An Interview With A Digital Nomad And Vanlifer

An Interview With A Digital Nomad And Vanlifer

I came up with the idea recently to interview digital nomads and creatives who are now living a life they love. I want to inspire others to live the life you want. It is possible.

I decided to reach out to vanlifer and digital nomad, Nikki Bigger. I’ve followed her and her partner Ben for a while now and I’ve been inspired by them and their journey. I wanted to ask Nikki some of the struggles of being a digital nomad, the highs and lows and everything in between. Let’s dive in!

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m Nikki, 29 years old from Kingston, Ontario. I live full-time in my self-converted Ford Transit van with my partner Ben. We are both Commercial Photographers, we love to hike, adventure and explore new locations. We will soon have a cute pup come the end of June and we cannot wait!
An interview with a digital nomad and vanlifer

What’s the best part about van life and what’s the worst?

The best part is the freedom and the low amount of bills. I never felt free growing up, society & people always told me what I should do, but since the vanlife, I finally know that this is the perfect path for me and the freedom is amazing! The worst part (although there aren’t many), would be always having to top up water, empty water along with the toilet stuff as well. It’s definitely my least favorite part about vanlife, but it’s worth doing to live in the van!

What would your advice be for someone wanting to become a digital nomad?

I would say do it! There is no time like the present and this moment may not ever come again. Research your heart out on how to make income on the road, build that van you’ve always been dreaming of, because regret is a horrible feeling, don’t look back on your life and wish you would have done these things.
nikki bigger

What’s your favourite place that you’ve visited or stayed?

Queenstown New Zealand. It’s an amazing location and it’s where I lived in a van for the first time! I loved this spot so much and I keep dreaming about it!

How long have you been living the van life?

Total 3 years. 2 years in New Zealand and 1 year in Canada.
An interview with a digital nomad and vanlifer

Is van life something you’d love to do forever?

1000% or tiny house life! I cannot wait to build a tiny house or a cabin! But I will always have a van because I love adventures.

Is it hard to make money while on the road?

It could be hard if you don’t have a remote job, but there are so many ways to make money on the road. Whether it be teaching English, social media management and loads more! If you want something, work as hard as you can to get it!

What made you decide to live the digital nomad life?

I felt trapped in society and couldn’t stand the typical way of life. I knew there was something better out there and had the courage to go find it!
An interview with a digital nomad and vanlifer

What’s one thing you wish you’d known before starting this journey?

Don’t buy an old van. Invest in a newer van. I bought a 30 year old van in NZ for $5000, ended up putting $7000 into it because it kept breaking down. The stress and hassle is not worth it.

You can follow Nikki’s journey here:

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Tips For Working From Home

Tips For Working From Home

Whether you’re new to remote working or you’ve been working from home for a while, you may find these tips useful for when you have little motivation or feel overwhelmed.

Take Breaks

When it comes to working from home, one of my biggest tips for you is to take breaks. I sometimes find that I will get up and work for hours at a time without taking a bathroom break or even grabbing a glass of water. I used to do this when I worked 9-5 as well. However, it’s not healthy. Take regular breaks. Don’t do what I have done and work from 8am-2pm without a single break.

I know you want to get that work done and it may be important, but so is your health. Go out for a walk on your lunch break, watch an episode of Riverdale on Netflix. Anything to take a short break and then you can continue with your work. Remember to drink!

Tips for Working From Home

Work When It Suits You

Just because you used to work 9-5 doesn’t mean you have to do the same from home. Some people are more motivated in the morning, some have more energy in the evenings or at night.

Some freelancers will tell you it’s not healthy to work at night but if that’s when it suits you and you feel ready to work at that time, go for it! Everyone has different preferences. Anyway, you’re freelance, you can work whenever you want!

Just remember to set aside time for friends, family or to do your own thing. It could be during the week, weekends or any time that suits around your schedule.

Set Boundaries

Some clients can be very demanding and they can ring you up at 9pm on a Wednesday and ask you to do something. Make sure you set boundaries from the beginning of your contract.

The likelihood is you don’t need to do that task right away, it can wait until the next day. However, when I’m asked to do something immediately, I can’t stop thinking about it until it’s done.

