Episode #
071

Sharing the Tips to Become a Digital Nomad with Kristin Vierra | TNN71

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Episode Summary

Have you ever felt that where you are now is not where you are supposed to be? Maybe you’re not sure about the right way forward, only that the path you’re on now isn’t it. You pondered and pondered and the only thing you could think of doing is travel. Traveling is one of the most effective ways to clear your mind off things and regain focus on what is most important in your life. Kristin Vierra, a seasoned nomad and career coach, can help you figure things out while having the time of your life visiting cool places and eating local food.

In this week’s episode, Kristin joins Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski in sharing their experiences finding out where they want to go. They talked about the challenges, the joy in traveling, and the emotions that came with those experiences. Traveling is so beneficial for the body, mind, and heart so tune in, and maybe this episode of The New Nomad might entice you to pack your bags and just go where your heart (or wallet) takes you.

From the episode

What You'll Learn

  • The pros outweigh the cons of moving abroad
  • The beauty in spontaneity
  • Restart vs regret

Timestamps

[5:02] Changing your environment is sometimes the best thing to do

[10:12] The pros outweigh the cons of moving abroad

[12:05] The beauty in spontaneity

[18:21] Restart vs regret

[21:07] Every person has different needs and wants

[26:04] Slowmading: it takes time to get to know each place

Show Transcript

Allen  

Welcome to The New Nomad podcast. I think today we have a very exciting, informational, really inspiring story. Kristin Vierra will join us today, somebody who really packed up and lived what we've been talking about in this podcast is somebody who's decided to do the digital nomad lifestyle and is going to share her story but share some tips and ideas. Because, you know, frankly, when you read the story of somebody who said, Listen, I'm gonna move to a different place, speak a different language, put myself in a different culture. That's just amazing. And Andrew, I'll bring it over to my co-host, Andrew Jernigan, who himself has gone to many different locations. But throwing in a different language on top of the different location taught throwing on fact, the fact that a female versus a male to a different location. I mean, there's just so much. That's going to be the story today, that I'm really looking forward to our conversation. Your thoughts?

Andrew  

Yeah, this is fun, because as I look at the dedication that Kristin put into her education, her profession, working with likes of PWC, and Amazon, Credit Karma, and the list goes on of some of these major corporations she worked with, to then say, and to get the master's degree and etc. And I think there's a doctoral thesis in the works. But you know, it's one of those things to look at it and say, Wow, you've come to the place to where you can consult others, not just project management, it's and skills based, but from the inside of, okay, yes, you can, you can switch from the nine to five to make your own hours and, and live around the world. So this is gonna be fun. Welcome, Kristin. Glad you're with us today.

Kristin  

Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to chat more all about travel and digital nomad life and kind of how this all evolves, you know? 

Andrew  

Yes.

Allen  

Why don't you share with our audience your story, because it's amazing. All the way back to the day that you had the epiphany that you wanted something different, somewhere different. I'd love to hear how this work.

Kristin  

Yeah, so it was kind of it all the seed was planted in college. I went to UC Santa Barbara in California, and I always love Spanish from high school ever since I started to take courses which I think we should start courses in elementary school. Maybe that's the thing now in the US, but I started in high school, and I was always it was my favorite subject. And so I chose to minor in it in college. And in college, I really wanted to study abroad. Unfortunately, that never worked out with the programs I was involved in, I couldn't do it in the quarter system. And it wasn't able to do it in summers. So it was like an opportunity I felt was always missing and it always kind of stopped with me. And so then I entered, like you mentioned PWC, full-time work living in San Francisco right out of college. And I actually went into a career that wasn't for me, auditing was not my lifelong career. It's not for everyone, right? And accounting was not it. And I actually experienced early career burnout. And I went through a career change with a coach who guided me into HR tech, which was my passion in San Francisco and I loved actually, loved HR tech. But something that kept sitting was this travel itch, and I couldn't shake it. 

