We’re big believers in location independence, the lifestyle of digital nomads, and general freedom for people to be able to combine travel and work. While a nomadic lifestyle is often glamorized, especially by influencers and social media, it’s important to remember that it’s hard work. With that said, many people are finding ways to live meaningful and exciting lives on the road. We had the chance to ask Alyssa Richter, a fellow nomad and energetic explorer, some questions about her travels, the life of a digital nomad, and the steps she took to create a life for herself that she thoroughly enjoyed. Lets dive in!
Why did you become a digital nomad?
I’ve always had a deep love for traveling and exploring the world. Since I can remember I was fascinated by other cultures and had a strong sense of adventure. I couldn’t wait to get to a point in my life where I could just go and not be tied down to any one location. There is a great freedom that comes with becoming a modern nomad that I’ve always craved. So when I graduated from college in 2018, I finally had the ability to choose how I wanted to start living my life and the decision to start working on the road came pretty easily.
How did you become a digital nomad?
I was about to graduate from university in 2018 and knew that I wanted to travel and see the world before settling into a “normal” job. Now that I’ve got a taste for this life, time will tell if I ever really feel ready for that type of purely sedentary lifestyle. I think a strong personal motivator is that I know I don’t want to live where I am from. I knew that, whether I travelled or not, I would have to find a new place to live that brought me fulfillment. I joined over a dozen Facebook groups and read a multitude of blogs about the best ways to make money while traveling. I reached out to a dozen or more digital nomads to figure out how they make it work. There were a lot of people doing things that I didn’t have the skills or desire to do, but all of the research and advice gave me a pretty rounded idea of what was possible once I finally made the leap. Eventually, I came to the decision that teaching English online was the best starting point. Aside from native English fluency, a bachelor’s degree, and a TEFL, (which I obtained in a month) there aren’t many pre-skills needed to teach English online. I also happen to love the English language and have over 10 years of childcare experience so this line of work came naturally. When I don’t want to work online, it’s not hard to find work in most countries since almost every non-English speaking country wants to learn English. Within two months of graduating from university, I received my TEFL, applied to online ESL jobs, and jetted off to Argentina to start working out this new life. I guess I didn’t give myself much time to turn back or make sure all of the pieces fit together perfectly but it made for an even better learning experience.
What inspired you to live as a modern nomad?
I don’t think I could pick out any one point in my life as being the thing that inspired me. I’ve had an adventurous spirit since I can remember and knew from a young age that I wanted to see the world. I get a rush from meeting new people, learning about other cultures, and exploring places I’ve never been. Routine just bores me, it’s as simple as that. This lifestyle just fit into what I already love and have been seeking my whole life. I have always been inspired by people who live extraordinary lives, even if it means doing extra work or going against what most people are telling them to achieve.
There is a famous quote by John Lennon about how, as a boy, he wanted to grow up to be happy because that is the point of life. I keep that line close to heart. It describes a lot of the inspiration I get to keep going to make this work. I think that every person should seek out what brings them joy.
What has been the biggest challenge(s) with the digital nomad lifestyle since you made the leap?
Monetary stability is definably the biggest challenge I’m still trying to overcome. I started from scratch, so there wasn’t as much cushion to support me when things didn’t go as smoothly as I’d originally envisioned. I worked in hostels and cut back a lot to make what little I had go further, which turned out to be one of the greatest parts of my time in South America. I personally like budget travel, but I would like to get to a point where this lifestyle can support me better than it does. I hadn’t quite figured out the balance between work and play when I first started. I also didn’t realize how much of a struggle internet connectivity would be in developing countries. The challenge with teaching ESL online is that you need to have a really strong internet connection or your program won’t run. Outside of the major metropolitans, most cities in South America (or most developing countries) can’t support the programs these English programs need to run a smooth class. On top of this, I found that the need for a quiet working space was essential with online ESL. Not just for me to teach, but to not wake up and disturb other people while I talked loudly into a microphone at 8am. That will make you very unpopular at a coworking space or a hostel you’re working at. The lessons rough to learn, but I don’t regret going through them. They made me a lot smarter about the work I do and showed me how diligent I can be when things don’t work out perfectly.
What would you like to say to those people who are curious on living as a digital nomad but don’t really know how to get started or don’t have the courage yet?
That’s hard to answer because I feel like I am still figuring out how exactly to do it. I would say the first step is to stop living in fear of risk-taking and just take the risk. You can read all of the blogs you want and plan out the ideal way that you’re going to make this lifestyle work but the truth is this that blogs don’t equate to real life experiences. You’re only going to learn how this works for you if you put effort into gathering the pieces together and then run with them. There is so much information out there to help you get started but it’s all useless if you don’t actually put it into practice. What are you willing to sacrifice and what are you willing to take on in order to achieve the goal? The answer is something each person will answer differently which is good, because the amount of opportunities out there for remote work sometimes seem endless. If you’re like me when I began, you might not even know what you want yet or what you’re capable of until you put yourself into situations that force you to figure it out.
What is the best part about your lifestyle?
The location independence is what I love the most about living as a digital nomad. For me, the freedom to decide when I stay, when I go, and where to go next is the biggest driving force to keep me pursuing this lifestyle. I love that I can be working and living in places many people only dream of one day vacationing to. Thanks to my computer and a lot of personal drive, I’ve gotten to live in some amazing places. I have the opportunity to stay in a place longer than a few days and really get to know the flow of the town and its people. I love getting to live in different countries and discover how people in other parts of the world live. Each culture seems to be so strange at first but the longer I stay, the more I realize the ways in which most people, at their core, are the same. Most have desires and fears that anyone, no matter where they were raised, can relate to. Around the world, people are all connected by a general sense of humanity. I think that getting to encounter these places and people is the best part about living the way I do.
For more from Alyssa, visit adventureandalyssa.com.