Digital Nomads
April 1, 2014 by Brennan Gamwell

When we debuted this video on Digital Nomads, we had no idea how many people were out there already living this amazing, adventurous lifestyle! We held a contest asking Digital Nomads to share their stories, and nearly 2,000 poured in from around the world. Glenn and Dixie Dixon’s stood out. As you’ll see from this glimpse into their lives, they exemplify what it means to be location independent.

Glenn Dixon and his wife, Dixie, are enjoying their latest location as Digital Nomads: San Cristobal de las Casas, a picturesque city nestled in the forested mountains of southern Mexico.

The town celebrates almost constantly and for any reason — a fitting lifestyle for Digital Nomads making the most of their adventures. “The vibe is a Mexican version of New Orleans,” described Glenn. “You always hear fireworks and bottle rockets going off.”

These celebrations are something Glenn and Dixie wouldn’t have experienced back home in Texas, where Glenn worked in information technology and Dixie as a court reporter. They’re both grateful for the change, and the chance to learn about the world outside of the United States.

“Travel reveals truth,” said Glenn. “Different can be good. Sometimes normal is something to escape from.”

The Dixons have been Digital Nomads for three years — first traveling across the U.S. in 2011, then recrafting their careers to work via the Internet before going abroad in 2012.

When they first started thinking about pulling up their roots and traveling, Glenn and Dixie took inspiration from bloggers championing early retirement. “We simply didn’t want to work for employers until we were in our 70s,” Glenn said.

They decided they didn’t need to wait to follow their dream of location independence. Both in their 50s, and nearly 15 years from formal retirement, the Dixons started making sacrifices so they could go Nomad: they started paying off debt, increased their savings, sold their cars and eventually their house, moving into an apartment to save money.

On Apr. 1, 2011, Glenn and Dixie officially quit their jobs and embarked on a tour of the United States with nothing more than a car and a tent — until they upgraded to an SUV pulling a pop-up camper, which they called home for seven months while crisscrossing the country.

They traveled from Bakersfield, Calif., to Detroit, Mich.; from Seattle, Wash. and back to Dallas, TX. Along the way, they hiked, explored most of the country’s major national parks, and met an entire cast of unique characters — bikers, hippies, and other RV-ers — while spending nights in campgrounds and parking lots.

In 2012, wanderlust struck again. They packed everything they owned into carry-on luggage — they didn’t check a single bag — and spread their wings internationally to Mexico.

Glenn and Dixie spent the next year exploring ways to make money online, to avoid burning through all of their savings before their retirement funds became available. “Unfortunately, these early attempts proved futile,” Glenn explained.

By 2013, Glenn realized they were running out of money while they experimented with incomes sources that were newfangled, temporary, and insecure. He decided to hone a skill he already had: building websites.

“I attended a WordCamp and was readily accepted as a fellow developer,” Glenn said. “I needed no degree or years of experience. And rather than spending months of time and lots of money on marketing my own site, I started signing up on freelance sites.”

Glenn started doing freelance work via the Internet, making enough money to finance their travels while doing work that helps him learn new skills and stay sharp as a blogger, Web designer, and WordPress developer.

Glenn and Dixie also save money by house sitting — staying in homes for free in exchange for house and pet-sitting services — using websites like MindMyHouse and Housecarers. So far, they’ve circled Latin America, visiting Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Their current home in San Cristobal de las Casas costs $265/month for a furnished apartment.

For their next voyage, the couple have their eyes set on Patagonia in South America — or, as Glenn puts it, “We’re going south until we see penguins.”

Glenn has simple words of encouragement for others thinking of going Nomad, regardless of where they are on their career path: “If we can do it, anyone can.”

Follow Glenn and Dixie’s adventures on Vagabondians, their Digital Nomad blog.

 

Brennan Gamwell

Communications Manager

Brennan Gamwell is a Communications Manager at oDesk, where he focuses on managing the customer reference program to share the inspiring stories of the amazing professionals using the platform. Brennan brings with him extensive experience in non-profit and advocacy communications from his time in Washington, DC, and is just slightly obsessed with grammar and punctuation (especially hyphens). He holds a Bachelor's degree in international communications… read more