One of the best ways to learn about a topic is to ask someone who is already successful at what you’re trying to achieve. That’s why we turned to Maarten Belmans, a successful digital nomad and multiple business owner, for insight and advice on making it as a digital nomad.
TravelHacker: Why did you decide to become a digital nomad?
Maarten Belmans: I’ve always had a passion for traveling. Every chance I got, I was out and about discovering new territory. However, my 9 to 5 job didn’t give me enough freedom to go on longer trips. I was always visiting countries close to home, to minimize travel time and maximize my actual vacation.
That’s why I decided to become a digital nomad: the ability to work and travel for longer periods at a time really appealed to me.
TH: How long have you been a digital nomad?
Belmans: For about 2 years now.
TH: Where have you lived?
Belmans: Everywhere in Australia. I did a one-year camping trip, working online while living & camping on the road. Now, I’m back in my home-country Belgium, to figure out my next move.
“I decide how my day will look like and I decide the direction I want to go in.”
TH: What have been the highlights of your lifestyle?
Belmans: Being able to travel more freely is awesome, but the highlight for me is working for myself. I decide how my day will look like and I decide the direction I want to go in. To me, that’s so much better than being desk-bound in a cubicle.
TH: What do you wish you would have known before you left home?
Belmans: To start sooner. I’m fairly new at being a DN: I’ve been at it for only 2 years, while I could have started a lot sooner. I often wonder how it would be if I started earlier: would I have a thriving business by now, as opposed to still building it up?
TH: What business(es) do you have?
Belmans: I’m a WordPress & Web freelancer at https://maartenbelmans.com and I own a proofing/editing business at https://postscripting.net/, together with my girlfriend. On the side, I also run a DN Slack channel at https://nomadentrepreneurs.co/ and make web things such as https://bike-sharing.org.
TH: Are you able to support yourself in a comparable lifestyle to what you had at home?
Belmans: Not yet. I’m still building and growing my businesses and it’s definitely a lot of work. I can’t complain, but my income is way too unpredictable at this point.
“You may think it’s a dream that is impossible to reach, but nothing is further from the truth.”
TH: How does the workload compare to what you were doing before?
Belmans: I’m working more than what I was used to. The big difference is that I love what I’m doing because I’m growing something that is my own, so I don’t mind at all.
TH: Will you ever settle somewhere?
Belmans: Yes. Life on the road is awesome, but also very hard because there are so many variables you have no control over, such as finding a good internet connection. I look forward to settling down somewhere, but still travel months at a time.
Traveling through Australia taught me that having a home base to return to once in awhile is a luxury I can’t live without.
TH: Do you have any advice for aspiring digital nomads?
Belmans: You may think it’s a dream that is impossible to reach, but nothing is further from the truth. Just give it a try:
– Connect with as many DN’s you can online.
– Network like crazy
– Offer a skill you’re good at (could be web design, writing, graphics, anything really)
And see where that takes you.
Still hesitant about taking the leap? Start by figuring out if becoming a digital nomad is right for you. As always, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments below.