How I Became a Digital Nomad: Starting a Business While Traveling

For the last three years I’ve been living a “digital nomad” lifestyle, traveling around the world and living in different countries, all while growing a business I started while traveling. So what is a “digital nomad”? Essentially, it’s someone who makes their income working remotely while traveling or living in different countries. Forms of remote work could include owning a business, freelancing, or working for an employer who doesn’t require you to be in a set location. Digital nomads are location-independent, which gives them the flexibility to move about the world freely, and is one of the main reasons this lifestyle is appealing to many.

How I became a digital nomad
Freedom to Travel @thenomadnextdoor

Maybe this traveling lifestyle sounds like a dream, or maybe it sounds like a lot of uncertainty and risk. In all honesty, it’s both! Because like everything in life, nothing comes without sacrifice. So if you’re thinking about taking the leap and becoming a digital nomad, keep reading. I’m about to share with you my personal experience of starting a business and doing just that. 

I’ll start by saying, the decision to do it was far from easy. It meant giving up a kickass job I had worked towards for three years to achieve. It meant leaving an amazing living situation to move back into my parents house for six months and save money. It meant selling my car. It meant saying goodbye to my friends and family for an indefinite amount of time, unsure of whether or not I would ever call California home again. But the hardest part, was it meant choosing to leave a comfortable lifestyle to take the risk of a lifetime.

So why did I do it? Because I LOVE to travel. That’s the simple answer. But there’s a lot more to it for me than that. The thought of being stuck in one place, doing the same thing day in and day out, and having to dedicate my life to working towards someone else’s dream just doesn’t cut the mustard for me. Having grown up in the U.S., these were the standards I was taught to aspire for, and veering down any other path was not encouraged. 

How I became a digital nomad
Living in Bali @thenomadnextdoor

At the end of the day I’d rather have a life of experiences than a house full of things. I’m not one to care much about having  possessions, so I’ve never really been motivated to work a typical job that requires me to stay in one place, in exchange for a high salary that allows me to buy things I don’t actually NEED. For me, freedom, innovation, and financial independence are my main motives, and becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own business was something I’d dreamt about ever since I can remember. 

Quitting my job and going after this “digital nomad” lifestyle wasn’t something I decided overnight. It was something I had been dreaming of for years before I actually pulled the trigger. The biggest thing stopping me was fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of judgment. Fear of losing everything. Questioning whether or not I was cut out for it. And then I reached a point where enough was enough. I could either go on wondering what would happen, or I could take a leap of faith and just see what happens. And that’s how my nomadic lifestyle began. 

Once the decision was made, there was no turning back. At first, I had no idea how I was going to make an income while traveling the world, but I knew with my entrepreneurial spirit, I would eventually find a way. 

How to become a digital nomad
Instagram @thenomadnextdoor

Before beginning my journey, I started an Instagram account because I wanted to connect with other travelers who shared similar beliefs to me. I started posting past travel photos and talking about the motivation behind why I was choosing to pursue this alternative lifestyle. From the get-go I noticed that people were relating to these posts, saying that they felt inspired, and I watched my audience begin to grow. After about a month of daily posting, and a following of over one thousand people, I decided that maybe, I should take this more seriously and think about travel blogging.

So I went out and dropped some money on a mirrorless camera and a couple of lenses. I thought, why not give this a shot, and at the very least, I’ll come out with decent photos to remember my travels by. Well, long story short, as my photography and editing skills improved, my audience grew as well. Fast forward to now, and this hobby has allowed me to develop a community of like-minded people that I am able to connect with on a daily basis, and has also turned into a small business that allows me to create content for other businesses in the travel industry. 

How I became a digital nomad
Nomad Nextdoor the Bazaar @shopnomadnextdoor

Now, let’s talk about the second entrepreneurial venture that has become my main stream of income. It began as a little vision I had while living in Bali, and over the course of a couple of months, materialized into an online shop called Nomad Nextdoor the Bazaar. It’s essentially a brand I created in which I source handcrafted bags and jewelry made by local artisans in Bali. I sell primarily on Etsy, as well as through my website and some small boutiques in my hometown. Within the first few months of launching, the brand gained momentum quickly. It soon became a viable stream of income, enough to support my nomadic lifestyle. Before this I was living mostly from the savings that remained from my previous job, supplemented by the income I was making from my other business. 

Living in Switzerland
Life in Switzerland @thenomadnextdoor

So what am I doing now? Well, last month I moved to Switzerland to start a masters program in Online Business and Marketing. After a nonstop two and a half years of traveling, I felt that I was ready to establish a homebase somewhere so I could focus on growing my business while furthering my education. By no means am I done traveling, I would say my pace has just slowed down a bit and my entrepreneurial goals have taken priority. But the beauty of creating a location-independent lifestyle is that it’s sustainable, and you have the flexibility to move about freely without having to worry about your income situation. 

In summary, achieving financial freedom while living nomadically is not easy, and doesn’t happen overnight. It takes serious time, dedication, will-power, and work, but I believe it’s feasible for anyone who is willing to make it their top priority. 



For the last few years I've been living a nomadic lifestyle, traveling and living in different countries around the world while running an online business. Along my journey I developed a love for photography and videography, and enjoy creating travel content. I'm passionate about teaching other people how they can live a location independent lifestyle.

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6 thoughts on “How I Became a Digital Nomad: Starting a Business While Traveling

  1. Yes! Such a beautiful post! I love your brand and your bazaar idea. Above all though, I’m super impressed by your courage to start your own business during your travels!

  2. A really inspiring and fascinating story, Kristy! I am more of a risk averse person and very bound to a place, so I admire your courage to go on an adventure like this, not knowing what the nexts months are about to bring – but definitely an experience of a lifetime.

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