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Inspired by the book The 4 Hour Work Week, Melanie has been a digi-nomad since 2014. Since then, she has lived in countless countries, navigated the complex pandemic and learnt many life lessons along the way

Tell us your journey on becoming a digital nomad, what do you do for a living and how did you decide to become a digi nomad?

Like many, it was Tim Ferrirss’ book The 4 Hour Work Week that well and truly planted the seed to becoming a digital nomad. I read this book around 2009 when I was working in Communications at a large Australian government organisation. I felt like Tim was the only one who understood me back then! I was 31 and by this stage I’d also noticed a personal trend of leaving companies after three years to go on some kind of travel adventure. I knew there had to be a way to make it work long term. 

Although it wasn’t until 2014 that I really made the jump to digital nomad. During that time I had discovered my true passion and left the 9-5 in 2012 to focus on building my business as a Psychosomatic Therapist… although it actually created an even smaller and isolated cubicle for myself than corporate! Every day sitting in a little therapy room seeing clients… I realised I was doing the exact opposite of what I wanted to create – a freedom lifestyle. 

At the time I was participating in a coaching program and the woman running it was based in Bali. I honestly had never had any desire to visit Bali prior to that, as I thought it was just full of drunk Australians on holiday (and yes, there is a part of Bali like this). But then I learned there was this other side, that was full of nomadic entrepreneurs creating a new way of living. 

If I knew then, what I know now ~ I probably wouldn’t have made such a bold move to pack up everything and buy a one way ticket in 2014 (you could back then). But I just knew in my heart of hearts that I wouldn’t learn what I needed to know about online business if I didn’t put myself in a scenario where I had to. I tend to learn through personal experience rather than textbooks. The comfort of part-time jobs was frustrating for me back in Australia… I just wanted to dive right in and make my dream work.

I’m a Psychosomatic Therapist, Face Reader and Teacher of Chakra Philosophy for Business and the Modern World. I run online courses, mentor, write profile reports and teach Entrepreneurs how to pivot when they are at crossroads in their business development.

Frustration, isolation and resentment are key factors that will be playing out with my clients and I teach them how to transition through those and find business solutions that work for them, as much as the clients they are servicing. 

Melanie at Outpost

What countries have you visited and where are you based now?

So many! I’ve lived in Sweden, England, Italy, Portugal and Bali. I’ve worked in South Africa, Fiji, Singapore and Australia. I’ve visited Latvia, Tunisia, Russia, Cook Islands, the US and many others in Europe.   

What is the best thing about being a digital nomad?

A minimalist life. Less is more – having the ability to move quickly and easily is such a gift. I hardly use paper at all anymore except for a journal and note book.

What is the most challenging part of being a digital nomad?

Staying grounded. Sometimes moving all the time is more disruptive to productivity than it’s worth. Knowing when you need to stay put for a while to get ahead is important. 

 Favorite destination(s) for remote work and why?

Bali for sure! In particular Ubud. Personally, I love the nature, the healthy food available, the type of people the place attracts (I’m not a huge party animal) and that you see Balinese culture every day. I’ve never understood why people travel, yet don’t immerse themselves in the actual lifestyle of the people from that place. Also my work at its core is spirituality based, so I feel very at home in Ubud   

How has Covid-19 impacted your life as a digital nomad? Have you been able to travel during the pandemic or have you remained in one place? 

Hugely. 2020 my whole business nearly went under as yes, I work online – but a lot of the leads would come from networking, speaking and running live events. I remember it being quite chaotic when Covid first came into play. I had just arrived back in Bali after facilitating a retreat in Fiji, and was sitting around a table with friends discussing if they had time to do a visa run, or where they wanted to be. I have friends who got caught out mid flight as borders closed… It was crazy.

I knew right from the start that I was going to stay put in Bali, and although it’s been very difficult at times mentally and emotionally – I feel I made the right choice.

Melanie

What would you like to see more of from the digital nomad experience post-Covid (such as more (/less) people travelling, more safety measures, more of a community base in each country)?

I would love to see more respect for the people who live in the countries that us digital nomads come to love so much. Staying in Bali, I’ve seen first hand the suffering that has occurred from an economy gone wild on tourism. It really is the responsibility of each individual to make sure they share wealth and opportunities widely with the communities they visit. 

 Tell us your most crazy travel story.

OMG, it would have to be when I went to Armenia. My friend was going with a tour group from Australia and I was in Europe at the time, so I decided to join her. We were the youngest – late 20’s and the rest of the group were in their 60’s + and were visiting their country for the first time since they or their families had to flee because of the Genocide.

It wasn’t my usual type of trip, but it meant I got to hang out with my friend for a couple of weeks and I’d had no idea about Armenia or Azerbaijan (which we also visited). I took the opportunity to enjoy a trip organised by someone else for a change. I just relaxed and followed the leader basically. 

Well… that choice nearly backfired. We flew to Armenia from Moscow and it took about 2 hours to get there, which was fine. I can’t remember who we flew with ~ but everything was normal and fine.

During our time in Azerbaijan, our tour guide got a bit zealous and took our small mini van into war torn areas that to this day, I don’t think we should have been in(!). Our local guide told us strictly not to take photos, but our tour guide kept taking them. I was secretly nervous and did my best to hide it – I think everyone else was feeling the same. 

Then of course we get pulled over by authorities. Luckily I was somewhat young and naive to negotiations and corruption at that time, but from what happened later I think our tour guide had to hand over a wad of cash to them. 

A few days later he was asking everyone on the tour for more money so he could buy our tickets back to Moscow… I thought – what??

Then it was time to go and we all got our tickets to fly… Aeroflot. Hmm… I thought. I’m pretty sure we didn’t fly them on the way to Armenia.

We boarded the small plane and I’ve never been on anything so ancient in my life! The seat buckles were so heavy, and the seats flipped back and forth. Every seat was taken as we took off, I wasn’t sure we’d get up! Everything was shaking so bad and the overhead compartments were flying open. 

I also noticed everyone was doing the Christian crossing the heart and praying… I figured I’d be ok if everyone was doing that. To get through the flight and keep my nerves at bay, I pulled out my book and tried my best to read it. I just kept telling myself – it’s just a couple of hours, we’ll get there safely. 

We start our descent. Everyone starts praying again. We land! There is cheering… yay! We made it. But everyone just kept sitting in their seats. I turned to the person next to me and asked:

“Why aren’t we getting off the plane?”

“Oh no, we are just refuelling – we’re only halfway there.”

Inside I went white and felt sick – a 2 hour flight and we have to refuel?

To this day, I have no idea where we landed. We obviously made it back to Moscow as I’m here to write the story… but I can safely say that I know for sure that I will never fly Aeroflot again!

@melaniemidegs

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