Along with working as coach for global nomads living around the world, I also post an Interview Series on this website where I share the stories of global nomads who have moved abroad, are traveling the globe, or are transitioning to life back at home.
This week’s interview features Nate and Marta (aka The Tipsy Gypsies), an international couple traveling the world. The two of them met 13 years ago in Vienna, Austria and have been married for 7 years. Marta is from Poland and Nate is from America. For the last 6 years they lived in Los Angeles, where Marta worked as an interior designer and Nate as a film editor in advertising. For many years they were saving for a house but eventually they realized that following the conventional path wasn’t for them and so in May 2016, they decided to quit their jobs, pack up their apartment and travel the world full time. So far they have spent time in Europe, Africa, India and South East Asia.
Hi Nate and Marta! Thanks so much for being part of this interview series. Can you tell us about what motivated you to go abroad?
Before making the decision to leave we were both very invested in and passionate about our careers, working sometimes 80-100 hour per week, with little thought about traveling full time. After saving for a house and working insanely for so many years, we had a discussion about our life goals and also after talking with friends who had done something similar, we realized life is short and we didn’t want ours to disappear while we stared at a computer. Neither of us wants to have children so this allowed us additional freedom. Although passionate about our careers, we decided it was time for a break and that because we both worked in creative fields that if we do return to our jobs, this trip will only give us more inspiration for our jobs. So we continued to plan for two additional years and left in May last year.
What’s the most difficult part about travel or living outside of your home country? How do you overcome these difficulties?
We are both very different and so therefore we have different struggles. Although we are best friends and enjoy doing everything together, we had never truly been together 24 hours a day, seven days a week until this trip. And I think anyone would agree that being with someone so much can cause conflicts. In this case we’ve found making a conscious effort to give each other space (when possible), and respecting where the other person is coming from emotionally, usually leads to resolution. Also over time you grow more sensitive and aware of the issues your partner might have and try to help them preemptively. It’s not always easy having an argument when you are in such a small, shared space. It’s not like you can even walk out of the bedroom into the living room to get some space. Or that you’re going to leave for work the next morning and have 8 hours apart to calm down. So you have to create other solutions like “free days” or taking a walk to have that needed separation.
Traveling full time with your partner aside from maybe having kids, is probably one of the most strenuous tests you can put on a relationship, but also one of the most rewarding experiences. And to be honest, we really enjoy each others company so most of the time things are great.
The biggest difference between us is Nate was always a natural homebody and usually liked to play things safe. Whereas Marta always liked moving from place to place and to some degree, liked taking bigger risks. Therefore Nate struggles with the constant life on the road, moving from crappy hotel room to crappy hotel room. One of his favorite things back in LA was just relaxing at home. There is something special about having your own permanent place. And not having that anymore can really get to him. We’ve also run into disagreements on certain activities based on our personalities. Marta lives much more by a “lets just do it and figure out/deal with the consequences later” mentality. We’ve learned to find a middle ground that may require compromise on one or both person´s part, but the experiences usually turn out great regardless.
And what’s the best part about travel and living outside of your home country?
The freedom, constant education, excitement, inspiration and variety. Every day is different and always leads to something unexpected and new. Although we loved our jobs we felt a little like we were in the “rat race” so to speak. So waking every morning knowing we are about to discover something new really excites us.
On top of that we are developing new hobbies and even turning our travel into a business that may allow us to continue to travel indefinitely. It’s a way of taking what we liked about our jobs before and turning them into something better and even more interesting. Nate loved filmmaking but wanted to do more than just advertisement. His travel films have been an amazing creative growing process for him that he never would have had if he stayed at his job. Marta has taken her sense of design to create a beautiful travel blog and also is now passionately pursuing photography.
Can you share with us an experience you’ve had abroad that you want everyone to know about?
Speaking of those crazy ideas that Nate wasn’t so sure about and Marta just wanted to “figure it out as we go”, our most exciting and amazing experience (yes, Nate now agrees) was buying a shitty old rickshaw in Southern India, fixing it up, and driving it over 1500km north. We had amazing adventures along the way (details coming in our soon to be released blog post). We met so many people, broke down so many times and experienced generosity, hospitality and unconditional kindness like never before.
What has living outside of your home country taught you about your professional ambitions or life in general?
Nate lost his father last year who was only 62, so that loss combined with this experience has taught him the importance of experiences over property and seizing the moment. Stuff is trivial and fleeting but experiences last forever. Marta also feels that life is short and time should not be wasted doing things that don’t make you happy. It was also a revealing experience for her because she never thought she could ever live a life like this. As we said before, this trip has taught us so much about each other and forced our relationship to grow even more than it was before we left. As for our professional ambitions, we are more excited than ever about what’s next. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever work in our old fields again but it’s given us new skill sets and opportunities that we never thought were possible before.
What are 3 things on your bucket list?
Marta: 1) Learn how to sail 2) Motorcycle road trip through South America in a sidecar 3) Sustainable income from our blog to keep traveling
Nate: 1) Motorcycle road trip through the Himalayas 2) Become a full-time travel filmmaker 3) Mongol Rally
BOTH: Own a brewery!!!!!
What advice do you have for people who are considering traveling or relocating to a new country, but are feeling doubtful?
Life is short and although there might be risks, we full heartedly believe it’s worth pursuing your dreams and passions. But be smart about it. We didn’t quit with $5 in our pockets and we definitely saved a nest egg we can fall back on if things don’t work out. But that doesn’t mean we weren’t terrified when we said goodbye to home and everything we knew. If full-time travel isn’t for you, stop saving for a new TV or car and go see the world even if it’s just a few weeks a year. Those experiences will mean SO much more and give you SO much more happiness than any possessions.
Do you have a favorite quote, book, movie, TED Talk, podcast, etc?
Nate: My current favorite book is Shantaram. Favorite movie is The Godfather
Marta: My favorite podcasts are This American Life, The Moth and Radio Lab.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself before starting this journey?
Marta: Don’t be shy, no one really knows what they are doing.
Nate: It’s not always easy but have faith and confidence in yourself and what you want to do because in the end, what other people think is the most trivial thing in the world.
What do you hope people say about you on your 70th birthday?
We both want people to say at our 70th, “they continue to live and drink harder than anyone we know and we can’t fathom how they’re still with us.”
Thank you so much Nate and Marta for sharing your truly inspiring story with all of us! If you want to connect with these two, or check out more of their adventures and amazing travel photos and videos, you can catch them at their website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, or send them an email. I certainly know I’ll be on the lookout for that blog post about their rickshaw adventures!
ABOUT MELISSA PARKS, THE FOUNDER OF INTENTIONAL EXPAT:
I moved from Seattle (USA) to Madrid, Spain in 2009 in order to work as an English teacher for a year. I soon discovered that when you accept the invitation to become a global nomad, life may take you in unexpected directions! This one year abroad turned into ten, and during that time I earned my master’s degree and PhD in Clinical & Health Psychology, lived in both Spain and the Netherlands, became fluent in Spanish, transitioned from an accidental to an intentional expat, and met my future husband, a fellow global nomad. I recently relocated back to Seattle and provide online coaching for global nomads, If you’re a global nomad yourself and want to be featured in a future interview, please get in touch!
Would you like to learn more about my coaching services for expats and global nomads? I offer a free 30-minute consultation for potential clients so that you can see if my coaching services are a good fit for you: