Danika – one half of the travelling duo behind No Destinations – shares with us her best luxury travel trips, and reveals her top secrets for a successful life as a digital nomad.
You’re story of how you up and left your lives in San Fran to travel the world, is super inspiring! What made you decide to start the travel website while you go about your globe trotting?
Our initial intent was to just document our travels but… we’re both perfectionists and creative so we thought that if we were going to do it, it had to be done right.
When we first started our trip (over 15 months ago) I remember telling Chris that we had to have an awesome blog and about 15 minutes into the conversation, I was going a bit overboard with ideas. Chris (being the rational and realistic one) told me that we should start taking pictures first and see how it goes. You know, build an audience of sorts. Why spend all the time creating content if you have no one to share it with. So we started with Instagram, built a following and went from there.
Whilst you have backpacks you prefer luxury style travel – how do you decide where to go and where to stay? Do you pre-book before at arriving at a destination?
I hate my backpack, but if I was being honest with myself, it is really convenient and fits so much more than a carry on bag. Cant someone create a “backpack” that doesn’t look like a “backpack!”
We get travel inspiration from friends, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. We’re both visual people, so if something looks beautiful and interesting, we’ll look into visiting. At the start of our trip we pre-planned everything 3 months out. Over the months, we learned that just doesn’t work. Sometimes you’ll be visiting one place and realize that this other incredible city is only an hour away. If everything was perfectly planned there would be no chance for spontaneity.
Right now we’re in Seville planning where we’re going next. We’ll either go to Portugal, Copenhagen or Dublin. I’m going to start checking out pictures of places and seeing what looks best.
We also found that depending on the destination, booking plane tickets way in advance doesn’t really save you much, or you have to just pay a bit more for the convenience of having flexibility. We booked our apartment in Seville a few days before arriving, even though it’s high season and virtually every hotel is sold out.
So to answer you question clearly, yes we do pre-book, just not that far in advance.
Where is your favourite luxury stay and/or activity to date and why?
That is such a hard question! Here are mine:
- Stay at the private beach villa Iniala in Phuket
- Our trip to Milan at the Four Seasons
- Private boat trip to a secluded island in the Maldives with Kandolhu
- A private guided tour of the temples at Angkor in Siem Reap
- Doing tasting menus across Reykjavik Iceland
***If you asked me this question tomorrow my answers would probably change :-). Seriously I think almost everything we’ve done is a favourite.
Where do you think are the hottest destinations at current and why?
I think that the trendy places right now are Bali, Thailand and of course the major cities in Europe. BUT I think Malta, Sicily and Iceland should be the hottest. Yes definitely Iceland!
From one foodie to another, where has you’re favourite meal to date been, and why?
- Tasting menu at the Fish Market in Reykjavik. The ambiance was dark yet romantic and the food was just so inventive yet creative. They reconstructed traditional Icelandic dishes and it was just awesome.
- Eating $1 Buncha on a stool, down an ally on the streets of Hanoi. Probably the best Vietnamese (and cheapest meal of all time) we’ve both ever had.
- Tasting menu at Aziamendi in Phuket. This restaurant is at Iniala, which we also stayed at and is just absolutely amazing. The chefs are so creative and the atmosphere is really non- pretentious. I hate it when you go to a fancy dinner and the people are so stuffy.
- Margarita pizza at Da Michele in Napoli – Probably the best pizza I have ever had and responsible for 5lb weight gain…but so worth it. It was doughy, tomato and cheezy deliciousness in every bite!
- Bincho in Singapore – Anything hidden down and alley has to be amazing and Bincho didn’t disappoint. They do typical Japanese grilling and their specialty is chicken parts….all parts of the chicken. Definitely memorable.
And on the travel blogging front – Do you spend more time blogging or on your own businesses/consulting?
Chris spends more time with his own business and consulting, where as I’m transitioning into doing full time blogging and freelance writing.
How much of your time do you get to spend doing the fun stuff – exploring, relaxing etc?
Honestly, the majority of our time is spent doing the fun stuff…that’s why we started doing this. We don’t want to be restricted to a 9-5 or a specific amount of vacation time. We work really diligent and get our work done quickly. We know that the quicker & more efficient we work, the quicker we can go out and play.
So how do you split your time between No Destinations, consulting and travelling/having fun?
We do what we want and when we want and we know where our priorities are. If one of us has a big project due then we’ll stay in until it’s finished… yet we aren’t afraid to take a 3 hour lunch. I hope that makes sense 🙂
Does travel influences your work or work influence your travel more?
Hmmm, it’s a little bit of both. We aren’t afraid to say no to work, if it’s something we aren’t interested in. We are both really upfront about timelines and due dates with our clients, so that we both know what to expect. We aren’t afraid to add an extra few days to a client timeline, if we know we’re going somewhere awesome. With that being said, we always get a project completed on time. We never let our travels effect a due date. So the point is, be realistic when you quote a timeframe. If we have a lot of projects coming up, we’ll try to stay in a place for a few weeks, so that we can have time to go explore and work.
You’re both busy consulting in web development and branding/marketing. You’ve said on the blog that you’ve found it harder to work remotely that Chris. Did you have a handful of clients before you left?
Yes adjusting to being my own boss and being alone has been a bit of an adjustment. I loved my office in SF and my job. Although I prefer to work alone, I loved having the option to being able to open my door and do the whole water cooler chat thing…plus I really miss my white board wall.
Before we left, I did have a handful of clients and contacts that I reached out to. You know that saying, don’t burn your bridges…it has totally helped in this case. I have received work from people I haven’t spoken to in years.
And how have you worked to acquire clients on the road?
All of our work, comes from referrals or contacts of ours.
How would you recommend other’s best find web/digital marketing jobs whilst living as a digital nomad?
Make contacts and don’t be afraid to send an email to your network, letting them know what you’ve been up to. You would be surprised how many people might need your services.
You’ve been travel blogging for a while now, how do you think it’s changed over the last few years? Has it become harder to get into and be successful?
Yes it’s hard, and the competition is definitely there! I have learned that as long as we stay consistent and keep up to date with trends and whats going on in travel, you can be successful. It sounds easy, but staying consistent can be challenging!
How often do you do travel-related business with accommodation / tourism boards etc, and how would you recommend others go about approaching this type of work with their travel blogs?
Every time we travel somewhere new, we reach out to a tourist board and other relevant businesses to let them know we’re in town and to see how we can work together. My best piece of advice for reaching out to these companies, is don’t do the hard sell and don’t be afraid to say no. If a company says they aren’t interested be cool about it and don’t push them…it’s tacky.
Alternatively if someone reaches out to you and you don’t think working with them would be a fit, say thank you but no thanks. Trust me you’ll be happy you said no.
Where do you think are the best spots for digital nomads to being working from across the globe and why?
Anywhere you want to go – As long as you have WiFi and a working computer.
Your pictures are gorgeous and your social media following is thriving. Apart from posting beautiful, aesthetically pleasing and inspirational images, what are your top tips to grow social media following?
- Stay consistent
- If something isn’t getting engagement, delete it!
- Stay consistent
- Stay on topic. If your blog is about cars than it shouldn’t have fashion pics. If your blog is about luxury travel, than don’t post information about budget travel.
- Know your audience and what the expect
- And stay consistent (probably the most important tip)
Any plans to head back to San Fran?
No immediate plans yet…but I do miss that city!
What’s next for No Destinations?
That’s a good question. For now we’re happy traveling and making it all work, so we’ll keep doing this until we decide not to.
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