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From a very young age, I had a dream… to conquer the world in my own way… A dream that would bring me to push my curiosity ever further to new cultures and new civilizations around the globe. Already at 6 y/o, I was trying to convince my father to leave my home of Canada and move to the United States… That didn’t happen, but the idea stayed deep inside since!
Age 17, I worked 2 jobs in a kitchen and in a theater at minimum wage and over 10 hours daily to be able to round up enough money to leave a year later, with a friend of mine, to what would be the very first of my adventures: 2 months around Western Europe by train. It was a revelation for me, and since that very moment I came back I knew I had to leave again, then again and again to reach a point where I committed to dedicating my life and future to accomplish this long time dream.
In 2005, hours after finishing my last exam of my Engineering degree, I would set sail on this adventure, and never looked back. I had prepared what I envisioned would be a way to fund my travels and had started a small online business 2 years prior. At the time, I had no models… It was this vision that embodied what would become one of the first Digital Nomad lifestyles on the planet. With a few blogs and websites I had built and generating small revenue through advertising, I imagined a lifestyle on the road, based on nothing that had been done before.
Fast forward today, more than 15 years on the road and my dream to visit every country in the world is always appearing more realistic. I’ve circled the globe more than 6 times, boarded over 2000 airplanes and checked in over 5000 nights of booked rooms… My Digital Nomad life is now deeply encrusted in me and there is only one way forward… To Travel every country of the world!
Inventing my concept of a Digital Nomad Lifestyle
It really all started in January 2002 when I left on an internship to France. Having bought a book about ASP.NET and c# programming language, I started working on some blogs and websites that I then launched. There were very few options to monetize content at the time, but I kept working on these websites, as I knew that being able to make money online would provide a freedom of movement that would allow me to work from anywhere! After all, I was in France now, and living in a small apartment I could do everything that I would have done at home in Canada. The idea was mind blowing, the solutions to my travel dreams, where I would have gasoline to fund my travels on the go!
It was only in 2013 that finally a solution came up. Google launched its own advertisement platform in June 2013 and I was one of the first to test it out! It was a revelation! Finally, there was a way to monetize websites! At the time, I was only generating low income, but just enough to travel. From then, I would plan trips back to Europe, North Africa, and then to Central America from Costa Rica to Mexico on my first “solo trip”. People were always asking what I did and were very confused at the time. Making money online to fund your travels? Traveling solo? It didn’t seem as obvious as today.
The Reason I must be one of the first digital nomads is that fact that it in 2012, we were at a crossroad of variables that could make it happen. First, there was now Google AdSense™, the first real advertiser that could generate revenue online. Then, there was a revolution in internet access, where we would start to find more and more providers, in hostels, hotels, etc… Finally, Travelling as a business was exploding with a hostel boom around the world for cheap stays and new tools other than Guidebooks. Booking websites, Travel Forums, Content Archives and communities, all the ingredients were there to provide all the tools to travel the world, non-stop!
Nowadays, I often meet in hostels other digital nomads with different business plans to fund their travels. Web Marketing, Stock Exchange, and Forex traders, Translators, Remote workers… You name it! With an ever improving ease of accessing the Internet, from free Wi-Fi, cheap 3G to satellite data plans, you can work on practically every corner of the world! The combinations are endless and are easier than ever. I remember back in 2005 when I arrived in Argentina for 3 months, the only wireless I would find was in the national library, and at speeds that would make sending an email a difficult task. Times have changed for the best; a generation of Digital Nomads was born and is growing day by day!
13 years on the road
As of 2019, it’s been over 16 years that I am a digital nomad and 13 years that I’ve been constantly on the road. Of course, there have been some times I stayed longer in one place, but most of the time, I spend no more than 1 month in one single place. This keeps things interesting and the never-ending change makes up to kill routine. I have a concept I have invented about this, which I call the “One Month Experience Peak” which you can read more about here. It basically states that one month is the ideal timeframe to peak the experience in one single place. Less time will prevent knowing the place, more is wasted time. This keeps things interesting and keeps the boredom away.
My travel Map of every City I’ve Visited (up to May 2017)
Most summers I come to Europe, I arrive excited because there is an endless source of interesting places to go and things to see, then after a couple months, I already miss other areas of the world, so I fly to a new continent, Asia, Africa, South America… There is always a way to make it interesting, and I always miss other areas of the world where I must come back. This is how I managed to fly around the world over 6 times.
Homeless, minimalist, living out of a suitcase… These are all terms that identify the Digital Nomad Lifestyle I imagined. Living out of a 20 kg suitcase can sound limiting, but it actually feels’s liberating, it feels free! Adding to this a little backpack to store my computer and my documents, this is about all I own. And I don’t need more! There wouldn’t be anywhere to put it anyway. 20kgs + 5 kgs, that’s few things but quality things. My minimalist lifestyle isn’t about living in an anarchist way… I love to have the latest technology, latest phone, a good computer, and a lot of techs, my concept is to have things that I use a lot! No place for gadgets that are just there to look good. Everything is used, reused hundreds of times. I even travel with Speakers, a hand blender, and a mini espresso machine, as these are important things in my lifestyle! What is better than a good strong Italian style espresso in the morning?
If I buy some new piece of cloth, I give away one piece of cloth away. That’s the concept. And it feels relieving! Maximum freedom.
At times, I may even leave behind my big luggage at a friends place and leave only with a carry on of about 8kg! This is useful when I reach hard to travel countries in Africa and the Middle East, where I want to stay light.