By Samantha Bradsky | Reporter
Self-published author Paula Seymour lives a lifestyle curated by her ability to travel at will — or what she calls location independence.
“I’ve always pursued location independence — or having a job, earning my money to support myself in a way that doesn’t tie me to one location,” Seymour said.
Later in life, that desire drove her to the lifestyle of a digital nomad or someone who supports her traveling with her work.
She answered questions regarding her life as a digital nomad.
What made you want to be a digital nomad? How did your journey begin?
“I just always wanted to travel,” Seymour said. “I grew up in a very small town in Wisconsin, like 200 people, and I remember when I was little, I liked to climb the hill in the back of my house and look out over the Mississippi River and think, ‘There has to be a big world out there.’”
With the goal of traveling always in the back of her mind, Seymour began taking nannying jobs in various locations across the United States. She acquired a TEFL degree in Barcelona to teach English. It ended up taking her 10 years to obtain a college degree due to constantly moving around.
A few years down the line, Seymour lost her remote job working for an online company and found herself back at her parents’ home. Realizing she either needed to make money quickly to travel or was stuck, she took a self-publishing course and quickly began publishing some titles on Amazon.
“Really quickly, I was making $3,000 a month, and I kind of had it in my head the amount I needed to travel,” Seymour said. “I was like, ‘Gosh, what am I waiting for? I can go to Chiang Mai. I can go and make this work.’”
Seymour had read about the great cost of living in Thailand, particularly in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is a known hub for digital nomads and those with location independence.
“It was great,” Seymour said. “When I first got to Thailand, I just really got into a good routine and buckled down and just really grew my business from there.”
The “business” Seymour referred to is all her self-published works combined, including those she uses a ghostwriter for.
How do you balance traveling and being productive with work?
“I’m not that great at it, honestly,” Seymour said. “That is one reason why I like to do longer traveling, because if you are going to a new place every week or whatever, it is very time-consuming. Especially if you’re moving around and there’s a different language, you have to figure out the basics of life in every place. The longer you’re in a place, the more you can get into a routine.”
Seymour described the various countries and cities she visits regularly, where she has local haunts she gravitates toward to stabilize her routine. In new locations, she relies on her technology.
“The best thing about my routine is that I’ve gotten really good with my tech here — so knowing what I need,” Seymour said. “For example, now I travel with my MacBook Air. I have an external keyboard. I have the Roost Stand that brings it [the laptop] up because I’ve really suffered with things like back pain.”
Seymour said the key to establishing precedence for her productivity in a new place is getting into a writing routine as soon as possible. She said she loves the flexibility working for herself provides.
What is your top advice for aspiring digital nomads?
“Just based on my own experience, really, I would encourage someone not to wait,” Seymour said. “Like, I could have done it [started traveling] a lot sooner than when I did.”
What are some resources for aspiring digital nomads to be aware of?
Facebook groups were (and are) huge for Seymour when getting connected in a new place.
What is your favorite part about being a digital nomad?
“My favorite part — and this is what I’ve come to learn about not being able to travel with the pandemic — it just really made me realize I love that every time you got to a new place, you’ve got to figure stuff out,” Seymour said. “You’re just always being stimulated to learn something or meet someone. I think you feel really alive when you are traveling.”
What is your least favorite part about being a digital nomad?
“My least favorite part might be the loneliness if you’re doing it by yourself,” Seymour said. “I am very introverted, and I don’t really need to travel with anybody. But I would say, at times, you’re doing things, and maybe if you are in a new place, you’re having all these experiences, and sometimes it’s nice to have someone to share that with right in the moment.”