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There are so many digital nomads out there telling you to quit your job and travel the world. About how they used to work 80 hours a week in a windowless cubicle in a job they hated. How they were miserable until they quit to travel but now they have an amazing life.
What I want to know is why does it have to be so extreme? Why can’t you have both – an amazing life when travelling as well as when you are at home?
Maybe some of their lives sucked before travel but having a ‘regular’ life doesn’t have to be like that. It doesn’t have to be all long hours and cold weather. You can live an amazing life in the ‘real world’ too. I may be a Digital Nomad myself now, but I know for a fact that having a more regular life can be just as awesome.
When I did have a more stationary life, I refused to live life for the weekends or counting down till my next big trip. I wanted to be happy and in the moment ALL the time, not just when I was travelling. I wanted an amazing life all the time.
I had made some sacrifices to live a life that made me truly happy, but they were worth it to me. All roads in this life should lead to happiness. Like the Dalai Lama, I believe that being happy is the purpose of life.
The first step is to expand your tunnel vision. The vision that tells you that travel is the be all and end all. It isn’t. It is fantastic and one of my greatest passions in life but it isn’t my only one.
There is more to life than travel and a lot of earthly pleasures can be easier to indulge when you have a home base. I truly believe that finding balance is the key to a happy life and it is something that I am always striving for.
Everyone derives happiness from different things. Some of the things that make me happy may be hellish for you. Some of the sacrifices I made might not be worth the trade-off for some people.
Not everyone is as lucky in life as I have been and many people don’t have the same choices that I have had. But I believe that everyone has it in their power to make their lives better, at least to some extent.
I want to share with you the steps I take to live a happy and amazing life when I’m not travelling. Maybe they will help you create your own path to happiness.
How to Live an Amazing Life
Taking a Job with Less Money but More Freedom
My last long term job was as an Education Officer at a Medical College. It wasn’t the most exciting job in the world but the people were nice, the atmosphere relaxed and I had flexi-hours.
I was allowed to start anytime between 8am and 10am each day and as long as I did my 7 ½ hours of work per day, it didn’t matter to my boss what hours I worked. This allowed me to finish early when needed, to take a long lunch or to fit in some hiking before work.
I was making about $15,000 less per year than I could have been making if I accepted a Personal Assistant job in the corporate offices of a Recruitment Agency that was offered to me.
I knew that job wouldn’t make me happy and that I would have little free time with lots of client events I would be expected to attend as well as daily overtime. Coupled with working in a fast-paced and result-driven corporate environment (yuck), the difference in salary was negligible in the end.
What is the point of making lots of money if you don’t have time to enjoy it? I know not everyone has a choice and are just happy to have work at all but I did have a choice, and I don’t regret my decision to settle for a lower paying but less demanding job for a second.
Experiment With Cooking to Make it Exciting
Cooking dinner most week nights can get pretty boring. To combat the boredom and to work on my cooking skills, I pick something new to cook every week or two from Pinterest. That way I am challenging myself as well as getting to eat something different than I would normally cook.
Some meals don’t turn out that well but some have been a huge success and I felt a sense of pride that I created this amazing meal. Food will always be a part of an amazing life for me.
Fitting in Some Weekday Hiking
Hiking is probably the one activity that makes me the happiest both when I am travelling and at home. Flexi-hours at my last office job definitely came in handy here as it gave me time to fit in a 7-8km hike before I started work a couple of days a week, or in summer when I finished work early I would go hiking on one of the trails around Manly or go for a swim at the beach.
I also love hiking in the weekend but it is such an amazing thing to have this beautiful experience in nature to start or finish a day in the office.
On days when I didn’t have as much time I would take a 30-60 minute walk during my lunch break. My office was close to the Rocks and the Botanical Gardens in Sydney and both are fantastic places to break up the work day and get some fresh air.
Live in a Place I Love
Living within walking distance of the seaside village of Manly on Sydney’s Northern beaches was a dream come true for me. When I first lived in Sydney back in 2004 I spent a lot of time in Manly with friends and I was determined to live there my second time around.
