World traveler and digital nomad Noëlle Steegs tells us about her experience traveling through Europe, South Africa and many exotic locations while running her freelance web design business. We cover many practical topics including traveling tips, gear, the benefit of getting connected with nomadic online communities as well as safety tips for traveling and more!

In This Episode

00:00 – Introduction
04:30 – Nomad progression
10:50 – Meeting like-minded people
14:39 – Benefits of being a minimalist
16:09 – Adjusting to surroundings
17:43 – Getting clients
22:10 – Be flexible and accommodating
26:04 – Travel gear
29:43 – Co-working spaces
32:38 – Creativity stimulation
33:56 – Safety tips while traveling
37:32 – Settling into own space
39:30 – Long distance relationship
44:12 – Future plans
49:30 – Time is precious
53:34 – Thoughts for others

This episode is presented by my Divi/WooCommerce Beginners Course.

Connect with Noëlle:

Links mentioned in the episode:

Episode #006 Full Transcription

Josh 0:16
Hey, everybody, its Josh here. Welcome to Episode Six. This is an interview with a very close colleague of mine, who is a legit world traveler, Noëlle Steegs. She splits her time now primarily between the Netherlands and South Africa. And over the past six or seven years, she has traveled all over the world. And in this interview, we talked about that we talk all about life travel and designing websites as a digital nomad. So if you are interested in traveling and doing web design remotely, so you can travel and do your thing, or maybe that’s something that you’re doing right now, and you want to do more of or if you’re stuck in one place, and you just want to hear what it’s like to be able to travel and do web design so you can live vicariously through Noëlle, this is your episode.

Josh 1:05
This was a really great one because we talk about the ins and outs of traveling we cover a lot of really important subjects, but not only between practical things like what gear to use and how to travel but also safety. She was a single girl who is traveling all over the world. So we talked a little bit about safety and, and how to find good places to go and how to get connected with certain communities. If you want to be a digital nomad, what that looks like as a single person versus somebody with a spouse or a significant other, or even with families who are digital nomads.

Josh 1:35
So we had a really wide ranging, an awesome discussion. And for me, someone who is kind of placed in one place here in Ohio, it was really fascinating to hear about a world that is just completely different, which is the digital nomadic world, which is so cool. So I think you’re really going to enjoy this episode. A couple of things I did want to mention. Noëlle had some troubles mainly in the first half of the episode with her Wi Fi. So it was good enough to go live with I did not want to rerecord anything because it was such a good talk.

Josh 2:03
But there are some places where it gets a little bit laggy. So just be patient at the Wi Fi connection did get much better in the last half of the episode. So there are a couple little spots where you’re going to hear a little bit of lag and stuff. But again, I didn’t want to rerecord anything because it was such a good talk. Now Noëlle has a fairly thick accent, but she speaks English very well. It’s not her first language, he actually speaks multiple languages. But for those of you who would like to see subtitles with this, you can just watch the video on YouTube, you can just go to the show notes and all of the episodes whatever the episode number is, in this case, it’s it’s Episode Six, so you can just go to Josh Hall co slash 006 and that will take you to the show notes and the video and all the resources there.

Josh 2:42
But I want to say hats off to Noëlle for doing this interview. She is trying to get more comfortable on camera and doing things like that she’s a natural introvert. So she was a little nervous coming on but she did a really really good job and I think you guys are gonna love this interview and get so much out of it was so cool. Before we dive in this episode is brought to you by my Divi WordPress beginners course you’re gonna actually find out in the episode because Noëlle is an expert with WooCommerce and UX, which is user experience and a lot of that stuff so I’m gonna say hey, this episode is brought to you by my Divi WooCommerce course if you are using Divi and you need to build an online store WooCommerce is the way to go. It’s what I use for my site and all of our agency sites and it’s just an incredible platform and I have a course that will walk you through start to finish how to start playing and build your site with Divi and WooCommerce. And we’ll help you get you up and running. So without further ado, guys enjoy my awesome and super super interesting interview with a world traveler, remote digital nomad, Noëlle Steegs. Noëlle, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us today.

Noëlle 3:54
Hey, Josh, thanks so much for having me.

Josh 3:57
I’m really excited to talk with you because we’re going to talk about something that I think a lot of people are probably a little bit envious and jealous of and that is remotely working and being a digital nomad, which you totally are. So I know we’re going to talk a lot about life and travel and your gear and things you do as a digital nomad. But I’m kind of curious. Before we get into that, how did you how did you start in web design? Did you get into web design because you knew you wanted to have freedom in travel? Or was web design kind of a byproduct of you know, traveling.

Noëlle 4:30
So web design King first so the working remotely kind of happened as a accident as a byproduct when I started out in web design, and didn’t being a digital nomad came later and I thought, well, this is useful. I can work from anywhere, so I might as well travel. So that really came you know, that really came later.

Josh 4:51
Okay, so when you started in web design, how did that come about? Did you because I actually I’m not too familiar with your story on how it all started. For you, did you? Did you know you wanted to do design and web design? or How did that come about? Initially?

Noëlle 5:08
No, I definitely did. No, I wouldn’t be in this industry, it came as a total lovely surprise to me, I one day got an idea for an online store. And it was just one of those ideas that I couldn’t get rid of, you know, it would just sit in my head. And, and I would, and I would pull it over. And that was when I just moved to South Africa. And I had time and I had a very slow internet connection. And they didn’t have any resources to start on online stores. So all I could do was to do everything myself. So I learned everything from setting up shipping in WooCommerce, to doing search engine optimization, designing the logo myself, like, there was no other resources for me. So, you know, there was only one way. And yeah, and through that, I mean, when I started out, I really didn’t even know how to use Facebook properly. And this was no six years ago, about maybe seven now. So I’ve learned so much since.

Noëlle 6:10
And then when I set up the online store, and I do done some social media marketing for it as well. Then a friend of a friend who was running a digital marketing agency, she saw what I’d done. And she invited me to come work for her as a web designer and social media specialist. So So then I worked for a year for her. And it was great. You know, I learned so much in that in that time. But after the year, I decided to go to go freelance. And that’s when it all started. And in the beginning, I did a mix of marketing and web design. But over time, I phased out the marketing and I fully focused on web design and development now.

