I’ve Been a Digital Nomad for Six Years. Ask Me Anything.

May 31, 2018    /    digital nomads + full-time travel

Today is my six-year digital nomad anniversary.

And it’s funny, because it actually doesn’t feel that spectacular.

I remember the first few anniversaries on the road. They feel enormous. Holy shit, I’ve been traveling for a whole year! Holy shit again, it’s been two years! Now three!

But somewhere along the way, it just becomes life. It’s not something crazy I’m doing for awhile. It’s not the enormous step it was six years ago. It’s the shape I’ve molded my life into. It’s my day-to-day.

So I don’t have any big revelations for you. No here’s-what-I’ve-learned-in-year-six posts. I just feel happy that I made that decision six years ago, happy that my life is so flexible, and happy that even now Chad and I are molding our lives into what we want them to be. Shifting careers. Changing locations. Looking for a base in Europe.

So instead of conclusions or a long post about that happiness, today I thought I’d offer to do an FAQ session.

Ask me anything. About being a digital nomad. About running my business from the road. About traveling with my dog. About traveling with OCD or anxiety or depression.

Or, if you don’t have questions, just say hi. Would love to know who’s reading all these years in.

Comments are open.

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17 Comments
  • Linda
    May 31, 2018

    I can’t recall exactly when I first discovered your blog, but am so glad I did!!! I have two cats at home who definitely DON’T like to travel. I’m also a bit of a homebody and enjoy having a home base as much as I enjoy traveling. After about two weeks away, I’m itching to be home! But I love reading about your travels and adventures, and especially enjoy your photos! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • gigigriffis
      May 31, 2018

      Thank you!

  • Leonard
    May 31, 2018

    Hi Gigi………..Question for you:

    I just turned 70 (yes, that is old) and I finally am able to travel the world financially. My health is average with prior back injuries but stable.

    I have several friends here in Calif., but no nice lady to travel with. I’m concerned as to being lonely going by myself, as I would love sharing the experiences and, frankly, a little concerned about not having a partner should I need medical or emergency help.

    My question to you is: Would a 70-year-old man be wise in traveling the world by himself, both physically and mentally?

    • gigigriffis
      May 31, 2018

      Hey Leonard!

      Nice to e-meet you and happy belated 70th birthday!

      I actually know multiple people over 60 traveling the world (and several solo), so my instinct is to say yes, absolutely you can travel the world in your 70s solo.

      I actually interviewed someone about traveling solo in retirement a few years ago. You can find her answers here: http://gigigriffis.com/are-you-ever-too-old-to-travel-solo/

      And you can find her site (which is full of resources) here: https://solotravelerworld.com/

      I think she may even have a Facebook group or support group as well.

      • Leonard K Tyson
        June 1, 2018

        Thank you Gigiz!…. I will look up both sites and feel content….. Leonard

    • lee
      May 31, 2018

      Leonard, don’t worry, I have traveled solo for 30+ years and there are MANY ways to spend time with others on the road when you want company.

      good travel insurance will assist you if you become sick or injured……..

      there are so many mature solo travelers on the road……………..come join us

      • Leonard K Tyson
        June 1, 2018

        Great Lee…… I am so naive that I thought my Medicare and Blue Shield would cover overseas medical…. I will look into medical travel insurance!

  • Anara
    May 31, 2018

    HI there–I enjoy reading the Ramble. I’ve been to Switzerland three times (good friends there) with the occasional side jaunt but this fall will spend a full month roaming about to Italy and France as well, figuring out the logistics rather than relying upon others! Your posts help remind me that it is more than possible to do, (even though I’m still confused about whether or not to get a Eurail pass…). Perhaps you can address at some time the issue of speaking other languages–or not. I speak rusty German and understand a smattering of French (well, some of the nouns and verbs, ignoring everything else). My partner is intensively studying French. I’m sure we’ll be fine. Right?

    • gigigriffis
      May 31, 2018

      Hey!

      Personally, I’ve never found language to be a problem. Young people, people in towns with tourist services, and people in the hospitality business often speak some English. I try to pick up a few basics (mostly words that will help me shop at fresh markets, where less English tends to be spoken), but I’m by no means fluent in French, Italian, German, etc. and I’ve been totally fine traveling in countries where those are the primary languages.

  • Ali
    May 31, 2018

    I know it just feels normal to you now, but it’s still an amazing thing and great to celebrate the fact that your life is roughly the way YOU want it to look. Not everyone can say that, for one reason or another, and it’s fantastic that you’ve been able to do this. Congrats!!!
    Ali recently posted…How I Spent 10 Days in Bosnia & HerzegovinaMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      May 31, 2018

      Thanks!

