Milena Dawidzionek travels the world as a digital nomad, translator and copywriter. She wouldn’t switch her lifestyle for anything else in the world. Find out how she stays fit, healthy and super productive while traveling.
Translator and Copywriter
My name is Milena. I come from Poland where I grew up and graduated with a degree in English and Russian studies. Now, I work as a translator and copywriter. I also focus on my blog which I want to be a valuable resource for other location independent entrepreneurs.
My hobbies include traveling, especially slow travel, foreign languages (they’ve been my huge passion since childhood), and photography – one of the best and more interesting ways to express myself.
DIGITAL NOMAD + WORK-LIFE BALANCE
How did you become a digital nomad?
I got my first freelance projects in 2010 when I was still in college. I was just a broke student who wanted to travel a bit during my summer break. As I was living outside of the city and transportation between my place and the city was quite limited, I decided to check out some ways to get a remote job.
It wasn’t as difficult as I thought at the beginning. I applied for a few job offers on different freelance platforms, and soon I’d received my first project. My first client asked me to write some simple articles for his website. One article led to another. I earned enough money to go for two weeks to Italy and France. When I came back, I was still working for the same client and getting other offers.
Today, I’m self-employed. I wouldn’t switch it for anything. I always wanted to be location independent instead of being stuck in one place.
How do you keep a work-life balance?
I travel slowly. I stay in one place for a month or longer, usually as long as the visa allows me. This way, I don’t really feel like a typical traveler. I rent an apartment somewhere outside of the main touristic area, so I can easily focus on my work. It usually has access to kitchen, so I can prepare some healthy meals and don’t need to eat outside every day.
Currently, I’m in my 3rd month of digital nomad journey in South-East Asia. After Thailand and Malaysia, I’m staying in Indonesia. I wanted to explore more of its beauty, but I’ve decided to stay for one month in two little islands close to Bali – Gili Trawangan and Gili Air. They are perfect to relax, recharge inner batteries, and escape all the crowds of tourists in Bali.
While traveling, I find it essential to organize each day. If I know what I should do next, I can have it done easier and quicker. I try not to work more than four hours in a row. Usually, I work three hours in the morning and three or four hours in the evening. This way, I can go out or simply relax with a good book in the afternoon.
How is your morning routine?
Mornings are the most important to me. I wake up with sunrise almost every day. I set my alarm for 6 or 7 am as I am the most productive in the morning, so I don’t really want to waste this time.
As soon as I wake up, I drink a glass of water, do some body stretching or yoga when I have more time, meditate for about 15 minutes, and eat a healthy breakfast. My breakfast is usually the largest meal of the day and consists of some fruit, eggs or sandwiches, and a cup of tea or fresh juice.
After breakfast, I sit down with my notebook and I briefly plan my day. I write down the most important tasks that I need to complete today and I do my best to stick to them at the beginning, within the four next hours. Then I turn on some good music and my work starts.
Which tips do you have for stressed digital nomads?
When you struggle with a stressing task, just get rid of negative thoughts cluttering your head and focus on what needs to be done. Much stress has a destructive impact on your mind. Instead of helping you, it limits you, makes you more vulnerable and less self-confident.
Track how much time you work and try to find the best balance for yourself. Sometimes we think that we work when in fact we spend too much time on thinking of our work. I really like Pomodoro Technique – a simple time management method that breaks down your work into 25 minutes long intervals with short breaks between them. This way, you can easier focus on your task at a certain time and observe how much time you dedicate to your work every day.
How do you stay healthy during travels?
Staying healthy while traveling isn’t easy at all. There always is local food that tempts you. So many options to choose. I usually get my food where locals eat. If there are many people in a restaurant, I can almost always be sure that the food is fresh and doesn’t stay there for too long.
When possible, I rent an apartment with a well-equipped kitchen, so I can prepare all meals myself. I try to avoid as much oil and sugar as possible what is difficult when you eat out. When I cook something myself, I have a full control over ingredients and I can easily prepare something for my taste.
Unless I stay in big cities, I rarely use public transport. I prefer to walk or ride a bike. This way, I can focus on more details around me and keep myself fit. Constant traveling makes it much more difficult to focus on your body, so I try to use such simple activities, as every day walks and bike rides, to take care of my body. Each day, I walk at least 10.000 steps – I track my activity through the “Health” iPhone app. Really helpful.
Any smart packing tips and tricks to share?
Try packing cubes. They’ve changed the way I pack so much. Since I have them, I can take much more things with myself as they perfectly let me optimize the space in my backpack. I use one packing cube for t-shirts, shorts and other light clothes, and the other one for clothes that I’m not going to wear that often – for example jeans, a hoodie, or a jacket.
When possible, consider traveling with a carry-on only. It might be difficult at the beginning, but I’m sure you will like it. No need to wait for a baggage after a flight, no need to worry that your baggage might get lost, and no need to carry so many additional kilograms that limit your mobility.
Thank you, Milena, for your lovely and highly inspiring interview!
Do you have any questions or want to leave a message for her? Leave a comment below!
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Images: Courtesy of Milena Dawidzionek