Ep82: How to be ’lucky’ as a digital nomad (Spoiler: We’re not!)

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You what really gets on our collective t*ts?

When people say, ‘You're so lucky to have this life!”.

FFS…

In this honest episode, we talk about all the ways we've been UNLUCKY, but how almost every single one of them turned out to be lucky in the long run.

So if you're considering this life, or you're balls-deep in this life, and you are worried about bad things happening, this is the episode for you.

We also mention:

  • Episode 23: How Andrew drives around Europe in a camper van
  • Episode 72: The mindset you need to live & work aboard with Gal & Mayaan.

NOTE: This is following our new format of podcast episodes that are either about:

  • WHY you want to live & work abroad
  • HOW to live and work abroad
  • WHERE to live & work abroad

The roadmap we mention can guide you through the questions you need to ask before starting your own adventure.

Want to get involved? It's completely free – just go to ASidewaysLife.com/roadmap.

As ever, get in touch on Instagram (@asidewayslife) or email asidewayslife@gmail.com. We genuinely would be thrilled to hear from you.

The Transcript

As ever, this is auto-generated so might not be 100% accurate!

Lea
Really eager to return the favour so we're off to their house, where they're living for a few days, and that just happens to be on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. So is that lucky? Maybe a little bit. Hello and welcome to episode 82 side of His Life podcast, the Honest Guide to Living and working abroad. I'm Leanne.

Al
And I'm Al.

Lea
And welcome back. We are here to share with you our experiences, our knowledge, our musings about our travelling life, the past five and our expat for almost the last decade. We get some things wrong, we get some things right, ultimately. We are here today to tell you how you can make your own look as a digital nomad or an expat no.

Al
I think we've not been lucky in the sense of the word. There's been lots of things that have felt very unlucky at the time, but this is not about how you can manifest look by imagining it, it's more about the mindset of just travelling and that things are going to happen. I mean, they've got to happen. I mean, they have to happen because of the physics of time, but things have to happen. And it's just kind of like we're just going to tell you a little bit about some of the experiences we've got we've had and how they might have seemed unlucky at the time, but they actually were lucky in the end. And then other stuff that just seems so fortunate that we've turned up in towns and they've had their national festival at that point in time and we didn't know and all this kind of stuff. So where do you want to start off? Lea?

Lea
So I think we should start by in our experience, when something unlucky happens, typically in the future, something lucky will happen and you can trace that back directly to the point where you're unlocking, because if that bit of a bad look hasn't happened, you wouldn't be in a situation where now where you're thinking, wow, how lucky are we? I'd like to kick this off, actually, with one when we were in Thailand and we've been there for almost 30 days, which is your allocated time on the tourist visa, but you're able to extend for another 30 days. We wanted to and we were staying on Co Chiang, which is an island, and we had to get a boat to the mainland to go to the police office to sit, wait, get someone to stamp a visa and say we could stay longer. So we're waiting for quite a while for a taxi. We ended up, quite luckily, finding some other woman who was waiting on the same road, wanting to go to the mainland as well. So we're like, cool, we'll jump in one together, get a taxi down, get on the boat, everything is great.

Lea
So at this point, we're probably in for it for about, what, 2 hours, two and a half hours, get off the boat, the other side onto the mainland, go to the taxi rank. And we'd like to go to police station because we want to renew our visa. And the taxi driver says, not today because it's a national holiday and the police station is closed. And we were like, what? That's unlucky. So around we turned, straight onto the ferry. We just got off, headed back other side, get into the tax like the group taxis you get into. They take this little family, a couple and their two younger kids, to this hotel, which is a place called CaiBe, which we've never been before and dropped off at a hotel. And as we put this hotel, Alan and I were like, well, this is nice. Look at this. This looks fancy. It looks very beautiful. It's all, like wooden and like different huts and buildings. And it must look straight onto the beach because that's the direction we're going. And this is nice. Maybe we should look at staying here. So we got back, we looked quite expensive, but we were like, fuck it.

