‘The Wild Woman Interviews’ is a series of Q&As with women who do interesting, brave and inspiring things. The name is inspired by the fact that the focus is largely on how nature, the outdoors, travel, the natural cycles of life etc. inspire and influence women in their passions and pursuits.
This month, I’d like you to meet Lara Moses. She is a writer, traveller and digital nomad who feels at home in many places, but has mostly found it in two: Cape Town, South Africa and Chiang Mai, Thailand.
If you had to write an Instagram/Twitter bio for yourself right this moment, what would it say?
Professional Wordsmith | Constant Traveller
For the past few years, you’ve been living the dream as a digital nomad, dividing your time between Chiang Mai and Cape Town, with a whole range of other trips and destinations interspersed in between. How did you come to decide on Chiang Mai as your home-away-from-home? What’s the best thing about having two homes? What challenges have you faced in this regard?
When we started this nomadic journey five years ago, Thailand, and specifically Chiang Mai, was (and still is) a hub for digital nomads. We were looking for community – people to relate to, learn from and potentially become friends with. Additionally, Chiang Mai is very affordable, has an overwhelming amount of fully furnished long term accommodation, co-working spaces, fast internet, and, as a vegetarian, the food is plentiful.
Besides constantly living in summer (or warm weather), I’ve gained so much perspective having two homes. Being taken out Cape Town has made me see home through a new lens. Heading to Chiang Mai every year has me appreciate Cape Town for its air quality, the availability of beauty/hair products for someone with my skin tone, and affordability of fresh produce, cheese, and wine! But when I’m in Chiang Mai I love the feeling of complete safety (especially as a woman) and the access that my South Africa passport gives me.
Coming back to Cape Town after our first few times to Chiang Mai was particularly difficult because of the then slow internet, and lack of short term fully furnished accommodation at reasonable prices. When you live in the bubble of Chiang Mai with everything being so affordable, everything back home seems unattainable – but a trip to Germany for three months set me straight very quickly.
Being Chiang Mai also has its challenges. I miss the familiarity of home – knowing how things work, where to get certain things and the connection with my friends and family. It’s hard to maintain friendships with other nomads that are constantly moving, and even though I have a few Thai friends, the language barrier and cultural differences often get in the way.
Of course, what seems like ‘living the dream’ to many of us, is ‘normal’ for you and certainly no holiday. What does an average day in your life look like?
I don’t particularly have a daily schedule, but rather a weekly one. I have a to-do list of things to complete by the end of the week, and I try to squeeze everything between Monday and Thursday so I can take Friday off. My schedule is super flexible so I sometimes work on a Sunday so I can take Monday off.
I make my own rules which by far the most rewarding part of this journey.
Working as a freelance creative is extremely challenging in that there is no office door to close at the end of the day and deadlines don’t wait. It gets even more complicated when you’re working while travelling. At times like these, how do you manage to balance meeting your deadlines with being present and having fun?
Over the past five years, I’ve had to keep a fairly strict schedule for myself because the freedom of this lifestyle have you forgetting about your work. Even though strict (Monday-Thursday, 9 am – 6 pm), my schedule is also very flexible. I try to get all my work out of the way by Thursday so I can do a few fun things over the weekend.
It takes a lot to not just want to chill in a place like Bali or go visit every museum in Berlin, but I constantly remind myself that if I don’t work, I don’t make money, and if I don’t make money, I have to go back home and find a 9-5 job (which is fine, but I prefer setting my own rules).
All this time, you’ve been globetrotting and working with your partner, Sean. People always say travel is the best test for any relationship, even more so when you throw some remote work into the mix. Did you and Sean travel well together from the start? What tips do you have for other couples who are setting out on a journey of travelling and working together?
Everything takes a bit of adjustment. We have to constantly set new boundaries as we travel. Five years in and we are still working on the perfect work/relationship/travel balance. We now have a growing non-negotiable list that we need to be happy in a city.
I think every couple has its own challenges when travelling long term. But what I’d advice couples who want to travel together is the following:
- DO NOT work together. Travelling, working and living together is super tough and Sean and I tried this for three years. Working together adds additional stress to an already stressful situation (relocating to a new country). Also, having my work to escape into has been a lifesaver.
- Spend a bit more on accommodation if you plan on working from home. Four years in and I finally realised that working in the bedroom is not healthy. A two-bedroom apartment has worked best for us.
- Have an emergency fund that you both have access to. Sean and I have separate emergency funds which have saved us plenty of times – E.R visits and heading back home unexpectedly.
- Dating does not stop when you’re in a foreign land. Make the effort to be romantic – find a cute restaurant, go on a drive up the mountain, or go away for a weekend.
- Get the right visa – Sean and I have never done a border run. We always get visas that allow us to stay for a bit longer than your average tourist. Not having to worry about crossing the border is well worth the cost of the visa.
- Make time for work and play – why travel halfway around the world just to sit in a room and work.
Do you ever see yourselves settling down in one location? If so, where do you think it would be?
Well, we currently settling in Cape Town. Our last trip to Chiang Mai was eye-opening and I feel like we’ve outgrown the city. We are taking the next six to twelve months to figure what we want to do next – but I must admit, it’s so lekker being home!
If people want to see some of the work you guys do or get in touch, where can they find you online?
Follow me on Instagram @LaraMoses87 – it’s where I share most of my adventures.
My blog (I haven’t updated it in a while) – www.laramoses.com
Sean and I share some travel/digital nomad/entrepreneurship advice on freemadic.com
My business – www.copyinthecloud.com