Meet The Nomad: Fiona Edwards
Welcome to another “Meet the Nomads”
This is where we chat with a digital nomad living a full-time journey and working lifestyle. We discovered Fiona through our Instagram community. This interview was a questionnaire-based one, which was sent out by our team member Shivam Singh.
So let’s get to know more about Fiona!
Let us begin with getting to know you Fiona! Tell me about yourself, your name, where you were born, etc…
Hi, my name is Fiona, I go by the runaway redhead on my Instagram. I’m 24… turning 25 soon and I was born and raised in Sydney Australia! I love the outdoors. My favorite things to do are hiking swimming, exploring, and having adventure days whether that’s in the mountains or in the city. I love going to the gym too! I also love to read, write, take photos, and of course travel! I think I’m a mix of an extrovert and an introvert, I love hanging out with my friends and I enjoy being around people but I also love being alone and having that solitude time. I’m a very carefree person and I don’t take life very seriously. I feel like I’m just out here to have a good time and have as many experiences as I can!
What was your life like? Your education, your friends, and your family?
I was raised in Ryde, a suburb located 13 kilometers from Sydney’s central business district. About a 2-hour drive from Ryde, my dad’s side of the family has owned a farm there for 50 years. I used to spend at least every other weekend and holiday up there. I had a bit of a different lifestyle growing up than a lot of kids my age. I had the city life and the farm life… throughout the week I wore my school uniform to school, and had the taste of city life and everything it entails- fast-paced, stressful at times, catching public transport at peak times. To being at the farm running loose around the land, feeding cows, rounding them up to give them medicine, having mud fights, swimming in the creeks, driving on the tractor, and riding on the mower. I was incredibly lucky to have both experiences in very different environments.
Furthermore, every summer holiday (from about boxing day to just after the new year) my family and I would drive 4 hours north of New South Wales to a place called Blueys Beach which is my favorite place in the world. It’s a little beach town and we spent every summer there until I left to go overseas in 2018. So, I grew up with this trio of the city, farm, and beach life.
I attended an all-girls high school from grades 7 through 10, but I knew deep down that wasn’t the right place for me. I had also struggled with my mental health in those years and ended up changing schools for years 11 and 12 which made so much of a difference. I’ve never been one to put much effort into studying, but in years 11 and 12, I found a fantastic group of friends that made coming to school a lot easier.
Along with other subjects, I also studied topics like community and family studies, society and culture, photography, PDHPE, and drama. When it came time for our final school graduation, I was a little sad to be leaving school.
Friendships come and go when you’re growing up, however, I always tried my best to be friendly and kind to everyone. It can be difficult to understand what a valuable friendship means when you’re younger in comparison to when you’re older, and I hated cliquey groups at school but always found I got along with everyone.
I loved being both an extrovert and an introvert growing up. I’m a person that can’t be tied down to one friendship though and I will always do what I want to do before anyone tells me otherwise. I’ll always make friends wherever I go but I’ve always only ever had a handful of people I can trust and I’m glad it’s always been that way.
My parents separated and divorced when I was young, and my brother, sister and I are all close in age. We got used to traveling back and forth to be with each parent and my mum and dad tried hard and wanted us to have relationships with both parents. My brother, sister, and I were always really close with our cousins growing up and spent a lot of time with them. My mum was constantly supportive of us doing whatever we wanted when growing up and that’s really what inspired me to travel so young.
I knew I had wanted to travel from early high school and from knowing that my mum (originally from England) traveled when she was young, as well as having a dad that would drive us to our farm, up to blueys, and take us on many adventure days- made me want to continue to see and explore more of the world.
Was there anything you were good at in your early stages of life? Or were you trying to figure your life out as it went?
I was good at sports growing up! I loved swimming and netball so much. They were two big passions of mine. I was lucky to have parents that supported me in anything I wanted to do. I think I had a try at almost everything, from sports like netball, rugby, football, swimming, karate, and baseball to pottery lessons, and drama classes every Saturday, I loved reading and writing growing up. I was definitely a kid that took everything as it came, and I think I’ve always been a go-with-the-flow kind of person.
I always focused on if I liked something rather than being “good” at it because the competitive nature made me super anxious as a kid (even though it was an atmosphere I thrived in) I just hated that anxiety and adrenaline feeling so to calm it down I would often think more about just doing it for the enjoyment and not having strings attached to what I was doing at the time. If I didn’t enjoy it- I never had to do it again!
I originally left Australia with $1000 (£500) in my bank account and have made it so far and had the best experiences along the way.
