Digital Nomad adventures in Ho Chi Minh
Riding the local bus in Ho Chi Minh. We had no idea where we were going but somehow we found our way back to our accommodation.

Chào bạn! That means ‘hello’ in Vietnamese. I know this because I just googled it. I have no idea how to pronounce it but I expect that I will learn over the next few months as Vietnam has become my temporary home as I give this whole digital nomad thing a go. I haven’t yet found a home base here, but I think that will happen next week when we reach Nha Trang. People tell me disdainfully that it’s like the Gold Coast of Vietnam. I bet I’ll love it.

Last week I attended the annual Problogger conference on the Gold Coast. (See, I told you I love the Goldie). It was my second appearance. It’s a fabulous conference and despite its name, it not just for bloggers. It’s one of the best conferences for a business of any size to attend and excellent value. But more about that in a future blog post…

When the ProBlogger conference dates were announced, my husband TJ, ever the serial travel bargain spotter snaffled some cheap tix to the Goldie for the three of us (seriously, this guy finds the most AMAZING travel deals). Being a serial travel bargain spotter, he later found an amazing deal for tickets for our family to fly from the Goldie to Kuala Lumpur – $A480 for three people! Bargain! Could we go for an extended adventure?

Vietnam has become my temporary home as I give this whole #digitalnomad thing a go. Click To Tweet

The seed was planted

Would I be able to grow my copywriting business enough to sustain us while we were away? Who would look after our dog? How would my family cope without the Monsta for a few months? How would people contact me by phone?

Navigating the streets of Ho Chi Minh
It’s a bit of change from the quiet suburban streets of Point Cook to Ho Chi Minh, but thankfully the usually fearless Mr Alex is displaying some fear of the roads.

Going for an extended period of time wasn’t an easy decision. Sure, I’ve travelled for extended periods before. I’ve lived in South Korea and China and worked briefly in Taiwan. But that was back in my younger and carefree mortgage-free days.

We have a mortgage to pay. We have other house expenses. Then there’s my husband’s job. A daycare place to hold onto. But one by one, we navigated each obstacle.

  • My copywriting business is doing well enough to sustain us here and pay the mortgage etc. back home. It will be tight and there will be no five-star accommodation, but we’ll make it work on a budget.
  • My husband was offered and accepted a redundancy package from a job he despised. Hooray! (Thank you, Universe!)
  • My brother is looking after my dog (he even set up a web cam so we can check on her whenever we like, naaaw).
  • My sister is coming to visit us in October and we’re Skyping with my parents at Thursday night dinners.
  • My niece is housesitting.
  • Daycare is charging us a reduced rate to hold onto The Monsta’s place while we’re away.
  • I got myself a Melbourne-based Skype number that people can call and reach me anywhere in the world I have internet access. It all came together.

The real challenge: carry-on only baggage

Having spent time in KL earlier this year on our way to visit family in South Korea, we decided not to stay in Malaysia and fly straight to Vietnam. And when our luggage was last on the baggage carousel after EVERY flight (seriously!) that trip, we decided to go for carry-on only. Why not? Warm climate requires minimal clothing, right?  That’s been a challenge for this serial over-packer and suitcase lover. But we did it. And I’m coping. Just.

No more winters in Melbourne?

After the ProBlogger conference last year, I was determined to build my business to the point where we didn’t have to endure winter in Melbourne, at least while our son is not yet in school. I missed my deadline by a few months and we endured another cold, miserable and grey Melbourne winter, but instead of ProBlogger being the end of a trip, it became our starting point.

I was also planning to make passive income streams but I’m trading dollars for time as a copywriter. But that’s OK. I’ll put my copywriting skills to use over the coming year to create those ‘passive’ products.

So here we are in Vietnam. I have a lot of client work to do so I haven’t seen much so far. I didn’t expect my work to THIS busy. I’m not complaining. It’s a wonderful problem for a self-employed copywriter to have. I am learning heaps about how to become a digital nomad.

Tomorrow we’re going to Hanoi for  a few days and from there, when we’re ready, we’ll fly to Nha Trang and if we love it as much as I think we will, we’ll set up a base there for a few months. TJ will put his serial travel bargain spotting skills to good use and find us a few ‘holidays’ within our holiday as a reward for doing some excellent copywriting work.

By the way, I won three copywriting gigs this week. Thank you, Universe. Yes, we made the right decision to come here.

