#126 – How to be a digital nomad | Sam Corcos, Dr. Casey Means, Mike Haney, and Steph Coates
When you work a fully remote job, you aren’t tied down to an office—or even a country. You can be a digital nomad and work wherever, whenever. While it’s nice to be able to travel at will, there are some challenges to being a digital nomad. How long do you stay in one city? Where do you sleep at night? How do you eat healthy when you’re always on the go? In this episode, Editorial Director Mike Haney chatted with former digital nomads Sam Corcos, Dr. Casey Means, and Steph Coates about the ups and downs of constant travel and how they created community without having a place to call home.
15:31 – People make you a priority
Sam said one of the nice things about being a digital nomad was how much people prioritized spending time with you.
I’ve noticed that when I do a lot of bouncing around, I often stay with friends. Historically when I was single and doing the digital nomad thing, if we want to call it that, most of the time I would stay with friends on their couches, extra bedrooms. I keep a list actually. I think I have close to 300 people on my list that have offered a place for me to crash when I’m in town. The coolest thing about it, I think there’s probably some defined paradox around this, but when you show up and you’re only in town for a week, everyone makes you a priority. If you’re in New York, you’re there all the time, you live there, you have friends in New York, it’s surprisingly hard to coordinate and make a thing happen. When you’re in town for three days and you send a message to your friends like, “Hey, I’m here for three days. Do you want to get coffee some time?” They’ll almost always say yes. It ended up being a really great way to build deeper relationships with people, to prioritize meeting up with friends and staying with them. The amount of time that you get to spend with people when you are sleeping on their couch for a week, it’s a lot more than you would ordinarily get at a social event. That’s really the thing that I prioritized. It was really much more about the people more than it was the place.
17:32 – Don’t overthink your decisions
Sam said living in the moment is an important part of being a digital nomad. He’s willing to jump on an opportunity and see where it takes him.
Somebody recently said that one of the things that they found interesting about my decision making process is the time from thought to decision is usually very low. I tend not to ponder things very long. The specific example was just a couple of days ago somebody said, “Hey, there’s this juggling act that’s in New York. That sounds fun.” I said, “Cool. Where is it? When is it available?” Like, “Well, it’s here until Friday.” Said, “Great. Let’s go tomorrow.” Like, “Wait. Wait. Don’t you want to check and see if you like it?” It’s like, “No. Let’s go. Juggling’s fun. Let’s go tomorrow.” Then we went and it was great. As it ties into some of these other things, like I’m reminded of my friend Todd who lives in Costa Rica, he mentioned that he just moved to Costa Rica. He has a new place in Costa Rica and said, “Any time you want to come, just feel free.” I looked at my calendar, and I was like, “Cool. How’s next Tuesday?” He was like, “Oh. Yeah. That could probably work. I’m going to make sure the bedroom’s set up.” Then I just went next Tuesday, and why not? I didn’t really have anywhere else to be, so it was fun.
18:56 – Set clear expectations
Sam said you have to set clear expectations with the people you’re living with so that you both know how to act.
I think the most important thing is to just set very clear expectations. This is one of the most useful things is it’s useful to just have these explicit conversations early and not make any assumptions. Most of the time the people that you’re staying with don’t want to babysit you the whole time that you’re there. People feel like they have to, like they’re your host, they’re responsible. I usually start with, “Hey, just so you know, I’m going to be working the whole time. I imagine you are too, so let’s block off some time Thursday and Saturday night, if you’re open to it, and we can do dinner. Otherwise, we’ll just do our own thing.” Most of the time they say, “Thank God, because I did not want to have to deal with hosting you the whole time, and making sure you were entertained.” It’s like, “Nope. I’m an adult. I can entertain myself. I have other things to do.”
33:26 – You can be grounded anywhere
Dr. Casey said she’s had to learn how not attach her peace to where she’s living. You don’t have to be physically grounded to be mentally grounded.
I think five years ago, I would’ve been really anxious to not know that I’m grounded or not know that I have a house and not know what is next for me. And I find that a lot of people, their first question for me hearing that I’ve been nomadic for 14 months is, “Well what’s next? Where are you going?” And it’s like, “I don’t know.” And that’s totally okay, or has been until recently, totally okay for me. And that has felt like a lot of growth. And I think it’s really paralleled my mindfulness journey and meditation journey and seeing myself that my peace doesn’t come from having a place that I know is mine and that I know is my home, and really shifting my framework to peace comes from within me and is generated from my mind, not from an external situation, and really engaging with that in my meditation and mindfulness journey of really shifting frameworks around that. I used to think that having a home base and being grounded is what generates grounding in your body and in your mind, but I’ve really come to realize that’s not true. And I think that a lot of people will assume that it’s an anxiety provoking situation to be on the go and not know what’s next. But gaining comfort with that has been I think a profoundly positive outcome of this experience.
46:09 – Travel doesn’t always mean leisure
Dr. Casey said that though the digital nomad lifestyle means constant travel, it doesn’t mean constant vacation.
I think one other framing I’ve put on this this year is this is less a travel situation in the way we generally think about travel as leisure, and this is more truly remote work. I’m going to places and I’m working from there because I don’t have another home right now, but it’s not necessarily travel, it’s the place that I’m working. And so I consider it similar to how if I were at home, in a home, I’m going to work normal hours and then maybe I’ll engage in something really fun that I love to do on the weekend or in the evening or something like that. And like Sam said, I think the expectations with setting with people I’m staying with has been the top most helpful thing. But usually, the way I frame it before I stay with anyone is like, “Hey, it’s startup grind, basically don’t expect to see me at all during the day.”
48:55 – Listen to yourself
Steph said if you want your digital nomad lifestyle to be sustainable, you have to listen to what your mind and body need.
One final thing I wanted to add on this point that has been a recent revelation for me is along this track of making it in order for it to be sustainable, really listening to your body and your mind in these times of… And this just plays into the whole thing about you show up in a place and you’re like, “I want to check off all these boxes and get the most out of this experience because I don’t know if I’ll ever be here again.” But I specifically remember this experience where I was in Peru after I think three and a half months of being on the road in South America and the group of us were going to go to Machu Picchu. And I remember feeling so guilty for thinking I don’t even want to go. I literally want to lay in bed on Saturday and read a book and call my mom and just chill. And I felt guilty for feeling that way because I was in this scarcity mindset around I have to get as much out of this experience as possible, which I think ended up leading to burnout around remote work and this digital nomad thing. And it’s a pendulum swinging of I went too far in one direction and then I decided to sign the lease and go very much the domestic route. But I do think that there’s room for both.
01:04:09 – Establish a routine
Steph said that whether she’s on the road or at home, it’s important for her to establish a routine and daily schedule.
I think for me the most powerful way to establish routine, whether I’m at home or on the road before I believed it was, I need complete control over my day to day schedule. And I need to set these super strict constraints of, I wake up at 6:00 AM every morning and I go to the gym, and I do this routine and I found that, that’s not actually it. I’ve found that the way to stay consistent with working out is to do exercise that you actually enjoy. And so for me, it’s hiking, or walking, or weight lifting brings a lot of joy. And in previous times in my life where I think I was working out for the wrong reasons of just aesthetics or just feeling like I had to do it rather than it made me feel good. And sometimes, I mean, of course working out, isn’t always fun in the moment, but the, what do I even call it? The hormones, and the joy you get after the fact has always been stronger than sometimes the struggle during the workout.
01:08:35 – How do you keep your taxes in order?
Sam said it’s important to have an accountant if you’re a digital nomad, because they can sort out what taxes you’ll need to pay.
I’ve had the same accountant for a long time who knows how nomadic I am. I keep track of where I am every day. I have a special calendar called Sam’s travel where every day that I am anywhere I write it down there. And then I have it all compiled at the end of the year, we actually have the EAs do it now, but they compile where I am for whatever percentage of the year. And then depending on where I spent my time, that’s where I end up paying taxes. Sometimes it’s California. Sometimes it’s New York, sometimes it’s elsewhere. The only downside is that if you don’t know in advance, which it’s going to be, sometimes you end up with a tax bill at the end of the year related to like state taxes that would normally be managed through withholdings. If you think that you’re going to be an Oregon resident for most of the year, but turns out when you did the audit of yourself, it’s mostly California. You have to pay the back taxes that weren’t handled through withholdings. So, there’s some complications there, but accountants know how to deal with all of this. So it just adds a little bit of overhead.
01:16:54 – Usually everything works out
Steph said even though you don’t have full control over your life as a digital nomad, things usually work out alright.
I would say that the unexpected twists and turns are much more memorable than if you had full agency over the situation. And I think about this all the time. It’s something that you echo a lot, Sam, is that idea of usually everything does work out. If you just put trust in the people around you and are open to whatever, however, the experience unfolds. And I just read this phenomenal book about travel of how this woman in her fifties decided to just start traveling, and was really just her main goal was to integrate as much with the local culture as possible, and she would. She would show up in local communities without having a hotel booked and just talk to locals. And it turned out to be a way more fulfilling experience than if you were trying to say, “I have to book this super swanky comfortable hotel where it looks just like it does in America”, or like what kind of fun is that? Why wouldn’t you just stay at home if you’re looking to pick up America, and move it to wherever you go? And so I love that idea of just being open to however it unfolds.
01:23:28 – Being a minimalist
Steph said being a digital nomad has forced her to adapt to a minimalist lifestyle and multipurpose outfits are key to that.
I feel like throughout my adult life, I’ve gone in spurts of wanting more consistency and then getting that cut filled and then saying, “That’s it. I got to sell everything. I got to travel again.” And then I would sell everything and then get back on the road with just to carry on. And so it’s kind of been a good forcing function to see as a minimalist rather than accumulating a lot of stuff. And that driver to want to explore has always been strong enough to, I guess, weather the pain of selling stuff, or not being too attached to anything. In terms of international travel, yeah, I went through Latin America with just to carry on, and I think that finding outfits that are multipurpose is key. And so yes, I would say that a lot of the attire that I wear is something that I could both get a decent dinner in as well as go on a hike in. I tend to not congregate in restaurants that require, or restaurants or any sort of event that requires really, really fancy outfits anyway. And like Sam said, if that opportunity presented itself, I’d probably just go to a thrift store, and pick something up or borrow something from a friend.
01:31:20 – The price of being a nomad
Dr. Casey said it was cheaper for her to be a digital nomad than to live in one place because she didn’t have to pay rent, buy a car, or pay for memberships.
I think nomading is way cheaper, in my experience, than living in a stationary place. Now I have now my rent, I have my car, I have all my insurance policies, my gym membership. It just really adds up. And I think because I was mostly staying with friends and did not have my car, it was probably cheaper. But I say not significantly so. I mean, you’re still traveling. One nice thing about the way I was doing things is my dates were very flexible, so I could find the cheapest flight. It didn’t matter if I was flying on a Tuesday night, Wednesday night or Thursday night. And sometimes the difference is a $59 flight versus a $400 flight. So I would usually just find the cheapest flight, and so that was nice. Food is obviously a big expense and then trying to do things for the people I was staying with. But yeah, it’d be interesting to really quantitate it out. I don’t know for sure. But my subjective sense is that now being settled is a bit more expensive. Also because I’m still traveling, even though I am in one place. I think probably for all of us, like we still… You need to be in places for work. You need to do stuff for family and friends and events and stuff. And so it’s like the travel plus staying in one place
01:39:13 – Making it work
Dr. Casey said now that she’s living in one place, it’s nice to have a dedicated podcast setup. When she was a digital nomad, she had to get very creative with her background.
I have to say, it’s one of the nicest parts about not being nomadic anymore is just having my podcast set up and my zoom background and just being good to go. I have definitely set up some really janky zoom backgrounds in the past for some podcasts. I remember before the second time I did the Mark Hyman podcast, I was staying in a friend’s casita in Santa Fe. And the background wasn’t working because there was light coming in and all this stuff. So 20 minutes before the podcast, I’m literally moving furniture all around the house to create like the perfect little corner and then the lighting working and everything. And when you look at the podcast, it looks beautiful. It’s like, oh this great little office background with a plant and a light. And it’s like, if you saw the room in front of me, it’s completely torn up. And so that has happened many, many times where I’ve completely rearranged places. I am to get the right background. So to have one spot now is a huge joy.
Mike Haney (00:00:06):
If you work best from 1:00 PM until midnight, then that should be fine. If you wake up at 4:00 in the morning and you work best in two separate chunks of work, then fine. If you only want to work four days a week or three days a week but you still have the same work output, great, do that. We shouldn’t care how people do these things.
Ben Grynol (00:00:34):
I’m Ben Grynol, part of the early startup team here at Levels. We’re building tech that helps people to understand their metabolic health, and this is your front-row seat to everything we do. This is A Whole New Level.
Mike Haney (00:00:58):
Levels is a fully remote and async company, and we always have been, even pre-pandemic. From the founding, Levels has been remote. Part of what inspired that was that one of our founders, Sam, our CEO, Sam Corcos, was already living the digital nomadic life when he started the company along with Josh.
Mike Haney (00:01:18):
When I say digital nomad, I mean true digital nomad. He’d been on the road for several years living out of a very small backpack, going from city to city, staying with friends mostly.
Mike Haney (00:01:28):
As I got to know Sam and would have calls with him, and I would always start a call saying, “Where in the world are you,” it inspired a number of questions, both practical. How do you pay taxes? How do you get packages when you have no home address?
Mike Haney (00:01:42):
Also, philosophical. How do you decide where to go when you can go anywhere? Does it ever get annoying staying with friends? I really wanted to sit down and ask Sam a number of these questions.
Mike Haney (00:01:54):
As it turns out, Sam is not the only digital nomad in the company. A number of other folks here have for periods of time lived the kind of nomadic life that fully remote work enables. We also got Casey Means, our co-founder and chief medical officer, and Steph Coates, one of our engineers, who both lived for periods of time, a year-plus, different kinds of digital nomadic lives, to join us on this podcast and share their perspective as well.