  • Stephanie Strauss
    May 31, 2018

    Hi Gigi! Congrats on a life well-lived in places near and far. I admire the choices you’ve made and would be interested in hearing your thoughts on immigration from the US to Europe with 2 small kids. We both work in healthcare and love the mountains. We are open to going back to school and/or changing career paths, and we would be thrilled to pick up a new language (or 4!) along the way. Is the move do-able/affordable with a family? What places would you recommend? What challenges do you think we would face? Thanks in advance for any insight you can offer!

    • gigigriffis
      May 31, 2018

      Thanks! I’m sure there are a variety of factors to consider, but if you’re not importing a car or lots of possessions, I don’t think it’s too pricey. It’ll depend what country you decide on, but my visa process in Switzerland cost about $150 in the end, I think. Housing was more affordable in Switz than the US and cost of living was overall comparable to a US city, though healthcare was cheaper (which is huge). My cost of living in most European locations has been lower than my US cost of living, so while there may be some up front costs in a move, overall I think financially Europe is a better bet.

      I obviously don’t have kids, myself, so I can’t speak to educational costs and things like that, but it’s my understanding that education in Europe is overall more affordable and better.

      I think the challenges of being an expat are mostly about learning the places your cultural understandings don’t mesh with your new country. For me, it was little things like not knowing where to register my dog that got a little frustrating, but overall it was worth it in my experience.

      Places I’d recommend really depend on your needs. France has an amazing reputation for quality of life and healthcare, but has very high taxes and a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through. Belgium was the friendliest place I have ever been. On the con side, it’s high tax, but on the pro side it’s very low cost of living. Switzerland pros include incredible quality of life and scenery. Cons are that it’s one of Europe’s more expensive options. I adore Slovenia – culture, quality of life, food, affordability – it’s the whole package. I don’t know their tax situation, but they are high up on my personal maybe-live-here list. With Italy, you’ve got major pros in food, quality of life, weather, and overall friendliness, but it’s tricky to get visas (as I understand it) and lots of bureaucratic headaches. And Germany is known for being extremely friendly toward self-employment visas and has a very diverse landscape – big cities, small towns, forest, mountains, castle lands. Really, I’d start with where you think you’d want to go and start comparing the options to the values you have and things you want in a place.

      Hope that helps!

  • gigigriffis
    May 31, 2018

    Questions from Facebook (in case they’re helpful):

    From Gabrielle:

    OMG! I was actually just drafting a list of GG questions before I ever logged into Facebook and saw this post.

    Kismet ….So here I go.

    1. Where’s company legally registered at?

    2. As you travel to different countries, do you get work permits even though earning are online?

    3. How do you deal with taxes and if needed to pay in each country?

    Gigi:

    Yay!

    1. I’m a sole proprietor, so not registered anywhere (it’s not legally required for sole proprietors).

    2. Depends. When I lived in Switzerland, I technically had permission to work (though they made me write two letters saying I wouldn’t work with Swiss companies), but most countries aren’t worried about you working on your own business as long as you aren’t working locally/taking business from locals, so generally I’m on tourist visas/visa waivers. The big exception is the UK (and US for non-USers). They care (for no reason I can fathom) if people are working online.

    3. In general, you are required to pay taxes where you reside. It’s definitely worth having a consult with a tax pro to find out about your specific situation, but many countries have agreements between them so people don’t have to double pay. In the US, you don’t have to double pay (though you do always have to file) if you are residing somewhere like Switzerland until you hit about $100k per year (the exemption for this is the FEIE if you’d like to research).

    So, for me, I’ve so far paid where I reside. When I’ve been a legal resident of the US (e.g. any year when I spend more than 30 days in the US or don’t have residency elsewhere), I’ve paid in the US. When I was a legal resident of Switzerland, I paid in Switzerland.

    • gigigriffis
      May 31, 2018

      Gabrielle: so what do you do if you don’t spend more than 30 days in US & are country hopping? In Switzerland below 100k no double tax? But above you do?

      Thanks…. xoxoxo

      Gigi: I usually stay in Europe and jump in and out of the schengen.

      Yep. FEIE (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion) in the US is no double up to a certain amount. In 2015 it was $100,800. I think the number has gone up a bit since then, but I don’t know the total offhand. https://www.irs.gov/…/foreign-earned-income-exclusion

  • Teo
    June 2, 2018

    Hi Gigi
    I am an early retired and It’s been 5 years by now since I’ve traveled the world! I don’t have a travel blog yet and I am not sure I can write one.
    I discovered you trough Hecktic Travels blog and follow you with great pleasure Thank you for sharing so much with us and for being so sincere !

    • gigigriffis
      June 3, 2018

      Thanks! Nice to e-meet you!

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