Anna Long Stokes: Creating Her Own Luck
Each person’s unique vision of Nomadtopia is a reminder that there is no one way to create your ideal life, no right or wrong approach. Many people just like you—or in even more complicated circumstances—have made it happen, or are working to get there. Hearing others’ stories keeps us all inspired, and reminds us to dream big!
Anna Long Stokes is an Intuitive Business Strategist who helps small businesses Build, Electrify and Rule their Empires.
How would you describe your Nomadtopia?
My nomad lifestyle is one where I primarily follow the sun. At minimum, I spend summers in the great Pacific Northwest in Portland, Oregon, or Seaside (a coastal town near Portland), and winters somewhere warm and sunny (this year, it’s Mexico).
How long have you been at it?
The dream of living a nomad life has appealed to me forever! I just didn’t know how to make it happen. In 2013, right after my husband and I got married, we left for two months of travel in Asia and then when we returned, we moved to Mexico for the winter.
Are you planning to continue as you are, or are there any changes in the works?
After this year, the only change I’m pretty sure we will make is to stay in one location for a little longer to semi-establish ourselves. As much as I love traveling and seeing new things, Asia was challenging because each time we moved cities we had to regroup and I had to gamble on how good the Wi-Fi would be (I was totally hostage to Wi-Fi on this trip because I need it for my business!).
What was the first inspiration/motivation that led to your current lifestyle?
I’ve wanted to travel since college (and probably before). I did a social work trip to Belize to volunteer for a week after I graduated college and tacked on an extra three weeks to travel with a friend of mine who was fluent in Spanish and much more worldly than me.
After three weeks of being away, I had a mini-breakdown and changed my tickets to come home early. I had gotten the super Mexico stomach flu, missed home, and was “over” traveling. I still regret leaving early, and that trip made me realize that travel wasn’t always easy. It conquered me that trip, but I started building up mental strength to try again at a later point, and I’m so glad I did!
How long did it take you to get from “here’s a crazy idea” to making it happen?
It took me about 8-9 years to make this happen. While that sounds like a lot, that is because there was a huge gap between wanting more than an annual vacation and creating a life that would allow me to travel anywhere and work. The biggest thing standing in my way was remaining in a relationship for almost five years with someone who wanted different things in life.
Once we broke things off, I pretty much catapulted myself into this new life. It took me one year to make some rough travel plans, quit my job, start my biz, and then live in Mexico! A lot of Asia was paid for through honeymoon money, but Mexico is ALL me and my biz paying for this!
What is the most unexpectedly useful thing in your current Nomadtopia?
I purchase this Expat VPN membership for $5 a month that allows me to borrow a U.S. IP address. What does this mean? Well, it means that when I’m in countries like China that don’t allow you to access Facebook, I can log into my VPN network and still chat away on FB!
It also means I can access Pandora when I’m in most countries where this isn’t supported… or get Amazon downloads. It gives me access to a lot of the things we take for granted and don’t realize we’ll miss until they are gone!
What do you miss most that you didn’t (or couldn’t) bring with you?
When my husband and I went to Asia, we couldn’t bring our dog, and I missed him SOOOO much. He came to Mexico with us, though, so we are happily reunited!
What is the most challenging aspect of this lifestyle?
Oh, man, this is a hard one to answer. I think that in Asia, the most challenging thing was feeling soooo far away from the U.S. and there being quite a large cultural and language difference. No matter where I am, I miss my Portland community a lot! I’m blessed with such amazing friends in Portland and I miss them every single day.
What’s the most satisfying?
The most satisfying thing is the feeling of freedom. All these people my parents’ age (I’m 31) will be like, “Oh, so are you just taking a year off?” or “Boy, are you lucky” and I’m like, “Nope, this is our life. I’m running and growing my business” or “Well, I guess I’m lucky, but mostly I just made a decision and made it happen.”
When you actually make this life happen, people often use the word “luck,” and I find it a wee bit annoying. I’m not a very lucky person… but I make up for it by being a big dreamer and an even bigger doer.
What advice would you have for others who are hoping to do something similar?
Make a doable plan and then follow through! For me, it meant that I really had to get my online business started and get it growing! For others it may mean saving up the money or looking for work abroad.
I met all sorts of people making it happen in different ways and you will have your own unique way. If you want it, you shall have it! Just never make the mistake of saying, “Oh, I’d love that, but it’s just not attainable.” This is a cop out. It is attainable, and you need to figure out how.
Would you rather spend one month in a place you’ve been to before, or 24 hours somewhere new?
One month in a place I’ve been before 🙂
Thanks for sharing your story, Anna! Also be sure to check out my interview with Anna for Nomadtopia Radio.