Taking the Empty Nest on the Road
Becoming a Digital Nomad After The Kids Leave for College
Buried in the litany of bad life decisions I’ve made in my years on the planet, I inadvertently made a damn good one. To be fair, I didn’t know it at the time but having kids in my early twenties has turned into an opportunity in my 40’s to take my show on the road now that they’re launched as adults and don’t require the services of their retired helicopter mom.
Fine news for me. I always joked that my youngest would go off to college when I was 42 and I would change my name and move away to start a new life without the grind of our happy but exhausting family life— volleyball practices, team travel, theater rehearsals, overlapping social calendars, volunteering, and all the other (very typical) American lifestyle choices. I wouldn’t have traded a minute of family time for anything, but I do look back and thank my lucky stars that I was a young mom. Sleep was for the weak. Now I bow to my circadian rhythm at 10 pm bedtime like the overlord it is, thankyouverymuch.
My family thankfully laughed when I would occasionally lose it and threaten to fake my death just to have a weekend of peace. On those rare occasions, the family text thread was filled with possible names and locations where I would land. Eliana Tangleberry was my particular favorite. She’s a ghost tour guide in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Fun fact: It’s no longer pure hyperbole.
I am prepping for a grand tour of Scotland leaving in 3 weeks.
I’ll be gone for nearly a month and the new family joke is I’m not coming back. I probably don’t inspire a lot of confidence that I’ll get on the return flight 24 days later, I suppose. I keep sending links in our family chat to affordable flats in various Scottish cities that I just happen to stumble across. They’re not buying my casual “oh look what I found” act. They know I’m getting email hourly from Scottish leasing agents with options and listings, just in case something catches my eye. I’m primed and prepped to be an Expat. I’m researching visas and countries and absorbing every digital nomad article and how-to guide I can find.
This isn’t unexpected. I’ve been a freelance entrepreneur for two decades. I’ve spoken at conferences, taught classes, and written many words on starting, growing, and running a freelance business. I’ve personally worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and helped elevate the global conversation on building a location independent lifestyle as the executive director of two non-profits that support freelancers worldwide. I’ve built my whole business being able to successfully run away from home when it suited me.
Now, it suits me.
What’s different this time is that I’m truly free to live and work anywhere in the world I want with the blessing and support of the cool adults I’ve raised.
I’m starting with a trip I’ve dreamed of my entire life. Three weeks of work and play in three different cities. My family’s international Clan MacDougall gathering in Oban happens once every 5 years. The TED Summit chose Edinburgh this year. And the 20Books to 50K ® Indie Authors are getting together for a week. The Universe couldn’t have been more clear. It’s kismet. Fate. The dates align and for three weeks I get to soak up the history of my ancestors and hang out with the coolest people in my modern tribe.
I will come back… this time. My eldest daughter is getting married in November and my youngest daughter is graduating college in May. For all my wanderlust I’m still a proud mom and those are watershed moments. I wouldn’t miss them for all the scones in Scotland.
But after that? Eliana’s got some ghosts to chase down some cobblestone streets.