Mike Haney (00:02:20):
What was really enlightening about this conversation, as you’ll hear, is that there’s no one way to do it. The practical aspects of it have different solutions, and, even more so, the reasons for hitting the road, and then the reasons for settling down and getting off the road all vary.
Mike Haney (00:02:37):
Each of these three folks did by the time of our recording actually come off the road and sign leases and stay in one place for a while. We got to reflect both on what it’s like to travel and why and what you’d learn, but also what that teaches you about having a home base, and what’s interesting, and unique, and informative, and fun about that as well.
Mike Haney (00:02:58):
This is a wide-ranging conversation. Lots of really interesting practical stuff in here, but also just great ways to think about travel in general, even if you’re not somebody who might ever nomad. I’m Mike Haney, editorial director at Levels, and this is my chat with some of our digital nomads.
Mike Haney (00:03:21):
We’ve got Casey, Steph, and Sam all now former digital nomads to talk about the digital nomad lifestyle, which is a real function of Levels and the way that we operate. The fully async remote culture enables this kind of lifestyle in all its various forms in a way that a lot of other places don’t.
Mike Haney (00:03:40):
We were just remarking before we hit record that in addition to the three folks we’re talking to today, we have a number of other people within the company that are doing some form of digital nomading.
Mike Haney (00:03:48):
Whether that’s a month lease here or there, or just traveling very frequently, or even a team member who, this is slightly different kind of nomading, but is taking five months off to hike the PTC, which is another form of going away.
Mike Haney (00:04:01):
The three of you have in the last month or so signed leases. Let’s maybe start there. Sam, I need to start with you. After years, and you could tell us how many years, of not having a place, you have a place. Why?
Sam Corcos (00:04:17):
I’ve had places before for brief stretches of time. I don’t actually think of myself as a digital nomad, just like I don’t think of myself as a minimalist. I just don’t have a lot of stuff. I don’t really need stuff. Maybe that de facto makes me one.
Sam Corcos (00:04:34):
Sometimes with these things, a lot of people I know who think of themselves as minimalists say it’s like a challenge to them to have less stuff. I just find the more stuff I have, the less happy I am. I try to have as little as possible, and the same for travel, which is that I like to just go where I want to go whenever I want to go there.
Sam Corcos (00:04:55):
I’ve had, think, two other leases in my life. One was in New York, one was in San Francisco. I think I probably only spent a plurality of my time there. I have a lease now in New York. The main reason why I got it was I want to get back to hosting the weekly salon dinners that I used to host, which I really enjoyed.
Sam Corcos (00:05:17):
Just having a location to do that makes it way more convenient. It’s in a nice spot in New York, in Soho. It’s just going to be really easy to get into that cadence. I might still only spend, I don’t know, three or four months a year in New York, or maybe half the year.
Sam Corcos (00:05:34):
I don’t have any particular attachment to it. I’m reminded of a specific example where I have a friend, he had a 12 month lease in San Francisco, but wanted to move to New York, but because he still had six months remaining on his lease it’s like, “Well, I can’t leave.”
Sam Corcos (00:05:54):
He had money to do it. He could afford it. He could also sublet, but he felt the sunk cost problem where he was like, “Well, I have to be here because I have a lease here.” I guess I just don’t feel that same pull.
Sam Corcos (00:06:08):
If I wanted to go move to Portugal next week, I would totally do that. I don’t feel any particular pull or attachment to where I am just because I have a lease there.
Mike Haney (00:06:18):
I definitely want to get deeper into that phrase that I’ve heard you use before, which is that you don’t have a particular attachment to place and where that stems from and what it means. Before we get to that, I want to go down the line. Steph, what led you to signing a lease in Golden, Colorado?
Steph Coates (00:06:35):
I think I’m the opposite of Sam of I was very deliberate about the choice to become a digital nomad. I think I had this big fear that after college I would graduate and then a lot of the careers that I saw modeled in my own life where people did work as this obligation rather than something that they got to do. It was something they had to do rather than something they got to do.
Steph Coates (00:06:55):
I said, well, if work is going to suck and I have to do this thing for eight hours a day, I might as well build this lifestyle around it that I really enjoy, which would involve travel, and adventure, and spontaneity. Those were the things I wanted at 22.
Steph Coates (00:07:08):
I remember reading just countless blogs of how to become a digital nomad, the type of career to get into, all of these things. Then had this idea that I would get this remote job and then do it for life, never get married, never have a family, just see every country in the world.
Steph Coates (00:07:23):
It’s amazing just in four years how much that mentality has shifted. I think it’s priority shift. I guess the way that I view my life is that I’ve had so many curiosities and interests of things that I’ve wanted to pursue, and it’s not until I actually try them did I then get that data about what works for me and what doesn’t work for me, and where I thrive and where I falter.
Steph Coates (00:07:44):
Doing the digital nomad thing for, I guess you could say that I’ve done the nomad thing since graduating college, even though I’ve worked in-person jobs for six months here, one year there. Then I did the digital nomad thing fully last year.
Steph Coates (00:07:57):
It was confirmation to say, this was fun and I’m so glad I did it, but it’s brought light to other priorities in life that I wasn’t aware of. Things like wanting a sense of belonging in one place, and having deeper relationships where it wasn’t just surface level, you meet someone for a month and then you move on.
Steph Coates (00:08:14):
I think that maybe it’s a mix of feedback I’ve gotten from my own experiences, as well as just as I’ve gotten older my own priorities around what I want out of life have drastically shifted in the last few years.
Steph Coates (00:08:24):
I don’t think it’s black and white for me, where I do want to still travel maybe one or two months or three months out of the year, go work from a totally different country, and have these adventures. Maybe one day I’ll take five months off to hike the PCT.
Steph Coates (00:08:36):
I do think that having somewhere to return to has become a big important thing for me in life. It’s the best of both worlds to be able to have a home base but then, like Sam had said, still give yourself the freedom to say, “If I want to go somewhere new, I’m going to allow myself to do that,” rather than feeling chained to sticking to only one identity.
Mike Haney (00:08:55):
Casey, you represent an interesting viewpoint here, because unlike Steph and maybe even Sam, who I think have always lived, at least in their post-college life, some version of this, you owned a home. You did the full-on, as settled as nearly as settled as one can be, and then went into the nomadic lifestyle.
Mike Haney (00:09:12):
Tell me about how you arrived at it and why you have recently decided to come off the road, as it were.
Dr. Casey Means (00:09:18):
I do fall into a bit of a different camp than both Steph and Sam. For me it actually wasn’t an intentional thing. I actually fell into it. I also do have quite an attachment to space.
Dr. Casey Means (00:09:32):
What happened for me was I was living in Portland for almost eight years for residency. I did own a home. I knew after a couple of years with Levels of being remote, I knew that there wasn’t much tying me to Portland anymore. There wasn’t a residency.
Dr. Casey Means (00:09:47):
I realized, “Oh, I don’t really need to be here anymore, so I want to explore something new.” I put my house on the market in about December 2020. Then what happened was I was going to live for a month in LA. I had an Airbnb there, and then I was going to do a month in Joshua Tree.
Dr. Casey Means (00:10:03):
Then I figured, at that point I’ll have thought about where I want to be next, and figure it out. Was thinking basically two months of living a couple of great places that were sunny, and get out of the Portland rain.
Dr. Casey Means (00:10:17):
Then what happened, unfortunately, was about a week after being in LA in January in 2021, my mom got sick with cancer and passed away very suddenly in the middle of January. That really threw things into a different mix, where I knew I wanted to be with my dad after that for several months.
Dr. Casey Means (00:10:36):
I stayed actually in Northern California with him for about four months. Then at that point, I had gotten used to essentially working just with my laptop somewhere new. I was living out of a carryon suitcase. All my stuff was in Portland in storage.
Dr. Casey Means (00:10:52):
Then what happened was all these opportunities for the summer were coming up. I had podcast recordings in LA, a friend’s wedding was somewhere else. I was going to visit my godmother in Hawaii. My brother and sister-in-law had bought a house in Arizona that I wanted to visit.
Dr. Casey Means (00:11:06):
Things were just stacking up. It was like there’s no point really right this moment to get a new place, so why don’t I just see if I can, if I’m going a certain place for some reason, just maybe stay there for a few weeks and work, and bounce around. Realized the economics of that would make sense too.
Dr. Casey Means (00:11:23):
I did that. Then the next thing you know 14 months passed, and I just kept doing that. At that point, it really just felt like an opportunity. I’m single. My stuff is already in storage, and I can work from wherever, literally. All I need is my laptop and on certain days a ring light, a microphone for podcasts.
Dr. Casey Means (00:11:42):
This is probably one of the only times I can do this as freely. Although now that I’ve done it, I’m realizing that I actually think you could probably do this at different points in your life. It’s really empowered me to feel like this is very possible in this modern day and age. Even maybe with kids in the future, there’s a way to do this.
Dr. Casey Means (00:11:59):
I switched back. Now I’ve signed a lease and I’m moving to Bend, Oregon. Honestly, if I have to just sum it up of why I’m doing that, I think it really comes down to, the big word that comes into my head is Vitamix.
Dr. Casey Means (00:12:12):
What I mean by that is my Vitamix has been sitting in a storage unit in Portland for 14 months. Not having particular tools and things that I know really help keep me healthy is very hard for me. I know what makes me healthy.
Dr. Casey Means (00:12:29):
As you guys know, I love to cook. I love to cook insane, weird plant-based things. That requires certain tools. I have found ways to create a healthy environment on the road, which have been really fun to explore.
Dr. Casey Means (00:12:45):
Ultimately, having a kitchen with all the things that help me do this fun cooking alchemy that I love to do, my Cuisinart, my Vitamix, my Mini Cuisinart, my Microplane, or blah blah blah, that’s a metaphor for essentially the healthy lifestyle that I want to have, that’s a lot easier when you’re in one place.
Dr. Casey Means (00:13:04):
It’s funny, I think what this year, one of the things it’s taught me, I don’t know a lot of people in Bend, but it has a lot of characteristics of things that I think make me really happy and that are really healthy.
Dr. Casey Means (00:13:15):
It has shifted my view of what it means, what community means. Because community has become something that’s just all over the place. It’s less important for me now, I think, to be in a place where I just happen to know a lot of people, because it’s shifted my thinking to really feel like how in this modern day and age community can be everywhere.
Dr. Casey Means (00:13:36):
I’m really excited to get back into a place where I can build the healthiest lifestyle for me and get all those kitchen tools out of storage.
Mike Haney (00:13:46):
I definitely want to come back to a lot of the practical aspects of this, which, I think in some way spawned this conversation, which is my wife and I would be sitting on the couch at night. One of us would turn to the other and go, “How do you eat when you’re doing what Sam does? How do you go to the dentist?”
Mike Haney (00:14:02):
Finally it just bubbled up to, “We should have a conversation where we ask all these things.” What you ended with there about the sense of community leads back to the point you mentioned, Sam, that I want to dig into a little bit, which is this phrase you use of not being terribly connected to a place.
Mike Haney (00:14:17):
I wonder if you mean that in a very practical sense, or if it’s sort of a, in a way that I think a lot of us … Well, I’ll speak for myself. I’ve traveled a bunch of places. I’ve lived a handful of places. There’s only about two or three cities in the world that I have set foot in and went, “Yep. I can live here.”
Mike Haney (00:14:33):
New York was that immediately when I went there as a kid, even though it was fundamentally different than where I grew up. It was like, “Yep. I belong here.”
Mike Haney (00:14:40):
I wonder if it’s that you just don’t form that kind of connection to place, or do you mean that in a practical sense, and are there places in the world that you feel more at home or more comfortable that you just love, or that you love to go back to? Do you just literally not notice your surroundings?
Sam Corcos (00:14:57):
I mostly don’t notice my surroundings. There are definitely people where I’ve talked to them and they’re like, “San Francisco. It is home for me.” Or whatever city, they just have this emotional attachment to it. I have a much stronger attachment to people than I do the place.
Sam Corcos (00:15:16):
I could see myself living in any city. I guess one that has at least some base level rule of law, that has a lot of interesting people that I’d want to spend time with. One of the coolest things as it relates to that is I’ve noticed that when I do a lot of bouncing around, I often stay with friends.
Sam Corcos (00:15:37):
Historically when I was single and doing the digital nomad thing, if we want to call it that, most of the time I would stay with friends on their couches, extra bedrooms. I keep a list actually. I think I have close to 300 people on my list that have offered a place for me to crash when I’m in town.
Sam Corcos (00:15:55):
The coolest thing about it, I think there’s probably some defined paradox around this, but when you show up and you’re only in town for a week, everyone makes you a priority. If you’re in New York, you’re there all the time, you live there, you have friends in New York, it’s surprisingly hard to coordinate and make a thing happen.
Sam Corcos (00:16:15):
When you’re in town for three days and you send a message to your friends like, “Hey, I’m here for three days. Do you want to get coffee some time?” They’ll almost always say yes. It ended up being a really great way to build deeper relationships with people, to prioritize meeting up with friends and staying with them.
Sam Corcos (00:16:32):
The amount of time that you get to spend with people when you are sleeping on their couch for a week, it’s a lot more than you would ordinarily get at a social event. That’s really the thing that I prioritized. It was really much more about the people more than it was the place.
Mike Haney (00:16:49):
I got to go deeper on this point of your system here, which I think is worth digging into a little bit of the spreadsheet you have of people who have said, “Sure. Come crash on my couch.” I think for a lot of us the idea of taking somebody up on that is daunting. Particularly for people who aren’t your very closest friends or family where you know they have to say yes.
Mike Haney (00:17:09):
How did that system evolve? Is that just a social gear that you have where you don’t feel the uncomfortable or awkwardness of taking somebody up on that? Then what is it like to actually be in people’s houses?
