How a Digital Nomad Brought Me a Piece of Home in Peru

by Sophia Bera on May 7, 2014

I was in the middle of the Amazon staying at a jungle lodge, struggling to survive without Wi-Fi. My hierarchy of needs at the time went something like: water, food, shelter, Wi-Fi, Kindle.

Notice how clothing didn’t make the list. At that moment, I would rather have been naked with Wi-Fi then fully clothed without a lick of Internet access. Pathetic? Maybe to some. But the Internet is how I connect with the world.

When I was lacking that digital connection, I was dying to tweet you all pictures of the baby warthog that lives at the lodge. I wanted everyone to see how lush the jungle was, how beautiful the butterflies were, and what the birds looked like there.

And a few days prior to my Wi-Fi-less-ness, I was in the lovely town of Cusco, Peru. There, I not only had a fabulous Internet connection, but also the opportunity to hang out with my new blogging-buddy-turned-real-life-friend, Niall Doherty. It was another reminder that the blogosphere is much smaller than I realized.

Disrupting the Rabblement

I’ve been following Niall’s blog for a few years. I knew that anyone who has a blog called Disrupting the Rabblement was someone destined to become a friend of mine. I received his newsletter about a week before, and in it he stated that he was held up in Cusco getting some work done. I was in Lima at the time I decided to email him to see if he wanted to connect. Sure enough, he did and we met the next evening at the Plaza de Armas. I recognized him immediately from his YouTube videos.

Circumnavigating the Globe

As we chatted over soup in a nearby restaurant, Niall told me about his travels over the last two and a half years. He’s been traveling around the world without flying and his latest adventures involved a 26-day cargo ship ride from Japan to Peru (he even wrote a book about it called The Cargo Ship Diaries).

As I listened to his adventures I kept thinking about how much I love that he has the ability to work anywhere. He is a true “digital nomad” and it’s fantastic. I asked if he gets lonely and he said, “no, not really, because I have internet, so I can connect with people.”

Wi-Fi, Work and the World

I had been in Peru a few days and was feeling a bit lonely when I arrived in Cusco, but getting to meet and hang out with Niall lifted my spirits that night. I felt like I was talking to an old friend. We had so much in common, knew some of the same people, followed some of the same bloggers, and laughed the night away.

In some way, although this was our first time hanging out face-to-face and in person without a screen separating us, the meeting felt familiar somehow. Talking to him felt like I was connecting with a little piece of home. It was the best of both worlds: I had that familiar connection while getting to experience a totally foreign land. It was definitely something I want to continue doing.

My days in Peru consisted of hiking, eating great food, and meeting up with new friends. I was able to get some work done in the mornings or evenings for an hour or two and I enjoyed it.  I want to be able to work from anywhere in the world and Wi-Fi allowed me to do just that.

As I embark on more travels, I wonder if it will be my blogger friends that ground me and provide a sense of home?

What It All Means for Gen Y Planning

I am building Gen Y Planning to be a location independent financial planning firm so that I can have more experiences like these. I love being a modern-day financial planner that works virtually, which is an excellent arrangement for not only myself but also my clients.

We’re able to chat in a way that most Millennials prefer – via online tools like Skype and Google Hangouts. It’s low-key, relaxed, and super convenient. I love being able to offer my clients the option to chat about their finances from the comfort of their own home on their own time.

I also want to bring lessons learned from traveling and experiencing new places and people to my practice. Travel helps us to grow as individuals, and I want to translate that growth into better things for Gen Y Planning and my clients that rely on me to provide comprehensive financial planning.