Manly is definitely not a cheap area to live in so I rented a small two bedroom apartment with my then boyfriend, just up the hill in Fairlight where rent is cheaper, while still only being a ten minute walk away from the action.
Manly has beaches, fantastic bars and dining and lots of hiking trails – all things that make me very happy. And to top it all off I got to catch a ferry to and from work in one of the world’s most beautiful harbours. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Living in a place that you truly love is definitely part of living an amazing life.
Meet Like-minded People at Local Events
I knew a few people when I moved to Sydney but everyone was so busy with their own lives that I started attending events to meet some more like-minded people – I still do it now when I am in a place for a couple of weeks or more.
I have been to Couchsurfing meetups, an airbnb hosting event, travel blogger meetups, hikes with a local hiking club, and digital nomad meetups. It’s nice to meet people that have the same interests as you, and this is a great way to do it.
Hosting on airbnb
airbnb has been a tool that I love to use when travelling but I think I love it even more when I was able to host people.
When I was living in Sydney, I hosted numerous people in my spare room and I loved getting to meet fellow travellers from around the world and to learn about their cultures, as well as teaching them about life on this side of the world.
It is something that I hope to do again in the future, when I have a home base again.
Learn New Skills
It can be hard if not impossible to find time to learn new skills when you are travelling so I use my free time when I am stationary to do it instead. When I was living in London I took six months of Spanish night classes which I really enjoyed.
In Sydney, I learnt to drive a manual car (I had only ever learnt automatic). I am constantly learning the technical side of setting up and running a blog with the help of Siteground – my amazing and helpful website host – and my blogging friends, and I have now developed a Pinterest Management business after learning everything I could about Pinterest Marketing.
There are so many incredible online courses these days that you can easily learn new skills from the comfort of your own home.
I have more time to do these things when I am not travelling.
Plan for Future Travel
Half the fun of travel is in the day dreaming and planning, well for me anyway. When I’m not travelling, it makes me happy to plan future trips and to learn about new places that I want to visit by reading travel blogs, books, watching movies, and reading articles online.
If you are traveling less, I also find that I appreciate travel more, and get more out of each trip because I have had more time to focus on it in the lead up too.
You could even combine learning new skills with planning future trips by planning to take Yoga Teacher Training in India, or learning to cook incredible Italian food in Italy. You can take these skills home with you, to give you joy (or another income stream) in everyday, at home life.
Finding Time for Reading
I was always a big reader when I was a kid but I let my reading lapse once I entered adulthood, when I mainly only read when I was on holiday. Reading does give me joy so it is something that I make a point to do on a more regular basis nowadays.
I would generally read for about an hour a day when I was commuting to and from work, and I try to read in the evening to wind down before bed. Reading isn’t for everyone but it is definitely an important factor for an amazing life for me.
Create Bucket Lists for Local Stuff
I don’t know about you but I have always had so many lists of things that I want to do in the places that I have lived in.
For example, me and a couple of girls from my last job in Sydney slowly worked our way through all the burger places in Sydney CBD during our lunch breaks. I also made it my goal to walk as much of the coastline of Sydney as possible, bit by bit, a goal that I pretty much achieved.
Maybe you want to find the best Pho in your city or to visit every underground bar or to be a groupie for your favourite local band. There are so many options for local bucket lists.
Volunteering my Time for Something I am Passionate About
I love animals so when we moved to Manly I signed up to be a Penguin Warden for the National Parks and Wildlife Service. I volunteered for a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday evenings in the breeding season to look after these little guys, protecting them from idiotic people and dogs, along with educating people about them.
It really made me feel like part of the community and I met some wonderful people through my volunteering.
Volunteering gave me a deep sense of satisfaction. Once I have a home base again, I want to be a cat foster mum. Cats are an obsession for me so I can’t wait.
I am Always Exploring my Own Backyard
There is always something new to experience in the place you live in, as well as many places to return to that you love. Rather than get stuck doing the same thing over and over again, when I lived in Sydney I made sure to get out there and explore!