Setting boundaries can be difficult if you work from home because clients can contact you any time. I have a few tips on how to set boundaries with clients when it comes to working from home:

  • Get a work phone that you can turn off (this can be used as one of your expenses)
  • Uninstall Gmail, Zoom, Skype etc from your phone when you’re not working
  • Send a polite email stating your working hours if asked to do something “out of hours”
  • Have an out of office email for the days/hours you don’t work

Eat Healthy

This is one I still struggle with myself. But another tip I have if you’re working from home is to cook meals and make packed lunches as you would if you were commuting to work. You need to make sure you eat properly and don’t go without. BBC Good Food has a few easy recipes you can use!

Tips for Working From Home

Have A To Do List

I find that having a to do list of all the tasks I have to complete that day super helpful. I have a long term to do list of things I need to continue doing every week/month and a to do list for the day ahead. This could just be in your notes on your phone but it may be helpful to write it down on paper!

Don’t Cut Yourself Off

It can be so easy to stay in the house and get completely isolated when working from home, so make sure you take regular walks, even if it’s just twenty minutes. Schedule in dates to see friends, go out for dinner, spend time with family. I find that if I have no travel plans or plans to meet up with people, I can fall into a pit of depression and so I need to make sure I do something once a week to get out of my head – and the house.

Take Up A Hobby

Taking up a hobby, whether it’s drawing, writing, knitting or dancing is good for you, whether you work from home or not. However, I find that because I work from home during the day there’s a lot of classes and groups on. You could go to your local library for a reading group, start pole fitness, learn street dancing or take up an activity at home.

Tips for Working From Home

Exercise

By exercise, I don’t mean having to go to the gym and working out on a treadmill for an hour. You could do some yoga at home or go for a run or just a long walk. Staying at home all the time can be negative not only for your mental but also your physical health so you need to make sure you’re regularly moving about.

And don’t forget to have fun! Working from home can have its downsides but I wouldn’t change what I do for the world.

Female Creative Series: Q&A with Beauty Blogger Chichi

Female Creative Series: Q&A with Beauty Blogger Chichi

I started a female Creative Series to celebrate the women around us who work hard and hustle in the creative jobs. This week I spoke to Chichi, a beauty blogger who lives in Cambridge.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Chichi and I’m a beauty blogger. I’m from London and I currently live in Cambridge. In my spare time I like to read books, watch YouTube videos, visit museums and blog!

What do you do for a living?

I work in digital media and marketing. I specialise in content writing and copywriting, but I’ve also worked in content marketing, blogger & influencer outreach and social media management.

What made you decide to do what you do for a living?

I kind of fell into the digital media world. My original plan was to become a journalist and work in traditional media – I wanted to work as a beauty and fashion journalist for magazines. But after discovering the digital media world and realising that I could write for online media, I chose to do that instead.

What would be your advice for someone looking to go into your profession?

If you want to enter the industry then definitely try to get some experience and build up your network. Your network is your net worth! Consider taking professional qualifications – this is something I am working on right now. Also, create a website or portfolio to showcase your best work.

What are some of your hobbies or skills that you’d like to improve this year? 

I’m currently teaching myself to play the keyboard after briefly learning as a child. The thing is that learning to play an instrument requires so much practice and consistency so I need to keep it up and keep it going.

What’s a quote that makes you feel empowered/motivated?

“Your value does not decrease based upon someone’s inability to see your worth.”

Can you tell us some of your favourite female creatives you love to support? Feel free to link to their socials or blogs!

I am always reading blogs and these are some of my favourites:

Sophie Milner (formerly Fashion Slave)

Gemma Louise

A Woman’s Confidence

Kate La Vie

Albertine Sarah

Demi Colleen

Cruelty-Free Kitty

Can you recommend your top 5 books for creatives? 

The Joy Of No

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

What A Time To Be Alone by Chidera Eggerue

The Courage To Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight

You can find Chichi on her socials:

Blog: https://www.chichiwritesbeauty.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chichiogwe
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/chichiogwe/

 

Christmas Markets – Frankfurt

Christmas Markets – Frankfurt

Last weekend we visited Frankfurt and its Christmas markets. We packed jumpers, coats, hats and scarves but the weather was just the same as the UK.

My aim was to have a Baileys hot chocolate, come back with a mug and have a pretzel the size of my face – which I did.

We arrived really late on Friday night and stayed at the Bristol Hotel next to the train station. After someone (Oliver’s dad) forgot the directions, we eventually made it to the hotel after 45 minutes but it should have taken 5 😂

We woke up, had breakfast and walked to where the Christmas markets are. We stopped in a store that reminded me of Flying Tiger before heading into the markets to grab hot chocolate with amaretto.

