A NEW STORY
If you aren’t remotely happy working at your job, it might be time to work remotely.
That is why we want to introduce you to our guest, Michelle Checchi.
She is a former television news producer who produces a new way for us to think about work & travel.
In other words, she quit working on news stories so she could start telling a new story about what is possible…like becoming a digital nomad!
Michelle now travels the world while working remotely. She is extremely content with the digital content she creates to help others do the same.
So, if you aren’t satisfied with your current work situation, don’t stay stationary -or like Michelle- at a TV station! Channel your desires into creating a new reality, change the mental programming that says you can’t do it, and watch what happens next!
Like Michelle’s success story, we bet it will be newsworthy!
In a nutshell, who is Michelle Checchi and what is your mission?
I do a bunch of different things!
Digital Nomad is the best way that I like to describe myself. I believe that this is a lifestyle, not an actual job. Being a digital nomad allows me to do what I love.
I love to move around, to work from my computer, and to travel.
I am also a writer and a video creator. I love sharing tips, videos, and articles with others who want to become digital nomads.
How would you describe the term digital nomad, or what definition would you give to someone who isn’t familiar with it?
It is someone who works a remote job; it could be a full-time job, a freelance job, or gig work. It is someone who moves around to different countries, different cities or states, different parts of the planet, or really anywhere! It is someone who uses freedom in work to be nomadic.
What was the defining moment for you that made you quit your job and travel?
That’s such a good question because I dreamed about doing this for years before I actually did it! I used to work a full-time job in the United States. I would sit at my desk with multiple Google browser tabs open of all the places that I wanted to visit. I had time to plan it and save money since I was dreaming about it for so long.
I put in my two-week notice and I was driving away in my car back to my parent’s hometown to see them before I took off. As I was driving I was like, “That was it? That was the big moment?”
But I realized that WAS it. That WAS freedom. Now I can go and do anything I want!
It was somehow very fitting, but very soft.
That moment felt easier than I had imagined. I thought it would be so dramatic to leave, but I realized it’s just like another day except that on this day I am choosing to do something different!
After all the anticipation, and the questioning if it will all work out, you just have to do the thing! Then one day, you will be doing it! You will be living it!
What are the first 3 steps someone might consider if they wanted to make the transition into being a digital nomad too?
I did things a little backward. I would recommend doing things a little differently. I also like to compartmentalize this into two aspects: travel & remote work.
- Start building up your digital career while you’re at home.
When I first left to travel, I wasn’t planning on becoming a digital nomad. I wasn’t going to work and travel. I had just saved a bit of money and planned on traveling for a few weeks or months. My plan was to return back to the United States when that travel fund ran out and get a job.
But, after my first two weeks of traveling, I already knew that I didn’t want to go back. I thought, “There HAS to be a way for me to make money from my computer from here.”
So, I started to use my skills from my background in news and writing to create my new career.That’s why I did it backward; I had already left the country and was traveling. That’s why in retrospect, I would recommend that you build up your new digital career while you’re still at home. If you do a little bit of this legwork in advance, I think you can build up a really nice digital nomad career to sustain yourself for a long time while abroad!
- Research! Decide where you want to go & how you want to live.
A little bit of research can go a long way.
Do you want to just be a tourist? Do you want to work in the countries you are going to? You may need to look into a work Visa or other requirements. It can sound overwhelming, but I assure you it can be done!
Also, the cost of living in the place you want to visit is going to determine your lifestyle there. For example, if you are not making that much money and your cost of living is quite inexpensive, then you can still really enjoy yourself and not feel so constrained by a tight budget.I learned this fancy word recently; Geo Arbitrage.
To me, it means living in places where the cost of living is less expensive than your current income, so in essence, you will have more money. I LOOVVVEEEEE this concept!
- Get comfortable being solo and making new friends.
Some people worry about traveling alone.
What worked super well for me was that I spent a lot of time in hostels. We don’t have these so much in the United States.
There are some stereotypes about hostels. You think of either TEENAGERS or SCARY MOVIES.
Neither is the case in my experience. There are people of all ages and it’s really enjoyable!Even if you don’t stay in a hostel for your entire stay, just a few nights there can help you meet other travelers. Then what may have felt like a lonely experience turns into ten new friendships with people who will go to different countries with you! I think it’s important for people to know that you don’t have to be alone if you don’t prefer to be alone. Staying in a hostel, doing a group walking tour, or paying for one group activity are just a few examples of ways you can interact with other people while traveling.
What has surprised you the most about yourself in your own journey of becoming a freelancing, content creating, remote working, traveling digital nomad?
I am realizing that I was afraid to ask for the bigger things I wanted. I wanted to be a digital nomad for so long! I wanted to be a video content creator for so long!
I thought those things were unattainable for me. But the truth is, I was just scared to try.
It’s scary to take a chance and put yourself out there, especially in the age of video creation and social media. Everyone watches the bad video!
At this point, I realized those fears were holding me back. It’s been helpful for me to recognize that I have these fears and realize that I can overcome them. I am still actively trying to undo them. But, even if I look back just two years ago, I am so proud of how far I have come! I didn’t have half of the things I have now!
Not everything I tried was a success. But recognizing my own growth made me say to myself, “Ok, I can ask for the big things!”
Now, I want even bigger things and I know it’s all possible!
