Location Independent since 2004: Amy Scott of Nomadtopia
In our latest In the latest episode of the BecomeNomad Podcast, I speak with Amy Scott from Nomadtopia, a fantastic resource for digital nomads. Amy also writes a blog and produces a long-running nomad podcast. Since 2004, Amy has been backpacking, traveling or cultivating her base in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is currently living with her husband in Mexico. In the interview, Amy talks about meeting her husband while living the location independent lifestyle and shares some insights about how nomadism has changed over the last decade. She also predicts the future of Nomad Visas.
Listen to the podcast to hear Amy’s advice on how to meet friends, find a travel partner on the road, and become the happy nomad you’ve always wanted to be.
Highlights from this Episode:
It can be easy to find a travel partner for a few weeks, but for a lifetime? Not always so simple. From 2004 to 2009, Amy traveled on her own. Solo nomads may need to consider more carefully the places they choose as temporary homes. Safety can be big issue here, especially in parts of the world where women in particular may encounter hostility specifically for traveling alone. Otherwise, traveling alone has some advantages: Amy and Eli agree that it is easier to meet people on the road as a solo traveler.
Picking the Right Destination:
When you’re just starting out as a digital nomad, picking the right destination is intimidating. It’s important to choose places that are safe and conducive to productivity in your work. Europe, for example, is a great place to start because it is generally safe and resource-rich. If you’re nervous about a certain city or country, Amy suggests asking friends or family to meet you there while you get adjusted. Having these people around can also help break up long periods of time alone and help you maintain your social support network.
Meet your Significant Other as a Nomad:
It is a real challenge for nomads who start solo to build long-term relationships on the road. Most nomadic couples begin the location-independent lifestyle together, avoiding both the challenge of finding someone interesting on the road and the challenge of convincing them to become nomadic as well. Amy met her husband at a salsa dancing class in Argentina, in his home city of Buenos Aires. Her advice on meeting a partner abroad is twofold: (1) Stay longer. It is often easier to meet people (especially locals) when you stay in one place for more than a month or two because you have more time to build a relationship and discover whether it might be something worth pursuing. It’s also a smart economic choice, so why not try it out? Also (2) follow your interests. Amy says, “When you’re living a normal life, you’re more likely to meet people living a normal life.” To meet interesting people who you can connect with, get out and do activities that interest you. How about salsa dancing?
Nomads create communities both online and in specific cities. Online, digital nomads connect through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as through attending online courses and events. Amy suggests that these sites can be great places to meet people who you might connect with, and who may be interested in meeting in person if you should find yourselves in the same place. She suggests focusing on activities that you enjoy and that are inherently social. Join clubs or find meetups with like-minded groups. Couchsurfing can be a great way to find other in your area who are interested in getting out to explore with you.
Nomadism Today vs. Nomadism in 2004:
In 12 years, nomadism has changed dramatically: when Amy started traveling most of the current social networking sites did not exist yet. The term ‘digital nomad’ was not used extensively either. She says it is much easier for nomads to find each other now. It is also easier to work remotely. Virtual communications through Skype and similar sites has opened up options for building teams of remote employees. The tech industry is also growing and has pushed location independence into the mainstream. Opportunities for remote work abound in the digital age and the nomad population is definitely growing.
The Future of Nomadism:
Nomad life may be getting easier as more and more people begin working remotely. Amy believes that the growing public awareness of nomadic lifestyles may lead to some very positive changes. Eventually, she hopes, nomads will be able to obtain special visas that will allow us to travel in different ways from tourists or those who work abroad in a single country. Perhaps these “Digital Nomad Visas” will allow nomads to stay for longer periods, have easier entry into certain locations, or move more freely from country to country. Nomads can be a great asset to local communities, bringing with them money to spend at local businesses and ideas that might help the communities to grow.
The Profile of a Happy Nomad:
Although nomad lifestyles are as diverse as the nomads themselves, there are some common traits that the happiest nomads all seem to share. According to Amy Scott of Nomadtopia, happy nomads are flexible, ready for anything and above all, they embody the spirit of exploration and adventure. This spirit includes, is perhaps a product of, constant inner exploration. These nomads are always questioning their choices and asking what makes them truly happy. If their current lifestyle isn’t fulfilling, they change it.
As a traveler, you have to be extra-aware of the particular safety concerns of each location. You’re best protection is simply making smart choices about your behavior. Watch locals and do your research before you arrive. In wealthy countries, people may openly carry iPhones, tablets, and other expensive devices. These are much less readily available in certain countries and may make you a target for theft. Be cautious about flashing your phone and think about leaving valuables in a locker or other safe space while you’re out and about. In Buenos Aires, Amy suggests sitting toward the back of coffee shops so that passersby don’t see your laptop and says she doesn’t carry her ATM card unless she’s heading for the ATM. Work to make yourself less vulnerable by matching your behavior to your location.
Planning a Nomadic Life:
Most nomads do not seem to plan their nomadic waves very far in advance. We like to be open for opportunities as they arise. It can be hard to stay grounded though, and one common way to solve this problem is having a base that we return to at least once a year. As for the rest of it? Don’t worry too much — Amy has been traveling for 12 years and she’s still planning as she goes.