James Clark at the Taj Mahal

Interview with James of Nomadic Notes

July 29, 2011 |

Each person’s unique vision of Nomadtopia is a reminder that there is no one way to create the travel-centric life you want, 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!

James Clark is a working nomad from Melbourne, Australia, who is currently on the road full time. James blogs about his travels at Nomadic Notes.

How would you describe your current lifestyle?

I have no fixed address in my homeland of Australia and I run my business online, so I’m currently a full-time nomad. I have been working for myself since 2003, but since 2010 I no longer have a full-time residence. I plan to continue for as long as I can—I don’t feel ready to rent a place full time again.

What was the first inspiration/motivation that led to your current lifestyle?

My travel/work life as it is today began when I was living in London on a working holiday visa in 1999. While I was there I discovered that I loved travel and all things internet related. I decided that I wanted a job that would blend these two passions together, so I ended up doing a web-design course and started making travel websites.

How long did it take you to get from “here’s a crazy idea” to making it happen?

It took about 18 months from doing the course to leaving my last place of employment. I remember the day I made my first online sale, which was about 5 months before I left my job. I got a sense on that day that perhaps this crazy idea of supporting myself though making websites could work.

What is the most unexpectedly useful thing in your current Nomadtopia?

Well it shouldn’t be unexpectedly useful, but I just acquired a smartphone this year after holding out for so long. I swore I didn’t need one, but now I have it I wonder how I ever got along without it.

Any tips for new smartphone users?

I started using the smartphone as a portable computer, reading my rss feeds via my phone. I have now started using it to go paperless in my travel planning. My most-used app so far is Tripit, which is a personal travel planner. Once you open an account you just forward your email confirmations to them, and they organize your travels which can be accessed via the Tripit app. So no more printing out airline tickets and hotel reservations. I also use the phone for Google maps, and I will save maps of places I am going to.

Phone plans will vary from country to country. I am currently on a bare-minimum phone plan in Australia, only because I still need my phone number for my Australian business. Basically the plan covers the cost of the phone and offers no internet. If you are going to be out of your country of origin for extended periods then it is not worth getting a big data plan.

I bought a Samsung Galaxy S which came unlocked, which means I can take the Australian sim card out and use a pay-as-you-go sim card from the country I am travelling in. With my phone you can change the setting so it only uses wi-fi internet and not the mobile companies’ internet, so that way you will not use up all your credit unexpectedly.

My better half, Roberto, wants to know: What do you miss most that you didn’t (or couldn’t) bring with you?

The cafe lattes of Melbourne.

What’s the craziest advice or comment you’ve heard when you told someone about your plans/lifestyle?

I get the usual “when are you going to settle down” comments all the time. I ran into someone I knew in the supermarket when I was back in Melbourne and they said to me, “I’ve heard you’ve become a bum.” Ha! Fair enough. Most people see that I travel all the time, but only a few realise (or believe) that I actually work more hours than when I was in a 9 to 5 job.

Twitter follower @LeighHaugseth wonders: In your experience, is it easier (lifestyle wise) to focus on one main income stream or several different ones?

I have had periods where I focused on one income stream, which was easier at the time. I have since found it better to not rely on one income stream, just in case something happens to it. So I have a few streams of income, but it is a bit harder to remain focused on which one to do.

Would you rather spend one month in a place you’ve been to before, or 24 hours somewhere you’ve never been before?

Oh, that’s a tough question. There are numerous places that I would happily go back to for a month, yet so much to see. All right, I’ll pick the new place.

Thanks, James, for sharing your story with us!

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