Reflections on One Year of Nomadic Living | In Words

This post was last updated on September 18th, 2014

Last week we shared some of our favorite photos from a year of full-time travel around the world. As promised, today we are taking some time to reflect a bit more deeply on the past 365 days—and ultimately spill the beans on whether or not we think a nomadic lifestyle is the one for us.


To put it simply, the past year has been nothing less than amazing. Not easy, by any means, but amazing. When we packed up our lives in Taiwan and headed out on this nomadic journey, we didn’t really know where we would go or what we would do. Because this was in no way a ‘gap year’ or a trip with a finite end, we didn’t feel any pressure to plan farther than a few months ahead at a time. That’s not to say we weren’t always thinking about the future (contrary to popular belief, we’re horrible at just throwing things to the wind and waiting to see where the universe will take us). But planning for us meant thinking: ‘where do we want to be in five years?’ and never ‘where are we going to sleep next week?’


This loose life mapping without micro managing worked out perfectly for us. When we first set out to cycle Vietnam, we never dreamed that our travel tales would include hiking through the jungles of Costa Rica, exploring ancient Mayan culture in Mexico, cross-country skiing through Lapland, house sitting in the south of France, or cheering on Brazil during the World Cup.


A Cruising Couple at the World Cup


There’s always more to see and discover in this world; for every one bucket-list item we cross off from our list, we inevitably add five more. But while we still have countless places to explore, in some ways we feel like we’ve lived a lifetime of memories in the past 365 days alone. And for this, we will always be incredibly grateful. We aren’t blind to the fact that we are fortunate to have freedoms and liberties that make our nomadic lifestyle possible. Little things we normally take for granted, like having passports, speaking English and being debt-free, have certainly contributed to making our travels possible. Even just being able to make memories traveling the world as a young, healthy couple in love is a tremendous blessing.


A Cruising Couple Photo.jpg


But while we will be the first to say we are fortunate beyond reason, we do think it’s important to note that our lifestyle is not just about ‘luck’. Every single day we are told how ‘lucky’ we are. And honestly, it drives us a bit crazy. We have actively decided to pursue a life of travel, and we have had to make a lot of sacrifices to make that lifestyle possible. We didn’t just wake up one morning and fall into nomadic living; we worked our asses off (and continue to do so everyday) to get a little closer to our goals and dreams. Unfortunately we don’t have a wealthy benefactor filling up our bank account, but if you happen to find one, don’t hesitate to send him or her our way…


But we’re getting a little bit off-topic. We’ve worked hard with the blessings we’ve been given to travel the world, and we have no regrets about it. We wouldn’t give up one moment of the past year, no matter how sweaty or expensive or tiring or even scary. We’ve also learned more over the past year than we probably did in four years of University. But all that said, we don’t want to talk so much about life lessons learned from traveling the world (that will certainly come later). Instead, we want to use this post to reflect a bit more on what one year of being fully nomadic has been like, and address the pressing questions that we get asked every single day: “Will you guys ever get a ‘real’ job?” and “Are you going to travel forever?”


We’ve spent the last few weeks reenergizing and refocusing in Rio de Janiero; to be honest, a bit of a break was long overdue. Before this, our travels were starting to loose a bit of their wonder and awe. We still loved what we were doing, and I’m not sure there is ever anything quite like the excitement of arriving in a new destination. But we were getting utterly and completely burnt out, not so much from travel, but from trying to juggle a hundred thousand different things at once.


