I was ready to quit my job, become self-employed and travel the world. I walked into my boss’s office and handed in my notice, and to be brutally honest, I was holding back tears. Not because I was sad, but rather overwhelmed by a wave of excitement and nervousness.
However, it took me years to make the decision to change my career path. In late 2015, I was working for the Peace Corps as a Diversity Recruiter, traveling throughout the Midwest talking about an organization I was passionate about. I counted myself lucky to be surrounded by like-minded team members, have leaders that supported my desire to travel and be in a role that allowed me to connect with a spectrum of people. As good as that job was, the biggest downside of working for the Peace Corps is that there is a five-year limit. With that, you often find yourself looking for what’s next within your first year in the job.
Discovering a new world
During that time, I received an Instagram message from a content creator, Ross OC Jennings, asking if I’d work with him in South Africa creating content for the Western Cape Tourism Board. Not knowing what I was truly getting myself into, and without even requesting time off work, I booked a flight to Cape Town, South Africa.
In South Africa, Ross and I went from meeting a representative of the Western Cape tourism board to zip lining through the Hottentots Holland Mountains to shark cage diving with great whites off the coast to afternoon wine tasting — all the while documenting and posting about our experiences.
Returning to the States after South Africa, I realized my world had flipped upside down. Instead of going out or spending money on materialistic things, I found myself saving every penny and browsing the internet for the cheapest flights to meet up with Ross. I was thinking about how I could potentially travel and create content long term.
Four months later, I was on a plane headed to Sri Lanka to see if this was really something I could quit my job for. After a week in Sri Lanka working with Ross, we realized we made a solid team, had similar interests and shared a vision for a future business venture. Returning to the States, I started really building an online presence and figuring out how I could make this financially feasible.
How I make a living
Looking through the lens of social media, it often seems like these things just happen overnight or because you have a decent social media following. In reality, it took me a few years to be ready for this type of lifestyle and plenty of sacrifices.
I started by writing down all the things I enjoyed from my first trip to Cape Town working with the Tourism Board and asking: What made this experience drive these feelings for a change? What would I gain or lose by pursuing this career? Would it be financially affordable?
The second was finding ways to build my brand. If you take a look through my social media account, you will see an evolution to what my brand is today.
Finally, I had to prioritize saving money over going out.
With all this, it was a year and a half before I felt confident quitting my government job and living a nomadic lifestyle.
What exactly do I do?
Well, Ross and I do a mixture of things and we hustle a lot, but in a nutshell, we have two main focuses: speaking at schools and content creation.
In one of those roles, I’ve been lucky enough to work with NOMATIC and it couldn’t have come at a better time. When packing up my things in Chicago, I realized I needed a bag that would withstand the amount of travel I was about to embark on, and at the same time keep my things organized. The NOMATIC Travel Pack fit the bill and I couldn’t have been happier. I’ve never seen a bag constructed with so much thought for the everyday traveler, while at the same time being functional and stylish. I’m almost at my one year anniversary of being on the road, and myNOMATIC bag has been with me to 15 countries (and counting) and still looks brand new!
The nomadic lifestyle is work
I’m now nearly a year into this new career and I’ve learned and done more than I could have ever dreamed! I’ve been to over 15 countries, gone on multiple safaris throughout Southern Africa, flown in a hot air balloon, visited the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan and snorkeled with whale sharks off the coast of Mozambique.
However, it hasn’t been as easy or as beautiful as the images on my social media platform. That is probably the biggest takeaway from this experience thus far: social media can paint a very glamorous and sometimes false, image of reality. It takes months of planning, hundreds of emails and loads of rejections. Usually our work has been creating digital content that highlights our experience with a product, hotel stay or experience. This has lead to some remarkable adventures, however, it definitely does not pay the bills. So, in our downtime, you will oftentimes find us searching for decent wifi and hunched behind our laptops searching for ways to land a paid job. We rarely share those types of photos, but maybe it’s time we did.