Have you done a stint as a digital nomad?  Where did you go and how did it go? Have you wanted to but it’s not happened yet? What’s held you back? Let me know in the comments below.


Also published on Medium.

    20 replies to "Becoming a digital nomad"

    • Abby

      Such an exciting adventure! Can’t wait to hear more about the nomadic lifestyle.

      • admin

        Thanks, Abby. Hopefully not too nomadic. I’m hoping to set up a base in the next week or so to give us some more stability and familiarity. Can’t wait to find our fave local restaurants and get into a daily habit of walking, swimming, writing, eating yummy food etc.

    • Nat

      Enjoyed reading about your first week there! Ive never been to Vietnam so am looking forward to following your journey. Sounds like you have some solid goals and plans in mind!

      • admin

        Hanoi next. But I’m so looking forward to getting to Nha Trang and setting up a base. I don’t know about the ‘nomad’ part of this digital nomad thing. Digital stay-putter? LOL

    • jenny de lacy

      I think it’s incredible. I am completely in awe of anyone who works away from home base, and with a kid on board as well. Good on you Sandra. Looking forward to more instalments while you’re away xx

      • admin

        Thank, Jenny. TJ has stepped up to become Alex’s primary carer while we’re abroad and while it’s lovely to have Alex start to make his demands on someone else, it’s also tearing my soul a little bit as he becomes more independent and doesn’t need his mama quite so much. Interesting times!

    • Rose Mitchell

      looking forward to reading your adventures. They say if you find a job where you can pursue your passion and do what you love, it wont feel like work. It sounds like you have your dream job. x

      • admin

        This is so true. I really do love what I do and I am attracting the most wonderful clients to work with. I love reading about your family’s amazing adventures – FOUR kids, 12 months. I only have one three-year-old to wrangle X

    • Claire Bear

      Gday San L. Before you settle, have you thought about HoiAn as a base? I hear nothing but excellent things about it from my Asia-based buddies. (Been almost 15 years since we where there so don’t think I’m qualified to comment) Could possibly offer you a little more “zen” than Vietnams Gold Coast. Also, I’ll be in Siem Reip first week be of December. Fancy a little side-trip? And of course our doors are always open to you & fam in Jakarta!! Wouldn’t that be fun! ????

      • admin

        We’ll be going to Hoi An for sure but I’m definitely keen to check out the bustle of Nha Trang. There’s no reason why we couldn’t settle in Hoi An for a bit if we really love it there, too. That’s the beauty of this trip and our carry-on baggage. We also want to go to Dalat and Danang. I don’t think we’ll make to Jakarta this trip but of course, we’d always come and visit if we go to Indo. We’ll either be on our way home or in Thailand by early December (we need to save Steve from the dog… and he’s going to crew for Kevin in the next Coast to Kosci so we’ll have to be back by then to pick her up).
        S x

    • Emma

      This is wonderful San! I am now officially living vicariously through you! So impressed by the carry on only too, that is no mean feat especially with a child. Love how it’s all coming together for you, look forward to following you on this awesome adventure (am taking notes!) Em x

      • admin

        Zomg I wish we’d been even more conservative with our packing. Everything is full to the brim. No room for extras.

    • Sam - Journo and the Joker

      Sounds like you have an awesome time ahead. Make sure you visit Hoi An, it’s beautiful and the food is fabulous.
      And you might want to consider Cambodia as one of your little side trips 🙂
      Enjoy your adventure.

      • admin

        The second recommendation for Hoi An on this post 🙂 We’ve talked about going back to Angkor Wat, so if we do end up in Cambodia, I’ll look you up 🙂

    • Sherry

      Woo hoo! Well done Sandra,! Will miss you at lunches and co working days but I’d love to learn more from you about where and how to find copywriting work. Will be following your journey. X

      • admin

        Oooh, where to find copywriting work. That sounds like a good idea for a blog post! I’ll message you with my number 1 tip
        S x

    • Karen

      I’m so glad to hear this has all fallen in to place for you. I’m really enjoying your updates. Have a great time and don’t work too hard! ????

      • admin

        Hee hee, I plan to work VERY hard… but I’ll leave plenty of time to enjoy being here.

    • Donna Barnekow

      Such an amazing thing to do, great to have role changes within the family, enhancing little Alexs’ personality and of course, planning to avoid Melbourne winters is a goal that resonates with me, big time! Enjoy xxx

      • admin

        Thanks, Donna! I’m looking forward to following your progress over the coming months. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be living it up in QLD together next winter 🙂

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