What It’s Really Like to Work & Travel Full-time: Insights from a Digital Nomad

It has been time to turn all the spotlight on the second guest writer of this gig worker blog, Samira Holma. When I had a chat with her she told me she was on her way to Lissabon, Portugal. Why? Because she wants to spend more time there. Makes sense right?! Enjoy her story, insights, and inspiration in the life of a Digital Nomad.

What It’s Really Like to Work & Travel Full-time

I’ve been a digital nomad and a full-time traveler for 2+ years. For now, I can’t imagine having it in any other way. Being a traveling nomad can be amazing, but is not for everyone. While the upsides are many, it also requires a lot of energy, motivation, drive, and self-discipline.

With that said… If it fits you, going for it will probably be one of the best decision you’ve ever made.

Here are some insights about the options and what to expect, based on my experiences so far.

The digital nomad lifestyle is more diverse than ever

The number of digital nomads has increased a lot over the past years and this trend is just expected to continue. Some predictions show that there will be 1 billion digital nomads by 2035.

That’s more than the population of Brazil, Europe, and South Africa, combined.

The options within the nomad lifestyle go as far as your imagination. The following are a few examples of how the lifestyle may vary.

Office with a view. All the photos are samples of favorite offices.

By profession

While certain roles, such as programmers, designers, SEO experts, writers, nutritionists, and marketers, are more represented, there are nomads within most areas these days. The variation I’ve seen ranges from doctors and physics, to selling diapers online (yes, really).

What usually sets the limit is the mindset of what’s possible. I was skeptical towards remote project management before, but have learned that you can achieve great results off-site.

Since many future managers represent a generation who has never lived without high-tech, and the technology keeps on advancing faster than ever, I expect the variation to increase.

By employment type

You can work as a freelancer, grow your own business, or be employed. Several leading companies such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook are providing more flexible conditions in an attempt to match the flexibility the digital nomad lifestyle offers. Options, such as working from home, or rotating between different locations, are being promoted as perks to attract the best talent. Many leading brands do also contract remote workers.

I’ve consulted for a wide range of companies and it’s, not very surprisingly, easier to collaborate with organizations that are used to remote teams, than with those that aren’t. They have different routines and processes in place, which only should improve over the coming years.

By traveling (life)style

While I live a relatively fast-paced life without a fixed base, since that’s the way I like it, there are other nomads who prefer to be based in one location permanently, rather than constantly being on the move. There are also those who like to be based in the same city for a few months.

I’m usually based in one country for a longer time since I like to get to know the culture and the people, but I like to explore it well while I’m there. I’m in Portugal right now and will be going back to South America towards the end of the year. I’ve got the option to stop traveling and base myself somewhere at any time, and usually, travel without dates. That freedom is hard to beat.

By type of income

To simplify, income can be divided into active and passive income. Within each category, there is a wide range of options. You can earn active income by offering consulting services, selling products, being an influencer etc. Passive income is usually achieved through affiliate marketing or by selling online products, such as e-books and courses etc.

Passive income is a dream for many, since it allows you to earn money while you’re sleeping, literally. Several people earn millions this way (and quite a few fail, as well). Many nomads combine these two, but usually start with active income sources.

You will learn a lot, as long as you take initiatives

One of my fears before becoming a digital nomad was to leave the comfort of an office and the whole structure around it, where knowledge sharing, mentorship and so on, is a natural part.

Looking back, I’ve never advanced faster than over the past two years. The nomad lifestyle has allowed me to work with a wide range of clients across cultures and time zones. I’ve learned more about entrepreneurship, and best practices within my area (marketing) across borders. I’ve become more productive and skilled at familiarizing myself with new places and cultures.

I’ve experienced how it is to not be able to express myself in cultures that are quite the opposite from where I grew up. I’ve learned Spanish, and I’m on my way to mastering Portuguese.

As long as you take initiatives, there are many networks and events that you can join, which makes it easy to connect and learn from others across functions, no matter of location.

You will have unforgettable experiences

The freedom to be able to work from anywhere is what attracts people, and also what I love most about this lifestyle. I’ve worked from mountains, deserts, vineyards, lodges, beaches, all kinds of transports, charming hotels and cafés, and so on.

Creating your own schedule allows you to work when you’re the most productive, as long as you plan for it. Since I’m specialized in content within the travel industry, my lifestyle works as a great source of inspiration.

I’ve traveled through most of South America, and had some incredible experiences. The carnival in Rio, skiing down a volcano in Chile, wine tasting in Uruguay, driving through the driest desert in the world, slept in the jungle, seen the Iguazu falls, hiked through stunning nature, seen Saturnus on a private astrology tour, bungee jumped, visited coffee farms in Colombia, and spent more time in my hometown in a row than ever during the past 10 years, are just a few of the highlights.  

International network and new friends

Lastly, but most importantly, I’ve met so many inspiring people. I’ve grown my network internationally, and made new friends for life, which I’ll be forever grateful for.

