Welcome to Location Independent Success Stories, the newest interview series on The Sweetest Way!
In each new post, I’ll be introducing you to someone who’s using their unique skills and talents to kick ass as a digital nomad and live life on their terms.
This week, say hello to Stéphanie and Peter, a young couple who realized stationary lives in their home countries weren’t going to satisfy their inquisitive, adventurous spirits.
Peter and Stéphanie are a young couple that left their ordinary lives in Belgium to pursue a dream. The dream of creating a platform for people that love to travel. They personally travel the world full-time and look for the magical places that you need to visit. Their ambition is to inspire you through their website Tourist Exclusive and Instagram and hopefully meet you one day somewhere in the world.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background, and what are you doing now?
We are a couple in our 20s who decided that an average life in Belgium wasn’t going to do it. Peter is originally from the Netherlands but came to Belgium for work. He used to work in management in media, consulting and food retail. Now he empowers businesses all around the world and helps them to grow and ask the right questions. He also helps with social media strategies and is the one in charge of our Instagram and Twitter.
I used to be a primary teacher with a passion for traveling and telling stories. My kids used to have one hour a week on Friday to ask me questions about countries, traveling, cultures–I guess they were my first real supporters. Because I love teaching I still help people all over the world connecting with their power within. I also teach Dutch because I know I have to use my own language sometimes! Besides that, I write all the content for our travel website, I network with other entrepreneurs, travelers, and brands, and I make sure everything runs smoothly.
How often do you travel? Do you have one city that you consider a home base?
We don’t have a city that we consider a home base. We started traveling full-time in August 2016 and move every few weeks. We have stayed in France for 2 months but our schedule for the next few months is pretty crazy. We will stay six weeks on Aruba during Christmas and New Year’s because we are taking a holiday.
Where are you now, and where do you plan to travel next?
As I am writing this interview I am in a castle in France with 10 other entrepreneurs from all over the world. It is the perfect to get all my articles done and network with a bunch of cool people. Our next stop will be Paris in a few days and after that, we fly to Barcelona for a week. Our complete schedule is on our website under the section ‘blog’.
How do you typically choose your destinations?
We normally pick our destinations randomly. Wherever there is a good promotion on air tickets we buy them and figure all the rest out around that. We have a list of countries that we would like to visit so we keep that in mind. For instance, we wanted to go to Dubai and Oman. So we booked all our flight to this region and after that, we will probably go to India.
When did you realize you wanted to become location independent, and what were your reasons behind that decision?
When we lived in Belgium we would travel every week. All that traveling, working and having a website was a bit too much. So we decided that we would go all the way for our website. That means that we have to travel a lot to get content so it was obvious that we were going to be location independent. I also knew a lot of people who were doing this so the transition was a little bit easier for us.
What were some of the first steps you took toward achieving this lifestyle for yourself?
We focused all our energy on our website. Peter is a business guy so he transformed my little website to a business and brand. We started to work with brands, hotels, and tourism boards all across Europe until we thought our brand was strong enough to go for it. We sold our furniture, cars, clothes and had a fun going away party with our friends. Support from the people around you can help you so much.
Of all the places you’ve lived and worked so far, which one was the best suited for people living a location independent lifestyle and why?
We stayed in Prague for a few days and it seems a nice (cheap) place to stay for a while. A lot of expats live here so there is a strong community. We also love cities in France since the food is wonderful here. I personally love Spain so I could live and work there but Peter likes to explore more to really find our spot together.
Tell us about your work. What is your primary source of income? How did you find this kind of work/get started doing what you’re doing?
This answer is different for me as for Peter. My main income is from teaching online. Even before we even left I was doing this. It was a good way to earn some extra cash. I registered myself on a couple different websites and didn’t pay attention to it. One day a company contacted me and now I have 3 students that have 3-4 hours a week with me. My second income is partnerships with brands on Instagram. I would like to change my income to more brand collaborations and more coaching, but everything takes time.
The main income for Peter is helping businesses with Instagram. I do the research and provide the creative input. He sells our services and makes sure all the paperwork is correct. The second income for him is travel photography. He takes beautiful photos of hotel rooms, restaurants, destinations, products–we get a lot of requests and that is something we would like to upgrade, too.
What does the average workday look like for you?
