Never Normal Newsletter

The emerging nomad economy

I wrote last week about what we should call ourselves (and leaving America). Whether you like the term or not, one thing is clear…

The number of people who are digital nomads or interested in becoming digital nomads is growing.

In 2015, Pieter Levels famously predicted that there would be 1 billion nomads by 2035. We’re not there yet, but the MBO Partners® 2021 State of Independence research study found that “15.5 million American workers currently describe themselves as digital nomads, increasing 42% from 2020 and 112% from the pre-pandemic year 2019.”

This rise in the number of digital nomads is an opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs — a new market that’s often not well served by existing products and services.

That’s why I got excited when I heard about Genki a few months ago from one of their investors (who also happens to be married to my cousin. It’s a small world. Also #familymafia).

Genki is a startup focused on health for digital nomads and long-term world travelers like me. Their first product is World Explorer travel medical insurance.

Health insurance may not be a sexy product, but it is a major expense for most people and it’s the perfect example of an industry that doesn’t serve nomads well.

Most traditional health care plans don’t offer much coverage outside of your home country, and even the ones that do, it’s usually only for a few weeks at a time.

Travel insurance exists, but it’s more about replacing your lost suitcase than staying healthy on the road. Plus, typical travel policies are still geared towards a single trip. When you sign up, they want to know the destination, start, and end date of your trip.

Me: “Ummm. I started in 2012 and here’s a spreadsheet of all the places I’ve been since then. I might go to Turkey soon. Or Montenegro.”

Genki’s insurance is designed for digital nomads. They provide coverage in every country in the world (underwritten by Allianz), and it’s a simple monthly subscription (like Netflix). Totally flexible.

After chatting with a few of their investors and meeting Marc, the founder, I decided to join the team and lead marketing.

For now, Genki is technically a client of my consulting business, but given the nature of startups and the growth of the digital nomad market, it’s going to be a very full-on engagement.

Working with Genki also pairs nicely with a lot of the work that I’m already doing, like this newsletter, my Digital Nomad Guide, and upcoming course on becoming a digital nomad (in May/June).

More on that soon.

In the meantime, here’s a ⚡ lightning round of what I’ve been reading:

Speaking of digital nomading going more mainstream, Conde Nast Traveler recently shared The Best Airbnbs in Europe.

Most of these are pretty expensive, but I have to admit, they found some cool homes in unexpected places.


I also loved this piece from the Washington Post yesterday about a carpet cleaner who speaks at least two dozen languages.

The article captures my favorite part about growing up around Washington, DC — getting exposed to so many different people from all over the world — as well as the joy you can experience by learning about other cultures and being able to instantly connect with those people.

I’ve often thought that, if I couldn’t travel anymore for some reason, I would go work or volunteer at a youth hostel, just to be able to continue experiencing that feeling.

That’s all for this week! More soon…

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I write occasional emails to share what I’m thinking, learning, and doing. It’s all related to the idea of breaking free from the “default plan” in life.

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