Becoming a Digital Nomad with Julia Jerg


How to become a digital nomad? Where to start? What to take into consideration with the pandemic? These are questions I asked Julia Jerg, a family-travel and digital nomad blogger, social media marketing coach, public speaker, author, course creator, and blogger.

What you will learn in this episode:

  • How to become a digital nomad
  • What to take into account when considering becoming a nomad
  • How to be a digital nomad while having kids
  • What to take into account during COVID-19

About Julia Jerg:

Julia Jerg is the founder of Jey Jetter, a family-travel and digital nomad blog for aspiring nomads and families. She is also a social media marketing coach, public speaker, author, course creator and blogger from Germany. In 2011 she quit her job, sold all of her belongings, bought a one-way ticket, and turned into a successful digital nomad. Since then, she has travelled, lived, and worked remotely in over 80 countries. Today, she helps entrepreneurs reach their ideal customers on Facebook by applying all her knowledge and experience from over a decade’s worth of marketing gigs.

Connect with Julia:



TP: Today, we are speaking about nomad life with kids. My guest today is Julia Jerg. Welcome, Julia.

JJ: Thank you. Thanks for having me, Tuuli.

TP: You are a digital nomad since 2011. Why and how? Can you please share your story?

JJ: Yes, sure. So I started in 2011. Actually, it was more like the plan to go on a on a not gap year. But I quit my job back then. I was working in an agency, a communications agency marketing, and I worked simply too much. And I realized, OK, life has to have something else on offer. Also, my health, my body was sending me signals saying, OK, you're not even 30, but you feel like a 40, 50 year old manager or a CEO of a big company. But, you know, the bank account wasn't as big. So I said something is wrong here, even though I lost my job. I love my my old life. Back then, I thought I, I had it all. But deep inside of me, there was a nagging saying, OK, you're not happy. That's not it. OK, so over a couple of beers with my best friend's friend back then, she just came back from a year in Mexico and said that was the best decision. And she would also recommend simply take a break. She said go for a couple of months and then you have a fresh brain and then you know what you want to do. And I said, well, back then and for me, this was really not the best idea because I thought no one will ever hire me again if I come back. So it was a long thought process, but eventually I bought that one way ticket and it was an open ticket valid for one year. And I said, OK, I'll be back in about two months and one months into my journey. I already I went first to India, which was a really crazy start, to be honest, but that was my first destination and it was eye opening. And I was like, oh my God. So and I met so many inspiring people. And yeah, by the end of my second month, I knew I would not going to be able to stop and I had to go on and I was yeah. Just then I decided, OK, I'm going to stretch my funds because I had quite some savings that I actually wanted to use to rent. But when I, when I, when I was going to go back to Germany in order to start my my business, but then I decided to spend it on traveling. So my two months turned into a full year and by the end of that year I accidentally fell in love with my partner today, who is also the daddy of my two sons. So yeah. So I was not only in love with traveling but also with my man and I. I knew I had to make it work and somehow, you know, to not go back to Germany because he's from Chile, from South America, and he was in travel mode and he wanted to go to Brazil when he met me. And then we decided to simply keep on traveling together for a while. And then I was actually lucky enough to have that. Yeah, that former clients from that agency where I used to work, they reached out to me saying, you know, are you ever going to come back? And if not, can you maybe help us from the distance? And that's when it clicked on me. You know, up until that point, I thought, OK, I need to find a job somewhere. I even applied for those the classical backpacker jobs behind the bar or in a hotel, restaurant and stuff. And it never worked for me. They they would always say, oh, no, we don't need someone for the reception in a hotel, but you can help us with our marketing. And so I actually I only had a couple of backpacker jobs, but then I was able to continue with my job, my career marketing. And when those former clients ask me this question, I said, OK, if I can work for one client, I can definitely work for more than... More clients, and that's when slowly but surely my brain got rewired and I, I then I mean, we're talking this is a is a process, right? I'm telling this now in a very short time frame. But it took me a few years in order to accept the fact that there is a life outside of Germany that I can make money outside and that there is such a thing that like remote work, I stumble across the term digital nomad after I had been living the digital nomad lifestyle for, I think two or three years. But then I thought, oh, there is such a thing. There's a label to my lifestyle, even though are other people, I'm not the only crazy person and so on and so forth. And and that's when I decided, um. That was then, I think four or five years after I left Germany, that's when I decided to create a real business around it and now I'm bubbling. You have to stop me if you only ask me how I started and I just keep on talking until you stop me. Right. Because then essentially I can maybe close the circle and say that's when I created my brand Jey Jetter, where I started talking about my travel lifestyle, but also gave tips and advice for other people who wanted to start the digital lifestyle. Yes

TP: A really interesting life and a really interesting journey you've had.

JJ: Thank you.

TP: You mentioned that you have two sons. How has the birth of your children influenced your nomad style?

