August has been around for a while now, so it was time to interview another traveler. Or in this case, two traveling love birds! We spoke with the digital nomads, husband and wife, Amy and Nathan in our interview of the month August. They are the couple behind the Two Drifters. They met in a hostel dorm room in Edinburgh, Scotland and soon their whirlwind of romance started. Since 2013 they’ve been together 24/7 and living their dream as digital nomads.
Lisanne from CHAPTERTRAVEL: So happy to have you guys in our latest interview of the month. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your work as digital nomads.
Hi! Thanks for having us! We’re Amy & Nathan, a newlywed American couple in our 30s with a huge passion for travel. We met in a hostel in 2011, and life has never been the same. Knowing we both wanted the freedom to travel, without being tied down to traditional jobs, we started exploring the world of online work. Nathan works as a copyeditor, proofreading and enhancing novels, academic papers, essays, and documents of all kinds.
Amy is a freelance copywriter and content writer. She mostly creates website copy for businesses and brands, and also writes marketing emails, blogs, video scripts, and more. She occasionally ghostwrites ebooks, helps bloggers build a basic WordPress site, and manages the Two Drifters Instagram. Those are our main money-making gigs and they allow us to work fully from home/on the road, which is something we could never turn back from now. It’s the best!
Thank you for your introduction! How long have you been digital nomads?
Nathan first got his remote editing job in early 2013. Amy was still completing her Master’s degree in English at the time at the University of Stirling in Scotland. He came and spent a few months there and that was the start of the digital nomad experience for him. In August, Amy came back to the States and we rented an apartment in Maryland. However, we had plans to go to Australia in six months, so we knew we had to make and save serious money.
Nathan worked part time as an editor while still doing a full-time traditional job. Amy looked for a steady gig, but nothing was coming of it. Surprising how little a Master’s degree matters in the real world! She worked as a waitress and in a gift shop (both miserable experiences) but started investigating working online. She got a few small jobs on the website Upwork and then things started to take off. By April, she was able to earn enough to work 100% online. Nathan also picked up more editing work. Then we headed to Australia.
It's pretty clear we are travelers, but did you know we are also digital nomads? Both Nathan and I work 100% online as freelance writers and editors, which gives us the freedom to travel (so long as there's WiFi!) We are super grateful for this lifestyle but it's a lot of discipline and hard work. Are you curious about getting started as a digital nomad? If you head to our website, you can get our brand new free guide "10 Ways to Create a Digital Nomad Lifestyle and Work From Anywhere." Simply subscribe using the form at the bottom of the page! Link to our website in our bio! And we are always happy to answer questions on freelancing, remote work, & digital nomadism. Photo credit: @photographsbystephanie
How is it like to be working as digital nomads?
We really, really love this type of lifestyle as it suits us so much. Once you’ve gotten a taste of the freedom of no boss, no set schedule, and no office to go to, there’s really no turning back. The idea of returning to a 9-5 position now sounds so limiting and horrible. However, there are serious downsides to the no boss, no set schedule, no office lifestyle. There’s no one watching out for you making sure you get to work in the morning. There’s no pressure of a manager’s watchful eyes to help you work faster and harder. The lack of a schedule is great, but not if you can’t motivate yourself to get started. And even the freedom of no office can be a challenge. Working from home can be isolating, and working from coffee shops is lovely, but you’ve always got to keep buying things.
To be successful as a digital nomad or remote worker, you need to be a total self-starter. You’ve got to be able to motivate yourself, set your own deadlines, and basically, kick your own ass into gear. We are STILL learning how best to do this, and find working on our own set schedule helps us out, as does working side by side. It creates more of an “office” environment when we’re both hard at work on our laptops.
Do you have any tips for people that would like to do the same as you?
So many! The self-motivation thing is really important as a digital nomad, but perhaps even more so in the beginning. Unlike a job that you go and apply for and get, freelancing is a career where nothing is really laid out for you. There is no precise template and every digital nomad’s path is different. You really have to be your own biggest champion, and keep trying various approaches until it pays off. If you’ve got skills or are willing to work hard and learn and improve, virtually anyone can become a freelancer or digital nomad. Today is an online world and people just have to take advantage of that! Having a support system as you grow can be very valuable, too. We’re always happy to answer questions and help provide guidance for digital nomads just starting out. In fact, subscribers to our email list receive a totally free guide for getting started as a digital nomad!
"And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it's a heightened state of awareness in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end." -Pico Iyer . . . . #honeymooning #dreamdestination #globewanderer #adventurethatislife #adventuretravel #explorealberta #lakelouise #travelcouple #travelcanada #coupleshot #couplesofinstagram #luxuryhotel #hotelsandresorts #luxlife #luxurytraveler #livetravelchannel #liveyouradventure #loveandtravel #ilovewanderlust #forbestravelguide #fodorsonthego #bestvacations #passportready #cntraveller #darlingescapes #dametraveler #mybanff #travelandleisure #sidewalkerdaily#dreamhoneymoon
What are struggles that you encounter while traveling and working?
There has to be a balance between adventure and work. When you’re in a new place, it’s tempting to close up the laptop and head out to explore, but you’ve got to make money to support yourself. To help this, we are slow travelers. We spend longer periods in one place so that we can experience them more fully over time. This also lets us see a destination more like a local rather than as a fast-moving tourist. And a bonus? Discovering those secret spots that tourists miss!
You’re together 24/7, how do you make sure you don’t get tired of each other? How do you cope with arguments/fights?
We get along quite well, and our temperaments are fairly similar, but to avoid annoyance and little arguments, we spend a couple days each week working separately. Sometimes we find being apart makes us more productive! It also gives us that feeling of “missing” each other which is important in relationships. Spending time apart also gives our time together more meaning.
Every day we try to spend time just us, too, without laptops and phones. As a digital nomad, it can be hard to detach from the electronics! We either walk and talk in the mornings, or cuddle and chat together in bed. Reading side by side is something we enjoy that also helps us relax and unwind from the digital nomad pressures.
Where has your last few trips been?
We spent the past 1.5 years in Asheville, North Carolina while we planned our wedding. We took a honeymoon to British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, both of which were gorgeous. We’re currently in Vermont visiting my family.
What is your next destination?
Next up is Scotland: where we met and where we love it so much. Can’t wait to get back and visit old friends. We’ll also be spending time in England and hope to get over to Ireland as well. Later this year and 2017 will likely include Romania, Israel, and Thailand.
What is your favorite destination you’ve been and why?
We say it a lot, but Scotland is up there. Nathan really loved Morocco, where he went in 2011. Australia was also amazing and so different. It’s hard to pick! We need to see more places first and then we can decide!
What’s still on top of your bucketlist?
South and Central America! Portugal, Scandinavia, Antarctica, sailing somewhere cool. Mongolia.
Where do you guys see yourself in five years?
Ooh, fun question! Probably still traveling, but maybe settling down a touch more and *thinking* about having a baby. It would be fun to travel with a kid, maybe two at most! LOL. In 5 years, we will definitely have a DOG!!