The digital nomad revolution started (probably) on a wet afternoon in 1999, when the Palmer family’s rusty VW campervan rolled off the Fishguard-Rosslare ferry from the UK and stuttered onto Irish soil.
With my suitcase-sized laptop stowed in the back, and my young family screaming excitedly in my ear, we set off to explore the land of the leprechauns.
But having just quit my job to do digital marketing full-time, I needed to get online once in a while to keep my new business running.
Today that would be easy. Just buy a local SIM card, or log onto wifi almost anywhere. But 20+ years ago, it was a different story. No wifi and no mobile SIMs.
The era of Internet cafes was just around the corner, but none had reached Ireland. Co-working spaces were not even a concept yet.
So every couple of days, I would knock on the door of random householders and offer them 10 Irish pounds (no Euros yet!) to borrow their phone line for half an hour. Some would take me up on the offer, and I was able to check email and deal with urgent website issues...but I had to be quick.
It wasn’t the easiest way to run an online business, but in 1999 it was liberating. Here I was, hundreds of miles from my home in the UK, and still running my business. It seemed magical!
I had no idea then that we were most likely the world’s first digital nomad family - or that we were pioneering a revolutionary way of living life and making money.
But we did know it was the beginning of a fantastic time for our family. This opportunity led to us swapping the smog and snow of London for the sunny beaches of Australia and beyond - as well as enjoying many amazing adventures around the world.
Over the last 20 years, we have visited many different countries and had a lot of fun along the way. It has been a wonderful way to raise a family, and we still love every minute of our ongoing adventures.
I’m Rob - a writer, blogger and online marketer who decided to go freelance over 30 years ago. I quit my last day job in July 1988, and have been making a great living as a freelancer and online business owner ever since.
I love running my own business, and being my own boss. And since starting my first online business in the 90s, I have enjoyed the freedom to go anywhere and do anything...it’s awesome!
Having an online business gave us the freedom to relocate from London to Sydney (Australia) in 2001. My four children (Ben, Sam, Joe and Jess) were able to live a wonderful Aussie beach lifestyle, enjoying:
Now that the four children have grown up and set out to live their own, independent lives, I have been able to travel even more, and get back to being a true digital nomad.
In 2014, I sold all of my physical possessions, keeping only a few essentials that would fit in two suitcases. And then I set off on a new voyage of exploration - first to Europe, and then to the world beyond.
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In 2014, I arrived in Thailand and knew that I had found the perfect base for my travels. Beautiful beaches, a low cost of living, lots of fun things to do and a tropical climate. What more could you ask for?
Now I continue to travel the world - using Thailand as my base, but getting to explore many new countries every year. Being a digital nomad is a wonderful way to live your life.
When my oldest son, Ben, was 15, I helped him launch his first eBook on ClickBank. Now he has grown this teenage side hustle into a whole business empire.
He is high-volume Platinum Partner with ClickBank, and now we have the pleasure of working together to create new digital products.
A recent highlight was our trip to the ClickBank Platinum Summit in Cancun. A whole lot of fun in the Mexican sunshine, plus lots of in-pool networking fueled by Mojitos. What a great way to make a living!
My second son, Sam, has traveled the world for years, earning money freelancing along the way. Now his freelance work with fellow traveler, Cob, has grown into a fledgling video production company, poised for rapid growth:
My other two children, Joe and Jess, haven’t got the digital nomad bug yet, but it’s still early days yet...we’re working on it. But between them they have traveled from Tanzania to Finland, so we get plenty of chances to meet up around the world.
It’s now over 20 years since our adventure as the world’s first digital nomad family began. Every year has been amazing in its own way, and we are looking forward to many more adventures in the future.
The journey has been a roller-coaster ride for sure, but one with far more ups than downs. I feel privileged to have enjoyed the digital nomad lifestyle for so many years.
I love the fact that we can travel on a whim to any part of the world, and still continue to run our online businesses. Nowadays, all of my non-digital assets still fit into two suitcases with room to spare. But most of the time I travel even lighter than that.
All I need is my laptop and a few other essentials in my backpack.
In this amazingly-connected world, I can arrive at a new destination on the other side of the planet, and still be in touch with my employees, freelancers and business partners.
In the last year alone, I have been able to meet up with family and friends in:
The year ahead will be even busier. So many places to go, people to meet and things to do!
Over the years, our family’s digital nomad adventures have gotten us involved in a quite a few extraordinary escapades, including:
After two decades of this 21st-century lifestyle, I am still enjoying it as much as ever. I am looking forward to new adventures in both travel and business.
I intend to keep living my life this way until we become a 3-generation digital nomad family...and then some!
Are you wondering whether blogging is the right career for you? Or whether the digital nomad lifestyle would be a good fit? If you are, I recommend jumping in and finding out for yourself. I certainly have no regrets.
Maybe I’ll see you on a beach somewhere, and we can share a drink and swap stories. You’ll know when you see me - I’m the guy who looks like Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd (as random strangers keep telling me on a regular basis).
So give me a shout...the first beer is on me!