Most people think we spend the majority of our days drinking cocktails on the beach. We do a bit of that. But in reality, we spend the majority of our time working—even if we’re not working at our computers. One of the cons of travel blogging is that you can’t ever really turn off. Everything we do is potential travel content for our blog or freelance clients. Or it’s a press partnership or photography gig. Or it’s inspiration for a travel narrative or social media content. Luckily we love what we do, so we don’t mind the fact that work, travel and leisure all blend seamlessly together. But it still gets tiring. The past year we haven’t just been traveling the world and throwing up a few blog posts here and there; rather, we have been diligently working towards building an online presence. We love blogging, we love our readers (you guys), and we love knowing that we are inspiring people to live life more adventurously. But it’s a lot of work to keep this website—and our other websites—going strong. There’s social media management, marketing, accounting, client correspondence, trip planning, branding, writing, photo editing… and that’s just the start. Add in all the freelance writing, photography and occasional consulting we do, and it’s no wonder why we were feeling completely and totally worn out. We also decided to travel to some of the most expensive countries in the world (aka Norway, Sweden, and Brazil during the World Cup), which put extra pressure on us to keep a bit of money coming in.


Life of a Travel Blogger


It wasn’t even the workload that was proving to be the most difficult thing for us—it was trying to please everyone and feeling like we weren’t pleasing anyone at the same time. As we mentioned, a lot of people think that we are on a permanent vacation, devoid of work and worry. But on the other end of the spectrum, acquaintances that meet us when we travel accuse us of spending too much time working and not enough time exploring. They wonder why we bother to travel halfway across the world if we are just going to spend the day sitting at our computers. Frankly, we don’t blame them. But we have come to realize that we can’t allow other people’s ideas of how we balance work and travel to impact our schedules. We love what we do and how we do it. Which brings us to the next point:


After one year of traveling the world full-time, we don’t know everything about our ‘ideal lifestyle’. Even if we did, we are certain that it would change over time. But we do know a few things. We love traveling. We love the freedom and independence of our lifestyle. We love working for ourselves, working towards our goals and our dreams and not someone else’s. We love the creativity our work allows. We love waking up every morning and feeling excited about the day—even if that day only consists of us sitting at whatever impromptu desk we have. The world is our office, and that’s something we’re not sure we could ever give up.


Digital Nomads.jpg


We also know that we have got to slow down. If we are going to keep traveling the globe and making a living online in the process, we have got to give ourselves the time to make it possible. We also miss having extra time to pursue hobbies like rock climbing, painting, surfing and cooking. Basically we need to do some exploration to determine what travel and work balance gives us the flexibility to adventure and explore without completely wearing us down. It’s going to take some more trial and error to figure out, and that’s okay.


For the remainder of the year, we’ll be doing some traveling through the Amazon, the Pantanal, and the south of Brazil, before jetting off for a month in Colombia. After that, we are finally off to Blue Osa again (something we have been eagerly anticipating since January!), where Casey will be participating in the one-month yoga teacher-training program. After that, we have no idea where we will go or what we will do. We have a loose idea that 2015 will find us following a ‘three-month’ plan, where we spend no less than three months in each new destination. We also might have an opportunity to live in Spain for a year, which would be a tough one to turn down. Right now we’re okay with not knowing all the details, only that we will still be traveling, blogging, and working towards creating a sustainable online income.   It might sound like our feelings are all over the place about this whole ‘nomadic’ thing. And that’s kind of because they are. Will we be nomadic forever? We have no idea. Will we travel forever? We certainly hope so, at least to some extent. Will we ever get a ‘real’ job? Maybe. But who says we don’t have real jobs right now?


Travel Blogging


It will be interesting to look back on this post in August of next year and see where we are and what we’re doing. But as long as we are still having fun, still waking up each morning with excitement to start the day, still knowing that there are limitless possibilities and adventures to be had around every corner, then we’ll consider the next 365 days to be another success.


Now, just for fun:


We weren’t going to do superlatives, but we got a ton of follow up emails from last week’s post enquiring about our favorite and least favorite aspects of our last year of travels. So, in response to your questions, here are our answers!


Favorite Place:

Last Light in Rio de Janeiro


Rio de Janeiro. (We always say ‘wherever we are at the moment’, but seriously, Rio is completely and totally awesome.)

