The story of a nomadic entrepreneur who visited 24 Countries in 24 Months without breaking the bank.
I’m here today with Niv, a solo traveller, digital nomad, design entrepreneur, and travel blogger. Niv recently completed a personal mission to travel to 24 countries in 24 months. Let’s dive into this interview with Niv where we talk about the art of long-term travel, his journey, his remote design studio, and how he manages his finances.
Kicking things off with the big one, Neeks? Let’s dive right in!
When I had just entered the workforce in 2017, I came across Remote Year, a US-based program for digital nomads. At that time, Remote Year’s concept was to take a large group of remote workers to 12 countries in 12 months. I was obsessed with this idea, however, my internationally weak passport could not easily comply with all the entry restrictions of the countries part of the program’s itinerary.
Though it was a bummer, I told myself that I would go against the odds and chart my own journey of travelling to 12 countries in 12 months one day. Last year, that dream became a reality! And, in true traveller fashion, I didn’t stop at 12—I ended up visiting 24 countries in 24 months! A true art of long-term travel story!
Out of all the countries I visited in the past 2 years, Portugal and Thailand were my favourites!
Portugal holds a special place as the first country I explored as a digital nomad in 2021, just as international travel was resuming post-pandemic. The experience exceeded my high emotions and expectations. Unlike the current situation with Portugal being overrun by tourists, my visit occurred during a quieter time. The locals were incredibly friendly, and the vibrant culture made it everything I needed and more.
Thailand, on the other hand, is a country that caters to every taste and preference. I’ve visited Thailand a total of four times, experiencing it with family, friends, and solo, and across varying budgets – from lavish to backpacker style. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie diving into water sports, a nature enthusiast spending time with elephants in sanctuaries, seeking a slow retreat in a resort, or wanting to embrace the wild party scene at a beach rave – Thailand has it all. The warmth of the people, the delicious cuisine, and the incredible travel community make it a truly unparalleled destination.
I run a remote digital design studio, called Supercharged that specializes in web design, app design, logo design, and brand design.
Supercharged was born in the midst of the pandemic, just when the working world was adopting remote work practices. I built Supercharged as a side hustle whilst I was working full-time for a large multinational tech company. Within a year, my side business garnered enough traction that I decided to quit my awesome well-paying safe job and started running my studio full-time. Soon, I began expanding my team, inviting designers with expertise in various creative domains to join my studio.
As for the connection between my business and travel, it’s a delightful disconnect for the most part.
For me, Supercharged is a means to achieve my goal of being a remote entrepreneur and travelling the world. The remote nature of my studio means I can work from anywhere in the world. I could be sketching logos from my home in Toronto or building websites from a seaside Airbnb in Albania.
The creative inspiration I get from travelling is like none other. Each journey infuses so much visual inspiration in my work from all the various cultures I’ve visited – from the vibrant hues of Morocco to the intrinsic geometric architecture of Uzbekistan. Beyond aesthetics, observing how different cultures adopt technology provides me with a more nuanced perspective, fostering a less biased approach to designing better technology.
Down the line, I’d love to expand my design services into the travel industry. It’s a goal of mine to build some awesome websites and brands for travel businesses across the globe!
You must always have a good idea about your finances. Maintain a clear overview of your savings and anticipated income for the next three months. Track your spending habits, using your monthly expenditures in your hometown as a benchmark for planning future expenses.
Being based in the expensive city of Toronto, I’m pretty mindful of the high living costs. When venturing to more affordable destinations like Vietnam, I leverage the favourable exchange rate, allowing me to live and travel comfortably while spending only a fraction of what I would at home.
When I’m travelling for months at a time, I make sure I sublet my apartment to cover some costs. Additionally, when I’m booking Airbnbs, I always try to negotiate an additional discount using this script: Airbnb Discount Message Template.
I’ve been blessed to have family and close friends in places such as England, France, Singapore, Serbia, and USA. They’ve generously provided me with a place to stay whenever I’ve been in their cities so that helps me offset some of my accommodation costs.
If you’re a first time digital nomad, I’d highly recommend you check out this article on managing finances: 13 Finance Tips For First-Time Digital Nomads.
A crucial reminder: If you don’t have your finances in order or if you’re scared of breaking the bank, I urge you not to travel. Travel is a luxury, not a necessity.
Certainly! Unexpected financial hurdles are part of the journey for entrepreneurs, and navigating them requires a healthy appetite for risk.
