/ Digital Nomad

After 4 months on the road, what’s next?

It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 months since taking off for Iceland. The last 16 weeks have completely challenged my preconceptions of what long-term travel would be like.

Despite the amount of time, there are plenty of new locations I scouted, but couldn’t shoot in the right conditions. If you feel like you’ll ever run out of material for stunning landscape photography, I promise: you won’t.

Before starting this trip of a lifetime, I wrote about preparing for a sabbatical and the importance of outlining key results. It’s not a vacation, but a strategic investment in your life and photography.

So what do you do when you’ve accomplished most of your sabbatical goals? “I want to expand my photography portfolio” isn’t enough anymore, because it leads to just that: an expanded portfolio. Nothing more.

A few days ago I flew back to the USA to recharge, reevaluate and celebrate everything that’s happened in four months on the road. What’s next? I don’t know. I have countless stunning countries on my bucket list, but no goals to accompany them. No challenge to rise to the next level. I don’t work well that way.


Ironically, you can get stuck in a comfort zone when you’re constantly on the road. In the pursuit to never stop growing, sometimes leaving your comfort zone means taking an exit. And that’s okay!

For the same reason people hesitate to take a sabbatical seriously, it can be intimidating to take a break: what our peers think. Some folks think I am on a perpetual vacation, and can’t fathom how I could need a break from travel. As many digital nomads will tell you, long-term travel completely changes you, and once that change is effected, things won’t be the same when you return. Things never “go back to normal,” because travel molds your outlook. Consequently, it shapes your future.

That’s why I believe in the value of traveling now, not later: it has the capacity to enrich your future. I don’t know what’s next for me, but I can list 30 things that will be different from before. You never “settle down” from travel, you simply move on to the next season.

That means when you need a break — not if, but when — take it. Take time to reevaluate what’s next in light of your experience.

“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”
—William James

In Exeter, I jogged to the nearby IKEA. My favorite part of IKEA’s approach to interiors isn’t so much the cute accessories or some-assembly-required shelves: it’s their willingness to depart from conventions. Why do you need a breakfast table? So what if the bed is in the kitchen?

At the heart of design and creativity is a healthy disregard for convention. At the heart of turning dreams into achievable reality is a healthy disregard for convention… and what others think.

I wouldn’t trade these last 4 months for anything, because I gained much more than beautiful photos. I brought back what you can’t put a price on: perspective and a changed mind. That’s a worthwhile investment, no matter what’s next.

What conventions are you holding onto that are handicapping your goals?

Landscape photography from 4 months on the road

Jonathan Lee Martin

Jonathan Lee Martin

Globetrotting digital nomad and fine art landscape photographer in Atlanta. Working remotely as a developer + international trainer, scaling mountains at twilight to discover non-touristy landscapes.

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