This is Nikki, a 29 year old photographer/videographer living full-time in her van travelling around North America. After 6 months on the road, it was time to take a break - she is currently spending her time on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. She has built her business to be entirely from her computer and is able to work from wherever she wants, whenever she wants - the ultimate goal of every digital nomad!
I reached out to Nikki to see if she would be interested in sharing her knowledge, experiences and advice to aspiring digital nomads and vanlifers - here's what she had to say...
What inspired you to live a nomadic lifestyle?
I was inspired to live this nomadic lifestyle because I was severely unhappy living the "norm". I knew there was something better out there and I was determined to find it. It first began when I was working in tourist towns and hiking everyday and soon discovered vanlife was a thing and I HAD to do it. The moment I bought my first van I fell in love, the lifestyle was perfect for me, freedom.
How do you find photography clients and is this your main source of income?
Photography/ Instagram Collaboration is my main source of income. I reach out to brands directly through email, or use social platforms such as Aspire IQ, or they reach out to me!
What other income streams do you have?
I have a blog and make some income from there and am working on monetizing my YouTube channel as well. I currently have a few projects in the works regarding products I can sell online. I have also been making a decent amount of money selling belongings I don't need anymore on Poshmark.
Do you see yourself settling down in a fixed location eventually?
I do see myself buying a plot of land and building a tiny house/cabin. I have been on the road for a year and for the past two months have settled down by renting land in British Columbia. It's actually been amazing because we've been able to garden and gain a routine. I would love to have a tiny house and rent it out when we feel like traveling for extra income.
Do you find yourself working in public work spaces such as libraries or coffee shops or is your van all you need?
My partner Ben and I do love working in cafes. When they open up again we plan on working in them again because we love the atmosphere. The van is fully equipped to be our own little cafe, but it is a little bit cramped and uncomfortable for long periods of time.
How do you maintain a social life when you are constantly moving from place to place?
I flourish when I'm alone. A social life isn't really a necessity for me to maintain all the time. We do have friends all around the world and love meeting up with them when the stars align, but we have quality friends over quantity and keep our friends super close (text and chat weekly).
What is your next upgrade you plan to do to your van?
We are getting lithium batteries, another side window, a maxair fan, one more solar panel and I'm sure there are some other upgrades we will think of!
What made you go with the Ford Transit instead of the other van options?
I definitely didn't want a Mercedes Sprinter because they are expensive and break down a lot. I hadn't heard good things about Dodge and my family has always owned Fords, so I figured it was my best bet! Plus it's cheaper to fix and very reliable.
What are your top 3 pieces of advice for aspiring digital nomads?
If you want something bad enough, have the courage to make it happen. Whether it's photography, software or other digital nomad jobs, research the crap out of that career path and fully go for it. It wasn't until I fully devoted myself to this career path that I truly succeeded.
Surround yourself with like-minded individuals, you can learn so much from someone who is already doing what you aspire to do.
Know your "why" and let that fuel you. If you aren't truly passionate and in alignment with your "why", you will get burnt out and not succeed. Those days where you think you aren't moving forward, it's your "why" that keeps you pushing through.
Last but not least, what is your number one road trip song?
I would have to say “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson. I love waking up slowly with Ben and making breakfast. It's those mornings with the sun shining that are so special to me. Plus, the song just has such a chill vibe!
People say that you should surround yourself with like-minded people if you want to be successful with what you are trying to achieve - doing these Sprintrviews is my way of gaining knowledge and surrounding myself with like-minded people and hopefully it is helping you do the same. Thank you for reading and see you in Sprintrview #7!