Nat Riley has been an entrepreneur, business coach and digital nomad since 2020. She was born in Ohio, USA.
I spoke with her in November 2022 when she was in Amsterdam. We talked about her travel preferences, the places she’s visited, the reasons why she became a digital nomad, the bureaucratic hassles of travel and the challenges she faces.
Author: Angela Ivanova
Hi Nat. Where do I find you? Where are you now?
I have been in Europe since September 7th and have been to six countries during this trip. I am currently in Amsterdam and waiting for my visa to the Czech Republic. I am returning to the US in January 2023.
Why did you decide to become a digital nomad?
I have been travelling the world since I was a little kid and have always been fascinated by other cultures. But I think I really had the idea of travelling as a digital nomad 12 years ago when I was 20 and still in college. I really had no idea what it would actually be like. In 2015, I started travelling with my best friends. The plan was to travel for only about a month, but that month turned into five months, but in the end, I could see that the money was running out, and I had to go back. I promised myself I would return to travelling again in 5 years, but I needed to start making money. I started to build my own business that is 100% mine so I could move freely, and slowly over time, everything fell into place. So now, I’ve been a digital nomad for about a year and a half. As a digital nomad, I wanted to start with Australia, but that didn’t really happen (laughing), so I started with South America. Costs in South America are much lower than in the USA.
As far as I understand, you are an entrepreneur. What exactly do you do?
For the past six months, I have been mainly practising business coaching because of the vast experience I have gained so far, and I want to share it with others. I help people start their own companies, organize their marketing activities and teach them how to reach their customers. It’s a lot of fun because business coaching is a special mindset and inner work. I have a special Facebook group named Enlightened Entrepreneurship For Heart-Centered Coaches & Mentors.
How many countries have you already visited?
I have been to South America, Central America and Europe. 24 countries in total, but as a digital nomad, I’ve done 11 countries in a year and a half.
How do you choose where you want to go?
In many cases, I visit places that I already know and I really love. I started with Colombia because I really like this country since my first trip in 2015. Then I meet people who recommend me different places, saying, “Oh, you have to go there! It’s so cool!” Then, I look at where it is, plan my trip, and go there, especially if it’s on my way and nearby. Usually, I take other people’s advice when they say I should go here or there.
Do you have any bureaucratic barriers or problems when you travel?
I really wish I could stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days, but I’ve learned that if I want to extend my stay, I can’t immediately. I have to wait 6 months and then come back and continue my trip. I wish the Schengen area was more accessible to Americans with fewer restrictions. But honestly, I haven’t experienced that many other issues.
When you go to the countryside, how do you find accommodation?
I’m definitely looking for hostel rooms and bed and breakfasts. I am not particularly attracted to coliving and coworking areas. I like hostels when I want to be social, and I like B&Bs when I want to remain with myself.
My working hours are very sporadic, and I have a flexible work schedule. I don’t work from 9 am to 5 pm, and I have no consistency. Coliving and coworking spaces are more for people who follow some kind of plan or exact working hours.
Are you interested in local communities when you are in a certain place?
I definitely like to connect with local people as much as I can. When I travel, I like to feel the energy of a place. As soon as you get off the plane, you can feel the energy. Then I like to know people – are they warm or are they more distant? I like to be surprised. For example, when I was in Greece, I realized that people there were so friendly, but when I was in the Czech Republic, they were not so friendly. (laughing) I love having conversations with people and having different experiences. I try to stay in a place for at least 3-4 weeks to feel its true energy.
Are you looking to connect with other digital nomads?
Sometimes I like to connect with other digital nomads, but I don’t prioritize it.
What is the most challenging situation you have to deal with when you live in a rural area?
As a digital nomad, I enjoy being in big cities as well as rural areas. I prefer to stay in cities simply because I meet more people there. In the city, one has more options. But I also get tired of cities. They can really be over-situating.
On the other hand, rural areas can be a bit isolated, and it can be a challenge to make connections. I can feel lonely and lost. But then, when I feel like it, I just change the location. (laughing)
What is the most rewarding situation you have had in a rural area?
It’s definitely nature! When I was in Germany, I stayed in a very rural area in the Alps. And the Alps are so beautiful! At the same time, it was very cold. But since it was so beautiful, I didn’t mind that it was cold. (laughs) It’s really rewarding to be somewhere in such a beautiful place.
Your advice at the end?
Anyone who feels they might be a digital nomad should absolutely do it. It’s so much more doable than you expect. Being a digital nomad is so easy. The only thing that is difficult is just getting a mindset. I really encourage everyone to try it.
Learn More about NAT!
Facebook group Enlightened Entrepreneurship For Heart-Centered Coaches & Mentors: www.facebook.com/groups/enlightened.entrepreneur.coaches