about travelling, as I might want to write about other stuff in the future as well. The name comes from my kind of contradicted personality.
I used to volunteer with Greenpeace for three years in London and my Greenpeace friends all called me square as I was doing a PhD in science etc. My science friends on the other hand thought I was a bit of a weirdo and a hippie, because I was much less nerdy than them.
What is the website about?
I write about my journey from traveller to digital nomad as a non-techy person. I think it’s nice to document it as many people who aren’t in tech think they can’t be digital nomads, but that’s not true.
What inspired you to launch the site?
I used to have a travel blog called Jenny Round The World, which I wanted to overhaul. Also, we had just arrived in Chiang Mai to try our “luck” as digital nomads, so it was the right timing. And then I had the idea of doing my digital nomad challenge.
Tell us about your Digital Nomad Challenge?
When I found out about the digital nomad lifestyle and that not only developers and travel bloggers lived location independent lives, I wanted to try it as well. I didn’t even know where to start though, a science degree isn’t the most logical background, (although there are ways) so I read all those ‘Top 10 jobs for Digital Nomads” type of blog posts and articles.
It was really overwhelming but I realised it was always the same 10-15 jobs people mentioned. As I wasn’t technically qualified to do any of them, I decided to do them all and document my journey along the way.
I’m sure it hasn’t all been plain sailing in trying to build a digital nomad lifestyle.
What then are some of the challenges you have experienced?
Oh, yeah it took quite a while, and only now am I actually making enough money to live relatively comfortable (but compared to normal jobs it’s still peanuts). I realised that putting yourself out there is the most important part, at least it was for me.
Most of the challenges were down to my own insecurities and inexperience. Getting underpaid because I quoted too little on Upwork is one example. I’m still learning all these things now, but it’s interesting and great to look back and see how much I’ve learned since last summer.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I really, really want this. When I’m obsessed with something I usually don’t give up that easily. I applied for so many jobs on Upwork and I asked friends who I met who were already living this life. A network of digital nomad friends is the best thing you can have. Moving to Chiang Mai definitely was one of the most important things I did to help me succeed.
What projects are you currently working on?
Well, there’s my blog that I’ve neglected a bit recently, but there’s more to come soon! Then I am currently working with 5 clients, mainly writing and social media, but also a bit of WordPress work.
And I am also working on the Digital Nomad Girls website and manage the Facebook group. So there’s plenty to do.
What is Digital Nomad Girls About?
Basically it was a Facebook group that I started in August last year while we were on Koh Phangan. I noticed that most Digital Nomads were guys, but as is often the case there was a lot of bragging going on, instead of support.
I wanted to connect with more digital nomad girls, so I started the group and within a few months over 1000 girls had joined. Now we have 2500 awesome members and I launched a website to go with it.
The idea is to create a network of girls around the world who help each other with advice, who can collaborate, become travel friends and generally support each other. We’re slowly organising meet-ups all around the world at the moment and are working on a coworkation as well.
What advice would you give someone who also wants to work remotely and become a digital nomad?
Think about the worst thing that could happen. You have so many reasons not to follow your dreams: your family, friends and colleagues think you’re crazy, it might be bad for your career, where to put all your stuff, what if you fail.
But what is actually the worst thing that could happen? You might quit your job (or you could ask your boss to work remotely, she/he might say yes), you could run out of money, you might not like it.
The reality is that you might have to move back home broke, and get another job. If that’s really the worst thing that can happen, then do it!
Are you an aspiring digital nomad? What challenges are you facing?