Josh 6:53
Okay, well, I’m curious Noëlle, what were you doing before that? Did you like what was when you? Were you traveled to South Africa? Did you have a different job at that time? or What were you up to before you got into web design?

Noëlle 7:08
Yeah, I was in. I was in fashion retail for years. And my last job that I had was, I used to work for one of the big camera brands, first line technical support, and a call center may be different. Yeah. So um, life has definitely changed for change for the better, I would say and you know, so unexpectedly so.

Josh 7:33
No doubt from call center to web designer, that’s gonna be night and day difference as far as your your day to day enjoying your work and enjoy life in general. In general, I imagine. Yes, yeah, I hope for sure. That’s interesting, because I’m always so curious about how people get into web design, because every path is different. I’ve talked several times now with all interviews to where like, nobody has a typical education, you know, four year path, it seems like everyone is doing something completely different. Or, you know, then they just have an option to get into some sort of creative, you know, whether it’s graphic design, or web design or social media, and then it just kind of blows up there. So yeah, that’s interesting how you got involved with all that. So I’m really curious. When you started, you were in South Africa, it sounds like when you started design, and then did you do enough on the side to realize, like, you know, what, I think I could do this, like full time, or how, how did that progression work for you?

Noëlle 8:31
Yeah, that progression was definitely the way I did it. It’s not when I would recommend to others to others. Definitely. When you plan and save up, and I had, I had no, no savings at the time. And luckily, my partner at the time brought in some income. So that did allow me for some freedom to you know, start up something new. But it was the first years where beans on toast, kind of Yes, you know, it was tough starting out. But you know, of course over time, it’s it’s accumulated and you know, nothing. Now, things are very comfortable. But the first years were really rough. And it’s definitely not a path I would recommend. But I’m still happy I took it.

Josh 9:17
How old were you when you when you got into web design? I’m just curious. I was I must have been 22, I am 28 now. Okay, so yeah, that’s really interesting, because that’s about when I got into it as well. I think I was 23. And that’s a great time to get I mean, anyone can get into web design anytime. But that’s definitely a good age when you don’t have a family and too many responsibilities. And I imagined for you where your costs mostly just travel and expenses because you didn’t have a set. You know, you didn’t have a mortgage or didn’t have a place where you were tied down to is that kind of what the majority of your expenses were that you had to cover.

Noëlle 9:59
Yeah. So um, so in the beginning I wasn’t nomadic then so I was stationary. But it was just basic basic living expenses which allow me to keep costs low. So definitely not tied to a mortgage or any major costs or any major business costs for that matter.

Josh 10:18
Yeah. So I’m so tell me about the just the digital nomad life in general, because it’s something I’m very interested in. I don’t ever see myself doing it now, but with a wife and my second baby on the way here very shortly. But for those who are curious, and for those who do travel and want to have more nomadic style life, like where did all your travels take you? Did you have a couple locations that you generally visited, like at certain times of the year? What did that look like for you when you really started, you know, being a nomad.

Noëlle 10:50
So when I started out, one of the most memorable times for me was when I traveled to Mediterranean for four months, and I did the different islands every month. So I visited, Majorca and Malta and Sicily. And it was just it was just great. I just come from South Africa I then the family the family around so I guess that everyone in the Netherlands to continue about the about the time in the Mediterranean, that was really a special time for me because, you know, it was such a was such a new experience. It was full of new impressions, it was full of meeting new people, even though I consider myself to be an introvert. I would do digital nomad houses at the time, so we’re co working co living type style. And it just allowed me to come across people that I consider to be my, which was something new for me to experience in life. I’ve always kind of felt like an outsider before. And now I just felt like hey there like so many people out there like me so many people that are interested in in tech can one time before experiences kind of on the side or over the weekend? Yeah, and really met met people that you know, I’m still in touch with today. So that was definitely highlights about the digital lifestyle.

Josh 12:16
No doubt. That’s so interesting. Did you like did you know where you wanted to visit? Or did you just kind of like like no people who said like, hey, should check out this area or go to this country? How I’m curious. I just can’t even imagine that as somebody in the states who you know, our version of traveling is driving down to a beach in Florida or something. Did you like did you know about those locations or were they destinations that you wanted to get to?

Noëlle 12:42
Most of the locations that I chose I came across via Facebook the digital nomad groups that I’m in I’m a member of which is a great way to to learn more about the lifestyle By the way, and I can send you links to a couple that I recommend. But they are so people raving about certain places or sharing sharing photos and experiences and then I thought hey, you know, I want to experience that too. So that’s how it mostly came about and then sometimes like in the occasion of Sicily I actually did a I was looking for because at the time when I started out things were still a little bit on on a shoestring Is that the right expression? So I did a workstation exchange there so that’s also how I found locations was based on you know where can I really on a tight budget still have this experience betrayed my skills for a four night stay somewhere.

Josh 13:41
Okay, gotcha. Wow, that’s interesting. Almost like a location trade agreement barter agreement for a certain amount of time or certain you know, seasons.

Noëlle 13:50
Yeah, definitely. And that’s also when people say oh, life as a digital nomad must be so expensive. It must be so expensive to travel. You can actually make it as expensive or inexpensive as you want you know, if you’re happy to you know, take flights at like 4am in the morning and don’t mind the layover and things like that and if you travel light if you do agreements like that, it’s surprising the incredible experience that you can have you know, but um, you know, well working with like a really tight budget.

Josh 14:26
Well, it’s interesting I know you’ve done other things like you’re rocking this short hair, you cut your hair a while back. Where little things like that included to with your travels just to make travel easier.

