Vittoria Compagnoni runs the eco-conscious lifestyle and travel blog, Simply EcoNomads. She is about to start travelling the world while working remotely with her boyfriend, Adam. She is a minimalist vegan who cares for the environment by a following a Zero Waste lifestyle and by always travelling sustainably. Find out how it's possible to travel the world while still caring for the environment.
When did you start travelling and working remotely? Why did you want to do it?
I started travelling when I was really little, because my grandmother is from Vienna and some of our family lives there, so we used to go and spend Christmas together, or go to visit my nan. I inherited my wanderlust from my parents. Since we were very little they made sure we saw a new country every year. We went on a lot of family holidays and cruises, which were always a lot of fun. When I was a teenager I sang in a choir and I did professional opera singing, so we travelled around for concerts, especially in Germany, Austria and Poland. Then I moved to London 6 years ago, thinking I would stay for a couple of years and then go to see other places in the world, but I got comfortable and forgot all about my dream. Until I met Adam, and we travelled around the UK, Europe and Africa at every chance we had. Now we plan to leave London for good and become digital nomads, dedicating our lives to full-time travelling and helping the planet in the process. The reason behind our choice is that we are so curious about other cultures, and we feel happiest when we are strangers in someone else's home. It challenges our perspective on life and pushes the boundaries of our comfort zone.
How did you prepare for your travels? What did your friends/family say?
We are still in preparation mode, we are selling our things, cancelling memberships, making lists of things to do and to pack; and while Adam is looking for a remote job, I am documenting the whole process on my blog, trying to show others how two very average people can accomplish their dream. Our family and friends have been incredibly supportive because they know us well, and we have been talking about traveling the world for years! So it didn't surprise them at all, and I guess they are happy we are doing this together because it will be such a fun adventure and we have each other to rely on.
When did you become environmentally conscious? What exactly does that mean to you?
I was the one who peeked our interest in helping to protect the environment. I decided to become vegan two years ago and Adam immediately followed because he couldn't find a reason not to. Then about a year ago, when we were settled into being vegan, we stumbled upon the concept of Zero Waste, and we gave that a go. It completely revolutionised our lives! Once we really looked into what plastic is doing to our planet we couldn't stop thinking about it. So we transitioned to a very minimal, frugal life without much thought. It all came very naturally and with ease, and it fit right into a nomadic lifestyle. Before we decided to see the world we were actually thinking of getting a piece of land and an eco-sustainable tiny home and starting a permaculture farm. But then we realised we didn’t want to be stuck in one place and we could help others on their farms around the world. Being environmentally conscious means to be aware of the problems our planet is facing today and actively chosing to do something about it. For us that translates into being vegan, zero waste and minimalist and also sharing our lives with as many people as possible to guide others on this path through sustainable travelling.
Is it possible to travel eco-consciously, when still flying to new locations?
I believe not, because flying is definitely not the most eco-conscious way to move across places. A study has quantified that an average airport produces toxic gasses and fumes equivalent to 350'000 cars a day. This adds up to 600 million tons of CO2 yearly which constitutes 10% of the total cause of global warming. That is why we have opted for land transportation, such as trains, bicycles, walking, trekking; but we have the luxury of time. My advice to someone who wants to reduce their footprint is to limit the amount of flights and instead travel slowly: you can stop and see so much more along the way plus the journey begins as soon as you leave your front door. It is definitely a more "hands on" travelling experience and you will have the chance to make incredible memories and meet awesome people from the very beginning. Plus flying is not always the cheapest way and you will also "skip" a lot of incredible countries by flying above them instead of journeying through them.
Is it hard to travel to new places as a vegan/vegetarian?
So far being vegan has been very easy. I have not yet been to a place where I couldn’t find anything to eat. I love cooking and fruit, vegetables and grains are everywhere. Plus healthy eating is becoming a trend. There are so many resources online where I can research vegan-friendly places before I land, so if I am feeling lazy I know exactly where I need to go. If I had to name one place that was difficult I would say Isola Del Giglio, which is a little island in Tuscany. Most of the restaurants serve fish, but I still found plenty of choice of pizza, pasta and ice-cream. They even had vegan croissants! The secret is research and being open-minded. Plus whole-foods will always be available.
What are the biggest challenges of working and travelling?
I have yet to travel while working. All my experiences have been “holiday” like. Maybe the most difficult thing will be finding the motivation to work when there is so much to see and do. However my job will be to document our trips, take pictures, collaborate with other travellers, volunteer and work in sustainable projects, animal sanctuaries and get involved in all sorts of projects that help the planet. So I bet I will love every minute of it. I hope I won’t struggle for money, but I am a big believer that when you live with less you need less, so a little money will go a long way.
Did you create your own website for your blog or did you outsource the work?
I created my own website, because I wanted it to reflect my style and my personality. Nobody knows me better than me. I also enjoy the creative process so much, so I would have missed out by giving it to someone else, and I love challenging my knowledge and learning by doing. My site is a constant work in progress, every now and then I decide to add a button, or change a layout, add a page, I don’t think I will ever stop working on it and adapting it to our experiences.
Any tips for our readers on how to get started blogging/copywriting?
First and foremost writing has to come naturally to you because you can force yourself to write an article, but you won’t last long that way. You have to have that urge to share your experiences with others, to write about them and curate the details of your story to make it appealing to others. Secondly you have to find your niche and have an angle that is different from anybody else, so you can attract readers and have something special about your blog. Thirdly you have to be patient and work really hard to build a following, and that is what I am struggling the most with because it takes up all my time and energy, but I have my eyes on the prize and I know it will be worth it in the end. So lastly is not to give up! Most blogs fail because the writers lose interest, and most blogs succeed simply because they have been up and running for 5 years. So even when you don’t remember why you are still doing it, DO IT!
Have you ever had a surreal travel moment? If so, what was it?
One of the most surreal travelling experiences I had was when I visited Casablanca and Rabat in Morocco. We saw some of the most beautiful mosques and temples, incredible restaurants and buildings, and right next to them we saw so much poverty. Most people live in shacks and abandoned houses, and so many were begging and looking really desperate. It saddened me so much to see the contrast between incredible beauty and eye-opening reality.
What’s your favourite quote?
I love quotes so it will be difficult to pick one. The three I live by are: “True morality consists not in following the beaten track, but in finding the true path for ourselves, and fearlessly following it” and "Be the change you want to see in the world" by Mahatma Gandhi and “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good".
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
My dad is one of the wisest people I know and I grew up following his example and his incredible strength. One of the best pieces of advice that I held closest to my heart was: “It doesn’t matter if you want to be the president of the world or sell fruit at the market, what matters is that whatever you chose to do in life you do to the best of your abilities. Not everyone can jump as high as everybody else, but if I know you can jump up to two meters and you chose to only jump up to one, we will have a problem!”. And I totally agree with that!
What is your favourite country that you’ve visited?
That is a very mean question to ask to a traveller! I believe my favourite country is one that I have yet to visit. But I find Austria and Italy stunning; and the UK has some incredible places too.
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