These guys gave up the 9 to 5 to travel the world

Three digital nomads tell us the good and the bad about their inspiring lifestyles.
Benny Lewis, blogger at Fluent in three months at the Taj Mahal
Banny visits the Taj Mahal © Benny Lewis
By Alison Mann

Travelling the world, giving up the nine to five and making enough money to make this your life? Sounds like a dream, and one we’re betting many of you have had.

For a few people though, this is reality. Enter the digital nomads – people who shed their fixed address, steady income and familiar life to travel the world and work for themselves while they’re at it.

We met three of these inspiring people, here’s what they had to say about their lifestyle.

More: The globetrotter who explores abandoned buildings

Who are the digital nomads?

Jodi Ettenberg, the Legal Nomads blogger on her travels around the world
Jodi on her travels © Jodi Ettenberg

Jodi Ettenberg – runs the blog Legal Nomads, wrote the book The Food Traveller's Handbook and works as a food writer and speaker. Formerly a lawyer, she saved up while working in a New York City firm before travelling initially for one year. She left in 2008 and is still travelling.

Gigi Griffis – runs the blog The Ramble and has published a series of 'Unconventional Travel Guides' using useful tips from locals. Working in a stressful job as a content strategist and copywriter she quit her job and built her freelance business for a year. She then took off to travel and has been doing so for three and a half years. She travels with her dog, Luna!

Benny Lewis – runs the blog Fluent In Three Months which attracts over one million visitors a month. He also wrote a best selling book with the same name, which is sold across the world in multiple languages. After graduating in electrical engineering in Ireland he interned in Spain, fell in love with the country, learned the language and sparked a passion for travel and languages.

What’s the lifestyle like?

Travel author and blogger Gigi Griffis with her dog Luna in Slovenia
Gigi with her dog Luna in Slovenia © Gigi Griffis

What they have in common is a passion for travel and an appreciation of the freedom the lifestyle gives. Jodi explains: "The flexibility is the best part. If friends go to certain places then I can go hang out with them, or if a family member is ill I can go and spend quality time with them I wouldn’t get otherwise. I’m doing something I care about, the money is definitely different to being a lawyer and has a degree of uncertainty but I love that I’m doing something that makes more of a difference in people’s lives than the type of law I was doing previously."

How do they choose locations?

Jodi Ettenberg, the Legal Nomads blogger in Saigon
Jodi hangs out in Saigon © Jodi Ettenberg

That flexibility is great, but with a whole world of places to choose to explore, it must be difficult to choose? These guys tend not to plan too far in advance and all have unique ways of choosing their next location. Speaking 12 languages, and having created a successful business and book from that, you’d think Benny would pick a language and travel to learn. That isn’t the case, however, he needs to be inspired by the country, rather than the language.

He explains: “People always told me to go to China and learn Mandarin, but I didn’t care about that challenge. Then I met people from Taiwan while travelling and they were so nice and told me a so many interesting things that I decided to go to Taiwan and learn Mandarin in three months.”

The guys tend not to make travel plans far in advance

Travel author and blogger Gigi Griffis with monkey during her travels
Gigi Griffis makes a friend © Gigi Griffis

For Gigi her work definitely helps her decide. She says: “The books help decide where to go – I realised that when I write these guidebooks, that to sell them I need to write about the place I visited in magazines or on the blog. So I tend to go back to the place in order to sell the book.” And with a passion for food, Jodi certainly follows her stomach – especially to countries where she can eat celiac friendly food and at the same time allow others to face less uncertainty abroad.

The bad aspects, finding a routine can be difficult

Benny Lewis, blogger at Fluent in three months at the Great Wall of China
Benny on the Great Wall of China © Benny Lewis

And the bad points? It can’t all be fun and adventure when living your life as a nomad. Jodi says the uncertainty that comes with being an entrepreneur can be difficult, as well as trying to make close relationships. They all agree that finding a routine takes work, but believe it can be done.

With over 20 years combined travelling between them, it’s a lifestyle that obviously works for them and has allowed them to build successful businesses at the same time.

“I think this is the way the future is going” – Benny

Jodi Ettenberg, the Legal Nomads blogger enjoying the sunset in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Jodi enjoys the Wadi Rum sunset © Jodi Ettenberg

As digitalnomad pops up on social media more and more, it would seem there’s more people taking up this lifestyle. Benny explains: “I think this is the natural way things are going. Many jobs are now possible entirely on a computer so doesn’t require you to be present. If you can work from home, that home could be anywhere so I’ve seen more people transition in recent years. It was very different in the early years, sometimes I struggled just to find an internet café to work from, now there’s wifi everywhere so it’s easier!”

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