Esther Susag’s Leap: From Rural Minnesota To A Life Of Travel And Photography As A Digital Nomad

Meet The Traveler is a series where we interview one lifestyle traveler from around the world. These travelers range from being digital nomads, location independent entrepreneurs, or simply so passionate about seeing the world that they’ve fully integrated travel into their lifestyle. Our travelers will bring us into their world, sharing their transition story, what they do to support their lifestyle, and giving us insight into their life as a traveler.

If you’re looking for inspiration to transition to this lifestyle, want to meet other people in the community, or are simply curious to know how others live and split their time, then you don’t want to miss this series!

Esther Susag Traveler, Content Creator

Credit: Esther Susag

Meet The Traveler: Travel Content Creator Esther Susag

We like to start things off by knowing the behind-the-person story. We love getting intimate and learning about what drives a person to be who they are. Let’s skip the small talk, and head right into some more passionate questions.

Could you tell us a bit about your journey? Who were you in a past life, and who are you now?

Well to begin, I grew up in a very small town surrounded by animals and corn fields. I was definitely more isolated growing up and had to learn how to entertain myself and keep myself occupied.

I eventually moved to the Twin Cities where I attended university for communications and journalism. I dabbled with many different career paths that I thought were the ones right for me before I decided to take a route that didn’t follow the status quo all together. And from there is truly where this whole journey began from.

Where are you from originally?

I’m originally from a small town in Minnesota!

What are the things you’re most passionate about currently?

I am passionate about travel, photography, people, and being the best version of myself that I can be. Every day I strive to better myself in some way and continue to work towards my goals and ambitions and that’s something that is a passion for me!

When did you first get interested in traveling?

When I was 18, I had a lot of firsts. I saw both the ocean and left the country for the first time. Granted, it was only to Canada for a rugby tournament (for Minnesota, that doesn’t always count). But, I didn’t travel out of the country again for another two years.

Then my sophomore year of college, I went to Ecuador to study and it changed my life. I had never experienced anything like it, but it felt so natural. I loved being able to experience a lifestyle and community so different from what I’ve known. So from there, I knew I wanted to keep exploring, and I had the opportunity to do a program called Semester at Sea, where you study on a ship for a semester and we went all around Asia and Africa, exploring 12 countries and 15 major cities. This is what solidified my love for travel and adventure and really set the bar for me.

I knew that I wouldn’t feel fulfilled if I stopped exploring and experiencing all these unique places and cultures

Meet The Traveler: Content Creator Esther Susag

Credit: Esther Susag

When did you realize that you wanted to make travel a lifestyle? Was there a trigger point?

I don’t know if there was necessarily a trigger point, but there just was a feeling deep down that I knew that I wouldn’t feel fulfilled if I stopped exploring and experiencing all these unique places and cultures. I kept picturing myself doing anything else and I just felt like I would be disappointing myself.

Also, my love for photography goes hand in hand with traveling. Being able to capture all these incredible places and hopefully inspire people to go out there and explore – makes it a dream for me.

I wouldn’t want to do anything else. There is something about being able to see how no matter where you are in the world, our daily lives might vary from one another, but foundationally, there is so much that we all can relate to.

How has it changed your life?

Oh man. I don’t even know where to begin. I know it sounds so cliche but I have no idea who or where I would be at this point in my life if I hadn’t decided to take the risk of not following the traditional path of getting a 9-5 job right outside of college.

And believe me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I seriously considered so many jobs multiple times during these last 5 years. But, I keep coming back to this gut feeling of knowing that I am just not built for that specific lifestyle and routine.

I am very ADHD, I was diagnosed at a very young age. So, a large part of my growing up was learning how to manage that and find alternative solutions to everyday obstacles. My mind is always racing with thoughts and ideas, it’s literally like a ping pong ball in my head. Traveling for some reason just makes sense to me. The spontaneity, problem solving, and adrenaline is something that gets me so excited. Finding this thing that I am good at has changed me so much for the better because it showed me that anything is possible, you just have to want it bad enough and be willing to make the sacrifices.

How did you go about making the transition to a lifestyle traveler? Was it a seamless transition or a bit difficult?

It’s all about finding the right opportunities. For me, working around the world has been the easiest way for me to travel the way I want to, while still maintaining financial stability. But, I don’t think that transitioning into a lifestyle that isn’t your “average lifestyle” is ever very seamless. There are always going to be challenges and obstacles, but I am lucky and immensely grateful for the opportunities I have been given. For me, the transitions could have been a lot worse and a lot more challenging.

Could you elaborate on what you do for work? Do you work remotely for a company, freelance, or have your own location independent business?

