How to Improve Your Workaway Profile: An Interview With a Workaway Host

Kathi & Gerald in the barn at Milchmäderl
[Kathi and Gerald with one of their sheep. Courtesy of Milchmäderl’s website.]
This is an interview with Kathi, a Workaway host. She and her partner, Gerald, own their own organic sheep farm: Milchmäderl. They produce various cheeses, like ricotta, Camembert, feta, halloumi, soft cheese (kinda like cream cheese), and hard cheese (like Pecorino). They started their farm about an hour west of Vienna in 2017. You can read more of their story below, or follow them on Instagram!

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.

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The Pros and Cons of Digital Nomad Life

Digital nomad on a laptop on a couch in Austria - the pros & cons of living the digital nomad lifestyle
[I know it may seem like digital nomad life is all palm trees and coconuts but it’s also missed flights, visa runs, and sometimes lonely AF]
Looking to take the leap (once it’s safe to do so, of course) and interested in becoming a digital nomad?

Here’s what I love (and hate) about living a nomadic life.

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Digital Nomad Life During Coronavirus

Girl in flower blossoms in Austrian countryside
[Hanging out with blossoms isn’t so bad]
This is a weird and scary time for everyone. In reality, I know I’m pretty lucky in my current situation.

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.

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5 Ways I’ve Made Money Online & Tips for Finding Remote Jobs

How I've gotten remote jobs and made money online working from home, including freelance writing, teaching English online, virtual assistant work, and more! #remotework #remotejobs

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.

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A Week in the Life of a Digital Nomad in Bansko, Bulgaria

A week in the life of digital nomad in Bansko, Bulgaria, including cost of living.
[The view of the woods from the gondola up to the slopes]
Wondering what life is like for digital nomads in Bansko, Bulgaria? Or what the cost of living is like? What is there to do? What exactly is Bulgaria like??? If you have these questions, well, I’ve got answers!

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.

House in the woods in Bansko, Bulgaria
[Saw this house on our hike to the monastery in Bansko]
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?

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How to Become a Digital Nomad: What I Wish I Knew

Digital nomad working on a laptop in Bansko, Bulgaria - tips for becoming a digital nomad!
[Who needs wifi when this is your office?]
So you want to become a digital nomad but just aren’t sure, like, how? How does one go from owning an apartment with a 9-5 job to essentially being homeless in a foreign country?

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).

Digital nomad life in Plovdiv, Bulgaria - Here's how to live a location independent lifestyle!
[Exploring Plovdiv, Bulgaria on an overnight trip from Bansko]
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.

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My First Year as a Digital Nomad: Reflections from 2019

My first year as a digital nomad! Here's what it was like becoming a digital nomad, and how I navigate digital nomad life.
[Walking along some cool dunes in Death Valley]
A year ago I was living at home in California, prepping to start a new life as a #digital #nomad (lol trying to be the ultimate millennial here) at the end of January.

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.

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What I Learned From Spending 2 Months Traveling Alone in Europe

What I Learned After Spending 2 Months Alone in a Foreign Country

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:

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9 Things I Miss About Living in One Place (Musings From a Digital Nomad)

9 Things I Miss About Living in One Place - Musings from a Digital Nomad
[The view of Whitby, England from the 199 steps – which sounds like a lot but really isn’t that many haha, it took me about 10 minutes]
Ok, so just a precursor – this is probably going to be the most ‘first world problems’ post EVER. But I felt like writing it anyway.

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:

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A Day in the Life of a Digital Nomad

An Honest Day in the Life of a Digital Nomad
[Staithes is such a pretty English beach town]
So I never ever thought I’d make it to this point? Like being a ‘digital nomad’ has always been a kind of crazy dream of mine, but here we are (#living and #thriving, bby) and only having about one mental breakdown per day!!!!

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?

Robin Hood's Bay in England
[Robin Hood’s Bay – a cool day trip from my current town] 
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:

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