What do you do professionally?
I’m a freelance graphic designer who doesn’t like to be geographically tied down. My husband and I have a seasonal woodworking company called Skog.
How did you come to be living a digital nomad lifestyle?
I had an office job at a magazine in Tokyo. When I moved back to Canada to go back to school, I knew I would be returning to Japan in a year, so instead of giving my job up completely we worked out a way for me to work remotely. Unfortunately, with the time zone difference, I was expected to be available from 6pm-3am on weekdays and was also going to school full time!
Although it was sometimes a challenge, I realized how much I liked the flexibility. After finishing school, I continued working remotely for the Japanese magazine for another 5 years and found some other clients which enabled me to turn freelancing into a full-time job.
What do you love most about your lifestyle?
I rarely have to set an alarm clock! I love the flexibility and the ability to take long trips and not have to pause my life to do it.
“I rarely have to set an alarm clock!”
Is there anything you don’t you like about your lifestyle?
It is difficult not having a regular income. When I’m not traveling it can be pretty isolating; I miss having people around me to chat to. I have another friend who is a digital nomad in PR and we try to get together to work in coffee shops regularly.
I don’t feel like there are ever any ‘free’ hours. There are a lot of things you don’t get paid for when freelancing – there are not many billable meetings and I turn the timer off when I go to get a coffee. These things would be paid time in a regular job.
What do you find most challenging about being a digital nomad?
I don’t like bidding on jobs or invoicing. I hate quoting; deciding your worth is difficult – especially if the job is one you really need or want. I hate deciding whether it is worth undercutting myself to get a job.
“I hate deciding whether it is worth undercutting myself to get a job.”
I recently went on a long sailing trip in the Caribbean where there was often limited access to wifi and power – especially when offshore.
Working remotely while traveling with people are who not working can also be a challenge – it can be difficult for them to understand that I don’t mind working and they worry about doing things without me.
“Working remotely while traveling with people are who not working can be a challenge”
I’m always worried about telling clients I’m taking a break from working (however short). Since I’m a freelancer I’m concerned they will take their work elsewhere.
What tools, equipment and platforms do you use and are you happy with them?
- Upwork since they are the market leader. Unfortunately, their pricing structure has changed recently for the worse
- Creative Cloud (Adobe) $49.99USD/month
- Adobe stock (although I was using Dollar photo club). I love it because it’s integrated within InDesign and Illustrator.
- Quote Robot $20/month for invoicing
- I use a combination of Google docs and Upwork to track finances
- Square Space for websites (mine and my clients)
- I take remote payments using Payd but am switching to First Data since the fees are lower and I’m hoping their connection will be more stable.
- Solar panel – Cobra CPP 300 SP
- Lime USB personal cloud
- MacBook Pro
- External Hard drive
- Unlocked cellphone enable data/tether
- iPhone 5S
- Panasonic Lumix micro 4/3
- Traditional notebook!
What would you like to have that you don’t currently have?
- Access to good coffee shops with wifi overseas – perhaps a crowd-sourced map showing me where to go.
- I’d love a salesperson!
Of all the places you’ve worked remotely which were your favourite (and why)?
- Rituals Coffee Shop on St. Kitts – they didn’t mind us sitting there, they had great bagels and good wifi.
- Living Forest campground, Nanaimo, BC – there’s a great coffee shop with lots of power outlets. It has a beautiful deck with great sunrise and sunset views.
- On the ferry from Iceland to Denmark – I always like working when actually traveling so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on other activities
“Living Forest campground… has a beautiful deck with great sunrise and sunset views.”
Where have you worked remotely and where do you plan to travel?
Japan, US, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, England, Hungary, BVI, USVI, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Kitts
I have a month-long trip to Europe coming up this year, which will include Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, England and Iceland.
What are your plans for the future?
We are currently building a bus and, in future years, will be hitting the road and taking our business with us.
One day I would like to plan individualized trips/tours for people.