What’s it really like being a digital nomad?

How come I travel so much? And, is it all the fun it seems to be?

My life is all quite wonderful, but it’s also quite full on. I tend to be in work mode most of the time to some degree, whether that’s working on projects, answering emails or managing social media posts! Despite being in some beautiful exotic places, it isn’t like being on vacation, where your mind is empty and free of work chatter. Even a short “holiday” could need an hour or so of work each day, to keep on top of things.

One main reason I travel so much is that I say yes to everything! That’s always my golden tip to anyone wanting to find some cool new projects! ‘Come and speak at our Garden Expo for Wisconsin Public Television?’ Yes, I’d love to! ‘Go and see what new gardening products are coming through with Chinese suppliers?’ Sure thing! ‘Report on the famous bulb-fields of Holland?’ I’m in!

It takes a lot of planning and isn’t a life for homely folk that enjoy cosy Friday nights on the sofa! Right now, I’m not sure I even have a ‘home’, although my lovely friend Lisa often provides her Suffolk home to me (mainly cos she’s never there, as she travels tonnes like me!) I tend to see life at the moment as a series of stages, blocks of time. For example, January is Holland for a week, Japan for two, then Germany for a week, on to England for a few.. then perhaps finishing up in China for New Year!

Could you cope with the logistics of planning trips that could go on for two months? Could you plan a 22kg case with clothes for business in hot Guangzhou, as well thermals for Eastern Europe? And stuff. You won’t have ‘stuff’ when you take on this lifestyle. Gorgeous sofa? Miss it? I don’t even own one! “Digitalness” means you won’t need to lug around books, CDs, portable radios, whatevs, but of course if my MacBook fails, I cry!

A few things to explain this wide travel:

I have been freelance for more than a year now, and have built up a very pleasing mixed portfolio of work, with companies that are scattered around the world! From my pivotal English work with leading plant brand, Suttons, to my return trips to Barakura in Japan to lecture at their gardening school. I also have a nice spring gig with television shopping channel HSN in Florida, not to mention ties to China, California and European locations.

It takes a LOT of diary juggling though and I am constantly feeling guilty that I can’t be available for everyone as I want to be! It’s nigh on impossible to be spontaneous, as my flights are more cost effective booked ahead, and I’ve often booked a year in advance for things too.

Another reason for this globe-scaling existence is my partner, Rafal! We met in Amsterdam two years ago, and since that time he has moved to New York. This nicely coincided with my USA assignments though, so we made it work. He is also needed at the office in China quite often, so when I need to get my head down to ‘desk work’, I can often be found hiding out either in the New York apartment or some shiny Chinese hotel.

This means I truly get that time away to work on deeper projects, and thanks to the time zones I can often find ‘quiet work time’. When I’m in America, I wake up to floods of emails and have to be discipline not to look at them with sleepy eyes. But, when I’m in Asia, I can wake up knowing I’m very much ahead of the European working day, which makes me feel super smug!

Since the world went digital, my existence has become a whole lot more possible. However, it means I can’t just ‘pop in’ spontaneously to some clients! The need for face to face has indeed reduced, although can never be discounted entirely! Plus, my TV work in the USA and UK requires my physical being!

It’s also utterly awesome to spend time in different cultures and cuisines too, and very often I’m living like a local, and not seeking out McDonald’s every day!

I’m not saying I want to live like this forever, but right now it’s going very well and I’m getting to see some awesome places, and make fantastic industry and consumer connections.

I am establishing myself well in multiple markets. I’m also learning a lot, most importantly, flexibility. And how to wash underwear in a hotel sink.

Please feel free to leave a comment!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Linda says:

    I love hearing about your nomadic lifestyle and what you get up to 😉 I hope you don’t mind but I look upon you as my digital friend.

    1. Mr Plant Geek says:

      That’s fine !!! 😍😍😍

  2. Love this ‘diary’ style piece, often wonder how on earth you manage to juggle so many countries and cultures with seeming effortlessness. By sharing your observations, you open our eyes to so many different worlds 👏🏻

    1. Mr Plant Geek says:

      Thanks so much ♥️

  3. Emma James says:

    Awe-inspiring and honest. At last, someone who truly leads a digital lifestyle who isn’t afraid to tell it how it is! I love following you on your journeys via social media and wondered how you juggled everything. Now I know. Great too that you are both able to make your relationship work despite the distance 🙂

    1. Mr Plant Geek says:

      Thank you!!

  4. Louis Riehm says:

    Michael, I don’t know how you do it. As a young boy, and a teenager, I traveled, and camp out under the stars for weeks at a time, all up and down the east coast of the States, and across the border into Canada. Now, as an adult, I don’t even want to think about it. If and when my partner and I travel, it’s not often, and it’s not longer than a week. Hotel rooms are fine in small doses, but they’re not home where we have all our personal trappings and conveniences.

  5. Di Stapley says:

    You write such great blogs, Michael. So pleased I had a chance to meet you a couple of years ago at RHS wisley for the Plants For The Future gig with Tommy from Norway. I’m fascinated by your current nomadic globe trotting existence, it must be fun and exhausting at the same time! Love your cheeky T shirt brand too. Safe travels and a very happy christmas and new year, wherever you will be! X

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