Christa Romano was nearly paralyzed in a diving accident in college. She made a full recovery and subsequently adopted an attitude of living life to the fullest. Hear how she has applied that in her life since.

With only a week to go before leaving for her study abroad program in college Christa found herself in the hospital with a broken neck from a diving accident. She miraculously made a full recovery and vowed to never miss an opportunity to accomplish an item from her bucket list. Years later she traveled to 53 countries and checcked off countless bucket list items. Hear from Christa about this formative experience, the work she does for her startup, how she’s grown an impressive Instagram following of over 16k people, her experience teaching english in Thailand, starting her nomadic journey in Costa Rica and more. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Time   Topic
0:02:35   Welcome and context
0:03:10   What is Bublup?
0:04:07   What is Instagram Micro Influencer?
0:04:47   What is it like to have 15K people to follow your day to day life?
0:06:03   What is your Instragam strategy?
0:08:27   Can you tell us more about your Instagrammer Weekend Course?
0:11:18   What are you trying to accomplish with your Instagram following?
0:13:31   What are the main components of the Instagrammer Weekend Course?
0:15:03   Does capturing great pictures requires proffessional cameras or it can be done with a smartphone?
0:16:40   What editing tools you use for your Instagram images?
0:18:25   What is your promotion and growth hacking strategy?
0:24:16   What are your Instagram techniques to become more discoverable?
0:25:33   What is the Nomad Cruise?
0:27:23   Why does the cruise works so well?
0:29:05   The story of how we met in Brazil
0:30:25   What is Startup Weekend?
0:33:27   Can you share your experience with the WiFi Tribe?
0:36:25   What do you do to break the ice and meet other people on the road?
0:40:53   Can you compare some of the Hostels you’ve been at?
0:41:57   What was your first Nomadic experience like?
0:48:21   Can you tell us about your neck incident?
0:58:18   What is the book that had a profound affect on you?
0:58:51   What is your favorite tool that saves you time, money or headaches?
0:59:55   Who would you like to have dinner with?
1:00:10   One piece of music or artist that is speaking to you lately?
1:00:55   What is the greatest challenge you faced and what you learned from that?
1:01:20   If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 20 year old self?


Christa’s Instagram
Instagrammer Weekend
Pocket App
Ep 21 with Helen Simkins
Photoshop Lightroom
Adobe Lightroom for IOS
Adobe PhotoShop
David Dang Vu’s Udemy Courses
Nomad Cruise
Ep 18 with Bori Vigh
Charity Makeover
Startup Weekend
WiFi Tribe
Dojo Bali Coworking
Selina Hostel
Sunday Funday Party
Eat Pray Love
Google Fi
Lady Gaga



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Sean Tierney: 00:02:35 Hey everybody, this is Sean with the nomad podcast. I am sitting across from Christa of Christa Bella travels. Christa is a full time traveler having traveled for over 50 countries in the past five years. She does marketing strategy for a tech startup and app called bubble up. She’s an Instagram micro influencer with over 15,000 followers. Her current side hustle is Instagram or weekend. This is an event designed to convey all the strategies and tactics that she’s used to grow that following. Christa, welcome to the show.

Christa Bella: 00:03:05 Thanks Sean. Happy to be here.

Sean Tierney: 00:03:08 Great. First off, why don’t you tell me what does bubble up do? I’ve never heard of this app before

Christa Bella: 00:03:13 so you wouldn’t have heard of bubble up before because we actually just launched it, a couple of weeks ago. But it is basically a cloud storage tool but a super fun visual cloud storage tool that the best way to explain it is like Pinterest meets Dropbox where you can save links in a visual format, in the same folder space as your files and documents and images and whatever you want. So it’s a great tool for researching anything.

Sean Tierney: 00:03:40 So it’s for people that are doing research. A visual way of doing that. I like pocket was the app that I mentioned that I use that might be kind of a similar function, but it sounds like this is maybe a more visual

Christa Bella: 00:03:50 pocket. Yes, very much so. Yeah. And when, when we say research, it’s kind of like, you know, I research where to go to dinner in Lisbon, which is where we happen to be right now. So it doesn’t have to be like the dry kind of research fun stuff too.

Sean Tierney: 00:04:03 Cool. Right. So let’s talk about you are a micro influencer. What does that term mean for the people that have never heard micro influencer. Okay.

Christa Bella: 00:04:12 A micro-influencer just means that you have a following on Instagram. Yeah. Mean it usually refers to, I guess you could be a micro influencer on other platforms as well. You know, an influencer influencer might have over 50,000 followers. A micro influencer would have less than that. so I have 15,000 followers, but, I get a lot of influence or perks. Still a lot of brands reach out to me to work with me to help promote their products or their services.

Sean Tierney: 00:04:41 Is it weird having that many people follow your life day to day? Like it’s gotta be strange to have 15,000 people that know what you do every day?

Christa Bella: 00:04:51 Yeah. So it is a little bit, but I don’t think about it that often. Like it’s just, it, I dunno followers like really feel like a number I guess. But at the same time, anybody that dms me, usually I respond. So that is becoming increasingly overwhelming, more increasingly time-consuming anyway. I do love it, but yeah, no, it’s crazy. Like that’s enough people to fill like a small, yeah, that’s weird. Let’s stop talking about it. Think about it that way I came out. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:05:21 Crazy. And what do you attribute that following to?

Christa Bella: 00:05:25 I attributed to the fact that I’ve got a, a strategy with my Instagram. My Instagram is really, I only talk about specific things such as being a digital nomad and being a full time traveler.

Sean Tierney: 00:05:39 Nice. And so Helen was an, a guest two episodes ago. She has a similar level of following

Christa Bella: 00:05:46 pounds. One of my best friends by the way, who I travel with a lot and Sean’s interviewed her before shout out to Hellen. Yeah. Hey Hellen.

Sean Tierney: 00:05:54 so, but you guys come out of it seems like from different angles, she came at it really like a design background and you have I believe a journalism communications background. So you guys approach it slightly differently. can you talk about what your strategy is? You have this Instagram or weekend thing, so you’ve thought a lot about this and you clearly know what you’re doing. can you just kind of break it down for us? Like what are you doing? What, how, how did you do that?

Christa Bella: 00:06:17 Sure. So yeah, like everybody’s strategy should be different. and less someone is also a digital nomad, travel girl like me. Then maybe they would have the same exact strategy. And even my friend Helen who, who is a digital nomad travel girl, like she, hers is even slightly different because she is a different person. So she talks about slightly different things. So yeah, basically a strategy if anyone wants to grow their Instagram, the number one thing is to have a strategy for it because the, the concept is when people discover your feed and they can discover your feet in all different kinds of ways. But let’s say that you leave a comment on someone’s post. So they say, Oh, who is this person that left a comment? And then they click on your name and they see your profile and then what do they do next?

Christa Bella: 00:07:03 They have the, usually they’ll give it like a second to decide if they want to follow you or not, or to decide if they want to continue investigating into your feed. So your like the, the aesthetic of your feed is obviously the first and most important thing because it’s the visual attention getter. having a bio that clearly articulates exactly what you are about is also extremely important. And then, you know, creating content that reflects that strategy, that personal brand that you have developed, also is extremely important. So all of these things revolve around having a strategy in advance. If you don’t have a strategy, you’re not really going to have a direction for your bio, you’re not going to, your captions are probably going to be about all different kinds of things. And some person, some people might be following you because of one reason and somebody else might be following you for another reason. So when you’re not creating content that reflects the reason why people are following you, then you start to get unfollowed. Got It. That’s why strategies.

