Interview: I Was A Digital Nomad For Two & A Half Years

Working from home has been one of the best things to come out of the pandemic.

Many who people were required to bear a morning commute to come into a fluorescently-illuminated office and sit in a discount swivel chair that was guaranteed to cause lumbar pain, could now work from their own curated space.

But in reality, the idea of tuning in virtually allowed the freedom to work from anywhere. Not just from home.

People moved closer to their parents, to another state, or even to another country. Many college students even decided to rent an Airbnb for a short period with their friends while they attended virtual classes.

Work from home is still in high demand, too. In early 2023, 27% of US workers’ paid full-time days were worked from home with 12% being fully remote and 28% hybrid compared to 60% fully in-person.

But as this trend continues, another one is emerging: the digital nomad.

According to HubSpot, a digital nomad is a remote worker who travels to different locations while working virtually. Many will forgo living in one location to travel across the country or world for extended periods.

Countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, and Croatia have even implemented nomad visas to encourage virtual workers to explore their country while working remotely.

Our own Travel Maniac Project Manager and Harm Reduction Content Creator, Dianna Baylor, was a digital nomad for two and a half years during the pandemic, traveling throughout the US and Mexico while working from her phone and computer.

We spoke to Dianna about her experience hopping from place to place and found out some of the best lessons she learned on the road:

EDM Maniac: When did you first decide to become a nomad and what inspired it?

Dianna: When the pandemic happened, I was living in San Francisco and paying an insane amount of rent in a shutdown city. There was nothing to do living in a box in the sky because of quarantine and our lease was up.

We were like, “You know, we don’t know how long this will last, so let’s just go to an Airbnb.” It was cheaper and more exciting and we could go to Mexico because it wasn’t as locked down at the time.

We tried to do two weeks to a month in one spot and did a lot of Mexico City, Tulum, and Cabo for the most part. Our family is from Texas, so we spent a lot of time in Texas. The longest we stayed at a place was three months in Tulum. We did this for two and a half years throughout Mexico and the US.

I was doing content creation during this time and getting my coaching certification for Psychedelic Integration so it made attending classes online really easy as long as I had internet, which is sometimes an issue in Mexico.

EDM Maniac: What made you decide to leave the nomad life and move into a permanent residence again?

Dianna: We were just ready to come back into some form of normalcy I, guess. San Francisco was home for six years before the pandemic and California has just always been home. Once things began to open up post-COVID we also decided it was time.

EDM Maniac: What do you think classified your experience as “nomad?”

Dianna: Digital Nomad is so many things. I worked from my computer, but I think it’s mainly a good work-life balance. It’s a freedom and a lot of autonomy and novelty in life where you are not tied down to the physical.

Everybody always assumed, “Oh you’re a nomad you do the van thing,” but we just flew everywhere. It was great because we were probably spending half of what we were spending living in an apartment.

What was the craziest thing that happened to you as a nomad?

Dianna: Craziest thing was getting stuck in Mexico for a week. COVID got pretty bad in Mexico City for a second so our flights just kept getting canceled for, like, four days in a row because there weren’t any pilots. So it took some rescheduling but the cancellation policy at the time for Airbnb was pretty lenient so that was helpful.

What tips or tricks did you pick up living on the road?

Dianna: With finding flights I learned what sites were best. Momando is probably one of my favorites because you can get a lot of the analytics and it will tell you the best time, down to the hour, to buy.

It also helped me realize how little you actually need to survive. I was living out of a carry-on for two and a half years so my apartment is still very empty because I’m like, “I don’t need anything.” You realize how minimal you actually can be.

EDM Maniac: What was the biggest challenge you faced on the road?

Dianna: There were some times where it’s a little ungrounding, so you have to find other things that ground you like your habits. We’re so used to having a stable home so it can be very ungrounding to not have a bed that’s yours or a special blanket or a pillow or anything. I did live with my partner of nine years so that was grounding too.

What was the biggest lesson you learned being a nomad?

Dianna: Home is where you make it and less really is more in the long run.


Featured image from Pexels, photo credit Samer Daboul

Written by
Danielle Levy

Danielle Levy is an MBA with a concentration in Corporate Social Responsibility. Danielle has several years of experience in the sustainability education world and has held various positions in human resources and intern management. Danielle is passionate about the ties between sustainability and social impact.

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