#13 Eirik André Nilsen from Lofoten Islands, Norway

Hi! I’m a Norwegian aspiring entrepreneur currently working on a surf startup called “Trailwhisper”. We’re giving traveling surfers inspiration through photo stories told by a global surf community. I love outdoor activities, surfing, football, and to write different types of content. Pretty much all I do in my life nowadays involve these activities. I try to live by the sound of my own drum, which can be a bit tough financially but it has its rewards. It makes me happy.

1. How and why did you choose to go nomadic?

It wasn’t a choice at all really. Things just fell in place after I left Norway. Some 7 months into my travels I didn’t even know what a digital nomad was, so it’s pretty recently that I’ve become familiar with the term through the likes of Tim Ferris and SpartanTraveler.

After I finished my degree back home I felt empty and depressed to be honest. I thought I had failed in life as I had yet to discover what I wanted to do. I was 24 at that point, had changed my study program (which was a tough and hard decision to make) and felt like I didn’t have much going on. Most of all, I had no wish to jump straight into a meaningless job just to get a salary. Yes, it is a first world problem to be able to turn down different types of jobs, but I had some savings and decided that it was now or never. I looked for volunteer opportunities in Argentina, got accepted, and left on a one-way ticket. I didn’t know when I was going to return and didn’t really care to be honest. After volunteering for 6 weeks, it just snowballed from there with hostel work in Chile, and from there again with a one-year paid internship in Sri Lanka. It was in Chile and Sri Lanka I really discovered surfing and started to structure my life around it. I’m still pretty average, but it’s my favorite activity. It keeps me fit, makes me happy and enables me to travel and meet new and like-minded people.

2. What was it like leaving your home country?

The best feeling ever. I remember sitting on the plane, leaving Oslo full of adrenaline. It was my own decision and I was proud! Don’t get me wrong, I love Norway to bits. I sing the national anthem with a despicable pride and speak highly of our nature and women whenever I can. But my choice of leaving wasn’t down to the country itself. It was a decision made out of hunger as I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could fare well in a new and unfamiliar culture.

After I arrived, I was forced to learn a new language and understand how difficult it can be to be the black sheep among many white. I still remember standing there like an idiot in the fruit shop in Buenos Aires trying to buy a banana. Once I got it though, it was a pretty tasty snack. Through these experiences I learned to appreciate the small things again and understand that I don’t need to buy a lot of shit every month to be happy — I can live out of my backpack and that’s enough.

3. What are your biggest struggles? Fears?

I have lots of struggles and fears. I do seem to overcome most of them and I’ve learned not to worry too much. But I got to say that money is a struggle and a constant concern. It does work out eventually, though I have to admit that I’m looking forward to the day I get a steady income.

I get homesick as well and miss my family at times. I have two nephews and a grandmother that I would like to see every week, but Skype will have to do the job at the moment.

My biggest fear is that I’ll become satisfied and stop learning. I feel like university was just a big detour — what I’m doing now is the real thing and I’ve only just begun the journey. Now I’m waking up with a purpose and a call, and that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.

4. How are you funding your lifestyle and what projects are you working on?

At this very moment I’m living off my savings and the rest of my student loan. We are however working part-time doing promotion work and such, but are looking to get something more relevant on the side until we get a bit of funding for our startup. In addition to our startup I’m currently learning to surf a new board that I recently bought. I’m also writing on Medium, as well as participating at startup events in Limerick. It’s the perfect way to learn new skills and add something to my resume while doing something I love.

5. What is the estimated monthly cost of living for one of your favorite locations? What lifestyle does that afford?

I’ve stayed long enough in Chile, Sri Lanka and Ireland to get a good feeling of the different lifestyles. Many go to Asia for the lifestyle and cheap living, but I got to say that I prefer Europe. My long term goal is to move to Lisbon as it has got great culture, food, surf and a startup scene. It’s also cheap compared to a lot of European cities. You can get a meal for about $5 and a beer is usually no more than $2. However, rent varies and you should expect to pay around $400 per month. I like to eat at home and cook, so food hardly gets expensive no matter where I am. I’m estimating that I’ll spend around $700 per month, which allows for a pretty good, but not excessive lifestyle.

6. What is your top tip for someone who aspires to earn money online and travel?

Find out what you’re good at and see if it can be utilized online somehow. If you don’t have too much to offer, it can be useful to learn a new skill. Whatever you do, have a plan and strategy and learn to sell your skills no matter how little you think you can offer.

If you have savings you can spend it’s possible to head out and let things unfold. If not, you have to make sure that you have something that will give you income — whether it’s freelance work or your own venture. When that’s sorted what you need then is proper gear and equipment, as well as steady wi-fi and electricity. If your job requires you to be online daily, it doesn’t help to stay on a boat in the Caribbean Sea no matter how nice it is. Find a place to stay, and stay long enough to get a proper routine worked in. Look to go somewhere you can practice whatever hobbies you’re into (it’s important to give your brain a break and renew your energy levels somehow). It can also be important to consider locations with expat communities as they will help you set up things and let you meet other people.

Any final thoughts?

If your gut tells you to head out, do it. You have nothing to lose and will only grow on the challenges you face. You will also get a better perspective on life and different cultures, and understand that most people are the same regardless of color and nationality. In addition, it teaches you that you don’t really need much in life to be successful and happy. However, leave for your own personal development and not because you want to impress your friends. This is your life, live it to the fullest on your own premises, not someone else’s.