11 Digital Nomads Share Moments Of Pure Emotion

Travel is glorious/notorious for getting you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes it’s a mind-blowing sunrise over the rim of a volcano and other times it’s a desperate night spent huddled in bus shelter against a typhoon outside. Traveling reliably drives you toward the extremes of experience, the highest highs and the lowest lows. Ask anyone who’s spent time on the road and they’re likely to confess that’s what they love about it. And it’s what keeps them coming back. The time spent at those poles are the moments we remember and the stories we tell. So, (because who doesn’t *dig* story time) we asked 11 digital nomads to share moments from the road when they experienced an emotion in it’s purest form – joy, fear, exaltation, madness. Here’s what they told us…


Digital nomad Amit Gupta and his best friend on a road trip Two years ago we were taking a road trip across the USA – me, my girlfriend, and my 10-month-old puppy. On a motorcycle with a sidecar that I’d only bought a couple days before we left. We’d just learned to ride motorcycles a few days before that. Oh yeah, and a hurricane hit the east coast just as we were leaving.
On this particular day, we’d left a warm cabin and had a full day’s ride ahead of us. It started raining, and it was cold. Colder still on a motorcycle at 60mph. Two hours later, soaked and shivering, we pulled over to a motel just to warm up for an hour. But we couldn’t stay — our itinerary, and a flight we’d booked, absolutely required the distance we’d set out to make that day. So we got back on the bike. As night came, the cold rain turned to frozen rain. I looked over at Jessa and saw she was hours past miserable, shivering, and clutching our pup for heat. I looked back to the road, teeth gritted, trying to feel my fingers. I couldn’t. I turned inward, searching for a place that was worse than where I was right then — someplace that by comparison would make where I was feel okay.
Then we rounded a corner and an explosion of reds, oranges, and yellows appeared ahead of us. It was the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in my life. I started smiling uncontrollably as we drove straight into it. My body had been cold, hunched tightly, and shivering for hours, and just seeing that sight made me feel warmer and relaxed. I’ll never forget that sight, it made the whole day worth it.

Ben Hebert, BenHebert.com

Digital nomad Ben Hebert soaring over Colombia in a parachute I used to own a big electronic music blog and travel to festivals all over the world. However, there’s one venue in the states called Red Rocks in Colorado that’s iconic. It’s an open-air amphitheater literally carved into a mountain. I’d never been there, but eventually was able to secure media passes to a big electronic festival. I booked a ticket and met up with one of my writers who I’d never actually met before.
The feeling was pure ecstasy being there and hearing the music boom across the mountain. At one point Adventure Club played their remix of Foxes “Youth” and the lyric, “Don’t tell me our youth is running out, it’s only just begun” really stuck with me. I was like I’m here now, I did this shit and you know what I’m only getting started on what I am going to accomplish in my life.

Clay Hebert, ClayHebert.com

Digital nomad Clay Hebert speaking at MisfitCon When I went to Italy in 2006, I had a “work-life” epiphany. Watching the Italians, the concept of “working to live” vs. “living to work” was instantly clear and a stark contrast to how most of us operate in the States. In Italy, life was primary and work was secondary, and people seemed extremely happy. But even “working to live” isn’t ideal. The best path is to combine your work and life in such a way that it’s seamless, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that. When I wake up on Saturday morning, I’m happy to open my laptop and work because I truly love what I do. But if I want to surf on Thursday at 10am, I can organize my week to make that happen.

Clint Johnston, Triphackr

Digital nomad clint johnston at everest base camp My trek to Everest Base Camp was the most physically and mentally challenging trip of my life. My head was pounding from the altitude for days on end with little relief. Sleeping through the night at high altitude was usually impossible. But the moments when I sat down to rest and just gazed at the Himalayas made it all worth it. Reaching Base Camp was one of the highlights of my life. I remember trying to eat breakfast in Gorak Shep (5,648 m) and was completely miserable, but then I remembered where I was and my madness slowly turned to joy. For some, it is just the beginning of their journey to the top, but for me, it was the journey of a lifetime.


Digital nomad Conni Biesalski in Ubud Market with her Minaal Carry-on I was on a one month yoga and meditation retreat in one of my favorite places in the world: Mazunte on the Pacific Coast in Mexico. Every day I was in my own personal paradise – inside of myself. Every single minute during that month was pure joy for me. Every single sunrise, every single walk on the beach, every single sunset – it was sometimes really too much to handle.