Noëlle 14:39
Yeah. And chopping my hair off was definitely It was a practical thing. I just drank from going for a dip in the ocean and coming out and doing this and then being done. It was partially partially a practical thing. And also getting more more rid of my position, possessions. I consider myself a minimalist. So again, I travel a lot, I own relatively little. And I started out owning little already, because I hadn’t accumulated much. She acted 22, but down even further, and that just allowed me to just move really freely.

Josh 15:18
Gotcha. And you’re a minimalist and you’re designed to it’s interesting that your lifestyle and your path kind of reflects in your design, which is a really good thing. I think that’s a compliment. Because, you know, we’ve worked together several times in the past, and you design very efficiently and cleanly. And as you said, You’re definitely a minimalist through and through which I imagine you have to be as a digital nomad, you can’t be tied to certain possessions or certain things unless you’re, you know, like rolling with a trust fund of a lot of money where you can just travel, I imagine you have to keep things intentionally, you know, simplistic. I’m really curious. How did you how did you balance work with traveling like that? Did you just kind of, did you have set hours when you’re at certain locations? Or did you just do like segments of work in between your time with exploring and meeting new people? What did that look like for you?

Noëlle 16:09
Oh, and the biggest thing that was definitely a challenge, challenge for me. because on one hand, you want to you want to experience amazing things and connect with people, but you definitely have to be have to be strict in you know, making sure that this is work time and this is playtime, and be really flexible to, to move that around, according to the place where you are the people that you’re sharing a house with, you know, kind of look at their rhythms as much as you use a one adjusts according to climate. I mean, for example, when I was staying in Malta, between, say, 11:11am and 2pm, there was no chance that he could do work, because it would just be so hot and humid. Yeah, no, so then I would, so I would start early before the heat would, the heat would come up every siesta and then work until like, early evening, for example.

Josh 17:08
That’s awesome. When you were when you’re traveling and stuff, I think one of the biggest questions I have and that most people have is, how do you get clients remotely because that’s the typical standard approach to getting clients is like what I do with networking, or a lot of local colleagues in your professional networks, and then it grows from there. Now those in the Divi community like you and I have connected like we’re connected with people all over the globe. But we’re most of your clients like that, like how Yeah, I guess the question is, how did you get clients working remotely.

Noëlle 17:43
I’m gonna start started out it was definitely a friends of friends kind of thing. So you know, just people who don’t fit give us a little level of help in the digital marketing and with their websites. But then as things grew, it became part word of mouth. So that that’s just the blessing that’s that’s come away. You know, that they just come into my direction that I didn’t have like a lot of influence on or something, something that I just see as this amazing thing that’s happened. But other than that, the Divi community is amazing, as you know, and being being actively engaged in the Facebook groups and and helping other deputy web designers out. That’s definitely helped me a lot. And that’s helped me get clients, you know, scattered all over the world. And now I’ve actually gone in a bit over more corporate direction. And that’s Yeah, that’s mostly mostly referrals direct nowadays, a balance between white label work for other Divi web designers or agencies. And then and then more the corporate industry.

Josh 18:52
And that’s one of the best you just hit the nail on the head right there with were you talking about helping other web designers I think that’s how we got connected was in my Divi web designers Facebook group, where I saw you very actively helping people, particularly with WooCommerce, and some of the areas that you have some specialty with, and yeah, that that just goes such a long way because you can basically get work particularly white label work, which means For those unfamiliar with that term, just like you said, it means you’re basically working for other designers with their clients. But that’s a great way to get remote clients. I mean, the corporate clients where did they come from? Was that all word of mouth as well? Or I imagine you’re not doing like advertisements or anything like that. How did some of the corporate clients come about?

Noëlle 19:35
Um, back one, my basically my main client at the moment in the UK came about from a business owner who wants to give Divi a try himself and then went into Divi Facebook group and said, You know, I really wanted to do this myself but it’s more time consuming than I thought. So looking for someone to build a website, which I did. And then he was a project manager more in the corporate environment. So then when he, he project managed for what’s now my clients and he heard that they needed a web presence, he recommended me and I’m so very grateful for that. Because this has ended up being quite a bit of recurring work. And I think maybe now 50% of my work I do for this clients.

Josh 20:26
Awesome. I was just gonna ask what the percentage was between corporate work and then more like, you know, one off or smaller projects for it, because with your site, I mean, you you still you have such good expertise with WooCommerce, I have some of the stuff that you’ve helped me out with WooCommerce I’m like, hats off. That’s some really cool stuff like you have such a good arsenal of a lot of that and you’re you’re very UX user experience driven, like Do you still take on a lot of those smaller one off projects? Are you trying to more specialized on some of the niche like corporate WooCommerce kind of things.

Noëlle 20:59
I still really enjoyed the balance, I still really enjoy working with other Divi web designers. You know, we’ll we’ll see how it goes and where time in which direction, it maybe pulls me more, but I like to balance between the two. But I’m definitely increasingly specializing in WooCommerce. And working on posts by Rodolfo Malloy business creation course. So that definitely allows me to dive deeper and just be able to dream up functionality may happen versus being limited to the plugins out there, even though they are really good. And there’s a really beautiful range of them.

Josh 21:42
Right, right. Yeah, yeah. And I’m curious, our clients, do you tell your clients right away that you travel? Like, I imagine you’re available, you know, certain times of the week? And you know, obviously, you get things done on deadlines and things like that. But are you very upfront with clients who, you know, are curious about your schedule, or timing, and because you could be in different time zones at any point, if you’re traveling, how do you go about that with clients?

Noëlle 22:10
Yeah, my clients, my clients, do know, that I that I travel, and most of them actually really excited about it. And they love chatting about it or asking questions. So with my clients actually travel, travel regularly themselves. And my website just says, you know, I’m available. Between these times, I’m in this time zone, but then also if I if I need to client, and at times, I’m really depressed, and I’m also happy to step out of my office, our meetings and such and just be flexible and accommodating. But it’s never it’s never been a problem. I’ve worked with people from, you know, from states, from Europe, from Australia. And it’s and it’s been fine. Yeah.

