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: Travel Influencer Lis Kanzler
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?
My personal growth story is quite intense. I have changed massively through solo traveling and the person I am now, compared to who I was only 2 years ago, are worlds apart. I have always been an adventurer, but once I discovered the real power of solo traveling I never went back to being the same. In a way, it unleashed the true and authentic Lis. I became a curious butterfly and gained so many new skills along the way – not to mention the amount of friends all over the world that I made, who made me grow in unimaginable ways!
Where are you from originally?
I am half Peruvian half German, but I grew up in the beautiful city of Barcelona. That’s why I always say that I am Catalan from the heart, or even better, a citizen of the world.
What are the things you’re most passionate about currently?
Well that’s easy. Even in these difficult times I still consider myself a passionate solo traveler. This means that I always go wherever my heart tells me to go, and right now, that place is Berlin — a city I have been dying to live in for a very long time!
Other things I am passionate about are quality conversations, expressing myself creatively through writing and painting, cooking healthy recipes, and moving my body as much as I can. I am a sucker for nature, beautiful sunsets, good wine, and so many other things, too!
When did you first get interested in traveling?
When I was 18. Overwhelmed by the huge amount of university and degree options out there, I decided to go on a sabbatical year to Australia in order to get to know myself and my interests a bit better before making a decision. It’s the best thing I have ever done! From that moment on I understood that my destiny was to be a traveler. I had traveled before, but never at this level. The feeling of being free and young was undeniable. I was hungry for adventure and felt as though I could – without a doubt – travel for the rest of my life!
When did you realize that you wanted to make travel a lifestyle? Was there a trigger point?
Well.. once I came back from Australia, I thought that it would be impossible for me to transform my passion into a lifestyle, let alone my job. I surrendered to the fact that I needed to get a university degree to earn money, because “that is what people do.” Little did I know that there was this thing called being a ‘digital nomad.” Fast forward 3.5 years later and a ton of challenges and adventures, I finished my degree and, at about the same time, I got introduced to a group of digital nomads living in Barcelona. Turns out that there are people actually living wherever they want, and making money working online. That was the point I got inspired to do the same.
How has it changed your life?
It has changed everything for me! Traveling and moving from place to place completely on my own has not only made me see the world but has made me see myself. I have learned who I am, what I want and what I don’t, what I stand for, and what my goals are in life. Being a digital nomad has accelerated my personal growth process times a thousand — and now I can confidently say that I have learned how to go with the flow in any situation and at any point in life.
How did you go about making the transition to a lifestyle traveler? Was it a seamless transition or a bit difficult?
I think I got pretty lucky. Just before graduating from university, I got casted for a big modelling show that eventually made me gain a decent amount of followers on social media. This gave me the initial confidence to just “go for it” and try out my luck as a travel influencer. I booked a one-way ticket to Brazil, and never looked back. It didn’t take long until life decided to give my adventure a little twist and I got offered a job. But not just any job – it was a remote job at this really cool travel-startup from Berlin called Mapify. This was the moment when my real digital nomad life started.
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 still work for my dream company, Mapify! The energy of the team, our constant innovative thinking and creative problem solving, and the powerful vision of the company are just a few things that make me so incredibly passionate about what I do. As a side job, I also work on social media as a so-called “travel influencer” and have recently co-founded a company that focuses on positive psychology. At the moment, I’m pretty happy!
How do you manage working and traveling? Are there any specific apps you use to manage your work and lifestyle?
I think that after some time you learn to find the balance between discovering your new surroundings with great enthusiasm, without losing yourself in a holiday mindset. A lot of people think that working remotely equals being on vacation. That is simply not true.
For me, I have learned that having a fixed working schedule is crucial, as compared to working random hours throughout the week. You become a lot more productive and it helps to differentiate duty from leisure.
Of course, there are also a few apps that help me with this. Notion is the platform where I schedule and visualise all my projects – both from work and personal. Another great app to keep up with my to-do while synching it to my google calendar is Sunsama. And then, obviously, I use Slack and Zoom to communicate effectively with all my colleagues.
What is your preferred method of traveling/living?
There are a lot of ways of being a digital nomad. Some people move constantly, others stay for longer periods in new destinations, others have 3–4 bases around the world to which they rotate every year. I have found my favourite to be a mix between the ladder two. I like to move rather slow, having one base to which I return to over and over for a specific season. The rest of the year though, I like to explore new places and stay in each location anywhere from 1 month to 3 months.
