Select Page

“Twenty-seven-year-old aren’t meant to lay on the beach all day doing nothing productive” – Sam, on the work-vacation balance while being a digital nomad

Sam & Emma have hit the road again and are recording this episode from Bangkok Thailand. So how have their opinions changed on what it’s like living on the road? 

To quote wikipedia: “Digital nomads are a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadicmanner.”

Listen to this episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast on:

iTunes | Spotify | YouTube | Stitcher


01:37 – Throwing off the shackles of society
02:10 – Three issues with being a digital nomad:
02:15 – (1) Community
03:17 – (2) Productivity
04:42 – (3) Not having a base
06:00 – The process of getting rid of all of Emma and Sam’s possessions
07:36 – Discussing experiences of community in travels thus far
09:01 – How friendships change
10:25 – Motivation and work
13:03 – Upcoming travel plans for Sam and Emma
15:33 – Comparing travel experiences to the first open ended trip


SAM: Hello and welcome back to another episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur I’m your host Sam Priestley and as normal we’re joined by my lovely wife and co-host Emma Priestley.

EMMA: Hello.

SAM: So sorry it’s been so long since our last episode. It must be what, like a month or something.

EMMA: Probably.

SAM: We had a bonus one, but the last one that we did I think was early June and it’s July now so, sorry. But we have a good excuse and that is that we have sold all our possessions, given up the house we were renting, and hit the road and we’re currently recording this from Bangkok and last time we were in Tunbridge Wells. We’ve had a complete change of life. We’re now just living out of a carry-on bag, carrying the suitcase, basically a handbag.

EMMA: Yes.

SAM: And I thought it would be interesting to talk about that in this episode and, yeah, readress the whole digital nomad thing because you might have hobbies on a previous episode on this before called the pros and cons of being a digital nomad and in it we talked about a previous trip we did where we spent in a year and a half traveling full time, being location independent, living anywhere while working online. And at the end of that post, we basically said that we’re gonna stop and we’re gonna settle down for a bit, which is what we did. We rented a house, we got a car, we bought some furniture, we did basically everything that kind of thirty year olds are meant to do and now we’ve thrown off the shackles of society once again, we hit the road. So you can hear all the pros and cons in the previous episode, but I think what we basically said was that one type of life wasn’t really much better than the other. They both have their pros and cons and there were a few big cons for being a digital nomad and I think the three that are most relevant because I want to discuss how we’re planning on addressing them this trip, and also maybe how our mindset may have changed a little bit. So one of them was community, that’s one of the big reasons we wanted to settle down somewhere was just to get to know the neighbors, be a part of the local community, contribute to that local community, do some more sort location dependent stuff, like running your supper clubs.

EMMA: Gin events.

SAM: Gin events, and being around friends basically. Making friends that last longer than a month.

EMMA: And family.

SAM: And family. Because travelling isn’t that easy, even if you do slow travelling which is what we’re doing where you stay in places a bit longer you’re still having to make new friends every month, every time you move.

EMMA: And say goodbye.

SAM: And say goodbye. And everyone kind of knows it’s a bit transient. You can’t really get too close with the locals because they got their lives, they’ve been there a long time. The travellers are often moving every couple of days. It’s kind of only other digital nomads that you end up making really good friends with and hanging out all the time, and they’re just as transient as you. So it’s either you moving on or them moving on all the time, and we found that quite difficult in our first year. The second thing I want to talk about was productivity, on the big reasons for stopping it was that we just couldn’t get that much work done. There was just too much to do, too much sightseeing, the stress of always moving.

EMMA: We were quite tired, too. We didn’t really have the energy to sit down and do weeks long-worth of work.

SAM: Yeah because it’s not just about the energy or the time you have in the day. Because there are other things we’re doing, but even when you’re not going around doing all the touristy stuff, you still have that kind of underlying level of stress from knowing you know where am I going to go next, how am I gonna go to talk to the person in a supermarket.