Josh 22:50
And thank goodness for things like this with zoom or video calls and email and everything else, really. So so that’s what’s so cool about technology, and particularly with web design. Yeah, you can get clients from literally anywhere and it’s it’s really incredible. So for someone like you travels, that’s that’s in that crazy because like you couldn’t have done what you’re doing now even probably, what, 10 years ago, like it may look completely different.

Noëlle 23:15
Yeah, exactly. No, I couldn’t have imagined something like this happening. I think the digital nomad community is very, very new, really. And definitely upcoming, I believe I’ve seen some statistics about what they what they expect, in terms of the growth of the digital nomads community, people can remove fluidly You know, a lot Freelancer base that more and more people will freelance. I’ve seen predictions like that. I mean, I don’t know how to get out. But the community is definitely growing this increasing interest is, you know, resources all over now. People can go and read up on people’s experiences, how they went about it. So that’s really great.

Josh 23:59
It’s interesting that you said that because I think more families are doing that too. I’ve heard on a couple of different podcasts that like smaller families are taking their kids and traveling with kind of more like digital nomadic kind of lifestyles, whether it’s all across the globe, or just, like, you know, just stateside I know, like one of my students in my business course. He just travels the states he like travels all over and they work out of their little trailer or whatever. Like That is so cool. And that’s one of the amazing things that web design brings us. What like other people that you met, what what kind of work did they do? Were there other web designers? Were there people who did like social media, like I’m curious what other kinds of jobs or whatever kind of pathways are out there that can allow for a digital nomad life?

Noëlle 24:42
I make lots of different kinds of that was definitely surprising to me as well. When I got into the digital nomad lifestyle. I’m sure there were definitely a lot of people in the tech industry. So designers, developers, copywriters, for example, as well, you know, a lot of people working with digital marketers, but then For example, I came across this couple from the States and both of them were freelance writers. And but they were working they were working on novels and, and that was cool. But I’ve I’ve met people who did health coaching remotely. I’ve met psychics, I’ve met all kinds, you know, all kinds can actually be done remotely.

Josh 25:26
Yeah. And just with technology in so many different industries. Yeah, I just think it’s amazing. I love it. The fact that technology is just open up the possibilities to do pretty much whatever the heck you want, wherever you want, which is awesome. Let’s talk practically about gear. I’m sure a lot of people are really curious. Like, I imagine you don’t haul around a huge iMac desktop with you, like, are you running? You know, I know you’re a minimalist, you like things you like keep things simple. And you know, not not too much to worry about. Do you just have a laptop? And do you bring like a like a router or modem with you? Or what? Yeah, what’s your gear setup look like?

Noëlle 26:04
I always, always bring a modem with me, just in case or in case that dedication where I ended up the Airbnb that I that I rented at the Wi Fi isn’t as expected, I must always have a backup solution. So that’s important. And then my, my laptop is really lightweight. And was actually recently when I, you know, switched over to something that was really lightweight and strong. And mine is, it’s like military tested. So it outside is carbon is carbon, it’s the Lenovo x one carbon. So it’s really rugged. I’ve seen commercials where it bounces off stairs, and where it has, you know, all kinds of like dust and heat and such. And because I like the outdoors, the lifestyle as well, that was quite important to me that my laptop is powerful and light, but also it can handle something, you know. And, and in terms of carrying everything around, of course, I want the backpack that’s, you know, really, really comfortable. And that’s the size we’ll carry on only because when I travel Europe, I like to I like to just grab and go and only have the one bag. And it has really nice compartments, laptops, fits, fits in really snugly. You know, it’s nice and protected. Every key advantage that I use, this is lifetime warranty. So it’s like it was a one time investment. And I just know I’m set, you know, so I’m really happy about that.

Josh 27:36
Gotcha. Well, that’s really cool. Yeah, I was just thinking like, I have a huge mic with light. Well, obviously I’m doing you know, more podcasts and video kind of stuff now. So it’s a little bit different. But yeah, I mean, how cool is that a laptop that is going to be at least you know, built for travel, or at least have a case, right? That probably works, you know pretty well with keeping things protected. And then maybe you can if you can send me some of the links on stuff you have. That would be awesome. I’ll link him in the show notes. Because I’m sure people are curious about you know, even even just go on vacation, you want to have some stuff or well, ideally on vacation, don’t want to do too much work on vacation. But if you’re going to be traveling for an extended amount of time, you want to have some stuff that’s gonna be reliable, particularly, it’s interesting about the router or whatever you’re doing with Wi Fi cuz Yeah, I imagine if you, if you go to some location, you probably you may not know what to expect. And if you have a client that has a deadline or a project that needs to work done, you got to be prepared for that, right.

Noëlle 28:29
Yeah, always. And one thing, one thing that I would like to add to my guess is, it’s called to roost and I’m sure you get others but it’s basically really thin and lightweight stand that you can put it any kind of height and put your laptop on. And then I will add like a Bluetooth keyboard because one thing with laptops of course is especially with desks of all different heights when you travel, you know you don’t have your perfect comfortable setup like you have at home. So Oh, yeah, adding adding that will definitely be good for questions.

Josh 29:04
Yeah, I didn’t even think about that just with chairs like web does that we spend so much time in our chairs that you want something that is going to be comfortable because I’ve done that we’re at coffee shops, I love doing writing at coffee shops, and then like proposals and certain administrative tasks I can’t seem to do I never have like designing at coffee shops. I’ve always had to do that kind of creative work, like design work in my office in a more controlled environment, but like writing and stuff like that I love but I say that to say if I’m doing that for a couple hours, sometimes I get up and I’m like, oh man, my back. Sometimes I can only imagine.

Noëlle 29:43
I think the CO working co living spaces. I think they’re starting to appear again. But I say that many way. It was just not up to scratch you know, it was just not economic, not comfortable. And now more and more, you know based on based on feedback. You know They are making some changes. But yeah, it definitely sometimes make you.

Josh 30:05
I imagine that would affect creativity, right? Both maybe positively if it’s a really nice place and you’re inspired or maybe negatively of the Wi Fi is terrible. It’s you know, crummy and you feel uncomfortable. I imagine that that’s probably difficult to manage to write. You’re just balancing your creativity when you’re in a new place.

