10 Inspiring Digital Nomads You Can Actually Aspire to Be
In today’s world of high-speed internet, location-independent freelance opportunities, and apps for everything a solopreneur needs to run a professional business at the tip of your fingers, there’s no reason to sweat it out under the fluorescent glare in a cubicle for the rest of your life. In fact, freelancers are expected to become the majority of the U.S. workforce by 2027. Put simply: there’s never been a better time to become a digital nomad.
But even with so many people making the jump to freelance, it can be an intimidating career move to leave behind a regular paycheck and the stability of a 9-5 job, even if you’re not exactly in love what you do.
Sure, we’ve all heard of the people who made the location-independent lifestyle famous. The Tim Ferriss’s, and Chris Guillebeau’s of the world have been well covered by just about every blog, podcast and news outlet, and rightfully so, they’re inspiring examples of people creating their own definition of work. But you don’t need a following of millions or a book deal to get started as a digital nomad.
Here are 10 of our favorite inspiring stories (that you can actually aspire to) from digital nomads who’ve created freelance businesses while traveling the world.
Gone with the Wynns
Nikki and Jason Wynn call themselves “modern day documentarians,” and they’ve been traveling for over 8 years now, first in an RV, and now on their boat, Curiosity. The duo started out documenting their travels and creating content for RV and travel-related clients. Years into their journey, they’ve made the leap to focusing solely on their own brand.
Monika wrote the book on freelance — literally — she currently has three, self-published volumes out that dive deep into what it’s actually like to launch a freelance business, creative side hustles, and combining work and travel.
When she’s not writing books, she’s running her own business as a community and content strategist working primarily from Berlin with a client roster that’s included Kickstarter, Intellyo, and others.
An app developer who helps people be more intentional about the amount of time they spend on their phones, Kevin Holesh developed multiple apps before his 3-million-plus downloads success with Moment. All of a sudden, what might have been a side hustle became a full-fledged digital business and Holesh and his wife, Mandy, renovated a 5th wheel trailer and began traveling full-time across the U.S. with their two cats and two dogs (the nomad life isn’t only for humans!).
In 2015, Brandon and Gabi Fox bought a vintage Airstream travel trailer, fully gutted it and remodeled it into the mobile home and office they run their adventure weddings and elopements photography business from.
If they didn’t seem cool enough already, they also pay it forward with tips and insider info for aspiring photographers on their blog.
Abbey McGrew was a month away from getting her graphic design degree when her boyfriend was offered a chance to play professional basketball abroad. He proposed and asked her to come with him and travel the world. With that, a marriage, and a digital design business were launched. Abbey’s designs have a clean, feminine flair, and she generously shares her process, and tons of ideas for landing clients and running a design business from her blog and Instagram stories.
Heath & Alyssa Padgett
This young, nomadic power couple seems to do it all, while still keeping it real. Whether they’re blogging, self-publishing books, creating videos for clients, podcasting, or running their annual conference for RV entrepreneurs, the Padgetts have serious hustle, but they still find time to share snippets from their daily lives and resources to help others hit the road.
A freelance beauty and wellness writer, Zoe gave up life in New York City in 2017 to travel with Remote Year, and has been writing from around the world ever since for the likes of Mental Floss, Glamour, Marie Claire and Allure.
Between writing gigs, you can find her “oversharing and overpacking” brand of relationship, beauty, and travel insights and humor on her blog, Let’s Just Zo.
If you want to start a business or design a product, the first piece of advice you’ll probably hear is that you need to solve a problem. Jack Mann knows this first hand. He founded his company, Vibes, which makes high-fidelity earplugs, after rupturing an ear drum at a concert. Wanting to protect his hearing without killing the quality of the sound, he stumbled right into a valuable market. Nowadays, he’s left his hometown of Minneapolis and is running his company from a van, proving that even CEOs can work remotely.
You don’t have to travel to a new destination every day, week, or even month to be location independent, as freelance designer Josh Nathanson, who ditched London drizzle for Barcelona sunshine could tell you. “I was born, raised, educated, lived and worked in London, so after 27 years it was time to do something different and get out of my comfort zone,” he said in a 2017 interview with It’s Nice That.
If the digital nomad lifestyle is an ice cream shop, Steph Danforth has sampled all the flavors. From building out a camper van with her husband, to a volunteer trip to China, to a life of travel abroad as a freelance web designer and ex-pat, Danforth has tried on many hats and worn them well, but she also shares the real stuff, like dealing with depression & anxiety while traveling.
Whether you’re already settled into freelance life, or you’re just starting to think about making the jump, we hope these inspiring stories of digital nomads help you shift your perspective on the office. Because these days, your office is wherever you are.