What are some of the harder parts about the digital nomad lifestyle that no one really talks about and how do you work with or around them?
The first thing that comes to mind is how hard it can be to physically move around! I carry a huge backpack! If it is hot in the summer, or you are on a 24-hour bus ride when you’re sick like I have been before, then you can really feel physical discomfort.
You really learn a lot about yourself in those moments. You grow a lot in those moments. You bond a lot with people in those moments!
It’s trial by fire in those moments. Like I said, it’s uncomfortable. You go from the familiarity of your home, bed, and food into the unfamiliar! Of course I love food from different cultures, but after eating something different than what I am used to for weeks and weeks, I want a bagel from my hometown in New York! Sometimes you just crave comfort.
Another thing that was hard for me to do was saying goodbye to people I would connect with. I would make incredible friends along the way. We would travel together for a few weeks and then need to part ways. It helps that I practice yoga. I remind myself often of the yogic philosophy of letting go. I’ve found that by acting with this unattachment to what happens, I’m able to let go more easily and healthily. So yes, of course it is hard to say goodbye to a person or place in that moment, but it helps make space so you can go into a new place and meet new people and let it all into that newly created space! You realize you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the present moment if you were still holding on to the past, even if that means last week!
What is the most interesting or fun job you did to make money while traveling?
Part of what I was doing to mitigate costs of living while I was traveling was work-trades at hostels. The hostel experience varies depending on what country you’re in. I was in this amazing, established program with people from all over the world. It was so fun!
I got to be part of the community of people that worked there so I felt more than just a transient passing through! I worked in the bar and at breakfast. It really helped me come out of my shell and be social.
The more I started to come out of my shell and meet new people, the more opportunities started coming to me naturally. New connections meant new opportunities!
For example, I had a friend reach out to me to do live virtual podcasts. I never would have imagined this to be an option for me when I was doing my full time job as a TV news producer! That was a really fun reminder to pop the mental bubble of what you think you can do and be open to all possibilities, especially as a digital nomad!
What are some ways you satisfied your hunger for travel as borders were closed during Quarantine? Has Covid changed what it means to be a digital nomad moving forward?
When Covid was at its peak I was actually out of my home country, the United States. It was such a crazy time to be a traveler. Borders started closing. In addition to me needing to get home, I also had friends who were trying to get back to Europe or Australia and there were no flights.
It was like a game of Tetris trying to figure out what to do.
Safety was top priority. So I held tight where I was for a few months and eventually, I got back to the states. I used this time at home to be with the people I love the most, my friends and family. In my opinion, rooting down with those closest to me was the best way to spend my time. Following all guidelines and rules, I also went on mini road trips.
Obviously now things are a bit trickier. It’s not the same as before where you could just throw on a backpack and travel to five countries in Southeast Asia. It will be more of a slower pace. You might be in one place for a longer time. You might have to do a little more planning or more last minute planning. You might have to be more flexible as things change.
But, it’s still absolutely doable for the digital nomad lifestyle!
What are some places on your travel bucket list at the moment and why?
I’m a slow traveler. I haven’t been to 60 countries or anything like that. Though, one day, I hope that is true!
I like to take my time and feel into the communities I’m staying in. I like to have a savory experience.
With that said, next, I would love to go to different parts of Europe that are accessible and safe- like Croatia!
I also have a secret plan! And I’m going to tell you because when I do, it means that I will HAVE to do it!
Here we go.
Part of my family has Italian roots. I’ve never been to Italy. We have some distant cousins, aunts, and uncles with the same last name that I’ve never met. I know they live in these little mountain towns. I want to go for a few weeks or months to rent a car, drive into the mountains, and find them!
Yes, I am totally aware that this has major Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants or Mamma Mia vibes!
I will be documenting my journey across my social platforms, though I can’t promise it will be a success!
What’s one piece of advice you would leave for anyone thinking about transitioning into the digital nomad lifestyle but might be hesitant?
I think the question to ask yourself is, “Should I do this or not?”
My guiding principle is, “Will I regret this if I don’t do it?”
We’re not here for that long. Nothing is certain about life.
You could have the most amazing job in the world and you could get fired tomorrow. The company could fold tomorrow. The building could catch on fire tomorrow.
There is an idea of “security” but so much of that is an illusion.
So, if it is something that you are thinking about doing, and you just aren’t sure about the details of how to do it, then I say DO IT! The details can be worked out. You can figure out how to make the money, where to stay, and how to apply for a Visa. If I can figure it out, then you can figure it out. Plus, I’m here to help you!
You just need to decide.
There is no right or wrong decision. Just make your decision right for you!
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Thank you so much! I love chatting with people who want to do this, have questions, or are already in this space!
I also made a FREE PDF Guide. It is a comprehensive overview that will help your brain get used to what it will be like as a Digital Nomad!
YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL
There is a big world out there and it is waiting for you. There are countless ways to make money, but you only get one priceless life that you need to make count.
You don’t need to choose between happiness, traveling, and working. They can all co-exist. Believing anything else is old news!
If you choose the digital nomad lifestyle, you can have your airline peanuts and eat them too (literally and metaphorically!)
The best part of all is that you’ll never drive yourself nuts wondering what if…
Check out her interview below on our youtube channel and make sure you subscribe.