How it’s like to be a female digital nomad
As we always say, we love to motivate you to travel and empower you by traveling. This time we talked with Kristin Sendler about how she started to be a female digital nomad, she shared some interesting tips and told us about her experience.
Read the whole blog, We’re sure you'll love it!
Please tell us in a short paragraph about you
I’m Kristin from Germany. One of those people who’s dream it was once to climb the corporate ladder and end up in a good paying management position. That’s why I studied for years and years and got an MBA in International Management & Marketing from California Intercontinental University. Once I got my first Marketing team leader position though, I realized: somehow this is not for me. I deep dived into personal development, quit my job, started a more meaningful one in nature conservation foundation but soon realized again: I want more from life than a 9 to 5 desk job. So I quit again and started my own business. It hasn’t been easy, especially because I’ve been dealing with a very serious health issue ever since that has left me without sight in my left eye. But it has been absolutely worth it! Living life on my terms, traveling the world while carrying my office with me is definitely a dream come true. Now, I am teaching people how to become a Social Media Management freelancer in the German speaking market and I’m working on another mentoring program for German women who want to start the same lifestyle. I want to inspire as many people as possible to go out there and live their life to the fullest - despite all the things they think are obstacles.
Why did you decide to be a digital nomad?/ what motivated you to be a digital nomad?
Traveling runs in my family. My grandparents have been to 54 countries and they always came back with so many stories and fascinating camcorder footage. I was hooked. So it was amazing, that my mom also shared this passion and I could already travel countries like Indonesia or Kenya way before I even turned 18. I made sure that in my Bachelor’s studies 2 semesters abroad were mandatory. I spent those in Tenerife and British Columbia, Canada. I later even moved to Canada for two years before returning to Germany and sacrificing the exploring for my jobs and 2 years of on and off hospital stays. This was probably the most unhappy time of my life and I knew I could only fix it by traveling again. Therefore, in early 2021 I packed my bags and started digital nomading full-time. In the meantime I even gave up my base in Berlin. In the past 2 years, I’ve travelled 14 countries which brings me to a total of 39 countries that I’ve been to.
Fun fact: up until 2021, I didn’t even know the term “digital nomad” :D
What have you found to be the most challenging thing about being a digital nomad?
For me, it’s definitely FOMO, the fear of missing out. I’m not a “slowmad” who stays in one spot for months. Sometimes, I’m only there for a few days before I move on. Obviously, I also have my business to run and I’m working on new projects. All of this takes time and focus. And when I’m sitting at a desk, thinking about what I could discover in the city or that I’m missing out on the few sunny hours at the beach, FOMO hits hard. But I also know, that I won’t be traveling this fast forever. Right now it’s more like getting a feeling where I like it and I’ll be back later to spend some more time.
What did you do to ensure you were staying safe while traveling alone?
Most of the time, I’m traveling alone. Sure, I may know and visit some people in various places but especially when going from one place to another, I’m by myself.
For me, what has become the most important thing is trusting my gut. If my intuition tells me something is wrong, it usually is. But at the same time, if it tells you everything is fine even though you have been conditioned to think it isn’t: trust this, too and you’ll enjoy different cultures a lot more. I travelled Mexico and Morocco all by myself last year and I loved it.
What I also do if I go somewhere alone, e.g. on a hike or on a tour: I tell family and friends about it. Maybe even send a current location every now and then. Or I find people on Facebook groups or through other friends who accompany me.
Also, I always travel with 2 phones in case one gets stolen and I need to reach out to people. I also carry cash and credit cards in multiple wallets and pockets.
How do you think Greether can help digital nomad females?
I love the concept of Greether! I’ve talked to so many women who don’t dare to travel alone because they don’t feel safe, don’t know the language, are introverts like me who have a hard time just going out and making new friends. Having a verified local contact wherever you go is amazing. Not only do you get the insights of a local and probably discover a lot more hidden gems than the average tourist, but you are also not alone. The thought in itself that there is someone there who knows their way around is so reassuring.
