Words with Winos is a podcast hosted by two digital nomads: Marilyn and Matt. In our podcast, we talk about our travels and interview other fellow travelers as well. But, our podcast is unique. We talk about our travels, yes, but we also drink an entire bottle of wine during each episode because why not?
But, how did we get here? We are an American couple who has been together for over four years now. Since graduating college, we have traveled to and lived in numerous countries. We started it all in Thailand, where we lived for six months and taught English. We instantly loved that experience and were hungry for more. We returned home to try to work as teachers there, but quickly realized that it just wasn’t for us (before we even started the job!).
We wanted to get back into the world and explore it even more. We then taught English in South Korea, then moved to Vietnam. It was there where was starting teaching English online. We have been doing that for over a year and a half now and loving every moment of it! We have so much flexibility, in both work and overall life. We started Words with Winos a year ago because we love talking about our travels and drinking wine! So, we thought, why not combine the two in a podcast? And that’s when Words with Winos was born.
What can our readers find on your blog?
About – Words With Winos
Readers can learn about our experiences traveling the world, can learn how they can do it themselves, why slow travel is the best way to travel, and much more, especially on our podcast episodes!
When did you start your blog and why?
We started our blog exactly a year ago (August 2016). We wanted to keep track of our travels, post photos and videos alongside our podcast episodes, share our experiences in hopes to help aspring travelers, and to create an open community for fellow travelers and aspiring travelers.
How difficult or easy is it to run a blog whilst living the nomad life? Any challenges?
For us, it’s relatively easy. We post a new podcast episode and corresponding blog post every two weeks or so.
One challenge would be that sometimes, life does get in the way. We have visas to obtain to live in a new country, we travel around, we’re exhausted, we need to work, we get sick, so it can be difficult to drink wine and make a podcast episode.
Where was home prior to you starting the nomad life? Do you still go back? How often? How easy is it to return home whilst roaming the world?
Home for Marilyn is a small town in New York State, about an hour and a half from NYC. For Matt, it’s Staten Island in NYC. We go back relatively often. For example, we went back for Christmas and just returned from home a few days ago because of a family emergency. So, we try to visit as much as we can.
It can be both easy and difficult. It’s easy in that the physical act of traveling back there is easy. But, it’s difficult cost-wise and being home for an extended period of time. Friends and family are always wonderful to see, but after a certain amount of time, their ideologies and outlooks on life clash with our own. That, and we feel as if we’re missing out on the world by being back home.
How would you describe the term nomad life in your own words?
“Nomad life” to us is moving to difference places and experiencing new cultures frequently. It’s not having a permanent home and not living in one set place.
When did you start the nomad lifestyle and why? Also how long have you been living this lifestyle? How long do you see your self doing this?
We started living the nomad lifestyle in October 2014. In May of that year, we graduated from college and couldn’t find any interest at all in any careers. So, we chose to pick a different path: teach English abroad.
Our lifestyle consists of us finding apartments in certain cities and living in these places for a few months at a time to get the full feel of a new culture. We’ve been doing this ever since we started in 2014. As far as well can tell, living this lifestyle can go on forever for us.
What are some of the pro’s and cons of being a nomad?
Pros: thrill of living in a new place; experiencing different cultures, people, languages, cities, and countries; eating new foods, making new friends; don’t have to revolve our lives around anyone else but ourselves; work less, live more; get more out of life; almost every day is a new adventure
Cons: being far from and missing family and friends; can be expensive to move to new places; language barrier
What types of places do you stay in when travelling?
Generally, long stays in apartments. We live in one place for months at a time, but occasionally take little trips to neighboring places and stay in AirBNBs. We also occasionally using Couchsurfing when we’re really strapped for money.
The big question everyone wants to know (how do you earn an income to travel full time (you can also link any articles here to)
We teach English online to students in China with VIPKID.
Do you have any tips for people that want to start the nomad way of living? can you recommend any particular countries to start with? or what countries you started with and how you found them.
If you’re willing to teach English, we would recommend starting with South Korea, Thailand, or China. These countries offer decently paid jobs teaching English to students and they help set you up with everything! For example, in South Korea, our job paid for our flight there and rent. They helped set us up with our visas, and much more. It was an easy transition.
We found jobs in these countries easily by using http://www.eslcafe.com/
What types of things do people need to plan prior to starting the nomad life?