What seasons, if any, do you prefer to chase?
Summer. I think most of us, digital nomads, chase the sun and the good weather. I don’t blame us, to be honest!
What destinations do you consider to be the best for digital nomads/location independent lifestyles? Why?
I have learned that the setting is crucial for having a good experience. Things like good internet connection, an abundance of nice cafes or good co-working spaces to work from, a cost-effective living, an already existing digital nomad community or startup scene, and, of course, good weather and beautiful nature are top of my list!
From my own experience, I would highly recommend newbies to start with places like Cape Town, Bali, Berlin, Barcelona, or Medellin. Other spot-on cities that I have heard should be good are Budapest, Chiang Mai, Lisbon, and Kuala Lumpur! Start there, and you’ll very quickly make up your own preferences.
How do you go about making new friends/dating while traveling?
After some time, you realize that it is always a similar process. Not only with friends, but with everything! First, understanding the dynamics of the city, finding a flat that suits you, and moving in. Then, you have to get familiar with your surroundings (new favourite cafes, shops, parks, markets…) and start meeting people!
There are a few tips on how to make friends easily. What helps me a lot, for instance, is being involved in different activities like playing volleyball, skating, or hiking. You will always find groups to join once you look for them on platforms like Facebook or Meet-up. Another tip I would give you is to learn languages so you can quickly make international connections wherever you go. Finally – be nice! When you are new to a place, you never know where or when you will meet your next good friend. Embrace the game of serendipity and always approach people with a genuine smile!
How do you keep your long-distance friendships/relationships alive?
Keeping long-distance friendships alive is a two-way process, but what has helped me is consciously taking time out of my day to keep in touch with my closest friends. Actively investing time and effort into maintaining and nourishing important relationships — and doing this on a regular basis — is a lesson I had to learn the hard way.
What is it that you like most about the traveler lifestyle?
Freedom. The always-changing dynamic, the interesting people, the different places, the personal growth. Everything!
Is there anything you dislike about the traveler lifestyle?
Yes, of course, there are also downsides to it. Being away from the people I deeply care for is the biggest one for me. It is great to always make new connections, but at the end of the day, missing out on important events that are happening back home really truly gets to me.
What’s something that’s currently missing from your life? Is there something stopping you from getting it?
Not much, to be honest. I guess that having a digital-nomad boyfriend wouldn’t be at all so bad haha. I sometimes catch myself dreaming about meeting someone who shares the love for this lifestyle and has the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. If you want to know the truth, my absolute goal in life is to have a successful business while living in a van and cruising around with a dog and a good man by my side, with no rush and no clear destination in mind.
Is there something you know now about the traveler lifestyle that you wish you knew before making the switch?
Definitely. When you are moving to a new place every two or three months, your routine gets lost along the way – there is no way around it. Unfortunately, with a lack of routine, a lot of other negative habits take place as a consequence. Although I picked up this problem quite early on, I wish I had made it a priority sooner! Right now I have a sacred morning and evening routine that keeps me grounded — wherever I am. This is something I wish I had known from the very beginning.
Do you see yourself living this lifestyle forever? Or will you go back to a more “traditional” life at some point?
The million-dollar question. Well… although a traditional lifestyle still seems very far away for me, I am starting to miss certain things from having a long-term base. I notice it often in the small things, like for instance being excited to put time and love into decorating the place where I live. As a traveler, this is just something that you miss out on. That’s why I always take all my polaroid collection with me wherever I go, so I can at least make my walls look familiar and homey. I don’t stress myself about it too much. I have learned to go with the flow, so whenever my heart feels that it’s the right time to stay somewhere longer, I will happily listen to it and do so!
What’s your best advice for someone wanting to transition to a life of travel?
Invest in growing your intuition. At the end of the day, it will be your gut feeling that will guide you most of the time when you find yourself being confronted with a challenging situation or an important decision to make, without anyone else to help you. Growing and perfecting your intuition will undeniably teach you that there is only one person – yourself – that you need to take on any adventure. This is eye opening. Life changing, really.
Where can people connect with you?
I think the best way anyone can reach out to me is through my Instagram channel. That is the platform I use to share most of my digital nomad journey and to connect to likeminded people!
And please, if you like what I share, feel inspired by my lifestyle, or if you have any requests or recommendations for me, make sure to write to me. I pretty much always reply, and truly enjoy exchanging ideas with people who have just discovered me.
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