To sum it all up

In summary, it’s easy to understand why the number of digital nomads is expected to increase further. New businesses are arising, and traditional systems are changing, to cater to people with this lifestyle, which confirms that it’s much more than a trend. It’s a big change in the way we work and live.

If you choose to go this way, my best recommendation is to find something that you’re passionate about and experiment with the work/life balance, to be able to perform well long-term. It’s a bit cliché, but true. The nomad lifestyle involves so much more than just “traveling with a laptop” and it requires a lot of hard work to be successful. Some people feel lonely and others miss having more routines.

If you find a way that fits you, it can pay off big time by allowing you to design your dream lifestyle, and by giving you more time to check of your bucket list, one item at a time.


Get to know Samira

Samira is a writer and content marketer specialized in the travel industry. She’s also a full-time traveler and has so far been to 50+ countries.

Her drive is to inspire others to explore and experience more around the world. She do this by helping exciting travel brands with their content marketing, and by sharing authentic tips from her own trips.

For more info and travel inspiration, check out her website or connect with her on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

Thanks Samira for your great story!

Do you also have a gig worker story that you want to share to inspire others? Then please do so 🙂

A day at the University

Over the past week I’ve had a shit load of work, and therefore haven’t had the time and energy needed to write a few lines here. But I’m not worried. I just need some time to adapt to my new focus, Global scouting. This means I nowadays are scouting gig workers all over the globe to fulfill the clients needs in long term. I love it!

Yes, I promised in my first blog post that this blog isn’t gonna be about me, my job, or be any close to being commercial. But sometimes I encounter some interesting stuff in my daily work, and hence needs to tell you shortly what I do (ish).

Today is one of those days. Because today I went to the Faculty of Engineering, Lund University, Sweden, to scout for the workforce of tomorrow, and to also have a chance to discuss the perception of the future of work with the students.


Really interesting day. The freshmen were still a bit confused since it’s there’s third week of school, since the kick-off week(s). For some of them it’s a lot of impressions to deal with, moving from home, live on their own etc. I tried to get a glimpse of their thoughts. But most of them haven’t really considered what to do in five years. Maybe not that strange. Did you knew what you were gonna work with when you entered the Uni? But barely any of them had thought about joining the gig economy. Freelancer? Contingent worker? How does it work? We had some really interesting conversations. My best advice for them while they’re studying:

  1. Have some hobby projects, where you put all the theories you’ve learnt into action
  2. Try to see if you have anyone in your surrounding (family, friends, your first job etc) who might need some help from student labor.
  3. Try to build your CV/experience during your studies. By doing this you have made the initial mistakes before you’re joining the labor market for real.

The seniors were a bit more prepared. They at least knew what it meant to do a gig. But they didn’t had a clue about how high the demand is for skilled developers, or how easy it is to set up a firm and start gigging. We talked all about the pros of choosing where, how, with whom and what to work with when you’re a freelancer. I felt a bit of excitement in the hall way when they finally understood how valuable they are. And of course, some concerns about lack of safety nets, and some sort of insecurity in always having a new gig. But they understood that, if you’re gonna succeed in the long run, then learnability is a key success factor.

A really good day. And look forward to welcome everyone to the gig economy. And I really hope that they all were listening and understood what’s going on in the labor market.

Did you do some side gigs while studying? Share your story.

4 short gig stories

In my daily work and free time a meet a lot of gig workers, and would therefore want to share four short gig stories:

The Anxious

I met this guy at the beach this summer, and he had just become a gig worker. I have to say that he was a bit anxious about leaving the a top job as a Finance manager. He had worked at several different larger companies, and have had several different high positions within finance.

Kiddos, a big workload and several other reasons led to a lighter burnout. To make a long story short, he quit his job and didn’t really have a second plan except for finding himself, and feel great again.

After a while, he was both restless and in need of money to pay the bills. So he entered the Gig economy. Yay, you might think. He felt the same way for a while. He registered his CV at a consultant company, and they manage to get his first gig pretty soon.

When I met him he had only been working in the gig economy for a couple of months. He both enjoyed it, and was anxious. Enjoyed it because he almost did nothing to find a well paid job. And anxious about several things:

  • Will the bank allow loans when not having a permanent job?
  • Will I find a new job when the contract is out?
  • Is the client right?
  • Will I enjoy working without my own colleagues?

I told him: as long as you’re good in what you’re doing you shouldn’t worry about finding another gig in the future. And he felt a bit confident when I told him that the workplace trends are going towards the gig economy.

The Calling

I have known this guy for a very long time, and he’s great! Very very goal oriented. This guy has been studying abroad a lot, in almost what could be considered as Ivy League schools/programs within Business administration, with a focus on Marketing strategies.

He only worked a few year in a graduate position before he entered his first top position as a Product manager. Product manager might not sound that fancy fancy, but this is a market leader, and one of the biggest companies within its niche. My first thought when he did it was WOW, you’re awesome! And this was before he turned 30 as well.

As with all jobs, he was in need of a new challenge after a while. So he got a new product manger job within a similar industry, and manage a lot of its marketing as well. He liked the job, but felt that there was something that was missing. A true challenge.