Lea
We can do a couple of nights. We get the basic room. The resort itself looks beautiful. I should have a couple of days of chilling out. It will be great. So we get there a few days later, pull up to the hotel. Some kefuffle at the reception is a great one. Some lady called Karen, and I think the name actually was Karen from Lea is kicking off about how rooms not ready and she was meant to have a complimentary drink and that hasn't arrived yet and she's been waiting for 20 minutes. And the poor ladies behind the reception was just mortified. Didn't know what to do with themselves and this Yorkshire woman shouting at them. In the meantime, we're like, we're here to cheque in. Yeah, we can't find your reservation right now. And we're like, but we'd only come from ten minutes down the road. It's fine. We'll sit with our complimentary drink. Thanks, Karen. They just come out and just chill in this nice air conditioned reception. That's not so bad. So anyway, they saw out Karen. She tropes off to a room with her six kids and whatever, and then bad attitude.

Lea
Yeah. And then the reception woman comes up to us and said, thank you so much for waiting. We really appreciate it. At this point, we have been waiting reception almost an hour, but we were finally chilled. So I'm really sorry to apologise. We've upgraded you. Oh, fabulous. When I booked it, like the standard room because it's all a bit pricey. This sounds good. And just moment. It's quite an upgrade. We're like, lovely up to how grand. We're walking through this beautiful resort with these walkways and water and plants and smells and it's just stunning. And stop at this huge twostory bungalow. The money is carrying bags. Like, your room is just up here winding wood instead of set. Says into this room that was honestly three times bigger than our first apartment in Manchester. It was huge. Massive bed that looked like a cloud, a bath that looked like a swimming pool. It was just ridiculously. Ridiculously. Stunning. When we looked up this room, we were basically been put into one of their executive suites. And we can only assume there's some kind of double booking because, you know, cameras in a basic room as well.

Al
Some kind of basic itself, isn't she?

Lea
Yeah. They had to upgrade somebody. And who they cannot upgrade? The people that are just nice and quiet and sipping their drink, or your British girl, you're shouting a mouth off. So we got this incredible upgrade, and as we sat on our beautiful terrace with a cool beer that is free, by the way, because the fridge is stocked, thinking, how lucky are we? Oh, my gosh. And then we're like, Wait a minute. If we hadn't done that Visa run that day, if we hadn't messed up and had to come back when we did and got in the taxi, with that family staying here, we never would have found this place, let alone booked a room, and then got a mega upgrade. We were so lucky.

Al
Exactly. And so the whole point is that you look at something that's a lucky Visa officer close that data, because about four hour round trip just to get to the mainland, just to find out what's closed, and obviously got that luckiness. Now, other things that are lucky and unlucky at the time, but lucky later, is this one is a bit of a grower. This maybe was about a year later, we look back and realise how lucky we were. But we were travelling. It was the very final part of our let's Get Round Europe Before Brexit trip, which was very catchy titled, and the idea was that we'd go and live in every single country in mainland Europe that we possibly could before Brexit hit. So am I thinking that Brexit was in January and we arrived in this year? In January?

Lea
Yes, Brexit officially happened in January, didn't it? But we had the transition year, so we've got enough where we could still travel as if it hadn't happened. So we kind of had nine months left.

Al
So this is January 20. We arrived in Lithuania. No, actually, February 20, we arrived in Lithuania. Just come from Poland, from Godansk, an amazing place. If you want to go, if you like Christmas, go there, because Christmas lasts until about 28 January. So we arrived in Lithuania, in Vilnius, and it was a cool city, but it wasn't like, oh, my God, this is my dream. It's just like, yeah, we'd like to go to Lithuania and lockdown hit. And to the point where our phone started, I don't know, it happened in your country, but our phone started, like, doing this black set of me noise and then it would come up with a big thing, saying, you must stay inside, you must not leave you're in lockdown. We were like, Shit, because we've only got three more countries to go and then we've done the lot. Now, those three countries were Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. Now, I think Moldova is still okay, but Ukraine is tasty as fuck and Belarus is still not much better. And so it's only looking back 912 months later. At the beginning of 2021. That we realised that actually we had quite a lucky or unluckyness of being not being able to do our entire Europe Northern Baltic tour to include those two countries.