Mike Haney (00:17:20):
Again, I’m assuming if it’s 300, these are not your 300 closest friends. These are in many cases acquaintances, people you may not know very well. Tell me more about how this works in practice, and just the emotions that go along with it.
Sam Corcos (00:17:32):
Somebody recently said that one of the things that they found interesting about my decision making process is the time from thought to decision is usually very low. I tend not to ponder things very long. The specific example was just a couple of days ago somebody said, “Hey, there’s this juggling act that’s in New York. That sounds fun.”
Sam Corcos (00:17:59):
I said, “Cool. Where is it? When is it available?” Like, “Well, it’s here until Friday.” Said, “Great. Let’s go tomorrow.” Like, “Wait. Wait. Don’t you want to check and see if you like it?” It’s like, “No. Let’s go. Juggling’s fun. Let’s go tomorrow.” Then we went and it was great.
Sam Corcos (00:18:15):
As it ties into some of these other things, like I’m reminded of my friend Todd who lives in Costa Rica, he mentioned that he just moved to Costa Rica. He has a new place in Costa Rica and said, “Any time you want to come, just feel free.”
Sam Corcos (00:18:33):
I looked at my calendar, and I was like, “Cool. How’s next Tuesday?” He was like, “Oh. Yeah. That could probably work. I’m going to make sure the bedroom’s set up.” Then I just went next Tuesday, and why not? I didn’t really have anywhere else to be, so it was fun.
Sam Corcos (00:18:53):
I think the tactical question of what’s it like being there, I think the most important thing is to just set very clear expectations. This is one of the most useful things is it’s useful to just have these explicit conversations early and not make any assumptions.
Sam Corcos (00:19:09):
Most of the time the people that you’re staying with don’t want to babysit you the whole time that you’re there. People feel like they have to, like they’re your host, they’re responsible.
Sam Corcos (00:19:23):
I usually start with, “Hey, just so you know, I’m going to be working the whole time. I imagine you are too, so let’s block off some time Thursday and Saturday night, if you’re open to it, and we can do dinner. Otherwise, we’ll just do our own thing.”
Sam Corcos (00:19:39):
Most of the time they say, “Thank God, because I did not want to have to deal with hosting you the whole time, and making sure you were entertained.” It’s like, “Nope. I’m an adult. I can entertain myself. I have other things to do.”
Sam Corcos (00:19:52):
I found that a week is roughly the maximum amount of time that I want to stay with people, only because it starts to feel imposing after about that point. Setting clear expectations and just being really open to having that and not making assumptions is, I think, the biggest way to avoid any unspoken tension that arises from it.
Mike Haney (00:20:15):
One more question on that, and then I want to hear Casey and Steph’s experience with crashing with folks, or how you find a place to stay. When you started doing that, first of all has that always been the way that you nomaded, if we want to use that as a verb? Did you go through a period of hotels and Airbnbs or short-term leases, or was it always just crashing with friends? Was there a period the first five times you did it where it was like, “This is a little weird. This is a little awkward. I feel a little uncomfortable in these people’s space”?
Sam Corcos (00:20:43):
I would say there have been a lot of times when I’ve done Airbnbs. It’s just a question of what I want to do. Some of it, it’s kind of a challenge. I try to push myself into fighting through uncomfortable situations. One of the things that I will often do, so perfect example of this is my friend Todd in Costa Rica who lives in the middle of the jungle.
Sam Corcos (00:21:13):
He was going to send me all these complicated instructions on how to get there, and I said, “Just send me the coordinates.” I landed in the airport. I didn’t know how to get there. I looked up the coordinates, and it was actually in the middle of the jungle. I had no idea how was I going to get there.
Sam Corcos (00:21:29):
Was like, this is going to be fun. I started talking to people in the airport in my broken Spanish. Talked to a guy, he had a cousin who was driving down to Dominical, which was most of the way there. Got in the car with his cousin, made it most of the way.
Sam Corcos (00:21:48):
I got very close to the edge, to the point where it was ATV territory. Then I finally got a hold of Todd and was like, “I’m very close now. Now I need to know the last little bit.” Then he came and picked me up. Just being willing to arrive somewhere without knowing where you’re going to stay has led to some very just surprising situations.
Sam Corcos (00:22:11):
A lot of times that I end up staying with friends, it’s like … Casey, this was at our friend Nick’s house. I hadn’t planned where I was staying. It was 10:00 PM, and then one of his friends was like, “Where are you staying?” “I don’t know. I haven’t figured that out yet.”
Sam Corcos (00:22:27):
He’s like, “Really? It’s 10:00. I have an extra couch if you want to stay with me.” It was like, “Yeah. That’d be great.” It just sort of worked out. I’ve been surprised at the number of times that things just sort of work out. You often don’t need to overthink it. I don’t know if that’s a full answer.
Dr. Casey Means (00:22:47):
I just have to interject, because I feel like this story is so great. I feel like this also happened to Sam with an investor, where you ended up-
Sam Corcos (00:22:55):
Dr. Casey Means (00:22:58):
I think that’s a worthwhile story to share. Just like, “Oh, finish the meeting.” It’s like, “Where are you headed?” It’s like, “I don’t know.” Then end up staying with an investor for a while. I think people are really happy to share their homes.
Sam Corcos (00:23:13):
Some of it came down to, this was a reframing that my friend, Evan Bear, helped me with. I used to have a really hard time accepting gifts or asking things from people. I don’t really know where that comes from. I love giving, and I love helping people, but it was really hard for me to receive gifts.
Sam Corcos (00:23:38):
The reframing that Evan helped me get comfortable with is that feeling of joy that I get when I can help somebody. I’m depriving my friends of that feeling. I’m actually doing them a disservice by not allowing them to do something that if I were in that same position would make me feel really good. It took a while to get through that, but it’s definitely allowing the universe to just do its thing, I find things just almost always work out. I will say that in the times where I’ve shown up in a city, which I very rarely book something in advance.
Sam Corcos (00:24:20):
In the times when I’ve shown up in a city. In fact, I will give you a hilarious example of this, which this is going to sound like I’m making this up. I was going on a walk with Tom on our team, our head of partnerships, and just walking around New York. I just got in. I had my backpack on.
Sam Corcos (00:24:39):
He was like, “Where are you staying?” I was like, “I don’t know. I haven’t figured out yet. It’s only 10:00 AM.” We’re walking around. He’s like, “Well, you don’t know where you’re staying. What do you think is going to happen?”
Sam Corcos (00:24:48):
Said, “I don’t know. Something’s going to happen. I’m going to meet somebody that I know, and they’re going to have an extra bedroom, and I’m going to stay there. Worst case, I get a hotel, which very rarely happens.” 30 minutes later we’re walking through Washington Square Park, and my friend Vinay, who started Loom, is just walking through Washington Square Park. He lives in San Francisco. I’m like, “Hey, Vinay, what are you doing here?” He was like, “I’m just in town. By the way, I have an Airbnb with an extra bedroom if you want to stay with me.”
Sam Corcos (00:25:18):
Tom was like, “Did you set this up? There was no way that just happened.” I was like, “Trust me, Tom, it happens all the time.” These things usually work themselves out if you just let it happen.
Mike Haney (00:25:32):
I think the lesson that I’d take from that is the idea of trusting the universe is something, I think, we can all aspire to. Also hearing that in a way it’s sort of a muscle that you develop. That you just do it enough, and you force yourself into uncomfortable situations and find that you don’t end up sleeping on a park bench freezing and the cops rousting you.
Mike Haney (00:25:52):
Which is, I think, probably the worst case scenario we all go to of, “What if I land in a city and I don’t know what I’m going to do?” Then over enough times it doesn’t happen, and you go like, “I guess it’ll probably work out.” You develop tools like your spreadsheet.
Mike Haney (00:26:04):
Steph, I’m curious when you hit the road, because you were more intentional about going into this lifestyle, what did you think you were going to do in terms of finding places to stay, and what ended up being the case? How did you figure out where to go?
Steph Coates (00:26:18):
Well, I guess first to echo what Sam had just said. Sam, before you even shared that story, what immediately came to mind was, “Everything always works out for him.”
Steph Coates (00:26:28):
I actually have had similar experiences, where at times I’ve traveled in the past throughout my life and ironically it was kind of this forcing function, where I didn’t have a lot of money, and so I had to wing it, or stay in a hostel, or couch surf. Those were the most fulfilling experiences.
Steph Coates (00:26:46):
Then as I’ve gotten older and I’m making more money, and I think, especially after COVID where I haven’t exercised that muscle a lot lately of just showing up a place and hoping that things work out. I think through that, maybe that has soured the digital nomad experience a bit for me.
Steph Coates (00:27:01):
In the sense that I’ve wanted to exercise more control over the situation and through that say, “Well, I can afford this nice Airbnb by myself, and so I’m going to book it.” Then you show up at a new city and you’re lonely because you’re all alone in this Airbnb. You don’t have people to share the experience with.
Steph Coates (00:27:16):
I like Sam’s mentality around it of prioritizing the relationships with people that you know in the city, or at least putting yourself in the situation where you might come across people. Rather than feeling like you need to control every single variable of the experience, which ends up not letting, like you had said, the universe play its role and just letting things play out how they may.
Steph Coates (00:27:38):
I think that something for me to keep in mind is, as I get older, returning to that idea of just winging it, because those are usually where the most fulfilling and fun experiences lie.
Steph Coates (00:27:49):
To answer your original question, when I started doing this, specifically the digital nomad thing, I actually found a group it was called WiFi Tribe. There are several of these companies right now where essentially they do the logistical work to set you up with accommodation, set you up with other remote workers in a remote location, and you just book your flight and show up.
Steph Coates (00:28:13):
It was great in the sense of for someone that hadn’t done it before, and I was looking for adventure and spontaneity but I was also craving community. I’d had experiences in the past, like I had just said, of showing up in a new city but booking an Airbnb by myself. It ends up not being very fun, because you hole yourself up in that Airbnb the whole time and don’t actually experience the city.
Steph Coates (00:28:33):
I agree that travel and life in general actually, relationships and those connections you make are the most important part. It was cool to have that built in. I showed up in Costa Rica, this was in April of 2021, and I show up at Costa Rica, and all of a sudden I have 16 new friends to share this six weeks with.
Steph Coates (00:28:54):
I did WiFi Tribe for throughout South America in 2021. Then I returned to the States and continued to do the digital nomad thing, and more so just stay-
Steph Coates (00:29:03):
Return to the states and continue to do the digital nomad thing and more so just stayed in Airbnbs. Yeah. I don’t know if I’ve ever had the guts to call up a friend and just say, “Can I stay with you?” Or I have not channeled that yet. But now I feel inspired to do so. Yeah. I would say that the bulk of my experience has been through organized setup with Airbnbs and group housing, but the group housing part is definitely the more fun one for me because then you’ve got this social aspect that you wouldn’t otherwise get.
Mike Haney (00:29:30):
The idea of prioritizing the relationships I think in some ways speaks to another question I have and in case, I’m curious how you thought about this, because it seemed like you also took the tack of what drove your itinerary in a way was folks that you wanted to visit and people you knew you wanted to stay with. But when I think about the idea of a digital nomad lifestyle, I could start to get very stressed with the paradox of choice. It’s like, “Oh my God, I could go anywhere in the world.” So Casey, how did you decide when you had this freedom, or even thinking forward, if we all anchor on Sam’s point that just because you have a lease doesn’t mean you can’t go anywhere anymore, how do you think about where you want to go?
Dr. Casey Means (00:30:04):
Yeah. For me, it was really driven by if I had to be in a place for a certain reason, a podcast or a wedding or something like that, or that I know I’m going to go for a family event to Phoenix or something like that to just turn that into an extended stay. So mine was driven a little bit less on maybe whim or go anywhere that I want to travel to more focused around events and then just creating more structure around that. And for me, I’m a little bit different than Sam in that I definitely always want to stay somewhere for at least about two weeks because I like to really get settled. And I have a mental framework for what’s going to be a good fit given the work I have to do. And for me, it’s that I can really settle in, so ideally about two weeks, one at a minimum, a private room, I’m not going to sleep on a couch because I am a light sleeper and I know that I need to have a comfortable bed and all that stuff, access to a kitchen.
Dr. Casey Means (00:31:09):
I’ve trained most of my family members and friends to have filtered water and Vitamix just because I talk about this stuff all the time. And so fortunately, a lot of that stuff is in friends or family’s houses. But they’re really high speed wifi. So I think I go into it with a little bit more of that controlled and less maybe looking for the universe to guide me for better or worse. And I tend to structure my time in that place by really just seeking out the things that I love to do in those places. I really love to get to know a place. So for instance, hiking is my favorite thing to do. And so if I think back to everywhere I went in 2021, which is probably 20 different places, most of those places I ended up finding a way to hike. So I was in New York City for almost three months and I hiked several times. I ended up going to this place, Breakneck Ridge, which was about an hour outside of the city and doing a hike there.
Dr. Casey Means (00:32:10):
I went to Long Island and I hiked and it was really cool to see that. When I was in Phoenix, I did Saddleback Mountain. And when I was in LA, I went to Topanga Canyon and Kauai, hiked all over there. And so it’s really framing I’ve got this opportunity to be in this new place, how can I channel some of the things I really love to do in that new place as a way to really get to know it? Similar with food and cooking, been to a lot of farmers’ markets in interesting places like the Union Square farmers’ market in New York or when I was in Durango visiting my co-founder, Andrew. We made a point to go to the farmers’ market and also see local markets, like Erewhon in LA, that’s really fun for me. So shaping my time around exploring the things I love in a new place has been super, super fulfilling for me. So maybe a bit more of a controlled way of doing this, but that’s what’s worked for me. And it’s been a really interesting experience, I found it interesting nomadic life, what it’s taught me.
