Digital Nomad Journal: #1 – The Ruminations

Last year I posted that I was becoming a digital nomad. After very long and careful thought, I decided to start a series on the trials and tribulations of this lifestyle change.

So far it has brought a whirlwind of adventures, emotional highs and lows, but ultimately a feeling of satisfaction that whatever happens, I will have tried my best to make things work out.

Yes, that red backpack contained everything I needed!

Yes, that red backpack contained everything I needed!

Where it all began

A deep dis-satisfaction with my job and career at a big Dutch oil company had been brewing inside for 3 years and I could no longer contain it. It was time to do something else. Anything.

My 29th birthday also gave me the realisation that I had precisely one more year to radically change my ways, otherwise I would be another anonymous (or failing) person at the age of 30. I did spot this list of big names who achieved nothing at the age of 30, which gave me a chuckle because my best measure of success might be to feature on there one day.

I had been mulling over the idea of being a digital nomad. I guess a turning point was Ben Schlappig‘s interview in Rolling Stone magazine, which was a real eye-opener for me.

Sustaining income…or not.

I suspect the total revenue I've made through BoardingArea over 3 years combined would not come close to matching some of the medium or bigger names in one month (or even one week).

Consider these images for comparison…

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With Head for Points being approximately 70x larger and The Points Guy about 500x, it's pretty clear this blog has a long way to go! Since going nomadic the first thing I did on this site was to apply for as many relevant affiliate links as I could.

4 years ago, during the infancy of this blog some airlines had turned me down, which made me shelve the idea of affiliate income for ages.

I have since been accepted by some more companies, so the pennies are trickling in, (albeit I could probably have a dinner-for-one somewhere and blow the entire month's revenue in one go. Who said BoardingArea bloggers are overpaid?!)

Pat Flynn was another inspiration for me. He is also the author of that book in the picture on top of the backpack. He built a website to help architects pass a tough professional qualification. A couple of years later he got laid off but grew the website to sustain income for him.

Learning from his example, I set about finding ways to combine my love of travel and engineering. So far I've created The Structural Exam which helps civil/structural engineers obtain their professional qualifications and that is doing ok so far I guess (we finally hit 4 figure turnovers per month after about 8 months).

The Right Time?

My manager's advice when I entered the front doors on my first day of work was that I should build a side business and leave the company when the ‘right time' came. As the months progressed, realising there was no such things as the right time and staring down the barrel of 30 years old, I took the plunge. I guess there is no better time than the present after all…

I still vividly remember his face when I told him I was going to leave. He looked stunned but perhaps he shouldn't have been. He had been a great person to know on a professional and personal level as he had never been brought up on the corporate messages, and was very much a man who did what ‘made sense'. I valued that honesty greatly.

To be continued

There are many more anecdotes to share along the way, but concluding this blog post, I had to try and distil my thoughts so far.

It could all go wrong – but it's the journey that matters

In my next installment I'll go into some of the places I've been so far.

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  1. Hi Tim,
    I’ve seen your exam guidance pack on LinkedIn. Good idea! We did lots of in-house training which was best for me, but if working without support for the exam it’d be invaluable.
    India/HK would be good markets to expand into I’d imagine

    • Hi Wayne, nice to see you’ve found me on 2 different networks! The exam pack idea came from the lack of decent guidance from the Institutions so we thought we would like to see how we could help!

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