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.