Dr. Casey Means (00:33:14):
And one of the things that it has really… Sam was talking about the universe and really having trust in this stuff happening. And I think I’ve had a similar journey with them. I think five years ago, I would’ve been really anxious to not know that I’m grounded or not know that I have a house and not know what is next for me. And I find that a lot of people, their first question for me hearing that I’ve been nomadic for 14 months is, “Well what’s next? Where are you going?” And it’s like, “I don’t know.” And that’s totally okay, or has been until recently, totally okay for me. And that has felt like a lot of growth. And I think it’s really paralleled my mindfulness journey and meditation journey and seeing myself that my peace doesn’t come from having a place that I know is mine and that I know is my home, and really shifting my framework to peace comes from within me and is generated from my mind, not from an external situation, and really engaging with that in my meditation and mindfulness journey of really shifting frameworks around that.
Dr. Casey Means (00:34:23):
I used to think that having a home base and being grounded is what generates grounding in your body and in your mind, but I’ve really come to realize that’s not true. And I think that a lot of people will assume that it’s an anxiety provoking situation to be on the go and not know what’s next. But gaining comfort with that has been I think a profoundly positive outcome of this experience.
Mike Haney (00:34:50):
The analogy that was coming to mind as you were talking about that was the idea of an elimination diet, right, where you just strip away everything and then you add back in and find out where you reach that level of comfort. So I think it’s so interesting that living this way has taught you that right, it comes more from within. But then you found that there are things like your Vitamix, which maybe isn’t your source of inner peace and calm, but definitely makes life better and easy.
Dr. Casey Means (00:35:15):
Mike Haney (00:35:15):
And that’s okay. This lifestyle that the freedom and this openness that comes with living this way doesn’t necessitate an absolute minimalism.
Dr. Casey Means (00:35:28):
Right. I think that it’s shifted my relationship with those things of like, “This is what makes me happy,” to actually, “This is just a really nice thing that adds value to my life, but is not the source of my groundedness.” So it’s definitely shifted the relationship to place in that way and also just realizing that there’s beauty and opportunity to do what you love anywhere. And yeah, so framing each new place is an opportunity to engage in the things I love in a new environment has been really, really fun.
Mike Haney (00:36:02):
So to this point about deciding where you’re going to go next, Sam, how do you buy plane tickets? When I book a vacation, I spend a lot of time digging around for the best deal and the times and whatever. And it occurs to me you are probably not doing that.
Sam Corcos (00:36:15):
Yeah, actually that’s a really big one is I used to fly Southwest a lot more because Southwest has no change fees and so you can book a lot of different flights and then you can change them as needed. But now, all airlines have this. And so I think I currently have maybe eight or 10 flights scheduled weeks out and I’ll probably take half of them. You can very speculatively say, “Yeah, maybe I’ll go to, I don’t know, Boston, or I’ll go to New York or LA or Chicago this particular weekend. And it’s six weeks out, the flights are 50 bucks, I’ll just book it. And worst case scenario, I’ll cancel it.” Sometimes often, even on the same trip, I’ll book a Thursday and a Friday out because I don’t know how many days I’m going to stay there. And having that flexibility often allows you to… It’s really an order of magnitude cheaper in terms of flights if you book it that far out and you have that flexibility.
Mike Haney (00:37:17):
Yeah, that’s a really good unlock because I think a lot of people think of flights as being very locked in. Most people don’t fly very often, right? So the booking of an airline ticket is a big thing. And once it’s booked, you have to keep it. And several of us have probably been burned on trying to change it and then having big fees or whatever, but remembering that there are ways to do it without canceling and buying into that freedom and just being willing to make the phone call or go online and make the changes is helpful.
Sam Corcos (00:37:46):
Largely, I don’t let an itinerary define where I go. So I think generally just living in the moment in terms of physical location and when new interesting things happen, just going for it. When I was living in Berlin, I was at an Airbnb and it was great. And at some point, I made quick friends with a Serbian and a German in Berlin who said that they were going to this new country called Liberland, which is on the Serbia, Croatia border. And I was like, “That sounds like fun.” “Yeah, we’re going tomorrow.” I was like, “Cool. Can I come?” “Yeah, I guess so.” And so I just went and then I spent some time in Serbia and that was that. And why not? So I’m sure my Airbnb was still a thing that I had for several more days, but it was like, “Wow, I have this Airbnb for three more days so I can’t leave because I have to wait until…” Just go. I have a similar philosophy with the books that I read, which is I don’t have a library of unread books.
Sam Corcos (00:38:59):
I have a wishlist, but I only purchase books if it’s the next book that I feel like reading in that moment. So I’m almost done with a book right now. And once I’m done with that, I’m going to look through my wishlist and if I feel like reading a biography, I’m going to do that. If I feel like reading a business book, I’ll do that. I found that the thing that actually causes me the most anxiety in my life is me putting false expectations on myself of what I should be doing. So I used to have a big stack of books that I felt like I should read. It’s like, “Yeah, smart people read these books,” and I just could never get the motivation to read them. And every time I’d look at them, it was like my own failures staring me in the face. You are not capable of reading these books so you lack the motivation to do this. And so I just stopped doing that. And I feel very similarly when it comes to physical location. If something interesting comes up, then I do that. If not, then I don’t.
Steph Coates (00:40:04):
When you brought up the Berlin story of being in an Airbnb, and I really admire that lack of attachment to the sunk cost of, “Oh, well I have to stay here because this is where I was.” But if a cool opportunity comes up, sounds like you take it. Are these all experiences that you’ve also had a full-time career in conjunction with these experiences? Because in the past year for me, I think I touched on this at the beginning of this episode, but since getting into a career where I do find a lot of joy in what I do and a lot of passion and I want to give 100% towards the career, and I found this headbutting between wanting to fully enjoy the travel experience, which I think in my mind would require me spending 24 hours a day just fully in the travel experience rather than trying to balance both being fully invested in work and being fully invested in the travel experience. And so I’m curious how you’re able to put your head down and be in that mode and still squeeze each experience for all that it’s worth.
Sam Corcos (00:41:07):
Yeah. I can get some specific examples. What’s funny is there have been times when I’ve been on these long traveling journeys of more than a month with friends and I’ve had situations where friends of mine got fired from their jobs while we were traveling. Yeah. And a big part of it was there was a scarcity mindset where they felt like, “This is my one time to really explore Barcelona. So I’m going to do all of it.” And it’s like, “You’re working remotely, you still have a job. You’re probably going to get fired if you keep doing this.” And then weeks would go by with zero work output, then they got fired and they were surprised. It’s like I don’t know why you were surprised. What you could do, which is largely what I did, oftentimes I would find a coworking space. You can usually negotiate with them and say, “Look, here’s 100 bucks in cash. Can I just work here for the month?” And you can usually figure something out, or you just work from the Airbnb or you can work from friends’ houses, whatever.
Sam Corcos (00:42:12):
I would find the things that I’d want to do when I was doing the thing, maybe there’s a really cool hike that I wanted to go on and I would figure out how to get there, figure out how to do the hike. If the hike was on a Monday, Tuesday, then fine. And I would do it Monday, Tuesday, and then I would work over the weekend. I usually work weekends anyway, I think I’ve probably taken single digit weekends off in the last decade. But I really enjoy what I do for work so it really doesn’t feel like work to me. I’ve been working basically the whole time. I was doing a lot of software consulting and it was really just software. And so it’s all asynchronous. Honestly, a lot of that experience is why we have such an asynchronous focused company now is people should be able to work when they want to work. If you work best from 1:00 PM until midnight, then that should be fine. If you wake up at four in the morning and you work best in two separate chunks of work, then fine.
Sam Corcos (00:43:14):
If you only want to work four days a week or three days a week, but you saw the same work output, great, do that. We shouldn’t care how people do these things. So one of the things I found was the biggest source of friction was when I would stay at a friend’s house, and this was before I became really good about setting clear boundaries and expectations, every time they’d walk in the room, I’d have to take my headphones out and address them. And at a certain point, I basically said, “Look, when I’m working, I’m working. We’re just going to be doing our own thing.” And so they come in, I just stay focused on what I’m doing. I don’t feel that anxiety of other people’s presence and obligation. So I would try to stay absolutely focused on work when I’m working. I would budget time for the things that I wanted to do. I spent a month in Barcelona and I didn’t go to see the big church that everyone goes to. It’s like, “Yeah, fine.” If I wanted to see it, I can go to Barcelona literally tomorrow.
Sam Corcos (00:44:11):
But I don’t want to enough so I’m not going to. So I think that it’s a question of whether… Where most people struggle with it is they approach these things from a scarcity mindset where there’s you have to do all these things to make the most of it, as opposed to just do what you want to do. And if you want to come back later, you can totally do that.
Steph Coates (00:44:32):
Before, you tied that up with the same word. But I was thinking that the whole time of this scarcity complex I think is what negatively affected me is when starting to travel and you feel this immense desire of, “I have to see everything, I have to do everything, but I also have this full-time job.” And that pressure you put on yourself of shoulds ends up getting in the way versus, say, actually I want to work for 10 hours today, or I want to-
Sam Corcos (00:44:53):
Steph Coates (00:44:53):
Stay in and not go out to dinner with all these people because I’m really just in the zone. And I love that that same culture mentality bleeds into the levels culture around work on what you want to work on and work when you want to work because then you’re going to have the most effective output, rather than I guess that could be applied to travel or work of just when you feel like you have to fit within these constraints, then we end up being less effective in life ended work. And so yeah, I think that maybe it was just the sense of being so new to it and feeling like I needed to squeeze the experience for all it was worth rather I imagine than with time, you do become less attached to, like you said, checking off all of those boxes and doing all the traditional things, when in reality, going slower over a longer period of time with these things ends up being more fulfilling.
Sam Corcos (00:45:43):
Yeah. A specific example right now is I’m in Sacramento on my way to Tahoe for a ski trip with some friends, I may or may not go skiing. I have no attachment to going skiing on this trip. These are some friends that I want to hang out with. I have a whole bunch of work stuff that I have on my calendar that I really want to do. And I would rather do that than go skiing. I don’t have any attachment to whether I go skiing or not. So it’s a question of how you want to prioritize these things.
Dr. Casey Means (00:46:09):
I think one other framing I’ve put on this this year is this is less a travel situation in the way we generally think about travel as leisure, and this is more truly remote work. I’m going to places and I’m working from there because I don’t have another home right now, but it’s not necessarily travel, it’s the place that I’m working. And so I consider it similar to how if I were at home, in a home, I’m going to work normal hours and then maybe I’ll engage in something really fun that I love to do on the weekend or in the evening or something like that. And like Sam said, I think the expectations with setting with people I’m staying with has been the top most helpful thing. But usually, the way I frame it before I stay with anyone is like, “Hey, it’s startup grind, basically don’t expect to see me at all during the day.” And I’ll make it dramatic. “I’m going to be locked in my room. But what I’d love to do is make you guys dinner on Wednesday and Friday.”
Dr. Casey Means (00:47:10):
“And then Saturday, let’s do this hike together, go to this museum if that’s interesting to you.” And once people have that framework, it’s amazing. And also with the podcast, I’ll be like, “Hey, I need things to be completely quiet on Tuesday from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. Does that work for you? And if not, I’ll find a location that I can do it.” But usually people are like, “Oh, yeah, we don’t have anything going on right then.” And so just that type of clarity, I think just, as you have said, Sam, it’s what people are looking for, just clarity on the situation, not necessarily to just be with you all the time. So that’s been helpful. But yeah, that shifting in my mindset of this is not necessarily travel, this is remote work. Yeah. And then when I have a simple pleasure in that place, like going on a hike or going on a run or something, I find that to be just so joyful because I’m like, “Cool, this is what I’d be doing in my normal life if I had a house.”
Dr. Casey Means (00:48:06):
But I’m getting to do it in a new place and that’s awesome. It doesn’t have to be the end all be all, see every museum, every site, or just how can I find pleasure in the things that I love? And yeah, I think back to we did a remote offsite with the co-founders in San Diego and we really didn’t do much in San Diego at all. I think we went out to dinner once or twice, but that was pretty much it. But my favorite moment of that trip was I think Josh and I took a couple long runs and then jumped in the ocean fully clothed with all our running outfits. And I’m like that was such a joy. And it wasn’t really about seeing San Diego, it was just about… So maybe that’s part of what Sam’s talking about with the abundance mindset is just really finding pleasure in those little moments and not feeling like you have to swallow the ocean wherever you’re going.
Steph Coates (00:48:55):
One final thing I wanted to add on this point that has been a recent revelation for me is along this track of making it in order for it to be sustainable, really listening to your body and your mind in these times of… And this just plays into the whole thing about you show up in a place and you’re like, “I want to check off all these boxes and get the most out of this experience because I don’t know if I’ll ever be here again.” But I specifically remember this experience where I was in Peru after I think three and a half months of being on the road in South America and the group of us were going to go to Machu Picchu. And I remember feeling so guilty for thinking I don’t even want to go. I literally want to lay in bed on Saturday and read a book and call my mom and just chill.
Steph Coates (00:49:37):
And I felt guilty for feeling that way because I was in this scarcity mindset around I have to get as much out of this experience as possible, which I think ended up leading to burnout around remote work and this digital nomad thing. And it’s a pendulum swinging of I went too far in one direction and then I decided to sign the lease and go very much the domestic route. But I do think that there’s room for both and a lesson I’ve learned throughout this process is, like Casey you had just said, of making room for just the little things, going on a run, having a nice dinner with friends or just having a day to yourself. And then also making time for those fun reasons of what is so beneficial about being on the road and the flexibility of getting to experience new things. But I’ve learned about myself is that I can’t always be spontaneous and always do the adrenaline inducing things. Sometimes there is room for just the calm lifestyle as well. And so that certainly makes it more sustainable.
