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.
Today’s interview is with Emma, who built a business to embrace her nomadic lifestyle after traveling around South America for 18 months. For her, travel has always been a huge part of life and she’s been embarking on trips to far flung places from an early age. Originally from the UK, she traveled to New Zealand in 2005, rescinding her return ticket to settle in the beautiful land of the long white cloud. After 10 years working in corporate business her want for new adventures overtook the need to be surrounded by “things”, so she quit her job and with her boyfriend bought a one-way ticket to South America!
There they spent 18 of the most stimulating and rewarding months of their lives traveling around South America from the Andes to the Amazon, the beaches of Bahia to the glaciers of Patagonia. Spending their time volunteering and working with various causes and businesses throughout South America they were inspired to set up BE Business, a customer experience, digital marketing and web development company that enables them to use their corporate skills to embrace a nomadic lifestyle full of amazing experiences! Check out their website and portfolio at: www.bebusiness.nz
When was the first time you left your home country?
I was lucky enough to travel abroad from an early age, with the ferry to France or Spain being easy and accessible ways to reach the rest of Europe from the UK. My grandparents owned a motorhome and we would travel together over the school summer holidays. I know the enthusiasm that my family has for experiencing other countries had a huge impact on me, creating a spark that has never extinguished. My dad was in the Merchant Navy and has tales abound about his time serving on boats that navigated the world. My mum also traveled extensively in her youth and conveyed the wonder of the world with her stories when I was little.
What motivated you to go on your adventure traveling around South America?
Travel has always been a huge part of my life, I don’t remember a time when I haven’t been lusting over a new destination! But after settling in New Zealand, passing the mid 30s threshold, having a great job, financial security, and a house full of things I was still left feeling unfulfilled.
What changed was finding the right adventure buddy, someone as inspired about the world as me, who when it came down to it wanted to get on a plane and really experience life in the big wide world to the fullest. And, boy, if it hasn’t been the best decision I ever made!
What’s the most difficult part about travel or living outside of your home country? How do you overcome these difficulties?
It can be hard adapting to life outside the realms of whatever your “norm” is. You have to relinquish a certain amount of control, which can be tough. Learning to be more flexible, taking things in stride, and being patient will get you a long way. As will a willingness to get involved in your adventure rather than being a passive spectator.
Venting has a place, but for me spending too much time dwelling on something that you can’t influence can be detrimental and spin me a bad mood. Just let go.
You miss your family, you miss friends, but Skype/Messenger is an excellent way of keeping in touch, and you will always have lots and lots to talk about!
What’s the best part about travel or living outside of your home country?
The best part is being in the travel bubble and the feeling that you are living life to its fullest.
Travel expands your mind. You meet new people. You adapt to new situations. You become more globally and culturally aware. This is all good for your health because new experiences increase cognitive flexibility, keeping your mind sharp. Studies have shown a connection between travel and an increase in creativity, a deeper sense of cultural awareness and personal growth. And according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, those who travel and study abroad tend to be more open and emotionally stable!
Meeting people from all over the world who have amazing stories and perspectives that inspire you, making new friends that feel like you have known them for lifetime. Living locally has been key for us, making connections and working in random and remote places has been incredible. We have spent time working with an Amazon lodge in the Brazilian Amazon, helped to set up a chocolate company in Peru, worked on vineyards in Argentina and spent a huge amount of time living amongst and caring for monkeys, a bear, and even walking a puma!
What experience have you had abroad that you want everyone to know about?
While traveling, there are few places that so quickly capture your heart such as ours were at La Isla de Los Monos, a monkey rescue centre near Iquitos in the Peruvian jungle. Initially signing up to volunteer for 5 days, we ended up staying for 2 and a half months living off the grid on the banks of the Amazon River, surrounded by wildlife. The centre rescues primates orphaned through the animal trade and provides them with all they need to grow strong and have a future away from the illegal pet trade living free on their island sanctuary. It is truly a remarkable place full of heroes who have dedicated their lives to looking after these amazing creatures. I could speak about it all day!
What has living outside of your home country taught you about life?
While the happiness from material purchases diminishes over time, experiences become an ingrained part of our identity, forging a better, stronger you. You can be vulnerable and survive, and your ego reduces…all thanks to new experiences! You gain new perspective, looking at situations with new eyes.
What are 3 things on your bucket list?
This is where I admit that I’m not a huge “bucket list” person. Our style of travel is more about fully experiencing wherever you may be, immersing yourself in local life and enjoying the moment, rather than rushing to tick off must-sees. That being said I have been incredibly fortunate, especially over the last few years, to have my breath taken away on so many occasions. Such as, the Perito Moreno glacier and Fitzroy mountains in Patagonia, the desert oasis of Ica and the awe inspiring Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu in Peru, touring the salt flats, exploring a silver mine and catching a Buscarril (a cross between a bus and a train) in Bolivia, seeing the colours of vibrant cities such as Valparaiso in Chile, and the unforgettable weeks spent traveling through the Amazon on slow boats, and working hands on with monkeys to name a few!
With those in mind, my bucket list would include:
- The continued success of BE Business, happy customers, and a secure nomadic future for us!
- Ensuring the amazing work at La Isla de los Monos continues through finding long term fundraising partnerships for a sustainable future for the monkey rescue centre in Peru.
- Swimming with whale sharks, my inner Marine Biologist’s dream!
What advice do you have for people who are considering traveling or relocating to a new country, but are feeling doubtful?
Understand that feeling doubtful is a perfectly reasonable assessment, you are thinking about taking yourself out of your comfort zone! Instead try to channel these feelings in a positive manner – research about where you are going, what things are there to do there. As you start to build a picture of a place, or your brain will start to insert you into the narrative and you will start to feel more confident, try it!
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself before starting this journey? What do you hope people say about you on your 70th birthday?
If I could go back in time, I’d most definitely use my power for something other than giving myself travel advice! I’d explore remote places and make more memories, which I would hope would be talked about on my 70th birthday!
Thanks so much Emma for giving us a glimpse of all the adventures you’ve had and your experience traveling around South America. I’m sure that many readers will be able to connect with your inspiring story and all of the lessons you’ve learned along the way. If you want to connect with Emma and learn more about her travels and her business, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or at her website. If you’re living (or have lived) outside of your home country, or are an avid traveler and want to be featured in a future interview, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
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: