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3 Amazing Years of Digital Nomadism

Time really flies! Don’t you think that all the time, too?? I cannot believe that it’s been 3 years since I packed my bags in Berlin. With that being said, wine is poured and placed beside me. And I am totally ready to tell you what happened in the past 2 years and how my life looks like after 3 years of digital nomadism.

Last year, I didn’t get to write a post like this. Well, this has two reasons that I will talk about in a bit. So, this piece has to cover the past 2 years, which have been quite eventful.

Where have I been?

Let’s start with something easy-peasy. I actually had to laugh a bit when I listed up the countries I visited since my first year’s retrospect. Now it makes even more sense why I got issues at the US border last time… So, here is the list:

  • Montenegro
  • USA
  • Peru
  • USA
  • Guatemala
  • USA
  • Germany
  • USA
  • Costa Rica (short stay)
  • USA
  • Greece (short stay)
  • Germany (short stay)
  • Montenegro
  • Germany (short stay)
  • Croatia

I didn’t even notice that I have been in the US 5 times. It felt more like 2 or 3 times. The first time after Montenegro, my husband took me to Texas so that I can meet his dear friends. I loved it so much that we kept going back. However, from a financial perspective, it would have been smarter to spend more time in other countries. But hey, when the heart is aching… you gotta do, what you gotta do.

Machu Picchu in Peru with plants in the foreground
Machu Picchu in Peru

Peru – our first Southamerican country

We finally traveled further South. We started out in Lima, where we tried to find an apartment. When we couldn’t find anything we liked, we decided to fly to Arequipa. We got an apartment farther away from the center, which wasn’t optimal for exploring. However, we had a really nice one! 

This stay, however, was after Christmas etc. So we focused on getting work done. I started working on my husband’s dropship store after we sold the store that we had together.

We did a Valentine’s Day trip to Colca Canyon and then later we moved to Cusco for a couple of weeks. We hiked to Machu Picchu via Salkantay Trek. After this, we only had 2 weeks left in Peru. We spent these at the coast again. We visited Paracas, the Islas Ballestas, and the oasis.

The second stay in Texas

This stay started with babysitting our friend’s 2 wonderful dogs. And then we just stayed a couple of months.

The first visit was in winter so we couldn’t go swimming or see much. This time around was different. We enjoyed the weekends at the river and farm, but most importantly the company that we usually don’t have on our trips. It was an amazing stay and reinforced the desire of owning a house there one day.

Laptop on a table from where you have a view of a lake and mountains
Working with a view at Lake Atitlan

Guatemala – An eventful but still a peaceful trip

Oh, dear Guatemala, it started off just right with you. Our apartment had a fantastic view of Lake Atitlan. It couldn’t have been any better! We literally didn’t have to leave the property in order to enjoy views.

We took Spanish classes so that we were finally able to talk a bit. And it worked out quite well! Hostel del Lago was our go-to place for the lessons and events. This way we also got to know some people. We had a great work-life balance. I did yoga every day and we walked almost daily. Reading in the hammock was an essential part of my leisure time, too. So, we had it all.

So, I said that it was eventful, right? Well, my (now) husband proposed to me in the middle of the night on the pier. The stars were twinkling above us but I could barely see the twinkle of the ring. That’s how dark it was. Fortunately, James didn’t just hold the ring there. He obviously said something as well. It was obviously the best moment of the trip!

Because we couldn’t get officially married in Guatemala (needs a lot of paperwork upfront), we decided to do it in Texas instead. This also gave some of our friends and family the opportunity to fly in.

Oh yeah, my laptop broke in the end, too. The worst moment for everyone who works online! So, we flew back to the US earlier than planned.

Red kayaks on the side of a turquoise river with trees in the background
Kayaking in Texas

The third time in Texas – all about the wedding

This stay was literally just for the wedding. I didn’t do anything else than organizing and planning it. Two of my friends from Germany could come out. My sister and her partner teamed up with hubby to surprise me. They made me believe that she couldn’t make it. It was the greatest surprise anyone had ever done for me. I still get tears in my eyes thinking of that moment when she came running up at the house.

The wedding was perfect – truly the best day of our life! We rented a river-front house, very casual and small. Our friend who had his birthday on the same day got ordained so he did the ceremony.

Just a week after the wedding, we left for Germany.

Germany – spending quality time with family & friends

We decided to spend 3 months in Germany again because I wanted to spend some time with my friends and my nieces and nephew. My nephew was just a bit over a year and my nieces grow so quickly. It was a great time seeing everyone but it was also pretty grey and cold in the end… which was the main reason I left that place for 3 years ago.

Back to the US

You would think that we go somewhere warm after the grey winter weather in Germany. However, we picked Pennsylvania… My husband wanted to visit his grandma after spending so much time with my family.

During that visit, we went skiing. It was actually the first time for me! Yes, I am German and never went skiing before. I took a lesson and started skiing down the hill. It was amazing! I loved it! I fell only twice. Well, the first time was when I came out of the ski lift. So, in my opinion, it doesn’t really count.

From Pennsylvania, we drove down to North Carolina to visit friends, as well. From there, we flew to Texas again. 

My husband’s 30s birthday was approaching and friends wanted to visit us in April. It would have been over 90 days, so I had to leave the country before all these events happened. We usually don’t do this in countries like the US because we are smarter. Well, until this time… I guess, we may have gotten a bit cocky about it. Long story short, I got grilled when I came back. I did horrible with answering questions so I thought I’d get deported. However, I made it in with the “advise” to not come back this year (2019)… He typed a whole lot in the computer, so I will definitely not fly back.

This made us believe it would be a good point to start the green card process for me. So that’s where we are right now. Waiting in Europe for the whole thing to be over. 