People need to start with money. They also need to plan out where they would be able to see themselves living and could be financially stable there. Researching the place you decide to go to is necessary, such as visa requirements, etc. The planning should start at least a few months before departure.
Have you had any scary or funny experiences whilst travelling?
Countless! Probably our scariest moment happened when we first moved to Thailand. It was our first country outside the U.S we’d ever been to. On top of that, we were going to live there! We had signed up for an online TEFL course with this company, which we finished months before going to Thailand. When we arrived to Thailand, we started this orientation program with the company. After the orientation, we were supposed to have jobs lined up for us, but we didn’t. They sent us to Koh Samui, an island in Thailand, to “relax.” We ended up staying there for two weeks, then another place for a few more days. It was there that we realized that this company was never going to find us jobs. We spent over $1,000 each on this company to provide us with a TEFL certificate and jobs. But, guess what? We got neither. We were quickly running out of money and we had no jobs or prospects. We were terrified. We made a huge leap of faith going to Thailand and it turned out that we were apart of an elaborate scam. Fortunately, we found jobs on Craigslist out of desperation and started working only days after finding the job. Phew!
There were numerous funny moments as well, but those are harder to pin down. I’ll alter the meaning of “funny” here a bit with this story.
I grew up in a small town with a population of 1,000 people. Just keep that in mind for this.
Matt and I lived and worked in South Korea at one point. On an impulse, Matt, a friend of ours, and I took a bus ride to Seoul one evening from Sejong, where we were living and working at the time. We arrived there, dropped off our stuff at a hostel, and wandered the streets in Itaewon, a neighborhood in Seoul. While walking along the streets, I saw a familiar face walking in our direction. Suddenly, we both were staring at each other, stopped walking, and said eachother’s names. It was a friend I grew up with! Somehow, someway, I ran into a person I grew up with from our tiny town in the middle of nowhere New York state. And I ran into him in Seoul, South Korea, on a random street we just happened to be walking down! How wild is that?
Then, we all proceeded to go out to the bars and drink heavily together– of course! How could we not?
How many countries approx have you lived the nomad life in? Did you encounter any visas or immigration issues?
We’ve lived in five countries as nomads: Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and the Czech Republic.
Visa and immigration issues are a constant thing for anyone moving to a new country. Unfortunately, we are no exception.
Our biggest issue was getting our visa to live where we are currently– the Czech Republic. We went through a very lengthy process, had to collect numerous different documents, had to get help from our parents to collect some documents in the States, had to have a large amount of money in our bank accounts, and pay a large fee to a company to help us out. We also had to have an interview in a Czech embassy in a country nearby, which happened to be Poland. We took a 10-hour bus ride to Warsaw. The following day, we were almost late to our appointment because of traffic. Then, we had to have Euros, not Czech crowns. So, we had to get Euros at a conversion shop. After that, we had our interviews and it was there that we were told that we might not get our visas accepted because we had lived in Vietnam for more than 6 months prior to coming to the Czech Republic, so we needed criminal background checks from there. But, not knowing this at all, we didn’t have those! There was nothing we could do but submit our applications without those important documents.
We returned to Prague, impossibly nervous. We tried to get criminal background checks from the Vietnamese consulate there, but they don’t supply them to people who stayed in Vietnam under a certain amount of time, which we fell in! So, there was no way for us to get those background checks. So, we had to sit and wait and pray that we’d get accepted by the Czech government.
Fortunately, we were! But, if we hadn’t been, it would’ve been awful, since we already had a lease for an apartment and stayed past our 90 visa-free grace period. Close call!
As a full time nomad (what is your back up plan) if the money or work runs low?
Since we are English teachers and the number of people who are learning English across the world continues to increase drastically, it seems that our work won’t run out in the near future! However, since we teach English on the computer, if that specific job ever fails us, we’ll just find another one online because there are many popping up all over the web now.
When you reach a particular destination – how do you find work? Do you have a strategy or do you try ad secure work before you arrive?
Before we started teaching English online through one company, we taught English in schools in different countries. We looked on eslcafe.com for English teaching jobs abroad, especially in Asia, and we found plenty! That was how we found most of our jobs teaching abroad.
What factors do you consider prior to travelling to a country for the nomad life?
We take many things into consideration when choosing a new country to live in. First, we look at the cost of living. It can’t be too expensive or we won’t go! Second, we look at the visa process. We see what we need to get visas, what the overall process looks like, etc. Third, the internet connection should be relatively strong, since we work online, so we look into that as well. Fourth, we look at the climate. We prefer warmer climates to colder ones, so we tend to stick to the warmer ones.