Sean Tierney: 00:08:03 So is it fair to say it’s almost like Instagram is the new homepage. It’s like the, it’s kind of an evolving kind of continuously churning homepage. Really.

Christa Bella: 00:08:12 It’s like a homepage for sure. I mean, it’s a landing page, definitely. Yeah. [inaudible]

Sean Tierney: 00:08:17 interesting. okay, well, so you have 50,000 people following you daily. You’ve taken what you know and how you’ve done this and you’ve packaged it into this Instagram or weekend course. Can you talk a little bit about what that is?

Christa Bella: 00:08:30 Okay. So I have a micro influencer, but I have really high engagement on all of my posts, which to me like, which says to everyone that the people that are following me, they’re following me because they genuinely enjoy following me. I, you know, provide value to them for the reason why they’re following me. So they engage with my posts all the time. How I have developed a way to share this knowledge, and the skill I have with other people who are also looking to grow their Instagram following. I really want to work with people who are the face of their brand because like a big reason why I run Instagram or weekend is because I also love the photography aspect of Instagram and I want to share that with people. But basically if anybody is interested in growing their Instagram and you’re in the same city as me, you should come to Instagram or weekend, which is a full day.

Christa Bella: 00:09:20 And I mean full, like the stay is jam packed with information and exercises. I’m on how to grow your Instagram. So we start off with, understanding more about strategy, like we do a deep dive into what cre, what makes a good Instagram strategy in terms of, you know, the actual like aesthetic of your feed and your bio and your captions and all of that. Like what direction do you want to take it in? there is a big mastermind component to it where each participant works with at least two other people to do a deep dive into like what their strategy will involve. So when, so after we go through the mastermind, we learned about growth hacks, we learned about editing. We all go out at sunset the best time of day to take pictures and we actually create content to match that strategy.

Christa Bella: 00:10:12 So, you know, the, the idea is like when we all go out and take pictures together, there’s me plus at least two other people on the, on the bootcamp, that know exactly what it is that you’re looking for. So you have a lot of support in creating that content, and throughout the day, like it’s very collaborative. And, by the end of that you end up having four new friends basically that you’ve really gone through this big learning experience together with. And yeah, it’s just from what I’ve seen and how it worked before, it just, it foster is like a very supportive environment.

Sean Tierney: 00:10:46 Yeah. And I won’t sit around her and I will, I saw the, the feedback that came out of this from the people on the nomad cruise. We just came from the nomad cruise. and the feedback of the people that went through this event was nothing short of amazing. Like either it was just like a, a whatsapp screen of people raving about it. So lots of good feedback. So, so okay. So it sounds like the components of this, at least in the weekend and how it works, you start with a strategy and everything kind of emerges from that. So you set what you are trying to accomplish first. Yes. What are you trying to accomplish? What is the end game of having this following? Can you talk, talk about your own strategy and boil it down to that?

Christa Bella: 00:11:26 Yeah, sure. So actually I think my following on Instagram, it’s not even my target demographic for Instagram or weekends. So like that’s not even really my goal, my goal to grow my Instagram, first of all, I never really thought that it would get to like be as big and as as it is now and continue to be growing at such a steady pace. I started learning how to grow my Instagram following because I just genuinely wanted to reach more people that were interested in the digital nomad life. And the reason why is because when I first started traveling as a digital nomad, I was constantly meeting all these other travelers that maybe, you know, we would be in a hostel or something and it’d be three o’clock on a Wednesday and they would say, Hey, do you want to go get a beer? Or like let’s go climb a mountain or something.

Christa Bella: 00:12:12 And I would say, no, I can’t because I have to work. And they would just be like, what? What? What do you mean we’re in Costa Rica, we’re in Ecuador. Like what do you mean you have to work? Like this concept was so foreign to so many people. And then, you know, I would explain like working remotely is totally possible. And then I saw how interested people were and they were either like jealous or like excited or just like their mind was blown. But either way I just felt like it’s not fair to keep this information to myself and I would love to help other people achieve the same kind of lifestyle that I have, which I am very satisfied with and love. So I’m so yeah, really it’s just like a platform for me to share and that’s what it started off as. And Yeah, just a way to connect with people.

Sean Tierney: 00:12:58 Awesome. Well it’s, it’s ironic cause you and I both share the same goal in terms of exposing more people to this lifestyle as a possibility and inspiring them and educating them about how it’s done. I created the nomad prep academy and there’s obviously this podcast that I host that has precisely the same goal. so I think it’s pretty, it’s pretty interesting from that angle. so the strategy up front, that’s like component number one on Instagram or weekend. Then from there you go into content creation mode. So you’re wandering around capturing photos. You teach basically all aspects of that. Like from a photographic, like stylistic standpoint or what are you teaching during that portion?

Christa Bella: 00:13:37 Yeah, so there’s, I mean there’s kind of like several main components, Instagram or weekends. So one is developing a strategy, one is actually creating the content, reflect that strategy. And then I guess that this does fall in line with it is editing photos and then also growth hack strategy. And so marketing and exposure is a, is a big part of it as well. but for the content creation aspect, Instagram or weekend happens in a different city every month. And so it’s fun to like if anyone’s traveling, we all go out and take photos together for, for several hours. So it’s not several hours for like three hours, but it’s enough time to get a ton of photos. And this is meant to be a really fun experience. like I usually tell people to bring multiple things to wear so that you don’t, so that it doesn’t look like all the photos are being taken on the same exact day.

Christa Bella: 00:14:30 so there’s like, you know, costume changes, for lack of a better word, I go over different techniques on, you know, how to take photos that you, that are really flattering of you. How to catch the sun at the rate angle, how to compose your pictures so that you stand out. so that it’s like an interesting picture to look at, even if you’re just in front of a black wall, you know? Yeah. The content creation is, is sort of like the artistic aspect of it that I love to administer because that’s super fun for me. So yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:15:01 And does it require having like a fancy SLR camera or can someone with, you know, a nice iPhone or android?

Christa Bella: 00:15:09 No one had a camera on the last one that I did, so everybody just brought their phones and that’s fine. I think the weekend might inspire people to get a camera. Like, because you can take your photography to the next level with that with better equipment, but at the same time you don’t need a fancy camera to grow on Instagram. Like there are so many other ways, like I just said, like having a strategy and creating content that matches it. Writing great writing, great captions, marketing yourself effectively with different growth hack strategies and a, yeah, like the, the photography is just, if you want to scale and like explode your following, then you could be an amazing photographer. But I know lots of amazing photographers that don’t have anyone following them on Instagram. Like, and you look at their feet and you’re like, this is so beautiful and why? It’s because they either don’t have a strategy or, or they don’t understand how the algorithm works or you know, they’re not connecting with the people that are following them or they’re not engaging enough or posting consistently. Like there’s so many other things that are involved with growing on Instagram that, yeah, the camera is like totally not the most important thing at all.

