Digital nomadism is the new working lifestyle. With an adventurous attitude to the traditional way of working, it is empowered by technology to eliminate our bondage to the physical workspace. This trend is rising and roughly two-thirds of those who make such a change become freelancers, while the rest create a virtual business or team.
In this interview, digital nomad Jacob Laukaitis, a member of Talent Garden, a community platform for innovators, shares his story of turning his working life upside down and running a fast growing online business while travelling to more than a dozen countries a year.
Here are the edited excerpts:
Digital entrepreneur and nomad, passionate writer and adventurer. Making money while travelling — how do you manage? Tell us more about yourself: where, when and how it all started?
I established my first company at the age of 15 and have been running my own online ventures ever since. I became an active digital nomad about two years ago when I started a small, but very profitable social media marketing agency. Eventually, I worked three-five hours a week and could travel anywhere, so I went to 12 countries that year.
I’m currently Co-founder of an online coupons company called ChameleonJohn. Even though this is a much bigger project, I’m still completely location-independent, since I can complete all of my work tasks online.
What do you call your home and what would be your office?
My perception of what is a ‘home’ has changed dramatically in the past two years.
Right now home is nowhere and everywhere at the same time, which in my opinion is awesome. Speaking of an office, it’s any table in the world as long as I have my computer and a working Wi-Fi connection.
I’m also a frequent user of co-working spaces. Currently, I am a member of the Talent Garden (TAG) network, which is very convenient for travellers in Europe, especially in southern Europe, as with one membership you work from all of the campuses.
Co-working is the best office because I can meet so many interesting entrepreneurs, professionals and digital nomads. Hopefully, TAG will locate some campuses around Asia soon as it would make the working traveller’s life easier there.
Any tips for those who are about to start their journey?
Of course! For every starting digital nomad, I’d recommend: never settle for too long, keep on moving and exploring cultures (if you have the time, start learning languages). Always finish your work tasks before going diving, surfing, hiking or doing all the other super exciting stuff. Whenever travelling, try to get hosted — that’s the best way to meet new friends and explore the place’s culture.
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What is your hottest recent work-life achievement?
In the past two years, I’ve travelled to more than 30 countries, helped grow ChameleonJohn from a startup to an established company. Some of my digital nomad articles got super popular, such as ‘Why I will never live 9 to 5‘ on Medium with 160,000+ views.
A little bit more on travelling and adventures… Can you share any personal travelling stats and the biggest/craziest adventures you’ve had?
I currently spend most of my time in Asia, since I’m really interested in the continent’s history, numerous cultures and online business opportunities. I’ve been to 11 thus far, some of them many times.
I’ve spent a month travelling all around Japan; got my scuba diver’s license in the Gili Islands, trekked volcanoes in Bali, explored hundreds of temples in Myanmar and Cambodia, snorkelled with whale sharks in the Philippines, and motorbiked across dozens of islands, towns and cities.
I’ve also just finished motorbiking across the Balkan states. I drove 8,000 kilometers across 15 countries in just four weeks, completely alone.
Tell us more about your plans. Do you make any? What are the next destination points?
I don’t usually make fixed plans, but I have quite a few ideas where I want to go and what I want to do. Starting September, I’ll spend a week relaxing in Thailand, a month having an awesome team get-away with my colleagues in Bali, a month travelling around Indonesia and learning the official language, two months travelling around India (which includes one-two weeks living in the slums of Mumbai), three months in Taiwan learning Mandarin and connecting with the local startup community and a three-month-long trip around China, among a few other potential destinations.
How would you describe your current life in five words?
Wouldn’t change it for anything.