Noëlle 30:24
Yeah. Yeah, I think creativity, it’s not a it’s not a steady stream. It’s something that comes and goes and can be stimulated. But that’s one of the things that I also that I really like about, about work in travel at the same time. Like when I was staying in, staying in Majorca, I was staying, like, two streets from the beach. So if I just felt like it wasn’t flowing, I could just take half an hour, just walk down the beach, sit in the sand, listen to like a Spanish guy playing the guitar and sip, sip or cold drink and just watch the waves come in. And it would just really recharge me you know, in like, a little moment, like that.

Josh 31:04
I’m so jam. so jealous of that just talking to you being from Ohio, where it just snowed today. So, which I’m alright with snow and stuff. But I definitely would love to be closer to the beach one day for sure. That’s fascinating, though, like, yeah, you just Wow, that’s really cool. You know, from a creativity perspective that you can do that I now, even, I’ve had to really think about that working from home for so long. Now that I’ve worked from home for almost a decade, almost 10 years, like, I intentionally Get out of my office throughout the day, whether it’s just to take my dog for a walk, or whether it’s to do something now that I have a daughter, like just see her for a little bit or like said go to a coffee shop, or sometimes my wife and I like we’ll go out to lunch, and we’ll drop our daughter off with grandparents to get out for a little bit. Like I think it’s really, really important because particularly for creativity, I found that if you stay in one place, like literally just one place for too long, unless you’re really just feeling inspired and good about a project, it doesn’t take too long before you get restless, and you got to get up and you got to do something,

Josh 32:04
I think that’s a danger with home offices and people who work from home. Because when you’re in an office at a location or a corporate place, like there’s still other people to talk to, and there’s you know, you can get up and go down to the lobby and get a coffee or something. But when you’re working from home, that’s much more difficult because sometimes you’re isolated, sometimes you’re you know, stuck in one little room and it’s really, you know, that’s that’s kind of dangerous. So did that as a digital nomad, that kind of help that you are getting, even though you didn’t have the same? Did you travel with other people? Or was it just you, because you didn’t have the same group of friends that you stayed withm Right? Or? or What did that look like?

Noëlle 32:38
Right. So I always say I’ve always traveled solo, which I enjoy. But then I also like to tap into meeting people and co working co living spaces, they really helped with that, you know, and then so then during the week, I would do my own thing, I would be very focused on work. And then over the weekend, someone would say, Hey, I’m going to this island nearby, do you want to come and then you know, you would just connect like that. And then you know, have your people have your creativity stimulated, and then recharge and then on Monday, you know, get back into things and just feel like really ready for it.

Josh 33:18
No doubt. Well, yeah, yeah, a quick little island trip to recharge that sounds pretty recharging to me for sure. What did you do? I’m curious, like, safety wise. As as a younger gal who’s traveling across the world? Did you? Do you have any things that you did as far as just to make sure that you are safe? Or would you have any recommendations particularly for women who want to be a digital nomad? Because I imagine that can be something that and that’s, that’s something serious to consider? Like, yeah, what did you do to make sure you were safe? And, you know, between travel, air travel new places, like what did that look like? What did you do there?

Noëlle 33:56
And it’s really a really good question. I’m just general, being being streetwise. So you know, making sure that when I when I walk around this, that there’s quite a lot of people fall that is sometimes, especially in South Africa, I will I will choose a having a private taxi rather than a public transport, especially when traveling with my gay you know, I want to be really safe. And yeah, just also sometimes that people know where I am, like, you know, like friend or family with no way I would be traveling and they would have a dress as well. So I have a very lovely, lovely answer. Sometimes concerned that who, who asked me every time I’m traveling to send them the adress because he’s like, if you get lost, I know where to start. So yeah, so I do do that. Which helps and yeah, just just common sense trying to not to carry too much on me and just be discreet trying not to Look like the last tourist with a map wondering about you know? Yeah.

Josh 35:06
Interesting. Well does it really good practical things just for any type of traveling I’m actually I’m hoping that my daughter doesn’t watch this one day and want to become a digital nomad because I can relate to your dad. I don’t know if I want her traveling across the world by yourself. But obviously, you’ve done it efficiently and effectively. I mean, have you ever had any scary situations or anything that that kind of scared you traveling alone? Or has it been pretty smooth sailing for the most part?

Noëlle 35:34
Yeah, it has been pretty much smooth sailing. I mean, I did have one experience, one experience in Cape Town, but it was not really when I was nomadding or something. And yeah, things just happen. People, you know, people take chances. But in general, I’m gonna say like, my experience has been really good. And people do ask me, oh, you travel solo, you know, isn’t that scary? I find it very freeing and liberating. And I’m definitely not this hugely brave person or fearless or anything like that. But, but it’s been it’s been fine. And then also, I guess it depends a lot on the patient that you travel. But I’ve traveled mostly. When North and South Africa, I’ve traveled mostly in Europe. And I would say it’s, you know, it’s relatively it’s relatively safe. I mean, something can happen anyway. Really. But yeah, just with common with common sense. It’s actually it’s actually really fine.

Josh 36:29
That’s great. That’s really good stuff. I think it’d be super beneficial for even just those practical things you mentioned about like, not looking like a tourist with, you know, somebody who, in a place where, you know, obviously, they don’t know where they are, I imagine that can put you in a very, very vulnerable situation. But it sounds like you kind of learn a lot of those important things along the way. So I’m very curious, when you started being a digital nomad, did you have any idea like how long you wanted that to last? Because I know you’re doing less travel now. Right? Now that year? Yeah, it sounds like you’re not doing quite as much. What’s, what’s the plan moving forward? Like, do you? I guess that’s a question. How long do you you know, plan on being a digital nomad? Do you think you’ll settle down one day? or What is that? What is that kind of look, I’m just curious about, you know, the pathway, because it’s a lot easier in my situation to, you know, start a family get a house and kind of settle down whereas a digital nomad lifestyle, I don’t even know how you plan for that. Do you just go until you’re burnt out? or tired of traveling? Or did you kind of plan do it for a certain amount of years? What does that look like?

