Conversation,  Role Models

“It’s up to our daily decisions to make a change” – Conversation with Bea Grubenthal, world traveler and digital normad

Bea has been living a digital nomad’s life for the last years. She was able to see parts of the world during her previous job, which made her decide to go big rather than to go home. In Bea’s case that meant giving up her comfort zone at home and finding a new home wherever she lands on her journey. With not even 30, Bea has already been to and lived in xx countries all around the world. On her journey, she was lucky enough to meet wonderful people, got to know foreign cultures and experience life from a completely new point of view. Many travel like Bea did, but only few use their experiences as a valuable tool to not only make a living out of it, but also serve others by doing so.

uncutbread: You had the wonderful opportunity to travel the world. Many of us would love to, but many don’t know how to get started. What made you decide to start traveling and what was your initial expectation to get out of it?

Bea: It all started when I was 20 years old and I was very curious about the world so I decided to study abroad in Australia for one semester. Ever since then I was hooked, and I tried to travel as much as possible and was fascinated by the beauty of these experiences. After two years of working in an office job I quickly felt that I needed a change, so I quit, not really knowing what to do or expect next. But my mind was set to “finding something more liberating, more flexible, more exciting, more fulfilling” that would give me the opportunity to fall in love with my job every day – and combine it with my biggest passions. Sports and travel. Long story short: I started my own company and found two projects, an international football and an international beach volleyball tournament, and started traveling the world for my clients – but also for myself as a digital nomad. There was no initial expectation, I simply followed my gut, was open for opportunities, and took a risk at the right time, even though it was scary.

Has this initial motivation or goal changed over time? For what reasons are you traveling today?

It has definitely changed, yes. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it is that life is constantly flowing, we are all constantly subjects to change, so we have to remain flexible and adaptable. My initial motivation was pure curiosity and excitement, now I’d say I have a more mindful approach when it comes to travel. I try to make the best out of every experience, not just for myself but for everybody involved. I seek for ways to learn more, listen better, look more closely, connect deeper and share without limits. This way, impactful people, projects and situations seem to find me, so I can share them through my networks.

Has money ever been an issue or your travels? Or – can everyone travel?

I am convinced that everyone can experience travel one way or another. Of course, if you are trying to live up to a certain (self-made) standard and pick far-away destinations money is an objective. For me it never was, because I always moved within my possibilities, step by step. Also, travel is so much more than going far away from home. If money is tight, you can start shaping your perception and gaining international experience through connections. Be open for new perspectives, new people, new cultures wherever you are right now. Be kind, friendly, help out whenever you can and you will make loads of great connections that will help you understand all kinds of humans better. Meet up with internationals at university, co-working places, expat communities, international bars (irish pubs!). Invite someone in for food, coffee or offer for them to stay over. There’s plenty of ways to make travel-like experiences, build an international network and later on use these connections to travel carefree. Money is a tool. It will not buy you happiness. And it will certainly not be a decisive factor when it comes to the possibility to travel.

How has traveling changed you or your way of life?

In every possible way. I have become a better friend, sister, daughter, human for sure. It has changed me in the past, and it will keep on changing me in the future. It has changed my way of life in the way that I realized how little I need to survive, how important routines are, how every step we take is a decision that shapes our future, and that nothing ever turns out as expected.

I’m sure, every one of your memories is unique and beautiful in itself, but do you have a favorite memory, you can share with us? Why did it stuck with you?

When I was on the 4-day-trek to Ciudad Perdida, the lost city, in the Sierra Nevada in Colombia, I met a little girl that lives in these mountains with her family. They are a part of the Kogi tribe, an indigenous ethnic group, and whenever foreigners pass by they welcome them into their lands and kids gather to watch everything closely. The little girl looked at my collection of wrist bands and pointed at them, indicating that she would like to have one. Every single one of them had a special meaning, a story, and was given to me by friends and family along with my travels to so many countries in the past years. Yet, when she was standing there in front of me, I knew that this would mean so much to her, an invisible spell of protection, a sign of friendship with a mysterious blonde white stranger. I will never forget her face, when I took off my wristband at that same instance and wrapped it around her tiny hands.

