Have you ever scrolled through a blogger’s Instagram profile or visited their blog and felt an instant we-would-totally-be-friends vibe?
I felt that way when I landed on Panama-born digital nomad Andrea Valeria’s page through a post she made in the Digital Nomad Girls community on Facebook, capped off by the adorable photo you’re seeing above.
Everything from her vernacular to her imagery gave off such a warm, friendly feeling that I had to reach out and see what she was all about.
It turns out Andrea is a total boss babe abroad, travel vlogger and the founder of It’s A Travel O.D., where she reveals her secrets about the in’s and out’s of her journey as a full-time traveler. She shares her own experiences to motivate others to break out of the mold and design their own lives.
Seriously, don’t you love her already?
She currently lives in Playa del Carmen, Mexico—one of my favorite places to write, as it were! Read on for her interview, from her favorite caffeinated brew to what makes her tick as a writer.
First things first: Favorite coffee?
I actually don’t like coffee… so, we can “have coffee.” I’ll actually have a Diet Coke or a lemonade, though!
Walk us through a typical day in your life.
A typical day in my life start at around 9:30am. The first thing I do is post a photo on my Instagram account, @itsaTravelOD, from the comfort of my own bed. I’m not a morning person, so writing my captions (which are usually pretty long) and posting them is how I turn my brain on.
I cook and eat breakfast at home while watching Gary Vaynerchuk daily vlogs (or something similar). Then, I shower and start working at around 11:00AM. From Mondays—Wednesdays, I basically try to get all my work done for the week, so those are always my long days. They’re usually 12-14 hours, with breaks! On these 3 days, I eat all my meals at whatever “home” is at the moment, usually a vacation rental apartment.
On Thursdays and Fridays, I take it a lot easier and work from restaurants/co-working spaces, rooftop pools or coffee shops. These two days of the week, I also take lots of longer breaks. I go to the beach, I hang out with other digital nomads, eat out, get my eyebrows done… priorities!
I go to the gym every day at 8:00pm. I come back home turn the music on, and work for a few more hours. I usually leave the fun projects for this time slot. All my video editing is done at night. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever edited a video when the sun is out.
Night owl much?
What inspired you to make the switch to a digital nomad lifestyle?
Being a digital nomad has so many perks. I really enjoy not having to commute to work every day. I’ve never enjoyed waking up early and looking presentable at 8:00am, so the freedom of making my own schedules is the key to my happiness.
I also like to have the independence of having different projects and gigs and being able to do them at my own pace.
Since I love moving to different places, the nomadic lifestyle makes a lot of sense for me. For me, being location-independent, traveling and getting to immerse yourself in other cultures is the cherry on top of an already delicious coconut ice-cream with sprinkles and marshmallow.
How do you think location freedom has shaped you as a writer?
When I feel confined to one space, I start getting creative blocks. Location freedom totally eliminates this problem for me. When I feel free, my brain starts flying… which is so important when you are trying to create content. I get inspired by seeing and experiencing new and different scenarios, which is how I get the topics for all of my vlogs.
What’s your favorite thing about documenting your travels?
I love sharing my travel journey, but even more so, I love sharing the real behind-the-scenes. When I vlog, I don’t simply want to tell people where I am. It’s video… they can see it!
“How did I get the courage to travel solo?” or “How do I make money while traveling?” have been two of my most popular vlogs in the past year. I think that telling it like it is, and sharing how I’m really making it happen… is what I enjoy the most.
I never sugarcoat anything, and that’s what I enjoy the most about documenting my travels. People can see my vlogs and not only say “oh, pretty place, I want to go there,” but also go “a-ha! That’s how she does it. I could try that, too.”
What’s your secret for staying super-productive and organized?
What helps me the most is the fact that I’m involved in a bunch of projects I love. Doing what I love is the single most motivating element needed to keep me productive.
Even as I travel and constantly find myself in different places, I try to have a routine, though. Of course, sometimes a cool plan comes along and the routine goes out the window. However, whatever I do, I try to stay focused to always have my long productive days Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesday. No matter what – those three are full work days. This is super important when you’re a digital nomad… discipline!
Finally, what would be your #1 piece of advice for aspiring writers?
While I classify myself as a vlogger before a writer, writing is definitely part of what I do. My #1 piece of advice is JUST START. You are not going to get any jobs or opportunities by thinking and wishing.
If you want to be a writer, answer these questions: Do you already write every day? Are you already publishing your work (personal blog)? Are you doing some pro-bono work that would help position you as an expert or give you more experience?
If not, these things need to start happening ASAP. No one will consider you if you say you’re a writer, but have nothing to show! Finally, I always say: spend less time looking for jobs and more time creating your own opportunities. Start projects, begin collaborating with other creatives, reach out to potential clients.
When starting out, if you don’t build your own doors, you’ll have no doors to open. The important thing is to have the tools and skills to do it. So, always work on your craft and then go make it happen yourself!
Inspired? I’ve got Google Flights open right now, ready to return to beachy paradise and get some writing done under the swaying palms.
If you have a question for Andrea or some advice of your own, drop it in the comments below!
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