Brandon Pearce has been travelling the world while running his own business for the last eight years. What makes Brandon’s story especially interesting is the fact that he and his wife have built a nomadic lifestyle while bringing up young family. We asked Brandon to tell us a bit about how he became a digital nomad, the benefits of living a nomadic lifestyle as a family, the concept of ‘worldschooling’ and much more.
Please can you give us some background on who you are, where you’re from and what you do as a digital nomad?
Hi I’m Brandon Pearce. We’re a family of 5 (3 daughters, now 13, 11, and 5) from the USA. We’ve been traveling since 2009 and have visited and lived in 32 countries so far. We fund this mostly through my online business, MusicTeachersHelper.com which helps independent music teachers master the business side of their teaching business.
We also started the Family Adventure Summit, a conference for families interested in long-term travel and location independence. We connect in person around the topics of travel, entrepreneurship, education, community, and other areas of interest to digital nomad families.
What is a typical day like for you?
Totally depends on the day. But typically I’ll get up with the sun (or later) and shower, exercise, read, write, plan, and then get to work on my most important tasks of the day across the various projects I’m working on. I’ll get up and stretch and move every 30-60 minutes while at the computer, which really helps my energy levels.
At certain periods of the during the day, I’ll also go connect with my wife and kids, go for a walk, play or sing music, or do something to shake things up a bit. Evenings are often spent with friends or doing something fun as a family. And usually 1-2 days per week we’ll go somewhere fun to explore a new place nearby.
What pushed you and your family towards a nomadic lifestyle?
We looked ahead to our future, and just saw more of the same. We wanted to expand our minds and give our kids (and ourselves) a broader view of the world and new experiences to help shape us and connect us to the rest of the planet.
What is the first thing you do when you arrive in a new place?
Rest. Though not always before we find the wifi password. 🙂
Can you tell us about the benefits and challenges of living a nomadic lifestyle as a family?
The benefits for me are in the shake-up of routine, location, people, and energy. It gets me in different thought patterns, gets me seeing myself and my life in different ways, and helps me to appreciate the different experiences in the places I’m in. In short, it’s about continued growth, and an increased self-awareness.
The challenges for me are in building community, and creating strong enough routines so I can create and produce the work I’m passionate about. In other words, keeping the balance.
How has your lifestyle affected your relationships with people back ‘home’?
At first, it was difficult. Many of them didn’t understand why we would sell our house and possessions and do something so crazy. But over time, and with repeated extended visits back home (and them to visit us), we’re actually feeling closer to some members of our family than we were when we lived in the same city.
On the other hand, some extended family and friends have more or less fallen out of our lives for various reasons, which is fine, as we’ve developed a new network of amazing friends who feel like family.
What does the word ‘home’ mean to you?
To me, home is a feeling. Of safety, acceptance, nostalgia, and love. And I believe it can be created anywhere.
Has anything ever scared you as a digital nomad and how did you deal with it?
I once saw a man being beaten up on the streets of Quito, Ecuador, and the police standing around doing nothing about it. But most of my fears have come with little things like worrying that airport security would take away my possessions or border control wouldn’t let me through because I didn’t answer their questions to their satisfaction.
Do you prefer to travel slowly or quickly and why?
Slowly because it gives us time to settle into a place, experience the culture and community more fully, and set up routines of work and play, so we don’t experience “travel burnout”.
How do you think your attitude to life would have differed if you had never moved away?
I think I would have remained a judgmental, closed-minded, self-righteous know-it-all. (Without even recognizing it.) lol. I lived in a completely different bubble of reality that was only popped once we placed ourself in a new environment and gave ourselves the space the grow.
Can you tell us about one or more of your favourite moments as a nomad?
They tend to be moments of heightened emotion and awe, such as the floating lantern festival in Thailand, seeing the glaciers in New Zealand, or doing breathwork in Bali. But sometimes it’s just when I take a moment to appreciate my kids laughter, or the smells and sounds of wherever I’m at.
How do you choose where to go next?
Wherever we feel drawn to, usually because it’s a contrast from where we’ve been recently, but also because we have friends there, or we’re attending an event, it’s nearby other places we’re visiting, or we’re want to see some natural or manmade wonder.
What are the main aspects of your personality (and your family’s) that have allowed you to live as a digital nomad?
The willingness to follow our intuition – when we know what we want but we don’t know the why or how, we’re confident enough to take a step into darkness to see how it works out. Also, persistence. When we know what we want, and we do know the why and the how, we work hard and don’t stop until we get it.
Do you have any daily routines or habits that you always stick to?
Yes, daily exercise (tai chi, qi gong, yoga), reading, writing, gratitude journal, daily planning, and working on my most important tasks. Also, keeping a daily time log of how I’m spending my time, and then summarizing it at the end of each day. You can read more about my time tracking techniques and reasons here: Time Mastery Trio – 3 Ways to Track Your Time for Improved Productivity.
(This might sound like a ridiculous question but…) Do you take holidays? If so where and how?
When we have a long-term home base, we feel more like we’re “living” in a place than traveling. And in that situation, yes, we do take holidays, sometimes to nearby places, and sometimes to faraway places (often as a visa run). Sometimes these are short trips of a few days or weeks, or sometimes they extend for a few months before returning “home”.
That said, with several online businesses that are constantly running, I tend to “work” most days of the week, even if just for an hour or two. Taking an extended holiday from these is something I’d like to make time for in the near future.
How do you stay healthy when you are on the move a lot?
We try to get 8 hours of sleep per night, eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables while avoiding processed foods and eating meat sparingly (if at all). We also try to exercise and walk a lot. Family dance parties help, too. Oh, and thinking positive thoughts, supporting each other with hugs and love. 🙂
Please can you tell us about why worldschooling is important to you?
We believe that by giving our kids the freedom to explore things they’re interested in, while exposing them to experiences that open their minds, they’ll learn how to make good decisions at a young age and have a broad (global) framework with which to place their experiences as they learn and grow.
What is an issue that you feel especially passionate about?
Freedom in education. Once you know how to read and write and do basic math, you can teach yourself anything these days, as long as you have access to resources like the library and Internet. So I’m strongly opposed to the idea of compulsory school for the majority of the world, or of leading children through a curriculum of subjects that are irrelevant and uninteresting to them at their current phase of life, especially when their performance is judged through grades and results in social shaming.
I believe children should be free to pursue what they’re passionate about, just as adults should be.
What is the best food you have eaten as a digital nomad?
Indian Butter chicken from Sri Ananda Bawang restaurant in Penang, Malaysia. So many flavors in every bite! We came back several times and that dish never got old from first to last bite.
As a musician, how has traveling to many parts of the world affected what you listen to and how you play?
I’ve always loved world music, but being exposed to different sounds and rhythms in person has made me appreciate it even more. And there are artists I think I wouldn’t have been introduced to any other way. For example, check out Ngo Quoc Linh – not super well known outside of Vietnam, but have you ever heard someone sing like that before?
Which books have had a big impact on you?
The Power of Less by Leo Babaota
The 4-hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Soul of Money by Lynn Twist
What are the creature comforts you cannot live without?
My laptop (currently a Macbook Pro)
Please can you tell us about any other inspiring digital nomads you have met?
So many. Wouldn’t want to leave any out. But come to the Family Adventure Summit and you’ll meet many of them. 🙂