Sam Corcos (00:50:29):
Yeah. It reminds me of this, I’m going to paraphrase the quote because I don’t remember it specifically, but something like, “Unmet expectations is the root of all heartache,” where you set these really grand expectations of like, “Oh, yeah, I’m going to do everything that this city has to offer in a week.” It’s just not possible and you probably don’t even actually want to do that. So yeah, not setting oneself up for failure is I think quite important there.
Mike Haney (00:50:56):
Okay. I want a lightening around some practical stuff about just the realities of being placeless in a way. So the first thing is we’re a health tech company. How do you stay healthy on the road. Sam, how do you eat and how do you exercise?
Sam Corcos (00:51:11):
I walk a lot. That’s probably the biggest answer is I walk a lot. There are days when I do 20, 30,000 steps. I do a lot of my calls while I’m walking. I don’t really exercise as much in the way that most people mean the term. I do, like I said, a lot of walking. Eating, turns out there’s food in a lot of places. People figure out how to eat almost everywhere in the world. And so it turns out to be quite easy. When you want to get food, there’s just places everywhere that have food.
Mike Haney (00:51:50):
But what I mean there is… Thank you for clarifying that. Are you cooking in your friends’ kitchens? Are you filling their refrigerator with your own groceries? Do you live in restaurants and just eat out every meal? How do you literally balance what you are eating?
Sam Corcos (00:52:07):
Sometimes I will go to restaurants. The last time I spent meaningful time in New York, I found this really great diner that I could just get bacon and eggs for breakfast, have some coffee, it was largely empty and I could just work out of there most of the day. And the waitress was super nice to me. And so that was great. And so my co-working space was a diner in New York. Other times, yeah, I’ll go to a grocery store and just buy some stuff. I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to food. So buying some hummus and carrots is a pretty easy thing to do, doesn’t take a lot of cooking and preparation.
Sam Corcos (00:52:44):
So yeah, I will often get stuff. Eggs is a pretty common one. I’ll scramble some eggs at a friend’s house. So pretty low level cooking. But I do enjoy cooking. I cook for most of these salon dinners and I can’t do meaningful, large scale cooking or anything more interesting. If I liked cooking as much as I think Casey likes cooking, I would probably have a much harder time with it for me. And my primary motivation for eating is so I don’t starve to death. It’s not something that I intrinsically enjoy, it’s just the necessity.
Mike Haney (00:53:18):
All right. So for the counter position to this, Casey, you mentioned the idea of helping friends have a Vitamix. I know you use meal delivery services sometimes when you have an Airbnb that you’ll have your purple carrot stuff sent there. So I’m curious about food, but I’m also really curious about how you think about working out because I know you love Peloton. What do you do when you’re on the road?
Dr. Casey Means (00:53:40):
Yeah. Well first of all, I loved hearing Sam’s answer because I feel like we are the opposite remote workers when it comes to food and stuff. And I love that. I love this conversation because there’s so many different ways to approach this. I’m such a maximalist when it comes to this stuff. So first of all with exercise, so I bring my Peloton shoes wherever I go. My dad has a Peloton. My brother has a Peloton. My best friend in New York has a Peloton. And even some hotels and Airbnbs have them now. So that’s one thing. The second thing with working out that I love is I love, love group fitness and boutique fitness situations. And so usually whatever city I’m in, I will try and figure out what studios fit my needs. And so I love group fitness for cardio or boot camp and I love hot yoga and regular yoga. So I’ll usually find a yoga studio or a group fitness studio near where I’m staying and buy an intro pack where I’m going. And usually, those are cheaper.
Dr. Casey Means (00:54:42):
So I was just in Austin and I bought a three pack of Peloton and a three pack of Barry’s Bootcamp and I was there for two weeks. So I had six structured workouts already set up. And for me, that was so fun. You get to interact with people and it’s really motivating. I also love to take runs in new places I’m going because it’s one of the best ways to see a place. So for me when I got to New York, it was Central Park runs. And I’d usually set those up with friends. I had two friends who are great runners, [inaudible 00:55:11], who worked with levels for a while who’s an incredible runner, my friend Lauren. And I’ll usually try and pick people who are better runners than me so that they push me and take me to a place I might not have seen before. So like West Side Highway, Central Park, whatever. There’s nothing like running across the Brooklyn Bridge. And so that’s really fun for me.
Dr. Casey Means (00:55:29):
And I really like to schedule it with people so that I’m actually motivated and can’t get out of it. Left to my own devices, I will probably skimp on it. So I’ve set up mechanisms to make sure it’s happening. When I was in Durango with Andrew, well before I got there, we planned that we were going to do a hiking trip on each flanking weekend of the week I was there. So we were going to grind all week and then had these set up so we knew we were going to get that activity in. So that’s some of the structure I set up for exercise. I also will generally set up a standing desk wherever I am. I’ll get a box, a cardboard box or something, and just create an ugly standing desk. I’m not at one right this second, but in terms of stuff that I bring, I always travel with a keyboard and a wireless mouse so that I can have my computer up high and then a lower box where my mouse and my keyboard is.
Dr. Casey Means (00:56:23):
And those things are really easy to travel with and then they let me do some standing. So that’s how I handle the fitness. From the food perspective, I’m all about trying to figure out how to cook where I’m going. And one thing I’ve noticed is because cooking is a big part of… People know that I love that, I mean my Instagram is Dr. Casey’s Kitchen, and they know I cook mostly plant-based, people are often really excited to have me show them stuff while I’m there. And it’s a gift that I can give to them. So usually first thing I’ll do when I get to a city, whether I’m staying with a person or by myself, is either Instacart a bunch of stuff or take a Lyft or if I have a rental car, go to the grocery store and do a huge stock up of all my foods that I like. And that makes me feel super grounded wherever I am. And then I’ll usually always schedule the people I’m staying with.
Dr. Casey Means (00:57:11):
“I love to cook on this day, this day and this day. So I’m going to take full control of the kitchen and serve you guys dinner.” And I’d be cooking on my own anyway, so it’s easy and fun for me. And I really get joy out of that. And then I’ll often gift a kitchen tool as part of my thank you gift for staying with someone. So recently I was in Dallas and I was staying with people. And so one of the gifts I gave them was a spiralizer and I asked if they wanted it, I’m not going to give them something they really don’t want, and then showed them how to use it and made a dinner for them with the spiralizer. And I’ve given people mini Cuisinart food processors before and then I’ll show them how to make ginger tea by just throwing the ginger in the mini Cuisinart, pulsing it, putting in boiling water, or show them how to make nut Parmesan by putting nutritional yeast and Brazil nuts in the mini Cuisinart and show them how to make it.
Dr. Casey Means (00:57:59):
So that’s a really fun way to incorporate healthy eating into the thing. And then I just travel…
Dr. Casey Means (00:58:03):
Kind of incorporate healthy eating into the thing. And then I just travel with a lot of stuff. So I bring athletic greens everywhere I go, I bring element, or other electrolyte powders. I have a nighttime routine of using mud water rest, which you just put into some nut milk, and froth it. I have a little mini frother. And so those things help me like feel a little bit grounded. Like I have these things that I love that I know I’m going to have with me everywhere. Sometimes I’ll travel with a small Britta water filter just to make sure I have water, but usually I’ll ask someone do you have a reverse osmosis or anything like that? And if they don’t, I’ll bring, and usually I’ll stuff clothes and the Britta water filter while I’m traveling. So it doesn’t take up really any space. And then in terms of other healthy like for sleep, I have a sleep pack that I cannot go anywhere without, which is my awesome silk eye mask, a ton of ear plugs, lavender under essential oil, and some melatonin.
Dr. Casey Means (00:58:59):
And so with that, I can pretty much sleep most places. And for places that I can’t cook, let’s say I am at a hotel, I’ll usually try and find a hotel with the mini fridge. And for instance, I was in LA, and I was at a hotel for a couple days and I went to Erewhon, and I found their taco salad, their vegan taco salad has beautiful ingredients, no seed oils, no sugar, no nothing even the salad dressing had no crap in it. And I was like, this is amazing. So I bought like five of them, and I just put them all in the fridge. And then I was set for several meals and I loved it was delicious. And I have my wearables. So I’ve got my Whoop to tell me if things are going off track. If I’m… Sleep is inconsistent, or I’m not getting enough strain, or whatever, I think the wearables are helpful to be like you got to lead into this a little bit more or whatever. So, I think that’s kind of like the picture of how I try, and stay healthy on the road.
Mike Haney (00:59:55):
So, Steph, I want to throw that same question out to you of how do you stay healthy on the road? How do you exercise and eat well when you’re nomading?
Steph Coates (01:00:04):
Yeah. This is a timely time to answer that question because I think a big motivator for signing a lease again, back in December was I felt my health kind of slipping of I wasn’t eating as healthy and I didn’t have set routines around nutrition or workouts. And so I remember thinking, oh, I can’t wait to sign the lease where I can go to the gym every day, and lift weights and just have less, I think, ambiguity of to the schedule where I would easily fall out of those patterns. And ironically, I’ve kind of shifted back towards, I think, believing that you can be just as healthy on the road as you can in person. And I was just telling Casey before we started this podcast of right this week, I’m out in a small town in Southwest Colorado about a population of like 1000 people.
Steph Coates (01:00:51):
And my main forms of exercise are hiking in the morning and taking walks in the evening and just eating what foods are available to be at the moment rather than having complete control over my schedule. And I feel super healthy. And I think that, logistically, hiking, walking classes that are available in the area via class pass or via yoga studios, those are really helpful. Yeah, I think that before I was in the mentality of you have to belong to a gym membership and you need to have complete control over having your home grocery store in order to stay healthy. But I found that I’ve kind of proven that wrong in my own regards. And this week specifically with CDM, and levels, I have been really interested to see… Last week I was backpacking. I was off all week and I was backpacking, and then this week I’m in Ouray, and not necessarily eating the healthiest, but I’m moving a ton of hiking in the mornings in the evening and walking around town with my mom in the afternoons, and my glucose has been super stable.
Steph Coates (01:01:49):
And so it just kind of speaks to the fact that how important movement can be of interjecting that throughout the day. Even if your diet isn’t 100% perfect, I found that a good balance for me is being willing to slack off on the nutrition side, just a tiny bit, and being able to kind of compensate with that by moving more, and allowing the glucose uptake in my blood to happen faster by walking a lot. And so I think that answers your question of just, I found that yeah, walking is sort of the king metric of being able to stay healthy on the road and moving a lot, and being okay with not having complete control. I found that just letting go of that has actually been really healthy as well.
Mike Haney (01:02:26):
Yeah. I’m curious for all of you, if you’ve found, again, just kind of setting up the fact that now as we’re speaking, all three of you have, have settled back down, and we’re going to come back and talk about that a little bit more in our sort of more or less off the road, so we can do a kind of point to comparison of nomadic life versus stationary life. I found the more that I get into a routine sometimes, or settled, at least it can kind of eat up my… It can become easier to skip workouts and do things, because it’s just like, you’re kind of here and you can get just sucked into work all day. Do you find that when you’re sort of default mode is movement and moving, I guess, especially for you Sam kind of every day, somewhere else.
Mike Haney (01:03:07):
And I know you do a lot of walking. Is it easier to kind of keep exercising, and stay in motion, to your point, Steph about that sort of being the most important thing when you don’t have a couch to go plop on, and just veg out for the day?
Sam Corcos (01:03:22):
I can quickly answer. It’s interesting when you look at my activity, why it swings wildly from 1000 steps a day to 30, 000 steps a day, depending on what kind of day I’m having. So, there are days when I don’t go outside at all and I’m just in my room doing emails and there are other days when I’m walking constantly. So, I don’t have a great routine for that. It’s highly inconsistent based on the type of day that I have. If it’s a maker day where I’m focused in writing, I tend to spend a lot more of my time just sitting, and thinking. Other times I’m on calls, I’m going outside, I’m walking, I’m listening to audio books. It’s pretty inconsistent for me.
Steph Coates (01:04:09):
I think for me the most powerful way to establish routine, whether I’m at home or on the road before I believed it was, I need complete control over my day to day schedule. And I need to set these super strict constraints of, I wake up at 6:00 AM of your morning and I go to the gym, and I do this routine and I found that, that’s not actually it. I’ve found that the way to stay consistent with working out is to do exercise that you actually enjoy. And so for me, it’s hiking, or walking, or weight lifting brings a lot of joy. And in previous times in my life where I think I was working out for the wrong reasons of just aesthetics or just feeling like I had to do it rather than it made me feel good. And sometimes, I mean, of course working out, isn’t always fun in the moment, but the, what do I even call it? The hormones, and the joy you get after the fact has always been stronger than sometimes the struggle during the workout.
Steph Coates (01:05:01):
And so doing that long enough and also airing on the side of doing things that I really enjoy doing in the moment as well. I think that’s been the most sustainable factor for me is not forcing it, and building in movements throughout the day that I genuinely enjoy doing, rather than saying I’m working out because I know I should be. Yeah, I think that’s been easy to translate both at home, and on the road. So it doesn’t become this thing of, I need complete control over my schedule, because otherwise it’s a really easy excuse to not work out. If you feel like you’re only doing it because you should be, and all of a sudden there’s a breakfast to go to when you’re traveling with a group or you slept in or whatever, and then it’s a convenient excuse to be able to cancel it. But if you genuinely enjoy doing it, then you want to make time for it, whether you’re on the road or at home.
Dr. Casey Means (01:05:43):
I’d agree. I think that nomadic life has one of the things that’s done is changed my framework a little bit from working out, looks like a certain thing to working out is more just like movement, because you’re not part of one gym, you’re all over the place. And I think that’s actually been quite liberating for me to do what feels good, like Steph said. And I talked about this in a previous answer, but if I’m in a city, I’ll try and take advantage of what they have if they have Barry’s Bootcamp or Soul Cycle, which where I live now, doesn’t have, I’m so excited to do that while I’m there, or maybe they have their own really great yoga studio that I get to try out. So, and again, also getting to see a city, one of the best ways to see a city is to take a walk or take a run. And so that’s been a really fun way to do things.