Runner Up: The Lofoten Islands, Norway. We would never live there, but visiting revealed a dramatic beauty we have yet to see anywhere else.

Least Favorite Place:

Kiruna, Sweden. We have nothing against Kiruna other than the fact that we ended up having to stop there like four times when we were in Lapland. It just got a bit old.


Favorite Memory:

Northern Lights


Seeing the Northern Lights for the first time. Maybe because we visited Sweden late in the season so we didn’t expect to see them. Maybe because everyone said they weren’t all that great. Maybe because we went on an epic snowmobile expedition into the middle of the woods to see them. Whatever, the reason, it was magical.

Runner Up: Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City after cycling the entire length of Vietnam, completely untrained and unprepared.


Least Favorite Memory:

When Dan’s camera was swiped off a train from Champagne to Paris. It was completely unexpected, and a huge blow in our budget we are still recovering from. The lesson learned: Don’t just rely on travel insurance. Get individual property insurance for valuable objects.


Favorite Food:

Everything we ate in Mexico. Literally, everything. Runner Up: The chocolate in Belgium. And the moose burgers in Lapland. And also everything we ate in Vietnam. Have we mentioned we love food?


Least Favorite Food:

Sorry Costa Rica, but we just weren’t very inspired by most of the local food. Some of it was ahh-mazing, but we had trouble finding consistently good food at reasonable prices.


Biggest Travel Mishap:

Showing up a day late for our first-class flight to Mexico. Luckily, they just smiled and put us on the same flight a day later. We lucked out on that one!


Place We Most Want to Revisit:

Canada. We only got to visit British Columbia, and it was an incredibly quick trip at that.


Most Underrated Destination:

Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The people here are incredibly hospitable, the city is clean and comfortable, and the food is delish. It might not be Rio de Janeiro, but it is definitely worth visiting, if only to get to know some of the people.


Most Overrated Destination:

Amsterdam. We only visited for one night and unfortunately our visit was over a crazy holiday weekend. We would like to go back to give it another chance.


Most Romantic Destination:

Love Lock.jpg


Is it cliché to say Paris ? We still say Paris anyway. After that, probably Bruges, Belgium.


Best Adventure Destination:

Whitewater Rafting La Fortuna Costa Rica


Costa Rica, hands down. Whether it’s jungle trekking, zip lining, volcano hiking, white water rafting, swimming in waterfalls, or just surfing, there is always something to do here.


Best Hotel:

Casa de Mita_12


Casa de Mita. A few words can’t do this boutique, all-inclusive bed and breakfast justice. Read our full review to discover why this small luxury hotel easily wins first prize.


Best Splurge:

Tickets for the World Cup. It wasn’t cheap, especially since we decided to go to a second game at the last minute, but it was so, so worth it. I don’t think we have ever experienced such a tangible and contagious energy like during the World Cup games.


Biggest Life Lesson Learned:

I’m not sure we learned this over the last year, but it was definitely a lesson cemented into our minds: We all want the same things out of life. Live more compassionately and seek first to understand.


Biggest Daily Difficulty:

Finding reliable WIFI. Seriously, we could go on and on with the ridiculous stories of us chasing WIFI around towns and cities.


Countries Visited: 13


Miles Covered: 35,000+


Photos Taken: 20,000+


So there you have it: Reflections on One Year of Nomadic Living <in about 2,500 words>. Are there any other full-time travelers out there? We would love to hear your opinions and experiences. Anyone who is interested in learning more about creating your own independent location lifestyle? Drop us a line in the comments below.



  1. What a great look back at your first year on the road and I wish you all the best as you enter year 2! It’s so true that people who have never tried to juggle long-term travel with blogging really have no idea just how much work and energy goes into both of those things. It always annoys me too when people think that we’re living a lazy life of permanent vacation when really, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. You guys have accomplished so much in your first year of this lifestyle—even though Tony and I have been doing it for 2 years now, we still consider you guys such an inspiration!