Noëlle 37:32
I don’t really plan to do it, I don’t have a set plan of how long I want to do it for. I’ve always said to myself, just as long as it feels right to me. And the topic of settling down, it’s definitely been something that’s been on my mind recently. Because I do travel, I do travel less, I travel more within the country now. So I travel more within South Africa, like I will swap between, say, countryside and city life every now and again and things like that. But I’m finding myself even though it’s really nice to have the freedom I do find myself kind of daydreaming in the home of my own, just something to make my space. Because when traveling, you’re always in somebody else’s space, really. And it can get quite impersonal. Maybe. Yeah, so we’ll, we’ll see how it goes. I don’t have set plans to to settle down within a certain timeframe. But I do think it will happen sooner. But I would still love to have my travel experiences that we just have based on, you know.

Josh 38:40
yeah. Yeah, I could definitely see that. Yeah, I was so curious. Just like if you had, you know, like, I’m going to do it till I’m 30 year. I didn’t know, you know what that would look like. But that’s a good point. If you follow your instinct, and you follow kind of where your heart is, I think you’ll know, you know, whether it’s time to to, you know, to transition and to do more, something more stable, or maybe like you’re doing right now you’re doing less traveling. And you were, you know, a handful years ago. I’m curious, like on a personal level, you mentioned that you had a partner earlier on, like, is that tough when you’re traveling to have like to maintain a relationship with somebody? Like, did they come with you? Or? Or was it more like, I’m going to be a digital nomad during my single years? What what I’m just from, from a personal perspective, I think it’s just, it’s kind of so foreign to me that I’m curious about the mindset with all that, like, how did that work?

Noëlle 39:30
Yeah, definitely comes with its challenges. So when I had when I had a partner at the time, luckily, he was really open minded. And, you know, we just like for example, for the for, for the four months that I was in the Mediterranean, we just stayed in touch lots and I kind of said, like, you know, I’ll take you along in my pocket, and I’ll share all these moments with you and you know, we would chat almost daily and yeah, and that’s that really helped you it’s not easy to do. Do long distance relationship but it’s very much possible. And I say I do envy the couples who you know who nomadic together. That seems really wonderful. To me. Even though I’ve always enjoyed traveling solo, I just wonder what it’s like to be able to, you know, say someone who’s too close, she’s like, Oh, you know, look at that. So really, you know, kind of like playing together and enjoy special moments together. That must be really nice. And I do and I have met digital nomad couples as well on my travels. And it just seems like such a cool experience to me.

Josh 40:33
Yeah, did did he have a full time job? And was he like, stationary at that time when you traveled? or? Yeah, cuz that’s Yeah, I didn’t even think about that. That’s crazy.

Noëlle 40:44
Yeah. Its all doable. And it just, you know, it takes lots of communication and lots of trust, I guess, that you need to that you need to build up in order to feel comfortable with that. It’s definitely possible. Especially when it’s not, if it was an indefinite thing. That I would say like, okay, you know, I’m going now I don’t exactly when I’m gonna be back. But if you have if you have a date, you know, you can work towards that, then. Yeah, right.

Josh 41:13
Gotcha. Wow, that’s fascinating. That’s, that’s really, really interesting. And then yeah, I imagine. Did you did you ever encounter any families like with kids or anything? And your Nomad stays in your truck?

Noëlle 41:24
Yes, I have a few. Um, and that’s, that’s been really special to witness. I think it’s an amazing gift for children to to travel at a at a young age. And I mean, it’s, it’s something that’s, you know, that’s not done a lot. But yet, and of course, it comes with its own challenges, I’m sure. But I met a single mom, for example, who’s struggling with the two kids and I think they were like, I don’t know, like, maybe like a 10 or 11 or something like that. And they would, you know, they would join in everything they would hike, they would be so comfortable in nature, you know, they were keeping up with adults, it was like, they were so smart in that way. So be able to raise like, we would say in Dutch, you know, so like, at home in the world. And that was amazed to see for me, and they must have such a different outlook on the world and business, children who haven’t traveled to must hear it from, you know, stories and books and the news and things like that, you know, to shape your own view of the world. So early is has been

Josh 42:27
Oh, that’s Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s so valuable.

Noëlle 42:32
But definitely, definitely comes with challenges. I understand No, and I’ll have a look for you as well. There’s a there’s a link of a family that you know, really brings out resources and connects know my families with each other and they they are really amazing. But they said you know, they will do like a slow nomadic lifestyle. So they make a point of staying in one spot for at least three months. Because then you know, they can kind of like, get to know other children and pets and arrange playdates and you know, they can look for like aftercare spots and things like that. I haven’t really met any digital nomad family that would travel phosphates, like I know some single digital nomads, for example, that they change location every week or something like that.

Josh 43:18
Oh, yeah, Yeah, I imagine for a family. That’s just it not only is an impractical, but I’d say it’s virtually impossible with kids depending on you know, where they’re standing and how comfortable they are in that place. But yeah, I imagine like, just the amount of time is stretched out further than it would be for somebody who’s single who can just up and go because you can’t just up and go with kids. As we learn that very quickly, like, you know, my wife and I before having kids, we could Hey, let’s go out to dinner. Cool. We’re out the door. Well, with kids, it’s like, hey, let’s go out to dinner. Cool. We got to feed the baby. We got to make sure we get our clothes and chains and that’s just a whole different experience. I imagine that’s like magnified as a digital nomad. Do you foresee yourself like? Yeah, because right now you’re doing less traveling? Do you plan like in the immediate future the next couple years? Do you plan on just splitting time within like a couple different locations? Or what does that look like in the near future?