Have you encountered any issues with adjusting to local customs or the culture whilst you have been travelling? What about language barriers has this been an issue anywhere?
There have been plenty of cultural differences that we’ve encountered in our travels and had to adjust to. For example, in South Korea, the work ethic and the treatment from bosses was much different than anything we’d ever experienced.
The work ethic is very intense and grueling in Korea. You are asked to work more hours per day than you’d be asked to do so in America. We didn’t have to, but other schools forced their teachers to work on Saturdays. Our boss was also extremely rude and had no filter. She would blatantly tell us she hated us and things like that. It was uncomfortable, to say the least!
There have been language barriers everywhere we’ve gone in our travels. However, since we speak English and teach English for a living, we get by well enough!
Has been easy to make friends and socialise – whilst travelling around as a nomad?
It has been, yes, thanks to the glorious internet. Facebook has been an amazing connector of people. We made two of our best friends here in Prague because of a Facebook post we made in a Prague group! We also can relatively easily make friends when we’re out and about. People are surprisingly outgoing around the world!
Do you have any money saving tips for flights / accommodation? Any recommended sites to book on?
Definitely! For booking flights, use Google flights or Skyscanner. Be sure to clear your history, cookies, etc. when looking, too! As for accommodation, we’d recommend couchsurfing and AirBNB. We’ve also heard great things about Trusted Housesitters and intend on using that very soon!
What country are you in at present? how have you found the nomad life there? any recommendations for places to check out or places to hang out for nomads?
We are currently situated in the Czech Republic. We love it here! It’s cheap, we have an amazing apartment, the city’s beautiful, and we have free healthcare! The only downfalls are the weather and the people. The weather and people can both be frigid most of the time!
Prague has a lot to offer for things to see and do. You can check out the Old Town Square, Prague castle, the museum, the John Lennon Wall, Charles Bridge, go to Letna hill and have a beer at the beer garten there with a great view, ride on a river cruise, and much more!
What has been some of your top highlights from travelling?
There have been too many to count! We loved teaching English in Thailand because the students were all so sweet and fun! A little too rambunctious at times, but they were all loving and generally curious about us. We enjoyed living in Osaka, Japan for three months because the food was outrageous and we were so healthy, happy, and gastronomically satisfied!
We backpacked throughout the entire country of Vietnam and that was an experience we will always cherish.
We also backpacked through Taiwan and experienced first hand just how truly underrated that country is.
What is on your bucket list?
Basically, the world in on our bucket list! But, I can tell you what is on the top of my bucket list. For me (Marilyn), the top of my bucket list is to live in a Spanish-speaking country and finally be able to be at least conversational in Spanish. I’d love to live in specifically Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and/or Spain.
For Matt, the top of his bucket list is to simply not stop our lifestyle. He loves exploring the world, working for ourselves digitally, and does not ever want to stop! I couldn’t agree with him more!
How do you see the future of nomadism?
Our generation is starting to branch out of the social expectations of working a 9-5, getting married, having 2.5 kids, and living in a house until retirement at 65. We’ve witnessed thousands of people in our travels and even in online forums, like Facebook, Couchsurfing, AirBNB, etc., who do exactly what we do: travel the world. I think that nomadism will continue to skyrocket as more and more people because aware of the opportunities the world in which we live provides.
Has being a nomad taught you any life lessons? If so pease elaborate.
There are so many different life lessons that we’ve both learned. One is that life is precious. It can be taken at any time and we really don’t know what goes on after it. So, why not enjoy the one life we have while we have it? Exploring the world is the best way to live a full life, so you might as well see as much of it as you can while you can.
Another is that in life, you can live the way you want to. You don’t have to adhere to social norms all the time unless you want to and if you want to see the world, then the only person who is truly stopping you from doing so is you.
Yet another lesson would be that we are incredibly lucky. The fact that we are alive and living in a time where this type of existence and lifestyle is possible is simply amazing. So, why not take advantage of that?
One more lesson is that the world can be scary, true, but it is mostly not. It is mostly beautiful, captivating, and inspiring. It is filled with mainly nice, helpful, and intriguing people who can change your life for the better. Don’t focus on the very few people who may not be so. And definitely don’t let them stop you from enjoying and living your life!
Please share one quote you love.
The only person stopping you from doing what you want is you.
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