An average day starts in the morning with teaching a Dutch class. I try to go outside everyday because it is so easy to spend all your time in front of a screen. After my lessons, I tend to answer all my emails and check how my favorite people are doing. If we are not traveling then I would write 1 or 2 articles a day and spend some time updating social media. If we are traveling, we take the time to do meetings, explore the city, or do photo shoots. Every day is a new adventure because it is rare for us to have days that are the same. During the evening I tend to have more Skype meetings or classes.
If someone else wanted to follow a path similar to yours, what advice would you give them?
Try to get a taste of the life before you fully go for it. That way the transition will be a lot easier. If you are a go-getter this will be easy but if you plan a lot it might take some time to adjust to the lifestyle. Which is perfectly normal. Everyone is different and every journey has other adventures. Just do whatever feels right for you.
How much could someone expect to earn when just starting out? How much do you earn now?
I think this is different for everyone and it depends on what you are looking for. We tend to get a lot of partnerships with hotels and restaurants, so we get that sponsored. Together we will earn around €700 per month excluding all the partner deals. We would like to add another 0 to the end of this amount.
Do you have other income sources as well? What are some of the other ways you earn a living?
I have covered all the income sources in the previous questions. I sometimes write articles as a ghostwriter or I help someone with a course or an idea. That normally gets me good karma points and sometimes a little cash.
In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about living a location independent lifestyle?
I find it hard that everything can easily go wrong. You can get stuck in airports, get lost, miss meetings and so much more. The other thing is finding friends along the road. A lot of your friends back home don’t understand what you are doing so it is important to find people all around the world who get what you do.
What are some of the things you like about it the most?
I love to connect with all sorts of entrepreneurs around the world. Deep down we are all looking for the same thing and I love to see that in different people and cultures. Of course, I also love the fact that I get to sleep in the most luxurious hotels in the world and eat good food every day. It also made our relationship a lot closer since we are together 24/7. You get to see your partner in a whole different light than before.
How did becoming location independent change your relationship with travel? Do you do things differently now?
I did change a lot. Travel used to be a vacation and now I see it as work. I am still trying to find the right balance between work and vacation. Some days that goes better than others. A lot of people around me are looking for the same balance so I guess it is just part of the process.
What do you think are some of the necessary traits or skills someone should have if they plan to pursue a location independent lifestyle?
You should be able to hold yourself accountable. There will be no one holding your hand and guiding you through this process. You have to have the desire to live this lifestyle. As a person, you will grow a lot and learn a lot along the way and I think if you just believe in yourself, everything will follow.
Productivity is a major challenge for many digital nomads. Share with us one of your best tips for staying motivated and getting sh*t done.
I make lots of lists on paper. I don’t do it online because that doesn’t work for me. I have to visualize my tasks of the day/week. If I get everything done that I wanted to get done I reward myself with something. A massage, a dessert, a day off–whatever I don’t do during working hours. Don’t put too much on your list so you can have small successes. That makes it much easier to get things done!
Do you have any location independent role models who have helped you or motivated you to achieve your goals?
I am very visual so I tend to look up to YouTubers like Louis Cole from FunForLouis. He is always traveling and doing stuff wherever he wants. He inspired me to go travel full-time and see what happens.
What’s one of the most valuable purchases you’ve made for your business–something that wasn’t necessarily expensive, but provided you with a lot of value?
A really good and light computer like a MacBook. I used to have a heavy Microsoft laptop and a little over a year ago I switched to apple and I am much more productive and it’s much lighter to take along the way. It definitely improved my photos and my videos.
Tell us about one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made and how others can avoid it.
I have very high expectations and want to have everything now. I am still learning to plan my day so that I can achieve my goals. Nothing happens when you don’t work hard but it’s also important to have fun doing it.
Finally, if you could offer your younger, less experienced self one piece of advice for this journey, what would it be?
Have faith little one! Remember that everything will work out fine. Enjoy the ride and follow your dreams, always!
Read more interviews in this series:
- Travel the World as a Freelance Social Media Manager
- Working from Anywhere as a Self-Taught E-Commerce Marketing Specialist
Do you have your own Location Independent Success Story to tell? Get in touch!
All images courtesy of Tourist Exclusive. This post contains affiliate links.