How I Started Being a Digital Nomad

at Taal Volcano with my laptop

at Taal Volcano with my laptop

Looking back when I was in high school before graduation, my classmates were so excited deciding on what courses to take in college. While me, I was just too silent in the corner looking at them as I was not sure if I was able to study in college. My parents are not rich and don’t have stable jobs. But I have a course in mind that was to take Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.

I could not deny that I heard some of my classmates took up nursing in order to work abroad. I could not blame them as the wage is bigger there compared working as a nurse in the Philippines. Some even landed on volunteering work in the hospital without pay here in Cebu after graduation. But the joy of serving the people is self-fulfilling. I see some of them who are now working abroad in the hospital, some here in the Philippines, and some as call center agents handling medical-related accounts.

I see some of my other classmates who are very successful as engineers, accountants, teachers, and others are happily married with their family life.

at Bohol Bee Farm while working on my laptop and chilling on the jacuzzi

at Bohol Bee Farm while working on my laptop and chilling on the jacuzzi

 

Why BSIT?

I took Bachelor of Science in IT for practicality. If I could not able to finish the 4-year course, at least 2 years is fine and you will have the Associate Degree in Computer Technology. Oh yes, I wanted to have my own computer with internet connection. I was also thinking to work at home and travel at the same time. If I could travel out of the country, I make sure that it is for leisure/vacation and not for working abroad.

How I Started Working Online?

Through friend’s recommendation I signed up on Odesk.com as a data entry operator. For the love of blogging I set up a blog. In a way I could practice my writing although I am not a good writer. For the love of Adobe Photoshop, I added graphic design as one of my skills. In short, having a blog helped me as my portfolio. That is when I started to be an all-around Virtual Assistant.

Finding an online job was not easy. I even started the lowest bid just to get that at least 4-star feedback on Odesk. Odesk became my part-time job before I quit my office job. Even though how small my salary was I made sure to save money every month. The moment I quit, I was not that really desperate to find a job online right away because I got a part time job but it gave me the time to look for more jobs. You know, just be smart in making decisions. All I had back then was a desktop computer.

Wonderful and Struggling Experiences While Working

  • When I was 18, I had a part time job working as a service crew at Jollibee while studying at the same time. It was challenging because I have to maintain a passing grade for the 18 units I took for one semester and prioritize my time between study and work. I worked to gain first-hand experience and of course, for my resume. I had to work for me to buy my own cellphone. I learned to rely on myself and don’t depend asking money from my parents.
  • Quit studies during my third year because of financial problem so I had no choice but to look for a job. Unlucky for me to land a call center job but still I was able to work in a BPO company at IT Park as data entry operator for almost a year and found an online job through Odesk as part time.
  • Got sick while working in a BPO company and I had no choice but to resign and regain my health. I went for a small trip at Bantayan Island for the summer of 2010 with some of my classmates in college. Back-up plan was to work full time online.
  • I am happily working online since October 2009 with different clients and some other gigs.
  • Got sick in August 2013, I had no choice but to rest and decided to travel. I didn’t bother to work for few months.

Transition: Working Office-Based to Working at Home

Some people think it was easy to quit your office-based job then work online. I suggest that while you are still working in the office and you still have extra time, make online job as your part-time job. Know your skills – it could be web-design, graphic design, article writing, blogging, doing administrative stuff, and there are so much more skills you can integrate when you get to work online.

You need to carefully assess your situation, your assets and liabilities especially if you plan on resigning from the corporate world(*). The reason I quit from my job was because of my health and I have saved enough money good for two to three months. I landed a full-time job online after a month from a small trip. You have to establish experience on working online.

Save and Invest

From October 2009 to November 2012, I’ve been working hard extensively and I was juggling several tasks. I put my money in order – paying the bills, give something to mom for monthly budget, and put my money to several baskets like savings, time deposit, capital for our little store, investing on the stock market, and invest a new skill to earn money or enhancing your old skill to see the potential of earning more.

How I Started Being an Aspiring Digital Nomad?

I acquired my 10-inch netbook in 2010 with a USB modem stick and I was just trying to travel within Cebu like going to Bantayan Island. It was just a short trip which I rely mostly on my desktop computer for the job. That time I had no idea what digital nomad was. I got my first android phone in August 2012 and it was good for tethering or portable wifi setup. My first airplane ride and trip to Manila happened in November 2012 and also brought my 10-inch netbook with me. I decided to upgrade a laptop in January 2013. It took me almost four years to save for a laptop. My laptop is a Lenovo Ideapad Z480, it is kind of heavy as I could not afford a Mac.

I applied for a passport in January 2013. I found a Piso Seat Sale for Dumaguete trip and was able to have a side trip to Siquijor. Funny we got a free trip to Manila from Dumaguete before flying back to Cebu. I was able to work by the beach in Siquijor and at Mall of Asia in Manila after our lunch at McDonald’s. My friends were so lucky at that time because it was their first time they set foot in Manila but I felt I was the luckiest. If you are wondering I have a flexible working time. Because of that free trip in Manila, I realized it is really fun to get serious as a digital nomad. So I decided to book my very first flight out of the country which was Malaysia.

Slowly Making Dreams Come True

As time progresses, dreams are coming true. Work at home while traveling around Cebu, in and out of the country.

  • November 2012 – first time I was able to fly to Manila with a side trip to Laguna (a friend booked this flight for me)
  • June 2013 – Dumaguete with a side trip to Siquijor and a free trip to Manila
  • September 2013 – first time out of the country in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • October 2013 – back to Manila with a side trip to Laguna and Tagaytay
  • May 2014 – on the spot Boracay with side trip to Iloilo and Guimaras
  • August 2014 – Camiguin
  • September 2014 – on the spot Palawan (got a one way ticket for free)
  • October 2014 – Hong Kong and Macau, attended my super-duper late graduation in college after 7 years and joined volunteer work
  • November 2014 – ongoing volunteer work in Gilutongan Island and attended a conference at San Remigio Club for environmental movement

Joining Volunteer Work

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I mentioned earlier that I am active into volunteer work. I just found out in October 2014 through Facebook that a non-profit organization needs a blogger/photographer so I presented myself. The reason I joined is because I want to give back to the community. Luckily, I am able to meet like-minded people who love to travel and they really give time to volunteer. I’ve met several people from different countries.

I am an active volunteer:

Since 2013, I make it to a point to have out of the country trip in a year. Start small that is what I am doing now. On the road, you will be able to meet travelers and learn from them. I must say I am just really new to serious traveling (booking my own flights and doing my research) but then moments I got crazy and just go wherever I want to go.

Some of the 2013 and 2014 travels are not yet posted on this blog as I am really busy. I have lots of photos to show that I need to upload it through Flickr. But I am excited to write some travel tips on how I was able to get some cheap airfares and fund my travels.

In 2015, I am really excited for my trip but I am still on my way of saving money for funding.

I am hoping you will get inspired how I started being a digital nomad. 😀

Note:

(*) credit to Jane Vestil

Photos will be uploaded soon

 

I also write for Two Monkeys Travel

The Filipino Digital Nomad Life and Travel Experience

Different Kinds of Digital Nomad

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