Welcome to Awesome People Doing Awesome Things, an interview series featuring people who’ve created something awesome from their travels.
Today we’re chatting to Dave Brett, AKA Travel Dave UK. We met at a blogging conference in Spain in 2015, and only knew him for about 2 hours before inviting him to come stay with us in Prague. Dave has an effusively positive energy to him, and seems to have a bottomless well of supportiveness for others who are trying to do awesome things. In fact, Dave was the very first person to buy our adult colouring book in the UK (thanks, Dave!).
In 2015, Dave published Digital Nomad, a book about creating a location independent lifestyle. Since we get a lot of emails asking us how we make full-time travel work, we know Dave’s story and book will be interesting to many of you. And after my complain-ey post on Monday, I figured a breath of positivity from Dave would be welcome.
Okay and….go! Tell us what you do in two sentences or less.
A writer who loves a good adventure.
Where are you right now, and what brought you there?
At the moment I am on a train to Helsinki heading to the Nordic Blogger experience (#nbefinland). I will be flying to Ruka later on today which is located in the north of Finland, and will be taking part in a freezing point trip, which will offer a whole host of extreme activities such as ice climbing and skiing, before flying back to Helsinki for the MATKA travel fair. Then I’m off exploring Finland again, exploring Vantaa, Espoo and Northern Karelia for some snow shoeing, ice swimming, sauna, and snowmobiling. Lovely :)
Why did you start your business? What was your inspiration and how did you come up with the idea?
Since 2005, I’ve travelled the world. After working in retail shops, volunteer programs, study abroad programs and a host of internships (anything to keep the dream alive, to keep travelling!) it was time to set up a business to self-fund my travel addiction. That’s when I stumbled across travel blogging and the possibilities of being a self-published author.
I’d always had a travel blog, but I didn’t know you could turn it into a business. After attending an entrepreneurship course at Vaasa University (here in Finland) I quickly discovered that it was possible, and I’ve been on that journey for about 4/5 years now.
Later, I stumbled across the idea of digital nomads and investigated deeper. As long as I can work online, I can run a business anywhere around the world. I just need a cup of coffee and wifi (I’m working on a train right now speeding through Finland, the train has wifi…and coffee!).
That’s when I discovered drop shipping, Udemy course creation, copy writing and a whole host of business models you can operate online.
Literally today, the world is your oyster, and the possibilities are endless.
What has been the biggest challenge, and what inspires you to keep going in the face of challenges and roadblocks?
Being alone. It’s always tough when travelling solo as sometimes you don’t feel like socialising and when you’re running your own online business, you can’t go out partying all the time and it can be tough. I try to combat this by seeking out like-minded individuals who understand working ethics. You do find these people in digital nomad hotspots such as Chiang Mai. (You can look at the Nomad List to seek out these spots.)
Running a business and constantly being on the road can isolate you at times. Even so, you have to put the work in now to gain the benefits later.
What’s the best part of what you do? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The best part of what I do is getting messages from individuals I’ve never met thanking me for my work. That really means a lot. I want to help people and if I can do that with what I do, I’m lucky that I can call that my profession.
But what gets me out of bed? Coffee. I honestly couldn’t survive without coffee. The fact I’m limited to only drinking a few cups a day makes me happy to be in Finland, where they on average drink 5 cups a day (yes average!).
Have you ever thought about throwing in the towel?
Every day. You face challenges on a daily basis, real road blocks which make you question why you’re doing it in the first place. Then you get these moments when you stop, look at where you are and what you’re doing, and think to yourself some people dream of this moment for a lifetime and it’s at your fingertips. Those moments when I think back are what keep me going and I wouldn’t swap those for the world. You get big wins taking big risks.
What’s the next step for you and your business?
I’ve always wanted to be based in the Nordics. It’s been a little dream of mine, but in the past I simply couldn’t have afforded it. Now I’m in Finland and many good positive memories are flooding back and I’m looking and focusing my blog to be more Nordic destination specific over 2016.
I have so much to write about this region of the world and have the opportunity now to do it.
I’m also looking at getting into online video courses at the moment as well as writing a few more ebooks.
I’ve also been working on my first ever physical product which would have never been possible without 3D printing but that’s another story for a rainy day.
I’ve also been happy with my first ever travel blogger event, which I organised called Travel Blogger Retreat, which gathered 35 like-minded travel bloggers to the Thai island of Koh Phangan for a week. I would love to do another one as I found it great fun and we really did gather a great group of bloggers.
As you can see, loads of projects and things to do, but I like keeping myself busy and punching above my weight…it keeps me going!
How do you maintain balance in your life?
Morning ritual. If I don’t wake up in the morning I simply don’t get anything done. I’m such a morning person, I love being up at the crack of dawn before everyone else, around 05:30am busting out 5,000 words by 09:00 and I’m done for the day! Waking up early and getting into a cycle is what makes me thrive. Travel from time to time knocks me off, that’s why I like to base myself in a city for one straight month and do a power session. I like to maintain a early morning balance the best I can.
Tell me about your day-to-day in Finland.
I’m the most laziest traveller you will ever meet. I will book a flight and do no planning at all, and often I’ll book my hotel using the airport wifi upon arrival.
For me travel is always best discovered through a local and I really don’t care about seeing top attractions. I like to take it easy, go with the flow, and discover at a more leisurely pace. I’m a big fan of slow travel.
I’d rather rent an airBnB in Berlin for one month and share a room in a student house than visit Berlin for a weekend and stay in a hotel for the same cost.
I like slow. That’s how you get to the heart of a place and make travel more enjoyable, no stress at all.
This is normally how you find the best places to eat, too (I do love food :D).
Okay – give us your shameless pitch. What do you hope people reading this walk away from this with? What’s the call to action?
Just do it. I know its cliche, but Instead of saying I would like to go to Japan or I would like to write a book, just do it. If you never start you will never climb to the top of the mountain, nothing will get done! You have to take the first step and each step brings you closer to your goals. Once you’ve climbed one mountain the rest are easy, you get a feeling of achievement, and that’s how you get the ball rolling. Be a doer.
How can readers stay in touch with you and follow along? What’s your blog, social, etc?
(Check out a few of our favorite Instagrams from Dave’s account, below)
Good morning everyone! What are you doing today? #chiangmai #travel #travelblog #digitalnomad #thailife #travel #thailand #coworking #viewfrommyoffice #instafollow #southeastasia #asia #lovetheworld #travelgram #rtw #entrepreneur #laptoplifestyle #wanderlust #instatravel #nofilter #nomads #globalnomads #trip #travelling #iphoneonly #bestoftheday #igaddict #igdaily
A photo posted by Travel Dave (@traveldaveuk) on
If you’re interested in learning more about how to build a location-independent business, pick up a copy of Dave’s book on Amazon!