Becoming a Digital Nomad
coding-in-mexico

I woke up today to find myself in a quaint little apartment in Mexico. My side is sore from the hard mattress, and the headboard my pillows are propped against is nothing more than exposed brick. The remaining walls are plaster, painted white and crumbling with age. Peering through a gap in the brick, I can see a lady in the building behind mine, bustling in her kitchen.

I brew some coffee to snap this fog from my head. Crooked wooden countertops slant everything at a weird angle, and as I flick on the light in the front room I see a little yellow salamander scurry under the stairs.

Outside this casa an eroded metal gate separates the front door from the road. Uneven, half gravel, it’s bordered by sidewalks that start and stop at random, and untended trees that loom awkwardly over the parked cars and passersby.

Inside, the furniture doesn’t match, the water doesn’t get very hot, and no matter what I do, there is always dust on the floor.

Now can I be perfectly honest?

 

I love every fucking part of it.

 

Two years ago I was faced with a dilemma: The world just didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t accept a life in a cubicle, stagnantly pushing papers, staring at the miniature globe on my desk and saying those dangerously limiting words “one day.” A plane ticket and a month in Europe changed everything. I came home with a new purpose; a singular view of the lifestyle I wanted.

I needed to escape… but I had to do it my way.

Sure, I could have taken off to Korea and taught English. Many of my friends have done just this. I also could have become a steward on an airline. But the problem I have with using these two vocations to achieve world travel is that if or when you decide to stop, you might come to realize that there is little demand for those skills elsewhere.

No. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right.

So I made a list, and any skill that didn’t match this list exactly would not be good enough. I asked myself, 

How do I fund long-term travel (while also being -$70k in debt from student loans)?

If I were to stop travelling after a few years, how do I make sure that my skills are in high demand no matter where I end up?

What can I do that is valued and sought after?

What pays well and would allow me to work remotely?

 

My conclusion: Learn how to code.

 

Fast forward to today, two years later, sitting here in my Airbnb in Guadalajara, Mexico, I have finally escaped the confines of geography. I taught myself to code, and by doing so I was able to secure full-time, salaried, remote employment with a tech startup. I live off weak currencies, bank the dollar, and I never need to wear a suit or deal with office politics. My commute is from the bed to my laptop, and if I feel like working from bed that day, then goddamnit, I can. And I will.

Learning to code isn’t the only answer. Any digital skill you acquire and develop can allow you to travel. Designer, developer, marketer, copywriter, illustrator, animator, podcast editor, etc. All digital skills. All self-teachable.

The world is slowly moving towards this trend, and the concept of a real job is gradually being redefined. But for me, a person who loves to build things and challenge his mind, learning to code is the answer.

So here I am, at the beginning of a journey that took two years to realize, but has been in the works for as long as I can remember.

Today, Mexico. Next month, Columbia. After that… who knows?

I sure don’t.

And that’s the best part.

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