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!
Meet The Traveler: Nomad Tax Consultant Kathleen Di Paolo
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?
In a past life I was a passionate academic who started her first career in the diplomatic service working for the Swiss Embassy in Australia. Later on, I decided that I wanted to help people in a more direct way and instead become a lawyer. After studying for almost 7 years I became an International Tax Lawyer more so by coincidence than by choice. This allowed me to start my business as a Nomad Tax Consultant.
Where are you from originally?
Great question. I learnt last year that I am a ‘Third Culture Kid’. Third Culture Kids are individuals who were raised in a culture other than their parent’s or the culture of their country of nationality.
I was born in Mexico to a Mexican mother and an Italian father. At the age of 3 I moved to Switzerland and was raised in Switzerland in the german speaking part. Yes, as a result I do have 3 passports and I’m fluent in 5 languages. You could say that I’m a true global citizen.
What are the things you’re most passionate about currently?
Making time for self-care. Whether that is my yoga practice in the morning, journalling, reading, having a bath and wine, cooking, or going for a walk. It has been great to slow down and make time for myself. For a long time, I lived fully in that hustle mentality and felt guilty to take some “me” time.
When did you first get interested in traveling?
Growing up in a multicultural family that was based in Europe, traveling was always part of my life since all my family members lived overseas.
My first travels in my teenage years without parents involved surf road trips with friends to France and Spain.
My first solo trip was born out of the desire to experience a completely new culture and volunteer. As soon as I turned 18 and had finished high school I made my way over to Vietnam. While there I was involved in a volunteering project and also found the time to explore the country.
When did you realize that you wanted to make travel a lifestyle? Was there a trigger point?
Since finishing high school I always wanted to take a gap year and just travel for as long as my money would last. That desire stayed with me until I finished with my education.
After being admitted as a lawyer I rang up my parents and announced to them that now I was finally going to take my gap year that I’d always dreamed about. We were going to spend Christmas with the family in Thailand so I announced to them that I would quit my job before Christmas and book a one way ticket. That was the trigger point.
How did you go about making the transition to a lifestyle traveler? Was it a seamless transition or a bit difficult?
Once I made that announcement to my parents the Universe showed me that it had a different timeline planned for me. I went on a holiday to Bali and fell in love with my partner who is a travel blogger / photographer. During that holiday I realized that travelling the world and working online was really how I wanted to live. After I came home from that holiday I already had my first client as a tax consultant. Shortly after I went into my bosses office and quit my job. I sold everything I had, and booked a one way ticket. This all happened way before I had planned to pull the trigger.
It was definitely challenging at the beginning to transition from a 9-5 office job to full-time travelling and running an online service based business as a tax consultant. To be honest, at the beginning I decided to dedicate myself more to travelling. That was what I had always wanted to do and I had some savings so I didn’t need to worry too much about the business income. It wasn’t until a year into travelling that I really started focusing on the online business. At this point I needed to learn how to balance both of my passions. Coincidentally that is also when I started embracing more of the slow paced travelling.
Could you elaborate on what you do as a tax consultant? Do you work remotely for a company, freelance, or have your own location independent business?
I have my own location independent business called ‘Wanderers Wealth’. I work as an international tax consultant for Digital Nomads, freelancers, remote workers, expats, location independent business owners, etc. My tax consultant business helps people figure out where to pay their taxes. We make sure they’ve got no outstanding tax obligations left with their home countries, establish new tax residencies, incorporate overseas companies, and set up overseas bank accounts.
Some people come to me simply to set up a business and to get recommendations on which countries would suit their business best. Others are worried and have no idea where to pay their taxes. I help them with designing a strategy plan to optimize their taxes.
There are several countries out there that offer attractive tax and business solutions and if you live a location independent lifestyle it is much easier to access those schemes.
In short, I offer:
- Tax consultant services and design a strategy plan with full execution thanks to my global network of accountants
- Free resources on my website to guide you through the corporate tax world
- Online shop with useful tools for your daily business use
- Workshops in person and virtually
How do you manage working and traveling? Are there any specific apps you use to manage your work and lifestyle?
Finding the balance between working as a tax consultant and traveling can definitely be one of the biggest challenges. What I’ve actually learned on the road is that I am more productive if I’ve only got a couple of hours during the day to work vs. when I have an entire day available to get work done.
What helps a lot is scouting my next location virtually before I get there. I’ll usually join Digital Nomad Facebook groups. I will find out in advance which cafes are best to work from, which co-working spaces I should join, or where my hotel or airbnb should ideally be located. This makes my life much easier when I get to the next destination and allows me to dive straight into work.
In terms of apps and software, I couldn’t live without Calendly to book my appointments across different time zones. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom are also a must, and I also love the tomato timer method.
I actually wrote a blog post about the tools I use: Top tools to succeed as a professional Digital Nomad.
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?
For most of the time I was travelling at a fast pace. I did over 30 countries in almost 2 years. However, I’ve realized that I enjoy a new country way more when I get to spend at least 3 weeks there. I spent 3 months in the Philippines and 2 months in Mexico and I loved spending that much time in one location. So going forward I will definitely aim to spend more time in one place. Usually my home base is between Bali (where I feel at home) and the Gold Coast in Australia.
What seasons, if any, do you prefer to chase?