And after living in San Francisco for seven years, I kind of kept thinking I need to change. And there was about a two-year period where I kept feeling the desire for change, but not acting. It was like something was there, but I couldn't pinpoint it. And I look back on those two years as like, kind of not my happiest period, I just felt a bit stuck. I couldn't figure out the career direction I wanted to go. I couldn't figure it out. I couldn't really pinpoint what it was. And then ultimately, I decided I wanted to move cities, I decided I needed a change of environment and a slower pace from the SF tech scene. While I loved HR Tech, I just really wanted to slow down a bit. And so that kind of inspired this US exploration with friends where we reduced city trips for me to identify the city I wanted to move to and so got a little travel itch internally within the US. And then when I decided on the city, I decided I had to leave my role because it was only based in San Francisco and the city was San Diego by the way, that was my choice to slow down by the beach. And that weekend that I decided to leave my job and I put in notice I had two encounters with friends. Friend of her on where they said, if you're moving cities and changing jobs, why wouldn't you travel? And it was like a light bulb went off. And I was like, You're right. I have to put all my stuff in storage or move it. Why wouldn't I take? I'm not tied to anything, why not take this opportunity. So that basically evolved into me deciding to book a one-way ticket to Guatemala to go to Lake Atitlan, to start a solo backpacking trip to take this travel break between moving cities and changing jobs. And that one-way ticket turned into a three-month solo backpacking trip, it was meant to be a month, and I remember emailing my dad one day and saying, you know, I think I need to keep going, do you support this decision? And he kind of said, you've got to follow your heart and do what's best for you. And I just felt it, I wanted to keep going. Because I was learning so much, I stayed with a family in Guatemala and studying Spanish. I was meeting such interesting people. I was getting, I was just learning so much about myself and about Guan like different cultures in Central America. And that's where the travel itch really started. And I did move to San Diego after this, I came back. And the itch didn't leave. That's what happened. And I got into this new role in San Diego in the project I was hired on got put on hold. And I would go in every day eager for this project. And my manager would say, We're holding because there was acquisition rumors and things like that. So it was there was nothing we can do. And so in that time, I can't be, I can't be Steelers stagnant, I was like, I've got to be doing something. And while I was living in San Diego, a friend had asked me a question, and it was, if you could do anything right now, what would it be? And my answer was, I would move to Latin America, but I just moved to San Diego.

Meanwhile, this project is put on hold, right? So the friends question keeps coming up in my head. And I was like, maybe I'll just give this a shot I have all this time. So I just started to fire off in mails, and apply to roles in managing Columbia and Buenos Aires, and that turned into a job opportunity, like interviews flowing, and a job opportunity with an HR tech company in Argentina, which literally was the spark of this whole journey was moving to Buenos Aires and starting this job. And so that's kind of the full story of how one backpacking trip turned into a move abroad, which turned into this permanent lifestyle. And it was a travel itch that just never went away.

Allen  

So interesting. So making this transition. And by the way, I do commend you on San Diego, if you have to pick the United States very nicely done. Both my kids are there, as a matter of fact, but you know, when you look at the countries in the cities, did you identify them as places that you wanted to be? Or was the opportunity there? Because I think our audience is like, if I want to do something like this, how do I figure out? You know, I mean, both cities are tremendous. But like, what could it have been Bogota i there was a job there? Could it have been real if there was a job there? Or was it more like, hey, what I hear is really good about the community there. And I'm picking that, or is it a little bit of the kind of it was the opportunity presented itself?

Kristin  

That's a great question. It was a mix of things. I knew Latin America, that was a key. I knew South America in general. I loved managing that backpacking trip. So initially, I thought it was there and I had been there. So I spent a good amount of time there and felt the whole energy of the city I met people I really love how kind and friendly Colombians are. So I felt like that could be the place. Buenos Aires actually was more of a company. I saw an opportunity that was really aligned with my career background, and drew me but I had never been I knew very little about Argentina. And I will tell you about honestly, I didn't even look up Argentina and Buenos Aires on a map fully until I was accepting the offer. And I was like, I could not go further away from my parents like you're really trying to get away because it's literally as far as but it was the opportunity and then honest See, I would not have picked any other place. Argentina now feels like home and I love Buenos Aires. So it all worked out in the best way possible. But that's the thing is I had never been. And that's a risk sometimes you take with an abroad opportunity. But the learnings in the growth you gain are invaluable no matter where you go.

Andrew  

Well, you happen to be working today from one of my favorite cities, and actually probably one of my favorite areas of town. And that's Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. So I take it you've been there multiple times as well is it? Is it in your top two locations outside the US you think?

