Top 10 Digital Nomads (And Nomadic Couples) – Quit the Rat Race
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The internet has made it easier than ever to start a location-independent virtual business or to find work that can be done from anywhere in the world. Digital nomads are the adventurous souls taking full advantage of this new reality by becoming full-time travelers. If you're interested in becoming a digital nomad yourself, or if you're just curious about the phenomenon, there's no shortage of social media personalities, blogs, and websites run by digital nomads — dedicated to providing inspiration and valuable insight.
In this curated list we'll introduce ten digital nomads and nomadic duos who are uniquely interesting and provide useful information for aspiring digital nomads and curious readers alike.
Dan Andrews and Ian Schoen
Dan and Ian co-founded an ecommerce and product design business in 2007. From the start, their goal was to create a business that increased their freedom rather than tied them to a desk, office, or building. They built that business for eight years and then sold it in 2015. Tropical MBA is a blog and podcast where Dan and Ian share their experience of building a business designed to make location independence possible.
What makes Tropical MBA special is that it's focused on entrepreneurship specifically for digital nomads. While there are lots of blogs and podcasts that help entrepreneurs build businesses, not many are produced with the goal of helping entrepreneurs build profitable businesses while simultaneously pursuing time freedom and location independence.
Entrepreneurial digital nomads will get a lot of inspiration and insight out of Tropical MBA. The best ways to keep up with Dan and Ian are to read their blog, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their podcast.
Derek "Wandering Earl" Baron
Derek Earl Baron goes by the digital moniker "Wandering Earl," and he's an elder statesman of the digital nomad space, having been on the road since before Y2K. That means that Earl has been on the road for roughly 6,000 days. During that time he has visited nearly 100 countries.
Earl is the ultimate digital nomad: free-spirited, upbeat, and unfettered. He fell into traveling by accident and he's managed to stay on the road through a combination of hard work and flexibility. His travels started when he left the United States on a three-month post-graduation trip, and just never settled back down. Whimsical and genuinely kind hearted, Earl's blog is a great read.
During his time on the road, Earl has done a bit of everything: he's worked for various cruise lines, earned money as a substitute teacher in Boston, taught English in Thailand, earned income with online marketing, filled various other roles, and most recently launched his own tour company fittingly named Wandering Earl Tours.
Check out Earl if you want to see a digital nomad who's really living the dream. The best way to follow him is to read his blog (Start with the post about the time he was kidnapped in Bangladesh!) and to follow him on Twitter.
Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil
Dave and Debra, former film industry professionals, were avid travelers for a few years before finally taking the plunge and becoming full-time digital nomads in 2008. Since then, they've been to over 100 countries and visited all seven continents — yes, they even camped in Antarctica. Today, Dave and Debra are award-winning travel bloggers and The Planet D is the website where they document their adventures around the world and keep aspiring digital nomads motivated.
If you want to be a travel blogger, The Planet D can help in two regards. First, the website has won several awards over the past few years, so it's a great example of travel blogging to emulate. Second, Dave and Debra share a lot of practical advice on how to run a successful travel blog; by reading the Planet D you'll be learning from two of the top people in the business.
The best ways to keep up with Dave and Debra are to read the blog and follow them on Twitter.
Jodi Ettenberg is a former lawyer turned full-time travel and food blogger. Like some others on this list, Jodi never intended to become a digital nomad. She set out intending to spend one year traveling and just never settled back down. Her blog, Legal Nomads, started as a personal account of her travels and was intended for her family and friends. However, as her travels and blogging continued, she began to attract a growing readership and decided to turn a personal blog into a bonafide food and travel resource.
Jodi has had to deal with a variety of health issues: from celiac disease to dengue fever to chronic pain. This lends her writing an air of realism as she deals with dietary issues and chronic medical conditions on the road.
If you want to learn more about the food of the world, Jodi's blog is required reading. While there are lots of travel blogs on the internet, not many spend as much time focused on eating great food safely while on foreign soil. The best ways to follow Jodi are through her blog and Instagram account.
Matthew "Nomadic Matt" Kepnes
Matthew Kepnes, better known as Nomadic Matt, is probably the most well-known digital nomad today. His website attracts over a million visitors per month, and he's a New York Times best-selling author. Matt hit the road in July of 2006 and has since traveled to over 80 countries, all on his own dime.
With an audience as large as Matt's, sponsorship opportunities abound. Yet Matt refuses to accept sponsored trips. What that means is that he pays his way everywhere he goes. The result is that when you read Matt's blog, you get real accounts of what the average digital nomad can expect to encounter when out on the road.