Typically, I have found a place that provides benefits like housing and flights to the destination and I use that as my home base and main source of income. But I also run a travel Instagram account (@esthersusag). On my Instagram, I have been lucky enough to work with various travel and lifestyle brands and create content, promote, or help with their marketing campaigns and that’s what takes up the majority of my time!

How do you manage working and traveling? Are there any specific apps you use to manage your work and lifestyle?

Well luckily, everything that I do as a “job” is travel-related. This makes it really easy to manage the two. Being a travel photographer and content creator is truly the best job that I can imagine for me personally, so it doesn’t really seem like work. Honestly, I love it so much that I need to force myself to take breaks from editing or working on content because I don’t realize how much time has passed.

But apps that I use on a daily basis are the Preview app for helping me organize my feed and Lightroom for all of my photo needs.

What is your preferred method of traveling/living? Do you move constantly/stay at a few places for a few months/have a base/multiple bases?

I could do either. I have done the whole stay in one spot to save money and then go backpacking for months at a time. But, I have also lived in one place and used that as my home base for years as a way to bop around. It is really nice to be able to feel like you actually know a place, instead of just briefly visiting for a few days here and there.
Meet The Traveler: Content Creator Esther Susag

Credit: Esther Susag

What seasons, if any, do you prefer to chase?

As much as I love skiing, and would love to continue to ski all over the world. I definitely prefer the sunshine and ocean so much. And if there are mountains there, then I am in the perfect spot for me. I just love all of the hiking, boating, swimming, and just being outside that you can do with the warmer seasons!

What destinations do you consider to be the best for digital nomads/location independent lifestyles? Why?

Anywhere there is a good wifi so that you can continue to explore but maintain your remote career!

Related: Best Neighbourhoods For Digital Nomads In Barcelona

How do you go about making new friends/dating while traveling?

I am very outgoing and I love to ask questions, especially when I am solo traveling. One of my favorite things to do is go to a restaurant and talk with another person by themselves or even the waiter and just get to know more about what it’s like in whatever place I’m currently in, and get a local’s perspective.

How do you keep your long-distance friendships/relationships alive?

Facetime or the app, Marco Polo. Marco Polo has truly been the biggest game-changer for me to be able to keep up with all of my family and friends back home. It’s great because you send videos back and forth and so you don’t have to worry about lining up the time zones and talking to someone at 3 a.m. your time but 3 p.m. their time.

I am also so grateful for the people in my life that have been willing to put in the little extra effort to keep in touch with me while I’m away. I know it’s not easy, but it really does show how much they care.

What is it that you like most about the traveler lifestyle?

I love being able to constantly see something new or if it isn’t necessarily a new place, but being able to get to know it even better. And the people. The people that you meet are the people that you want to be around. They generally all want the same thing as you and it’s just such a gift to be able to make all these connections all over the world.

Is there anything you dislike about the traveler lifestyle?

Just like with anything, there are pros and cons to a digital nomad lifestyle as well. A major sacrifice that I have to make is not being able to see my friends and family as much as I would like to. That is by far the hardest part. I have missed so many big moments in my friend’s and families’ lives and it’s no easy thing to just get over.

I also sacrifice stability and the opportunity to really be a part of a community and a structured lifestyle. There’s a lot of unknowns that come with this lifestyle and that’s something that I am always struggling with.

What’s something that’s currently missing from your life? Is there something stopping you from getting it?

More time in my day! I wish I had more hours in the day because there is so much that I want to be able to do and I feel like no matter how early I get up, I am always running out of time.

Is there something you know now about the traveler lifestyle that you wish you knew before making the switch?

I wish I had known that everything will work itself out. The number of stressful times I had, just unsure of the future and where I was headed or how I was going to keep sustaining this lifestyle – well it was a lot. I wish I knew to just trust my gut and enjoy the ride. 🙂

There are endless possibilities and opportunities and sometimes the best doors open just by taking the chance.

Meet The Traveler: Content Creator Esther Susag

Credit: Esther Susag

Do you see yourself living this lifestyle forever? Or will you go back to a more “traditional” life at some point?

That’s honestly a very tough question to answer. I don’t think that I will ever go back to a more “traditional” lifestyle per se, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t eventually have my place that I get to come back to that’s closer to my friends and family. That is my end goal, while still being able to travel and do what I love, but always being able to come back to the people I’m closest with.

What’s your best advice for someone wanting to transition to a life of travel?

Just do it. Take the risk and if it’s not for you, that’s okay! You can always change directions, but you might as well try or else you will never know. There are endless possibilities and opportunities and sometimes the best doors open just by taking the chance.

Where can people connect with you?

You can type in my name Esther Susag on pretty much any platform and I will come up! 🙂

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Meet The Traveler: Content Creator Esther Susag

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