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Interview With Digital Nomads Dani & Jess The Globetrotter Girls

Welcome to the 29th of the weekly interview series where I will speak a wide range of people who have embraced the working remotely opportunity. We will speak to entrepreneurs, business owners, large organisation workers and freelancers about their trials and tribulations when delving into remote working

This week’s interview is with Dani and Jess a German-American couple who left their adopted home of London and set off to travel the world in 2010. With the motto ‘Two Girls.One Globe. No Regrets’ they have since traveled through North America, Europe, Mexico, Central America, South East Asia and now South America, while running their travel website GlobetrotterGirls.com. The girls are digital nomads, street food junkies, LGBT travelers, hotel enthusiasts, street art lovers, vegetarians, and avid housesitters. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Q: Hi Dani & Jess tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, where do you live now?

Dani is originally from Germany and I, Jess, am from Chicago. It’s been about 7 years since Dani lived in Germany and 12 years since I lived in the US. We lived four years together in the UK, three of those years in London, until May 2010 when we packed up the flat and left to go traveling. We have been happy and homeless ever since.

Housesitting Costa Rica

Relaxing in a Hammock in Costa Rica

Q: What company do you work for and what is your role within the organisation?

Dani and I work mostly for ourselves. Our main roles are Co-Traveler and Editors-in-Chief of GlobetrotterGirls.com and two smaller travel-related websites, with a few small freelance gigs on the side – writing, blogging social media.

Q: You run the sensational Globe Trotter Girls blog. For those reading who haven’t been fortunate enough to venture over to your blog can you give them a brief introduction to what can be found over there?

GlobetrotterGirls.com is an independent travel website meant for anyone passionate about travel – from full-timers like us, to those who want to make the most of the precious time they have to travel. On the website we maintain a balance of detailed destination information for all the places we visit (including hotel and tour recommendations), inspiring travel photography and more philosophical posts based on what we observe and experience while traveling through, so far, over 30 countries on four continents.

Q:  Dani’s skill set is within photography and Jess focuses on the writing side of things. How do you feel this benefits the blog and gives you the edge over

Dani has a great eye and captures beautiful moments and landscapes, which is so great for me as a writer because they bring our stories to life for our readers in a way that even my most carefully crafted words can’t do. I do just want to point out that Dani’s much more important skill is her incredible memory for details, which means when we cover a destination or an experience, we do so in much greater depth than I could ever achieve without Dani’s incredible attention to detail. It has been really cool to watch our professional compatibility dovetail so well together.

Tuscany Farmhouse Housesit

Tuscany Farmhouse Housesit

Q: You have just released a fantastic eBook on housesitting which has introduced the world to how you both live. How has this eBook been received since its launch?

The reviews have been incredible so far! Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting was definitely a labor of love, a book that we felt we literally had to put out there because we are so passionate about housesitting and how it helps people on both sides (homeowners and housesitters) afford the trip of a lifetime or the lifestyle of their dreams.

Q:  You both used to live and work in London. What did you dislike most about the office environment and how does running a business remotely from House sits change this?

Before living in London, neither of us had ever been office types. Dani worked in events and catering and I was a teacher, but we had both completed degrees and felt that we were supposed to hop on the career ladder and get serious. Working in the corporate environment frustrated us both in ways that we really didn’t even realize until much later. It felt so frustrating to have to build a career with such limited opportunities to ‘climb’ the proverbial ladder, and to put all that effort into such small, intangible successes. Now that we run our own business and work for ourselves, every single thing we do is to improve the business and maintain our lives, which fits our mentality much better. The only thing we miss is the predictability of the paycheck, but that’s about it. To be clear – we don’t housesit exclusively, only when it fits in with the general direction of our travels. When we housesit, we are able to get massive amounts of work done because it is more stable, and we have the privacy of ‘our own home’, and when we are in a heavy travel phase, it is harder to get work done. However, when traveling, we feel truly alive and very often reflect on how trapped we felt during that short-lived corporate phase of our lives.

Jess with Housesit Kitten In Italy

Jess with Housesit Kitten In Italy

Q: How do you deal with stereotypes from friends in regards to productivity when working remotely?  i.e.: Sleep until midday, 2 hour lunch breaks etc.