Any good or bad memories when you were growing up? How did it change or affect your life?
I think we all have bad memories growing up and it can take us a long time to accept the bad things that happen to us and move on from them. I was and am a very lucky person in several ways, but I still struggled with lots of things growing up and had negative things that happened to me which impacted me heavily. I try to be a positive and optimistic person and I must say that the things that happened to me when growing up helped me decide what I wanted to do with my life. I’m so glad because I love the way my life has turned out, and I truly wouldn’t change it for anything. I remember coming to the conclusion that I wanted to try my best to never let these bad, traumatic, or scary memories/ situations consume my life (which they sometimes will, that can’t be denied) it took a lot for me to accept that we all go through our own version of hell and that someone had been through something very similar or worse and it kind of gave me the freedom to think “well fuck it, I’m just gonna live how I want!”
I wanted to make a change in myself and my environment. I always want to be better, think positively, be healthy physically/ mentally, and emotionally, and attract good people in my life and I believe that karma comes full circle. It made me realize what I wanted to put out into the world and into myself. I love change and a part of me knew that going out traveling, exploring the world, and seeing how other people lived would help me continue to learn and make that change.
How did you begin working? Were you always a 9-5 person? How did you get into the “Digital Nomad” culture?
I’ve never been a 9-5-person haha! As I was finishing my final high school exams, I was working shifts at a café to save money to go to summer camp in America. When I came home back to Australia after working at summer camp, I was juggling 2 jobs to save up for more traveling. I worked for cruise boats and was a lifeguard and got so used to shift work. I feel like I only recently got into the “digital nomad” culture, it wasn’t something I thought about in my previous travels. Believe it or not but I’m not much of an over-sharer so social media was never my thing. I loved posting pictures of my travels, but I never liked updating people about where I was in the present time.
Since 2016 I had wanted to start a travel blog, but I was too shy to share my travel stories, so it was a constant battle between – do I start something up or not. Until finally in 2021 during the lockdown, reminiscing at all my travel photos and stories I decided to make an Instagram just to start sharing things with people who enjoyed that sort of thing too! And I’m finally in the works of making a travel blog! I’ve lived and worked in America, Canada, and now England and I’ve relied on getting jobs there in the country to fund my travels. I’ve had several jobs since I first started working, so I’ve always had the confidence that I’ll find a job anywhere I go, and it’s worked out for me so far! I’m making greater efforts right now to work remotely and become more of a digital nomad.
Was there any person/persons/organization that inspired you to be a digital nomad?
There wasn’t really any person or company that inspired me to become a digital nomad, it was a collection of things. I know it really was a life I had always wanted to live (without the digital part!) I have come to realize through sharing my stories and photos on social media, it’s been such an exciting and creative outlet for me, and I should’ve done it sooner! The fact that from 2016 I had wanted to start some sort of travel blog but never did it until now, it was just another thing I thought I’d start to owe to myself and prove to myself that this was something I could do and have fun with it! I’d like to think I’m a very creative person, I have always loved taking photos and writing so actually going out there and doing it was a great opportunity I made for myself really.
I think there’s a natural interest in being from Australia, in other countries that are so far away. I didn’t think Australia was that big until I went away and realised that it’s such a massive country- when long drives, trains, or buses (and later on planes) were so normal as a way of traveling around the country. The school was an hour’s commute, work was anywhere between a 45 min- 1.5-hour commute (with traffic), and learning that you can drive 2 hours across Europe and be in another country. Canada and America are big countries too, but living in the small town of Banff, it was crazy having everything so close together and working at summer camp, we lived at the camp, so it was a different life than I was used to.
I read so many books growing up and I loved reading about the places the books were set in. I’ve always been such a curious one, I’d be researching about the different countries, and places the story was set in or inspired by and it’d just get me going thinking “oh that would be an awesome place to visit!” Or “one day I want to go there!” Especially because my mum is from England, I remember researching about England and Scotland (and a lot of the castles in Scotland) and making little journals and scrapbooks about things I wanted to see and places I wanted to visit.
I’ve had several people in my life inspire me to travel and see the world, my mum and dad, and quite a few friends. I always say that I’m constantly inspired by my friends and their passions, whether that’s to do with traveling, writing, drawing, photography, music, sports, aspects of life we connect in, or even baking. I see how incredible and capable my friends are and it makes me realize that I can do whatever makes me happy or I put my mind to.