Matt's website is one of the most polished travel blogs around, but that doesn't mean it lacks for authenticity. The blog tagline is "Travel Better. Cheaper. Longer," and Matt's content is designed to help digital nomads do just that: stay out on the road and stay on budget. The best ways to follow Matt are to read his blog and follow him on Facebook.
Pieter Levels is a digital nomad and a maker of digital products. He has created several notable products in the digital nomad space, including Nomad List, Remote OK, and Colive. At one point in 2014, he went startup raving mad and created 12 digital products in 12 months. It was during this time that Pieter leaped into the digital nomad limelight when some of his projects began to attract widespread attention.
Not very long ago, to the shock of many in the digital nomad space, it was reported that Pieter was settling back down. However, Pieter himself shot down this rumor. Today, Pieter continues to manage products designed for digital nomads and brings his ongoing personal experience as a digital nomad to the endeavor.
If you're a creator of digital products — websites, web-based applications, and so forth — and want to figure out how to leverage your technical creativity to get out of a cubicle, there's no better digital mentor to follow than Pieter. The best ways to follow Pieter are through his blog and Twitter account:
Natalie Sisson, AKA the Suitcase Entrepreneur, is a writer, speaker, online marketer, entrepreneur, and digital nomad. She's been on the road since 2010 and visited more than 70 countries while simultaneously running a profitable online business.
Natalie believes that entrepreneurs should build businesses that support their lifestyle rather than take over their lives, and she uses herself as an example of the sort of freedom entrepreneurship can create. Natalie frequently writes and speaks about her belief that freedom is a right and not a privilege, and one she believes anyone can achieve.
Natalie's website, Suitcase Entrepreneur, is her business — or at least a big part of it anyway. The Suitcase Entrepreneur is the foundation for the work Natalie does helping other digital nomads build profitable online businesses that enable a life of location independence and time freedom. If you're business-minded and want to build a profitable online business that can help you escape the rat race, Suitcase Entrepreneur can help you do that.
The best ways to keep up with Natalie are to check out the Suitcase Entrepreneur website and follow her on Twitter.
Videographer, blogger, and digital nomad Nadine Sykora has visited nearly 50 countries over the past 5 years. A true travel blogger and vlogger, Nadine produces funny and insightful videos and articles that describe the food, experiences, and beauty offered up by each destination she visits.
Nadine is something of a YouTube celebrity. Her channel has been around since before she became nomadic, and early content falls solidly into the comedy and satire genres. Nadine leverages her experience producing funny videos for YouTube and the result is that Nadine's travel videos are some of the best and funniest you'll find.
The best ways to follow Nadine are to subscribe to her YouTube channel and read her blog.
Colin Wright is a writer, speaker, and full-time traveler. He also runs a YouTube channel, blogs extensively, and has delivered a handful of TEDx talks. Even stopping there, we're just touching the tip of the iceberg. Basically, if it involves travel, social media, writing, or speaking, Colin has probably done it.
Colin has a unique approach to travel. He moves to a new location every three or four months and lets his readers vote on where he should go next — they pick the country, he picks the city. As you can imagine, given the lack of planning, it isn't always easy to set up accommodations. So between long-term stays at locations picked by his followers, Colin takes short-term trips by train and bus.
Colin is an experienced full-time traveler with a lot to say about minimalism and making money from anywhere. The best ways to follow Colin are through his blog, YouTube channel, and Twitter account:
Jason and Nikki Wynn
Jason and Nikki Wynn became digital nomads when they traded in their upscale urban lifestyle in Dallas for an RV and the open road. Initially, the idea was to travel around the United States to find the best location to settle down permanently. Alas, they never were able to find the perfect spot and soon decided that even the United States wasn't large enough to satisfy their wanderlust. So they traded in the RV for a sailboat and became full-time liveaboards with plans to sail the seas in search of adventure.
Why should you follow the Wynns? Well, for starters, they're fun! Their blog details real experiences on the road all around the United States and chronicles their transition into full-time sailors. Their Instagram account will inspire you to keep working on your escape from the rat race, and their YouTube channel will give you practical advice for getting on the road sooner than later.
Joining the Digital Nomads
There's never been a better time than the present to build a location-independent income and see the world. With the inspiration, insight, and guidance of these digital nomads, you'll have all the know-how necessary to figure out how you too can quit the rat race.