Dr. Casey Means (01:06:28):
Also, if I’m staying at someone’s house who has kettlebells, for instance, it’s like all of a sudden I’m using kettlebells and that’s super fun to try. My brother just recently bought this really fun, I don’t even know how to describe them. They’re these really funny weights that have every single weight as part of them, and you turn a dial and it lets you pick up a certain weight. And so I was using those. And so it honestly has expanded what I do. And sometimes when I’m staying with someone who likes a particular type of workout, I’ll do that with them. So, my best friend is a swimmer, so I’ll swim with her. So it’s been fun to kind of just expand the horizons a little bit.
Dr. Casey Means (01:07:04):
Now that I am settled again, I belong to one gym. And so it’s a little bit more okay, this is what I’m doing now. But I think that broadening that I got from nomadic living, I’m taking with me a bit and finding that I’m even now that I’m settled, I’m still doing a broader range of activities, and they all count now. Whereas I think before I kind of, it had to look a certain way. And so, yeah, that’s been a positive.
Steph Coates (01:07:28):
One other thing I’d like to add to this is, for me, it can often be kind of a two birds, one stone type thing where you can integrate exercise with travel activities. Like you had said, Casey, of if I’m in a new city and I want to walk around that counts as exercise, or if I want to take a yoga class and I’m in a new city that automatically also contributes to me feeling more connected to the community. And so it often doesn’t just have to be I’m exercising solely for the reason of health of I’m also exercising to meet local people. I’m also exercising to see the new place that I’m in. And so it often can be a [inaudible 01:08:02] like a double benefit rather than just doing it for one reason.
Mike Haney (01:08:06):
I want to jump into some of the practical questions that I think spurred a lot of this idea and of this podcast in the first place. I know things that people around the company have asked or that I found myself sort of turning to my wife and asked, and we thought about particularly, Sam’s very nomadic life of being somewhere different every few days. So I’ll start with these to Sam and then Casey, or Steph, if you have any experience with them, please weigh in. So, the first one is, if you have no home address, how do you pay state taxes?
Sam Corcos (01:08:34):
So, I’ve had the same accountant for a long time who knows how nomadic I am. I keep track of where I am every day. I have a special calendar called Sam’s travel where every day that I am anywhere I write it down there. And then I have it all compiled at the end of the year, we actually have the EAs do it now, but they compile where I am for whatever percentage of the year. And then depending on where I spent my time, that’s where I end up paying taxes. Sometimes it’s California. Sometimes it’s New York, sometimes it’s elsewhere.
Sam Corcos (01:09:11):
The only downside is that if you don’t know in advance, which it’s going to be, sometimes you end up with a tax bill at the end of the year related to like state taxes that would normally be managed through withholdings. If you think that you’re going to be an Oregon resident for most of the year, but turns out when you did the audit of yourself, it’s mostly California. You have to pay the back taxes that weren’t handled through withholdings. So, there’s some complications there, but accountants know how to deal with all of this. So it just adds a little bit of overhead.
Mike Haney (01:09:48):
Did either of you guys struggle with this when you were on the road, Steph, or Casey?
Dr. Casey Means (01:09:52):
I had to figure this out a little bit after the fact. So, when I chatted with my accountant and I was like I owned a house in Oregon this whole year that I was nomadic, and that was unintentional. It didn’t sell. So I had of holding onto this piece of property and I was like, so obviously I’m paying taxes in Oregon. And he’s like, well, I need a list of everywhere you were like Sam said, like every day of the year. And so I went back to my calendar, and did that. And it’s a very long Excel spreadsheet of like… And then basically added up all the days I was in California, all the days I was in Texas, all the days I was in Arizona, et cetera. And then based on that, he was able to do all the stuff to basically figure out where I needed to pay taxes.
Dr. Casey Means (01:10:39):
And it was just like Sam said, I actually had spent much more time in California than I thought I had. And so that ended up being a primary place where I did need to pay state taxes, but it’s all doable at the end of the year, just you have to figure out where was stuff withheld, where do you actually have to pay? And so I think my main takeaway is like having an accountant is really important, who really knows how the sort of like physical time in each place matters to each state for the different regulations. And then in terms of like… And also, I think what was interesting to realize is it doesn’t really matter where your mailing address is. And it doesn’t really matter if you own a piece of property somewhere, it matters more, and this is my understanding. This is not tax advice for anyone [inaudible 01:11:25] but like matters physically where you are for the days of the year.
Mike Haney (01:11:31):
Right. That makes sense. Sam, what does it say on your driver’s license under address?
Sam Corcos (01:11:38):
Ironically, I don’t have an active driver’s license right now because I’m mostly in New York, and I don’t really drive and have not for a very long time, so I just haven’t renewed it. But back when I had one, it was my… I moved to Nevada in 2013. And so it was the residence that I had in Nevada.
Mike Haney (01:12:01):
I’m curious on that point. I remember you mentioned that driving was not sort of a regular part of your lifestyle. You were basically flying, taking Ubers. Was that an active decision at some point? Because it would seem like one thing a car would buy you in some respects, is the freedom of being able to jump in the car, and go someplace? Like, I know you mentioned during the pandemic, you got sort of trapped at your folks’ house for a while, not able to go anywhere. When did you stop driving, or was it just never a big part of your life?
Sam Corcos (01:12:31):
I’d say I have to think about that. Probably around 2015. It’s not like I’ve stopped driving entirely. I just drive like 99% less than I used to. It’s like a two or three times a year occasion. I just realized that some people really like driving and I just don’t. It was when I had spent a lot of time in LA and I realized at some point that like half of the stress in my life was just driving in LA and it’s like, you know what? I did the math on how much does it cost to just take an Uber? And it’s like, it costs a little bit more, but I can do stuff while I’m in an Uber, and I don’t get stressed. So, I should just not do that. It’s amazing when you create that restriction for yourself, how it really is not particularly limiting, I’ve probably taken Uber in 20 different countries. I don’t know. It’s like it’s everywhere. There is some equivalent option anywhere that you go.
Mike Haney (01:13:29):
Steph, I’m curious, because you spend a lot of time in sort of more rural locations, have you done kind of the van lifestyle nomading, or have you also just Ubered from place to place?
Steph Coates (01:13:40):
I was just thinking about pushing back on that point that Sam just said. I think that in cities and in very populated areas, I do agree that a car is probably more of a detriment than a plus because I found that when I have a car, one it’s expensive, two I’m stressed when I’m driving, and three, if I’m forced to take public transportation, or Uber, or walk somewhere, I’m way more engaged with the world, even if I don’t get to the end point as quickly as I would’ve with my own personal transportation. This sounds so corny, but it’s like the journey that matters, right? And I do find that when you’re much more present in the whole journey itself, rather than just saying, “Oh, I need to get to this destination as soon as possible. And I’m going to do it alone in my own car and spend more money.” It’s actually a lot less fulfilling and it’s a lot less adventurous.
Steph Coates (01:14:29):
That said, I do love wilderness travel and going to places where Uber doesn’t exist yet, and being able to park a car at a remote trailhead where there’s no wifi or cell phone service. And so I have found that a car still adds enough value to warrant me having one. And to answer the question about van life, ironically, I left the more travel oriented digital nomad life back in December and said, “I want to sign a lease. I want to be rooted in a community.” And I think I got enough taste of that, but now I’m on this new trajectory of really wanting to do the more wilderness type digital nomad and really squeeze this super flexible remote job for all that it’s worth. And right now I’m in… Last week, I took the whole week off and I hyped the lost coast trail in Northern California and so sleeping in a tent every night, and just being so immersed in wilderness.
Steph Coates (01:15:20):
And it was just, and this is going to be very specific per person, if some people don’t like camping and the wilderness, but it was so re-energizing for me that I thought I need to build more of this into my day to day life. Since I have a remote job where I can work from anywhere, maybe I should just buy a little RV trailer to tow behind my car, and camp at campgrounds, and work from picnic table with like a wifi extended device. And so maybe, yeah, we’ll have to do another nomad podcast a year from now and see if I had tried that, but that’s just the beauty of a job like this is you can craft it to however you want. You can stay at home if you have kids, or if you like being in one place, or you can live in an RV, and go to a new national park every week or you can move to a foreign country.
Steph Coates (01:15:59):
And as soon as you get tired of one of those, you can change your mind and you can do something else. And so the flexibility and the freedom to be able to experiment with these different things and always pivot, if it isn’t exactly what you thought it was going to be, that’s been my experience with a remote job. And I love just continuously experimenting with myself to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and not being attached to say, “Well, I thought this is what I wanted. So I have to stick with it for the rest of my life.”
Sam Corcos (01:16:22):
The point about it being a journey is interesting one, because I always find it a personal challenge to try to figure out the local public transit system, wherever I go. And there are so many different systems that you can use to design these things. And there have been many occasions where I’ve tried to figure out the bus schedule. I get on a bus, I figure out I’m going the wrong direction that I get on a different bus. And it’s like, it’s an experience to figure it out. It’s also a really good opportunity to test your own personal boundaries.
Steph Coates (01:16:53):
Yeah. I would say that the unexpected twists and turns are much more memorable than if you had full agency over the situation. And I think about this all the time. It’s something that you echo a lot, Sam, is that idea of usually everything does work out. If you just put trust in the people around you and are open to whatever, however, the experience unfolds. And I just read this phenomenal book about travel of how this woman in her fifties decided to just start traveling, and was really just her main goal was to integrate as much with the local culture as possible, and she would.
Steph Coates (01:17:24):
She would show up in local communities without having a hotel booked and just talk to locals. And it turned out to be a way more fulfilling experience than if you were trying to say, “I have to book this super swanky comfortable hotel where it looks just like it does in America”, or like what kind of fun is that? Why wouldn’t you just stay at home if you’re looking to pick up America, and move it to wherever you go? And so I love that idea of just being open to however it unfolds.
Sam Corcos (01:17:50):
Yeah. I don’t know if any of you remember Tom’s story when he was in South Africa, do you remember that one with a train? He was going to go from one city to another and they were going to fly, but his friend was like, “No, let’s take the train. It’ll be more memorable.” So, Tom was like, “Okay, sure.” And they get on the train. It breaks down a bunch of times. Ends up getting hijacked by armed robbers. And like they’re like hiding from these armed robbers. They make it there like 20 hours late, they’re exhausted. And his friend was like, “Well, I did promise it would be more memorable.” Not that I recommend getting [inaudible 01:18:24] by armed robbers, but it does lead to a very different set of experiences.
Dr. Casey Means (01:18:30):
I’m completely the black sheep of this group. I am like captain rental car. I’m like go to LA, get a rental car. Everything you’re saying, I feel so inspired by you guys. And I do love, especially in a foreign country, like experiencing the local transportation. And I do love in cities like New York, or Austin, actually, any city really, I love doing the scooters, the little that you have an app on your phone, and you unlock the scooter, and scooter around. I need to me that is like so much joy. It’s such an easy way to make your day more fun is to grab a scooter or a city bike in New York. I’ll often find when I look at my phone and in New York, it’s really cool because you can actually now use the Lyft app to unlock the city bike, so you don’t have to have a city bike membership or anything. And it’s usually… Weirdly I found that every bike ride in New York was $3.81 cents, basically.
Dr. Casey Means (01:19:22):
So, that’s, I guess the shortest distance. And so I would go around and that was really fun. But when I’m going to be somewhere for a long time, or I’m in a city that doesn’t is more spread out or if I’m in a rural place, I love having a rental car because, one, it makes me a little bit more flexible with the person I’m staying with. I’m not necessarily dependent on their car, or I’m not dependent on… I don’t need to impose on them. And the other thing is I feel like I just find that if I have a car I do more hikes. Like that is, to me, it’s kind of a one to one. If I’m in LA for instance, and I don’t have a car, I’m probably not going to go to Topanga Canyon, or Malibu and take a Saturday afternoon hike. It’s just a lot harder. The lift is going to be like $150, or you’re going to be able to get it on the back end.
Dr. Casey Means (01:20:08):
And so when I’ve been in like Phoenix, or LA, or most cities, I find that since hiking is usually my weekend priority, a car really makes that more possible for me. And also just like to do a big grocery run. And things like that. You could definitely do that in a lift as well. But I think when I’m traveling. I think there’s friction sort of all over the place. So I’m looking for like the most frictionless experience on the transport side of things. So that’s what I’ve kind of landed on. Car, but also like try and pop in like some bikes and scooters just for fun. And you get to see so much more in the city.
Mike Haney (01:20:45):
All right, Sam, next practical question. Winter coats. How do you deal with winter stuff? Because you don’t just stay, and… If I were digital nomading, I would not go north of like Texas for the entire winter. I would just run around the south and just chase warm all the time. You do not seem to do that. So what do you do with a big puffy winter coat, and gloves when you have your little tiny backpack?
Sam Corcos (01:21:09):
There are two solutions to that. One is that I’ve discovered that when you go to cold places they usually have warm clothes. So that’s a pretty consistent theme. If you go to Norway, it’s going to be a lot of opportunities to buy warm clothes. I’ve also found if you visit people, because I spend a lot of my travel meeting up with friends. If you visit people who live in cold climates, they usually have like 35 jackets. So, I often just borrow one. So those are kind of the two strategies is pick one up either at a thrift store or just like Nordstrom rack if you’re going to be fancy, or you just borrow one from a friend for the time that you’re there.
Mike Haney (01:21:49):
So, you do a lot of, I think you told a story, I think when we were talking about this internally one time about, I think it was Josh’s wedding where you needed clothes to get… Maybe you could tell that story, but I think the overall arching idea is acquire what you need and then dispose of it when you don’t need it anymore rather than acquire it, hang onto it for when you might need it down the road.
