Ideally, life as a digital nomad keeps you moving around the globe. But sometimes you need to hunker down and enjoy your friends, have a little routine and work.
Meet my friends, Sasha Savinov and Rachel Story. They met in 2008 at a music festival and 2 years later found themselves living and working in Bejing, China.
They graduated from college – Rachel with her Music Business degree, Sasha with his Digital Media degree – and like so many, struggled to find a job to utilize their experience. Sasha took a one year position in China teaching English in 2008 while Rachel stayed in the states. But Rachel had the travel bug too – and they both traveled in 2010 to China.
Was it feasible in 2010 to earn a living online? Not really.
They taught English to Chinese students in person – and this all happened without either of them speaking Chinese. Sasha has learned conversational Chinese, Indonesian and Spanish through the course of his travels.
Fast forward to 2013, Sasha starts the blog ‘Grateful Gypsies.’ By mid 2014, they are back in Kunming, China and they are engaged at New Years, and shortly after, Sasha finds an opportunity in Bali. Yes, that Bali. Off they go.
Rachel starts to learn about blogging while Sasha studies and earns a small income from freelance writing. They begin to make plans to return to the states for a bit when Rachel discovers an opportunity to teach English online. Rachel applies for this opportunity, not really expecting it to go anywhere – and lands a job.
Sasha joins Rachel in teaching English to Chinese students online in 2016. They begin to travel all over Mexico and spend a fair amount of time in 2017 exploring South America – staying at a floating hostel off the coast of Colombia, visiting the Galapagos Islands, hiking Patagonia – all while working remotely.
They fell in love with Puerto Vallarta and decided to ‘make camp’ here for a bit. After meeting them through mutual friends, I was intrigued by their story.
Where does the name of your blog, Grateful Gypsies, come from?
We’re huge music people – we just saw our 79th Phish show together (Sasha’s 100th)! ‘Grateful’ is an homage to the Grateful Dead and ‘Gypsies’ are who we are. We wander the earth – albeit with a plan.
How does one decide to become a digital nomad?
We wanted to live a life of travel with the freedom. Adds Rachel, “I wanted to be a digital nomad before the term existed.”
What sort of skills or attributes does one need to live this kind of lifestyle?
We’re extroverts and that helps. We’re also very adventurous, we’re not fearful to try something different. We want to experience it all. It also helps if you have nothing to lose – we left the states with few possessions.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
For Sasha, it was a reverse culture shock. It was hard to be back in the states when you’ve been exposed to so much culture – food, traditions, amenities, accommodations. For Rachel, she became acutely aware that she was an extrovert – and that meant being around friends and being part of a community. That’s a bit why they settled in PV for a time – so that they could connect with familiar people. Living together on the road gets lonely at times.