Why Did Developer Piero Toffanin Quit His Job, His Comfortable Life And Buy A Camper?
Italian born Piero Toffanin is a self taught software developer who prefers to live a life full of experiences, instead of working for expensive doodads.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and what you do for a living?
I’m an Italian-born software developer. I came to the United States for college in 2008 and after graduation I found a job for a small company here in the States. In 2014 I decided to quit that job, buy a popup camper and started traveling with my wife. I work on cool projects for my company, which helps me pay for the trip’s expenses.
What inspired you to quit your job, buy a popup camper and travel around the United States?
When I was in college I read about the concept of being a digital nomad, which always fascinated me. But I continued on with life, I graduated from college, got married and found a normal 9-5 job. Then one night I picked up a book about investments. The book wasn’t much about investment strategies. It narrated the story of two couples who decided to sell most of their possessions to travel and explore the world. After reading the book I pitched the idea to my wife and we agreed that we could do something similar: travel the United States in a popup tent while working remotely.
What are some of the problems you have faced, with this new life on the road? Do you regret giving up your settled life?
Certain choices do not come for free; there are compromises you you have to accept. The biggest are financial instability and being away from friends and family. But to me it’s worth it. Seeing a new place every few weeks, hiking places I never imagined would be so beautiful and overall, enjoying the freedom of being in control of my own life and time. So no, I don’t regret giving up my settled life. If I ever get tired of moving, I can always set roots somewhere.
How do you primarily make money online? What other projects do you have, that brings in revenue?
I’m an IT and design consultant, so I create mobile apps, websites, I manage cloud servers and provide other services, full list here. I also generate some revenue from mobile apps that I personally distribute and from advertisements on a few websites that I own. I’m also a few weeks away from launching a startup that I founded, MySkinPal, which I believe will change the way people track their skin moles to stay healthy.
How are you finding being your own boss, running your own business and dealing with clients remotely?
It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun and gives me the freedom that I always wanted. I don’t have a problem working remotely, I started doing it in 2006 while I was still in high school, so this is just a continuation of what I have been doing for a long time now.
What is the hardest part of dealing with clients remotely and how have they found working with a digital nomad?
The hardest part is finding clients willing to work remotely. Most work places still prefer somebody to be physically available. Meeting people in person first and getting referrals has worked the best for me so far. As long as the client knows what to expect, there have been no issues working remotely. I work really quickly and I believe I create a lot of value for my customers, so I haven’t had any complaints (yet).
As a digital nomad, internet is vital. How do you stay connected, while on the road?
I tether from my phone (most times I get 3G speeds), or I find a public WiFi hotspot. Sometimes there’s no internet at all, so I make sure to gather all the coding documentation I need before going offline. If I know that I will need internet, I will plan my travel route to be near a place where I can get it.
How much are you spending each month on your new nomadic lifestyle? Food, gas, entertainment etc?
For us it comes down to ~$40 dollars a day per person. That includes everything (food, gas, rent, health insurance, entertainment). Depending on where we stay, we are sometimes able to push it down as far as $25 per day, but usually it averages out around $40.
What does your daily routine look like? Are you driving each day or are you taking it more slowly and staying in places for a few days at a time?
We try to stay in a place for a few days at a time (sometimes even weeks if we like the place a lot). What’s the rush?
I wake up when the sun shines on the tent, do some physical exercise, make breakfast, do work until 2pm, then I’m off to do whatever I want. Sometimes I just want to read a book, other times I explore the area or I start cooking an elaborate meal for dinner.
How much did you have in savings, before you embarked on the road?
Enough to pay for the trip without going into debt.
What advice would you give other people on becoming digital nomads?
I have written some thoughts on my blog that I would recommend people reading.
Besides that, I’d say put your fears aside. People will tell you that they love what you are doing and secretly condemn you for it. You can follow what the majority do and embark on a path where your time is sucked away by the expectations of society or you can put your foot down and claim your freedom back. Time is the only commodity you cannot make more of, so don’t waste it. Start pursuing your dreams, today.
What are some of the main items you carry on your travels?
- Sleeping bag
- Cooking utensils
- pots and pans
- Coffee maker
- Clothes for 10 days
- Gas stove