Sean Tierney: 00:16:18 Yeah. Well, I mean, if anything that’s testament to like you can have a piece of this, but unless you have the full picture, it’s not going to result in having a massive following in the way that it has for you.

Christa Bella: 00:16:28 Yeah. Just cause you have a camera, it doesn’t mean

Sean Tierney: 00:16:30 it doesn’t mean anything. Sure. Absolutely. Okay, so strategy then content capture is the second component it sounds like then, eh, an editing like production component of this. Can you talk a little bit, you know I use light room. I know that’s the tool, although I use the ghetto ILS version of light room, but maybe talking about that

Christa Bella: 00:16:48 not ghetto anyone who’s listening, it’s not Katto it’s fine. But if you want to take it to the next level, the only editing tool I will, I will ever use to edit my photos is Adobe light room on desktop. because, well sometimes I use Adobe Photoshop too and they just, they work so seamlessly together where like, so for example, on Instagram or weekend, I do, if I give photo challenges for the photography or in the content creation aspect. And one of those challenges is take a photo with the tourists in the background so that we can later learn how to Photoshop them out. Like you can’t really Photoshop someone out using your phone. So that’s why you should use desktop.

Sean Tierney: 00:17:29 Got It. Yup. I need to graduate cause I’m still using the mobile version there. Do you think any amount of touching can fixed some of the photos that we got on the beach on Saturday? Like this is my first, I got like a taste of this, this photo capture session. not being extremely photogenic but we will, we, those are photogenic. All you need is a smile to be so photogenic. Well we’ll, we’ll see. Maybe that will be the challenge here is I will see if I can photo touch some of those and see if I couldn’t

Christa Bella: 00:18:01 share those both for, for people listening. We went to the beach the other day and yeah I obviously had my camera cause I had my camera everywhere that I go. And so yeah, we were taking photos and these photos are great. I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’ll see that. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:18:17 Moving on, it sounds like the last component of this would be the promotional growth hacking part of it. Can you talk about, I know hashtags are one thing, but that is my limited extent of my knowledge.

Christa Bella: 00:18:27 Hashtags are the worst. they’re like changing all the time and there’s a nightmare. Honestly, like in my insights sometimes it’ll say that my hashtags have reached 14,000 people when I don’t even have any hashtags on the post. So anyone that talks about hashtags as being the growth hack, just immediately tune out and stop listening to them. Like it’s literally the worst.

Sean Tierney: 00:18:51 It sounds like the people that talk about Meta keywords, when it comes to SEO at this point, it sounds like maybe that’s passe and that’s the old hat, but what’s the new jam?

Christa Bella: 00:18:59 The thing that, the thing is that Instagram’s changing his algorithm all the time. You got to keep up with like different growth hack strategies. and, and truthfully, no one really knows the answer. Yeah. So hashtags I think used to be more effective than they are now. The best thing to understand about growth hacking is to still understand how the algorithm works. To explain it quickly. Instagram’s main goal is to keep you on your feet for as long as possible. The reason why is because a longer that you’re on your feet, the more ads you’re going to see. An Instagram makes money with ads, it is Instagram’s number one and only incentive to keep its viewers engaged or its users engaged with the content. So it, its objective is to show you the best possible content for you so it looks at who you are engaging with the most often because it assumes that those people are your friends.

Christa Bella: 00:19:56 It also shows you content that’s more recent because it wants to show you the most relevant stuff. It doesn’t want to show you the stale old content. Like I said, they’re all different kinds of ways that Instagram measures what kind of photos it should be showing different people on their feet and that’s why the, the algorithm’s always changing, but ultimately it just wants to keep people on the screen. Basically just like the best thing that anybody can do. If you want to hack your algorithm, this is the best tip that I have is see who are like if your mom is always the number one person that’s showing up in like the blank and x. Many people liked your post. You don’t need to improve engagement with your mom but like think of see like maybe who are the top, I don’t know, 30 people that see your story and then go to all of their profiles and like a bunch of their pictures.

Christa Bella: 00:20:50 Now when Instagram, when you post your next picture, it will probably show your picture at the top of 30 people’s feeds. That means that you have 30 people that already like you. They’re going to see your picture first and then that’s going to trigger Instagram to think, oh, this is a good picture because 30 people just like this picture immediately and then it’s going to start showing it to more people because Instagram will only ever show your picture to like maximum 20% of your followers. It’s a good day. If it shows it to 10% of your followers, but likely it’s only going to show it to six to 8% of your followers so you can increase your chances of, it’s showing your picture to more people. If you are super engaged with people that are already following you, which is something that I think people don’t think about. I think people usually seek out like new people to engage with. But actually as counterintuitive as that is, I’m actually, it’s better for you to be more engaged with people that are following you already.

Sean Tierney: 00:21:45 Interesting. Yeah. I’ve never heard that. To buy knowledge drop, drop these, we, it’s funny in listening to you to describe this, this just came to mind, but one of the talks I did see on the nomad cruise, so they thought it was fantastic. A was David Dang booze, ecourse. And when he’s talking about you, me as essentially being a search engine at the heart of it and in hacking that algorithm so to speak, it has to do all with velocity and like getting a course and making sure that you hit really hard and fast and that you get those first couple of likes then catapult you and you get displayed on the featured content and Yada, Yada, Yada. it sounds like a lot of those similar ideas are at work on Instagram

Christa Bella: 00:22:25 very much so. Yeah. I mean I think you can take that concept and apply it to literally every kind of platform that shows you different content. And, and I’m talking about Etsy, I’m talking about Fiverr, like literally any website where you want your stuff to show up on the front page. There’s a reason why certain people are always showing up on the front page. It’s probably because they’re getting great reviews or they’ve like, yeah, like in David’s example, I’m on the nomad cruise. This guy has created multiple extremely successful courses on Udemy in his head, he has made a lot of money from it and he attributed that to a, to hacking the algorithm when he launched that course. So basically like what he says is he had a mailing list of people that when he launched his course, he blasted it out to the mailing list and all these people were already really excited about the course because he had kind of touted it to them beforehand. So when the course came out, they all eagerly bought the course immediately and then he got and then, and then

Sean Tierney: 00:23:29 contacted them and said, yeah, what are you doing? This is the most resonance we’ve ever seen in a new court.

Christa Bella: 00:23:35 Yeah. So then like all these people bought the course and watched the whole course, which I guess was another big factor of, of that algorithm. And, so basically just like created this snowball effect where now his courses are always showing up on the front page because he established at the very beginning that this is a high quality piece of content. And of course you mean their goal is to get people to buy and watch as many courses as they can and the only way for them to do that is if they’re showing the highest quality stuff at the top. So anyway, it’s all this like big cycle. It’s crazy. But there are ways that you can be successful if you just plan ahead

Sean Tierney: 00:24:12 in does this all, I’m assuming this algorithm they’re referring to, I know there’s a part of Instagram where it’s just featuring random stuff. People that I don’t know or it just shows me a bunch of interesting videos and screens and whatnot. These techniques that you’re talking about that helps propel you into that if you’re doing it right.

