Entrepreneur, prolific writer, digital nomad, and founder of OpenWorld, Danny Flood is living his dream. Did I mention he’s also a committed adventurer? Recently I had the fortune to be introduced to Danny, and once we started chatting I immediately knew he was the real deal; I just had to pick his brain. Lucky for all you guys, Danny is also a super cool dude, and was ecstatic to share his tricks and experience! A lifestyle creator and not one for conventions, he doesn’t just talk about it, he lives it. Seriously, we can learn a lot of this guy. Without further ado, I give you Mr. Danny Flood…
Tell us about OpenWorld Magazine. Who are you, what are you all about, you’re first introduction to traveling, and how long you’ve been on the road.
My name is Danny Flood; I’m the founder and editor of OpenWorld Magazine, host of the OpenWorld Podcast, and author of four books, including “Buy Your Own Island.”
I’ve been a traveling digital nomad since 2009. I became a freelancer after university, increased my skill set and my client base, and then began working remotely while traveling – first to Latin America, then on to South America and beyond. Over 30 countries later, I’m still going wherever I feel like and doing the things I want around the world (currently based in Thailand).
It must have been really tough leaving everything you knew behind. Was there any hesitation? If so, how did you overcome that, and what was your inspiration?
Yes, there was definitely a ton of hesitation. I had all kinds of irrational fears holding me back, keeping me in place.
But I knew what I wanted, and I would think about it constantly. I’d go to the park and daydream, my imagination flying away to distant worlds, racking my brain for ways on how I could get there. I had all my goals written down and posted on the wall in my room, all kinds of affirmations, and on and on. This dream of my future fantasy life was like a prayer.
The tipping point came when I realized I wasn’t getting any closer to my goal. I was working harder, but not moving in the direction I wanted. I decided I had to shake up my routine; I had to relocate.
How do you afford staying on the road as long as you have? Any tricks/advice you can share with us?
When I decided to leave behind my life at home to become a nomad, I was very afraid of what I would do if the money were cut off. So I mitigated that risk by offering a trade with a lady who ran a small guesthouse in Mexico.
I had made a few small trips for a few days to Mexico for surfing, now I decided to turn that it into two months. I designed a WordPress website for her which took me 2 or 3 days to complete, and in exchange I could stay at the guesthouse for free. Saving money like that really helped me to “de-risk” the transition.
Tell me more about being a laptop entrepreneur and what is one lifestyle change we can make right now to set us on the road of being a nomad?
If you don’t have big dreams, then get some. Recently I interviewed an Irish guy, Tony Mangan, who for a long time dreamt of running around the entire world. Finally, at the age of 53, he did it. It took four years but he wanted it so badly that he found ways to make it happen.
That seems to be a common theme amongst the nomads I talk to – if you want something badly enough, you will find a way. I know it sounds a bit cliché but it’s true.
Be mindful of the self-talk you use. Keep a gratitude journal where you write what you are thankful for each day so your thoughts and inner dialogue remain positive.
If you want to implement, write things down. Write down your goals and then write a huge list of possible ways to reach them. This is called “mindstorming.”
Then, you have to have a strong and compelling vision if you’re going to make it happen and push through obstacles. Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he won the award for Mr. Universe, said: “My confidence came from my vision. I imagined myself standing on the podium, holding the trophy, with all of the other competitors looking up to me.”
Have the vision and commitment to see things through to the end. Too many of us go through a cycle where we defeat ourselves: first, we enter the stage of “uninformed optimism.” We are optimistic but we don’t realize what we’re in for. Then we see how hard it is and then we enter the stage of “informed pessimism.” Then our dreams enter the “valley of shadows” where they go to die.
Don’t let this happen to you. Whatever it is you want, want it so badly that you think of it every day. Then take small steps each day, and build off of them.
Making money is also about saving. What are three steadfast rules that you abide by in order to stay on budget while traveling?
“Making money is also about saving.” Great point Carey!
When I went to Southeast Asia for the time, I bought a one-way ticket and committed to traveling as long as I could. I had recurring income coming in from my clients back home, which was enough to travel and live forever, so long as I was smart.
It was at this point that I resolved to get my finances in order. I wanted to be smart and know what I could and couldn’t afford to do. I didn’t want to skimp and be a miser if I could afford to have fun.
