Interview by Tal Bright
Mona Jensen found a way to turn her expertise into a source of income that fits here nomadic lifestyle.
She travels with her partner and they both like working at coworking spaces wherever they go.
What made you decide you wanted to be a digital nomad?
I’ve always wanted to travel. Since I was 17 or 18, my biggest dream was to go travelling with a backpack, a laptop and a camera.
I thought I wouldn’t be able to make money that way, so I studied environmental planning at university. Travelling isn’t something you can do in that field, as you are dealing with multi year projects and need to stay in one place.
But then I did go travelling and found a really inspiring nomad community in Thailand. I was inspired by what they were doing and how they were doing it and decided to start my own company.
How do you make a living working from anywhere?
I am a writer and communications consultant. I do copywriting, content writing and consultancy on environmental issues and behavioural change.
I work with the question of why we don’t act the way we should, for example, recycle, use less energy and less water etc.
I help organisations and companies communicate in a way that breaks down those mental barriers.
Do you normally work at coworking spaces? And why?
Yes, my partner and I are both digital nomads, so when we make plans to go to a new destination we check if there are coworking spaces there. We also check how warm it is and if there are good hiking trails and interesting things to see and do.
Working at a coworking space removes a lot of obstacles. It makes it easier to be a digital nomad, have an office to go to every day with wifi and facilities. You get into a work mindset, that you can’t get into in a hotel or in your room, so it saves you unnecessary struggle.
What do you like about Coworking Bansko?
It’s plug & play — you show up and everything works.
There’s also a good social element here. You just have to check what’s on the schedule and decide if you want to participate. You don’t have to go looking for events. It makes having an online company so much easier when you have that served on a platter.
What do you like about the town of Bansko?
I love the mountains, that is my absolute favourite part. I come from Denmark, which is a really flat country, so mountains make me feel alive.
Bansko is in a valley surrounded by mountains — in any direction you will see amazing peaks and there are more hikes and activities here than you have time to do.
What do you wish you had known before you became a digital nomad?
That it is relatively easy… I put off doing this for 4 years before I actually did it, because I didn’t think there would be the right tools for me, the right client base and the right facilities.
It is hard work and you really get tired sometimes, but it is a lot more doable than I thought and if I had known that I’d have gone for it earlier.
What’s your favourite thing about this lifestyle?
The absolute joy of being able to travel all the time. It’s something I wanted to do since I was about 18 but was just afraid to do it.
I feel so blessed that I can do this, get up every morning in amazing countries and try new foods and learn new languages and do new things I’ve never done before. All these, while still making money, having a chance to decide on the path of my own career and not having to feel like I’m stuck in some job.
I’m from a country with a high standard of living and baseline income, so sometimes when I go home I feel slightly pressured to make the same amount of money as my peers, but the world has amazing affordable destinations, so I don’t have to make that much money. It gives me a lot more freedom.
How many hours a day do you work on average?
My minimum is 4 hours, but currently my time tracker is logging 5–6.5 a day.
In a normal workplace, according to research, people work on average about 3 hours a day due to all the distractions…
How do you stay productive while you travel?
That is hard sometimes. Lots of coffee…
I get a big energy boost from doing outdoor activities on the weekend.
In Bansko I’ve done really fun things in the weekends, used my body and unplugged from all the screens. It makes me more productive during the week.
Taking to other coworkers and having accountability partners also helps me stay productive.
What apps do you use and recommend for digital nomads or long term travellers?
For work I use some of the same ones I used for my master’s thesis:
A time tracker (I once used Rescue Time and I now use Toggl).
Coffitivity makes background sounds of a busy cafe. If I’m in a place that’s too quiet I can’t concentrate.
Trello is a lifesaver for me because I get a lot of random ideas and if I write them down on paper they will get lost. It helps me structure my thoughts and daily processes. I use it for anything from inspiration to long term goals.
Have you learnt any important lessons from living the digital nomad lifestyle?
Starting a company on the road is not a wise idea. Some clients are confused about that, and are less likely to trust you. Also, when you have to deal with leases, insurance etc. — you will not fit their boxes.
Still, for me it was the right thing to do, because if I were to start the same company in Denmark with its high cost of living, I would not have been able to take as many chances.
What are your plans for the future?
More of the same!
Our next destination is Georgia. I’ve never been before and it looks amazing. We’re also thinking of a year in Central and South America. In winter we’ll go to Thailand again for 3 months. After meeting Conor at Coworking Bansko we’re also starting to think about Africa.
The possibilities are almost endless…
About the author
Tal Bright was a Nomad in Residence at Coworking Bansko in May 2019. She’s been a digital nomad since 2009 and is currently sharing her knowledge on her travel blog, brightnomad.net, and works as a content creator.