Christa Bella: 00:24:29 Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ll be, you will become more discoverable but like your explore page, which is where there’s all this content from people that you don’t follow your explore page I guarantee looks extremely different than my art page. Just like I’m sure my friend Helen who we were talking about earlier who like we have a ridiculous amount of things in common, but of course our explore pages look different because we follow different people and we engage with different posts and it’s like a snowflake. They’re all different.

Sean Tierney: 00:24:58 So you don’t have a bunch of kite surfing and eat

Christa Bella: 00:25:00 snowboarding pictures on here? No, my explore page is like cute dogs, astrology, travel, girls nutrition, like stuff like that. But there, there’s like categories, right. So, and you just mentioned a bunch too, so there’s a science behind all of it.

Sean Tierney: 00:25:16 Awesome. All right, so it sounds like there’s a lot of good content. This is an entire day long pact course. Again, it got rave reviews if this stuff sounds interesting, we’ll mention at the end of how to get into it. But I’m going to shift gears here for a bed and actually talk about the nomad cruise, which we were both on. Yup. can you tell me what is the nomad cruise?

Christa Bella: 00:25:36 So the nomad cruise is a conference at c targeted for people who are location independent remote workers. Or want to be a remote worker, they range from six days to three weeks, I think that will almost three weeks. Yeah. Basically it’s all these people that are collectively on this cruise and are going to talks and workshops in the morning, all kinds of meetups. Basically everybody, everybody that’s on the cruise has some kind of different skillset. Like for example, I know a lot about Instagram and you know a lot about podcasting and other people know about affiliate marketing and other people know about, I don’t know, like drop shipping and, I’m just rattling off a lot of marketing and passive income things, but the topics are really wide ranging. Like what are some of the other things they talk about? Wacky

Sean Tierney: 00:26:27 meetups, a, I mean, Matt led one on a real estate investing. there’s workshops like acro yoga or just stuff all over the map.

Christa Bella: 00:26:36 Yeah. So there’s, there’s a so many things that you can learn on the cruise also, like how to make deeper connections other people. So, yeah, there’s just, it’s, it’s really nonstop learning and personal development, growth, business strategy, et Cetera, et Cetera, et cetera. So you learn all this stuff over the, over the period of the entire cruise. And in the meanwhile, you’re making connections with humans from all over the world that are all there for the same exact reason as you. So you just walk away with so many great friends, network connections and and knowledge.

Sean Tierney: 00:27:15 What do you attribute the magic to like and I, I have kind of my own answer would I think it is, but like why is the crew so special? Why does it work so well?

Christa Bella: 00:27:24 I think because we’re all stuck on a boat. Yeah. I’m like conference, like other conferences, I’m sure that people get a lot out of other conferences, but you’re not like having breakfast and, and dinner and after drinks with the same exact people. And I think that the groups are small enough that you recognize and see the same faces in it and it’s for a long enough that you have enough time and opportunity to make those connections. So, yeah, I mean I think probably if anybody’s a networking guru, then you know for sure that the best way to make a connection is actually to create, to make a professional connection is to first make a personal connection. So amazing things happen when you make like minded friends.

Sean Tierney: 00:28:07 Yeah. And Boeree was a previous guest on on this show and so we went deep into the deep connections workshop on what all that involves call. So check that episode out if you wanna hear more about that. but I agree with you, I think being stuck on the boat, like the captive audience component of it combined, I think with like a forced digital detox for many, I didn’t have data on the last one. And so I think not having data really forces you to be present and so true. It’s, it’s interesting like organizing meetings, you don’t even have a way to text people unnecessarily. You’re like literally like knocking on a door like it was in high school or something when you’re trying to meet up.

Christa Bella: 00:28:44 Yeah. There was like a little sign outside of the conference area that says like meet at the restaurant at 6:45 PM on Thursday and then the people that are interested go. So yeah, that is a cool part.

Sean Tierney: 00:28:56 Yup. Highly recommend it. I share your affinity for the cruise now. That was my first one. I think it’s funny that we both did the same thing in Brazil. I know. Maybe mention how, like what, what was that about?

Christa Bella: 00:29:06 Oh, funny. Okay. So Shawn and I did meet like over a year ago in Lisbon where we happen to be again now, but where I feel like we really connected and became friends was when we were in Brazil earlier this year because for me, like I had such bad fomo but not being able to go on the nomad cruise that I flew all the way to northern Brazil where the boat was, where everybody was getting off the boat in their final destination. basically like, hey guys, like I’m here to hang out. And Sean did the same thing. So we both are, they’re like hanging out with all the other nomads and was like, wait, you didn’t do the cruise? And we’re like, no, but we will next time. I swear, but I wasn’t able to do the last one, so it’s not my fault. We have a cruise crashing. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:29:52 Greatest Sense. Amazing. I think the other funny thing with the cruise is we both did the Parata tank and what’s interesting is we both are pitches on the proto tank seem to have both lead to us then actually executing the events that we proposed. Yes. So this coming weekend for the people listening, Christa is doing her Instagram or weekend for the second time I am holding the thing that I pitched, which is charity makeover. which is a whole thing. You can look it up. Sure. He may make that’s essentially a hackathon, a kind of like startup weekend only. We’re helping charities instead of creating new products.

Christa Bella: 00:30:25 It’s so cool. So on, you have to talk about what startup weekend is cause I don’t think enough people know and it’s such a cool concept. So

Sean Tierney: 00:30:32 yeah. Yeah. Starting weekend, there’s no show, no real quick. So it startup weekend was started by a friend of mine. He was actually gas number four on this podcast, Andrew Hyde. but he started this thing. It’s a global movement now. It’s been, acquired by the Kauffman Foundation. So like a massive $2 billion foundation acquired it. and it is basically the best thing that I’ve seen in terms of advancing entrepreneurship. it’s a way to indoctrinate people into a lot of really useful concepts quickly. so you come together with like 70 strangers in a weekend and work on building a product from start to finish as your 52 hours to pull off a product from start to finish. And you just learned so much in the course of that and you meet so many people and I’ve been to nine of them, I’ve facilitated three of them.

Sean Tierney: 00:31:20 I think they are just the coolest things ever. And but the thing about them is I believe they are a bit wasteful in the sense that people that work on stuff typically throw it away at the end of the weekend. And then they go back to their day job and kind of, it was a fun exercise, but we also just created a bunch of stuff that didn’t get used. And so the thing that I’ve been doing, this is, this will be the fifth event that I’ve organized. we’re getting the same experience and all those benefits of working together and learning, but we are putting, we’re basically channeling all that energy towards helping local charities. And then when we leave they’re better off because of it. So that’s the idea. You can learn more about it. Charity to make amazing. That’s into my commercial. I don’t want,

Christa Bella: 00:32:01 no, I’m super excited to participate because you know, like in Sean’s pitch he sort of opened it up with saying, who here would love to be more involved in charity work? And you know, like 75% of the room raised their hand and then he’s like, who thinks that they don’t have access to doing that? And, and you know, everybody keeps their hand up. and I mean, that resonated with me because I go to all these different places all over the world and I would love to be contributing to the places that I’m visiting. But it’s hard to access charities for of small if you’re only in a place for a short amount of time and to like find something that’s actually meaningful. You know, I mean, there’s just, there are a lot of charities and volunteer organizations that they don’t, that they’re like quote unquote helping, but in just not in such a real way. So, you know, I have digital marketing skills and that’s probably a more valuable thing for me to contribute to a charity than me building a house. Like I don’t even know how to use a hammer. So I don’t know why anybody would want me to do that.

