Workaway is a platform that connects people who want to volunteer with hosts all around the world. You can do almost anything on Workaway – opportunities vary and can include nannying, farm work, construction, web design, and more! Most of the time, you do not get paid with Workaway as it is purely a volunteer/cultural exchange experience, although there are some opportunities where you do. Normally, you volunteer about 25 hours/week in exchange for housing and food, but it does vary on the host.
But I thought it might be interesting to share what being nomadic and not really having a ‘home’ is like when a pandemic hits.
So, let’s back up and I’ll start from the beginning. Back when everyone had a normal amount of toilet paper in their closet and hand sanitizer wasn’t being upsold for $484993.
How’s your quarantine going? What day are you on? Have you made friends with and drawn a face on any fruits and/or vegetables you have lying around a la Wilson from Cast Away?
I am currently on my way to becoming BFFs with one of the oranges in my fruit basket. You?
But why not get paid during this extra free time you have? It’s 2020, and remote work is here to stay!
I personally do all my work remotely and really enjoy the freedom (ironic much?) it gives me. I make my own hours and take on the work I want when I want. I’m really working to try and diversify my income as I don’t want to put all my eggs in one little basket, so here’s what I’ve done in the past year since becoming a digital nomad to make money online.
I spent 3 months at Coworking Bansko, from December to March. I really loved spending the colder months in a real “winter” destination (it is a ski resort, after all!), although it was an unseasonably warm year. In my head, snow would fall continuously as I looked out my balcony window. Inside, I would be cuddled up with a chunky knit blanket and a cup of tea while fairy lights twinkled and a fire roared in the fireplace.But as you can imagine, that was not the case. My winter wonderland fantasy was unfortunately trumped (pun intended?) by unseasonably warm weather. Think temperatures in the 40’s F (like 4-8 C, finally starting to understand Celsius after being in Europe for over a year LOL) and sunny (an abomination) most of the time. Nor did my apartment have a fireplace.
Ah well, I still really enjoyed my time in Bansko! So much that I’m already planning to head back, possibly as early as summer!
I thought it might be fun to show what an average week might look like. And since Bansko is a little bit more affordable than other destinations in Western Europe, I decided to track my spending, too (I should probably be doing this anyway…).
To be honest, I probably I could have saved more but I was too busy having lots of fun with new friends…Ooops. But gotta live, ya know?
I feel ya – becoming location independent was something I knew I wanted to do for at least a full year before actually taking the leap! I KNEW I wanted to travel and have more freedom, but felt totally overwhelmed even starting to think about all the logistics.
For me, I had an extremely (un)healthy obsession with Europe. I’d wanted to visit ever since I was a kid, and knew I wanted to see more of it after putting my first foot (well, and then the second) on English soil during a study abroad program in university.
I was working at an environmental nonprofit in California. I loved my job, but was tired of Bay Area life and wanted something new. (Here’s more about how & why I left, in addition to how I navigated my first year of digital nomad life!)
I really wanted to travel and experience different places for longer than the standard 2 weeks of vacation time in America (although I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones because my job gave me 3, lol).
I desperately wanted to feel what it was like to live in various places on my favorite continent (the aforementioned Europe).I wanted to spend the summer in Greece, swimming and eating Spanikopita from bakeries.
I wanted to hunker down and live out a winter fantasy in the Arctic, watching the Northern lights from my porch.
I wanted to bike through rural Ireland while volunteering on a farm.
And I wanted to meet all the European men – what IS IT about accents???
That said, keep in mind that working while you travel is VERY different from just traveling.
I was still working as the Education Programs Coordinator at an environmental nonprofit. For the most part, I loved it. I’ll go into why I ended up leaving that job below.
I was also in a relationship that was about to end because I was leaving. That was tough, as we both still cared about each other, but neither of us wanted to do long distance.
And now, I’m writing this from Bansko, Bulgaria, a place I hadn’t even heard about back then.
So, I thought it might be fun to do a little recap of each month in the past year. This is honestly mostly for my purposes as I’m nostalgic AF and love reviewing the past (probably a little too much?).
But ya know, I’m also posting in the hopes that by sharing about my journey it might help others as well.
There’s something so romantic about going off to a foreign country or place by yourself. Or at least I always thought so???
Cue movies/books like Under the Tuscan Sun, Eat Pray Love, Wild, and the like.
I am such a sucker for that shit. As a hopeless romantic, nostalgic-obsessed introvert/INFP, I eat. It. Up.
I took my first solo travel trip to Europe three years ago, when I was 23. I went to Greece, Ireland, and Belgium over the course of 1.5 months and ate my weight in crepes. I met a ton of other travelers by staying in hostels, which was perfect at the time, but these days I’m not as keen to share a room with 10 other travelers and pray that none of them snore.
I also purposely wanted solitude and reflection time during this trip (and hostels aren’t necessarily the BEST place for that LOL). My goal wasn’t to make a ton of friends and see ALL THE THINGS like it was before – I really just wanted to meet other digital nomads (in real life/online), work on myself, reinforce healthy habits like meditation and journaling, establish myself as an online English teacher, and get my shit together with this blog.
And so, I traded in people for pets and was house sitting in various locations around England from mid-June to mid-August. I spent 2 weeks in Welling (near London), 1 month in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, 1 week in Chichester, and 2 days in London.
My time alone was and wasn’t exactly what I thought. Here are my main takeaways:
I know that I eventually want to settle down and have somewhat of a ‘home base’.
But right now, I’m still traveling my little heart out. But while I love being a ‘digital nomad’, there are definitely some things I’m missing from my stationary life. Here’s what I miss the most:
Lol just kidding, although not gonna lie, anytime you go against the grain I think mental breakdowns are inevitable. Actually, I also had them when I was working a normal 9-5…so maybe that’s just #life?But ANYWAYS. Curious about what being a traveling house sitter/online english teacher/rainbow unicorn is all about? Here’s what I do to keep busy every day (and FYI, it’s not sitting at the beach drinking margaritas all day and pretending to work! And while I am actually near the beach right now, it’s in England so it’s far from the tropical destination you’re probably picturing…)
Every day is different obviously (that’s kinda why I chose this life? I get bored real quick) but here’s a kind of typical hodgepodge type day: