This post is part of our second ever Nomad Week series, where we interview interesting Nomad Capitalists all across the globe, revealing their adventures, knowledge and travel tips. I had the pleasure to chat with Digital Nomad Freedom Summit guests of which Andrew was a speaker, as well as the pioneers of industry on their perspectives on living and doing business overseas. You can read the entire series here.
Originally from Chicago, Chris Backe is a travel blogger who left US made it a point to travel to a new place, event, or festival each week. He started his blog One Weird Globe which aims to uncover the fun, offbeat, lesser-traveled, bizarre, and quirky places worth the time and effort to reach. Along with his wife, they find places like Buddhist hell temples in Thailand, nuclear bunkers in Florida, an old Star Wars set in Tunisia, a Funeral Carriage Museum in Barcelona, and lots more.
Where are you living now?
Zagreb, Croatia for about 2 months now.
What’s your favorite thing about the city (in detail)?
It’s a beautiful European town full of centuries-old buildings, while being a great introduction to Europe in general. It’s cheaper than expected (especially for dental work), and there’s plenty of cafes / bars around for socializing or networking.
What’s your LEAST favorite thing about the city?
As a travel blogger that focuses on the weird and bizarre, Zagreb doesn’t really have a lot of the weird and bizarre variety. There’s also not a huge amount of nightlife that I’ve discovered, though you can easily stay out at bars until the night buses replace the trams a little after midnight.
Is there a little known fact about the city people might find interesting?
It’s the home of the Museum of Broken Relationships, a first-of-its-type museum that collects the objects and stories of broken relationships. A fun, modern stop in a historic city.
What is your favorite place you ever lived and why?
Seoul, South Korea. Easy choice. I lived there for 5 years and got to know this behemoth inside and out. Tons to see and do, plenty of places to keep tourists of all shapes and sizes entertained, and easy to get around the rest of the country.
What is your LEAST favorite place you ever lived and why?
Bangkok, Thailand. The walk from our (decently modern) apartment to the nearest subway station took 7-8 minutes and required ignoring at least a dozen beggars, women calling out ‘massage’, taxi drivers calling out ‘taxi’. Every. Single. Day. It has some charms and is the best place to network with entrepreneurs in Thailand, but I couldn’t wait to move.
What was the EASIEST country you ever visited (ie: easiest immigration, easiest to open a local bank account, etc)?
I was about to say the US, but that’s only because I’m from there. It felt easy enough to get set up and started in Canada for the months we lived there.
Have you ever had any problems in a country? (ie: immigration issues, getting robbed, etc.)
I thank my lucky stars and knock on wood that I haven’t been mugged in 9+ years of traveling… That said, I’ve definitely overpaid for stuff when I didn’t have a solid grasp on what the ‘correct’ price was.
Immigration: Canada, twice. The first time I got flagged because I wrote I was aiming to spend six months touring Canada. 45 minutes in the serpentine line later, I state my case to an immigration official.
The second time, literally everything we owned was taken out of our car, thoroughly searched… They broke the strap on my backpack and was otherwise unconvinced I wasn’t looking to move to Canada. (I also lacked the ‘strong ties’ to the US that would have convinced them I would be returning to the US…
Do you prefer one region of the world over another, and why?
US: for the junk food, the tabletop games
Spain: for the cheap wine.
Germany: for the great beer
SE Asia: for the street food.
Is there anything that would make you settle down and stop traveling as much?
My wife and I know it’s going to happen at some point… Realistically, it’ll be for health reasons, and we’ll probably head back to Canada since she’s Canadian.
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 wife. She’s been my constant companion and has traveled more than I have…
If you were coaching a new nomad, what you recommend they do to get started?
Since I actually offer ‘nomad coaching’, this is the basic seven-step I take people through:
Step 1: know yourself and what you want
Step 2: clarify your desires and acknowledge limitations
Step 3: get affairs in order
Step 4: gear up and slim down
Step 5: the big move (from ‘old home’ to ‘new home’)
Step 6: get connected and settle in
Step 7: start enjoying your new life
The earliest steps are the most critical since they really set the tone for how the journey will look.
What country would you recommend a new nomad go to FIRST?
Their own — go to a different state or province or city and be surrounded by *some* new stuff. Learn how to navigate it before heading abroad.
What is one country that you have not been to but is high on your list, and why?
Estonia – fast internet, progressive-sounding society, lots of geek and tech stuff.
What was the most unexpected surprise you ever encountered as a nomad?
How huge the rest of the world is. If you’re an American, it’s easy to get smug since the country has a lot of land… but that’s just a fraction of the stuff to see. Being reminded you’re a speck on a much larger rock is a truly humbling experience.
What was the biggest mistake you made that other nomads can learn from?
Not thinking ahead on what I’m really trying to achieve. ‘Living for today’ is a nice way of saying ‘I have no idea what’s happening tomorrow’. Make a plan. Why do you want the nomad life? What are you willing to do to get it?
How do you meet new people while living the nomad lifestyle? Do you ever get lonely?
This is super easy. Facebook groups and bloggers have been great places to start. Most every sizable city has a group for expats/travelers. If there isn’t, make one! Zagreb has a weekly social club meeting, I play games every Tuesday with some locals…
To read more about Chris Backe and his travel adventures visit One Weird Globe.