What it comes down to in the end is to focus on the things that make you happy. The first thing you need to do to enjoy your life at home is to gain awareness. Really think about what you want to do, what makes you happy.
And put a plan in place to follow that happiness. That is how to live an amazing life.
Love the ideas in this post and I completely agree. Sometimes, we forget that there are beautiful places in our own backyards, we just have to make the effort to explore and appreciate them. I have realized sometimes AFTER I have left a place where I was previously living, that I look back and wish I had explored more there while I was living there. Great post!
Thanks Amritha – I think we are all guilty of not exploring our own backyards. It is something that I made a lot more effort with once I had been traveling and living overseas for a while. I see my home through a different lens now 🙂
What a great post! After coming back to live in NZ after 5 years in London it’s hard, but I love your suggestions and think they’ll definitely help if I can give ‘settling’ back in a go!
Thanks Ngaire! Definitely give it time, I suffered badly from post-travel depression when I first got back to NZ then moved to Australia after a one year trip and six years living in London.
Totally agree with all the above..the travel nomads may seem fulfilled living on the road but i’m also just as happy trying to lead a fulfilling life at home, especially making time and memories for my loved ones. As much as I love to travel, my family will always remain my priority. 🙂
Yep there is definitely more than one road to a happy life. Travel definitely has a heavy influence over my happiness but it is not the be all and end all. Family is very important and I miss mine
This is a great post. Balanced and practical. Sometimes I want to scream at “travel snobs” who think that anyone who doesn’t travel full time just doesn’t love it enough.
I know – those people are annoying. I love having a base as well as travelling although I am on an extended trip at the moment 🙂
I’m grounded at home right now, for at least the next couple years as I finish university. It’s sometimes hard when I want to spend all my savings on a plane ticket, but I’ve got tuition to pay… I feel like embracing your life as it is is so important, and it can sometimes be hard to come down from the high of travel. Thanks for writing this post 🙂
Thanks for reading Jesse, life should be wonderful whether you are travelling or not and a big part in making it so is a positive attitude 🙂
I completely agree with all of this. I’m always thinking about traveling and excited for my next trip, but choosing to live in a city I love (DC) with a job I like but that doesn’t rule my life makes every day fulfilling. Great post!
Sounds like you are definitely doing it right Kacy! I am always looking forward to my travels too but you can also enjoy your everyday life at the same time
This post is so, so perfect, and just what I needed to read! Sharing on my blog’s facebook page 🙂
Thanks Dannielle, so glad you enjoyed it 🙂
All great points! I’m a lawyer, but I’d so rather have my current job working 40 hours a week as in-house counsel even if I’m making less than those working 80 hours a week at a big law firm (I just KNOW I’d be even more miserable!). I love cooking too and I think having new things (also from Pinterest!) to cook on weeknights inserts a little creativity into my daily routine. I SO wish I had a place to walk to hike on my lunch breaks near my office. I think a little walk during the day would be so refreshing!
Glad to hear that you chose happiness over money Rachel and it sounds like it has worked out well for you. It’s a shame there is nowhere you walk near your work but now summer is here you could always try to go after work 🙂
Love these tips. I like trying to cook new meals or desserts too. Pinterest is great for finding new recipes to try. I like recreating some of my favourite dishes I’ve had when traveling too. It brings back good memories!
That’s a great idea Eden and I keep meaning to do that, I want to do some cooking classes when I am in Thailand so hopefully I can bring some skills back home with me
Couldn’t agree more with what you said at the beginning…it doesn’t have to be extremes – hate job love travel. I love being able to do both, I also love our downtime at home doing a lot of things you mentioned 🙂 the balance works for us, and nice to read about ways it works for others too.
