Published on February 18, 2014 | by Francy
Digital Nomads: Mel Traveling the World and Working in a Van
After the interview to Stephen Lioy, we continue our trip into the world of Digital Nomads! Today is the day of Mel, a girl who, with her husband Armando, has decided to travel the world, writing about travels, but in a different way. Living in a van! Let’s find out the ins and outs of her nomadic lifestyle in this interview!
Tell us a little about yourself: who is Mel and what’s her life like?
I’m originally a ‘farm girl’ from a tiny town in Montana. I’ve always had the travel itch, and started writing in my teens. My life now… I love traveling and being a traveler with Armando. He and his perspective on life are invigorating and inspiring. My life is a rollercoaster- most people’s are- but I’m much happier than I was in a ‘normal life.’
How do you explain being a Digital Nomad?
Simply as: working online, with your own hours, being your own boss and not in an office. I answer to myself, and I’m a much harder critic than any of my former work places. I actually feel guilt when I take a day off now, which is a severe contrast to working merely for someone else.
Why did you decide to pursue a digital nomad lifestyle?
I was ever so tired of living that life, even though I’d chosen Europe and the CZ in specific, I was bored, I guess. I most definitely needed a change. My passion has always been writing. To be able to not only pursue a dream, but make it happen on my own terms is pretty amazing for me. It’s definitely not for everyone. Grin.
Rumor has it that Armando involved you in this adventure and new way of living, is it so? Or is the story totally different? Tell us something more about it.
It’s one of my favorite stories! We met 4 years ago (roughly), where he romanced me for a moment in time while I was living in the CZ and he was in BG. We kept up a friendship through Skype and Facebook, sometimes intensely and sometimes with month gaps. I got a text (again) to look outside my window. I went out to my balcony, looked below and he was grinning like a madman standing in the middle of the street. The rest is history.
How is living in a van? Do you have everything you need to work and live?
Living in a van… I’m claustrophobic, but I feel safe and comfortable in Mork. I feel at home. I do get frustrated about toilets and showers, sometimes, but I love how we adapt to almost any situation. There are times that I get frustrated with having just 2 burners for cooking. As far as being connected, now it’s much better because we have a portable WiFi connector that takes SIM cards from most countries. I do like working from home.
A big part of being a digital nomad is having a job that’s mobile. How are you able to afford to travel? Do you make money from your blog or from freelance works?
That’s a very good question. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about us- that we stay in 5 star hotels or we’re living off of inherited riches. We actually both work loads, freelancing. I do have several regular clients, which I’ve gained by going a step beyond- advice for marketing, for example. I also do new work. We do hope to build our blog Westfalia Digital Nomads, more- there seems to be a need for info of what is possible for people outside the office.
What do you love about traveling?
The same word keeps erupting: freedom. We tend to like slow travel, so that gives us time to get to know places and people (our preference). I also love history, and being able to see it in the ‘flesh’ is unbelievable. It’s constant eye candy and brain candy for me. Definitely no boredom. Ha.
What is your favourite destination among those you’ve been to?
I have many faves, of course. Meteora in Greece is one of those that just got me. Cava Grande in Sicily is another. Berlin. Rupite. Paris, but I also found the French coast brilliant. Too many to name.
Do you have any advice for people considering long term traveling?
Don’t underestimate yourself. Adapt, branch out- and most of all if your passion is there, yes. You can. Allow for changes and both ups and downs. Don’t forget to enjoy your adventure, it can get lost in the muck. Embrace it all.
Do you have any plans to stop travelling and settle down?
I’ve settled down. I lived in the CZ for 12 years, had a normal job and flat. Great roomies, great neighborhoods. But I haven’t been this happy since I can’t remember when, being a traveler. I- we- don’t plan on stopping anytime. Keep in mind this is new for us. It keeps us on our toes and also keeps us interested in possibilities. Nah, I can’t imagine settling down right now. Our adventures are just beginning.