Meet The Traveler is a series where each week 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! A new interview goes live every Wednesday so be sure to set a reminder.
Meet The Traveler: Executive Coach Katy Trost
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?
I was brought up in Southwest Germany, and wanted to leave ever since I can remember. Things seemed so square, dark, and rough there. I had the desire to break out and create a new life and identity.
During my gap year, I was backpacking in Australia, Asia, and Western Europe, basically interviewing people about their life. I asked about what made them fulfilled, successful, and what they would have done differently. In the final months of that year, I spent 4 weeks in a buddhist monastery in France where I had many conversations with people who were at a crossroads in their life. I realized that if I would go to college and get a job now, that I’d find myself back in the same place 10-20 years down the road. That’s when I decided I wanted to live my life differently.
I went to the US for the first time. I lived in San Francisco and traveled all over California. Then I headed down to Central America – from Panama all the way to Guatemala and Cuba. I focused on my personal development and discovering myself, my values, and long term vision.
After the first couple of years, a friend told me about coaching, which I found incredibly fascinating. I started my coaching certification in the third year and built a freelance assistant business for coaches to get a better understanding of the industry, and to support myself financially. After another year in California, Central America, and the Caribbean I graduated from the institute and started building my practice as an executive coach.
During the fourth year I lost my interest in full-time traveling and was seeking a home base since I lost my mom to cancer around that time and felt very unsettled. I decided on NYC since I knew it was the only city I would not get bored in, and it was aligned with the plans for my business.
Two years in NYC taught me so much. It was an incredible experience. In my work, I switched from personal development to leadership development and did mostly executive coaching. During my second year in NYC I was finally able to sustain myself through my business as an executive coach full-time.
After a rushed marriage and divorce only a year later, I knew I needed a break and be somewhere that offered a great lifestyle, ease, and space to think and reset. I moved to Barcelona with monthly trips to London to rebuild my business as an executive coach from scratch. My business really took off coming back to Europe and has been going amazingly ever since. I got certified through the Scaling Up institute, helping high-growth companies navigate the challenges of scaling up. I still work with CEOs with less focus on the individual, but developing the organization itself. It’s so much fun and incredibly rewarding.
For now the plan is to move to London for the rest of the year and spend the winter in the Carribean. But who knows, life is full of surprises.
Where are you from originally?
What are the things you’re most passionate about currently?
My work as an executive coach and enjoying all the beautiful things life has to offer. I worked hard to get to where I am and have been enjoying the process as well as the rewards.
When did you first get interested in traveling?
When I was 14. I got a job at 15 so I could save up and leave my home country at 19, right after high-school. Never looked back.
When did you realize that you wanted to make travel a lifestyle? Was there a trigger point?
It was after my first year of traveling. I was going to study architecture in Vienna and get a job after but knew it wasn’t the right thing for me. So I kept traveling and exploring. My goal has always been to build a meaningful career, not only do random jobs to support my travels. I wanted to get the best of both worlds – a flexible lifestyle and a great career.
How did you go about making the transition to a lifestyle traveler? Was it a seamless transition or a bit difficult?
I always wanted to travel and set up my life this way since I was 19. Of course, it wasn’t easy in the beginning. So many new things to learn, so many mistakes I made, and feeling intimidated. At the same time, this struggle was the most exciting part of it all. After 3 years I was so comfortable with traveling that it wasn’t my main focus anymore. I reached a plateau of growth. That’s when I focused mainly on my business as an executive coach including adjusting my travels accordingly. More cities for networking, less remote islands with no internet access, etc. I stopped backpacking and stayed in hotels and Airbnbs, to support my work.
Could you elaborate on what you do for work? Do you work remotely for a company, freelance, or have your own location independent business?
I work as an executive coach to CEOs of high-growth companies in the VC/tech space. Most of them are based in London and New York City. I work with them on three main aspects – leadership development, business strategy, and strategy execution. That means I help them become more effective leaders and implement a system that creates consistency and scalability within their organizations. I’m certified through IPEC, the highest-rated coaching school in the US, ACC accredited by the ICF, and a Gazelle’s Scaling Up Coach, the coaching firm associated with Entrepreneurs Organization.
How do you manage working and traveling? Are there any specific apps you use to manage your work and lifestyle?
I work with clients in NYC and London via Zoom. Always need access to the internet and a comfortable home. Airbnb has been working great from weekly stays up to 12 months stays (home-base). I use Google calendar and LinkedIn religiously for my work.
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 was traveling constantly for the first 4 years. Got a home base (NYC) for 2 years after that, and now have multiple home bases. It depends on the life chapter.
What seasons, if any, do you prefer to chase?
What destinations do you consider to be the best for digital nomads/location independent lifestyles? Why?
Depending on the purpose:
- Business / Dining and Social: London and New York City
- Enjoyment / Lifestyle: Spain, California, Australia
- Tropics / Vacation: Thailand, Mexico, Caribbean
- Adventure / Exploring: Central America
How do you go about making new friends/dating while traveling?
Online platforms and offline events/hubs. Find your tribe even within the location independent community.
How do you keep your long-distance friendships/relationships alive?
I try to be as present as possible wherever I am and don’t communicate much with people that are not close to me (physically). When we see each other we try to create meaningful experiences together. It’s as if we were never apart.
What is it that you like most about the traveler lifestyle?
The sense of freedom and never getting bored. The world is my oyster.
Is there anything you dislike about the traveler lifestyle?
Lack of community. There is a great digital nomad community with people ranging from backpackers to successful entrepreneurs, yet we’re all far apart and mostly connected online.
What’s something that’s currently missing from your life? Is there something stopping you from getting it?
Nothing is missing at the moment. I’m always looking to grow and expand and explore but that’s an ongoing process. I’m living the life I intended to design.
Is there something you know now about the traveler lifestyle that you wish you knew before making the switch?
Many many things. For some people, this is temporary and may only last for a few years. Others never stop. I do believe that giving up your home indefinitely impacts your relationships. A lot of my time is spent by myself, which I love but many don’t. I think there has to be a greater purpose to pursue. Becoming location independent in itself gets boring after a few years. Becoming location independent really puts you to the test, but the reward is confidence in yourself to figure out pretty much anything.
Do you see yourself living this lifestyle forever? Or will you go back to a more “traditional” life at some point?
Freedom is my greatest value and will always be a big part of my life. That’s why I’ve been location independent since 2013 and have always been entrepreneurial in my work. I’m slowing down though. Initially I was changing locations daily, weekly, or monthly. Nowadays I move only every 6-12 months to a new place, which I use as a base to explore from. In the future, this will probably slow down even more with a couple of home bases and smaller trips in between.
What’s your best advice for someone wanting to transition to a life of travel?
It takes a few years to figure this thing out. Just like building a business, take your time with it and focus on the process and all the exciting experiences you have on the way rather than the end goal of achieving this kind of lifestyle. Once you get there it’s no longer exciting and becomes normal. The best time is while you build so don’t rush, just be curious, explore, enjoy, go through all of the emotions. And keep going.
Where can people connect with you?