Learning that being a digital nomad was a thing and something I could possibly do made a massive impact on me as it’s a lifestyle I thrive in
Learning that being a digital nomad was a thing and something I could possibly do made a massive impact on me as it’s a lifestyle I thrive in now. I’m still only at the beginning of it all really so it’s been cool to figure out what I can do as a digital nomad and what direction I want to go in to keep living the life I want!
What was your first country as a digital nomad? How was your experience?
I’ve not really been a digital nomad yet in a country- although in my recent travels through Mexico, Guatemala and Belize have I tried my best to start making more present and travel content to put online. I’m still trying to figure out how to actually “work” online and receive an income/ work remotely. I hope with the more I get noticed with either my photography or my writing, I’ll be able to talk to tourism brands or work with travel/outdoor brands, companies, or other photographers to be an actual digital nomad!
Mention all the countries you’ve been to as a digital nomad? Which was the best country?
I’ve lived and worked in America on a J1 visa. I worked at a summer camp for over a space of 4 years from 2016-2019. I’d work there from June-August and then we got 30 days of free travel both before and after camp which made it super easy to stay with friends from camp or travel around America and see different sights. I then got a holiday working visa for Canada in 2018 and spent just under 2 years living and working in Banff, Alberta. I first worked in a small grocery shop/ liquor store and laundromat and then in my second winter, I worked in a hostel as a housekeeper! I have a UK passport, so I’ve not needed a visa to work in England, but I’ve worked as a care/nursing assistant through the pandemic and at a grocery store.
Working in Canada was spectacular, I had my ideal lifestyle
I’ve enjoyed working in all the countries for different reasons. Working in Canada was spectacular, I had my ideal lifestyle, being surrounded by amazing and incredible nature. I was able to hike, snowboard, cross-country ski, go to work and go to the gym. There were countless fun outdoor activities to do in Banff, even through the winter- and winter was the best part!
Working at summer camp was truly such a special time. We lived in the woods, in canvas tents for 9 weeks (and strung up hammocks on the trees.) We had outdoor showers and bathrooms, limited Wifi, and weekly cookouts, and always got to swim in the pond on camp. It was such a peaceful and beautiful place. Furthermore, in England, it’s been great because I’ve been able to spend a lot of my time hiking in the Lake District, the Peak District, and Snowdonia. Also, the fact that you can get cheap flights to different places all over Europe!
What are your future goals as a digital nomad? Do you have any plans to inspire a digital nomad community? Any tips for them?
My future goal as a digital nomad is to hopefully find work or other people/ brands to collaborate with, as well as post frequently on my travel blog once I get it up and running… and even potentially start a business from it all! I’m glad I started my Instagram as a hobby, as that’s what it will always be and I know that if I end up making an income it will be a bonus (and so awesome) but that’s not my goal as such! I love having a little visual scrapbook of travel and outdoor memories and I love writing too, so I’m mostly doing it for myself and anyone who has similar interests/passions.
I’ve always traveled on a budget
I hope that my photos and stories will inspire others to get out of their hometown and travel! So many people think you need to have a lot of money to travel which isn’t true at all, I’ve been able to live and work in so many places and I originally left Australia with $1000 (£500) in my bank account and have made it so far and had the best experiences along the way. This is possible for so many other people. Whether you decide to become a digital nomad or work overseas, go backpacking on a budget, you will ALWAYS find your feet.
I also want to inspire the community to just get outside- we always find trying something new is daunting. Being in the outdoors hiking, swimming, playing sports, and running around on the beach or at my farm, taught me to be resilient, and courageous, enjoy change, and how deal with the unexpected. I hope from being a role model in that aspect shows others that they can too, get out of their comfort zone and get outdoors, enjoy nature or face something a little challenging.
You don’t have to be perfect; you’ll always learn along the way and it’s so important to just have fun, have a laugh, and make a bit of fun of yourself.
My tip will always be to just do it and don’t take life too seriously- and that’s with anything from wanting to be a digital nomad to traveling to going on a hike- just do it! Don’t think about other people- but more that you owe it to yourself to start it or do whatever it is you want to do, even when you don’t know what exactly you’re doing (or if you’re doing it right!) You don’t have to be perfect; you’ll always learn along the way and it’s so important to just have fun, have a laugh, and make a bit of fun of yourself. We will eventually be older and may be unable to do certain things- so try it now, by yourself, with a friend or family member- and if you don’t like it, you never have to do it again!
To follow my adventures around the world; you can follow me on Instagram @the_runawayredhead
Where to next?
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