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The Benefits of Location Independence: Portrait of a Digital Nomad

Nearly two decades into the twenty-first century, increasing numbers of workers are reaping the benefits of location independence.

Widespread wireless technology has made it possible for the chronically itchy of foot to ditch the traditional career path and become location rebels, working from almost any destination on the planet.

London-based writer Lynn Reynolds tracked down digital nomad Joanne Amos in Maribor, Slovenia, for a chat about the joys and challenges of running a thriving business from no fixed abode.

 How would you describe your business?

 As The Wandering Wordsmith, I’m a freelance writer and proofreader. That means I write blogs and copy for websites. I also have a travel blog, The Road to Wanderland, that’s very new.

Ultimately I started on this path because I wanted to be a travel writer and photographer, so now I specialise in providing copy, content and articles for travel clients.

Where did you get the idea to become a location rebel?

 Ten years ago I left my last permanent UK job to work in Greece, and that helped me to see that it was possible to live a different sort of life.

I worked as a library manager for a while before heading off again to New Zealand and South-East Asia for sixteen months, and when I returned I knew what I wanted, but not how to get there.

I got very stuck for a few years before finding the Location Rebel community, which helped me meet other people who had the lifestyle I wanted. And that’s what really got me started.

It took me a while to get confident at running my own business and developing my skills, but I gradually built up a good client base.

Then the owners of the house I was renting in Norwich came home, so I made the decision to leave then – in January 2015. I’ve been on the road as a digital nomad ever since.

How has becoming a digital nomad changed your life?

The benefits of location independence are difficult to list because there are so many of them! But mostly I’m so much happier, and so much more confident in myself and my ability to run my business.

I’ve achieved the freedom I’ve always wanted, and I’ve met loads of other digital nomads and travellers along the way.

Of course I’ve had my trials – things are never perfect – and there’s plenty I could do better, but I don’t regret my decision for a second.

What are the challenges of running a business while you’re on the road?

 The biggest issue is finding a good enough Wi-Fi connection.

 When travelling I usually rent accommodation via AirBnb, and I always ask about the speed and reliability of Wi-Fi before booking, because I prefer to work from home.

I tried a coworking space for a while this year but I found it way too distracting and I hated having to pack my lunch and walk to the space – it felt like going to school, or those horrible years I spent working in an office!

After Wi-Fi, my biggest problem is finding a routine and staying motivated. I can get easily distracted, especially if I’m somewhere new and want to be out exploring. Again, it’s all about finding the balance.

One of the benefits of location independence - amazing views

Spectacular views come as standard with life as a digital nomad.

Where have you travelled to recently? Any favourite locations?

 I’m currently in Maribor, Slovenia and I love the relaxed pace of life, greenery, mountains, and the proximity of vineyards.

For the last eighteen months my base has been somewhere in Europe, as there’s so much here I want to see and do. I have a deep love of Spain and that’s the language I’m best at – I’ve lived in several different cities there.

I adored Split last summer, look forward to a return to Lisbon next year for DNX, the digital nomad conference.

I’ve been twice to Sète in the south of France for the Worldwide Festival, a week-long celebration of all my favourite music. That’s always a highlight.

What are the main benefits of location independence for you, and what’s the most difficult?

 The best thing is my freedom; the ability to explore new locations and cultures, to meet new people, to try unfamiliar food and wine, and to learn about myself.

What’s difficult is finding a routine and being motivated to stay fit – it can be a challenge, especially when you love trying new food and wine!

How do you stay in touch with friends and family when you’re travelling?

 I use WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime, good old email, and occasionally even SMS, because some of my family don’t have smartphones.

What apps and technologies couldn’t you do without?

 As a digital nomad I more or less rely on technology.

 Absolute essentials are my MacBook Pro, and my smartphone (a Samsung S5). The latter is especially important now I’ve become an Instagram addict!

I use [email protected] to help me concentrate when I’m working, Trello to organize projects, and FreeAgent to do my accounting.

On the social side I belong to a few Slack and Facebook groups and forums, which I use to keep in contact with other nomads, to meet new people, and so on.

If you’re still curious about the benefits of the location independent life, you can stay up to date with Joanne’s wanderings via her Instagram feed and her blog.

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