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When I first started blogging I was trying to figure out so much, for example social media, which I normally shy away from. I quickly saw how cool it could be to connect with other like minded individuals who were interested in travel and not being locationally limited. LaToya Allen is one such soul I came across. She invited me to be a part of her Facebook group which connects other female travel enthusiasts, bloggers and digital nomads. LaToya also hosts a podcast, which I not only enjoy listening to, but also had the honor to be featured on. During the podcast we discussed my expat lifestyle and how I got started. It was so cool to chat with her and hear some of her experiences that I wanted to not only know more about both LaToya and her life on the road, but I also knew that I wanted to share it with my readers. So this is for any people out there interested in being location independent and literally a boss in your own right. I present to you, LaToya Allen.

LaToya enjoying Chapultepec Park.

LaToya enjoying Chapultepec Park.

How did you get your start as a digital nomad?

When I first got started in tech, I figured out pretty quickly that I wanted to work from home. “Home” is subjective; why can’t it be a flat in Lisbon, Oslo, or Mexico City? A year ago I landed a remote position with Big Cartel.  I waited until I was comfortable working from home, and then decided to add travel to what I was already doing.

Can you tell me a little bit more about your education and experience?

I dropped out of college like 3 times.  Experience wise, I’m a polyglot who specializes in Test Driven Development, and writing clean code. As far as (programming) languages, I really love Ruby, Clojure and Rust.  I’ve also worked in Java, and JavaScript.  But that’s for my day job. I’m also the founder of SheNomads.

Do you think it’s what made working as a digital nomad possible?

Working for Big Cartel definitely made being a digital nomad possible.  They already had a well organized remote culture in place. They believe in work life balance. Part of work life balance isn’t just resting up when you need it; its expanding who you are as a human being.  Travel can do that for you.  It has done that for me.

LaToya in Jerusalem.

LaToya in Jerusalem.

“Part of work life balance isn’t just resting up when you need it; its expanding who you are as a human being.  Travel can do that for you.”

What has been the most positive part of your journey as a digital nomad so far?

The art scene in Mexico City woke up my inner sleeping artist.  I got to experience Brexit first hand in the UK.  I felt something spiritual while visiting both Jewish and Christian sites in Jerusalem, and then went to the best dance party I’ve ever been to right after. I learned to appreciate the part of me that is an introvert in Lisbon. I missed my flight back home to the US, and had the time of my life in Oslo. It’s hard to pick just one!

When we spoke before, we talked briefly about dating. In your experience, what does being a digital nomad mean for your social life? Family life?

I think it makes me appreciate the time I spend with my friends more than before.  None of my family members live in Chicago, so there is a lot of Skyping. Plus both of my parents are nurses, so they are on weird schedules anyway.  I wake up and its 7am in Lisbon and my mother just finished delivering a baby.   Dating is more fun, and there is less pressure.

I know in one of your podcasts you mentioned investing and retirement options for digital nomads. What has been the hardest thing to learn or decide in this department?

I want to be work optional in 10 years.  My biggest challenge is probably student loans, which would still be a challenge if I weren’t a nomad.  Its generational, not locational.

How has being a digital nomad and traveling been for you specifically as a black woman?

People abroad are more empathetic to what it means to be a black woman in the US than they are in the US.  People accept my natural hair.  People support Black Lives Matter.  I’ve been spending most of my time in bigger cities, so that may be a factor, but it’s still a more positive experience than being in a big city in the states.

Can you talk a little bit about starting SheNomads. What was your inspiration and what is your goal?

Yes! When I took the remote position at Big Cartel, I knew I wanted to intersect work and travel, but I didn’t know how.  So, I started a podcast as a way to pick the brains of women who were already doing it.  Next, I wanted to attend a digital nomad retreat, but I didn’t see any inclusive ones.  So I decided to start one, which is launching this February.  Finally, women who aren’t digital nomads but want to be started reaching out to me on advice on how to code.  And companies who are looking for inclusive candidates started contacting me for hires.  So, I started the free remote coding classes, and a job board.  I’m grounded from starting things, lol.

What would you say are the advantages and disadvantages to becoming a digital nomad?

I only see advantages.  Since interviewing Arin Pritcher the COO of Footprints, I’ve adapted this whole “whatever I’m currently doing is the best thing” mentality.  I’m currently traveling while I work, so it’s the best thing.

Any advice for someone just finishing college and looking to become a digital nomad rather than work a typical 9-5?

Do it. Like all things in life, you can talk about it, or you can do it.  It doesn’t matter if its becoming a digital nomad, or starting your own company, or practicing yoga every morning when you wake up.  Whatever you want to do, take small actionable steps to make it happen.  In the specific case of being a digital nomad, it would be finding a job at a remote company that already has a strong remote culture in place.   

“Like all things in life, you can talk about it, or you can do it.  It doesn’t matter if its becoming a digital nomad, or starting your own company, or practicing yoga every morning when you wake up.  Whatever you want to do, take small actionable steps to make it happen.”

What skills do you think would make someone more likely to land remote work?

Tech is always on the forefront of everything.  It’s bizarre.  So, working at a tech company is a great start.  Tech companies need developers, designers, bloggers, social media pros, lawyers community organizers, bloggers, folks that work in support.  There are so many options.  I think the most available positions are for those people writing code.  So learn Ruby, Python, or JavaScript.  Which SheNomads can help you do.

Last but not least, what are you currently reading? 

Women who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Women Archetype.

Looking to join the Facebook group? Click here.

Interested in more info on SheNomads? Click here. Or listening to the podcast? Click here.  Happy listening and a big thanks to Latoya for sharing with us!