Welcome to this week’s That One Time In – the feature where fellow travelers share their stories of travel, adventure and everything in between. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or @WhereinWorldKP – I would love to hear from you!
This week’s That One Time In features the couple behind Digital Nomadz who’s been on the road through South America for the last three years. This is their story:
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with one half of the travel blogging duo, Digital Nomadz – Steven Zwerink. This couple of traveling social entrepreneurs from the Netherlands are currently living out my lifelong dream of traveling in a renovated hippie van and seeing the world as digital nomads.
I happened to catch Steven on a very special and monumental day in their travels. See, in 2010, Steven and Diana decided to drop their corporate lives and everything that came along with it. They both wanted to see the world, be their own boss and spread a little good everywhere they go. After spending the last three years in Mexico living out of a 1972 VW Kombi Van, they are now finally setting their sights on the next country – Belize. I Skyped with Steven the night before they were meant to head out of their beloved Mexico and into a new adventure. Big night!
I was able to ask Steven about their motivation to travel, how they continue to sustain their travels and what life is really like living out of a van! Check it out:
KP: Tell me a little bit about how you and Diana decided to become digital nomads:
Diana and I were both working in corporate jobs when we met. Actually, the night we met we found a large world map, and we both looked at each other and proclaimed our desires to see the world, experience other cultures and truly feel free. At the beginning of 2011, we decided to give ourselves a year to plan, to save up some money and go adventure in December of that year. After a few months of planning and saving, we decided we couldn’t take the anticipation anymore. We quit our corporate gigs and embarked on our journey seven months earlier than we planned. Once we got to Mexico, we found ways here and there to make money or exchange our online services for free rent. You learn to get creative!
KP: It’s surely a brave adventure you’ve embarked on! What was your original plan once you got to Mexico?
Steven: We originally planned on traveling from Mexico to Argentina and back in one year. We needed to make money while on the road, so we decided we would open up our own freelancing business. Then, we created a bucket list of everything we wanted to experience during the year. We bought our beloved 1972 VW van, and we named her Nina. Soon, we quickly realised that our one year plan would be far too short, and Argentina was too far away to experience everything we wanted to in just one year. So, in 2011, we started our journey of being Digital Nomadz, and we’ve been on the journey ever since.
KP: You talked about your van, Nina – What is the most challenging part about living in a van?
Steven: Our living space is small, but that isn’t the challenging part. The challenge lies in the smart allocation of your stuff. During our first six months living in the van, we were constantly moving things from point A to point B. We are now a well oiled machine, and we know where to put the things we need for breakfast, showering, cooking diner, etc in the right order. It’s a funny and very interesting process because it forces you to be in the present moment all the time. You cannot neglect this process otherwise things end up in the wrong place where they make living in a van difficult later on.
KP: Sounds like living in a van is crazy enough, but what’s the craziest situation you’ve gone through so far?
Steven: Oooof – we’ve been through a lot of crazy things. But I think that one of the craziest moments was during our first year of the trip when we found out that we had missed a credit card bill and we had only 128.34 EUROS on all of our bank accounts. Shit had hit the fan and we thought, “This is it. This is the end of our trip, and we have to go home.” So we did what we, since then, always do. We made a pot of coffee, thought about all of our options and decided to get creative. Diana started sending emails to potential customers in Holland, and I went to talk to the owner of the campsite, where we were to able to discuss if we could maybe make a deal to stay for free in exchange for help with his website. And we could!! During the time that I was arranging this, Diana had a reply with a confirmed assignment from Holland, and in less than an hour, we went from desperate and down to smiling and ready to kick some digital nomad ass! This lesson turned out to be invaluable later on. We now deal with these circumstances a lot easier, and we have actually come to like that challenge when you really have to be creative to find a solution.
KP: Wow – I think financial stability is what stops many from traveling the world. If you have one piece of advice for all aspiring digital nomads out there, what would it be?
Steven: Our advice would be – Ask yourself the question, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if I….?” And answer that question to figure out what you can do for your Digital Nomad Lifestyle. What would you really like to get out of it? And then go do it! Pick a date, buy a ticket and create the outlines for your plan. Don’t get lost in too many details. The only certainty you have is that everything will be different from what you planned so don’t waste too much time planning! Enjoy the ride and GO GO GO, you won’t regret it! (and you can always contact us when you have questions: email@example.com)
KP: I know I’ll definitely be reaching out for help! Lastly, how do you feel about leaving Mexico tonight after living there for the last three years?
Steven: We came here planning to stay for a small period of time, but we soon realised we fell in love with the country. I guess you could say it was love at first sight. We spent a considerable amount of time in Mexico City, before even moving on to another city. We’ve spent the last three years here, and we feel like we’re a part of the country. We even got married here! It will always have a place in our hearts, but we can’t forget about our original dream. I can see the Mexico-Belize border as we speak, and we’re excited to continue the journey!
For more information on Steven and Diana’s story of being social entrepreneurs, digital nomads, world travellers and all around bad asses, visit their website at http://www.digitalnomadz.nl/.
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