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Traveling for a living is an enticing dream for many and a reality for a few. What separates the people who live a lifestyle of traveling from those of us who dream about it? I started this series to share the inspiring stories of the people who have crossed the globe and lived in exotic places, who have found ways to merge their talents and passions with work in foreign countries and who truly travel for a living.
Konrad Braun is currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand with his wife Regina and their adorable daughter Olivia. Konrad is an internet marketer, Regina is a food blogger and together the family of three has been living a location independent lifestyle since 2011 and traveling to exotic locations like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China. With their online professions, they perfectly capture how to live and travel as digital nomads.
Q. How would you describe a digital nomad? What’s your definition?
A. I know some travelers take great pride in being called digital nomads while others hate the label. For me – being a digital nomad means two things:
- Being location independent as a result of making money through the digital world we call the internet.
- Moving from country to country on a regular basis without ever fully settling down.
Aside from that, I see digital nomads as those that understand they are the foreigner in another country. Meaning, they can adapt to climates/cultures/countries that are vastly different from their own and – instead of expecting the foreign environment to change or adapt to them – they adapt to it.
Q. How did you become a digital nomad? When and where did it begin?
A. I had been running an online business for a couple of years already before my wife and I ever decided to travel. So our jobs or lack of savings didn’t stop us from traveling as I was already location independent. We had talked about traveling a few times before we married in 2010, so we both knew it was something we wanted to do eventually, but deep down all we could ever think about was “it’s gonna take a lot of money.” It wasn’t until a couple of our friends were telling us about their plans of moving to Africa (where one of them had gotten a job as a music teacher) that we started talking more seriously about doing something crazy as well. That was August of 2011. Three months later we were on the plane to Krabi, Thailand. That’s where we fell in love with the idea of being digital nomads (although we probably never heard that label until a year or two later).
Q. Why do you choose this lifestyle? What makes it worth it for you?
A. My question is: why not? We both aren’t big fans of cold winters, so the idea of being in exotic warmer climates has huge appeal to us. Being location independent digital nomads allows us to expand our horizons by getting to know different countries, cultures, foods, etc, and the best part is: We can live like kings in a lot of these countries for less than we would spend for a meager existence back home. The experience alone is worth it to us, but saving money at the same time?!? It can’t get much better 🙂
Q. What is one challenge that you’ve had to overcome as you work and travel?
A. Balancing things for sure. I absolutely love working on my projects. My wife is the same way. When we first started out, we worked a LOT. It didn’t feel like work so it was ok, but now that we’re raising a little one, it became clear very quickly that we needed to work differently. Now one of us will work in the morning while the other spends time with babysitting, then we all have lunch together, put the little one down for a nap, have some quality time between each other (or work on a joint project) and then in the afternoon the other one works. Supper is usually a family event and on Sundays we try to get away from the screens. That means no work – just family time. Which is also when we usually try to get out and do interesting things like exploring, spending a few hours at the beach, go for a bike ride through rice fields, etc. We found breaking things up like this helped each of us to power through a lot of work quickly instead of spending a lot of time online without getting much done. And on top of it, family life doesn’t suffer – which is very important. Even when you love what you do, there is a risk of you burning out if your life is unbalanced. Keeping these things in check has helped both of us big time.
Q. What is one item you never leave home without? Is there something you find invaluable for working and/or travel?
A. My answer to both questions is: my smartphone. There are probably few people in the western world that leave home without their smartphones these days and I am no different. My iPhone 5s is my GPS, communication device, flashlight, music player, alarm clock, etc. There are few things the phone can’t do. It really has made traveling so much easier. I remember going to Uganda just a decade ago and I packed flashlights, cameras, extra batteries, maps, dictionary and a whole list of other items that are now built into the smartphone. Truth is, I could run 100% of my business through it now if I wanted to. It’s invaluable to me!
Q. What is one piece of advice you have for people who want to live and work abroad?
A. Honestly? Stop talking about it and make it happen. Your current job or skillset should not prevent you from going abroad. We’ve met a lot of people over the years who will say things like “I wish I had a job or skill I could earn money with via the internet so I too could travel the world.” Truth is, such jobs are sought and such skills are learned. No one ever woke up with them. Meaning, if it takes a year to work towards this dream, so be it. If it takes 5 years, who cares? Time will pass either way. Make it happen.
Q. Do you have a favorite place in the world and why?
A. That is a really tough question. This is a beautiful world. Anyone who disagrees hasn’t traveled. The more we travel, the more favorites we have, but I should say this: Different places are our favorites for different reasons. We quite enjoyed the beaches in Krabi and are now loving the beautiful beaches of Hoi An, but also had a blast snorkeling the coral reefs in Amed, Bali. Our current home in Hoi An is nice, but I occasionally miss how close we were to street food, night markets, shopping center, etc in Chiang Mai. On the other hand, the tranquilness of living in a villa surrounded by green rice fields in Bali was a dream come true as well. The internet was really bad there though. No one place has it all. Depending on what you’re willing to sacrifice, there are a lot of very nice places we’ve been to so far… and I’m sure there are many more to come.