Barbara Riedel Explains How to Become a Proud Digital Nomad and Live Life to the Fullest

How do people know exactly what they want to do with their lives? Some people already know from a young age, but most people don’t find out until they are well into their adolescence.

For nomad Barbara Riedel, she found her lifestyle after attending a digital nomad conference. Now she has traveled around the world, earning money, and is living her life to the fullest.

If you think that a digital nomad lifestyle is for you or you’re just being curious, keep on reading!

Nomad Barbara Riedel

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Barbara, I’m a 30 years old half German, half Italian nomad working as a freelancer (translating, copywrtiting, proofreading), being an author (I published 10 books so far) and creating digital products (mainly online courses). At the moment, I’m in Singapore, but I will leave Asia next week to spend summer in Europe.

I listen to Kizomba music. It’s my favorite dance at the moment and the music makes me calm down. I love going to the movies, but don’t do it as often as I would like. Sometimes because of lack of time, sometimes it’s lack of money and sometimes it’s the lack of the cinema. 😛 And no TV or radio anymore.

How and why did you become a nomad?

During my studies at University, I learned about the digital nomad lifestyle and went to my first DNX (the digital nomad conference) a few months later. Only three weeks after this inspiring event, I left Germany for a trip around the world (that was in November of 2014 and I had planned it for 5 years), which was the first step into a new life. Since then I’ve been traveling to 40 countries working on the road and enjoying the freedom of being location-independent. I’m writing about my experiences on Barbaralicious – my travel blog for digital nomads.

In the beginning, nobody supported me. My parents didn’t understand why I wanted to be a nomad and I was fighting a lot with my family. At some point I told them that no matter what they said or did I would go on living my life. So they answered that we shouldn’t be in touch for a while. After a few days, my father called me crying and said that he had understood — That I had chosen my path and that they would do anything to accept it. Today, they understand that I am happy with my nomad life.

Nomad Barbara Riedel

Why is having a nomadic life important for you?

Well, for me it’s important to live this lifestyle because it keeps me busy and healthy. I love to discover new places, meet new people, learn about new cultures and languages. And I eat and live healthier when I’m on the road.

Back in Germany, I would eat a lot of fast food just to save time and money. I don’t do that when I’m in Asia or Latinamerica since fresh food is available everywhere and it’s cheap.

Additionally, I’m motivated to stay fit so I do more exercises. And in general, I think traveling makes people more humble, more aware, more grateful for what they have. In my opinion, everybody should travel at least once for a year to experience this.

Nomad Barbara Riedel

What has been the best and difficult parts of being a nomad?

I love exploring, taking photos and writing. Being a nomad enables me to combine my passions and live a life of freedom and independence. I’ve visited almost 40 countries in the last 3 years. Every single one was special in its own way. I really loved spending time in Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia.

Brazil is definitely not the safest country although I personally never felt in danger. I have heard of armed robberies, taking hostages and even murders in my near surrounding though so I’m very aware of what can happen. In Thailand and Indonesia it was similar: I heard of murder, robberies and severe scooter crashes. But personally, I have never been part of anything negative in any country in general. I will go back to all three of these countries for sure. If you’re searching for the safest possible place you should perhaps try out Singapore.

Sometimes there are difficult moments, too. Dealing with loneliness, the many farewells, getting to know new places and making yourself home, just to leave again shortly after.

But for me, the biggest problem is that non-nomadic people don’t understand this lifestyle. I can’t even count how often people told, “that I can’t live like this”. Or they think I’m on an eternal vacation paid by my parents. That drives me crazy because I’m working hard for living my dream.

Nomad Barbara Riedel

Where do you live as a nomad?

That depends on several factors. The most important one is probably the length of my stay. The longer I stay the better it is to get an airbnb or to search for a place when I’m there. If it’s just for a few nights, I either get a private room in a hostel, a room in a hotel or an airbnb. If I stay some weeks, I will probably opt for searching available apartments by asking locals. Sometimes I do House Sitting, which is a perfect opportunity to live like a local, have pets to care for for a while and save money.

Nomad Barbara Riedel

Where do you usually work?

I always loved my “home office”. I don’t need a real office or a busy atmosphere to get work done. I’m ok with both actually and sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house, too. Then I work from beach bars, cafés or co-working spaces. But if I can choose, I prefer to stay at home for work most of the times.

Nomad Barbara Riedel

How do you build a social life as a nomad?

I have many nomad friends since I went to several DNXs, was on three nomad cruises, I was on Coboat and I actually founded several Facebook groups for digital nomads. So I know many nomads and sometimes I go to the places where my friends are. If not: I post in Facebook groups for digital nomads of this place or go to a co-working space for a few days just to meet people.

A great possibility to meet locals is to go to events or follow your passion there. For example, I love dancing! When I go to special salsa nights, I’m immediately part of the group because you dance and start talking and it comes natural. It’s easier than people might think to meet nomads, other traveler or locals. Although, it always depends on where you are. It’s easier in cities than in villages or on small islands.

Nomad Barbara Riedel

How do you finance your nomadic life?

I work online as a freelancer and sell my (digital) products. My budget is small and I still need to find solutions to spend as little money as possible. House Sitting is great for that, for example. But I get many invitations as a travel blogger, too, which allow me to save many and build my business at the same time.

What kind of gear do you bring with you, and what has been your best gear purchase below $100?

I wrote a blog post and made a video with everything that I travel with. I normally travel with two backpacks (or at the moment it’s a suitcase and a backpack). One is for my equipment (I call it my office) and the other one is for clothes, toiletries and stuff like that (I call it my wardrobe).

My most important things are: My Apple 13″ MacBook Pro, my Bose QuietComfort35 noise cancelling headphones, my Apple iPhone SE, and my Canon REBEL T5 DSLR. So the gear that I need to make money.

Actually, there is just one thing that comes to my mind that I spent less then $100 for: my powerbank. It’s an ANKER powerbank with 20,000+ mAh and I think I spent 40 Euro for it. I never leave the house without it.

Nomad Barbara Riedel

What are your best advice for new nomads?

My advice is to understand what you really want and then dare to live the life that makes you happy! For me, a nomad doesn’t need to be constantly on the road. I know many digital nomads who have real home and don’t want to give it up because they need the security that it means for them. But they work online and sometimes leave for a few weeks to work from somewhere else or to escape winter or to get some inspiration. That’s not making them less a nomad. But it would make me a bad advisor to tell them to hit the road and live a life of travels like I do. That’s why it’s so important to understand your own needs!

Nomad Barbara Riedel

What inspired you to write your books?

I always wanted to write a book and I had already planned to write a book about my trip around the world before I even knew about digital nomads. I actually started my blog just because I thought that one day this could help me publishing a book. I didn’t think I would write 10 or more though.

So now, my motivation is to make life easier for other nomads. Like for example, when I planned my trip around the world, I didn’t consider seasons. So I went from Rio de Janeiro to Washington DC in January! That meant a temperature difference of 45 degrees Celsius! The only way to handle this was to buy winter clothes, a coat and boots. I sent everything home before leaving for warmer California a month later.

By reading my books, I want the readers to learn from the experiences and mistakes I made. And I want to take people with me on my travels.

What will the future bring?

I hope to be able to live this life forever. I just would like a partner at my side to share all those beautiful moments with and to build several home bases. I would love to have a bungalow at the beach in Bali and another one somewhere at the beach in Thailand. Not sure where exactly though.

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  1. Hi Laarni,

    thanks a lot for the interview 🙂

    Best of luck with everything!

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