Credit – Where is Gil?
Do any of your friends have this recurring fantasy?
It usually takes place after another meeting with their therapist, to whom they are paying a small fortune (that will probably go towards the relevant therapists’ new yacht). Yes, they are aware that their psychologist is tired of hearing them complain about their overworked, over-stressed lives.
They dream that one day, they will just get up and hand in their notice to their office job.
They will then pack a backpack, board a plane and begin a journey around the world as digital nomads.
Between safari in Africa and diving in the Caribbean, they will work one hundred percent for themselves. Each month will bring completely different adventures. Landscapes will change, people they meet will fascinate them and they will learn something new about themselves and the world each day.
Just a fantasy?
Meet Gil Drori. A man who lives the dream!
He is a blogger who does not rest for a moment, and although he does not like to write does so pretty well for a living.
Two years ago, he left his office job. Since then, he has toured amazing destinations and initiated and participated in fascinating efforts (including fundraising for a community school in Tanzania and founding a project to preserve Whale Sharks on the island of Mafia).
I got to know of Gil through a blogger group I’m part of. He’s sociable and generous with his knowledge.
At the original time of publishing this post (this post first appeared in March 2018), he was in Japan, fulfilling another personal dream. Practicing Aikido martial arts where the master who invented the martial art taught it for years.
? Tell me a little about yourself:
After my service at the Israeli Defence Force, I volunteered at a Jewish summer camp in the US and then went travelling to Central America.
I met my now wife Bex in Guatemala [Bex is also a travel blogger – ABE].
I moved to London, where I worked for a number of years at the Israeli Embassy and then worked for an American software company.
I decided I was tired of looking at the same screen day after day, so I resigned and went on to travel the world.
? What made you take the step of leaving your “safe” office job and embarking on the world of travelling and blogging?
After six amazing, exciting and exhausting years in which Bex and I lived in London, we both felt it was time to do something new.
Bex and I met for the first time at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and travelling was a significant part of our love.
Without intending to, we found ourselves in London and always fantasized about the next trip.
It was not easy to tell my boss I was leaving. I had a great job, earned lots of money, flew abroad for work,
got promotions and bonuses. But it just felt like it wasn’t it. I asked myself, “is this what I’m going to do for the rest of life? Sit in the office on the same chair and look at the same screen until my eyes explode?” I gained weight, got glasses, had back aches … Is this it?
Lucky for me, Bex felt the same way and is a very brave and determined girl. So after a few months of thinking, we decided to start a new life. Not only go on a trip but actually start a new life that’s ours.
“I am the master of my destiny, I am captain of my soul” (Invictus – William Ernest Henley).
Another significant motivation was the distance from Israel.
During the routine in London, we didn’t get many opportunities to travel to Israel to visit family. Maybe once a year, for a week or two. It was very important for us to change our lives, to enable us to visit Israel more often, and stay for longer periods.
At first, it was unclear to me how I could live from a blog. Since my high school, I haven’t written more than one page. I didn’t believe I could create a successful blog where I could help others and provide information about trips around the world. But I just started, I bought the domain WhereIsGil and started writing.
? What do you like best about writing?
I’m a blogger who doesn’t like writing. It’s funny when I think about it, but I never had the need to write. Even now that I’m officially a blogger I don’t look forward to the moment I need to write a post, sometimes putting it off till the last minute.
But… once I get over my resistance and get on the computer I feel completely different and really enjoy it. Some posts simply “write themselves”. Other times it can take a few frustrating days to complete.
I’m sure I don’t have the talent for writing. I have spelling mistakes (my mom sends me occasional corrections – thanks mom!) But that’s the beauty of blog writing – it doesn’t really matter. Everyone can open a blog and write – no rules!
My first trips were pretty standard. In the classic term of the word trip. To move around, to look around, to be impressed by local culture and to move to the next destination. But when life is actually one long trip I felt that I needed to do more meaningful things than just move.
So my definition of a trip at the moment is not just to move, but to fit in. Travel with more purpose.
Whether it’s volunteering in Africa, hiking the Israel Trail, searching for monkeys in the Malaysian Jungle,
practicing martial arts in Japan, founding a conservation project for Whale Sharks or free-diving in Eilat
(wow – what a crazy year).
? What’s the first country you ever visited?
I think my parents took us to Turkey. But the childhood family trip I remember the most is a five-day trip
in the Israeli Negev desert, on camels.
? What was the last country you visited?
