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I spent the first 3 months of this year traveling first across Eastern Europe and then spending some time in California (guess who’d been to Bangkok but never the west coast?). Now I’m back in Nashville for roughly 3 months prepping to leave for Southeast Asia and probably not returning to the U.S. for a really long time. These next few posts will show you how I survived my first digital nomad experiment, how I’m preparing to do this full-time, and what I’ve learned through thousands of mistakes.


A Guide For People Who Hate Guides

When I went to Thailand last summer, I spent maybe a half hour planning and preparing for the trip. It was actually my first time out of the country, but I was going with a non-profit group, and they handled everything from visas to hotel rooms to a translator. I gave them money and packed a suitcase. Besides the Thai translation app I downloaded, I prepped about as much you would for a weekend visit to Chicago, but I had no problems while I was there. …

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All my friends were in class when I got off my first plane in Germany. Based on statistics and tradition, that’s where I should’ve been, too. Goals and dreams propelled me to Berlin, though, because I couldn’t find or fulfill what I wanted working a 9–5 in Nashville. I wanted to radically transform my mindset and worldview because I realized both of them were full of holes. My purpose becoming a digital nomad was to facilitate a change in myself as astounding as Clark Kent entering a phone booth and Superman flying out of it.

In my mind, travel was that metaphorical phone booth. …

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The Alpha and Omega of Google search results, Wikipedia, defines the phrase “Digital Nomads” as:

“Individuals who leverage telecommunications technologies to perform their work duties, and more generally conduct their lifestyle in a nomadic manner.”

— Wikipedia

People like us explain the moniker a little more personally and emotionally, though. A digital nomad lives life on his or her own terms, doing things they love, and daily turning their dreams into realities.

If you’re like me, you might even have a few friends who are living this seemingly ideal lifestyle. Maybe they’re other startup founders or successful freelancers who moved to Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur and started living like royalty while working part-time. Real people are doing this — not just as kids with backpacks hitchhiking from town to town and party to party, but as professionals who have made a commitment to dreaming, exploring, and living in many different cultures. …

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Defining “World Travel”

The “world travel” niche of the Internet has grown so saturated with bullshit that even thinking about it is enough to induce nausea in the strongest stomachs of blog readers.

“20 Cities You HAVE to Visit in Your 20s”

“This broke bartender is backpacking across Europe, and it’s awesome!”

“One photographer’s experience in Krakow will leave you speechless”

And since world travel is an attractive concept to those of us who long for unexplored experiences, we click these links and continually meet disappointment from the empty calories that are the blog posts attached to these headlines.

Before this or any other post I write disappoints you, I wanted to transparently explain what this series of articles is — and what it’s not. …

Disclaimer: This is an event that took place during a particularly angry time in my life. I’d also been reading a lot of Hunter S. Thompson at the time and channeled his leanings in both my lifestyle and writing. I understand that I’m the villain in this story, but it’s art. Sometimes art isn’t about the good guys.

I tried to get a library card a few weeks ago and instead got into an argument with an elderly librarian. She was a bitch. “Do you live in Davidson county?” she asked. Harmless. Unassuming. A fucking tiger acting like a kitten while she circles her prey. She wore glasses and a cardigan and a blouse and smelled like pink and talcum powder. I reeked of cigarettes and needed a shave but didn’t think anything of that because I was just getting a library card. It’s reading. …

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I had been drinking since 5pm, and that meant I’d been drinking for 5 hours. The hostel was boring, and I had finished enough work to feel good about myself, so I avoided both the boredom and the chance that I’d do anything else productive by aggressively mixing Ballentine’s with the ginger ale Kelsi had stolen from Otter 2. By 9pm I was tipsy, and we were playing King’s Cup and Gabriel had brought a bottle of wine. It was a dry expensive red contrasting with all the cheap sweet whites we’d been drinking. When I poured it, Jean and Gabriel looked at each other and Jean informed Gabriel, “He’s not French.” …

I think I’m going to stop drinking for a while.

Before you ask: Yes, I drank to excess last night. Yes, I’m writing this with an ungodly hangover. No, I can’t remember everything that happened.

I wish I could say this is a new or rare experience for me, but since I started drinking I’ve had more than my fair share of debauched nights, struggled with alcohol abuse, and scared myself enough to practice total sobriety for the three weeks leading up to my twenty-first birthday last year. (The classic bad breakup, college dropout, please get your shit together summer. Don’t ask. …

And that’s why no one trusts us

I just wanted wheels.

Seventeen, a pocket full of cash from being a ridiculously good janitor, and a near overpowering lust for the freedom an automobile would grant me, I had been lot-hopping with my dad the past week.

This one might be it.

Black leather, decent fuel economy, and low mileage for my low budget.

Dealers can smell interest like sharks smell blood, so naturally within seconds this lot’s owner appeared—the picture of a stereotypical salesmen. He had the mustache, the sunglasses, and the button-down shirt that could’ve been buttoned up more so as not show so much chest hair. All he needed was the gold chain—wait, there it was. …


David Powell

UI designer

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