Kristin  

So actually, this trip has been my first time here. I was hoping to come here in 2020. But as we know, the world shifted and I changed change route based on that. So thankfully, this year, I knew I knew I had to come in. I went back to Argentina for the first time since the pandemic, which I left during the pandemic. And it was really hard to leave because it had become my home and my community. And so it was really nice to get back there this year and reconnect with friends. And I just knew I didn't part of this lifestyle decision was chasing summer and sunshine. I am not a winter person hence San Diego choice. I am a sunshine warm. That is where I thrive. And so when I was knowing, I knew I was going back to Buenos itis around winter or just before. So I was like this is the perfect opportunity now to get to Rio and to enjoy the sun during winter in Argentina. And the city has really amazed me. I had I didn't know much about Rio before. I didn't do a ton of research which is kind of how I travel now I really flow with it and get to the place and let it surprise me and experience it of course being safety and security and caution. But I think there's a beauty to not planning everything. And just the mix of mountains, beaches, the beauty of the city has blown my mind. Now the challenge is Portuguese because I've gotten basically fluent in Spanish and now it's like Okay, back to ground zero.

Andrew  

The languages are much different from each other. They are and being in Barra da Tijuca, that area of town you've, you know, it's a wonderful area for great restaurants and dining. A lot of expats and foreigners actually that that are in that area that are there as slum adds more than the tourists that you see in Ipanema and Copacabana, that area, you see folks who are passing through for a couple of weeks. And it's nice, because when you're doing this long term, it's good to find community people that are going to be there for a month or are 10 months, you know, rather than just those that are there for a week, and oh, you get that coffee once? Okay. You know, that's it's a good aspect of choosing the right area of town to be in.

Kristin  

Yeah, it's interesting what you bring up about the different length of stay because this lifestyle can be lived in so many ways, which is why I'm passionate about coaching it because it really can be customized to someone to how someone best thrives like I like slowness, and really immersing in for that. I like longer stays in cities and countries to really connect. Some people are more about reaching a lot of destinations. So they might want to do it quicker, right. And so it's so unique to what best like what someone's desires are with building it, and how they live it. And the outcome is different for us all. And I noticed that with you, I need to.

Allen  

So Kristin, you know, I'm sitting here thinking if I'm somebody listening this podcast, and I'm going to reach out to you for coaching, I would think that I would get some career advice, some ideas on how to do an international job search, maybe some of your ideas on that lifestyle, maybe some transition issues to remote work, you know, which could you share a couple of your you kind of how you go through on the coaching on that and maybe touch upon a couple of those issues there. Because, like I said, but you did it so adventurous. I think it'd be great to have a coach help somebody avoid the mistakes that maybe you ran into and then some of the learnings when you try to make this big of a transition.

Kristin  

Yeah. And I went through my coaching journey, becoming a coach while I was in Argentina. And initially, my whole mission with coaching was finding more fulfilment in career and lifestyle. Because from my journey to early career burnout, to finding fulfilment in the HR field to discovering values, misalignment in work, and how to navigate that, that really drove my passion for career coaching for deeper fulfilment. Then through living this lifestyle, I've been through so many challenges, and so much growth that I was like, God, there's so much beauty to growing through this lifestyle, and being able to work in fulfilling work while living it. So my coaching has now evolved to helping people to build a fulfilling career that allows them to live this lifestyle, because it's one thing to have remote job. But this is what I keep stressing is that it's not just about having a remote job to live this way, right, you have to enjoy what you're doing, just like you need to enjoy if you're working from home, if you're in a hybrid or an in office role, right? So now, what I'm passionate about, is really helping people to find remote work that's aligned with their passions and what lights them up, and to live out this lifestyle. So to take it to foreign destinations, which poses its own challenges. And I think that there can be just, and I look at, like I told you the story of what brought me to do this two years of thinking about it feeling stuck. And I want that to be I want to get something out of that rep quicker, right. And to feel supported through it, because there was a lot of fear for me too. But I had to push through that right, and just go for it. And there was also the transition period after so you're working through the fear of going and then transitioning into a new country, which I did alone, right. And I didn't feel that friends and family back home understood. And so I want to be that support system, and also guide for those who really want that. And I'm what I love is that the awareness around this lifestyle is growing, because when I did it, it felt so, so, so unusual. And I was like, no one understands me. But I need to do this. So now I just love, the awareness in the world is growing. So people feel understood who choose this path.

