Member Spotlight: Ambar Januel, Digital Nomad

HoneyBook member spotlight: Ambar Januel

A year ago, HoneyBook member Ambar Januel ditched her car, her home in Los Angeles and the creative agency she co-founded to be a full-time digital nomad. Traveling the world with just a backpack and carry-on suitcase, she doesn’t know what life will look like in five years, let alone next month. “But that’s the beauty in it,” she says. She works as a community development strategist and consultant and is the creator of Notably Wild, a podcast about creatives and entrepreneurs that have stepped outside of cultural norms and broken societal rules. We caught up with her to learn what it means to be fully nomadic, the logistics of living out of a suitcase (we had so many questions!) and how she runs her business from anywhere. 

What is a digital nomad?

To put it simply, we’re nomadic and work from our computers. There’s lots of fun debate about how much time you need to spend nomadic to be a “nomad” or whether you can still have a home base and be a “digital nomad.” I don’t have a house or apartment I go back to, and at this point, I don’t imagine myself going back to LA when I’m ready to stop traveling full time.

To put it simply, we’re nomadic and work from our computers.

What inspired you to become a digital nomad?

It’s funny because a lot of my friends think this is just my lifestyle. As a kid we moved every year, living between the U.S. and Mexico. I’ve lived on the road my entire life, spending months camping, sleeping in cars, moving from house to house. The nomadic lifestyle is more natural to me than having a stable home (good luck future life partner)!

I’ve lived on the road my entire life, spending months camping, sleeping in cars, moving from house to house.

The first time I really heard the term “digital nomad” was from these two travelers who stayed with me while I was hosting an Airbnb in Los Angeles. It was about four years ago and they were traveling the world, working as digital nomads. I was so inspired by the fact that they were part of a community that happily chose to live the way I had been raised and in a way that is communal and exciting.

I ran an agency in LA for a few years, and it made it tough for me to travel full time. While I was doing it, I knew I wanted to get to the point of being fully nomadic. In May 2017, I took the leap. I left a long-term relationship, my agency, most of my belongings, and started traveling full time. It’s been an intense year seeing how my leave was a personal change as well. But it’s been incredible, and taught me so much about what I really need in life. Over the past year, I’ve learned to be a minimalist, become more comfortable with myself and what I truly need to be happy, and met so many incredible people.

HoneyBook member spotlight: Ambar Januel

What are the logistics like? Where do you shower/sleep/cook/work/keep your stuff?

Oh man! So many technical questions here! Well I should say first off, all digital nomads have different answers to this. The important thing is finding the right path for you and making sure that you’re always happy and comfortable. It’s good to challenge yourself to live differently, but what works for me might not work for others.

Depending on where in the world I am, I stay everywhere from Airbnbs, to staying with friends, to hotels or hostels. It honestly varies so much that in the past two months, I’ve done all of the above!

As far as work is concerned, I tend to work from cafes. If I’m joining other digital nomads for a community work session, then I’ll go to a co-working space, but I just prefer working out of cafes. I’m more productive because of the constant hustle and movement. I get a bit antsy in offices, even spaces like WeWorks.

With my possessions, I have this joke that my belongings are all over the world. I’ve left clothes with family and friends in different states and in Mexico. But here’s the thing, I now know that I really don’t need any of it! If all I were able to keep was my backpack (passport, laptop, iPad, notebook, etc.) and my suitcase (clothes, shoes, products, etc.) I would be 100% fine!

I did have a car when I lived in LA, but I got rid of it because it was the one thing that tied me down from having a fully nomadic lifestyle.

HoneyBook member spotlight: Ambar Januel

What possessions do you travel with?

I try to travel with as little as possible and usually do carry-on only. I laugh sometimes when I see men living as digital nomads traveling with just a backpack. I know a few women that do this too, but the fact is that it’s not that fun. A carry-on allows me to have what I truly need.

What’s in my backpack: Laptop, iPad, 1 book (the current one I’m reading), notebook, passport and docs, jewelry, makeup, wallet, extra tote bag, flip flops, water bottle, etc.