A lot of the work we do at Supercharged is project-based work which may last anywhere between 1 to 3 months – making it a variable and risky avenue of income. However, to negate that risk, we take on one or two clients on a monthly retainer guaranteeing some fixed income on a longer term.
On top of all of this, you need to understand that the market has good spells and bad spells which are bound to happen. It’s an unpredictable and bumpy ride at times – you just need to be strapped in for it. Stay prepared by having a healthy and accessible bank balance at all times, say around 3-4 months of expenses. This financial cushion acts is your safety net to sustain your business while you’re on the go.
Before you visit any place, research what day-to-day living expenses could look like so you can budget accordingly. Next, do your research on the financial norms of that country: reliance on cash vs card, negotiation, street shopping, tipping customs, pricing scams, and more.
When I travel, I make sure I have a diverse selection of credit & debit cards on me across Visa, MasterCard and American Express. In case, one card is not accepted, I know I have other options for backup. Moreover, I make sure I have cards on hand which have good foreign conversion rates and fees – or none at all. This is important when embracing the art of long-term travel lifestyle.
Personally, I swear by Wise as my preferred travel card as it allows me to store multiple currencies and always gives me a great conversion rate (if not the best rate). The best part about Wise is that it’s absolutely free to use. Here’s my link to sign up for a free Wise account if you’re interested: Sign Up For A Multi-Currency Wise Card Today!
Cards aside, you should always keep some cash on hand for random unforeseen expenses and emergencies when you’re on the road. Instead of withdrawing cash at foreign exchanges, I am content using my card at ATMs abroad, as banks typically provide favourable conversion rates. To minimize ATM fees, I usually do a quick search online to see if any banks have 0-fee or low-fee ATMs in the area. Additionally, I rely on the Global ATM Alliance, a network that my bank is a part of, which gives me free access to ATMs with partner banks in various countries such as Mexico, Panama, and Morocco.
Some of the most budget-friendly countries I’ve been to are Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico, Colombia, Uzbekistan, Morocco, Turkey, and Georgia.
Conversely, countries that had had me spending more than normal were Ireland, United Kingdom, USA, UAE, Montenegro, Singapore, and France. Though these countries are expensive, they’re worth it!
One such moment came to me on my first stop on digital nomad journey, Portugal. On a bright sunny day in Lisbon, just 2 weeks into my digital nomad journey, I found myself sitting across the stunning Torre de Belem. As the city buzzed with life around me, time seemed to stand still. In that moment, a strong wave of emotion swept over me and I went “wow, I’m living the life I had dreamt of a long long time ago.”
Another one of my favourite experiences was in Essaouira, Morocco where I was galloping horseback on a beach during sunset. That was one of the wildest experiences I’ve ever had in my life and it made me feel like my life was a movie.
Recently, I’ve embraced the philosophy of “live a life that would make your 8-year-old self happy, as well as your 80-year-old self.” A true testament to the art of long-term travel! This, coupled with the wisdom that “today’s the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be,” has fundamentally changed the way I approach life. It’s given me the confidence to embrace authenticity and make decisions that align with my goals & dreams.
First and foremost, I need to acknowledge that this life is not for everyone. If you have familial or financial commitments, it may not be the best move to make. However, if you don’t have any strong commitments tying you down, then you shouldn’t have anything stopping you from going for it.
A life like this is impossible to plan to a tee. I would suggest you try planning whatever you can but be aware of the things you cannot plan. It’s always good to have a plan, but it’s also important to break plans and go with the flow when necessary. You need to embrace uncertainty and enjoy the unknown – and have fun while doing it!
Decades down the road, when you look back on your life, would you regret chasing your dreams or would you regret not even trying? What’s stopping you from taking the leap? If something in life is scary and exciting, your answer should be “yes”.
It is truly possible to be an entrepreneurial digital nomad. It is not easy. But it surely is possible. And the fruit is so worth the effort!
The Art Of Long-Term Travel is a delicate balance between insanity and intention that’s driven by a hunger to explore the world outside of you as well as the world inside of you.
Thank you for joining me on this incredible journey all about the art of long-term travel! If you’ve been inspired or want to stay connected with my adventures, don’t miss out—follow me on Instagram @nivtravels for real-time updates and behind-the-scenes moments. For more in-depth stories and travel insights, explore my blog at Niv Travels. Let’s make this journey together—your likes, comments, and shares mean the world. Can’t wait to connect with you all!
©2024. Work, Wealth and Travel.