Allen  

It's interesting because when you read the articles about this change in people, you kind of hit three of the areas that I think are spot on, we've heard a lot about the great resignation, you resigned and wanted more, then there's the great refresh, which was the time that you took hiking and finding yourself over a matter of months. And then there's the great restart, where you've settled in, in a different location. In a different country, you know, went through probably all the paperwork necessary to get a job there. We're also starting to see a little bit of conversation about an area, you've done the restart. The other great thing I'm hearing is the great regret, which are there are people who thought they could do this, and they didn't pull this off. So I'm happy when you go to the restart versus the regret. And I think a lot of things I've heard about people that have the regret is folks who didn't know what they're getting themselves into. Or thought this was going to be completely different. So I'd love your kind of comments of what you've seen as you've coached people out there, on restart, to make sure they don't have real regret, so to speak later on. Or if there's some cautionary tales out there. Because even if you fail, even if somebody gets the regret, I would say that they've learned something about themselves. And they can restart. Your thoughts.

Kristin  

Yeah, no, that's a great point. And I was just actually talking with another nomad about this recently, which is the regret it's somewhat related but regret of choosing or getting to a destination, and realising it's not for you. And that that can bring up that feeling of regret or, like I'm not doing this right or like feeling some, like you're feeling that the lifestyle, but we were discussing that that's not the case, right? It's just that not everywhere is for everyone, in part of this lifestyle is learning what is and what is not for you, which is why I'm passionate about also coaching that deeper transformation piece because the truth is this lifestyle teaches you more about yourself. I believe in many other ways of living because you're literally pushing yourself into discomfort into the unknown, which is where you learn the most about yourself. So I think, I don't know I don't even believe in regret. I just believe in self knowledge. Right. So it's okay. This didn't work out. And now I know that much more what's for me and what's not for me. So it's almost like in this lifestyle, you can you learn so much about yourself and about environments, and people in community that is for you and not for you, which, as you go, allows you to curate more and more of what is for you, which has been my dream as well is, I've definitely learned, I'll just give a very honest example. In the pandemic, I ended up in Playa Del Carmen, because Mexico was accepting, no matter the time. That was not for me, it wasn't my town, it's beautiful. It's got the beach, it's very comfortable, it's very expat friendly. But it just wasn't my place. And I gained a lot of value from it still found great community moved to Mexico City, some of Mexico City, that was my way more my environment. And I learned what it was about it, the community, the dancing. So it's, it's really for each person, it's a journey of learning more and more about themselves in the lifestyle. And I just really think it's important for those looking to get into it or living it, to not have that regret, but just to take it on as lessons and self knowledge to continue to curate the lifestyle to best fit their needs. I hope that answered the question.

Andrew  

Absolutely. It did it did you know we're getting to this point in the show where I love to hear what folks share with this answer. And that is if you could share with us an overlooked person, place or experience that our listeners needs to know about, what comes to mind for you?

Kristin  

That is a big question because there's always gems to uncover everywhere, right? But something does come immediately to mind and spent a good amount of time in Mexico over the past couple of years and are 2020 to 2022. And I think it's often popularized like the beach towns in Mexico City, which are amazing. I love Mexico City, but the Chiapas region, there's a small town called San Cristobal de las Casas. And that is a personal forever favorite. It just has such a charm. And I just felt super peaceful and relaxed. And I did find strong Wi Fi was able to work. And there's also a ton of local adventures, like waterfalls and canyon, a beautiful canyon, you can go to the Guatemala border on a day trip. And it just so much natural beauty and a small quaint town full of really beautiful people. So I would say San Cristobal is my choice.

Allen  

What's cool about that, is finding something that's kind of a little bit off the reservation, so to speak. But it's when you find a place like that, and you feel that, that kind of centred piece on that. I gotta admit, you probably had great food while you were there. Wonderful folks, etc. Quick question for our audiences. How did you find it? What was that word of mouth? Did you just amble into that? You know, exactly.