JJ: So my my oldest son, he will turn four in May. And when I was pregnant with him, we were just cruising around in the Philippines. And even though we said eventually we're going to have kids, we it took us by surprise. To be honest. There's quite a because I was I was just attending a travel blogger conference there and I was networking a lot. And I had made so many good contacts and someone invited us over to Australia and we wanted to go back there and anyways. So this was an opportunity for us to. Yeah. Go back to Australia. And I actually wanted to start a business over there in Melbourne with someone. And then I found out I was pregnant and I was like, OK, that's interesting. And not only that. Oh, well. And then we said, OK, kids cannot stop us. We can I mean, we will be able to still, you know, keep going and do live our life. And then we decided to go to Australia. But then a few a couple of months later, we were actually sitting then in and in Bali. And we're just applying for visas for Australia and we're just ready to book our flights. And then my mum messaged me telling me about her. She was sick. She was diagnosed with cancer. And that was yeah. It was shortly before Christmas. I was pregnant. So highly emotional. I hadn't seen my mom in five years because I was gone. That was after I was on the road for five years. And so the combination of everything and then her news just made me, you know, stop with that plan and just book a flight to Germany. And I said, OK, I need to stick around for a while. I have to see my mom and, you know, just. Yeah. Be there. And and so it happened that my my first son Vincent and he yeah. He was born in Germany, completely not planned. I was seven months pregnant. I had to, you know, get back into the system, which was harder than I ever thought. You know, I had nothing there. No home address. I wasn't registered. I was gone for more than five years. So my health insurance, they looked at me and saying, we have never had a case for someone like coming back after five years before you left you. You know, in Germany, there is a way of registering, like if you want to become an independent business owner. So they had no idea what to do. So they sent me away and I was like, OK, there has to be a way because I'm pregnant and I don't want to pay out of the pocket my, you know, giving birth in the hospital. And I don't want to bore you with these details, but I figured out a way of getting back into the system. And so we we stick around for a while in Germany until my mom got better. She didn't do any chemotherapy. And I think. The fact that we were around and that she saw our grandson, yeah, lighting up her day, that was the best therapy ever. And today she's fine. She's, you know, I mean, she's not the youngest, of course, but she got rid of the cancer. And so I was happy to be able to be by her side for a while and then after. Our son was three months old and we decided to take him on his first road trip, so we drove all the way from Germany to southern Italy, which was fun, and we decided he's travel proof. And after after we did a couple of short trips within Europe during that first year with him. And then when he was one year, yeah, we decided to hit the road again and yeah. Continue with our own life and went back to the nomadic lifestyle until covid hit. Oh, no, sorry, then I skipped my second son. Obviously, my second son was born on the Canary Islands. Yeah, that was we chose that place because someone recommended us the to us, to the island. And I simply wanted a place where I was able tohave, like, the peaceful birth because Vincent, the first birth was very peaceful and the only interruption was really the way to the hospital. So I decided to not do that again with my second son. And we actually planned to have a birth at home with a midwife. But the midwife came too late. So it was a birth all by ourselves and it turned out to be really great.

TP: You also mentioned COVID.

JJ: Yes.

TP: How has that one influenced your nomad lifestyle?

JJ: Yeah, big time. Like, I guess everyone else is affected by it. But for us it was like this. We came to Thailand in January 2020 when we and I was booked for to speak at a conference and Nomad, a nomad digital nomad like, oh, sorry, a Digital Nomad Conference. So I gave a talk about social media marketing. And after that, we had only planned to stay in Thailand for two months because in March we were going to go to Italy. There was also a conference where I was also booked. And then COVID happened. And we we stayed here when the decision was made that we were not able to go to Italy. I mean, there was also I mean, Germany wasn't an option really to go to Chile also wasn't an option. And since we don't have a home, it was the only reasonable thing to do simply to stay put. And that's why we are still here in Thailand. And it's been, yeah, 13 months, 14 months now. And I mean, in this respect, covid has been really great for us, like just because we were lucky enough to be in such a beautiful place. But of course, I mean, I'm not saying that it is great, but, um, yeah, we were simply lucky that we were just, you know, we could have been in New Delhi. And I we clearly did not want you would not want to be 14 months in Delhi, you know, but, um, yeah. We're here on a remote little island there, many like minded families. covid is not a topic at all. Like we can walk around without masks. We there's no covid cases whatsoever. And it's been just a very normal year for us here. Our kids, they're running around naked all day. And yeah, I feel grateful every single day that we've been stuck here in Thailand. And so that's why we. Yeah, we klinge to our visas here until they keep us and let us stay in the country. That's been the most nerve racking issue around it, because the every month we are looking at the government, the Thai government, how will they decide? But they've extended the visa amnesty and let tourists stay here because they also realize that it's madness. I mean, you cannot send people away to their home countries where where people are really affected by covid much more than here. So, yeah, that's been COVID for us.

TP: Hmm, lucky, you!

JJ: Yeah. I know.

TP: And if somebody is now in spite of covid, they are considering becoming a digital nomad. What do they have to take into account?