Sean Tierney: 00:33:02 No, you nailed it. Like, we, we’ve all got this unique gift that is the culmination of a lifetime of experience that is, you know, you can uniquely provide the stuff that you know how to do. And so this idea that you can channel your, your, your gifts towards helping these charities. I just think it’s a, it’s a beautiful concept. So we’ll see. I’m excited. All right. shift gears again. You have been involved with the Wifi tribe in front of it. Can you talk about what the Wifi tribe is? Cause Diego was another guest was fun.

Christa Bella: 00:33:34 I’m such a Wifi drive groupie. You’re talking about by two, two favorite companies. So, I was on the very first no Wifi tribe chapter, which I am proud to say that I am. Oh Gee. it was a Nicaragua like two, three years ago. Anyway, the Wifi tribe is basically a traveling co-living groups. So it’s usually like up to 25 participants and everybody just lives in a big house together for an entire month in a different city around the world. And that’s pretty much like, that’s the concept. What’s amazing about it is, again, you make such good and close connections with the people that are in the Wifi tribe with you because you’re living together and you’re experiencing this new destination together. So the thing everybody has in common is that they are making an income while they’re there. And that that’s, that’s basically it.

Christa Bella: 00:34:26 People are from all over the world. I will also say, I, I have noticed that the Wifi tribe group tends to be a pretty fun bunch. So, I would concur with, I met him on the boat. Yeah, I’ve done a lot of different co living experiences and they all kind of have their own unique vibe. Like some are focused on productivity and some are focused on personal development or spirituality or whatever. but the Wifi tribe, it’s just kind of like people that are digital nomads and they’re trying to get their work done but also have fun and experience the destination that they’re in.

Sean Tierney: 00:35:00 And so would you say that that is a good, for the people that are listening, that are aspiring nomads looking at doing like what you’re doing, the Wifi tribe, do you consider that like a good way to kind of Wade into this hundred percent?

Christa Bella: 00:35:14 I mean that really for me, like I traveled for six months as a digital nomad before I discovered Wifi, I tried because I was literally googling how to meet other digital nomads because I didn’t know anybody. I hadn’t met anybody really. granted I was like backpacking and stuff, but they’re just the, the concept is so new that, yeah. Wifi tribe literally just launched their website like a week before I did, I made that Google search. I don’t know, maybe I’m biased, but it was, it literally began my whole nomad network. So for me it’s very near and dear to my heart and I would recommend it to anyone. Nice.

Sean Tierney: 00:35:47 I have not yet done Wifi tribe, but I intend to, for the people that want to learn more about it, I did interview Diego, which is one of the cofounders of Wifi tribe, I believe it was episode seven. he’s in, I think he was in Bolivia at the time and he’d give us kind of like a tour. He walked around with his laptop and there’s people getting breakfast and got to Bolivia so bad. Oh, cool. Nice. well let’s talk about, because you’re like fairly extroverted, I feel like what are your strategies for meeting people on the road as a nomad? Cause I like I am not that extroverted. Contrary to what it seems like I can play guitar on stage, but I can’t like just go walk up to a random group of people and start talking to them. So what do you do to break the ice and make like make friends on the road?

Christa Bella: 00:36:30 Wow, good question. I mean literally because of the nomad cruise and the Wifi tribe, I just, I know so many people now everywhere that I go, it’s crazy. But channeling back to when I was a new digital nomad and how did I get started and how did I meet anybody really? Cause I was, I mean I wasn’t really meeting other digital nomads, but I was meeting lots of other travelers and maybe I wasn’t meeting other digital nomads because I didn’t know what I was doing. So I would recommend going to coworking spaces, first of all. that’s a big one. Not all coworking spaces are created equal. Some people are super antisocial and nobody talks to anybody and some are amazing and they’re hosting events all the time. Like my favorite one of all time is Dojo in Bali. Dojo is like a Changzhou.

Christa Bella: 00:37:19 Bali is this little nomad Mecca basically where there’s all of these digital nomads that are there and this coworking space is open 24 seven so it’s just, it’s like really easy to say, yes, this is the place for me, because no matter what your schedule is, you can, you can figure it out and you can go there. But they have, they have events like every single night of the week. Lisbon also was a great place to meet other digital nomads because the biggest nomad meetup from in the world is in Lisbon. So I guess this is actually my second tip. So seek out digital nomad destinations just to rattle some off the top of my head. Lisbon for sure. Changzhou Bali, like I just said, but Chiang Mai, Thailand is a huge one. Managing Columbia is one of the biggest. And then there’s other smaller places. Like I had a great experience in Antigua, Guatemala that a lot of the coffee shops and there is a coworking space there. That is great. Where else I think, yeah, I don’t know. There, there are other places. Google it. Let’s

Sean Tierney: 00:38:23 start with a good destination. Yeah, that’s kind of like the raw materials are the place that you’re in. Then it sounds like on top of that, there’s other strategies. You mentioned meetup, which is a great one. I think that’s a really useful tool. If people don’t know what that is. It’s a way to find local

Christa Bella: 00:38:36 events. Yeah. so yeah, you can look online to, to, to find other places, but I don’t recommend, I do not recommend like using an online resource as a crutch because you will never make friends that way because people online can be trolls and it just, you know, it actually might be counterproductive, but in every city in the world, basically any big city, there’s usually a blank city like Berlin digital nomads or whatever, know digital nomads. So join those pages and then try to make connections with people. Like maybe put a post up saying that you’re going to be there and if anybody has any recommendations and then if people respond, maybe send them a DM and like you know, strike up a conversation with them and maybe it will lead to coffee. I also am a huge proponent of staying in hostels, so I love hostels even though like the older that I get, the less the less interested I am at staying in them.

Christa Bella: 00:39:32 Like I still just appreciate them so much for the social aspect. If you’re a nomad and you’re going to stay in a hostel, make sure you look at the pictures online and see if there is a decent looking place to work. There should be a table and a couch in the same room and it should be pretty, it should be like a medium to large sized hostile and chances are there will be other people that are, you know, spending the day in the common area working. But yeah, hostels, like they’re just so easy to meet people like you are just sitting next to a stranger at breakfast, just turn to them and ask them where is the coffee? Or like, well like how is the fruit? Or like whatever. Like just like ask a random question like it doesn’t matter. And then people are usually really nice and hostels because people are tend to be traveling solo and even if they’re not traveling solo, they’re in a hostel because they don’t hate strangers.