EMMA: Yeah, speak a different language.

SAM: Speak a different language, so you’re constantly thinking about how you’re going to fly, where we’re gonna do next, as well as all the touristy stuff. And I think in that post I write something along the lines of twenty-seven-year-old aren’t meant to lay on the beach all day doing nothing productive, and that’s kind of what I felt. And then the last one I wanna talk about was not having a base really, not having somewhere you can come back to and call home.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: And what we only really realised that was important was when we finished our first stint of that previous trip and we got back from South America and just kind of landed at our parents house and just the feeling of that kind of like, oh wait we didn’t know that was there. A shed or something you’re perfectly comfortable which you don’t have to feel if you’re basically moving home every week, every month. Cool so shall we address those?

EMMA: Sounds good.

SAM: I’m interested to hear your thoughts as well, because we kind of talked about this but I don’t think we’ve ever really gotten that much into detail. So community, how are you feeling about community this time around?

EMMA: Well we haven’t really joined any yet? So far, the two new places we’ve been are Croatia for my friend’s wedding and then we’re in Bangkok to see some uni friends, and we haven’t really gone to many workspaces or done the usual activities. To be fair in the last two days we’ve been into church and brazilian jiu jitsu and yoga, but it takes more than going just one time to get a community and to make friends. So to me, it’s like it’s quite early.

SAM: Yeah and these first few stops we’re moving quite quickly through. And also we’ve been hanging out with each other.

EMMA: Yeah and also moving, getting rid of the stuff in our houses was really stressful, really tiring and we needed some downtime.

SAM: That was way more work than I thought it would be.

EMMA: Yeah I don’t think either of us were ready to throw ourselves into going out every night, talking to loads of new people, making loads of effort putting ourselves out there. It’s been very light like a holiday, which has been lovely and much-needed and something we definitely didn’t have when we went to Buenos Aires which is our first stop in our last trip.

SAM: It’s weird isn’t it because it’s quite a different move this time because the house that we left, we actually had loads of furniture whereas before it was just all rented service depts which had furniture already there and it was just kind of our clothes and stuff.

EMMA: Yeah we didn’t have that much stuff.

SAM: We didn’t have a car back then, we had a car this time. So it’s just been a different level of work and also we had a four bedroom house this time whereas before we were in flatshares. And just the amount of rubbish you accumulate over two years.

EMMA: Yes horrendous. Absolutely horrendous.

SAM: I felt such a weight off my shoulders moving out with just like a little suitcase. It’s so nice.

EMMA: It makes me really happy like we moved from moving hotels in Bangkok a couple of days ago. We only moved like a 10-minute walk but it was just so so easy that there was hardly anything to carry and to wheel it on.

SAM: Yeah.

EMMA It just made me think how much weight we were lifting with the furniture and all the stuff getting rid of the house.

SAM: Yeah but we’re back on community, so as I said we haven’t yet really made much effort with community but we do have a few plans and one of them is that when we were going to Bali and we’re planning on spending a bit of time there and we’re gonna land straight, go to the co-working space, we’re already in all the Facebook groups, I’m gonna be doing jujitsu you’re going to be doing yoga. We’re gonna go to church as well, so we have kind of four or five different spots where we’re gonna hit within the first few days of being there, all of which will hopefully have its own little community that we can slip right into.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: And particularly Brazilian Jujitsu, church, co-working, are very easy communities to join and they’re quite active as well. Yoga probably not as much.

EMMA: People don’t really chat during yoga.

SAM: But it may be different in Bali where it’s a bit more, everyone doing it.

EMMA: Every day, yeah.

SAM: So that’s the plan. But that doesn’t really solve the problem of people moving all the time and our friends being back at home in England and our family being back there as well. So I don’t think there is a really good answer, there’s probably going to be a time where we’ll really miss it. The one thing I would say is we are planning on returning every three months.

EMMA: Which is what we did last time.

