240: Ahead of the Curve: Sam Rivello’s Early Adventures in Digital Nomadism

Sam Rivello interviewed by Mikkel Thorup on The Expat Money Show Podcast

Today’s guest is Sam Rivello, who left his home in Los Angeles, California in 2010 as a ‘life experiment’ to combine work and travel to see the world. Since then, he has spent “1 minute or more” in 81 countries, with an average time of 58 days per country. Over the past 12 months, he has travelled extensively throughout Africa and plans to spend at least another 12 months seeing what this amazing continent has to offer.

Sam and I have a lot in common, and this discussion is chock full of nuggets of wisdom on every step of the expat journey. Enjoy!



  • Listen in to hear Sam recount how he decided to try the “life experiment” of working while travelling “for two years” – which is still going strong thirteen years later! Wow!
  • Sam reflects on what it was like becoming a “digital nomad” before the term was popularized – and the infrastructure challenges that came along with it. 
  • We discuss the importance of setting personal boundaries when it comes to technology and the constant challenge of drawing a hard line between work and personal time. 
  • Sam explains how he made the professional choice to take more long-term ownership and responsibility for his own lifestyle as a full-time expat, to ensure balance in all areas of life. 
  • Listen as Sam breaks down the challenge of expats and those leading a digital lifestyle to break a lot of their old mindsets in order to make the lifestyle sustainable for them. 
  • We discuss the concept of “nomad burnout” as Sam explains what led to his decision to live for an extended period of time as an expat in Scandinavia.
  • Sam details how the Danes have a very different concept of what entails “friendship” and the difficulty of breaking into pre-established friend groups there in Denmark. 
  • We dig into our shared view that the expat lifestyle is a fantastic vehicle for learning, which makes it perfect for those with a passion for learning as Sam and I both hold. 
  • We then discuss some of the reasons that many live vicariously through other expats instead of pulling the trigger and giving it a shot themselves. I’ve heard a ton of these before!
  • Sam lays out some of the top reasons that some expats end up burning out from the lifestyle. Be sure to listen in for his advice on how to make sure this doesn’t happen to you!
  • Listen to Sam’s insights on the key to learning a new language. Hint: there are no shortcuts!



209: Life As A Long-Term Digital Nomad – Kristin Wilson

168: Digital Nomad Mindset Tips and Challenges

150: – Six Months In Florianopolis, Brazil – Mikkel Thorup



Website: https://www.SamuelAsherRivello.com/

Contact: https://www.SamuelAsherRivello.com/Contact


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Sam and I have a lot in common when it comes to our passion for travel as a challenge to learn and grow from. It was an absolute pleasure to learn from his efforts and struggles as an expat, and this discussion is a great example of the value of becoming an expat and what it can bring to your life.

See you all next Wednesday on the podcast!

About The Host, Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup; the host of The Expat Money Show, has 20+ years in continual travel around the world, visiting more than 100 countries including Colombia, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Iran.

His goal now is to help Expats just like you to generate additional streams of income, eliminate your tax bill, and take advantage of offshore structures so you can travel the world freely and never have to worry about money again.

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