Derek Sivers, Sivers.org

Digital nomad Derek_Sivers presenting in front of map Work-wise, my best moments were when I blew off a conference I was supposed to attend, and just spent 3-4 gloriously silent days in my hotel room, writing, thinking, and working. Travel-culture-wise, I love when you’re just deeply immersed in a culture that feels so foreign. Like on a scooter in traffic in Vietnam, helmet on, looking like everyone else.
Then bigger-picture: when those moments that used to feel so foreign now feel so comfortable. When places that used to seem weird (like Japan) suddenly make perfect sense.


Digital Nomad Elisa Doucette Rolling Her Eyes At The Thought Of Over Packing I love the sense of wonder we get to experience on the road. The first European castle I saw in person, I was practically ripping my friend’s sleeve off from tugging on it so hard, gushing about the amazingness of this stone CASTLE that had been around for hundreds of years like a toddler. He smiled briefly and shrugged; he had traveled Europe extensively and seen a bunch of castles. Didn’t faze him anymore.
When I feel myself getting too jaded, not taking in the amazingness of the world around me, I’ll try to think back on that moment and remember how it felt. Then try to find something, no matter how simple, to stare in wonder at. Could be a castle, could be a traditional festival dance performed by hundreds, could be a single mom in a restaurant corralling children, could be an email from a person letting you know they appreciate you and care. Whether we are on the road or sitting back in our home countries, there is so much to see that way. You just have to WANT to see it.


Digital nomad James Clark in the Desert I experienced all of those emotions [joy, fear, exaltation, madness] on the way from West to East Timor. What got me to that place was a 12-hour minibus ride. Mad because of the uncomfortable seats and winding roads. Mad because of the uncomfortable seats and winding roads. Fear because at hour nine, the bus broke down on a narrow road that winds along a seaside cliff, and then the engine caught fire. We all piled out and then it started pouring rain with nowhere to take cover. Joy because another minivan came along about 20 minutes later and let us pile into their already full van. Exaltation when we finally arrived in Dili, East Timor and I could change out of my wet clothes.


Digital Nomads James and Susan of Savvy Backpacker loving every minute of life on the road There have been so many. The first time I visited Paris I was probably 22. I was traveling alone and I was toward the end of an eight-week trip. I didn’t even want to visit Paris. I guess I thought it was cliche and I was focused on seeing the less-visited parts of Europe. The first day I walked and walked. I was just amazed at everything. I didn’t even have a plan but I seemed to come across one beautiful thing after another. It hit me that I was in love with the city. And five years later I moved there with my wife. We loved simply walking around the streets. The cafes. The people. The metro. Everything. We just loved soaking it in. We loved simply walking around the streets. The cafes. The people. The metro. Everything. We just loved soaking it in. Another great moment was when I went skydiving from a helicopter in Switzerland. I never had any desire to go skydiving but a guy I met at the hostel wanted to go so I went into town with him because he wanted to book his jump. I went along because I wanted to get out of the hostel and take a walk. When we got there, it looked like so much fun that I whipped out the credit card and booked a jump for the next day. It was crazy. I think I hit joy, fear, madness, and exaltation all at the same time. The “high” from the jump lasted all day.


Digital nomad Liz Carlson at the Tasman Glacier Without a doubt, one of my best travel moments was when I was able to gallop on a horse for the first time in remote Kazakh Mongolia. I traveled by horse in a group on the Mongolian Altai for a few weeks and was always a nervous rider, never wanting to go faster than a quick trot or slow canter. Towards the end of the trip after a very long and tiring day, I decided to give it a go. We had just descended a steep mountain pass and had arrived in a long flat valley filled with tall grasses with our camp at the other end. The wranglers asked who wanted to gallop, and I said I’d give it a try. Slowly our contingent of wild horses started to go faster and faster until I could feel my white horse slip into a gallop. It was one of those amazing moments where I was surrounded by friends, laughing with the amazing Kazakh riders listening to them sing and chant as a dozen of us galloped together into the camp. Hopping down I think I had the biggest smile on my face as all the riders came over and hugged me. Pure euphoria!

Mark Manson, MarkManson.net

Digital Nomad Mark Manson Surveys Rio It’s hard to zero in on just one emotional moment while traveling. I’ve been stranded in the middle of the Vietnamese countryside with a wrecked motorbike, danced on the beaches of Brazil as the sun came up, shocked and horrified by some of the world’s worst poverty. I can’t really single out just one. And whatever “does it” for me probably wouldn’t “do it” for everybody else.

Neverending Story

Almost everyone we’ve ever asked about a moment when they experienced raw emotion on the road started by saying something like Mark Manson, “It’s hard to zero in on just one emotional moment while traveling… I can’t really single out just one. ” We couldn’t agree more. So then, why does this post only go to eleven? We haven’t heard from *you,* yet… Drop your ‘moments’ in the comments or hit us up at feedback[at]minaal[dot]com.

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