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Woman gives up career to work from the Himalayas

"Financial freedom isn't about being rich."

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Katie Macleod. (Katie Macleod via SWNS)

By Sarah Ward via SWNS

A backpacker who has visited nearly 100 countries told how she gave up a career at a top advertising agency - to work from the Himalayas.

Katie Macleod, 28, knew from a young age she did not want to be tied down by a mortgage and saved up during college breaks to go traveling.

After graduating, she got a job as a graphic designer at a London advertising agency and progressed through the hierarchy.

She described her job as "fast-paced, high-intensity and very demanding" and ultimately monotonous, with a 7 A.M. start and having to deal with crowds of commuters.

In 2018 she sacked it off to become a "digital nomad" - and now works from youth hostels around the world, after saving up £10,000 ($11,294) to get her started.

Katie, who is currently in Muscat, Oman, said people can get distracted by takeout coffees and new outfits, and said financial freedom is not about being rich.

She has visited Iraq and Syria as a traveller, and worked from Bosnia and Serbia.

Katie Macleod in Uzbekistan.(Katie Macleod via SWNS)
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"It is not the high pay, but the small expenses that make you able to afford a life of travel," said Katie, from Inverness, Scotland.

"You don't need a Starbucks coffee every day, a new outfit for every occasion, cancel your subscriptions and relieve yourself from any outgoings.

"It's likely that most of them are not necessary at all.

"Financial freedom isn't about being rich, it's about learning to live without counting on the next paycheck.

"Once you're in control of your finances, you'll find that you have more headspace to be in the moment on this planet.

"A life of full-time travel is much cheaper than being static with a mortgage, insurance, debts and a car."

She has worked from the Himalayas in India, had Zoom calls during sandstorms on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, finished a day of work to then climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, and finished many projects in airports.

"I love staying in hostels as they are the cheapest and best ways to meet fellow travelers," Katie said.

"They are also becoming better and better at tailoring their living spaces to those who work remotely.

"Most beds are now equipped with an internet connection, a plug and a privacy curtain.

"In the past, I used to find it a little challenging working from such places as people could not understand why I would be working on my laptop whilst they were enjoying a holiday.

"Nowadays , it's much easier to explain that this is my lifestyle and that I need to work to be able to afford the next flight ticket, even if that means being on my laptop whilst others prepare for the next pub crawl or walking tour."

She has colleagues on Zoom to chat to, and has spent every Christmas with her family and makes it home for weddings and christenings.

And she said knowing when to call it quits is an important skill for anyone wanting to enjoy freedom in their own life.

"Since I was in high school, every penny that I ever could save was intended to be spent traveling," Katie said.

"Whilst I was living in London, my initial plan was to save, save, save, then travel, travel, travel for as long as possible.

"However, as I slowly found clients online I realized that I could have an income, albeit small, to fund my travels so I could enjoy them for much longer."

Despite having a dream life Katie says she struggles to switch off due to remote working - and although she is unmaterialistic she still nags herself about not earning more.

"I wasn't always as good at drawing the line between work and travel, especially since my hours are so flexible," she said.

"Perhaps there was even a sense of guilt that I should be doing more, and earning more."

She suggested countries such as Malta and Bali were a good starting place for people wanting to bin the rat-race.

"The biggest daily challenge is living without any specific routine," she said.

"Digital nomads have to be very strong-minded and determined to maintain any kind of workout routine, sleeping pattern or eating habits.

"If this isn't done right, it can easily result in burnout.

"People seem to believe that digital nomads look as if they are always on one big holiday, but the reality is constant traveling can be exhausting."

Katie's blog can be found here.

Places Katie has visited as a digital nomad: (and in order):

Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Malta, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Egypt, Morocco, Portugal, Ireland, USA, Canada, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, India, Japan, South Korea, Lithuania, Latvia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, San Marino, Italy, UAE, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Jordan, Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Greece, Andorra, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Poland, Oman

Places Katie has visited as a traveler:

Mongolia, the Galapagos, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Bahamas, Cuba, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Qatar

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