The view from here
Amy Molloy is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, a four-month trip to some of the world's most beautiful and remote places with her partner Kurt. Only there's one small catch - she plans to work along the way. A successful journalist, Amy has no intentions of putting her career on hold. Can she really meet her deadlines from the Amazon? How will travelling shape her writing? Does she have what it takes to embrace the 'digital nomad' lifestyle? She tackles these big questions and more in Diary of a Digital Nomad: How to Run Away with your Responsibilities, the July pick for Travelher Book Club. Did you read along with us? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
I've always loved books that tell a "true story". I much prefer them to fiction as I love the opportunity to dive into someone else's life and witness a snapshot of their experiences, thoughts and emotions, the struggles they face and the successes they celebrate through their eyes. It is always a lot easier for me to relate to a "real person" and I find myself looking for similarities and taking advice from their stories as I reflect on their lives and behaviours page by page.
Amy had my attention from the very first page when she explained the purpose of her book in her "How to use this book" section. I loved her no BS approach and I too can relate to the frustrating amount of blogs out there telling you to "just quit" your job and things will work themselves out. I definitely consider myself a positive "the glass is half full rather than half empty" person but I too long for a more achievable/practical solution to "long-term freedom".
While I found it hard to relate to her in terms of her seemingly non-existent excitement for travel (at least in the beginning of her story when it seemed like the only reason for her to embark on her four-month trip was to accompany her boyfriend Kurt), the transition she went through throughout her book, as she was traveling from country to country, helped me warm to her more and more.
I could relate to some of the frustrations she experienced and shared her enthusiasm for others. Her writing style was so easy to follow and engaging, I felt like I was skipping through her book page by page keen to find out what happens next. Her chapters were short and sweet and gave a lot of insight into the places she visited and the way she felt about them as much as about her personal development and emotional state during her four-month journey.
I love the conclusion Amy drew at the end of her story when she defined what "real freedom" meant to her. I've been trying to keep a similar mindset ever since I've managed to negotiate a flexible working arrangement for myself. I try to use it to bring some excitement and adventure into my daily life by planning long weekends and spontaneous trips away, sitting outside in the sun while working, helping my mum build her new business or simply meeting a friend for coffee in the middle of the day, which are all things I could never do if I'd still work in an office 9-5pm from Monday to Friday.
However, as romantic as this sounds and no matter how much I agree with this way of thinking, I personally still long for more actual time to travel. And by actual time I mean uninterrupted, pure time which doesn't include sitting on a beach balancing my laptop on my deckchair or sitting in a hostel room at 5am chasing the wifi signal, etc. I am still longing for "real travel" where traveling is all you do and your only focus is enjoying the moment and soaking up every tiny bit of your completely new, unknown, exciting, exhilarating surroundings without compromising this precious magical experience of being somewhere you've never been before, allowing yourself to be completely vulnerable and out of your comfort zone far away from home and everything you know. I know we can't always have it all but I personally haven't given up on my dream of living a self-directed life day by day PLUS having the luxury of finding extra time to get away from it all completely every now and then. Not running away from my responsibilities, but allowing myself to take a break from them every now and then, this is what true freedom means to me.
Favourite quote: "I had not only proved that I could travel the world if I wanted to, but also that I could go home again. I no longer needed to run away from my responsibilities - I could run away with them. That seemed like true freedom, to me."
As a whole, the book read to me a woman who was an incredibly good sport about being prodded along on an adventurous journey by her loving partner, desperately hanging onto control of the life she knows and at the end conceding that altering your priorities isn’t such a bad thing.
While I would agree that exploring the world outside of your comfort zone as a result of love is a better reason to travel than most, I have to admit I was disappointed reading about the motivations behind this journey.
I can’t even fathom not caring that much about travel so I personally found it very difficult to relate to the author and her overall outlook. With that being said, Ms Molloy’s writing style is very light and engaging and I enjoyed the entertaining and vivid snapshot stories from the different places they visited along the way – she knows how to keep your interest.
I could very much relate to the logistical and emotional realities of travel that Amy described beautifully. From the more challenging aspects of the journey – exhaustion, endless waiting, horrendous seasickness – to the joys of witnessing spectacular displays of wildlife, incredible vistas coming into view, breaking bread with remarkable people you meet along the way, and the renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures like clean socks and a hot bath. I could also identify with the jubilant feeling of being able to share such confronting highs and lows with someone who loves you.
However, I personally feel the book would have a greater impact on an audience of travel sceptics, toying with the idea of rolling the dice and leaving it all behind. I thought this was going to be a book about a travel lover learning how to practically and realistically see the world whilst keeping a healthy bank account, but it turned out to be a story about a professional writer who learned to embrace travel through love. Not a bad story by any stretch, just definitely not what I expected from its presentation and I think it was a little misleading.
Favourite quote: “I thought I was going away to prove how much I could work when travelling, but instead I’d proved how little I could work - and still be financially stable and, just as importantly, happy.”
Amy’s captivating, accessible writing style had me hooked from the beginning – even though the book was completely different to what I expected. What I thought would be a collection of practical travel tips turned out to be a collection of beautiful travel moments. It really does read like a diary, and because it’s self-published, there’s a rawness and honesty about it that I found very touching.
A career-driven, type-A personality, Amy doesn’t fit the digital nomad stereotype. She openly acknowledges that if it hadn’t been for Kurt, the love of her life, she wouldn’t have embarked on a four-month trip around the world. And this was no relaxing, cocktails-by-the-pool kind of trip, either. It was hardcore backpacking. The duo left Sydney with no more than two bags each; one large backpack, and one small ‘front pack’ so they could keep their valuables close (passports, phones, iPads). Amy had a grand total of two outfits to last the entire trip, and didn’t even pack underwear because it wasn’t worth the extra weight. Talk about jumping right in the deep end!
I loved this juxtaposition: high-flying journalist can work from anywhere in the world – but she cannot pack any underwear. From the moment I read that, Amy had my full admiration. I don’t think I could travel in the way she did.
What’s more, from the beginning of the book Amy was very open about how vulnerable she felt to be embarking on this trip. I thought she’d face her fair share of challenges along the road, and she did – but not in the way I expected. Although she grappled with patchy wifi, food poisoning, and painfully-long bus rides, she seemed to adapt to new people and places with relative ease. I loved reading about her interactions with people and her observations upon arriving at a new destination. She really brought her experiences to life. I also loved her adventurous spirit – her willingness to push herself physically and mentally beyond her comfort zone. Whether this was hiking to very high altitudes in Chile, or sleeping in a hammock in the Amazon rainforest, it made for some incredible storytelling. And it totally contradicted her type-A tendencies, which made the read all the more richer.
But most of all, I love the conclusions Amy reached at the end of the book, about life, love and, freedom – which I won’t spoil for those of you who haven’t read it. Let’s just say I think some of Amy’s best stories are yet to be written…
Favourite quote: “Vision statement: To work from a place of freedom wherever I am, with a curiosity, lightness and brightness that inspires my storytelling and makes me feel connected.”
What did you think of Diary of a Digital Nomad? Share your thoughts in the comments below!