Noëlle 44:12
In the near future, so you know, right now I’m in the South African countryside. And you know, my design is going to run out like early March so then I’ll travel to the Netherlands. And I’ll go and you know, do the family around so I’ll spend like about a weekend each family member or visit my mother in New York in the UK. And then depending on how life goes I might either add a location I’ve been eyeing dinner Eve unedible and Okay, now I really, really love the experience of Sicily visiting my mother. So that’s the reason why I want to visit Daenerys but South Africa just keeps pulling me back. It is such a special place. I love the people they are so warm and spontaneous and the nature here is just stunning. And I love my sunshine. And also currency, currency exchange rate wise, it’s all over, you know, it’s been a facials. So I can very well see myself just, you know, popping over to see family, spend a month there and then return to South Africa again, because it’s just over the past seven years, even though it wasn’t planned. It just kept pulling me back every time. So.

Josh 45:21
That’s an interesting point too, as far as the exchange with the currency and everything, because if you’re billing in a certain currency, then that as far as like, with people thinking traveling super expensive, it’s like, Yeah, well, if you’re staying somewhere where the cost is like a third of the dollar, or whatever you’re normally paying, then yeah, you could potentially do really well, you know, you could you could make less than your business for a month, if your expenses are way down. I didn’t even think about that.

Noëlle 45:46
Yeah, totally. That’s also why Southeast Asia is such a, it’s so popular amongst digital nomads, because your money stretches really far there. And you can stay at beautiful accommodation for you know, prices that in the States or in Europe, you know, it’s just you can compare. So yeah, so that’s definitely the exchange rates is definitely a thing. And Tim Ferriss is someone who I who I follow, he speaks about the concept of the new rich, which means that it’s not so important what you have in your bank account, it’s the kind of lifestyle that you can afford with what is in your bank account.

Noëlle 46:27
So for example, you know, a CEO who’s stationary some way, you know, who’s been bound by bound by time, bound by location, who has a lot in the bank, but doesn’t get the chance to, you know, get away and have new experiences. For example, this is someone who is, you know, free to travel and can stay in luxury accommodation, but their bank account might be only a fraction of what the stationery co it’s in that kind of concept. So that’s what I really like, as well as just looking at opportunities to, yeah, just get the best lifestyle possible for my money.

Josh 47:05
Wow, that’s really good. It kind of echoes the what what this, like what this podcast is all about, it’s creating a web design business, so that you can have the freedom to have the lifestyle you love. Whether that is, you know, in my case, like supporting my wife, gonna have two daughters very shortly got a hungry, precious golden retriever, like, those are the things I’m supporting. But that’s much different for you, like if you can support your travels, and you can go to certain places like that. It’s amazing that yeah, it’s it’s about, it’s about lifestyle, more than it is about security, or about a certain dollar amount, or a certain dollar figure, I think it’s one of the biggest, I’m really glad you said that, because that’s one of the biggest things, particularly for people who are getting into any industry, but particularly web design.

Josh 47:46
Like, I know, when I got started, I looked at people who are making six figures, and I was like, Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that. Or I feel like an imposter because I’m only making like 20 grand, or, you know, something like that. Whereas, you know, it doesn’t matter. It’s the lifestyle you want. I think that’s such a really important topic. And I think more people nowadays are aware of that, like somebody who looks really successful and has a lot of money. That doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily successful from, from a standpoint of like loving life, I think that’s a really good point. Like, you don’t have to be rolling to be to be happy and to feel content and fulfilled. I mean, obviously, you want to make enough to be able to pay your bills and to do what you need to do.

Josh 48:30
But yeah, apart from that, like, I think that’s where a certain dollar amount. I’ve said this a couple of times before, but a local colleague of mine was making about double what I did last year. And part of me was like, Hi, I feel like I could be doing more I should be making more, but the trade off was that he was working 80 to 90 hours a week. And I I’m I’m a 35 to 40 at most, like I’ve worked a little more recently with everything going on, leading up to the second baby, you know, arriving here but like next year in particular, I’m really going to work on setting more standards and guidelines as far as my hours and things like that. Because Yeah, I would rather make like 100 or 150,000 a year and work 35 to 40 hours opposed to making 300 or 350 you know a year and then working 90 hours a week that’s just yeah, that’s it’s such an important trade off that I’m not willing to like time is everything. Time is the most valuable resource. Yeah, and you got to use it wisely. Exactly.

Noëlle 49:30
Exactly. This is something that I keep saying as well time is the most precious you know you can get more money but you cannot get more time

Josh 49:40
Are you are you are you seem like you’re pretty fulfilled and happy with your your life path. Like are there ever times where you wish you would have settled down instead of traveling or do you feel like I’m glad I’ve done that. I’m glad I did the Nomad lifestyle.

Noëlle 49:55
Now I’m very happy. I’m very happy I did. I’ve never regretted it and I have had, I wish I would have would have settled down. But it’s definitely something like, who I am looking forward in a way to one day settle down and have a space of my have a space of my own. And, you know, also moving to South Africa. In the beginning, it was such a huge leap. I mean, I’ve never flown before I’ve ever seen the country before. Nothing like that. And it was probably the most important decision I ever made, you know.

Josh 50:28
And I think that’ll I imagine, when you do settle down more, it’ll probably help you appreciate it more, because I found a lot of people who I went to like high school with, they went to high school, they never left Ohio or never got out. And then they got a four year degree. And now they’re working in a job that they don’t like, and they’re just like, stuck here, the most travel they ever did was to go down, you know, and drove to a beach, a few states down like, I I feel glad and in my ways to just because I traveled with my band, I didn’t we didn’t do any national Well, we didn’t do any traveling, like out of the country. But we did go all over the states, which is a crazy travel in itself, like, like us going to like going out west would be the equivalent of like you from, you know, the Netherlands going like Russia, like there’s, you know, it’s basically like going almost different countries in the US I didn’t really think about that until recently, when I realized the the relation of like, distance between people who travel from like the UK down to Germany or whatever, like, there’s, that would be like us going to the state over a couple states over.