Al
Actually quite lucky. Because if we've got locked down in Ukraine or locked down in Belarus. There were rumblings even at that time.

Lea
It would have been a very different experience. Or lockdown, as it turned out, Lithuania locked down really quickly. They handled that first wave really well. We were out of lockdown and back, besides seeing any restaurants. Six weeks later, we couldn't leave the country for another three months after that, but we had more freedom within it. So, yeah, we were incredibly lucky to get locked down in Lithuania.

Al
So lesson number one is that things that feel unlucky at the time, in retrospect, are almost always lucky. And even though the worst situation. Like when we asked the Ann about the situation in Split when we first got there. Which we've talked about before in this podcast. Not a great situation. But you look back and you can either look at it. We'll go into it in a minute. How you look at it. But point is that anything that feels unlucky at the time. Often in retrospect. Will actually be lucky. So do you have a story about Split and Anaquita?

Lea
Yes, I do. So we want to try Split before we had to leave Croatia, because our visa was expiring. So we booked five weeks in this really sweet airbnb, but it was a fair bit out of town. But we were there in May. Split is expensive in summer. It is what it is, we'll make it work. And the apartment itself is really, really beautiful. We've been there about ten days, two weeks, realised that the area wasn't for us, but started to venture out into town, etc, etc. So we have a dog, Peanut. I'm walking the Peanut the dog, and we've done our work, we're coming back, we're coming into our estate and I see this Akita, which is a large dog, off the lead next to a woman. And at the point at which he looks up, the woman starts to panic and goes to grab him. She misses, he starts prowling towards us. At this point I'm thinking, Shit, because me and Peanut just froze. And I'm like, what do we do? Do we run? What do we do? And at this point, I'm like, kind of war to the dog. And then he just snaps, barks.

Lea
And the next day narrows, got his mouth around Peanuts neck. And this continues for it felt like five minutes. It was probably a minute and a half, end to end. I end up basically on my knees because the dogs pulled me over, thankfully shielding Peanut as I fall. And then the woman manages to get the dog. Poor Peanut had scratches and had to be, like, cleaned up and stuff and I had grazed knees and the biggest bruises I've ever seen on my legs and I wanted to leave. I got back and I was like, I want to go, I want to go. Now you start looking at apartments. I'm not staying here, I don't feel safe. And of course, the time of year is incredibly expensive now. As you reflect, it's like, well, actually, the apartment is great and the area is okay, it's nice, it's instant, and now we know blah, blah, blah. But anyway, that all led to is kind of going, okay, so we'll stay here for another two weeks and then for our final two weeks, we'll go somewhere else. Let's start looking at areas. And that's when we started exploring the places like Branch beats.

Al
Suburbs of Spring.

Lea
Yes. The east side of the Old town, city centre on the coast. We fell in love. Asian Yam is another little district on there as well. Absolutely. Fell in love with the area, ended up going to stay there for two weeks. Absolutely loved it. The airbnb host in Friday was so sweet. Marina, she was lovely. She has lots of advice. She brought us a massive bag of cakes around that she baked herself that were incredible. We had the best two weeks and we would never have found those areas if that situation with Akita happened. More than that, we are still in touch with Marina and she is now helping us find an apartment in Split in that area at a much lower price tag than we paid the last time we were there.

Al
Exactly. So the point being that things that seem unlucky at the time, you tend to look back on and you realise that actually you were really lucky that that happened, because then this other thing happened. So if you're about to set off on your travels, or you're on your travels and you are having a moment where it's not going that well, then just think it's okay, because it's likely that something amazing is going to come out of this experience. No matter how traumatic it is, something great is going to come out of it.