Is there any particular culture or country that impressed – and inspired – you the most? In what ways?

Colombia. Sierra Nevada. I was fascinated by the simple beauty of life there and the happiness I could feel there. And Peru, Lake Titicaca, probably the most magical place I have ever been to. I also loved the Peruvian connection to nature and all living beings.

You are convinced that everyone of us “can do what (he/she) loves to and trigger positive change” – what do you mean by that?

I mean exactly that. Start with yourself and seek for ways to truly make yourself happy. Soon, you will not only find a deeper meaning within these actions, but also radiate happiness and spread good vibes. Each and every interaction in life will feel better and inspire others to do the same. It starts with the little things. Being happy and sharing a smile. From there we move forward.

Do you believe, a comfortable modern life and profitable businesses can be successfully based on an ethical standard that protects our social and ecological environment? Do you have a POV, what everyone of us can easily do to become that change, most of us want to see?

Yes, I strongly believe that a comfortable modern life is possible respecting all of the above. How? Again, the answer is very simple: Start with what is easiest for you. Where can you make a change today, that will positively impact your life and the life of others? If you don’t know where to start, google it. Find a blog. A newspaper. A community. An app even. There is a million ways to start moving in the right direction. And once you know where you wanna go, share your experience. Talk about it. And soon you will find like-minded people. And together you will find solutions for your problems that may seem “uncomfortable” at first. We are humans, we are made to overcome challenges. MAN, WE LEARNED HOW TO MAKE FIRE! Whatever is believed to be “uncomfortable” nowadays is simply a result of learned behavior, and we are absolutely able to change that. Same accounts for businesses: If businesses stopped measuring their success by profit and started looking at impact, we could quickly see a change in society and the way we live. But again, let’s make this very simple: As business owners, entrepreneurs, CEOs, managers, leaders or employees we are all humans. It’s up to our daily decisions to make a change. We are all equally responsible for that.

Have you also witnessed first hand, how much our planet is suffering from pollution and waste? Do you know, how the people living with this pollution cope with it?

One of the most shocking things I have seen lately is a carpet of plastic waste along the most beautiful remote beaches at the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. Around tourist sites, public beaches and hotel resorts staff is hired to keep the beaches clean – and remove all the trash early in the morning and late in the evening. It is hard to find a general statement, but I guess affected areas and governments are trying to do what they can to hide away these problems to not become a public affair. The way I’ve experienced it, many of the locals are unaware and we should definitely focus our efforts to educate them and integrate them to become a part of the solution, next to preventing from these natural catastrophes to happen.

Charlie Wade of Keep Kaia Wild has launched a zero-waste kit that allows you to travel w/o waste. How did you manage to maintain a natural foot print on your travels? Any tips for fellow travellers?

Congratulations, that sounds wonderful! First and foremost I hardly ever buy new things. I re-use almost everything, bring my own water bottle, I always carry re-usable zip-lock bags, buy natural biodegradable shampoo and soaps, natural mosquito repellent, I use public transport whenever possible, I stay with locals or in small family-run posadas, I always prefer to eat out in traditional restaurants and small eateries, I buy food at local markets (and bring my own bags to avoid plastic)… Another thing that I do wherever I go: I keep my eyes open for opportunities to learn from the communities I visit and teach from my experiences. This is a wonderful way to give back. Very often you can help out assisting them with translations for the CVs, company websites, menu cards etc. – there’s literally a million ways to give back.

What is the one thing you would do, if you had no fear at all?

I do not have fear for myself, so there’s no way to answer that question. I guess the only fear I really have is to lose a loved person and I do not know of a way to prevent from that.

Is there a non-profit project or organization you find inspiring and would like to see supported by us?

Die Fairmittlerei

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