How to have

Interview with Tijana Momirov,
Digital Nomad and Kitesurfer,
by Lorna Morris

Tell us a bit about both of your background…

T: I grew up in Novi Sad, a cute university town in Serbia. This is where I studied as well and ended up with MSc in Computer Sciences and IT. During my student years I was very active in EESTEC, European Association for Electrical and Software Engineering Students, and this is where I realised that I am addicted to travelling, gathering people, organising events etc.

When did you make the transition to the digital nomad life and why?

T: My last office job was in Athens, Greece. Greece has amazing islands, beautiful beaches, and sunny & windy summers. I started learning windsurfing on weekends and soon I felt that I need more time on the water, that I want to live on a beach instead of sitting in the office in the city. That I don’t want my weekend to end. That I don’t want my summer to end. And that it was silly being stuck in the office while all the clients are in other countries unaware of my whereabouts. So I decided to cut out the middleman, start freelancing and following the wind and the sun around the world.

What was the biggest challenge when your first made the transition?

T: Breaking the news! Back in 2010 it was not so popular to just wake up one day, quit everything and go nomadic just like that. It took me some time to convince my family, friends and clients that I am still as responsible as I’ve always been and that I am actually better off in all aspects of my life when I live nomadic life. I firmly believe it’s true. The location independence enables personal growth, career development, healthy lifestyle, networking and the number of new skills and experiences that you would never get if waiting for a vacation all year long.

Now you’ve been nomading for a while do you ever have times when you think about going back to the day job lifestyle?

T: No! It’s just that sometimes I get tired of changing the locations too often and feel like staying in one place for a few months in order to have more routine and more profound friendships. But that’s the beauty of it — I can always do that when I want. I just need to decide to stick to a place a bit longer when I feel like it. Simple as that.

Are there any essential tools/gadgets/accounts a digital nomad needs?

T: Nothing special really. Obviously we all have laptops and smartphones these days. 3G modem is a good idea as well, but they usually come with a package offered by local providers for as little as 30euros or so — and they throw in a few GB as well. The community is crucial — be it the digital nomad community or the one that shares your interests regarding the hobbies (in my case windsurf, kitesurf). So just join a few Facebook groups to stay connected to the communities that matter to you. This is how you can hit the ground running when you land at a new destination — having all the relevant info and bunch of offline meetups arranged as well.

Do you have any favourite places in the world that you keep finding yourself going back to? Why those places?

T: The only constant in my all-year-round & around-the-world travelling is Jericoacoara, Brazil. I go there every year for the water sports and the amazing vibe.

Do you think there are certain careers that are easier to be a digital nomad with than others? If so, what are they?

T: Obviously if you are a brain surgeon, you won’t be practicing much of that while backpacking. But there are so many options for location independent careers, way more than people realise and leverage. Literally everything related to IT, then graphic design, selling physical products over Amazon, renders for architectural objects, journalism, translation, all sorts of coaching and consultancy. I even have a friend who is a cycling coach and does his work over Skype. The customers used to be a bit reluctant, but now they are starting to see the advantages as well — they are not limited to the services in their physical surroundings any more, but rather able to get the best man for the job regardless of the location.

What advice would you give to someone contemplating going full-time on the nomad lifestyle?

T: Be aware that it’s not just a trip — an episode away from your “real life”. That is crucial in order to prevent postponing certain issues for the time when you go back to your alleged real life — chances are that’s not happening any time soon. Whatever you feel needs to be taken care of — your career, health, relationships — the time is now, on the road or not. Be responsible, organised and make sure there is balance between all aspects in your life. There is a fine line between being free and being lost. Luckily, nowadays you can count on the community, and we’re growing.

I love the concept of coworkations, they’re an excellent introduction to the nomad lifestyle. Tell me more about how you came across these and why you think they’re great?

T: You know when you just had the best pizza ever and you start telling your friends that they have to order from that place. Same thing, I love my life and I keep telling people they have to try it out. That’s how I came up with the idea to bring people over to my life. As I said, Jericoacoara is a special place for me, so I wanted to start there. Together with my partners from DNX, Marcus and Feli, we decided to offer other locations as well. Again I introduced a place that became special to me in the meantime as well — Bali, and we’ll have other amazing spots included in the DNX Camp list for the next year as well.

In short, the main idea is that you don’t just escape from your life and go back to it like after a vacation. But rather you improve your business and lifestyle in a way that will stay with you. We gather 15 people for 10 days in a paradise place for co-living and co-working. The specially designed sessions are there for networking, learning new skills and getting support for growing your business. Solo entrepreneurs benefit greatly from working within a community during an intense program like this — the feedback, tips, accountability and fighting procrastination happen almost naturally, and are encouraged by our facilitation. And the bonding over fun activities in tropical paradise doesn’t need further explanations I guess.

You’re a kite-surfer — how did you get into this? How do you fit in time for it with your work?

T: I started windsurfing during my last office arrangement in Athens, Greece and that was the trigger for me to become a digital nomad even before knowing that such a thing exists. Kitesurf came into the picture later, and now I want to improve wave surf and SUP skills, to be able to enjoy on the water even more. Having a passion outside of your professional field actually helps staying motivated and productive. If I know that the perfect conditions (wind, waves, tide etc.) are coming in a few hours, you can bet on me being 100% productive to finish all my tasks and be there when it happens. I even stopped drinking coffee that always used to be my number one method for killing the time in the office. Now I have the excitement and love for my life to keep me up.

Where are you going next?

T: I am visiting my family in Serbia as we speak and at the end of this month I am joining DNX Global — Digital Nomad Conference in Berlin. After the conference I’m going for 3 weeks kitesurfing in Tarifa, Spain, followed by DNX Camp in Lisbon, Portugal. From there I am flying to Brazil in mid-September and I’ll stay there for the rest of the year — to enjoy the windy season and host DNX Camp Jericoacoara, first ever kitesurf co-workation in that region .

Tijana Momirov of Follow the Elements.

Tijana Momirov is a kitesurfing digital nomad who spends her time working hard whilst following the sun and wind. She helps create coworkations with DNX Camps and runs her own coaching business, Follow the Elements, alongside her technical business.

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