Christina Voll is a digital marketer who has successfully combined her career with traveling and now lives as a digital nomad. Read Christina’s inspiring story to find out what inspired her to become a digital nomad and what are the struggles she has to face.
What inspired you to become a digital nomad?
I started traveling solo in my second year of university and instantly fell in love with it. I was hooked on being free to roam around cities and towns, meeting new people and cultures, and exploring the world to its edges. Fast forward a few months and I found myself at a café in a little surf town in Mexico surrounded by digital nomads, doing their work between surf sets. Right there, it just sort of clicked – what is stopping me from doing this too? Luckily, I had some friends already working remotely, so that was some inspiration. Although, deep down inside I knew I didn’t want to be micromanaged by someone or be known as just an employee number. I wanted to teach myself how to do my own thing, and I wanted to go through those hoops of success and failure that all entrepreneurs jump through. So, I applied to every job that was offered remote and I really lite a passion to avoid the whole “office” scene and work in the tech scene. Luckily enough, I got my first client and it turned into a snowball effect. The main thing about switching to a remote life is that it just made a lot more sense to me. I am so happy and excited to do work because it enables me to travel, to be able to cook and workout more and to be able to enjoy my life to its fullest because I don’t spend time commuting or working specific hours where I know I’m unproductive, etc. It’s the secret sauce for delivering good results and having enthusiasm for the grind, and what really inspires and motivates me.
What other career path did you imagine for yourself before becoming a digital nomad?
It’s a little bit crazy – but I didn’t really see myself doing anything else. I was fortunate to know what I wanted to study at university before I finished high school. When I was in university, I heard stories from my professors and friends stating what a typical 9-5 office job looks like, and it didn’t really light the fire for me. I was more interested in my entrepreneurship classes. I even passed with 100% in one. So, it always felt like starting a business(s) was in my cards. Right now I’m bouncing around 2 business ideas and I am super grateful that I now have the skills to start them and grow them remotely. They are more focused on helping businesses in less developed countries, and another with health and fitness and technology – so definitely a different field than just marketing. Nevertheless, This whole process feels quite natural to me – so a big thank you to the universe for putting so many opportunities in front of me that helped me decide what I wanted to do!
Were your friends, family, and colleagues supportive of your decision?
Imagine explaining to your grandmother that you get paid to post photos on Instagram. At first, it can be a little bit misleading and confusing to explain exactly what you do. But, once my family and friends understood more, and once I expanded more to agencies, bigger clients, etc. everyone understood more what my job was and was super supportive. Even from day one, my family and friends were happy for me when I got my first client, and they were also there for me the first time one of my contracts stopped. This lifestyle has so many differences, so it’s important to have people close to you that understand that it’s a different ball game and still motivate you 🙂
What are the biggest challenges you have to face when living this lifestyle?
Stability is defiantly a foreign word in this lifestyle. It can get really crazy at times, because your work, social relationships, and living accommodations are never “settled.” No matter how good your services are, how many signed contracts you have, or how much your client loves you, companies, especially start-up, have budgets. Often, they disappear faster than predicted even if you’re delivering above and beyond and curating growth. Naturally, as a marketer, you’re going to want to do what is best for the brand, which sometimes might mean holding back on a few services until more funding. No matter how sociable you are, how much love you put out or how many friends you have in different countries, sometimes you’re in a foreign country completely alone and even in a different time zone than everyone you know. It’s a lifestyle where you have to be very comfortable with change and uncertainty. For example, sometimes clients won’t pay, sometimes you won’t be able to see someone you love for months, and sometimes you can go months without having an address and living out of a backpack. It’s not all rainbows and lollipops, but there are so many benefits and so much that I am learning from traveling and working in tech, I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for the world.
What was your favorite travel experience?
In all honesty, it’s incredibly hard to narrow down one experience to be the best. Traveling, in general, is a collective experience. The more you travel, the more you define your travel style, and therefore each experience changes. For example, I traveled to Israel and Jordan alone. I crossed the West Bank alone on a local bus and crossed the high-security borders. I probably wouldn’t have done this with such ease if it wasn’t for the 9 months prior I spent traveling and living throughout Europe. It gave me confidence and trust that nothing would go wrong. Not only does your personal travel style develop as you explore more, but your worldly connections do too. The travels I am planning recently involve my friends I’ve met all over the world. I think it’s one of my favorite experiences from traveling. Having your “tribe” whom you connect with all over the world. It’s surprising how many paths cross again that you never thought would. It’s quite ironic – the more you travel, the smaller the world seems 😉
Which country, in your opinion, is the best place for digital nomads?
I think it depends on what you want. I spent a lot of time traveling in Europe, and I lived in Lisbon for some months. I think the south/west of Europe is amazing for cafes facing the sea and wonderful coffee. With that being said, when I was in Latin America and Mexico, I loved the fact that you could surf at 6 am before you started your work day. I am moving to a small town in Tenerife in ~2 months and my main goals there are to really focus on the companies I want to start, practice Spanish and surf. I think it’s quite easy to work from any place that has wifi or cafes. The game changes when you’re in small towns in countries where wifi is weak. For instance, when I was in Hampi, India, I had to hike 20 minutes up a mountain to get reception to check my emails. But, that’s all part of the lifestyle. It’s important to go to those destinations to unplug for a few days, then pack up and move somewhere else, or simply just find a sweet spot with a good wifi connection.