What’s in my carry-on: 3-4 pairs of shoes, 7 shirts, 2 pants, 2 shorts, 2 skirts, underwear, socks, bras, 5 dresses, 2 sweaters, 2 jackets, workout clothes, hair products and random health stuff like vitamins.

What’s in my carry-on: 3-4 pairs of shoes, 7 shirts, 2 pants, 2 shorts, 2 skirts, underwear, socks, bras, 5 dresses, 2 sweaters, 2 jackets, workout clothes, hair products and random health stuff like vitamins.

HoneyBook member spotlight: Ambar Januel

How do you pay the bills?

I work as a community development strategist and consultant. My clients are primarily tech companies and nonprofits. The majority of my work revolves around social impact, especially with STEM diversity, creative rights, and social justice.

What’s your favorite HoneyBook feature? 

Because I work remotely, I love being able to set up automatic invoicing and payment reminders with HoneyBook. It allows me to remember that I need to check in with my clients if I haven’t gotten paid yet and completely streamlines the process for me.

Because I work remotely, I love being able to set up automatic invoicing and payment reminders with HoneyBook.

Favorite place you’ve been a digital nomad?

I’m Mexican so I’m biased, but I seriously love spending time in Mexico City and southern Mexico. I was also in Costa Rica a couple months ago and fell in love with the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo.

How long do you stay in one place?

It varies! I’m trying to make my stays longer and longer. I’d prefer to be somewhere for up to 3 months, but at this time it’s usually between 1-3 weeks.

What are the best and worst things about being a digital nomad? 

The best thing about being a digital nomad is absolutely the people. Being exposed to so many different cultures and being part of a global community!

The worst is probably having to lug my stuff around. I don’t know how people that travel with more than carry-ons do it. When I’m traveling for shorter periods (a week or less) all I want to do is unpack my stuff and make a mess. It’s weird living out of a suitcase! Whenever I can I try to fold my clothes and put them on a shelf.

What does it take to be a digital nomad?

I get asked a lot about what I do for work and how others can do it, too. Here’s my favorite thing to respond with: “What do you do for work? Let’s turn that digital.” That’s it. Very simple. All of the lifestyle changes are really up to you and whether it’s something you’re willing to do or not. Creating a digital career at this point in time is a possibility for everyone.

I get asked a lot about what I do for work and how others can do it, too. Here’s my favorite thing to respond with: “What do you do for work? Let’s turn that digital.” That’s it. Very simple. 

HoneyBook member spotlight: Ambar Januel

What are the guests on your podcast like?

Our guests are from everywhere! They’re trail blazers, initiators, and creatively unique. Our first month features guests from all over the world. We had a digital nomad from Lithuania, two UI designers from Argentina, an artist from LA, and Natalie Franke, co-founder of the Rising Tide Society. For the month of August, we’ll be featuring guests that work in gender equality and are truly making a difference in this fight.

One of my recent guests, Pooja Kapahi, works with an incredible non-profit, Restless Development in India. It was fascinating hearing her story about being adopted as an Indian baby (this doesn’t happen very often as boys are culturally of more value) and how she managed to make it to the point where she is now giving back to her community. She was speaking at the UN this past winter!

How do people listen to Notably Wild?

They can visit our website at www.notablywild.com to subscribe and receive updates, follow us @notablywild on Twitter and Instagram, or simply search Notably Wild in Apple Podcasts!

HoneyBook member spotlight: Ambar Januel

Thank you so much, Ambar!

(photos from Ambar Januel)

 

honeybook member spotlight: Ambar Januel

Sobrina Pies

I'm a HoneyBooker, writing about small businesses, the people who run them, and tips and tricks to help them grow. HoneyBook helps you manage all aspects of your business from a central place, saving you time and money. From sending proposals, invoices and contracts to managing your projects and getting paid, HoneyBook gives you the freedom to do more of what you love. Try HoneyBook for free here: http://bit.ly/2IYCoXu

Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This