SAM: It’s what we did last time. And in terms of keeping up with our old friends, that is fine. Because you end up seeing people as much as you would when you’re living there.

EMMA: In your case you probably see them a bit more.

SAM: I definitely see them more so because I’m very passive so that gave me an excuse to make an effort with people.

EMMA: Yeah which is good.

SAM: Whereas people go oh, we’ve got to meet up before you go off again and then you do where when you’re just kind of living perpetually.

EMMA: Years go by.

SAM: And I think that’s just kind of a problem. And I think it’s just the grass always feels greener on the other side, when we’re traveling before by the end of it, we’re quite looking forward to come home, by the end of this tenancy.

EMMA: We wouldn’t wait to leave.

SAM: We’ve been desperate to leave. But it’s been so good, I’ve had such a great time as you say it feels a bit like a holiday so far so let’s see what it’s like once we once we settle down. Which then brings me on to productivity. I think that I thought I would be much more productive than I was just because I’d have an office and loads of free time during the day.

EMMA: In Tunbridge Wells.

SAM: Yeah, I was travelling and not doing as much work as I wanted to do, and then I move to Tunbridge Wells and instead of it being so I don’t have time to do things, it’s I don’t have the motivation to do things or the energy to do things. So.

EMMA: You can’t blame it on the travelling.

SAM: I can’t blame it on travelling, I’ll blame it on being lazy and so it’s gonna be interesting so I started tracking my hours and I’m gonna be keep doing that while travelling and it would be interesting to see how my hourly rate, how many hours I get in a month, how that will be affected as we travel because I have a feeling that I might be more productive here and that’s not just about the hours I put in, but it’s about creativity. I feel like I’ve been a lot, I was getting a bit in a rut and what I’m hoping is that just the fact that we’re constantly moving, doing new things will be creative, then also that as we join all these digital nomad communities of people doing interesting things, I’ll find some creativity there. Find some ideas from other people, inspiration from other people doing awesome things.

EMMA: Yeah that’s what I’m really hoping. Like you’ve definitely got that to a certain extent from the people you’ve interviewed for the podcast. I think that’s been really good because it’s been a way of like forcing you to network with other people that have online businesses and and go into like quite a deep chat about that business which is the bit you enjoy. You don’t like the small talk, but I think you’re gonna get a lot more of that in Bali, which is going to be good.

SAM: Yeah, I agree.

EMMA: But as you kind of alluded to, I don’t think your working hours are necessarily gonna go up. I think your productivity is going to go up.

SAM: Yeah.

EMMA: There’s definitely a finite amount of hours in a day that you can work on a normal average day.

SAM: Yeah.

EMMA: What I mean is just cuz we’re going into co-working space doesn’t mean we’re gonna be doing 9-5 because that’s just not how you work.

SAM: No no I prefer short sharp or when you’re properly in the zone and then just like a really long.

EMMA: But you can’t plan for that.

SAM: And sitting in front of my computer waiting for motivation to work versus knowing we’ve got to go out in half an hour because we’re going to a street food market so I go to get this bit done actually suits me a bit better.

EMMA: So that is why we’re doing a podcast right now.

SAM: Yeah we’re going to a street food market in five minutes, I thought let’s get one in quickly they’re only half an hour. We haven’t done one in so long, we need to get back into the groove and we got new microphones or at least tiny little ones that you just kind of clip onto yourself so I’d be interested to see how the sound quality fares. To be honest it might be another three or four days until I get around to editing this and uploading it but that will improve once we once we hit Bali. So in the next few days we’re off to Singapore to check out the architecture and more street food and then from Bali, the veggie food and the community.

EMMA: Yeah be a bit healthier, try to be a bit more productive.

