Q1. You’ve mentioned on your blog how you eventually came to the conclusion that you needed more than 1-week holidays, and that you took the plunge with a 1 month backpacking trip through Europe.
Was there a particular catalysing moment when you realised you needed more out of life and that the conventional 9 to 5 wasn’t going to cut it? What was your lightbulb moment?
Gina: I had a 12-year career in Conference Services (aka event planning), for Starwood Hotels (now owned by Marriott). I would work 6 days a week, be at my clients every beckon call, made sure that every event went off without a hitch, and slept at the hotel many nights due to the volume of groups that I had to handle.
I was 30 pounds overweight, depressed, lonely and just couldn’t deal with the hours and the ungratetul clients and staff. So, after 12 years of service I up and quit. With no back up plan, with little savings, I just left my 80K job behind as I knew that this life was never going to lead me to a path of happiness.
After my month long back packing trip through Europe I realized that I wanted to see more of the world and met many people who worked online. That’s when it clicked that I could do that too.
Gina in Lagos, Portugal
Q2. As far as I can tell, the main theme behind Jet Set and Forget is how to achieve and maintain fitness while travelling.
How did this come to be? When did you realize the importance of combining these two lifestyles?
The fittest I have ever been was while I was living in Thailand, yet the most overweight I have been was probably when I was living in England. I know how important it is to maintain health and fitness during travel, but also how easily it can slip away if not actively managed.
I would love to know what series of events led to you making fitness a priority while travelling. Anything I can share with my readers who might be struggling between the two like I have in the past.
Gina: I was 30 pounds overweight at 32 years old. My job and my poor eating habits were literally killing me. After I left my corporate career I had more time to focus on myself. Within a few months I had lost the weight and started running races.
After that I found my true calling which was being a personal trainer. When I started to travel more often I knew that keeping up my fitness needed to be a priority. Now when I travel I always look for the closest gym before I pick a place to settle down in and ensure there is a grocery store near by so I can eat healthy meals and not just toasties from the 7-11.
“ It’s all about discipline. If you want something bad enough you need to set yourself up for success with no excuses.“
Q3. Do you have any thoughts on how to maintain the passion of running a blog revolved around your interests without all of the behind the scenes work starting to feel too much like a job? I personally struggle with this at times and haven’t come up with a perfect solution yet.
Gina: There is no perfect solution! Running a blog is demanding work and takes hours and years of dedication before you see a reward. Look at Nomadic Matt, he has had his blog for over a decade and only became profitable a few years ago.
I write when I can but allow other people to contribute as well so you can hear voices of other individuals and it takes the pressure off me writing so often. But the blog can take anywhere from 4-8 hours a day to manage if you want to make a profit.
Q4. Are there any differences with the way you approach fitness when you’re at home compared to when you’re travelling? Many people I’ve spoken to have mentioned that because they’re outside of their regular habits when they’re travelling, can sometimes find it easier to get in shape than when they’re in their normal routine at home.
Do you have any recommendations on how to maintain consistency between travel and home?
Gina: Give yourself a schedule. 3-5 days a week say no matter what at xxx time I am going to work out. That tour will always be there, the temple is going nowhere, your friends can wait another hour to go out drinking with you. It’s all about discipline. If you want something bad enough you need to set yourself up for success with no excuses.
Travel with sneakers, a lacrosse ball or massage ball and a set of resistance bands. This way there is no reason why you cannot get a workout in. I have worked out in hostel rooms in Malaysia while other people are sleeping, run the city streets of Rome with no GPS on my phone and got lost many times, and even worked out behind a sofa in a communal area while people were pre-gaming to go out in Thailand. No excuses.
“ If you want something bad enough you need to go out and fight for it. Fear is nothing but a waste of time.“
Q5. This would be without a doubt, the least important question I have, but the one I most want to ask.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Krabi town and not once was I able to get a photo of the crab statue without it being surrounded by tourists. How did you manage it?
Gina: Haha I am good like that, 5 am on a run! I just waited for one of the boat guys to stroll by to snap a pic! He didn’t speak English, but the universal hand motions did the trick and the pic came out great!
Q6. What was the biggest fear or reservation you had when deciding to overhaul your life? Where there any that almost stopped you? How did you manage those fears?
Gina: I wasn’t afraid per say. I was worried that I would not be able to make enough money to feed myself anything other than peanut butter and jelly (which I had a LOT OF in Thailand) but since I am a hard worker and determined to never work a corporate job again, I knew it wasn’t going to be an issue. If you want something bad enough you need to go out and fight for it. Fear is nothing but a waste of time.
Q7. Did you encounter any unexpected resistance from friends or family? I know that if you’ve finally made the decision to take a leap of faith into a totally new life and you share the wonderful news with someone you trust who then shoots your idea down, it can be incredibly disheartening and even debilitating.
Gina:Of course! There will always be the people who are going to want to instill their fear into you. Just nod and smile and realize that what they are saying or doing is not a reflection on you, but a projection of what they fear themselves.
You will encounter many people in your life that will want to hold you back, but that is just them living in fear and jealousy that you are brave enough to explore and live your best life and they choose not to.
I lost many friends after my recent 9-month long trip honestly. People who I thought were life long friends never reached out to see how I was or asked to see me when I returned, but that is all jealously on their part. When you travel you will make so many wonderful friends with your same interests, that if won’t even matter if you lose a few along the way.
Q7.5 Do you have any advice for someone who may be facing objections about their newly intended lifestyle or decision to become a digital nomad?
Gina: Do it and never look back. You will never regret making the change. You will only regret staying the same and never seeing what is truly out there for you. You will grow as a person in unimaginable ways. And even if you decide that the life is not for you, your city, your past life, will always be waiting for you when your return, its not going anywhere. But you certainly should.