Credit: Ejiro Oviri Meet The Traveler: Creative Director Ejiro Oviri
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?
The biggest detour from being myself was this moment I had where I thought becoming a lawyer was going to be the main thing I did with my life. Then I went and studied law and realised it wasn’t for me at all.
Before that, I wanted to be many things—a scientist, a football player, a writer, a singer/songwriter, a lion, a psychologist, an intelligence officer, a politician, and some other things I’ve forgotten. I actually think I’ve come back to who I was as a child as I’ve gotten older, and just realised that it’s not about what I want to “be” but what I want to “do”. I’ve always been interested in so many things, I just didn’t realise there were different ways to engage with them. I don’t think I ever wanted to settle on doing just one thing or living my life in just one way, and so now I don’t.
Where are you from originally?
What are the things you’re most passionate about currently?
Writing a novel, brand building, cultural futurism, lifestyle freedom, and terrifying workouts that target super specific, small parts of the body I never knew you could work on but make all the difference.
When did you first get interested in traveling?
For most of my early life my family only ever went to the south-east of Spain on holiday— exactly the same place, year after year. I know it was amazing that we could go on holiday each year and have that experience, but at the time I was desperate for something different.
During my first year at university, I decided I wanted to go somewhere after I finished that year. I wanted a completely different travel experience from anything I knew. One night I headed down to my college’s library so I could look at an atlas (no google maps then, and I love a good atlas). I flicked through map after map of different countries until I landed on China and it felt like it would fit exactly what I was looking for. I travelled around China for 6 weeks that summer and realised 2 things: I was not a backpacker and travel would be an integral part of my life.
When did you realize that you wanted to make travel a lifestyle? Was there a trigger point?
Around 2010 I started to get this feeling of restlessness and I think I was at the start of realising I didn’t want to stay in England for my entire life. I was uneasy about being where I was in the UK—fixed in one place, not knowing anything different or experiencing another way of living. And I knew small trips weren’t going to be enough to shake the feeling. I just couldn’t stand the idea of knowing how each week was going to unfold for the foreseeable future.
“It’s up to you to start being more authoritative about building the life you want.”
Credit: Ejiro Oviri
How did you go about making the transition to a lifestyle traveler? Was it a seamless transition or a bit difficult?
As I’ve gotten further into what I do, I’ve been very honest about my “work philosophy” when interviewing etc and talking to people I’m about to work with. It started with wrangling more days working from home than other people on my team would get, and then pushing that as far as I could, always making sure the quality of my work was good. I started to see that bosses etc with a growth mindset didn’t mind me doing this, and if they did, I knew it wasn’t going to be the right place for me to work long-term.
Bit by bit, I took steps towards how I wanted to work, even if at times it impacted me financially. Nowadays, I look for and try to create work opportunities that fit the way I want to live. I know my work is enhanced by autonomy in all respects, which includes location.
It definitely wasn’t a seamless transition, but difficult doesn’t come into it because I don’t think there was an alternative for me. I don’t do very well with centralised working. The reality of maintaining a daily routine of returning to the same place, spending more time (even if you get on with them) with colleagues than my friends or my partner, spending the majority of my day in a place that doesn’t fit my idea of a comfortable space than I do in my own home or place of choice, etc etc just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t believe that someone else should be able to decide how I work and live.
Could you elaborate on what you do for work? Do you work remotely for a company, freelance, or have your own location independent business?
At the moment I do a couple of things. I work as the Creative Lead for
CodeOp – a women’s, trans and non-conforming international coding school based in Barcelona working to bridge the gender gap in tech. We run full stack engineering bootcamps as well as product management and data analytics courses.
I also work as the Creative Director for a new company called Better Humans, which works to both train facilitators and bring facilitators into companies and organisations in order to have better, more open conversations on topics such as race relations, gender etc. The focus is on how much we can benefit from trained individuals going into these situations and helping people to understand each other and come to a place of mutual respect and understanding, despite having different ideologies or sociological backgrounds. We’re about to launch a free one hour course for people to learn about how we can understand each other and communicate differently in this era by adopting a “facilitator’s mindset,” one that moves us away from the problematic communication patterns we find ourselves in, often without realising it.
How do you manage working and traveling? Are there any specific apps you use to manage your work and lifestyle?
Nope, not really.
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 have a base, which is currently Barcelona, and with that the aim is working from wherever I want when the mood takes me, whether that’s staying somewhere for a week or a month, maybe in a new city or in a city I lived in previously, or going somewhere peaceful and green.
“I think it depends on what’s important for people when it comes to working or what experience they’re looking for at a particular time. I’d love to be able to go to the Azores once in a while and work there, for example, because it’s not too far, exceptionally beautiful, and there are more cows than people.”
What seasons, if any, do you prefer to chase?
I’ve got quite the ideal weather/location situation being based in Barcelona currently, so I don’t mind really. I lived in Berlin for many years before moving here, so I’m happy not to be in any deep winter situation for too long, but winter in context, and with the right clothes can be nice. It’s more about mood than season chasing.
What destinations do you consider to be the best for digital nomads/location independent lifestyles? Why?
I think Berlin,
Barcelona, Istanbul, Lisbon, Athens, Copenhagen are cities that are cool to work in. It’s something about the vibe for me—many things to explore, not crazily overpopulated, great food and wine culture, good startup scenes in terms of being able to meet people, and good surroundings so you can get away from the city when/if you need to.
Otherwise, I think it depends on what’s important for people when it comes to working or what experience they’re looking for at a particular time. I’d love to be able to go to the Azores once in a while and work there, for example, because it’s not too far, exceptionally beautiful, and there are more cows than people.
Must Read: Living in Lisbon as a Digital Nomad Credit: Ejiro Oviri
How do you go about making new friends/dating while traveling?
I try to get into the things that I like so there’s an immediate connection when meeting new people. In the past I’ve done this through sports, wine tasting events, and going to interesting talks.
How do you keep your long-distance friendships/relationships alive?
I’m someone who has a small group of friends who I’m close to. My best friend and I haven’t lived in the same place for more than 8 years, but we whatsapp each other pretty much everyday. I have groups on whatsapp with friends who are all around the world and we talk from time to time. Otherwise, because I generally have strong connections to the people I’m friends with, even if a month passes and we don’t speak, it’s never awkward when we’re in touch again.
What is it that you like most about the traveler lifestyle?
Is there anything you dislike about the traveler lifestyle?
The whole process of getting there. I don’t know why but there’s something that happens to people as soon as they get to the airport. They turn into a mess: dropping their things, constant fumbling, out of control luggage they keep bumping into everything and everyone. Can’t stand it.
What’s something that’s currently missing from your life? Is there something stopping you from getting it?
Mostly more financial freedom, and otherwise anything that’s missing I’m working my way towards getting.
Is there something you know now about the traveler lifestyle that you wish you knew before making the switch?
No. I’ve always known it was the way forward.
Do you see yourself living this lifestyle forever? Or will you go back to a more “traditional” life at some point?
The most important thing to me is to have a base. I love to be at home, so I’m always going to need that space that feels completely mine. As long as I have that, I plan on maintaining this lifestyle as long as I can travel.
What’s your best advice for someone wanting to transition to a life of travel?
Set something up that allows you to be location independent, or look for remote jobs. If you’re at a certain place in your career, start talking to people about how you work best. It’s up to you to start being more authoritative about building the life you want. No one will offer it to you and sometimes you might need to drag some people along with you because they won’t understand what it looks like until you show them how it can work.
Where can people connect with you?
Instagram, where I’m likely to post something every 2-6 months. Pin for later!