    Good luck to you in your second year as digital nomads; I hope our paths will cross!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Two Years Later: Keep Calm & Travel OnMy Profile

  2. what a year you guys have had! I wish I’d found your blog sooner but didn’t really get into blogging and reading them until last november. Yours is one of my favorites! I would love to see the Northern Lights .. and everything else you did! lol I am getting the itch to leave Asia, but we’ll see. Can’t wait to see what next year brings you guys!

  3. Congratulations on 1 full year on the road. We are only 1/2 way through our first year but can certainly relate to much you have written about. And you are so right – keeping your blog updated, fresh and current is a lot of work. Thank you for your inspiration!
    Joanne Joseph recently posted…Edinburgh ~ Thistles, Stitches, Kilts and SwansMy Profile

  4. Aww, I love this! While I have enjoyed my last 4 1/2 months of travel, I learned that I’m not ready to be fully nomadic yet, although I’m sure I’d feel differently if my significant other could travel with me long-term. Anyway, I love reading about your travels, and happy nomadiversary!
    Mandie @ RamblingMandie recently posted…Turning a Travel Disaster Into a Great AdventureMy Profile

  5. Glad to see Canada is the place you most want to revisit. It is my favourite country (tied with my home country, New Zealand) and always surprises me with it’s beauty as well as having the friendliest people on earth. Can’t wait to return for my fourth time next summer :)
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted…How I save money for travelMy Profile

  6. Interesting reflection. I have been amazed all year at how fast you guys travelled, it seemed like you were in a new country super miles away from the one before pretty often. I would be heaps tired if I was travelling so fast! I’m becoming increasingly fond of slow travel, both for quality of life and for finances. I hope you guys can find the right work/life/travel balance :)
    Charlie recently posted…Granada, Nicaragua: The Most Beautiful City Ever (and What To Do There)My Profile

  7. Wow, what a year! I’ll have to go back and read all your posts- you’ve had some incredible adventures :)

    • Thanks Ashley! We definitely have quite a bit of reading accumulated on the blog :-P

  8. What an impressive roundup! So happy to read that you’re still on for more travels, and that Norway’s Lofoten Islands were a favorite (love love love)!
    Silvia recently posted…Searching For Komodo Dragons in IndonesiaMy Profile

    • Thanks Silvia! So glad that you loved the Lofoten Islands, too! We seriously want to go back there during the summer one day :)

  9. Love the post. I won’t say you have been lucky but I will say you have obviously had some fantastic experiences. Your post on the Lofoten Islands made me think about visiting this location a while ago. I have taken this further and now have my travel agent busy working on a trip combining the Northern Lights, Lofoten Islands and Faroe Islands early next year.
    Rob Weir recently posted…Weekly photo challenge: Texture 2My Profile

    • How awesome! So excited to hear that. It will definitely be an amazing experience – hopefully you get some good weather! :) Let us know if you have any questions we can help with.

  10. Really awesome round-up, Dan and Casey! I love how you mentioned that people always ask “Will you get a real job?” I don’t think people understand the immense amount of work involved in doing what you’re doing; if they really knew, they’d be screaming to get back to their “real” jobs with their regular hours. Congrats on your one year travelversary and look forward to seeing what your next year will bring!
    Ryan recently posted…24 Hours in Krakow for Culture LoversMy Profile

    • Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it and can relate :) Those regular working hours are what we miss the most, but also what we would never want to go back to ha!

  11. I appreciate your honesty! Most people really don’t think about the headaches of travel when they imagine the Life of a Nomad – its uncertainties can be overwhelming. Best of luck in your next ventures wherever that may be!

    Kiruna – I spent New Years Eve there this year in the Ice Hotel for 3 nights, and boy was that enough! I understand exactly what you are saying: Not a lot going on. Crossed that off my bucket list!!! I am so jealous that you got to see the Northern Lights, it was too cloudy and snowing when I was there.

