Welcome to Nomad Week, a ten part series revealing the adventures, knowledge and travel tips from experienced digital nomads located all across the globe. I recently reached out to some of the best in the industry to get their perspectives on world travel and the digital nomad life. This week we will share their stories with you. Real nomads. Real stories. Find all ten interviews here.
Dateline: Tbilisi, Georgia
Michelle Dale is a digital nomad originally from England. Now she is an expat living abroad. She is the founder of Virtual Miss Friday — an Online Business Consultancy and Academy with Built-In Virtual Assistant Services — and the creator of 1nSourcing, a service that specializes in serving 6 and 7 figure business owners.
She left the UK in 2005, at the age of 23, to pursue a dream of experiencing real freedom. She has grown a successful location independent online business, traveling and living abroad full time, meeting her husband and raising 3 children. She now supports men and women around the world in cultivating their own professional and personal aspirations in the digital world.
Where are you living now?
How long have you been there?
On and off for three years, we travel during the winter months.
What’s your favorite thing about the city?
The Mediterranean way of life, the sunshine, the organic fresh produce, and the laid back vibe of the island. We live just outside of a beach resort with panoramic views of the ocean, rolling hills covered in olive trees and the white mountains. It’s really a paradise in the summer months and a wonderful place to relax, think and feel like you’re on a permanent holiday.
What’s your LEAST favorite thing about the city?
During the winter months the rain appears and it does get colder. We love hot climates so we tend to leave our home here on the island and travel over winter to somewhere with some sun. 🙂
Is there a little known fact about the city people might find interesting?
They are so generous. for example, we’ve walked into shoe shops and come out with extra pairs of shoes they’ve given our children for free, every time we go to our local grocer for vegetables, we’re given a bottle of local wine as a gift, and every neighbor will bring you something home made or home grown on a regular basis. They are simply wonderfully caring and giving people.
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever lived and why?
I have to say that my favorite place was Egypt, I was there between 2005 and 2007. I started my online business there, and it’s where I truly was able to find myself, be myself and live life on my terms. The sun shines all year round, the country is full of amazing history and wonder and it was where I met my husband, who was also traveling there from California. 🙂 It’s just magical, but sadly because of the conflict in the middle east, it’s not like it was when I was living there anymore.
What is your LEAST favorite place you’ve ever lived and why?
I have to say that I least liked Italy… That may come as quite a shock to people, but I felt that they weren’t too keen to welcome outsiders as other European countries like France, and we got snowed in for 20 days, so my dislike for cold weather may have impacted my feelings towards staying there.
What was the EASIEST country you’ve ever visited (i.e. easiest immigration, easiest to open a local bank account, etc)?
Egypt was the easiest, you can just turn up and purchase a tourist visa on arrival at the airport, then purchase another visa for a year and once you’re there, just renew it. It can all be done the same day. I was able get a bank account fairly easily as well, and there are a variety of banks to choose from.
Have you ever had any problems in a country? (i.e. immigration issues, getting robbed, etc.)
Ha ha, a fair amount. We’re a family of five, myself and my husband are from different countries ,and our three children were each born in different countries, so immigration for long term stays usually never knows what to do with us. You get used to it after a while. 🙂
I once did a property deal and handed over a fair amount of cash, later realizing that the lawyer, the owner and the land were all fake. I wasn’t able to get that back, but it’s kept me from making any similar mistakes again.
But I can honestly say that I think no matter where you go, even if you stay put in the same country you’re whole life, a majority of the problems you face will be down to fear or mindset. If you learn to just roll with life, and expect the best outcomes as you ping around from country to country, you’ll have the flexibility to handle anything.
Do you prefer one region of the world over another, and why?
I have to say that I really do love the Mediterranean lifestyle, so anywhere along the south of Europe like Spain, France and Italy, where there is a lot of great locally grown fruits and vegetables, and that chilled out sunshine vibe, I’m there, I love it! I thought Paris, Lyon and Rome were awesome for short stays, nightlife and people watching, but too busy for me to spend there long term. I like open space and plenty of ocean. Definitely love the Greek islands for the beaches, and Santorini is just gorgeous… I really loved the food in India, and the spiritual connection in the Himalayas. Egypt for it’s history and monuments, and the amazing Nile and dessert, plus you can drive a few hours and reach the red sea, which is stunning, so it has everything.
Is there anything that would make you settle down and stop traveling as much?
I think if the sun suddenly started to shine in Greece 365 days a year I’d consider settling down, but until then, we’re still going to be moving during the winter months. Which, to be honest, is a good thing. Travel broadens the mind, it opens you up to new ideas and possibilities and it’s fantastic for our children and their development into well rounded, open-minded individuals. Travel is an incredible experience, it’s a gift to be able to get on a plane, or in a car and go somewhere completely different, it’s nourishment for the soul.
Who has been the most influential person on your travels (someone that encouraged you to start, or someone who has influenced you along the way)?
My husband, for sure. When we both arrived in Egypt we were single and we’d left our countries for similar reasons. We were searching for a kind of authentic, genuine happiness that was hard to find in England where I’m from and America where he’s from, but we both found it when we began traveling, we then found each other by chance and within a short period of time from meeting each other, less than four weeks… I was pregnant.
From then on we decided that we were going to continue to travel and raise our child together to understand that home is not a place where you live, rather the love of your family. We married in France when our second child was a year old, and we now have three. He’s my soulmate and I met him because both he and I had the courage to get out there and explore the world.
If you were coaching a new nomad, what would you recommend they do to get started?
I’d recommend they set all of their fear aside, book the ticket, and not plan or research too much, because actually going there and experiencing life for real can be quite different from learning from a guide book. And also never take advice from anyone who has never set foot in the country you’re going to, or hasn’t had experience with traveling.
What country would you recommend a new nomad go to FIRST?
I don’t think there is a single place I could recommend, start with somewhere affordable for you.
What is one country that you have not been to but is high on your list, and why?
I’m torn between Bali and Thailand, so we’ll probably do both very soon. Both of these countries are ‘hot spot’ locations for digital nomads, but I would really love to soak up the culture, try the food, and delight in the scenery. That’s what travel is all about! I’m also working my way around the wonders of the world, so Rio is also on my bucket list, to see the Christ redeemer.
What was the most unexpected surprise you ever encountered as a nomad?
I think how different cultures of people can be, we’re all human, and all fundamentally the same but we can all live our lives so differently. I have a new appreciation and respect for life and nature that I didn’t have before.
What was the biggest mistake you made that other nomads can learn from?
It was linked around registering my business. If you don’t get good advice from someone who specializes in working abroad, digital nomads and people who travel as a way of life, you could end up in situations that are very difficult to get out of, where you end up paying way more than you need to. So make sure if you’re going to travel and work for yourself, you speak to a professional who understands your lifestyle choice and can best advise you on how to set up your business and finances.
How do you meet new people while living the nomad lifestyle? Do you ever get lonely?
Meeting people while living a nomad lifestyle is no different than meeting people when you’re static in one place. When you arrive in a new country you can meet people just out and about shopping or taking your children on activities. You meet people, they introduce you to other people, and so it goes. You can also join groups on Facebook of people living locally who are from your native country, so if you do ever crave a little familiarity, it’s never far away.