Christa Bella: 00:40:28 I usually, I just, I dunno, maybe I’m just like a little blonde girl that always has a big smile on her face, so it’s easier for me. But I actually don’t believe that. I do think that like no matter who you are, how, however introverted you are, like just ask a situational question when you’re sitting near someone and I promise you something good will happen. That’s my tip. Good advice. And speaking of hostels, you are in Selena here, right? Yeah. Do you like that? How does that compare to some of the places that you’ve been? Selena is so legit. It’s great. It’s, I love the brand. I’ve, I’ve like stayed in four of them around the world. Selena is like totally, totally gets this nomad trend. Right. They’re usually like really big hostels, nice hostels. They usually have a pool and a coworking space. And the one here in Lisbon, I don’t know how long this is going to last because this one’s brand new, but they do a free coworking day every Wednesday. So everyone say that coworking space is packed with other digital nomads. So to do stuff like that too is also a great way to meet other people. Nice. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:41:35 Good tips. yeah, we did. I was in Costa Rica for the remote year citizen House and we worked out of the Celina there and it’s phenomenal. You’ve got, like you said, an amazing pool that like a gorgeous workspace and it is a great place to meet people. Nice. Good tips. okay, so we’re doing this reverse chronology, but I want to take a step back and go to Costa Rica and it was that, that was your first six months of no matting experience.

Christa Bella: 00:42:00 Yeah, it was, take us back there. All right. All the way back to Costa Rica. 2016 all right, so let’s call the streak is where my new life began as a digital nomad. And it was amazing. Basically I had been working a contract job. I feel like I have to give the background story of this. So I used to live in New York City. I loved New York City, but I think I had seasonal depression because I was just like in a dark apartment and go my, the subway was right next to my apartment and I would go underground, emerge and then immediately go into my office, which didn’t really have a lot of natural light either. So I just like never saw the sun for six months. And I think I just one day with like, I gotta get Outta here. So I actually decided to move to Thailand to be an English teacher, which was going to be a hiatus from my marketing career.

Christa Bella: 00:42:53 Thought it would be a fun way to make money and travel at the same time because in 2013 I didn’t know that being a digital nomad was a thing. In retrospect, maybe that’s what I should’ve gone for it originally. But moving to Thailand was the best thing I’ve ever, ever, ever done. And I would recommend going to a country to teach English to literally anybody that wants to like escape their, their hamster wheel life. so I lived in Thailand for two years. I actually never ended up teaching English cause I got a job at doing marketing there. And Thailand was an amazing experience, but it’s so far away from the u s that I just, homesickness got the best of me and I was like, after two years, it was just time. It was time to go home. So I wasn’t necessarily going home to stay at home.

Christa Bella: 00:43:39 Like I wasn’t necessarily going back to settle. I had loved living abroad and I thought living abroad was the only way for me to like continue my travel life. Cause I traveled all the time when I was living in Thailand. So I went home to Boston for a few months and I was like interviewing at companies in New York thinking like maybe I’ll try to do this. But I also was interviewing a lot of companies abroad. So as I was interviewing for company and for as I was doing all these interviews, I was like, I just can’t decide where I want to live. Like I just, there’s, there’s such a big world out there and it was really overwhelming. So as a way to buy myself more time and also have some kind of income because I was blowing through my savings was to get a contract writing job.

Christa Bella: 00:44:26 So I was doing that. So I found this job just like kind of getting, you know, like an hourly wage with this, with the startup, with the startup. And so I was, I was working from my laptop for the first time, which in retrospect, like it’s so clear what was going to happen next. But I really had never ever, ever considered working remotely. To me that sounded super antisocial and boring. So I didn’t, that wasn’t like an objective of mine, but my friend was like, Hey, let’s go somewhere for new year’s and Costa Rica with the cheapest flight. So I went to Costa Rica and I was really only going to be there for like, we were going to be there together for a week and I was going to stay for one extra week by myself because I actually didn’t like solo traveling or I hadn’t had any experience in it and I really wasn’t planning on doing a lot of it, but I was like, whatever, I can just kind of hang out by the pool and do this writing job that I have from Costa Rica. And then when I got there and I was sitting by the beach and I had my laptop open and I was making money, it was like, like light bulb moment obviously. Like why wouldn’t I just keep doing this? I had actually been offered a full time job with that startup and I had been on the fence about it, but then when I got there it was like, D obviously this is why I should do. So I was in Costa Rica when I accepted my full time marketing position with that tech startup and

Sean Tierney: 00:45:56 gone with the intention of coming back. But then took this full time job and then just decided to stay.

Christa Bella: 00:46:00 Yeah, I had a return flight. But what was amazing was like I called the airline telling them what happened and they were like, we’ll just cancel your flight and give you the money back. And I don’t know why that happened. It’s like literally never happens. And like that doesn’t even happen to me. Like it’s literally the only ever time that’s happened. But I think the, because they said that and they’re just, there was no reason for me to go home at all. It’s also, it was a winter and it was like freezing and I was in the sun in Costa Rica. So I was like, alright, I got some solo traveling now and I’m not going home. And then I met all these people in my hostel in Costa Rica that were going to Nicaragua. So I hopped to the border with them and then I moved on to Nicaragua and then I went to Columbia. And then I went to Ecuador. And then I went to Brazil. And this whole time I had my laptop with me. So I was making money and just like, I just couldn’t believe that it was a thing, even though I wasn’t meeting other digital nomads at the time. It was like my first ever uninterrupted free flow backpacking trip, which was the coolest thing ever. so yeah, I’m very grateful for that time of my life. It was amazing.

Sean Tierney: 00:47:07 That’s awesome. I can attest to the going to Costa Rica and then hopping the border to Nicaragua. I did that. after our remote year program ended, I kind of worked my way up south and Central America ended up in Costa Rica. Someone saw my Facebook post and they said, Oh, you know what? There’s a bunch of Oji remote your people in San Juan del Sur right now. You should go meet them. And it was like two hours or something. And so got that full experience. And yeah, Nicaragua was amazing. Did you go to the Sunday funday party? I have the tank top from the Sunday funday party jet, like the best party ever. It was fun in a, in a former life I used to throw pub crawls actually. Yeah. Back in the day in Phoenix, Arizona, we had a party bus that we converted a, we took a city bus and converted it into a nightclub.

Sean Tierney: 00:47:56 And so a, yes. So that is a whole nother life. What the heck? Why are we doing that here? So fun. yeah, no, that is, that is a lifetime ago. That was not a good business. Our Ma, our motto is breakeven and so right. Sometimes broke you. Fair enough. Not so scalable. It’s fine. Moving on, moving on. no. I want to, I want to transition and talk about a more serious subject. I know you had a somewhat of a near tragedy happen in your past. Are you willing to talk about the neck incident? Yeah. Wow. Such a interesting segue from Sunday funday but I was like drunken

Christa Bella: 00:48:35 pool party as if I didn’t learn my lesson. So there’s a little foreshadowing for the story. It ends well for everyone listening, but basically, yeah, this story that Shawn’s leading to, I told him the other day and I would say it’s responsible for pretty much like all of the major life decisions that I’ve made. it’s the reason why I travel and yeah, so this super serious thing that happened. basically I was 20 years old and I was, yeah, I was 20. I was planning on studying abroad for the whole year of my senior year of college or my junior year. And I was so excited that I flew down to my friend’s place in Maryland before I was, going to go abroad and it was like my last Hurrah trip. I’m like, Chris leaving. We all need to get drunk and like have the best night ever.