Sam Corcos (01:22:12):
Yeah, that was a… I had to be in cocktail attire. And so I was wearing my jeans, and black t-shirt, and so I popped into a thrift store in New York. The thrift store’s in New York, as you would probably expect in Manhattan are pretty fancy. So I showed up and I talked to the, really, the guy behind the counter who was like clearly a very fashionable guy. And I said, “I need to figure out how to turn this into cocktail.” And he pointed out a bunch of options and got a jacket, got a few other things, and put those on, and on the train. And I think it was $35.00. And then wore my costume for the wedding and then came back to New York, and returned it. So, yeah, didn’t need to carry it around with me.
Mike Haney (01:23:00):
Steph, what do you do about this when… You were doing a lot of, if I remember correctly hiking and sort of international travel, and places where I think of needing a lot of specialized gear, hiking boots, et cetera. Did you just kind of live in an outdoor outfit all the time or did you have a big like backpack you were carrying everywhere?
Steph Coates (01:23:19):
Ironically up until this year, the only gear that stayed consistent in my life was my backpacking gear. I would get rid of everything else. I feel like throughout my adult life, I’ve gone in spurts of wanting more consistency and then getting that cut filled and then saying, “That’s it. I got to sell everything. I got to travel again.” And then I would sell everything and then get back on the road with just to carry on. And so it’s kind of been a good forcing function to see as a minimalist rather than accumulating a lot of stuff. And that driver to want to explore has always been strong enough to, I guess, weather the pain of selling stuff, or not being too attached to anything. In terms of international travel, yeah, I went through Latin America with just to carry on, and I think that finding outfits that are multipurpose is key.
Steph Coates (01:24:03):
And so yes, I would say that a lot of the attire that I wear is something that I could both get a decent dinner in as well as go on a hike in. I tend to not congregate in restaurants that require, or restaurants or any sort of event that requires really, really fancy outfits anyway. And like Sam said, if that opportunity presented itself, I’d probably just go to a thrift store, and pick something up or borrow something from a friend. In terms of outdoor gear, yeah. That’s the only stuff that I’ve schlep along with me throughout my travels. And luckily I have had a car for the entire time that I’ve been doing in nomad thing, aside from international travel. And so I’ll pile up, yeah, my backpacks, my sleeping bags, my tent, hiking shoes, hiking poles, all of that stuff stays in the trunk of my car. If I stay in Airbnb, then I’ll bring it in with me. But luckily, yeah, I have a mid-size sedan. And so all of it fits in there.
Steph Coates (01:24:48):
Interestingly with backpacking specifically as an outdoor activity that forces you to be a minimalist as well, is I remember my first backpacking trip ever. It was only like a three day trip, but I packed a different shirt for every day. And I think I brought makeup, and I mean, for people not familiar with the backpacking sphere that might sound normal, but you want to carry as minimal weight as possible. Because every step you take, you are carrying that weight on your back. And so, this probably sounds gross.
Steph Coates (01:25:14):
I’m going to come across as such a dirt bag, but you wear the same shirt every day, and sometimes you wash your socks in a river to make them clean again, and same thing with underwear. And so you have to find ways to repurpose things. And I found that mentality of being able to repurpose things and wash things and not having to have like new, super clean stuff all the time has carried into both my backpacking life, and my travel life, and my life in general of just like buying things that serve multiple purposes and yeah, valuing the experience over the material a lot of the times.
Sam Corcos (01:25:48):
Yeah. Actually jumping in on that. It’s an interesting social taboo that people think like you can only wear a pair of pants one time before you wash it. It’s like, it’s just not true. It’s just, there’s no basis in reality. I have three shirts and like I’ll wear them two or three days, and like they don’t get smelly, they don’t get gross. There’s no rule that says you can only wear a thing one time.
Dr. Casey Means (01:26:15):
I do think the backpacking ethos like really does help with the nomadic life. Like back in my early twenties, when I did like 30 day backpacking trips, I was wearing the same outfit for 30 days. And so like, yes, it did start smelling a little bit, but like, it’s just like a totally different framework of like, if it doesn’t smell and it’s not dirty, like it’s fine. But I also feel like I do prioritize finding like hotels or things that have laundry or when I stay with my friends, like first thing I do is like run a big load of laundry. And actually that has now, like, I love that. I’m like, “Oh, I have all my clean clothes now. It feels so good.” Like it’s part of that weird nomadic joy that you like get when you like clean your whole suitcase of clothes. I have done a couple other things as well that haven’t so I’ve done the thrift store thing for sure. I actually remember.
Dr. Casey Means (01:27:03):
I was having a meeting in LA and then during the meeting, I got a text from the CEO of our PR company. And he is like, “Oh, I’m putting together a dinner at the Soho House in Malibu tonight.” And I’m wearing jeans and it’s quite nice there. And so I just literally ran to a thrift store and I got a dress and some sandals, because they were nice sandals. I wear a size 12 shoes, so there weren’t a lot of options. And then I got in a Lyft and went to Malibu and I was like, okay. And then I got rid of that stuff right after. It was like $ 10 total.
Dr. Casey Means (01:27:32):
And then the other thing I’ve done a little bit is actually Rent the Runway and have it shipped to places. So when I was speaking at a conference in LA last year, the Code Conference, I did not have any real professional dresses because its levels, we’re all remote. And so had a couple more professional dresses shipped to the hotel in LA and they’re like, it’s LA. They get a lot of Rent the Runway packages so they knew exactly what to do. It was in my room when I arrived. It was amazing.
Dr. Casey Means (01:27:59):
And then the other thing is yeah, like Sam was talking about, just kind of getting used to just buying something when you need it and being okay with that. I remember I arrived to Houston six months ago and I was like, “Oh it’s Texas, so it’s going to be warm.” And it was 25 degrees and an ice storm. And I had only brought, I just assumed it was going to be super hot. And so I’m in the airport. I literally, I’m like, I can’t even get in the Lyft. I’m wearing a sleeveless shirt. And so I went around to a couple stores in the airport and found the cheapest coat I could find and ended up getting rid of it right after that trip because I was going back to California and I was like, “I don’t want to haul this around forever.”
Dr. Casey Means (01:28:40):
But it’s also been nice. My dad’s spot has kind of been my home base. So there’s a closet there where I have my rotating stuff and all my backpacking gear as well. And if I am going to go backpacking, like when I visited Andrew for instance, I’ll just pack all my backpacking gear in a bigger suitcase and then ship that and then leave it at my dad’s house on the back end. Or if I’m going somewhere else, ship it back to him, and then I’ll transfer stuff out when I go visit him, because that’s the most regular place that I go and so I’ll just sort of transfer stuff out.
Dr. Casey Means (01:29:12):
And then I also, I love vacuum seal bags in suitcases. So I’m unfortunately not like Sam in terms of I pack so much stuff and I usually actually do check a bag. But because I’m sometimes going for like a month or so, I will take these vacuum seal bags that you can put a bunch of stuff in and then put a vacuum hose on it and it sucks all the air out and you can get three times as much stuff in a suitcase. So that’s one other thing that’s been really helpful.
Steph Coates (01:29:38):
It’s too bad we can’t vacuum seal your Vitamix blender.
Dr. Casey Means (01:29:42):
Truly, truly. One day I’m going to travel with that thing. You can just stuff clothes in it and just put it on the…
Mike Haney (01:29:51):
Well, that actually leads to another practical question. So without getting into specific numbers, I’m curious about the financial implications of this life. Like Sam, you lived stationary for a while. I think you had a time when you like paid rent and paid bills and then you went on the road and you fly a lot. Looking back, how does it kind of net out? Is it cheaper to live on the road or does it turn out not to be?
Sam Corcos (01:30:14):
It can be either way, is sort of the short answer. There was a point when I was fully nomading and I think my personal burn was like $1000 a month. It was just, my travel was expensed and I would stay with friends and it was pretty easy. I didn’t have really any overhead. It was like food and maybe that’s it. I don’t know. It wasn’t a lot. So food and Ubers maybe was my overhead.
Sam Corcos (01:30:44):
Being stationary, you have rent, typically. There’s usually a lot more overhead that comes with being stationary. But you can also do the travel thing where it’s way more expensive. Airbnbs on a monthly basis usually cost more than an apartment. If you’re flying a lot and they’re not work expenses, you have to pay that out of pocket, so it can end up being a lot more expensive. It sort of depends on how you do it. Right now, it’s definitely I’m paying a lot more now being stationary in New York than I was when I was nomading even just like six months ago.
Mike Haney (01:31:18):
Casey, what was your experience?
Dr. Casey Means (01:31:20):
I think nomading is way cheaper, in my experience, than living in a stationary place. Now I have now my rent, I have my car, I have all my insurance policies, my gym membership. It just really adds up. And I think because I was mostly staying with friends and did not have my car, it was probably cheaper. But I say not significantly so. I mean, you’re still traveling. One nice thing about the way I was doing things is my dates were very flexible, so I could find the cheapest flight. It didn’t matter if I was flying on a Tuesday night, Wednesday night or Thursday night. And sometimes the difference is a $59 flight versus a $400 flight. So I would usually just find the cheapest flight, and so that was nice. Food is obviously a big expense and then trying to do things for the people I was staying with. But yeah, it’d be interesting to really quantitate it out. I don’t know for sure. But my subjective sense is that now being settled is a bit more expensive. Also because I’m still traveling, even though I am in one place. I think probably for all of us, like we still… You need to be in places for work. You need to do stuff for family and friends and events and stuff. And so it’s like the travel plus staying in one place.
Steph Coates (01:32:39):
I agree with Sam. I think that it’s not black and white of travel is more expensive or at home is cheaper and or vice versa. For me, I’ve always viewed it as whether you’re living at home or whether you’re living on the road, your cost of living will be directly, how do I say this, reverse correlation to how okay you are with discomfort. Did I say that right? The more willing you are to be uncomfortable, the more money you’re going to save and then that applies to both living at home and being on the road. And I found that I feel fortunate that the type of travel that I like to do usually is bare bones and it’s staying in hostels and meeting people or sleeping on the ground of a friend’s house versus saying, “I need a book this swanky or Airbnb and isolate myself,” because then I’m unhappier and I have less money.
Steph Coates (01:33:25):
And so I have found, interestingly subjectively, I tend to spend more money at home because I almost feel entitled to a more comfortable existence of like, “oh I’m at home, and I have direct access to Amazon and I’m buying all this unnecessary stuff versus when I’m on the road and I feel more alive and connected to these other travelers and I want to sleep in a bunk bed and cram eight of us into the same room.” And maybe that’ll change as I get older, but I am still trying to channel the fact that I do have the energy to skimp on that sort of stuff now and sacrifice comfort for both a better emotional experience as well as being able to make it more financially sustainable.
Mike Haney (01:34:03):
Another practical question that just reminded me when we talked about Amazon, Sam, where did you get packages? This is a little bit of a leading question because I think I know the answer to this, but I feel like this is also a chance for you to speak to how you’ve utilized Laurie and assistance to help manage some of the nomad stuff.
Sam Corcos (01:34:21):
Yeah, my Amazon account looks very strange. I have hundreds of addresses on there, so Amazon probably thinks there something weird going on with my account. I regularly will send packages to friends’ houses ahead of where I’m going. So my friends Andrew and Ariel have a consistent spot in San Francisco that I’ll often send packages. I actually just visited them last weekend and picked up three packages that I had sent there and totally forgot that I sent them there. So having friends that are more permanent locations is helpful. My parents’ house is another consistent location. Otherwise I’ll just have it sent to the Airbnb that I’m in, or wherever I’m headed, you can have it sent to that location. So for a lot of other things, Laurie’s been my personal assistant for I think nine years. And she has a bunch of other random things. She has six or seven pairs of my focus goggles for when I break one or need one sent somewhere. She has those. She has some dress shirts. She has my tuxedo. She has a bunch of other stuff that if I need it, she’ll be able to send it and coordinate. She coordinates the FedEx pickup after I’m done. So she handles a lot of the logistics for those things.
Steph Coates (01:35:41):
This day and age, whether it was because I think COVID played a big role in this but also just the shift more towards remote work, there’s so many conveniences available to us now that weren’t available I imagine Sam, when you were doing the digital nomad thing five or 10 years ago where Amazon has lockers and pickup spots. And I think even the UPS or USPS has designated locations where you can now ship packages to, rather than I remember trying to do this a couple years ago when they said, “No, you must send it to a home address.” And so things are changing and it’s cool to see that now more than ever is an easier time to try out this sort of lifestyle.
Dr. Casey Means (01:36:19):
Yeah, I pretty much do exactly what Sam was talking about, send to friends, send to my dad and pick them up when I get there. Will often send a daily harvest box to a place that I’m going ahead of time so that I know I have good food that I can put in a freezer or to a friend’s house. And so that always feels good when I go somewhere and I have food that I love. So yeah, basically sending, having your network of people who you can ship to their house.
Mike Haney (01:36:47):
So Steph or Casey, I want to give you a chance in case there’s any other practical questions that you’ve wondered maybe particularly for Sam about any of this stuff?
Steph Coates (01:36:57):
I think the most enlightening thing for me was much more of the philosophical side rather than the logistical side. I love the internet of, we can Google anything and figure out how to swing this sort of thing. But it’s much more of this non-tangible idea of, should I do it? Should I not? How do I get the most out of this experience. And what you said earlier, Sam, about just being present in whatever you’re doing, whether it’s work or whether it’s travel and not being attached to these super high expectations of, I need to go to this fancy church in this country, or I need to go skiing when I’m up in the mountains. And instead just saying, “I’m here.” And the same kind of lack of pressure we give ourselves when we’re living at home of, “Maybe today I’ll be a hermit and I’ll spend all day inside or maybe I’ll do a beautiful hike,” and not being attached to it, that’s been the most useful piece of information, I think, is just not being super attached to doing it a certain way and applying that same sort of just space to live life, whether you’re on the road or at home.