To be honest, I’m not sure how we have avoided that, but people tend to think of us as pretty hard workers. I think what is the hardest for us to deal with in terms of comments our friends make is when they say they wish they could do what we are doing, and say that they live vicariously through us. We find this hard because we want everyone we love to understand that there is enough room for them to live the life of their dreams, too!!

Q: What is the most challenging part about remote working and how do you overcome this?

Maintaining balance is the most challenging thing, like I mentioned earlier. When we travel heavily, we don’t get much work done, but that isn’t ever a vacation. There is always a feeling of ‘stress’ that we should be working but aren’t. I think because we are always traveling, it is harder to bring some of our larger project ideas to fruition, but it’s just as hard to think about giving up this awesome lifestyle, too.

I’d add that staying healthy has been a challenge in particular for me. We have been doing a lot of housesitting in the last six months and so have gotten into a great workout routine and cooking our own healthy food, but when you travel and are living in smaller hotel rooms and have to eat in restaurants, it is difficult stay healthy.

Q: What are the main positives in working remotely?

Freedom! We actually have spent more quality time with friends and family since working remotely, because we can spend weeks or months at a time in each place instead of a few days during the holidays. At the same time, we are able to see the world, which fuels all sorts of positive emotions on a daily basis including a sense of freedom and control over our own lives/fate.

Q: Are you an advocate of work/life balance and how do you try and balance both?

Obviously, housesitting for a few weeks or a few months at a time is a great way to get work done, and then hitting the road and traveling at a faster pace again is great. When we travel for a few months at a time we get tired and want to slow down the pace, and then after a while housesitting we start to get the itch to travel again. It’s a cycle that keeps us excited and motivated.

Q: What’s a typical day for you both when taking part in a Housesit? Realistically….start to finish .

This really depends on the housesit, because it depends on the pets and the responsibilities in the house. I’ll talk about our current housesit here in Santiago, Chile. We wake up at 7.30am and one of us takes the two Scottie dogs for a 50-minute walk to the park while the other makes breakfast and cleans up a bit. Then we spend the morning working for a few hours and then do an Insanity workout, followed by lunch. At that point we either spend the afternoon also working, or head out to explore some part of the city we haven’t seen yet. We’ll have to either take the dogs out before we go or be back by 6ish to let them out again. It stays light here until past 9pm right now (it’s summer) so sometimes we will stay in the condo til 4, take the dogs, and then go out much later instead. There is definitely responsibility that comes with housesitting, but considering that we are living in a luxury condo and not paying a penny for rent (plus we love the dogs!), it all works out for us.

Q: What has been your dream office space when taking part in a Housesit?

Tough question because there has yet to be a housesit that hasn’t provided a great working environment. Working on the beach can tend to be overrated, but we had an amazing beach housesit in Mexico where we worked under a gazebo all morning, in Canada we had a wrap-around front porch with super comfy couches, in Bavaria we had an actual office in the home that looked out over the foothills of the Alps…

Q: Any pictures of this fantastic working environment?

Yes!

Housesit In Arizona

Housesit In Arizona

Canadian Housesit Patio Dani

Patio on Canadian Housesit. Not bad working conditions hey?


Q: How important do you feel family support is for remote workers? Given you both work together does this help the whole process significantly?

That’s a tough question for Dani and I both because we are both serial expats and have been living and working abroad already for so long that we’ve had to cope without family support and, like I said, spend more time with family now than in over a decade in my case. I do know that remote workers can feel super lonely and Dani and I really appreciate having each other to keep us on track and entertained!

Q: Do you have any productivity tools you use to keep yourself efficient which may help our readers?

I use Pomodoro to focus on Time Management and a plug-in for Chrome called StayFocused which only allows me a set amount of time on all sites that distract me. Dani uses a similar plug-in for Firefox called LeechBlock.

Q: Lastly. The audience of Generation Y are young, digital savvy individuals.Your book talks at length about ‘affording the trip of a lifetime’ but how else could a housesit opportunity appeal to this audience and how can they make the most of housesits available to them?

Housesitting is perfect, perfect, perfect for digital savvy people who can work and live remotely. Not only do you get free rent, but you also get free Wi-Fi all to yourself and not sharing it with the whole cafe, hostel or hotel, your own kitchen to cook your own food (good for your belly and your budget, too), you have space to work out, plus many of the houses usually have perks like pools, Jacuzzis or in-home theatres, while others can be rustic and keep you away from it all to focus on work.

About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog GenerationY.com was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.

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