The first thing I did was I started tracking my expenses. Every time I spent money on coffee, lunch, whatever – I took out a piece of paper from my pocket and recorded the expense. It was eye opening to see where my money was going and useful because I could set a daily average (or limit) for myself and make projects into the future on a monthly and long-term basis.
After I began doing this, I discovered an app called “Trail Wallet” which is an easier and more technological solution. You pull out the app and type in the expense, and the app records everything for you and shows you your monthly spend, and daily averages.
I don’t do this exercise any more because I’ve gotten better an instinctually calculating my expenses in my head. But it’s a great exercise to build the habit.
Now, I’ve shifted my mindset from saving more to earning more. I use a technique from a video I saw of Marie Forleo where she talks about the Law of Attraction. Every time you spend money on something, say: “There’s plenty more where that came from.”
This puts you in the mindset to set to work to create new streams of income and forms of wealth.
You’ve been on the road for over 4 years now, globetrotting and taking on adventures around the world, what’s the most memorable experience/trip you’ve had, and one that I should absolutely add to my own bucket list?
It’s been such an amazing journey, Carey. Three years ago I trained as a tango dancer in Buenos Aires, where I was living for a while. The romance, the passion, the excitement of dancing the night away in darkly lit milongas.
Rafting down the Amazon, exploring the jungles of Brazil, and partying on her beaches were some other highlights. Riding a motorcycle across Vietnam was a thrilling high where I felt completely free. And riding a bicycle across Baja California, Mexico was amazing – traversing empty open landscapes, being completely alone in such a desolate and majestic place.
Now tell us your craziest story and how you got yourself out of it.
When I quit my first business (working with clients) and began writing my first book, I booked a one-way ticket from North America to the Philippines, in the hope of cutting expenses. I had some savings but after a few months it was running dry, and I didn’t have the client base any more to support me.
I was in Sabah (Malaysia) and just began making friends with locals, and couchsurfing whenever I could. Someone referred me to a jungle camp in the middle of Borneo, and I went there for a few weeks. After that, I was in Kota Kinabalu where I had about $100 left and was living on $5 a day and sleeping what was basically an ironing board, tucked away to the side of a hallway separated by a thin fabric curtain. It was awful, but my manuscript was finished.
To get out of it, I simply hustled, taking work as I went. I got a horrible job at a resort, which at least covered rent and food, then volunteered to help build a global village in central Taiwan. I got hired by a startup while in Ho Chi Minh City but then fired a month later. However, with the book off my chest I managed to pick up a few more freelance clients, publish and promote the book, and open up other income streams.
How have you evolved as a traveler from when you first started to how you are now?
I’m more confident, but also more self-aware. Now that I’ve seen the world it’s much easier to explore my place in it.
I’ve learnt that the differences between humans are rather arbitrary and on a basic level, we’re all the same whether we’re white or black, Christian or Muslim, capitalist or communist. As a result of this I feel that I am never truly alone, even if I travel alone – all the men of the world are my brothers.
I’ve learnt how to dance like an Argentinean, fight like a Thai boxer, drink like the Vietnamese, love like a Brazilian, appreciate food like an Italian, slow down like a Mexican, and so much more. I could go on.
Ok, this is for all the gear lovers out there. What is the one essential piece of travel gear you must have on your travels?
My laptop! It’s what makes all of this possible; it’s my lifeline.
Where are you in the world at the moment, and where will the road take you next?
I’m in Bangkok, Thailand, heading to Krabi next week for some rock climbing. Then I’ll pass through Malaysia to visit some friends and head to Indonesia for some surfing. No plans yet for after that, but I’d like to spend some time in India this year.
Do you have any final advice for those who wish to live a life of travel?
Take small steps outside of your comfort zone. The more you challenge yourself to take risks (even small ones), the more your sphere of what’s possible expands.
About Danny Flood
At 28, Danny has traveled to over 30 countries on four continents and done and seen many of the things that he wanted to. He has crossed half of Southeast Asia on a motorcycle. He’s rafted down the Amazon and climbed the tallest mountains of South America. He’s rappelled off waterfalls in the jungle and sailed across the South China Sea. He’s tangoed in the darkly-lit halls of San Telmo, Buenos Aires and fought in Thai boxing matches in Bangkok. Through his many adventures around the world, he has been robbed, fallen from bridges and motorbikes, hugged exotic animals, and nearly died several times in pursuit of his dreams.
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