I traveled the world and didn’t quit my job

Photo credit: daviesanddixon.com

As young professionals, we are writing the history of our generation in the workforce. Our generation is driving change and innovation in our world and now it’s different than what the generations before us experienced. So why would the workforce stay the same? We want to live in the NOW and we refuse to only work for retirement. 

With the world at our keyboards, our access is limitless. We are more connected than ever. Why not use this as a foundation for a career? For a lifestyle? Work can be a passion and a blend into your personal hopes and dreams. It can be an enabler rather than a detractor.

For those who share in my curiosity to seek what is different—what is uniquely your own—you’re not alone. There are thousands of people, heavily millennials, who are building something from scratch in order for their work to fit their desired lifestyle, not the contrast. They’re called digital nomads. They’re not new. They’ve been here. But the world is starting to notice, and starting to evolve to fit this lifestyle.

Photo credit: daviesanddixon.com

It’s not for everyone, but there’s enough room and opportunity for anyone to pursue it. Existing roles are being reinvigorated through the perception of a new lens, giving them boundless possibilities of execution. Companies and cultures are shifting to realize that hustle can happen outside of the cubicle and progress can thrive regardless of physical location. On top of this, there are jobs created daily that require no physical space, just skills, and a laptop. And, even beyond, we’ve never had better access to the tools that can help us create our own jobs, income and revenue streams—out of thin air…

Perhaps the scariest part about this is the fact that no one before us has laid out a successful path for it. We get to pave our own trail and navigate the speed bumps along the way. This isn’t smooth sailing, this is a caught-in-the-windstorm and batten down the hatches sort of sail. But the cool part is, the views are pretty astounding (literally and figuratively).

Photo credit: daviesanddixon.com

In September of 2017, I left the comforts of my waterfront Seattle apartment to pursue a dream: live and work abroad. I had heard of the stories about the people who quit their corporate jobs to go live on an island and work behind an ice cream stand. I had seen that this was possible, but I still had to do this radical thing with less-than-specific guidance because I was doing it differently: as an entrepreneur, with clients, with a team, with a co-founder. 99% of my job was through my computer anyway, so in theory, this would work right? So, my work remote started with the week trip across the States, hotspotting wifi from my phone. I have a hubby who loves to drive, so this worked. I worked an eight-hour day while he drove and we enjoyed our destination after work.

Then, I took it all abroad, from a van trapezing around the north and south islands of New Zealand for a month. And I got to see Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, Mt. Cook National Park, Fjord National Park and more.

Photo credit: daviesanddixon.com

Next up, my mobile office traveled to South America, where we lived in a small apartment in Southern Chile for four months. I was the most productive I had ever been, being inspired by my environment and the space I worked in, instead of feeling the grind of rush hour traffic and inside the sphere of the same four walls every day. I missed my team and the collaboration of working with humans, but I talked to someone almost daily, and usually via video chat. My video conferences were productive to the max because I took advantage of the scheduled time I had with anyone at any given time. No longer were the days of luxury where I could tap my partner on the shoulder and ask a quick question. Instead, I relied heavily on platforms like, Asana, G-chat, Slack, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype or GoogleDocs. We found out by accident (through calling to try and cancel our American cell plan) that our T-Mobile plan allows us unlimited texting and data in more than 210 countries at no additional fees—most of South America included.

Photo credit: daviesanddixon.com

The craziest part was the 60-hour round trip drive to Patagonia, and then visiting Patagonia, without taking a single day off work. Again, I’m fortunate here that I have a hubby that loves to drive. I worked a 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. day because that was 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seattle hours. So, in the mornings we hustled the drive, day by day. And we’d find a friendly hostel (with fast WiFi, always a requirement). I’d finish my day while my husband took care of all our meals, errands and planning next steps (he was also lightly working on a startup of his own). With google docs’ offline feature, I was even able to knock out a lot of writing while literally surviving the treacherous roads in the middle-of-nowhere Argentina. But I did it. I maintained my high-production workload while seeing El Chalten, hiking the Tres Lagos, exploring Torres del Paine and enjoying coffee in Puerto Natales. Not your normal after-hours activity.

My point (and hope) in sharing my story is to show that it’s possible. It may sound crazy, but can be your reality. By working while traveling, I was able to fund our travels so that we could stay longer. And by traveling while working, I brought a fresh, global perspective to our team. By leaving the day-to-day in the office, it also left more responsibility to my team, which equated to a massive jump in growth and a slashing of comfort zones. I became a production house for the backend of our business, elevating it to challenge our growth projections even over a successful year prior. And I sat in a hammock rather than at a desk (it wasn’t always that glamorous, but still worth it!).

While today’s world offers the foundation for an opportunity like this, YOU have to build it. This is not luck and you do not have an excuse to be “jealous.” This is something you have to curate, and it takes time and energy. We all have dreams to live a life we wish we had, but what’s the point in having a dream if it’s not attached to an action or a timeline? There will be no better time, so why not now? And why not you?

You’ll have the naysayers and the people who think of comfort zones like a cozy, warm bed. It’s so nice to be snuggled up and safe, but you know what, you’ve gotta get out of bed in the morning. It’s time to wake up and start living, and executing, those dreams rather than only dreaming them.

Kelsey Dixon

Kelsey is a believer in doing life differently. She co-founded davies + dixon, a digital marketing and communications firm dedicated to daring ideas and solutions, at the vibrant age of 24 in 2014. Now as president, she’s led a 40% growth year over year, employed a boundary-pushing team, worked with many familiar industry names and spoke on several regional panels. She was named 2016 Supplier of the Year Award from Smart Meetings, PCMA Convene's 2016 Best in Show and MeetingsNet 2017 Watch List. Prior to launching d+d, her success as a sales manager with mark., by Avon. was highlighted in national media. An industry native with a Bachelor's in tourism and events management from George Mason University, her career launchpad with a luxury golf resort involved leading regional sales efforts and improving marketing strategy. An East Coast USA original and West Coast transplant, she now embraces the “digital nomad” lifestyle while traveling and managing d+d from anywhere in the world.

Latest posts by Kelsey Dixon (see all)