How have you been able to balance work and travel?
I think I’m still figuring this out, but I’m getting there. I travel fast and I travel a lot - so work always squeezes in whenever possible. I do have a designated Zoom call day though and try not to schedule any travels on this day.
How did you go about planning your trips from one country to the next?
I’ve changed from being someone who plans everything 6 months ahead of time to just booking a flight somewhere because I feel like it - two days beforehand. I don’t really make plans.
In Human Design, I’m a Manifesting Generator, so my best strategy to get through life is to react. That’s exactly what I’ve implemented in my travels. If a friend says “why don’t you join me for a few days on a trip in Mexico”, I book the flight for the following week. And then explore the country for 3 months. Going from one city to the next based on Wikipedia articles that sounded interesting or because a person I know is there. That’s how I unexpectedly travelled 11 countries in 2022 alone.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience as a digital nomad?
Be open to what the world has to offer and go with the flow - you may end up at the most beautiful places ever. If you don’t like where you are, move.
I’ll give you an example: in November last year, I spontaneously went to Morocco to join a friend. I had not done any research. All I knew was: people have told me multiple times not to travel Morocco alone as a blonde white woman and that I should pack moderate clothing to cover my shoulders and knees, since it is a Muslim country. I came to Taghazout, a surfer village at the Atlantic coast and to be honest, it wasn’t my vibe at all. I know many love it, but it just wasn’t for me. So I spent some time with my friend, made a few new ones and then left for Marrakech to explore what the “real” Morocco is like. And I loved it! The Moroccan people are so welcoming and kind. The culture is fascinating and the nature and landscapes of the Atlas mountains absolutely surprised me. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the nay-sayers who told me not to go (most of them have never been there themselves), stayed open to a different culture and followed my instinct of leaving.
What have been some of the most memorable experiences you have had while traveling?
Oh, where do I start? In the top 10 is definitely the Cheetah in a wild cat sanctuary in Namibia who first started cuddling with me and then licked my entire arm. Also, how a local guide in Cholula, Mexico told me that the day tour to a special spot on the country’s 3rd highest volcano Itzaccíhuatl in 3.900 m is pretty easy. And it ended up being 24 km in total while climbing 1.150 m up and down again but I did it anyway. Or the dolphins that accompanied our boat in La Gomera. I will also never forget the mama black bear with her two cubs in Canada, who walked out of the forest while I was standing at a lake shore with just my kayak and had no place to run. I think most of the memorable experiences involve animals and nature.
What tips would you give to someone traveling solo as a female?
I once got the tip to change my hair color to brown, to not use make-up, to wear a fake wedding ring, to dress in long loose clothing and to not look at anyone in order to be safe. I definitely don’t agree with that at all. Be yourself, but be considerate of the culture and the customs at your destination. Always remember, you are a guest. And yes, as women we may not have the same rights in every country and some cultures ask us to dress a certain way. So in my opinion it is a show of respect to comply.
Also, do whatever you feel is necessary to feel safe wherever you are. Tell people where you are headed, find a travel buddy and always listen to your instincts. At the same time, judge carefully who’s opinion about a culture or destination you give too much credit to. Be bold and form your own opinions. Make your own experiences and memories. You may be positively surprised!
What advice would you offer to someone considering taking the plunge and becoming a digital nomad?
Do it! One of the most common questions I get asked is: But what if it doesn’t work? Or what if you don’t like to travel anymore after a while?
Well, you can always go back. Go back to your hometown, go back to your job, go back to your family and friends who’ve settled.
But I am 100% sure: you’ll forever regret it if you don’t try it.
What I did at first:
I rented out my apartment in the months that I wasn’t there. That way, I had the same budget for rent and it didn’t cost me extra.
I set up my business and freelance jobs before I started this lifestyle.
I found like-minded people. The first trip as a proper digital nomad was with a friend. In the meantime, I joined groups and communities of digital nomads that quickly started to become family. Now, I have a network of friends all over the world that I can join any time.