Listen to this story
By Ronnie Wendt
Wanderlust often pairs with fear. Desire for the open road often pairs with doubt. But if you take those worries out of the equation, the path to a nomadic lifestyle becomes easier.
Tara Sage, Inc., a coaching company, helps “create a life and business you don’t need a vacation from.”
She has built a business on helping others do the things she herself has done; one of those things is living a nomadic lifestyle. She started her coaching business in 2004 and, from the start, she designed her business to be location independent so she could take her work with her where she goes. Sage now lives a fully nomadic lifestyle in an RV.
She qualifies her journey by pointing out that though she lives in an RV most of the time, she also puts the RV into storage and stays with family or at a hotel occasionally.
“This, for me, is not about RV living, it’s about nomadic living. It’s not that my ultimate dream was to live in an RV. My dream was to have the freedom to travel, and the RV has been my solution for that,” she said.
Prior to launching her business, Sage worked in the world of psychology for 10 years.
“I worked at a children’s psychiatric hospital doing behavior modification work, and I worked at Brown University on an alcohol addiction research study,” she explained.
But she felt restless and knew this wasn’t the life for her. She explained she’s always been a traveler at heart and eventually realized she couldn’t live out her life in one location.
“As far back as I can recall, I felt like I was being asked to fit into a mold that simply didn’t fit,” she said. “From the 9-5 job, to status quo norms, to the expectations of parents, teachers, bosses … even friends. That’s why I decided to start a location independent business and chart my own course.”
Through a series of strategic moves, Sage built a business that operates from wherever she is.
“I live in an RV with my partner and our dog,” she explained. “We’re currently touring the United States and going wherever we feel.”
Her partner, Carl, also works remotely as a computer programmer.
A lifelong traveler, her journeys have taken her all over the United States as well as to Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. As a digital nomad, she’s able to work from anywhere.
Ready for the road
Building a remote business began long before Sage set out on the open road, long before the Internet was accessible everywhere, and long before the term “digital nomad” had even been coined. When she first started her company, she lived in Providence, R.I., and so did her clients. However, she worked with them remotely.
“They’d ask me, ‘Why are we on the phone if you live down the road?’ and I’d say, ‘Because I’m building a business that can operate from anywhere, so I’m committed to working this way,’” she recalls. “I’d tell them that they would see that the process is effective over the telephone, and they did. That’s how I grew my business.”
This step enabled her to solve the challenges of working while leading a nomadic lifestyle before she did it full time. In her practice, she encourages others feeling the nudge toward a nomadic life to do the same.
“I advise clients who are thinking about it, to start by striving toward 80 percent remote, not 100 percent,” she said. “It’s sort of a mental switch. Sometimes when people think about doing it 100 percent, they freeze. But if they start thinking of it as 80 percent, it’s easier to shift how they work, make the necessary arrangements, and use technology in new ways so that they can be in the office less.”
Tara and Carl also created Nomadic Living 101, an eight-module online course designed to help others in their journeys to the open road. She recommends taking the course before venturing out because it helps people learn how to live and finance a nomadic lifestyle.
“Our course provides everything people need to know to get road-ready with clear answers about the RV lifestyle, logistics and mechanics – all in one place,” she said.
“We teach you what you need to know, and not what you don’t. There is so much information out there that can get you really bogged down,” Sage added. “But this course teaches you exactly what you need to know to explore and overcome your fears so you can get on the road and thrive.”
She encourages others to learn from their experiences and mistakes, noting, “Carl and I were total newbies. When we started out, we had zero RV experience. But drawing from a lifetime of travels, I’ve learned a lot about how to make the world my office and bust through the myth that home is a zip code.”
Retirement is no longer a requirement to roam. Becoming a digital nomad provides the opportunity to work from anywhere.
For Sage, this means having consistent access to the Internet.
“For Carl and I, the Internet is very important for us to have,” she explained. “Between us, we have three Internet providers. He has Sprint, I have AT&T, and we also have a Verizon Jetpack. This means anywhere that cell phones work, we can connect to the Internet. With these providers, it is rare for us to be in a place where we have no connection.”
The couple works on laptops rather than desktop PCs.
“Using laptops also means we are not limited to working in our RV. We can work outside, and often, one of us will go to a café or library to work,” she added. “I have confidentiality clauses with my clients, and Carl is of course not there when I have coaching calls. We make it work by communicating our schedules with each other and setting our needs around that.”
She adds that having a sense of humor and a dose of patience also helps. Sage is often hired for speaking engagements, most recently the Florida RV Supershow. When working on a presentation, she puts sticky notes containing different thoughts on the walls of the travel trailer. It helps her organize her thoughts and she moves them around until she finds the right order for her presentation.
“We climb into bed and next to us is a wall with sticky notes,” she laughed. “I tell Carl, ‘Don’t bump the wall, or a sticky note might fall off.’ He’s been really patient with me.”
Reap the rewards
A nomadic lifestyle brings so many rewards that Sage encourages others to explore the option for themselves – be it for a month, a season, a year, or forever.
One stunning personal revelation, she says, has been what she calls “The paradox of less.”
“I’ve been surprised by how profoundly I feel lighter, my life feels simpler and my mental space feels free,” she said. “Moving into an RV required me to downsize and get rid of so many things. But in that process, I cleared out more than just the physical clutter; I also cleared out the mental clutter.
“I have more time, more freedom and less stuff. Cleaning my home used to take me an entire Saturday, now it takes me 20 minutes,” said Sage.
However, she points out it didn’t always feel this way. She confesses having felt totally overwhelmed when they first picked up their RV and were given a 10-minute tutorial from the person handing them the keys.
There are so many aspects to consider before successfully moving to a nomadic lifestyle. Sage cautions such education is not typically found at an RV dealership.
“RV dealerships don’t advise you about nomadic living. When we went to an RV dealership to explore the option of buying an RV to live in, our salesperson told us not to tell him if we were planning to live in it full time,” she explained.
Sage took this as her cue to write an e-book guiding others to full-time RV living. The e-book is titled, “10 Things RV Dealerships Don’t Tell You About Nomadic Living.” The book can be downloaded from tarasagecoaching.com. The first three chapters are free, the entire book costs $4.95.
“There’s the mindset piece (Nomadic Living 101) and the mechanics piece (10 Things RV Dealerships Don’t Tell You About Nomadic Living), and both are needed,” she explained.
“You could know everything about RVs and still not feel comfortable with nomadic living. Both the book and our Nomadic Living 101 course help people overcome their fears, align with their preferences and interests, and gain the permission and confidence to do it their way,” Sage said. “The program is comprehensive. I focus primarily on the lifestyle pieces, and Carl on the mechanics.”
To those toying with the idea for a change, Sage has some advice.
“If you’re feeling the nudge, it’s important that you listen. Life is too short and the cost of denying your heart’s desires are too high if you don’t.,” she said. “Of course, if what you want is to commute to a corporate job and commit to the 30-year mortgage, that’s fine — if it’s your dream.
“But if it isn’t, then it’s time to ask some hard questions and make some changes,” she added. “Stop waiting for later or someday to live your dreams and chart your own course. Life is way too short to be lived that way.”
If you need help finding your way, Sage stands ready to serve. All of her programs and offerings are designed to support clients in making positive accelerated life changes so that you too create a life and business you don’t need a vacation from.
“I love my work,” she added. “I am absolutely devoted to helping others stop postponing their dreams and create their boundless life — now.”