Pack Your Bags, Family!
Pack your bags, family!
Let’s all now go somewhere new.
To a place we’ve never been,
Where the skies are always blue.
Pack your bags, family!
This drudgery infernal,
Let’s just leave it all behind
For adventure eternal.
Pack your bags, family!
We’ve got but one life to live.
So to waste it on just work
Is a sin not to forgive.
Pack your bags, family!
As the time to act is now.
We can’t postpone our dreams, for
What will tomorrow allow?Written by Bea Cińska on April 14, 2019 in Cagliari, Sardinia
I wrote this poem when I was feeling especially inspired on a trip to Sardinia during spring break a couple of years back. A few things precipitated this poem. One – the beauty of this Italian island – with its rugged landscapes, flocks of sheep and lemon groves. Two – feelings of gratitude for having made the choices we had made a few years before in order to be able to lead such a free life. Three – doubting the name of our blog – Pack Your Bags. Those three things combined and perhaps a glass of Nuragus wine were responsible for my unusual poetic inspiration. I may not be a poet and this poem might not be that great, but it does express completely how we feel about our semi-nomadic life. And it confirmed for me the choice of the name for our blog.
Life is Short
Year 2020 reminded us how fleeting things in life are. It showed us that we cannot take things for granted, that we cannot postpone our dreams. All we have today is right now and tomorrow is not guaranteed. A crazy global event can shut down the entire world and change everything in a blink of an eye. Life is unpredictable.
Remote Work is the New Normal
Recent global events also reminded us that chaos can bring positive change. The digital nomad lifestyle has so far been a choice of a small percentage of people. However the year 2020 converted most office workers into remote workers – a cohort perfectly positioned to become digital nomads. A lot of people suddenly discovered that they do not need to be present at their downtown office desk in order to perform their job. In fact, a lot of them found out that they did their jobs better and more efficiently when commuting and meetings have been removed. Of course, not all jobs are ideal for remote work. But if your position involves primarily sitting in front of a computer and is results based then most likely you could perform that job from anywhere in the world.
What About the Kids?
But what if you have a family? What about schooling for kids? How does the digital nomad lifestyle fit in then? These are all great questions. And the short answer is – you can lead a nomadic lifestyle even if you have kids. Just like with a lot of things in life, the digital nomad lifestyle can be placed on a spectrum. Not everyone is comfortable with constantly being on the road and living out of a suitcase. Your digital nomad lifestyle could be a beautiful mosaic of lifestyle choices made just to fit your specific needs and personality. At one end of such a digital nomad spectrum, might be someone who just wants to work from home a day or two a week. At the other end, there are people including families who travel all the time without a home base and who homeschool, or rather worldschool, their kids. And then there are the people in the middle, like us, who leave behind their previous life, move to a new and exciting base and explore from there, leading a semi-nomadic lifestyle.
Enter the Digital Nomad
In fact, the only viable definition of a digital nomad, is someone who works remotely and is location-independent. How you dress that up is up to you. You might want to be untethered so that while you perform your desk job, you also run your hobby farm in the afternoons, learn tango at a competitive level in Buenos Aires (like Tim Ferriss did) or learn a new language in its natural setting. Or perhaps you would like to make time for volunteering abroad.
For us, our reason is frequent affordable travel and living abroad. The reasons and options could be varied and endless. But the one common reason behind this type of lifestyle is time and freedom to live your life on your terms. I will give you an example.
When we were living back home in the Canadian suburbia, our life looked something like this at one point or another: morning, pack kid into car, drive 30 minutes to daycare. Then drive downtown for 40 minutes for a work meeting – an hour if the traffic was especially bad, much longer if the roads were not that great after a recent snowstorm. Then small talk, meeting, phone calls, lunch, work. Oh look, it’s time to get the kid from daycare. Drive again for an hour or longer, slowly moving with traffic. Pick up the kid, grab groceries, make dinner, put the kid to bed, clean up after dinner. Exhausted, watch a movie with spouse, bed. Sleep and repeat. Weekends? Activities, errands, birthday parties, friends, yard work. Two weeks of holidays a year. You get the idea. This is what most working people’s lives look like. Frenetic, high speed, exhausting. Lots of doing with very little time for just being. Does this sound familiar to you? It’s exhausting just reading this paragraph. But life doesn’t need to look like this.
Living the Dream
We swapped the life described above for our dream life. Our ideal life needed to be simple, with ample time for family, friends, travel, hobbies, learning and fun. Our ideal life needed to be in a smaller, walkable yet more vibrant community – with people who spoke a different language, thought differently and from whom we could learn something new. And we found such a place in France.
Today, our day looks more like this. Morning, the kid takes a 5-minute walk to school. I go downstairs to our favourite boulangerie to grab a baguette or pain au chocolat. While the kid is at school, we adults spend a few hours working remotely at our jobs back home. For lunch, if not eating at home, we have a pick of dozens of cute restaurants and cafes minutes from our doorstep. On farmer market days, we literally just step outside and grab a few fresh things for dinner that day. Everything we need or want is all around us within a few minutes walk – friends, work, leisure. You name it. Our lives feel full and satisfying today compared to the frantic rushing and endless commuting back home.
Don’t Postpone Your Dreams
Everyone has a dream. Most people never get to live their dreams. Most people think they will attend to their dreams later, when the kids are grown, or when they retire. But the longer one postpones, the more likely that dream will never materialize, at least not in its ideal form. People are usually more daring when they’re younger. With age, we settle into our habits and comfort and eventually tell ourselves we are better off with the devil we know. And with age, our health and vitality wane, and maybe our dream cannot be fulfilled to its original potential, if at all.
Are You Ready to Pack Your Bags?
Whatever your dream is, you most likely need time and freedom to live it. Unless you are independently wealthy, you will need strategies on how to organize yourself in order to pursue your dream life now. We started with Tim Ferriss’s “The 4-Hour Workweek” back in 2009. But then over the years we tweaked his advice to fit our ideal lifestyle. It took time to get to where we are. If we would have had access to our current knowledge all those years ago when we first started, then the process would have been much easier and faster. But now that we have all that experience, we can help you make your transition from a regular life to an extraordinary life, a smoother one. Are you ready to pack your bags?