Lea
Absolutely. You can only get to where you end up by going the journey that took you to get there, and some of that is going to have some lumps and bumps in the bird. But ultimately, if you end up in a much better place, it's really good to reflect back and reframe those Marines as actually being pretty lucky.

Al
So lesson number one is that things that feel unlucky can be lucky and almost certainly are. Lesson number two is that luck comes from just your network, from knowing people. We already talked about Croatia, and had we not got to know the owner of the apartment, then we never would have found the apartment that we think we've secured. I hope we have. But it's an apartment, a beautiful part of Split, maybe about an hour's walk from town, maybe about 15 minutes in the car. Beautiful place. We never would have found that. And it's also a little bit less than we expected it to be at that time of year, from knowing people. And then it goes back to Maryborough, for example. We went to Maryborough, we stayed in Airbnb. We got to know the host, and he was incredible and a really nice lad. Only young lad, really nice lad. And then we got chatting to him, and when we went back, he actually had bought another property with his family. He was redoing it for Airbnb. We stayed there, and then we stayed there maybe twice, I think. And then, in fact, when we got locked down in Maribor.

Al
Another reason why we think about lucky and unlucky. We went to Maribor in September 2021. Is that right, Lea? Yeah, because it got the lowest I'm sorry, because we went to Croatia after Lithuania, and then we thought, Well, Slovenia has got the lowest COVID levels. And I don't know whether it's because they're massaging the figures or because they haven't properly recorded them all yet, because almost like three days after we got there, it completely locked down and the figures just spiked. But the fact that we knew this guy meant that we could stay in this apartment, and we were paying him directly. We weren't paying airbnb fees. It was a beautiful apartment, looking to overlook in the river. Great walks for peanut. He was so cool about everything. Every so often he'd bring us some wine or wine or something, and he'd be working downstairs, so there will be a little bit of noise from time to time. But he was really cool about it. And now when we go back to Maryborough in Slovenia, which we have done pretty much every November for about five years, we go back and we stay in the same apartment.

Lea
Yeah, and I think it's the same if you look at what you do for work, how you just live your life anyway. I know it's annoying, but a lot of it is down to you. And that's not look, it's not luck that you know somebody who does that. You put in the work. You put in the graft to network, to make friends while you're there, to show an interest in other people's lives and learn about them, spend time with them, and then these relationships can be leveraged in the future. That's not lucky you put in the work.

Al
Exactly. Another example you might remember back to episode I think it might have been about sort of 50 something. We had a lovely guy called Andrew from the Van Life and now Andrew, he came on our podcast as a guest and then he just happened to turn up about five, six kilometres where we were living. We text him and said, don't be daft, come over here and have some beers. Him and his lovely, lovely girlfriend came over and stayed for a little bit. Now, we're best mates and in fact, I can't talk about this, but there is a project that Andrew and I are doing and the Leanne, but it's generally, mainly just me, Andrew, are doing this, which is going to be incredible. It's a podcast and it's going to be cool.

Lea
Yeah. And now they are really eager to return the favour in various day where they're living for a few days, and that just happens to be on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. So is that lucky? Maybe a little bit. But at the same time, we put out into the world to find podcast guests, we've made effort to really get to know them. We have lots of other people who've been guests on the podcast that continue to be on our lives and it's by doing that, by putting in the work to find these people, to connect with them, to speak with them, to keep in touch with them, to invite them round, to take care of them when they're in our house again. It's building those relationships that you can find friends and you can also find opportunities and you cana also find ways where you can support each other and that will go both ways and end up being mutually beneficial for everybody.

Al
Absolutely. So, anything else you want to say about number two, which is what comes from knowing and liking people and being generally decent people?