Josh 51:31
And I feel I say I say that to say I feel glad that I kind of got that out of my system that I experienced that. And I did that. Because even now we’re very stationary. And we don’t travel too much right now. But I’m very glad that we that we we did that, you know, and now it’s now it’s like we’re gonna travel more when time allows and, and finances allow. But yeah, I’m glad we did. And it sounds like you’re in that place as well.

Noëlle 51:56
Yes, I’m very I’m very happy with my lifestyle. At the moment. I feel like I feel the opposite of stuck. You know, I feel I feel very free. It’s lovely to be able to make these decisions on the fly now. But yeah, but I’m sure that I’m sure that, you know, one day everything will get a bit more, you’re just more settled down and more constant and then that’s okay, too. And then you say that that is boom. And you know, like you never know, you never know what life.

Josh 52:25
Yeah, yeah, that sounds like you’ve I imagine you’ve matured and learned so much just the past, what six years that you’ve been doing that, that you probably have a whole different, you know, view and look at the world with what you know where you’re at right now. That’s really cool.

Noëlle 52:40
Yeah, no, for sure. I feel like traveling as a digital nomads, and also moving to South Africa has kind of helped me grow up like, you know, like, like high speed like fast forward.

Josh 52:51
Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, well, we’ve covered some really cool things when we talked about how you got into web design being in South Africa and kind of your, you know, coming from a retail corporate background. That’s kind of cool. That’s kind of crazy. I didn’t realize that. And then, you know, we’ve covered some really good things with how to travel safely the gear you use, which Yeah, you could send me some of those links. I’ll put those in the show notes for people who are curious. But yeah, yeah, we talked about the pros and cons of doing the digital nomad life and some things to think about what that what would you say? What would you say? Like if you had to encourage somebody who wanted to be a digital nomad? And or is thinking about doing more traveling and doing web design? Like what would you tell them?

Noëlle 53:34
I would tell them to connect with people who are living the lifestyle and you know, all sorts of questions. I mean, the Facebook groups that are out there, and they’re very large, they just don’t know much ones. And I’ll make sure to send you some links. But just being in there and connecting with others that are already doing it and sharing those experiences. And you know, people in they are so helpful. So when you’re new to the topic, you just have this wealth of information on your fingertips and people so they’re always keen to help each other out and understand the lifestyle better. And maybe, you know, how big your nice, your your next destination or you know, help you set up or what do you think about the excellent blogs out there as well. So definitely, you know, research connect with people because they’re just a wealth of information out there.

Josh 54:20
Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, if you could send those that’d be awesome. I’m sure people are curious who who want to travel so Wow, no, well, this has been a really cool talk. We’ve covered some really cool stuff. I’m like I said, part of me is I’m very satisfied with where I’m at in life with my previous travels, but part of me is a little envious with the ability to travel somewhere and then just walk to the beach. If I’m feeling uninspired or go to a quick trip on an island. That sounds amazing. So hats off to you for for following your heart and doing everything you can to give a final I was gonna ask you for a final thought. Is there anything else you’d like to share in regards to being a digital nomad before we wrap up?

Noëlle 54:56
Yeah, like one thing. One thing I did want to mention is just You know, traveling, traveling is attractive is absolutely lovely. It’s incredibly rewarding. But people shouldn’t underestimate that it also takes energy, it can be quite, depending on what kind of pace you travel, it can be quite time and energy consuming to make the decisions about where am I going next, which would like to my booking, which Airbnb, Mr. Booking is my wife are going to be okay. And I’ve actually had moments where that led to kind of like a decision fatigue. And so I’ve become much more careful about that. And that’s also why I like being in the location still, like a month at a time. This is high paced travel. I mean, the one person will experience this more than the other. But it’s definitely something to take into consideration, like, You almost got to slot in time in your calendar to do your planning.

Josh 55:51
That’s a really good point, even just if you’re switching time zones, or there’s jetlag, there’s, yeah, all that. Yeah. Travel fatigue. Like, that’s a really good point. I didn’t think about that. But for those who are traveling week to week, like, you’re gonna have to allow for a day or two just to get caught up. Not only are you getting used to a new location, but you’re getting settled in. And then yeah, by the time you would be working, and it’s probably time to go to the next one. So that’s, that’s interesting that Yeah, you almost need to plan an account for those off days, we’ll call them. And yeah, I mean, yeah, everyone experiences it, where you travel, like, when we if we drive 15 or 16 hours, which is not uncommon. I know most people, I have some, you know, I have a friend in the UK, who was like, dude, you guys are nuts for traveling for driving that long. Whereas everyone in here applies. We’re like stateside, give us a 1718 hour drive. It’s no big deal. But after that, like, yeah, I’m spent the first day we get to vacation. I’m like, oh, man, I’m freaking tired. So yeah, just relax before your vacation starts. Yeah.

Noëlle 56:52
You got to, you got to plan in time for that as well. And I, I, for example, when I arrive at the destination for a month or so, I always like to plan in a day. I mean, I prefer to plan my travels to that I arrive on Conde Nast, I do because then you can really set up but otherwise, otherwise, I must plan an off day on offer afternoon at least to just, you know, settle in, you know, get my fridge stocked, unpack and just kind of get the feeling. Have a walk around, see where the supermarket is getting plastic, those kind of things. And then I know that next day, I can just, you know, tuck into work. And I know I’m sorted.

Josh 57:34
Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s a little adjustment adjustment. You know, I didn’t even think about that with traveling that Yeah, you know, particularly the abroad and through different countries and stuff. There’s so many those little things that are that need to be factored in. I really appreciate you mentioning that, because that’s probably something a lot of people don’t think of when it comes to traveling. That’s really, really cool. Awesome, Noëlle, any other any other final thoughts, anything you wanted to mention? Otherwise? I think we’ve covered some really cool stuff here.

Noëlle 58:01
I think so too. I really enjoyed the chat with you, Josh. Thanks so much for inviting me.

Josh 58:07
Awesome. No, absolutely. Thanks for your time and for chatting with us today. I’m sure a lot of people are going to get a lot out of this. And I’m sure we’ll do another one here sometime soon.

Noëlle 58:16
That would be wonderful. Have a great day.


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