I prefer tropical destinations so definitely love hot weather and summer. However, I also enjoy snowboarding which is probably the only time when I don’t mind cold weather.
What destinations do you consider to be the best for digital nomads/location independent lifestyles? Why?
Definitely Bali, Indonesia. Chiang Mai, Thailand. Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
They have become the hotspots for Digital Nomads and I’ve been to all of them. These cities and countries are amazing in terms of finding good rentals, low living costs, and great wifi. They also have great food options available.
They are also great places to start off your traveler life as you’ll find many other people who are doing similar things to you, and who have similar values and outlook on life.
How do you go about making new friends/dating while traveling?
Oftentimes, I travel with my partner and we make friends in every new place we go to. It’s one of my favorite parts about traveling. I enjoy meeting locals and also other travelers. I’ve started using couchsurfing more. There are so many people on there that are open to meet-up and show tourists around which is a great way to get to know a new place and make new friendships.
I’ve also joined girls traveler groups on facebook for when I travel solo and have met some amazing local girls through those groups.
Being part of a coworking space also helps a lot to instantly gain new friends. Many coworking spaces organize events that are definitely worth going to make new connections.
How do you keep your long-distance friendships/relationships alive?
That’s a tricky one that I definitely want to become better at.
But what I try to do is to have video calls with close family and friends.
Voice messages are also great and having group chats makes everything funnier and lighter.
It helps a lot that I share many things about my life on social media. It is another way for me to keep my family and friends up to date with what is happening in my life.
The other day I was listening to a podcast and someone on there (I don’t even remember their names) said that they had a personal goal to send 3 messages every day to a friend / family member to check in with them and let them know that they’re thinking about them. I thought that was a beautiful personal challenge that I would like to take up as well. Just 3 messages to 3 different people every day.
What is it that you like most about the traveler lifestyle?
Phew, the list is endless. I love discovering new cultures, hearing and learning about the history of a country, getting to know locals and their customs and ways of living. Discovering what locals eat and drink and how they celebrate life, love and birthdays is something I love. I enjoy travelling in itself – catching buses, trains, boats, airplanes and always being on the move. Discovering new places out in nature, new beaches, waterfalls, deserts, national parks. I reckon that is what I love the most – being out in nature and discovering how different nature can be in different locations. In addition, I love sleeping in different places and discovering new hotels and making a home out of a completely new space.
I’ve got a thing for interior design and making it feel homely. I love being able to work from ANYWHERE as long as I’ve got wifi. It’s incredible to me. What I love above all is the freedom that comes with this lifestyle. The freedom to choose every day where and when you want to eat. Whether you want to do a workout or go out and explore a new place. Whether you want to work for the day or take the day off to take part in a local festival. The options are endless and you get to design your own life without anyone telling you how to do it right.
Is there anything you dislike about the traveler lifestyle?
I don’t like the fact that the system doesn’t always make a traveler’s lifestyle easy. We’re getting there, but there is still a lot of improvement that could happen. I’m talking about everyday things such as debit cards and excessive ATM fees. Having a new phone number in every new country to have 4G, having a mail forwarding service. Luckily there are more and more companies out there that are being created to cover exactly these needs and that should be made available to everyone.
What’s something that’s currently missing from your life? Is there something stopping you from getting it?
Honestly, I am very happy at the moment.
I am writing the answers to this interview during the COVID-19 crisis, so I’m actually at the moment not really able to travel.
Even though I’ve got a case of serious ‘itchy feet’ I got lucky and got stranded in Australia which I consider home. Whilst I had to postpone a few overseas trips I am really happy to kind of be ‘forced’ into a much slower pace of life. It’s been great for myself and for my business as a tax consultant to have many more hours available during the day to get creative. And I’ve learned to satisfy my need of travelling by booking short term stays at airbnbs in different suburbs. I told you I have a serious case of ‘itchy feet’.
Is there something you know now about the traveler lifestyle that you wish you knew before making the switch?
There’s no ‘right’ way to live the traveler lifestyle. You’ll have to find out what fits you personally. Whether that is ‘slow’ travelling and only changing countries 4 times a year or whether you decide to move around every other week you have to make sure it fits YOU.
Lastly, personally I wish I would have started implementing personal routines way earlier into my traveler lifestyle. I’ve realized that when I honour ‘self-care’ time every challenge that comes up during my travels is mastered much more gracefully than when I don’t have that groundedness inside of me.
Do you see yourself living this lifestyle forever? Or will you go back to a more “traditional” life at some point?
I want to keep this lifestyle as long as I can. However, I want to make sure that I recharge my energy and come back to my support network in Australia and in Bali. In saying that there are simply too many places and countries I still want to discover and I’ve got a serious case of ‘itchy feet’ so I’ll keep going for as long as I can.
What’s your best advice for someone wanting to transition to a life of travel?
Don’t feel like you need to have a 3 month plan in place before you make the transition to a life of travel. Simply make the decision and book your first plane ticket. Once you are on the road I guarantee you will meet the right people and you’ll be presented with many opportunities. Most of the time a 3-month plan doesn’t end up working out anyway. The universe just needs you to make the decision and give it your best shot. You’ll be rewarded with a much better path than your 3-month plan envisioned.
Where can people connect with you?
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