Meet Tomy and Marina – a traveling couple who found their dream job in working remotely. Learn what it takes to build the perfect remote work setup.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you are currently up to?
We are Marina and Tomy, better known together as MadeinMoments. We met through work, where we found a rhythm in the way we finished projects. Creating a blog was pretty much a no-brainer for us.
Tomy: I’m a Product Designer. For the last few years I’ve been working with mostly ad agencies and startups. After leaving my office job, I started to do some freelancing, landing myself some really cool projects. I’m currently working remotely for an awesome startup called Pond5, plus maintaining my own projects like Mockuuups.com and our many joint projects with Marina (MadeinMoments.com, MadeinDays.com, and most recently MadewithLux.com)
Marina: I’m a writer and a singer. Yeah, I know, what does singing have to do with traveling? Well, you’ve got to get inspired somewhere. As for the writing, it’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid. I love writing about topics like travel because it’s contemporary and can inspire people to get out and do something to improve their own lives.
What was your motivation to go nomadic? How did you start and what obstacles did you have to overcome to achieve location independence?
Looking back, going nomadic was probably the only real solution to our personal vendettas…
Tomy: It was easier for me than for Marina. I had been trying to get a “dream job” in several big American companies for over a year, constantly being stopped by visa processing and other complications. After the third loss I realized that the dream job was right here for the whole time. Traveling and freelancing around the world was my dream come true. I just needed to convince Marina to do it with me :) Next thing you know, we were packing carry-on luggage for the long haul.
Marina: Going nomadic was particularly difficult for me because of our dog, Ruby. She’s my baby. Right now she’s staying with my mom in California until we go to the States for our cross country road trip. We will be taking her back to Europe when we’re done checking out the American South.
You mentioned you took part in the Tech Beach – what was your experience, takeaways and what value do you see in this kind of events/workations?
Tomy: Two designer buddies and I got the idea of Tech Beach over few beers back in Prague :) Four designers at the original Surf Office in Gran Canaria redesigning one startup app for the whole month while surfing, hiking and brainstorming on a beach. That’s literally what we did, and I really enjoyed it. Meeting other people with the same mindset gives you a clear vision of how awesome nomadic life can be. And meetups while grilling with a few beers makes better connections than all those #waytooserious corporate workshops :)
Marina: Well, I didn’t really participate too much in Tech Beach since my client never showed up! Yeah, it happens. In any case, I learned a thing or two about the nomadic lifestyle… sometimes you meet people who seem like lifelong friends. But once they get on their way you realize that you’ll probably never see them again. It’s sad but also somewhat exciting once you learn to accept to live in the moment.
What makes working on the road personally appealing to you? What keeps you doing it and what are your biggest rewards from it?
Marina: I was never happy in the office. I’m simply not cut out for it. All the gossip, waking up at 7, busy subway trains, and naggy bosses just don’t do it for me. So, when Tomy came up with the suggestion of working on the road, my imagination began to wander. After all, I always did get more work done from the coffee shop than I did at my office desk or living room sofa. That and my singing career was just not moving at all. I guess you could blame it on “stationary writer’s block.” Now I have something to keep me #inspired!
Tomy: As Marina said, working from an office was never our cup of tea. Being a designer, I was used to working with a bigger monitor and tablet. Working from a different coffee shop every day seemed impossible… until I simply did it. And now I love to go to different co-working spaces with their own unique atmosphere. It helps to focus more and get the job done faster.
Do you guys follow any kind of routine or productivity workflow while working on the road. Share your hacks ;)
We’re definitely not morning people, so we like to start our #workflow at around lunch until late night. This is especially convenient when it comes to meeting client timezones and deadlines in the West while we explore the East.
As for #productivity, we’re in the habit of working for a day or two, then exploring for a day or two. We like to search Foursquare and other travel/expat blogs for work-friendly cafes and spaces.