Christa Bella: 00:49:30 Well, while you know how like 20 year old Americans do, needless to say, this was a very drunken night and it was the summertime. We were having a party by the pool. And long story short, I dove into the pool and I hit my head on the bottom. I came up right away. Like I remember feeling like the boom, like the thud on top of my head and then it hurt obviously. So I came up right away and I was like, whoa. That really hurt to the guy that was at the other end of the pool and he was like, can you turn your neck? I’m like, I was the lifeguard, and like, let’s just make sure you’re okay, which that is not the right thing to do, not the right thing to do. Thank God. I only turned it sideways because apparently if I had turned up and down I would have ended.

Christa Bella: 00:50:17 Things would have maybe been different. But anyway, so I turned my head and I was like, nope, I’m fine. I just want to get out the pool. Like wow, I feel like an idiot. Like what a dumb thing to do that I into the pool when I was drunk again, I tell the, I can tell this story in a very long drawn out way. But long story short, that experience resulted in a broken neck and I broke my neck diving into a pool, which was the worst. It was like a very painful, yeah, days before. It was literally like the week before I was going to board my flight. So that was honestly injury aside, the most devastating thing ever. Like, I, I really remember like people say the rug has been pulled out from under you. I like, I felt that like that was so real for me and yeah, like I just was so upset.

Christa Bella: 00:51:12 I was just so sad. It’s so sad that I, that first of all that I, that I could be so dumb like that I could make such a stupid instantaneous decision like the decision to dive into a pool. Like I’ve just was like, yeah, pool me, I’m hot pool, got dump done. Like I didn’t even think about it obviously. So, so had to drop out of my semester, which sucked. I ended up having to have a really ridiculously awful painful, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad surgery where they cut a big yeah, kind of, yeah. Had a couple of my vertebrae fused together and my neck shaved the back half of my hair. So there was like all these like aesthetic issues that came along with it to gained a bunch of weight when I was like injured and stuff cause I was really immobile and all in all this was just a very bad traumatic experience.

Christa Bella: 00:52:07 And so I felt really bad emotionally. I was so ashamed of myself. I was so like I like hated the way that I looked. I hated the way that I felt. I was so bored. I was like worried about not being able to go back to school because I didn’t know if I was going to have to have another surgery. Like there they gave me I think like eight weeks to wait until you know, two to see if like the surgery had been effective or not. So yeah, it just fell into a dark place for awhile with this, with this surgery and this injury. But you aren’t paralyzed so it’s a very small silver lining mass. That’s the key to the story. Okay. So like when I was in it, when I was like in the depths like that I, I wasn’t studying abroad and I wasn’t in and I wasn’t in school and I like didn’t like the way that I looked, like all, all of these like really negative things.

Christa Bella: 00:53:02 There was, there wasn’t a way for me to see the silver lining. I just was, I really was like in a, in a deep dark place and again, I felt so stupid for what I had done and I got, I had this like overwhelming this like these like overwhelmingly negative thoughts where I was just like, I made that decision to dive into that pool in one second and what else am I gonna do in my life that could almost kill me? Like what if I, what if I like accidentally cross the street and I know an a car is going or like a motorcycle is going too fast or what if I trip and fall? Or what if a mosquito bites me and I like die of a weird disease or what if, what if I get cancer or what if I like just like there I just was like, oh my God, there’s so many ways to die.

Christa Bella: 00:53:48 So I was freaking out about that and it was, it was bad. Okay. So now to your point, then I found out that I wasn’t going to have another surgery that I didn’t need one, that I was getting better I, and it was like early enough that I could still study abroad for the second semester and I figured out that like my school, like I could, I could work out my classes and take summer and winter classes and I could still graduate on time and all these things like it was going to be okay. And that was really changed my mindset a lot and I started seeing it was not a silver lining, it’s like the big like glowing or of around the bed situation that this could’ve been so much worse. Obviously like when people break their necks, I don’t usually survive. They, maybe they die instantaneously.

Christa Bella: 00:54:44 Maybe they become a quadriplegic, may become they, they become a paraplegic. Maybe they suffer brain damage, maybe they have debilitating pain for the rest of their life. But like none of that happened to me. I was literally walking away from this situation scotch free. I have a scar in the back of my neck, but like it’s fine and my hair all grew back in and like it’s whatever I’m, I’m literally like no one even knows this story about me usually because, it just doesn’t come up often anyway. The point is what to why I live my life the way that I do is because, so I went through that whole experience where I was like, there are so many ways to die and I’m so incredibly lucky that that that wasn’t my fate in this situation. And so I just thought if something like this ever happens again, I never, ever want to regret not taking advantage of an opportunity.

Christa Bella: 00:55:44 Like if, if I become a paraplegic someday, knock on wood, that I don’t, but if I ever become a paraplegic someday, I don’t want to look back on my life and think, I should’ve done that. I should’ve done this. I should’ve done that. I should’ve been more, whatever. I should have taken more chances. So, so when I started to feel better, I remember I spent an entire day in bed making a bucket list and I wrote down all the things I had ever wanted to do. All the, all the like craziest things that I could ever imagine doing, like the farthest places in the world that I could go, like the wildest that I could do that day. I put I think like 92 items on my Google doc. which the top is this big thing that says live life to the fullest. And since then I cannot tell you how many things I’ve crossed off because I actually don’t know. But it’s like more than 75% for sure.

Sean Tierney: 00:56:42 Is that something you’d be willing to maybe share that we could link to or is that

Christa Bella: 00:56:46 no, I would never share that with anybody. Okay. Well maybe someday I’ll share with somebody, but I’ve never shared it with anybody. It’s a very private, personal thing. but some things on the list was a ride, an elephant in Thailand, which at the time I didn’t know that this was a very unethical thing to do. So don’t go riding off into Thailand. But the point is that I was dreaming about Thailand at the time and then like years later I ended up moving there. Another one was like become a city girl cause I had been living in the suburbs, so I moved to New York City and see the pyramids of Egypt’s ride, a hot air balloon and Capitol Kia Turkey ride the Gondola in Venice. Yeah, just all, all these, a lot of, a lot of travel experiences. Oh, go to Rio for carnival. So yeah, my bucket list has been a guiding force in my life and now my, my rule is that if something is on the list and I have an opportunity to do it, I have to do that thing and I’m just so grateful that I had that experience that has really guided my life since then.

Sean Tierney: 00:57:48 That seems like a really positive way to take away something from that. You know, something that was in every other respect and negative experience. It sounds like you managed to convert it into a positive. That’s awesome. Yeah. Chris at this point in the interview, I have now finally come up with a name for this section of the interview. We go to this rapid fire questions section, but I finally got the name for it. This is the breakdown. Are you ready for the breakdown?

Christa Bella: 00:58:14 Oh my gosh. I don’t know. I don’t even know what it is. Okay. Break down baby.

Sean Tierney: 00:58:21 What is one book that has had a profound effect on you?

Christa Bella: 00:58:26 Oh, so many books. The first one that comes to my mind is eat, pray, love. Because that was the first, I mean it’s, I actually was reading that book when I broke my neck. So I think maybe that’s why it was, it made such an impact on me, but I will. Yeah, I was reading about this, this woman that was traveling the world and living her best life and, that was something that I wanted and I aspire to and now I’m doing it too. It’s awesome.

Sean Tierney: 00:58:52 What about, what is one tool or a travel hack that saves you time, money, headaches, et Cetera?

Christa Bella: 00:58:59 a tool.