We stayed out for a few hours to take pictures, buy drinks and get some food. There were so many stalls, from food, drinks to hardware and Christmas ornaments. I’ve never seen a market so big. We also walked over a bridge the other side of the river where there were a few flea markets and we also went into a large church with a choir performing.

We went back to the room for a while and caught up on I’m a Celeb before going out again at 7pm to see the markets in the dark.

We ended up having a Maccy D’s. We always like to see the difference in food choices when we go away. You can make your own mcflurrys and get different types of burgers. In France you can even get seafood.

On Sunday we got up, had breakfast at the Bristol Hotel and headed off to the markets again. This is when I bought my pretzel (it only cost €3.50). I also managed to get myself a Baileys hot chocolate! First time I’ve ever tried Baileys and I definitely approve.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed attending my first European Christmas Market. It was so festive and I can’t wait to go to a new Christmas Market again.

A few tips for anyone thinking of going to a Christmas market:

  • If you buy a mulled wine or hot chocolate, you’ll pay more for the mug and get a token. If you take the mug back, you’ll get some money back. If you decide to keep it, just swap it for a clean mug.
  • Bring warm clothes such as a coat and hat but don’t worry about bringing gloves and scarves as it’s currently the same temperature as it is in the UK.
  • Check times of when markets open and close before you go and see if you can find any secret markets or indoor stalls.

The Pros and Cons of Being Freelance

The Pros and Cons of Being Freelance

In some ways, freelance can give you a sense of freedom that you don’t get with being on a contract. However there are some downfalls…

Pros

  • You can manage your time better when you aren’t being nagged to do something by a colleague sitting right next to you. You can take your time and work on your own terms and hours.
  • You can sit in your pajamas all day if you really want to!
  • You can eat whenever you want without Susan sitting in the corner judging you for snaffling three twix bars in a row…
  • You can have as many clients/gigs as you can manage.
  • You’re effectively your own boss.
  • You avoid the commute in and out of work meaning you have that precious time to yourself.
  • You don’t have to work with people you dislike and who just watch you out of the corner of their eye.
  • You don’t have to worry if you’re a bit sick to go into work, you can probably work from home! (Unless you have the flu…)
  • You can take as much holiday when you want.
  • You can work however much you want with no cap.

Cons

  • It can get lonely being at home all the time.
  • You aren’t guaranteed to be kept on with some clients.
  • You have an uneven amount of money from working odd hours.
  • You don’t get paid sick pay.
  • You don’t get paid holiday or bereavement pay.
  • You have to work out all aspects of your business, including the dreaded tax.
  • Having multiple clients wanting things done at the same time.

Do you think the pros outweigh the cons? Would you consider going freelance or staying employed on a permanent contract? Let me know in the comments! Vee x

Sadler’s Wells Review: The Thread

Sadler’s Wells Review: The Thread

So on Friday night I went to see the world premiere of Russell Maliphant and Vangelis’ The Thread.

First of all, I want to take a moment to appreciate the costumes designed by Mary Katrantzou. The outfits fit in so well with the Greek myth concept.

The dancing wasn’t like anything I’ve ever seen before, it was flowing one moment and then fast paced the next. The balance between both worked well, as did the music alongside it. I really enjoyed the calming, tranquil melody of Vangelis’ work. It almost made me feel like I was doing meditation because it was that type of music.

‘In a word, or rather, in a line, the Thread is the energy which connects us to the universe.’ I really felt this when all the dancers were synchronising together. The mixture of dance and movement and music was oddly calming. The only part that wasn’t relaxing and a little bit of a let down was a song that made my head spin. It sounded like cow bells being banged hard against the floor. It made me put my fingers in my ears!

However, I did feel connected in that moment when they all danced in a rhythm together. But apart from that song, I absolutely loved all of the performances, from the solos to the group dances. They all told a story which felt magical.

The lighting by Michael Hulls, which I wouldn’t usually comment on, was actually really well executed to make the dancers seem like they disappeared in one place and popped up in another.

I found myself amazed at the fact all these dancers could remember all of that choreography. It was quite a magical evening with the idyllic music and storyline. I would definitely recommend seeing the Thread for the dancer’s amazing effortless performance and Vangelis Oscar winning music.