We also like to use a few tools to keep us on track. For our joint projects we like to use Trello as a task manager and Google Spreadsheets for keeping tabs on things like interviews and other blogging opportunities. But no matter how many awesome tools come out online Marina still carries a paper calendar around in her luggage. #oldschool
How do you fund your travels and how do you ensure consistent income while traveling?
Tomy: It’s actually very simple… we’re spending the same now as we did when we lived in one place. Freelancing in Prague helped me get used to not having much stability, to live in the moment. All my years in the design community got me a great set of contacts for whom there’s always some work to do. As I mentioned before, I’m now starting as a full time remote designer for Pond5, so we’ll see how the whole “stability” thing works out for me.
We’re also working on bringing some income from our own projects. We had some success when we launched our line of hand-made wallets MadeinDays.com, Mockuuups.com is a great way to get some extra cash, and now hopefully our blog will start making some nice money too, now that we’ve added a new feature for subscribers to download free travel and food stock photos. In the future we plan to sell bundles of photos according to theme.
What are the biggest challenges of being digital nomads and how do you handle them?
Our financial responsibilities and travel expectations make it hard to agree on joint challenges. We may be in this together, but the experience is slightly different from opposite ends of the field.
Tomy: One thing that can be a practical struggle is living from a small suitcase, which is not always ideal. Buying new stuff in every location and throwing away old ones before leaving can also be tiring not just on the wallet but on the mind. That being said, the biggest challenge for me is to provide enough money for living comfortably and to travel wherever we want while not spending 24/7 behind the computer stressing the $*** out of myself :) Hack for it? Still didn’t find any.
Marina: I’ve been traveling my whole life, constantly moving from one house to another, switching schools every two years or less. As much as I love to discover new lifestyles and landscapes, I’m already starting to feel the call of homesickness. It will most likely be an important factor of our future travels. Instead of short, hyperactive trips we’ll be looking at a more settled style of discovery. Say, a month in each destination. That and living out of a carry on suitcase is really frustrating. I also maintain a style blog and several beauty blogs… sometimes that one missing product or piece can really send me reeling. I don’t have the wallet for new products every week.
What do you think is the weakest aspect of digital nomad community like Nomadlist and what is the potential to improve it?
Marina: It seems to me that the digital nomad community is doing very well! I surely didn’t expect much accommodation for such a lifestyle in some of the places we’ve visited. What I think would improve this lifestyle, perhaps even open the doors for new nomads is the world viewing of nomadism. I still get people my age (or younger) freaking out when I tell them I don’t live anywhere and that we work from cafes. They shake their heads and warn me that I’d better pick a college quick or else I’ll end up like a 60s hippie. Seriously?
Tomy: There is such a huge variety of digital nomads. From hostel backpackers, to average couples traveling, to luxury travelers… it’s impossible to give the perfect recommendation for all of them because they’re all on different budget restrictions and lifestyle choices. For example, for us a lot of places from Nomadlist have totally different budget expectations than what we actually need. But the weather and wifi helps :)
I also see huge growth potential for coworking/coliving places. There are new ones opening really often now. Putting these places on the map (for example on Nomadlist) will definitely help make our decisions for new locations easier.
What do you think is the future of digital nomadism and how do you see remote work evolving?
Digital nomadism is the beginning of a new era. Our parents already have a hard time understanding why we didn’t finish college and now they’re going to have to accept that we don’t even have “real jobs.” What they don’t realize is that this lifestyle is changing the definition of “work,” with every new person, couple, or family on the road.
In the future, who knows? Maybe we won’t need corporate headquarters at all! Public schools may even be a thing of the past… anything is possible.
What advice would you give to someone who is ready to take that leap into the digital nomad life and work style?
It’s just hard to make the first step and get out of your comfort zone. Trust me, after that you’ll never regret that you did it. Bon voyage!
Follow Tomy’s and Marina’s adventures and tips on MadeinMoments, Twitter and Instagram.
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How a nomadic couple found their dream job, remotely