Dr. Casey Means (01:37:57):
Yeah, I think I agree completely. I think there’s just so many things that you can learn from this type of experience. For me personally, I think one has been flexibility and learning that I can be really, really happy and feel really grounded from lots of different places. And I think when you’re accustomed to living decades of your life feeling like, “Oh, part of the reason I’m happy is because I’m in this place and I have all this stuff,” and then learning to realize that’s not necessarily the case and that happiness is, like Steph said, really has a lot to do with being present in your internal state. And so just a nice part of the greater mindfulness journey, I think, has been this experience.
Dr. Casey Means (01:38:42):
And I think that from a practical perspective, because I’m doing podcasts like usually twice a week, I also travel with just the most ridiculous amount of podcasting equipment. And this is one of the reasons I do check bags is I always have my Yeti microphone. I’ve got my headphones. I travel with a ring light. Those things are with me at all times. So I could plop anywhere and do a podcast. So that’s been kind of funny in TSA several times. They’re like, “What are you doing?”
Dr. Casey Means (01:39:13):
And I have to say, it’s one of the nicest parts about not being nomadic anymore is just having my podcast set up and my zoom background and just being good to go. I have definitely set up some really janky zoom backgrounds in the past for some podcasts. I remember before the second time I did the Mark Hyman podcast, I was staying in a friend’s casita in Santa Fe. And the background wasn’t working because there was light coming in and all this stuff. So 20 minutes before the podcast, I’m literally moving furniture all around the house to create like the perfect little corner and then the lighting working and everything. And when you look at the podcast, it looks beautiful. It’s like, oh this great little office background with a plant and a light. And it’s like, if you saw the room in front of me, it’s completely torn up. And so that has happened many, many times where I’ve completely rearranged places. I am to get the right background. So to have one spot now is a huge joy.
Mike Haney (01:40:12):
Yeah, but to your early point, that makes for a good story, right?
Dr. Casey Means (01:40:15):
It does. Yeah. I’ve actually texted friends before and I’m like, “Do not come in the room until I tell you that it’s fixed, because you don’t want to see what your guest room looks like right now. It will be perfect afterwards.”
Steph Coates (01:40:30):
I was just thinking, that would be difficult stuff to try to find at the thrift store, the high quality microphone and the Logitech family.
Sam Corcos (01:40:41):
Yeah, to Steph’s point about mindset, I remember there was a point when I was a teenager and I was working as a handyman which is a really interesting and enlightening job. And I remember the first time we took down a wall and then put a new wall up. And it was like, “Oh my God walls are all arbitrary. These can be moved. This wall that I thought was a fixture, you can just like move it.” And it was just like mind blowing. We took it apart and it’s like, “Wait, electrical wiring in the walls are just like wires? This is so much simpler than I expected. I thought there was like this whole like social construct of what a wall is.” And it was this really interesting moment where you realize same with like, you need to bring all your stuff with you. The first time you go like, “Oh, I can just do laundry here. I don’t need to bring two months of clean clothes.” It’s like one of those enlightening moments. And so having that sort of lifestyle for at least some period of time, really just opens up a lot of these doors where things that you thought were inaccessible or impossible are actually quite simple.
Steph Coates (01:41:48):
What a beautiful metaphor of, I think I carried that save mindset earlier in my life of looking at the world around me and thinking that so many of these societal norms were just set in stone and wouldn’t change. And then I realized one day, this has been built by humans and humans are changing and so society can change, too and these norms can change and we can be part of that as well is shifting what is normal and altering things, whether it’s a physical wall or something else to fit how we want to live our lives. And so it’s really cool to see that change in the modern day and age.
Steph Coates (01:42:19):
One thing that Casey had said that I wanted to speak to is happiness doesn’t come from living in one specific area and having all your material possessions. Ironically, for me, it was kind of the opposite of, I think I spent so much in my earlier years thinking, “I will be happy once I travel. I will be happy once I go to this new location.” And ironically, traveling actually convinced me that’s not the case of, I went to these beautiful locations and then I realized actually it’s my internal mindset, my internal state, my health, those foundational pieces, that’s what brings happiness. And it’s in different where I’m living, whether I have a lease or whether I’m on the road. And so I would say that for the people that are thinking being a digital moment is a quick fix to the life that I’ve always wanted, I don’t think that’s the case. I think it could be additive, but you have to have that foundation set in order to actually fill your cup and fulfill your own needs. And then travel can be this cherry on top of additional ways to build resilience and additional things to learn about yourself.
Steph Coates (01:43:18):
But that’s been a huge lesson learned for me is you don’t arrive at a place or a new location and all of a sudden all your problems are fixed. Your problems will follow you no matter where you go. And travel exposed that for me, and so it was a beautiful learning experience on the opposite side.
Dr. Casey Means (01:43:32):
I feel the same. It’s really the conclusion is that it’s not about where you are, necessarily. It’s what’s going on inside. And that’s a journey that’s a totally separate journey. That’s the work that we all have to do. And so I think that by having these types of experiences, it’s a challenge that’s put in front of you or an opportunity that’s put in front of you to unfold the next layer of that onion, of that part of that mindfulness journey. And so, yeah, totally concur with what you’re saying.
Mike Haney (01:44:03):
Just to kind of circle back to where we started, which is the fact that everybody now has some form of a lease or has settled down. Maybe I’ll just phrase it this way, what has surprised you about after living on the road about being back in a single place? Maybe I’ll start with you, Sam, since you had the biggest shift from road to having a place.
Sam Corcos (01:44:22):
I don’t think anything. I’m there about half the time. I’ve had apartments for brief stints here and there. And it’s make certain things a lot more convenient. Like the weekly salon dinners that I host, it just takes less overhead to set them up, which is great. It’s honestly the majority of the reason why I got it. Also, being married and the fact that she doesn’t want to be nomadic anymore, maybe that’s a bigger reason. But it really is just a mindset. For me there’s no … some people, they feel this pull of like what they consider to be home. Some people consider a city like San Francisco is home. And all the time they spend away from there, they feel this pull to come back like they’re always traveling. And I just don’t have that feeling. So I’m mostly in New York now. It’s great. There are no real surprises. The things that I want to be more convenient are more convenient. I have a standing desk that I can stand, although I’m currently using a makeshift standing desk of putting a few books on a dresser and that works just fine. So yeah, no real surprises for me.
Mike Haney (01:45:33):
Casey, what about you?
Dr. Casey Means (01:45:35):
I think it’s in many ways, it’s exactly what I wanted. Why I settled down is kind of the hypothesis of what would happen is in many ways happening. So the biggest one, it all comes back to food for me, but it’s, I take photos of obviously most of my meals because of levels and also just because of social media to share. And when I look at the complexity of things I’ve made over the past two months since I’ve been settled versus the past year and a half, it’s just so much more. I can just do, like I have all my tools and I have the grocery store really close by and I can get things shipped to me very easily like that I need for certain things. And so it’s like, it’s totally unlocked the extra layer of cooking that brings me a lot of joy. And so having my own kitchen has been … it’s huge for me. It’s just reconfirmed how much of a true passion that is in my life. And to be able to transform plants into really interesting, weird dishes, it does take a bit of tools and stuff and having the right equipment. And so that’s been really fun for me to have that again. And I could do some of it on the road. It was maybe, I’m just realizing it was maybe 50% of what I could do by having my own kitchen.
Dr. Casey Means (01:46:59):
I also think it’s been really good for sleep, being in one place more often, having all my sleep routine down a little bit more has been really good, not having to necessarily work as much around other people’s schedules that I might be staying with. And so that’s been really nice. And for me, one of the big reasons I chose Bend, Oregon is because it’s very nature focused and it’s more affordable than a lot of the major cities, and so I was able to get a house with a yard. And so to have a yard and to be able to just like go sit in the grass and do my meditation there and just always have this outdoor space that I can just go. Like I go outside and brush my teeth every morning because I love like that I could just go outside super easily and have that access to the outdoors. It’s such a small thing to have a tiny little backyard, but it has been so incredible. So it just lowers the barrier or the threshold to doing a lot of the things that I really, really love. I think I would say it’s just a slightly less friction experience. And so that’s been really, really nice.
Dr. Casey Means (01:48:03):
Similar to Sam, I’ve been here for two months and I probably traveled half of that just for different things for work and different events and stuff. And so I, right now, don’t have a single plane flight booked until late June. So I have a full six weeks or so to really be here. And so I’ll know more after that, but I’m really excited to get to know the town, start meeting some people, take more hikes and kind of really invest in this place.
Mike Haney (01:48:28):
How about you, Steph?
Steph Coates (01:48:29):
I have learned a ton over the past, what has it been, six or seven months I’ve been rooted in one location? Ironically, it all does come back to mindfulness of even while I was traveling, I was really stressed out and feeling burnt out and said, “As soon as I sign the lease, then I’ll be happy and then I’ll be more productive at work and all these other things.” And the biggest lesson I’ve learned is, it’s more about how you craft your days rather than the location that you’re in. And so some of those bad habits while traveling have still carried over into being in one physical location. And so I think for me, it’s more of just building the daily routines that I can carry with me, whether I’m traveling or at home.
Steph Coates (01:49:10):
I think it’s been a really, really beneficial experience for me to be rooted in one place because I think for me I was really seeking community and I was really seeking this idea of belonging somewhere. And being on the road for so long and hopping from city to city or place to place every month, it gave me an excuse not to commit to relationships and it gave me an excuse to always avoid intimacy with other people. And so to be able to not be stuck in one place, but be rooted in one place where really leaning into that discomfort of saying, “I really want to be vulnerable with people and I really want to have this building of trust where you see someone repeatedly and it’s not just a short term friendship or a short term relationship.” And so that’s been a really beautiful thing that’s come out of being in one place.
Steph Coates (01:49:54):
I think that like Sam had said, there’s certain personality types where someone might feel totally okay with being a little bit more on the nomadic side and they can build community wherever they go. And someone else might only derive joy out of relationships that they fostered for 10 years and they really feel at home where they grew up. And so for me, I’m learning that I do err or lean towards the side of feeling connected to anyone, whether it’s someone I met today or someone that I’ve known for 10 years. And it’s more about, I think I’ve learned to be able to open up quite quickly and be vulnerable quite quickly. And so that’s given me the ability to, I think, foster deeper relationships on the road. And so after my lease ends in December of this year, maybe I’ll try the nomad thing again. I think that each experience that I do, whether it’s living abroad internationally or signing lease in Colorado and then maybe doing the digital nomad wilderness for a while, I think each experience is teaching me a little bit more about myself. And so it’s been fun to just gather information about myself and how I behave and what I like and what I don’t like through each of these just throwing myself into these varied experiences.
Dr. Casey Means (01:50:59):
That actually reminds me of one other surprise I think I’ve had that I still haven’t fully, I mean, I’m in the middle of it right now. But basically I think because I was traveling for 14 months or 15 months, I’m not sure exactly how many months, but I got used to not having a community right around me. And it was really about visiting people. And my community, it’s just inherently spread out now because I was moving around. And so also with remote work and the fact that we’re constantly communicating online with our teammates. And I feel super close with my teammates, and even though we don’t see each other very often, we’re not physically together, but we oddly enough through the power of technology and loom videos, you do feel connected to people. And even through the writing that we all do and the memos and all that stuff.
Dr. Casey Means (01:51:51):
And so I’ve got into Bend and I actually haven’t done anything to really build a community here yet. And it’s almost like, “Well, yeah, my community is all around the country and I’ve got my work community on the computer who’s basically there 24 hours a day.” There’s someone, we’re all on different time zones, we all work at different times. And so it’s like almost like this, I do think there’s a big part of what Steph’s saying is I get a lot of pleasure in the day to day just interactions with people at the gym or at the grocery store. If I go to a coffee shop, that actually brings me a lot of joy to have those sort of …
Dr. Casey Means (01:52:24):
But it’s almost like this world has changed the way I feel like I need community in a place and that’s been surprising to me. Because I thought I would come here and be like, “I want to join a bunch of clubs and meet a bunch of people.” And it just hasn’t hit me yet. Which I’m kind of like, “Is this a problem?” But I think it’s kind of the world we’re living in. And also back to the mindfulness thing of just kind of being very content with what is, and not feeling that there’s a gap that I necessarily need to always fill. But I am curious to see how this unfolds and evolve. And I think I will probably set some goals for myself of like, “I’m going to join a hiking group,” or something like that. But it also might be partially age, just feeling like my community is pretty stable. But I’m fascinated by this, “Why don’t I feel more of this urge to get out and form this community?” And so I’ve been exploring that.
Dr. Casey Means (01:53:18):
But that’s been a big surprise for me. And I’m interesting to see what happens this summer. But having that feeling of like, “Am I being anti-social?” But also just realizing this is the world we live in, our communities are dispersed.
Steph Coates (01:53:30):
There’s an article, I’m not sure if you guys are familiar with, is it Derek Sievers or Derek Seavers? He writes online a lot. And he wrote this article, ironically, it was, I just pulled it up. It was back in 2012 that he wrote it. But it’s called, “You Don’t Have To Be a Local.” And the gist of it is, there are local people and there are global people. And like you had just said, some of us do lean towards wanting to be globally connected with people from all over the world and preferring to have these online digital communities, which is much easier to do today than it was 20 years ago.
Steph Coates (01:54:02):
And so I agree with you. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with leaning into whatever suits you best. Of maybe it is having more of a digital online community and keeping loose ties with people from all over the world, versus being very siloed in one specific physical location and only knowing the 2000 people in your hometown. It’s so cool to live in a world where we can, we can be best friends with someone from across the Atlantic Ocean and still keep in touch with them every day. And so it is interesting to see how human connection doesn’t fall into this very narrow form anymore. And there’s many ways to feel connected, even if it’s not with your own local community.