I am now in Japan for three months where I’m learning Aikido in a traditional school in a small village called Iwama.
Here’s a selfie I took now while writing from Iwama 🙂
? Next destination?
My wife and I are going on a crazy trip three months trip, crossing the US on regular (non-electric) scooters, from Canada to Mexico. A journey to fund-raise for a school in a poor village in Tanzania. This is going to be one of the insane challenges we’ve taken on, and I’d be happy if you follow us on #kickingthestates
? Travelling – alone or with a partner?
Good question. Bex and I travel together most of the time and we try to focus on the same destinations so we can be together.
This is the first time we’ve parted for a long time when I’m in Japan. It’s a long time to be apart but I know that when I return we’ll be together 24/7 – I’m looking forward to seeing Bexie when I get back.
? What’s the most significant experience you’ve had while digital nomading?
In November 2017, I spent three months on the island of Mafia, Tanzania, which has a population of Whale Sharks. Because they are endangered, we decided to set up a project to gather information them to aid the global preservation effort.
In working on the project, we were very much in touch with a group of locals who organized swimming trips with the sharks and created a collaboration with them in which we joined the daily shark tour. We swam with sharks to document them.I swam dozens of times with these amazing creatures and I really fell in love Marine Life.
On my last day on the island, we took a last tour to say goodbyes.
On the way back I asked the captain to anchor the boat on a buoy we didn’t normally stop at, to practice freediving for the last time.
I jumped into the water and heard the captain shouting as he pointed to the buoy. I swam to float and watched at the most special moment of my life. A giant Whale Shark, ten feet deep, static. It’s very rare to see a sleeping Whale Shark. Up until a few years ago, scientists didn’t even know that these sharks slept. I got to dive with the shark a few minutes before he awoke and swam toward the depths.
Free diving with a shark (credit – Where is Gil?)
? How do you make a living as a digital nomad?
There are several ways.
One is through my blog by referring my readers to hotels and destinations I visited,
at no extra cost to my readers. I receive a small commission from every order made through my website.
Another is through barter. For example, if I travel to a new destination at times I don’t pay for the hotels or activities at the destination, in exchange for coverage on my blog.
I offer my advertising services in exchange for accommodation or free activity. It’s a complicated option I’m careful about. I only endorse places I totally personally recommend my readers will have a great experience in.
If I am not satisfied with the hotel I don’t mention it at all and sometimes even warn readers not to stay at it.
In addition to being a blogger, I create WordPress sites for other bloggers or other companies. It takes about a quarter of my time and I can do it from anywhere in the world (with internet).
? Which country did you least least enjoy?
I’ve thought this question through for a while and cannot think of an entire country I disliked travelling in. I didn’t enjoy Bex and I’s visit to Istanbul, because a taxi driver tried to scam us and nearly stole our bags. The next day, Bex got very ill so we had to go to the hospital and didn’t get to see the city properly.
? Useful tips for other travelers or people who want to “get out of the box” and travel the world?
I think the best way is to start creating a new box. My decision to leave everything was not sudden, but a long thought and decision-making process.
If you want to be a blogger, don’t suddenly leave everything. Start writing your blog now in the “regular” life.
Slowly you will gain more confidence to get out of the box and create another life.
? Nature or city?
London is my city. I am in love with the human diversity of the city where there are dozens of cultures,
religions and people from all over the world living together in harmony. But as much as I loved living in this amazing city I always long to go out to nature.
Nature or city? Kind of both, but my favorite place is the Negev.
The desert has a special charm.
? Are you living the dream? [Question Gil asked to add, ABE]
I really like my life and have moments when I feel I’m living the dream.
But it’s very important to me to emphasize that reality is sometimes different. Being a blogger is hard work – don’t believe the perfect Instagram blogger profiles. It takes a lot of time working on the blog, planning the next trips, flying from place to place.
Taking perfect pictures takes a long time. Editing photos and videos takes even more time than shooting them.
Someone once asked me what’s the difference between a blogger and a reporter. The answer is very simple.
A blogger needs to write the content, upload it, photograph, edit, share on social media, deal with technical matters and handle loads of small but time-consuming tasks.
Despite the difficulties and the tougher moments, when I sum up the past two years, I really feel fortunate that I have the privilege of visiting special places, making friends with such amazing people and undergoing experiences that I will never forget.
So really, thank you.
To Gil’s blog – Where is Gil?
Do you have a digital nomad who inspires you?
Write their name below so we can share your inspiration