Thansk for your comment Samiya, you guys definitely seem to have a great balance 🙂
Great ideas. You need to ‘be’ right here right now whether you are living your ‘regular’ life or traveling. Great thoughts!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist
Thanks Natalie 🙂
Good on you Kate,everything you said is so trueYou deserve all the happiness in the whole wide world
Thanks so much Louisa that’s very kind
I love this! Really enjoyed reading it all (and good for you to take the job you actually really enjoy doing). I think for me right now I do want to travel “full-time”. I tried staying in one place for a longer time, got a great job offer but I had to say no because I know that right now it’s not what I need or want. But I’m sure that one day I’d love to settle down and travel every now and then, while loving life at home
Naomi in Wonderland
Thanks Naomi, I am about to embark on a year of full-time travel myself before settling for six months then moving to NZ. You are right that you need to do what is right for you, if you are able to. I’m sure one day when you are ready to settle down you will enjoy it 🙂
I love this. I’m just settling in at home and trying to be really intentional about still living fully while here. I plan on travelling again but not for about 6 months and I do not want to spend those 6 months just counting down until I leave.
Good luck Rebekah! If you make an effort to do it then it can be done 🙂
Such a great post! I couldn’t agree more, you don’t have to be a nomad to lead a rich life. Someone interviewed me recently, and literally started laughing when I told him that I want to get an interesting office job when I finish my studies, but also one that gives me some freedom to travel (hey, I didn’t study for 6 years for nothing!). I was a bit offended by him starting to laugh to be honest. Can’t a person have multiple interests and hobbies? Do we all have to sell our houses and quit our jobs to travel the world? I don’t think so. Thanks for sharing this. I know now I’m not alone in this haha!
Thanks Maaike. Imagine if everyone quit their jobs to travel the world, there would be no culture in the places we visited as everyone would be transient. I also think that everyone that does quit to travel isn’t going to succeed. It’s awesome that they have the courage to give living their dreams a try but the reality is that for most people, it isn’t going to work out how they hoped. What an a*hole for laughing at you!
Such an awesome post Katie, really, it’s perfect! I’ve done so much of the same things recently – I’ve changed my job and we’ve moved to a new suburb that we really love. I’ve always made time to read and have always loved cooking, but I’m trying to make it more of a priority now to cook and bake things that remind me of my travels. I think planning future travels is super important to, so you have something not only to look forward to, but to work towards. I’m finding myself more and more reading books too that are either novels based in cities I’ve visited or want to visit, or reading books about the cities themselves 🙂
Thanks Jess! It sounds like we have a lot of the same hobbies 🙂
A local bucket list is a great idea – my boyfriend and I are in the process of developing one, though we hadn’t actually called it that! The art gallery is on it, as is Wet and Wild (when the weather gets warmer), a drive from North Head to South Head via Middle Head, dinner in Surry Hills…
Wet n Wild is awesome although we ended up going on a very rainy and quite cold day. Look for deals on Groupon as summer gets closer, we got 60% off tickets. North Head is awesome at night, there are lots of possums, rabbits and bandicoots around and the view over the city lights is epic 🙂
Great post Katie! I agree that it doesn’t need to be that extreme (quitting your job to travel), though that is what I ended up doing (and yes, I really was miserable in my job). When I was working, I did stuff to help make my life happier too, like joining alternative work out studios and going to local meet ups to meet new people. But I did still feel like I was counting down to the weekends and I hated Sunday nights because then I had a whole week of work ahead. I think if I had searched for a job I liked better, but paid less, I would have been happier! In the end, I guess it all worked out okay though I’m still searching for a new career now!
Thanks Anna! I definitely think that quitting jobs and travelling the world has worked out really well for some people (like you!) but I don’t think it is for everyone and it won’t make everyone that does it happy. Having a job that you care about or that allows you to have free time to do things that you care about definitely helps to have an awesome stationary life 🙂
Very true – it’s all about balance and prioritising happiness 🙂 I had some amazing times while working in London (as well as some shit!) and it’s the same with travel. Doing what you believe in and constantly developing are so important, with a good dollop of novelty from time to time. Great to hear about being an Air BnB host – something I intend to do one day when I stay in one place long enough!
Thanks Anna. There are always going to be the good and the bad in life, whether you are travelling or not so you need to embrace happiness all the time