Leah Davis is a travel blogger, entrepreneur, and digital nomad. She encourages others to grow and create sustainable nomadic lives for themselves through her blog. Leah has chosen to go down a non-traditional path in this world; she believes that the way society expects us to live life is not meant for everyone. I got the wonderful opportunity to interview Leah and find out more about who she is and why she does what she does.
How old were you when you got the first itch for travel?
I think I first really knew I wanted to travel by the time I reached my late teens. I had studied the Spanish language ardently throughout high school, so I looked forward to the day I could study abroad in Spain and put my skills to use. Of course, that didn’t pan out and I never traveled during college, but that just made me all the more determined to go abroad!
What got you into blogging?
While traveling on a long-term solo backpacking trip through South America in 2013, I became friends with a travel blogger who was making the digital nomad lifestyle work by freelancing and monetizing her blog. I thought it was so inspirational, and it solidified in my mind that I wanted that lifestyle, too.
Since I love to write and had already considered starting a blog anyway, meeting this successful blogger was the push I needed. I knew a blog could help me create a location independent lifestyle at some point in the future, but at the time, it was simply a way to document my travels and write about what I thought my friends and family would find interesting.
Can you talk a little bit about your longest trip away from home? How did your family feel about it?
The longest I ever spent away from home was the year and a half I lived in Thailand working as an English teacher in Chiang Mai. My mom wasn’t too keen on the idea when I first left since the farthest away I had lived at that point was the opposite US coast, but I made sure to Skype with her regularly and did my best to paint her a vivid picture of what my life was like so she could rest a little easier.
I told her about the friends I was making, the adventures we took on the weekends, the food I was growing so fond of, and how my Thai language skills were progressing. I told her about my travels within and outside of the country, my dating misadventures, and the souvenirs I planned to bring home. With time, she became more comfortable with my life abroad and stopped worrying so much.
While I would have loved to see my family during that period, I hadn’t the time nor the money to fly across the Pacific and back on my school holidays, so instead I spent those holidays exploring other parts of Southeast Asia. Similarly, my family had their own stuff going on that prevented them from coming to visit me, but I know they would have loved to. In fact, as much as my mom worried about me, I worried about her, too. It’s frustrating to be so far from people you care about when they need your emotional support and you can’t provide it in the way you’d like.
What were your biggest obstacles?
Some of my biggest obstacles while living in Thailand were trying to stay in contact with friends and family back home (the time difference was about 12 hours) and simply figuring out what I wanted to do with my life after this era came to an end. I knew I didn’t want to be an English teacher forever, or even for another year, so I had to devise a new plan that didn’t involve moving back to the US permanently, because I was far from done with living abroad.
What were your favorite moments?
My favorite moments were the late nights hanging out with friends. I met a really fantastic group of people while living in Chiang Mai and we had some epic adventures together. Weekend trips to beautiful lakes and waterfalls, hanging out poolside drinking mango smoothies, attending local music festivals and dancing like fools ’til the wee hours of the morning. I will always remember those moments with friends.
But I can’t neglect to mention my students, either. I taught a kindergarten class, so kids who were about five years old. They were so clever and so loving, I literally burst into tears on the last day of school when I realized I’d never see these precious babies ever again. It was a tough year but ultimately so rewarding.
Can you talk a little bit about the business you started?
When I set out on this blogging adventure, I didn’t have any sort of plan to blog for profit, so I can’t really say I started a business, but rather my blog transformed into one. In fact, for the first two years, I was blogging pretty aimlessly. It was only after my rebrand one year ago that I really put my foot down and decided I wanted to make an impact in people’s lives, and that’s the moment my blog truly started to feel like a business.
My site is all about helping people create their own ideal lifestyle of freedom, whether that means freelancing, working remotely, or starting their own online business. I serve people who love to travel and want their job to accommodate this passion rather than having to squeeze travel into the cracks that are leftover after working 50 hours at some office job they hate. I help people discover what their ideal lifestyle looks like and then formulate a plan to create it.
My site offers tons of free information, but I also sell my own ebook, which is a guidebook for becoming location independent called Take Your Life Back: Finding Freedom Through Location Independence. In the future I hope to expand my offerings of information products to help people reach their goals.
Do you have any social media tips and tricks for beginners?
Consistency! And not just with regard to how often you post, but with regard to the message you are sending. Figure out what you want your account to be known for and deliver that with each and every post.
A few things I want to be known for are vulnerability and optimism. I share my problems and my setbacks very openly, and I try to deliver that sincerity with each post. At the same time, I put a positive spin on them—I want a lesson to be learned or something valuable to be taken away.
Figure out what it is you are good at delivering and what you want your business to be known for, and bring that to each and every post you write.
What are the best tips you can give for someone who is trying to start a business?
Before you get started, actually write a business plan! Yes, even for a blog! Without those clear goals and a plan of action from the beginning, you may end up working aimlessly like I did. A component of that business plan will be the specific problem you are going to help people solve, and another will be your ideal client. Without these things in place, it will be hard to move steadily in one direction. Without that vision, it’s easy to get distracted by “shiny objects.”
My next tip is just to learn as much as possible about business and never stop learning. I buy new business books and courses all the time because this is so new and foreign to me (I studied nutritional science in college!). My current favorite business read is called Profit First by Mike Michalowicz, and it explains why most businesses are never profitable and how to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. I highly recommend it! My other favorite resource for online business advice is IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com.
Where is your next dream destination?
I haven’t done much traveling around the United States yet, so I’m actually currently dreaming of traveling to some of our gorgeous national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree. Hopefully I’ll get to do a bit of roadtripping this winter in our new camper!
Any last tips you would give to other travelers?
If you’ve always wanted to experience travel, just go. Don’t wait for someone else’s permission or until you have a travel buddy to go with. You’ll never regret making it a priority in your life.
In the same breath, if you’ve been traveling for a long time and you’re craving stability, there is absolutely no shame in settling down somewhere for awhile. Travel will always be there.