Sean Tierney: 00:59:01 we’re a travel hack. Any kind of trick or anything like road wisdom, you’ve been on the road for five and a half years.

Christa Bella: 00:59:07 Okay. So travel hack is, I’m, if you’re American, get Google fi for yours, like for your phones, service provider, it is the best and you can use it everywhere. and Road v wisdom to try to stay in every destination that you can for at least two weeks to traveling for two weeks as a digital nomad. And each place is still pretty quick. and I still, you know, like travel faster than that sometimes, but I just always have a better experience when I’m somewhere for two plus two, two weeks to like eight weeks.

Sean Tierney: 00:59:43 I would tend to agree with that. Like, the first guy I interviewed on here, my friend Trevor at some point was on a pace, I think every four days or five days he was me. My God. That’s hard to maintain. No can’t. Yeah. Crazy. That’s too much. okay. What about this? So who alive today would you most like to have dinner with?

Christa Bella: 01:00:05 Oh,

Christa Bella: 01:00:08 well, I don’t know. oh, that’s a tough question. Can we skip this one?

Sean Tierney: 01:00:15 Sure. If he gets scared. What about, what is one musical artists that most speaks to you right now?

Christa Bella: 01:00:21 That’s a tough one too because I love music and I listened to music all the time, but like I listened to a lot of instrumental music so I don’t always know the names of the artists, like it just kind of like flipped stream happen. But I will say that I did the, the artists that I respect the most and I don’t care who makes fun of me for this. Lady Gaga is the queen. She’s, I just love how she’s just very unapologetically herself all the time. and I n she’s like super liberal with her attitudes and I just, I respect her. Awesome. Maybe I’d like to have dinner with Lady Gaga.

Sean Tierney: 01:00:55 All right. We’ll, we’ll go with that as your, the answer to both of those. What about, greatest challenge you faced and what you learned from it and is it the neck thing, man, right,

Christa Bella: 01:01:06 sure. 100%. The neck thing. Yup. Breaking my neck and coming out on top was the biggest thing. The bucket list. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 01:01:14 Nice. All right, last question. Okay. If you had a time machine to go back to your 20 year old Christa Self, let’s say before that incident, so the 20 year old pre diving into the pool, Christa, what advice would you give yourself?

Christa Bella: 01:01:30 I don’t even know if I would tell her not to dive into the pool. Like honestly really that impacted my life profoundly. Ultimately in a good way. It was, it was hard. I would just tell her that everything’s going to be okay.

Sean Tierney: 01:01:46 Well, you’re not the first person to say that actually. Like it’s all gonna work out. I think Danielle, that was similar advice that she gave her herself. So. Great. Well, so Christa let at this point, how can people contact you if they want to get in touch? How can we take the Instagram or weekend?

Christa Bella: 01:02:02 Mm. you can go to Instagram or, with Instagram or with two m’s. you also can find me on Instagram at Christa Bella travels. My name is spelled C. H. R. I. S. T. A. So Christa Bella.

Sean Tierney: 01:02:20 Yeah. Or if you want to email me. Cool. All right, and we will link all of that in the show notes for people listening are driving right now, so you don’t have to do any writing drive safe, drive safe. That shit is dangerous. All right, Chris, thank you so much for being on the show. Thanks Sean. Thanks everyone for listening. You guys are the best. Bye.

Contact info

Christa Romano
Personal Site
Current Company
Current Title
Marketing strategist
United States of America
Where in the world are you now?
Where were you living when you decided to start a nomadic life?
New York City
In which (if any) of these travel programs have you participated?
  • WiFi Tribe
  • Nomad Cruise
  • Selina
What were the initial set of circumstances or motive(s) that led you to experiment with a nomadic life?
Originally I took off for the expat life as a result of feeling lost in my career and wanting more than 10 vacation days per year, but not having the money to go backpack and thus concluded I needed a job abroad.

Post expat-life, I was reluctant to return to “normal life” again (since the reasons I left it in the first place we’re still relevant) and found a remote job

Was there something specifically you were looking to gain or escape from that you’re willing/able to share?
What was it and did that play out as you were hoping?
I was looking to become more worldly and yes it played out a million times better than I had hoped
What did you do for income/work while traveling?
Originally I got certified to teach English, but once I got to Thailand I found a job at a tech startup as a marketing manager and eventually editor in chief of a publication; this was still an office job with vacation days but my life was much more travel-focused then than it had ever been in nyc.

Once I became actually nomadic I originally worked as a contact worker content creator and eventually was hired full time as a marketing strategist for another US based tech-startup

Did that situation change at all during the course of your travels?
Are you still doing the same work today as when you went nomadic?
Did you find it challenging to do your work from abroad?
What type of personal or business growth did you expect to experience and how did that turn out in actuality?
I wanted to gain more diverse experience in marketing and to raise my income, and yes they worked out
What was the highest high-point and lowest low-point of your travels?
High points— Telling my travel buddy after an amazing day in the Galapagos that I felt so fulfilled with my life that if I died that night, honestly I’d be okay with it.

Getting the call about my original job offer while I was by the pool in Costa Rica, and then later on, a call about my raise while I was in Bali

Too many bucket listers to count but big ones = celebrating carnival in Brazil, seeing the hot air balloons in Turkey, road tripping through Namibia, sleeping under the stars in a Saharan Bedouin camp, etc. etc. etc.

Low points— going through a breakup as a nomad and having to change future travel plans, getting Dengue fever while in a hostel traveling alone in Nicaragua, taking one of my best friends to the ER while in Brazil

Was there ever a point at which you gave serious consideration to quitting the nomadic journey?
What made you stick it out?
Honestly? After a breakup, a tarot card reading surfaced a lot of subconscious fears for me and made me realize my decision was based more off of hurt rather than desire.
What did you learn from your nomadic existence that was unintuitive or unexpected but obvious now in retrospect?
I learned that there are SO many ways to live this lifestyle, there’s no way I’d ever go back to the rat race space
Was it hard to re-integrate back into society after your travels?
I’m still traveling!
What can you not “un-see” at this point?
American nationalism, the worldwide plastic waste problem, my born privilege
How do you think you’ve changed as a person from the experience?
I’ve grown a lot
What would you say to someone considering taking a leap like this?
Let me give you a pep talk on Instagram @christabellatravels

Also, don’t be afraid of feeling lonely. It’s easy to meet other nomads once you get started if you know where to look

What’s your best travel hack?
Buy the extra long laptop charger. Best $80 I ever spent
Is there a piece of gear you could you not live without at this point?
Please provide a link to this product
The extra long cable for Mac Laptops
Any particular routines or rituals that kept you fit/healthy/sane throughout the year?
Not eating meat /pescatarian diet
If you were to do it again, what would you go back and tell your former self to do differently in order to get more out of the experience?
No regrets!


Sean is host of Nomad Podcast, author of the Nomad Prep eCourse to help others successfully transition to the nomadic lifestyle. Sean is also founder of Problemattic, a global movement to mobilize knowledge workers for good. Read more from Sean on his personal blog or his business blog.

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Nomad Podcast is a series of conversations with nomads, founders and domain experts to help get more people unstuck through transitioning to a nomadic lifestyle. Add your email to get special access to private AMA sessions, pre-release products and other VIP shiz.