    Im happy to follow the world with you both!
    JJ De Niro recently posted…Nammos – Gluttonous By the Sea – Mykonos on Psarou BeachMy Profile

    • How funny about Kiruna! Did you sleep in the ice room for three nights? We did one night in Finland and that was plenty for us ;) Hope you get to return to see the Northern Lights one day :)

  12. I always love your honesty guy. Whilst I’m not a full time blogger like you guys I can see how quickly busy things can become. Particularly as your site grows so do the number of enquiries and things which take up your limited time.

    It is true that what you do is not all a garden of roses. However the massive BUT is that you enjoy what you are doing. People may envy the life they see you have but you know how hard it is to walk for before and during the experience.

    It also sounds like you have got the balance just right for yourselves in terms of planning ahead.

    I’m still very jealous of you seeing the Northern Lights.

    You also got very lucky on that first class flight to Mexico! :-)
    The Guy recently posted…Historic Museums In PA – The Fort Ligonier MuseumMy Profile

    • Thanks so much! We’ll definitely agree that the freedom and flexibility to do what we love makes any of the downsides totally worth it. Haha and you are so right – I still don’t know how we got so lucky with those flights to Mexico!

  13. Funny, I just made it to my 1 year as well, and I’m also reaching the point where I feel like slowing down. Your Rio is my Berlin–I’ve been recharging here just like you guys have.

    I think you guys would be interested in a small project I’m working on with fellow travel bloggers about affordable travel, so check your inbox shortly for details! Keep up the great work–if you come to Spain next year you might see me there :)

    More importantly, your hyperlink for the Lofoten Islands you posted on this page is slightly off–fix it!


    • Thanks so much Nathan, and thanks for letting us know about the hyperlink! Just checked it and it was the right link, but I think it should be working now :) We’ll be in touch about your project- cheers!

  14. What a busy year! I just starting following your site, which I have really enjoyed, so now I need to go back and read more about some of these adventures! The northern lights look incredible – I would love to see them this year!
    Sara @ Simply Sara Travel recently posted…A Different Side of PragueMy Profile

    • Thanks so much Sara! The Northern Lights were seriously an amazing experience :) We would definitely recommend making the trip if you ever get the chance.

  15. Great round-up, guys. It’s been some year, hey? Here’s to the continuation of your life less ordinary.
    Gran Canaria Local recently posted…La Moneda Fast FoodMy Profile

    • Exactly. It’s too easy to get carried off one way or the other, when balance is key to everything :)

    • Haha don’t be jealous- you can do it too :) Let us know if we can ever help!

  16. Congratulations, what an amazing year, love hearing about all the highlights what an adventure. Wish you all the best for the upcoming years ahead!
    noel recently posted…San Francisco Mission district food tourMy Profile

    • Thank you so much! It’s been so great to have you reading along :)

    • Thanks Lillie, that means a lot! These are some of our favorite posts to write, too :)

  17. If you want a home base with reliable wifi, Riga is the place for you. There is free wifi EVERYWHERE!

    PS – love your life lesson. It’s so so true.
    Heather recently posted…Rundale Palace: The Versailles of LatviaMy Profile

    • Ooo good to know about Riga. That wasn’t on the list before, but we’ll have to add it to potential candidates now :) Sounds like a really wonderful place!

  18. Fabulous post and I really like this one: “The world is our office, and that’s something we’re not sure we could ever give up.” Probably the only office where one don’t mind working extra hours, huh!? :)
    I think your post sums up the tightrope walk of the life of a travel blogger quite well, always between the marvels around you and the “duties” in front of you (when staring at the display). Good luck in finding the balance and keep going… :)
    Oliver recently posted…Made by Hand ~ [No. 5] The Bike MakerMy Profile

    • Thanks Oliver- so glad that you liked it and could relate. And definitely think it’s something all of us travel bloggers struggle a bit with, but it’s great to know that other people do know how we feel :)