SAM: Cool. Alight yeah well before we close it off I want to quickly talk about what has been harder about leaving this time and going and what has been easier about leaving this time and going. Because it’s based on two different sensibilities of being a digital nomad. And I thought it would be quite interesting for people who are listening to this and talking about going on their first trip. The things we found really easy was packing up our life.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: If I’m going to be honest. Like at, the time I don’t think we thought it was that easy because you had to manage your exit from your job, you had to save up some money, but on the counter side to that is you were starting a whole new business so you had no financial secuirty at the time so you had this idea that not only were you travelling but you’re responsible for building a business from scratch.

EMMA: And earning enough to live.

SAM: And earning enough to live, and also it was something completely strange, that type of traveling you’d never done before. You really like being organized and the idea of having a one way flight and just landing in Buenos Aires which was our first stop last time.

EMMA: We had like three nights in a hostel and that was it. It was terrifying. Whereas now it’s the complete opposite.

SAM: Now you’re so good and comfortable. Like when we moved here to this hotel versus where we were staying before, we just looked it up the night before, see where we wanted to stay and just rolled our suitcases right down. Singapore was a bit different because it’s so expensive there. So it was kind of like, we want the cheapest in and the cheapest flight out. That was more just being a bit smarter about the organization side of it, because what you can just organize everything for like the next day. The Internet’s pretty cool like that, and you can book hotels and be in media, you don’t need to give him much warning, you don’t need to give your flights much warning.

EMMA: That’s my memory of South America.

SAM: And South America end up getting stuck in a few places we’d look at flights for the next week and they’d all be sold or really really expensive. So we end up doing a really weird route around just because we’re just getting the cheapest thing.

EMMA: And that was fine.

SAM: Whereas this time we had a bit more of a plan. Alright well we’re rambling, so going has been was easier the last time into of packing up. Packing up has been really hard this time as we talked about earlier.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: But actually, being here like the stress, like the worry about it has been much easier because one, we don’t have to build a business as we go. We kind of got that sorted already which is a bit more comfortable we got work to be doing while we’re out here. If anything too much work.

EMMA: Well that’s the difference with me, your work is the same.

SAM: Yeah I was the same.

EMMA: Yeah whereas I was absolutely terrified going the first time.

SAM: And I think like we’ve met a lot of people who have been in that situation where they’re going because they want to go, not because their business allows it yet, or the job allows it and then they try and work it out as they go which is so obvious and it’s a bit stupid to say but it is much easier to go when you have that financial security.

EMMA: Yeah, I think the other difference this time in terms of packing, actually part of it was easier to me because I knew what to put in my bag, whereas the first time I had no idea would pack and we had big suitcases.

SAM: Over the course of a year and a half, we downgraded from a huge suitcase and a carry-on to just to carry on.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: And it should be easier now because we’re more in sunny places.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: Which means I’ve only got one gi for jiu-jitsu which is a bit of a pain. I don’t know it’s just something of the grass is always greener. We got so stir-crazy being in the same place being on an adventure, and don’t get me wrong we had a great time, made loads of friends, started a business, Pipehouse Gin which a very local business, started your supper clubs which I think has been quite shaping for you. You’ve been very glad you’ve done that.

EMMA: Yeah very.

SAM: Which we couldn’t really, well we might be able to do the gin but it was much easier doing it in a local place, experimenting with markets and getting to know all the local bar owners and shop owners and stuff like that so it has been great. Just change is good and I’m sure we won’t do this forever, maybe we will.

EMMA: Yeah and it’s made me realize how much I love cities.

SAM: Oh yeah, I’m loving Bangkok. Talking of which we got some nice street food to go eat.

EMMA: We’re gonna go to Chinatown.

SAM: Chinatown, a few cocktail bars.

EMMA: Can’t wait.

SAM: And hopefully tomorrow I’ll edit this podcast and get it out for you. Alright well sorry that’s been a bit of a rambling episode. I’ve thought it’s better to do something rather than nothing. Hopefully this will kickstart us again and we’ll go back to our twice a week schedule. Emma’s giving me an unlikely look.

EMMA: You’re giving yourself an unlikely look.

SAM: I’m giving myself an unlikely look. Alright, adios.

EMMA: Bye.