Mama sloth with baby surrounded by leaves
Mama sloth and baby at Manuel Antonio NP in Costa Rica

Costa Rica – a mini non-honeymoon

Although I just skipped this, I didn’t want to neglect Costa Rica here. I have to say I was very impressed with the environmental thinking and behavior of this country and its people. I think many countries can learn a lot from them! 

In addition, nature is incredible there! We only spend a week near Manuel Antonio National Park. I can imagine that there are even better places! I can’t wait for another trip to this country.

This 1-week journey was the first time we got to spend alone after our wedding. So, James was in the opinion, it was our honeymoon but I disagreed. I would have a better room on our honeymoon…

Greece – a girls trip

One of my best friends got a baby a month ago. She loves traveling and we traveled together a few times. So, we had to go on a “last” girl trip together. I met them on Corfu and we spend a couple of weeks there together. It was very relaxing with beach time, little explorations, and long talks.

Germany – 2 short stays

I gonna wrap the time in Germany up real quick. The first visit was solely for a family celebration and my grandma’s birthday. The second stay was for my sister’s wedding.

View point platform in the Lovcen mountains
The view at Lovcen NP, Montenegro

Montenegro – still love this Balkan beauty

My opinion hasn’t changed a bit. I still love Montenegro! The landscapes are incredibly stunning. We really enjoyed our time there.

In the beginning, I promised myself to see way more than I did in the end. I just got focused on work again after such a long time of doing nothing. So, I kinda got into a rabbit hole. We still got to do lots of swimming and walking around, as well as a boat tour, Lovcen National Park, and Skadar Lake. However, it wasn’t even close to what I had imagined before we got there. Well, I guess I just have to go back again, bummer. 😉

Croatia – pricier but more convenient

With the realization that I haven’t used my time in Montenegro properly, I am doing things a bit different here. We walk around more, we hike more and, therefore, see more. Our main goal is to get back in shape. That’s why we are more active. This, fortunately, comes with more outdoor activities. The weather in September/October is perfect because it’s not too hot and not too cold yet.

Croatia is really beautiful! It’s like Montenegro, just way pricier. The big difference is the convenience, though. More people speak English (or German) and we get certain groceries that you cannot get in Montenegro, such as real coffee. So far we really like it, except for the expenses we have here.

That’s it from the travel and personal life section. Let’s move on to the work part.

Waterfalls in a valley, photo taken from a higher point
Plitvice NP in Croatia

Why was there such a long blogging break?

This is actually a really good question! I don’t exactly know how that happened but I know it was over a year. It all started with those stupid GDPR laws. Then things on my website weren’t running all that smoothly and my page load speed was horrible. So, I decided to redesign it in July 2018.

And it just took foooooooreeeeverrr. I cannot believe that it took this long. Partially, I was discouraged and frustrated so that I completely stopped working on it for a few months. That’s how daunting a domain change and redesign can be.

In addition, our store needed more time so I rather worked on something that brings instant money than something that grows over longer time.

What has changed?

Now, it is actually different. I don’t need to put much time into the store. I maybe do some Pinterest and product optimization for a few hours a month. That’s it. It still runs.

I am majorly focusing on content websites now. Yes, you read this right, it’s plural. I bought a website this year that I am optimizing and creating more content for.

James bought a website, too. So, we both have our little projects. Just with the difference that I have this blog (and planning a third project) but I do have more time for Unbridled now. I could say that I am a full-time blogger, just not with the full-time income yet.

Our goal is that it brings us enough money next year when we are going to sell our store.

In total, we have a healthier lifestyle right now. We are more active, explore again, and we work. So we are finally able to do it all. Just took us 3 years to realize and master.

View of a Mediterranean old town with a tall church tower next to the sea
Split in Croatia

Why have things changed?

With a better income came a different mindset. I am still concerned about making enough money but it’s more for a future. Well, this may have to do with my age as well. I am approaching the big 3 after all.

Anyways, I am less stressed about working for 10 hours. I am finally allowing myself to pause, breathe, and to enjoy other things in life. I don’t get paid by the hour. I get paid next year or when the content is bringing visitors to my website.

The problem with content websites is that you cannot see the “winnings” every day. We may make affiliate money but it’s not the same level as the store sales. So, I need other goals and personal goals to keep me motivated.

We are also starting to figure out how to build wealth and not just racking the heads on how to pay off debt. We set goals together but still in our individual ways. It’s really nice to be on the same boat as your partner. We both are working for a better life that includes less work.

Beach cove with blue water in Croatia
Beach cove on the island Vis in Croatia

What’s up next?

We are going to use the winter months to get back in shape. This doesn’t only include our fluffier bodies that we have neglected over the past years. We also have to work more efficiently to earn more money from our websites. In addition, we want to cut back our expenses again so that we can save money. Well, it’s rather for paying off our debt faster than saving.

We hope that we can go back to the US next year so that we can establish a real home base there and we want to look into investment opportunities.

We recently have set ourselves a pretty high long-term goal that motivates us extremely. Fingers crossed, that this positive momentum will last. It’s a financial goal but it also involves traveling. We want to be able to afford a solar catamaran in 7 years. Usually, we set numbers as goals but I find it way easier to picture us on a boat. Cruising from one Polynesian island to another. It’s a more visual goal and it’s an experience, not just a number on a screen. So, let’s see if we can make it!

Do you set yourself long-term goals like this?

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Abenteuerin, digitale Nomadin, und Freiheitssuchti - Das bin ich, Nate the Nomad!
Im Oktober 2016 habe ich meine Sachen in Berlin gepackt und reise seitdem mit meinem Ehemann um die Welt.
Wir genießen die Freiheiten des ortsunabhängigen Lebens in vollen Zügen. Wir lieben kleine Abenteuer und das Kennenlernen neuer Kulturen.

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