Tommy is a travel writer who has been on the road for 6 years, including 16 countries in 2017!
Tommy already lived in England, Australia, New Zealand and visited South America, Asia and Europe in between! He tells us more about his adventures in this interview with Hostelsclub!
1 - Hi Tommy! When did travelling stop being a hobbie and started being your life? How was your life before and how did travel changed you?
I’ve been travelling regularly since I was 23, but actually left the UK when I had just turned 25. In terms of living life in a 9-5 way, prior to me travelling I was set. I’d had a good job, car, house to live in – so the things lots of people set out to achieve in normal society I had achieved. Some things weren’t right though and a little complicated for me personally, and unexpectedly I decided to move on quite quickly.
Then again, I’d always felt since I was very young I’d be travelling in my life, somewhere completely different to my hometown. The first trip that really opened my eyes in a worldly sense was backpacking Southeast Asia for the best part of a year. That trip was the best time of my life and gave me the impetus to continue travelling in whatever way I saw fit. So, it was always in me to travel so much and Asia was just the proof for me to follow that path.
2 - Can you tell us more about that first trip to Southeast Asia?
Like I said, Southeast Asia which is to me, the mecca of travelling. As a westerner from Europe the cultural difference is huge in Asia, everything is different, the colours, the mannerisms, the smells, the language, the practices, and the foods – I could go on and on. When you visit somewhere completely different and maybe a little more lawless and loose, it gives you a great sense of achievement. I visited 10 countries including India throughout Asia and met some amazing people I still keep in contact today. I pushed myself to my limits and undertook activities and experiences you just don’t get the opportunity to do living at home. I loved Thailand from North to South to bustling Bangkok. The Philippines was one of my favourites too, Banaue in the north to the life-filled Boracay Island. Vietnam was interesting and had so much to do. India was a different experience and definitely the toughest out of the lot – however it really opened my eyes and brain to the world!
3 - How can you afford this lifestyle? Do you have a fixed job or you work exclusively a digital nomad?
Well, my initial plans were to just work my ass for a year and then save, save, save – then go travelling and backpacking again. And repeat. That was my plan from 25-31 years old, or at least the initial plan. I moved to Australia and worked a lot to save up for a mega trip in South America for 11 months. So, the first 3 years on the road were pretty much according to plan. I was then urged by some fellow travellers to take up blogging or writing – which I did. I began an amateur blog just to see if I could stand doing it, but it wasn’t until I actually started freelancing for one or two companies I knew I could do this full time because of the travel experiences I had under my belt. Plus, and to my advantage I created some fantastic group communities via Facebook along the way for many destinations, regions and continents – these have now helped me as they stand with a healthy 160,000 reach. I’ve learnt to love story telling through writing and radio, it feels natural to me.
4 - Would you like to give an advice to someone who would like to become a digital nomad as well?
My advice to someone who wants to become a digital nomad is to travel first and foremost. Don’t run before you can walk. It takes time, and nowadays where the market is saturated, it’s even harder! Get the travel experiences first, blog about and get use to documenting. If you want to work like that full time then it’s step by step. Pitch and write for publications for exposure, perhaps for free at first and remember to take your own quality photos and videos. Nowadays, continuing to grow through social media is essential. All the nomads you might know about today didn’t get there overnight, including myself – whilst not everyone relies on their blog. Others, like me, rely on freelancing and social media to get work. So it’s important to figure out what you want to do as a nomad – once you’ve done that and began to work as one, the whole work and travel lifestyle comes with it.
5- Although you keep travelling you still have a fixed location where you live, am I right? After England you lived in Australia and then New Zealand, why did you choose these countries? Why did you move?
I was fixed on and off within Australia for 2 years. But I visited South America in between and wasn’t fixed then. Since I left Australia back in June 2016 I haven’t been fixed anywhere apart from a few months in New Zealand. In fact, since I left Australia for the second time I’ve been to 20 countries, including 16 this year!
Then again, Australia is a buzzing place for travellers, has good weather and it pays well with work. I lived there on a Working Holiday Visa and because the pay is quite high for even the most standard of jobs, it allows you to save quickly for future travels. This is one of the main reasons many travellers go to Australia. Plus, after leaving Asia many travellers from Europe tend to end up in Australia – so it felt natural to follow the crowd. I now have many friends in Australia and Melbourne in particular, and if I’m honest I feel like it’s my new home.
For New Zealand I also got a Working Holiday Visa thereafter. I was eligible still (because I was under the age of 30) and had heard that NZ was stunning country, so why not? The pay was good and I figured I could see a lot of New Zealand by weekend trips and road trips. Unlike Australia, New Zealand is a lot smaller so easier to get around. I have friends and family there too so that helps!
6 - What are the pros and cons of being a constant traveler?
Well, when you go travelling for the first time, there is nothing like it. That feeling is surreal and unique, and I think it’s impossible to quite get that feeling back again. That is a con of being a constant traveller – because many people from the outside looking in think it’s a constant state of euphoria. When you travel a lot it’s incredible, but it becomes the norm. It’s certainly a better lifestyle than the norm but not everything surprises or excites you as much. You tend to miss routine and as a solo traveller it can get lonely the odd time. That’s all the cons there is really.
Let’s be honest, there are huge pros in travelling constantly and the lifestyle is incredible. You get to constantly open your mind, experience wonderful things, eat new foods, learn new practices and meet new people. Wherever I travel I write and post about on social, so I’m living the dream as some would say, and getting paid for it too! Once you have the ‘travelbug’ or become accustom to the travel nomad lifestyle, you get bored very easy of normal life. One amazingly took photo can give me serious wanderlust – so it’s like a constant adventure. Memories and experiences last forever, especially good ones and this makes the quality of life better than you can ever expect. My final point would be that the biggest pro of being a constant traveller is that it is freedom in every sense of the word.