Lea
I think ultimately it comes down from knowing people and also experiences and being and I'm going to go all psychologists on you for a second, but reflecting on those experiences and thinking, what if something did go wrong? What did we learn from that? What would we do differently in future? What perhaps the warning signs that we should have seen that we didn't look out for, we didn't notice. And this particularly all of that kind of some of our experiences really came so important during COVID when we weren't travelling a lot, we were locked down for most of it, but when we did have to travel, and I say have to, there is a necessity behind us having to travel back from Slovenia to the UK. We had to plan meticulously, we had to be really careful about where we went, we made sure all of our paperwork was in place, we made sure that we knew where we're going, where we're staying, how long we're going to be there for. We knew the day we were leaving, we knew how that would al work and I think we told us before, but the day we left was when it all started to kick off in the UK and lockdowns have come back in.

Lea
It was like an avalanche of borders closing behind us. And I'll admit we got back and I was like, that was lucky. That was so freaking lucky. But at the same time, I think it's when I was actually talking to my dad about it, he was like, Is it there? Because you managed the risk and you did everything you could to make sure that you were leaving at the best possible time, staying the shortest possible period, and you had a plan of how to get to A to B. It was you manage the risk. So were we lucky? Yes, because 24 hours later, we would have been in trouble, but we managed the risk and we kept abreast of all that was going on. And you know what? Even if it would have happened 24 hours later, we would have been out that day, we would have been cutting our trip short. So I think it's just using those experiences, knowing what you learn and managing the risk.

Al
I think this managing the risk is a big thing. Before we go on to the third and final thing, is that we've always had this kind of, like thing of saying, can you accept the worst case scenario? And if you can, then take the risk. If you can't, then don't. This happened to 18 months ago, when we were christmas 2020, was it? Lea?

Lea
Yeah.

Al
And so we were sitting there, I think we're in Croatia, were we? Or Slovenia? No, Slovenia. We're in Slovenia. And we were chatting and we were just like, can we run the risk that we go back for Christmas to see our family and we potentially bring some of this rabid covet from Slovenia with us and infect all our families? We both agreed, no, we couldn't. So therefore we did not go back for Christmas.

Lea
This is actually last year, this is 2021. So 2020 was the year that we had to go back to the UK. But you're right, even then, the same, what you said absolutely stands because we could have quarantined a family's house. We chose not to rent an airbnb to quarantine there for two weeks because we couldn't take that risk. Christmas last year, christmas 2021 was when the kind of cases were getting really high again, both where we were in Croatia and the UK. We had already been through the experience of last year and how quickly that could happen. I think at that point we would double back, but we hadn't had our booster and there was just so much going on. It's like, can we accept the scenario that we go back for Christmas and we're stuck there? Because we'd also then seen someone before how quickly things could close and change. So we decided not to. And I think it was, was it like the time between Christmas and new year that France closed their borders?

Al
They did.

Lea
Omnicom came. Even people who are residents in mainland Europe weren't able to get back in for about two weeks. So yeah, as you said, can you accept that, worst case scenario? And if you can't, then don't do it.

Al
And the final thing is, now this sounds a little bit woo woo, a little bit wanky, but I'm a huge believer in the end of scientists, so we're going to hear the science part of this. But I'm a huge believer in karma. I remember distinctly back in 2007, I think it was, and me and my business partner hello, Chris were brassic, but no money at all. It was Christmas Eve, and we would do this payout on this deal that we put together with this big company. And it had been going on so supposedly from the 1 December, they were like, yeah, we'll pay, you will pay, you pay, we'll pay you. Of course you will go about the 24th, might be the 23rd, I can remember. And they hadn't paid us, and neither of us had any money to go back to our families. We were in Manchester at the time, we haven't got any money. We're literally down to like about £8 in our account or something. And so I got to 12:00 and I said, you know what, Jenks, should we go take our last eight pound to go and buy three Greg's meal deals or five Greg's meal deals, or whatever it was, or even put it on credit card?

