Everyone knows about the digital nomad lifestyle nowadays. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that some people who work with laptops (it’s also called the laptop lifestyle) on businesses that are completely online, move around and live and work from different places around the world.
It doesn’t even have to be a business. Remote workers who don’t have to live in one place can move around as well. As long as there is a good internet connection, a digital nomad can live there. And as most places in the world have a great internet connection, the world is our oyster now. Yahoo!
But is the digital nomad lifestyle easy? Is it for everyone? Let me tell you a bit more about this in the article to follow. Keep reading!
If It Were Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It
The problem is that many digital nomads make it look easy from the outside in. Of course, it isn’t as complicated as rocket science, but it has intricacies to it that can only be learned once you are on the road. Reading a book about it isn’t enough. Talking to other nomads isn’t enough. You HAVE TO experience it.
But because there is a culture now of digital nomads teaching normal folks on how to become digital nomads, they try to make it seem as if it were as easy as pie. Don’t get me wrong – with the world the way its set up now, it’s easier than ever to move countries and set up shop wherever you want (well almost wherever).
But there are some challenges to it, as with everything else. It isn’t all roses and honey and rainbows. I wish it were.
I have seen way too many people embark upon the digital nomad lifestyle thinking that it’s for them and realizing way too quickly that it’s not. Slinking back home with their tail between their legs isn’t the funnest way to end a digital nomad endeavour. It’s only because they went into with extremely high expectations and very few plans.
It isn’t impossible, but it isn’t easy either. I’ll share some tips for making it easier below, but also what I notice are some pitfalls to avoid. Enjoy
1. Have a Plan for Your Digital Nomad Income First and Foremost
So many people come into the digital nomad lifestyle with NO plan at all for how they will make money on the road. They think, I will figure it out once I’m there. Ah, yeah sure. But guess what? You are going to be so exhausted from the travel and the move and the set up and the events and the partying that there will be no time left behind for any kind of planning or strategizing.
Make the plan before you come. It can be a simple plan. It doesn’t have to grandiose. And neither do you have to begin by making thousands of dollars. Most places digital nomads live in are cheap. Ubud, Bali, or Chiang Mai, Thailand. Lisbon, Portugal, or Tulum, Mexico. These places don’t require thousands of dollars to survive. You can live on a fraction of what you spent in Canada or the United States or Europe.
But you need to have a plan to make some money before you embark upon the digital nomad journey. That’s absolutely crucial. You don’t want to dip into your savings too fast, too soon, and then have to go back home, because you have nothing to live upon. I have seen this happen way too often. Or having to beg, or borrow money from friends or family, isn’t the best scenario either. It puts a bitter taste in the mouth of newbie digital nomads.
Of course, you can always expand your idea while you are a digital nomad, but have some kind of plan before you book your ticket off to wonderland.
2. Prepare to Be Lonely on the Road (Unless You Are Going as a Couple)
I’m not saying this to be cruel. But when people ask me, is the digital nomad lifestyle easy, I always say, yeah sure, besides the loneliness, it’s all dandy.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s actually quite easy to make friends on the road. BUT people come in and out of these cities, because they are, after all, nomads. And they are moving around quite a bit. Some people, like me, settle down in a place for quite a while. But others like to move around every few months or even every few weeks.
That means you might meet a great friend or lover and they will be gone in a few weeks or months. And then you will make another new friend or lover and they will disappear after a few weeks as well.
And that’s how the vicious nomadic friendship cycle runs.
It can be annoying, of course. But also quite lonely. Prepare for it. Many people don’t, and they get slammed in the solar plexus by it, after living on the road for a few months.
3. Don’t Forget That You Will Get Home Sick after a While
It’s hilarious to me, because newbie digital nomads are so excited about being on the road that they forget about homesickness completely. It was a huge shocker to me as well. I mean, I’m living this awesome nomadic lifestyle, that’s cooler than ever, why would I ever get homesick? But I did. Everyone does.
Account for that in your travel budget and time. I now know that every 6 or 8 months, I get homesick and need to go back home. That’s just how it is. And then I come back to my travels rejuvenated and excited again. That little break at home with my parents and siblings helps a lot! Don’t forget about that in your own travels.
That’s how you can make the digital nomad lifestyle easy on your soul and psyche. Don’t torture yourself too much – just go back home whenever you need to, and soak in the home feeling. It will make your digital nomad journey stronger and better.
4. Ask a Bazillion Questions in Digital Nomad Groups before Moving to a New Place
Yes, of course, you could do it all on your own. Figure it all out on your own. BUT why would you need to? Other digital nomads have already gone and done it before you. They know all the answers. They can help you out. Let them!
There are dozens of digital nomad groups, one for every country you would go to. Join these groups on Reddit or Facebook or wherever and ask the veterans questions. I am always asking questions on where can I find the best tailor or what mall has this or that. It’s so easy.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that I follow all advice to a T, but it’s nice knowing what options are available to me. It also feels less daunting to move to a new place when you have such information at your fingertips.
Settling down in a new place can be a hardship without such support. This also means that you might already have some friends to chat and hang out with, once you move to your new place. That’s always a great thing when starting out. Friends are worth their weight in gold to nomads.
Don’t Ask, Is the Digital Nomad Lifestyle Easy, Anymore
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. SOOO worth it. I’m not even going to tell you how many times I look up from my laptop and look around at my place in Ubud, and think WOW. Is this even real? Am I really here? I can’t believe it. I have to pinch myself.
So it’s not easy, but I do recommend it highly to anyone who asks. I love it so much. It’s been 5 years for me and I still love it as much as I did it the day when I first began. I hope the love affair keeps growing as time goes on.
What do you think? Any other tips or tricks to mention for newbie digital nomads? Share them in the comments below.