Kristin  

Great question. And this is something I love about this community. The digital nomad community is in Mexico City and traveling everyone talks about where they've been people share experiences in Chiapas kept coming up when I was in Mexico, from different friends. And I actually every year I've made a tradition to travel over my birthday to a new destination. And that's when I chose to do Chiapas. I took like a mini solo trip. And I, through word of mouth had heard about it, and San Cristobal as well and that's thankful to the Nomad community they brought me there and it's now a favorite, a favorite spot in Mexico.

Allen  

And that's one of the reasons we asked this question because everybody who's been on this podcast is a member of that community and spacing the different places that we've come up with. I think Andrew at some juncture will have to do a travelog and capture all those and just recite them again and we'll, we'll add this to the list. Kristin, obviously, folks who need coaching should be reaching out to you. Where can people find out more about you and get in touch with you to glean a little bit of your experience and knowledge?

Kristin  

Yes. So I have a few places and I'm on active on Instagram, I kind of document where I am on the travels in Latin America. And so that's my handle is KristinCVieira and then I also have a website. It's KVieraCoaching.com. And I also started a travel community which is all around slow deeper travels. So really intentional travel is kind of the mission of this group to connect more of us who travel slow in this lifestyle. And it's called Digital Slowman Traveled Deeper, it's on Facebook. And yeah, that's also linked on my website, I believe. So if that's easier to find through there, that's great. Yeah, I love sharing about slowmading knows. Well. It's my way of slowmading, you could say. But yeah, because takes time to get to know each place.

Andrew  

Right? I think it's so healthy to go slow. In most things in life, actually, to pace yourself and go slow. The faster you go, the easier it is to make mistakes. And sure we learned from mistakes. But when it comes to living life, in this world where we have more freedom, where many of us have more freedom to go who would choose? I am a proponent of going slow. Allen, as we wrap up today's session,

Allen  

it really makes a difference. Yeah, I mean, slowmading? Well, we this is actually we've had a couple podcasts, this Kristin and I think, Andrew and I think it's great, because if you don't, if you if you just burst through a community, you can only get a little top end of it, you can't find the little restaurants that are special, the unique people in that community, the music, you talked about dance earlier, there's different dance styles around the world. And, and really, it takes a while there and someday we'll have to see if there's somebody who's done any research on what is an optimal time to slowmad in particular place, whether it's two weeks, a month, three months, you know, it could depend on the place. And you know, Andrew, and I've had many a conversation on this, that it's kind of interesting. Maybe I'll throw one last question to you, as we wrap up is you've traveled around what do you think if if somebody was planning is the optimal time that you would suggest to somebody to slow mad a particular place? Or is it so contingent upon the location that it's hard to say?

Kristin  

I said everyone can live this in their own unique way. And there's, we all have different preferences and needs for timeline too and what it takes us to feel settled in a place. But my advice is at least three months to really connect with a culture and find community and get to know a place at least three months. So that was three months has been my sweet spot.

Allen  

Gotcha. And after you've traveled around you've slowly added and I know you've had a leg up as a business travel sometimes we just have to go in for three days and, and get going. What would you think is the sweet spot for you, can you share with us? 

Andrew  

It changes for me in different seasons of life? Let's see. In the current season, I'm at about two and a half weeks, because I've gotta get back to my golden doodle. It's just calling me back. I just got back. But I bet the three to 15 months per location, no less than three really. And if possible, 15 months. But today, this has been so good. This is a wrap. Thanks so much everyone for joining in again. If you like it, give us a great review on whatever platform you're listening in on. Subscribe, share with others, and we do thank you all for joining us on this next episode of The New Nomad.

Kristin  

Thanks for having me.

Sharing the Tips to Become a Digital Nomad with Kristin Vierra | TNN71

About the Guest

Kristin Vierra

Kristin Vierra is a Life and Career Coach at KVierra Coaching and a digital nomad. Career transitions and solo travel experiences inspired Kristin's journey to becoming a life coach. She has a passion for exploring foreign countries, broadening her mindset, and gaining wisdom through immersing in other cultures. Kristin enjoys supporting her clients through defining their unique version of success/fulfillment, navigating remote work, international job searches, navigating unconventional paths, and a favorite area...boundaries work.