Al
And we did that and go on and try and find people who might be in need of a meal, who potentially sitting on the street and looking for money and go and give them that. And so we did. So we spent like 3 hours just going out and buying these meals and handing them out to people who we thought might need these meals. When we got back about 03:00, we got an email saying the payment has been made and the money is in your account. And it was in our account. Now, I'm not saying that what we did made the money come to us, but I'm a huge believer in this whole sort of karma thing. And we take it from a very practical point of view, from airbnb, where every airbnb we leave, we scrub it, we spend generally half a day to a day cleaning it from top to bottom to make it the most beautiful, make it least as good as we moved in, often better. And the point is, we're paying usually two or €300 as a leanne fee. But the difference is that when we do that, we then find friends.

Al
The host will come and say, oh my God, it's so clean, thank you so much. We'll exchange numbers, and then if we ever want to go back, number one, no problem. Because we cana leave it beautifully clean. But number two, we've got the contact details and they remember us as being the people who left it beautifully clean.

Lea
Yes.

Al
So my point of view is, coming from the karma point of view, I think the answer is going to talk more about the psychological mindset of it.

Lea
Do you know, I think people waste so much energy arguing whether it's something spiritual or whether it's something coincidental or whether it's something physiological or psychological, and that is just it doesn't really matter. The fact is, if you feel that if you put positive things into the world and they come back and that gives you the energy and resilience that you need to keep going when things are a bit tough, then crack on. If it's spirituality root it's for you, good for you. That's amazing. I too believe in karma. I think I approach it from a slightly different perspective, in that I understand from a psychological perspective, the incredible things that having a positive mindset can do for our well being and for our mental health. Being hopeful, being optimistic, being positive, being confident in your ability, being confident, your ability to bounce back from challenges, that in itself builds resilience. And resilience is key not only to our well being and our mental health, but also key to the resilience we need to live this crazy life where things are often going wrong. I don't think it really matters where you approach it from, but having this positive mindset, having this mindset that if I do good, good will come back to me.

Lea
If I stay positive, if I stay hopeful, if I stay optimistic, good things will come back to me.

Al
They will hear here. Absolutely. And I think that if you're listening to this and you're obviously interested in travelling or living abroad, things will go wrong and things will not be what you expected. And you'll have bureaucracy and you'll have potential homelessness, you'll have potential place that falls through. We went to a place called Leipzig in Leipzig in Germany, and on the way there, the host cancelled our airbnb. Turns out that when airbnb rung us up, because we're good customers, they rung us up and found another place which happened to be a bit shit because it was like basically a shop that had been converted into a bedroom. But then we found, like, the most amazing Christmas market at the end.

Lea
Yes. We hadn't gone to plan to leanne Zig. We'd actually stay in Dresden?

Al
Oh, that was it.

Lea
Yes. We ended up going to Luke's, which was much nicer than Dresden, in our opinion. So, yeah, everything happens. I think there is to be a sprinkle of being a little bit fatalistic about these types of things and a whole big chunk of positive mindset.

Al
Exactly right. I think that's it.

Lea
Yes. And if you are interested in more on positive thinking, then you can look back a few episodes. To episode with Smoothative, I want to say it's around 67, 68. We'll link it in the show notes. Some really good lessons there. If you want to listen back to our mate Andrew, who we listen to, we'll pop that in the show notes as well for you to link back. And, yeah, if you've been unlucky, if you think we're talking absolute bull and you're like, no, I am just an unlucky person, get in touch, let us know about your unluckiness and we will maybe help you try and find the luck in it. Or just go, yeah, that was really fucking lucky, mate. Let's find out.

Al
I wonder if this podcast episode is going to actually publish properly, whether we might delete it or something by mistake, and then it'll be unlucky and then we look back and go, it was shit, though. Okay, guys, we'll see you next time. Where I think we're still to be arranged. But I think we're talking to a guy called Mikel. Who. From what we hear. And we need to confirm this. It seems like he's still travelling the world at about 13 years old. Being around the world 400 times so far. So it's interesting to listen to him and assuming that interview comes off. If it doesn't. Then we're back talking more bullshit to you about probably more stuff.

Lea
So until then, take care, stay positive.

Al
See you soon. Bye.

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