  19. Casey- great storytelling. You put into words what it’s like to balance all of the thrills and monotony of blogging. Just this morning, we told an old friend what we do and the immediate response was a very sarcastic “oh, that must be hard”. You’re damn right it’s hard. For me, the key is having someone to share this crazy life with and finding the balance to keep yourself sane. It sounds like you and Dan have found your rhythm. We look forward to reading about your adventures in the coming years.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted…10 Things We Love About West SwedenMy Profile

    • Thank you so much Mary – that means a lot coming from you! And you’re so right about having someone to share it with. I don’t think I would have lasted one week if Dan and I hadn’t been doing it all together. Hoping that our paths meet again sometime during year two :)

  20. Casey, I loved reading this. As a fellow travel blogger, I’ve struggled with a lot of the same issues. I definitely work harder now than I ever did in the corporate world. I honestly can’t remember a day when I just turned off work completely. I’m always looking for a photo, or a story, or planning my next post in my head, or doing social media promotion. That said, it’s a great life, and I’d choose it willingly. But, like you said, it’s definitely NOT a permanent vacation.
    Micki recently posted…In Photos: Polar Bears and Butterflies at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park ZooMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Micki! Sometimes it’s easy to feel like we are the only people trying to balance work / full-time travel, so it is always so reassuring to remember that there are lots of other people out there making it work – and thriving :)

  21. Congrats! Your first nomadic year turned out very very well. What an adventure! I wish you all the best for the years to come. Keep us updated.

  22. I literally just discovered your blog and can’t wait to dive in to read about the past year! I would love to know about what other websites you two run. Loved your reflections of the year and am very excited to see that you’re not heading home just yet. I’m about to head out for five months and hearing about a year makes me think I might need more time!
    Emily from Let’s Roam Wild recently posted…Let Travel Change YouMy Profile

    • How awesome! Good luck on all of your upcoming travels and let us know if we can ever help with any of the details or planning :) Dan manages his photography website,, and I’m currently in the process of releasing a brand new project, Yoga Around The Globe – inspiration and resources for the wandering yogi :)

    • Thanks Lex! We will certainly do it for as long as we love it :-)

  23. Such a good read! It’s nice to had been carried with you around the globe, throughout your memories, anectodes, fears and dreams! I read a lot of fellows digital nomads’ blogs, and Always wonder how you can do it, cause it actually does look easy, but I can imagine it’s not easy at all!
    Pam | a Blonde around the World recently posted…TOP 5 DESTINATIONS TO ESCAPE TO THIS FALL/WINTERMy Profile

    • Thanks for following along Pam! We love following along on your adventures as well!! Like everything it has its ups and downs, but we love what we do so we never dread Monday mornings :-p

  24. Wow. I’m glad you did the superlatives because I liked reading that list. It sounds like quite an adventurous year for you both! My husband and I are currently teaching ESL in China–I don’t think I personally like travel enough to ever be a nomad, but I can enjoy reading about your life!
    Rachel G recently posted…I’m an Illiterate IdiotMy Profile

    • Glad you enjoyed the superlative list Rachel :-) We’ve had a pretty wild ride the past year! Hope you’re enjoying teaching in China. We had a blast teaching ESL in Taiwan. It’s a great way to work abroad without being fully nomadic.

  25. Dan, I am friends with your grandmother from church. She shared your page with me because I am a fellow photographer. I love all the shots and enjoy your blogs from you and Casey. It is nice to see the world thru your eyes, enjoy and I look forward to more!

    • Thanks so much for your kind words Cheryl and thanks for following along! Give Lorene a great big hug for us :-)

  26. Such a busy year! You are so right about blogging, every day you put down the laptop and go out you end up thinking about the blog or being inspired by something! I have realized I need to allocate time each day for blogging and do no more or less to stop burn-out!
    Look forward to seeing what you get up to next!



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