When I spoke to him about a year ago he told me he had quit his job. What?! What are you suppose to do now was my first reaction! He answered with a lot of confident: “I’m taking this Web developer boot camp where we have to learn how to code in a few weeks. I’ve always wanted to learn how to code, and now was the time. I felt a calling”.

Can you imagine? Just leaving a nice job just like that, and follow your dream?! Firstly he helped friends and family with simple some simple projects just to build his portfolio. Secondly, he landed his own web project client after a while.

Now he’s very confident and really enjoys his daily work. He doesn’t regret his career swith at all. True inspiration on how we all should prepare our thinking for future of work, and adapt and learn new stuff. Did I mention that I have slowly enrolled a Web developer boot camp from Udemy?

Never again!

I ran into a former colleague today at my clients office, and we had a short chat about our new jobs etc. Back in the days he used to be a low level programmer within embedded systems, and I know that this guy rocks when it comes to code. Now he felt like he was home with really challenging tasks etc.

Since he knows what I’m doing and I know about his past as a gig worker, we talked a bit about the gig economy, and the demand for his skills in this area. So I asked him: Are you interested in going back as a consultant again, and running your own business again?

A short reply: NO, not at all. I don’t want to feel isolated. I want to be part of something, and feel an ownership of what I’m doing. So NO. Never again. Unless I have to….

Great insights. Why change a winning concept when you’re happy and satisfied?

I’m my own boss now

This story is the other way around than the previous one. A Project Manager I met at a lunch meeting.  This guy has a lot of energy, and I can see why he’s successful. He briefly told me his story.

He used to be employed by a consultant firm, where his consultant managers find his new assignments (both long and short ones). Of course, not all assignments can therefore be challenging and fun. The focus of course for the consultant manager is to decrease the time having a consultant on the “bench”. He used to be fine with this setup.

What happened next was that the company went through a major re-organization. The smaller firm he was used to had in a way lost his sole. And now the owners where focusing (at least that his feeling) on reducing costs and increase their margins. The new managers didn’t have the time to focus on getting to know him, since their main interest was on findin g new assignments. After a few really boring tasks, and bad salary reviews, he took the decision to become his own boss, and join the Gig economy with no hesitation.

He knew he would succeed, both due to his skills and his former network. He could find his first client really fast, and really enjoyed this gig. All good comes to an end, and he had to find a new gig since the contract expired.

His contract at his first client expired on a Friday, and the next Monday he had a new gig and his second client. Good job. During this time I met him. Of course I had to ask, aren’t you missing your old employment?

NO! Now I can choose wherever, whenever, and when I want to do what I like to do (the gig economy dream). If I want to go on holiday for let’s say 10 weeks per year, I´ll do it and no-one can do anything about it. Of course I have to make sure that the project is still running without me, and that I save enough money so I can pay my bills when I don’t work that much. For me the gig economy is the true definition of work-life balance. I’ve always been eager to learn new stuff, and this I still have to do to stay relevant. And you know what, I like it!

Thanks for getting to know you guys. True inspirations.

Which one of these for gig personas are you? No matter if your story is different or not, please share it.

Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work

During my vacation I’ve started to read Sarah Kessler’s book “Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work” on my Kindle. I’m not done with it while writing this, but I’m really fascinated.

The full-time job is disappearing―is landing the right gig the new American Dream?

One in three American workers is now a freelancer. This “gig economy”―one that provides neither the guarantee of steady hours nor benefits―emerged out of the digital era and has revolutionized the way we do business. High-profile tech start-ups such as Uber and Airbnb are constantly making headlines for the disruption they cause to the industries they overturn. But what are the effects of this disruption, from Wall Street down to Main Street? What challenges do employees and job-seekers face at every level of professional experience?

In the tradition of the great business narratives of our time, Gigged offers deeply-sourced, up-close-and-personal accounts of our new economy. From the computer programmer who chooses exactly which hours he works each week, to the Uber driver who starts a union, to the charity worker who believes freelance gigs might just transform a declining rural town, journalist Sarah Kessler follows a wide range of individuals from across the country to provide a nuanced look at how the gig economy is playing out in real-time.

Kessler wades through the hype and hyperbole to tackle the big questions: What does the future of work look like? Will the millennial generation do as well their parents? How can we all find meaningful, well-paid work?

I can highly recommend this book. Really interesting. I totally agree with the praises:


Do you have similar stories that you read about in the book? Then please share them.

Data Scientists, the answer to everything?

During the past weeks I’ve been reading several articles stating that the competence of a Data Scientist is one the most wanted and needed competences, at least in the near future. We’re living in a tech and data driven society so maybe its not that strange after all, that “everyone” needs a data scientist.

Just have a look at IBM’s predictions:


Do you know what they do? Let’s have a short explanation:

So maybe they are the answer to everything, if each one of us are supposed to understand data? Or for us to be able to start to work on processed data directly? Needed YES, but maybe not as powerful as the answer 42 is to the Universe….And of course, everyone can’t just be a data scientist, other skills are still needed.

Are you a Data scientist? Then please share your story.