You have to have that mentality to be really focused, dedicated and disciplined, because that's essentially turns into a successful business owner. - Julia Jerg, Podcast Step Up & Thrive

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JJ: OK, first of all, I mean, I. I do have people in one on one coaching's people come to me when they are just like before that decision, should we go full time nomadic? Should we just take a break or, you know, and they ask those questions and they come to me and I always say, OK. Figure out your finances first, that is you have to have your finances in place. I learned the hard way. I and I spent all my money first on traveling and then I figured out how to make money on the road. It was OK. It took me a while to do that. And I learned and all these mistakes from that I can share with with my coaching clients so so they don't have to do the same mistakes. But if you are in the lucky position where you can still make a plan, then I would highly recommend that you just either keep your day job. For another few months and then build on the side your online business or set up a savings saving plan or have something in place that will give you peace and peace of mind, because it is not that you can sit by the beach with your laptop and work a couple of hours and then the rest of the day you just do nothing but play in the sand with your family. There are so many people who give the wrong impression that digital nomads are just enjoying their lives. It's actually the other way around. I work probably not more than in my old job, but I work as hard as I did before. And there were times when it was harder because you are depending on your own motivation. You are. I mean, it depends if you're starting an online business, you're your own boss and you have to have that mentality to, um. Yeah. To be really focused, dedicated and disciplined, because that's essentially what brings you and turns into a successful business owner or you decide to do freelance job. But then you also have to you have to have a structure and really deliver high quality products or services. Otherwise no one else will hire you again. And it's not a sustainable business. So be very clear about that. But once you figure out figured out a way to make money and once you've you've got your OK, this is it. I'm passionate about this topic or I'm really good at that. Like, find your your skill where you're good at it and and then turn it into money because it has never been so easy to make money. And since, since in this century, like online, it's wonderful. It's there's so many opportunities and people most people have that most people have skills that they can translate into an online job or even an online business. So, yeah, talk to someone who has just gone through it sometimes. I'm not saying everyone should have a coach, but I think even, you know, get inspiration from friends or it clearly helps to get you from that may be conditioned mindset that we're all having and that I had when I started, I, never imagined that there was such an alternative lifestyle because no one talks about it. Of course, how can you know it if you're in the system? All you know is your neighbor goes to work from 9 to 5. Your family members, everyone goes and does the same thing. How can you assume that there is such a thing, like a deliberate thing, that you can actually work from anywhere in the world and even and then structure the day as it pleases you? You know? And it's possible. And I'm not yeah, I'm not the only living proof of it, but I like to think that there should be more. And yeah, I'm here. That's I think. Have you heard of ikigai. Ikigai. That's a Japanese word for your mission in life, so if you find that then you should definitely stick to it and I decided that this is my mission to inspire others to at least follow their dreams and try it out once in their lives. If you don't like it or if it doesn't work, at least you can say you tried it and you can always go back to your old life. It's going to sit there and wait for you.

TP: That's comforting. And now it's time for our Quick Tips section. And this is something that we do regularly on our podcast. And my question is, what is your biggest revelation about nomad life?

JJ: My biggest revelation? Oh, OK. So. I think. Well, I think that there are actually a lot more people living that lifestyle than then it seems like they're out. When I first came across that that term, I thought it was like a couple of hundred people. But it's actually a huge movement and it is. Not only I think it's not just a bubble, but I think it's actually the future of working, especially after and due to covid the work... Yeah, and the way we work and the way we used to work has to change, and digital nomads have are already the advantage of knowing how it how it works and. I think now it's just a time for more people to jump on that train. Um. But then at the same time, I would say that it's also not for everyone, you know, and you have to simply be honest to yourself, just don't try to force yourself into something just because you feel like. It's the next big thing.

TP: So we should listen to ourselves and check whether this kind of lifestyle would be suitable for us.

JJ: Yes.

TP: Thank you so much Julia for joining us and sharing all those great tips and your fantastic journey in different countries.

JJ: And thanks for having me.

TP: And if our listeners would like to know more about you and follow you where can they do so?

JJ: Um, well, I do have the set website where I share tips about traveling in the digital nomad lifestyle. And then I'm all over social media because I'm a social media coach. And so you find me also with the handle jeyjetter and I'm new to clubhouse, which I really love the clubhouse app. If you're also on it, find me there with my first and last name Julia Jerg. But yeah. So that's me. I'm happy to stay in touch. People need something.

TP: And you have an invitation to our listeners. Can you please tell.

JJ: Yes. I mean, I'm if someone is interested in using Facebook strategically to either create a stronger online presence or use it for your own online business or creating an online business, I do have a premium one on one coaching program, which is called Facebook for sales. And it's a four weeks program where I do help peopleith with strategic moves to reach their ideal clients and sell their products or service through Facebook. So, yeah, they are happy to talk about that more.

TP: Yeah, and you find all the links also in our show notes. So please come and join there. And thank you once again, Julia. It was a really pleasure to have you in our podcast.

JJ: Yeah. OK, thank you for having me again. It was a pleasure to be on the show.

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