Packing up and taking to the road in search of self, experience and destiny, sounds very exotic and very exciting.
Merely thinking about the sense of freedom and adventure gives me butterflies even as I write this.
Life as a digital nomad has become trendy and almost as sexy as calling yourself an entrepreneur on instagram, but I feel it’s important to share the full story and help current and future nomads navigate the challenges they will inevitably face.
As I often tell people, "Being a traveller is one thing but building a career while travelling is another..."
Here are four considerations that I’ve faced that you need to consider.
You’re probably not going to be working on the beach, despite what you imagine.
I have tried and failed. I once took my work equipment and set up at my favourite beach bar overlooking the ocean. “Heaven!”
That was before the wind picked up and hurled a sand cloud over my precious computer.
Back to the drawing board.
A good number of nomads and remote workers today are Software Developers, Digital Marketers and online business owners. No surprises there.
If you are working in any of these fields or similar, you’ll need a comfortable workspace that allows for deep focus and one that gives a professional image to team members and clients.
A space where you won’t be interrupted by noisy neighbours, barking dogs or screaming babies.
Perching on the edge of your bed will only serve you the first 3 days before your back and shoulders turn to stone. That’s my case at least.
An ergonomic chair, spacious desk and big window allowing plenty of natural light and fresh air are the basics.
Can you ensure you’ll have that everywhere you go? Are you able to perform professionally without them for long periods?
Being a traveller is one thing. Being a professional and building a career whilst on the road is a completely different ballgame.
You may have all your work tools but don’t forget about your environment.
"Being a traveller is one thing but building a career while travelling is another..."
This was a huge issue for me as a solopreneur, jumping from country to country.
While managing my business from “home”, I would often finish late and feel completely shattered. I was so much easier to opt to stay home rather than head out for after-work drinks.
Contrary to what you may think, over the long-run, you start to abuse your own freedom.
Over time, this led to a lack of deep friendships and distinct feelings of isolation and disappointment.
(Colleagues I know have also experienced the opposite; being too social and not meeting their business requirements).
Don’t make these mistakes.
Find a community of people with similar interests to you. You can do this quite easily by searching for groups on Meetup, InterNations or even social media but my personal preference is go and ask a human being. You may even make a friend in the process.
Find the balance that’s right for you and stick with it.
Be intentional and be disciplined.
A subject I’ve never enjoyed; planning how I spend my money (despite having a Masters in Finance).
Especially if I am adventuring, I don’t want to be thinking about saving or worrying whether I can afford the next jungle tour or mountain hike.
Being an international, mobile business, you need to be as organised as a Dutchman and managing your money well is often the difference between success and failure. It can make or break your nomadic lifestyle.
If you are freelance, you can lose your job at the drop of a hat. If you own a business, you can have a bad month. Emergencies occur and insurance takes time to cover. You must budget and track your spending which can be testing when you’re regularly presented with fascinating new opportunities and experiences.
You want to do it all, and you can. Just plan, and plan regularly.
Tasty restaurants, retreats and trips will lure you in and you wouldn’t want to miss out when you don’t know when you’ll next be in that part of the world ever again, right ?
Whatever you do, don’t do what I did and run out of cash while in Cuba, only to realise there are huge limitations on ATM withdrawals. Not ideal.
Budget. Review regularly. Adapt.
Home & FOMO
Another point that isn’t spoken much about on social media is missing out on what friends and family from home are doing.
While you’re sailing the seven seas, people are getting on with their lives. That means you are going to miss weddings, births, funerals, birthdays, parties and all that’s in between.
Some things change and others don’t and you’ll see that clearly when you return.
I know people who have moved to Australia on a 2-year Work Holiday Visa only to spend 12 months being absolutely miserable and working simply to save enough money to return home because they missed their niece being born.
If you’re in, be in 100% for the experience that it is. Recognise the good and appreciate the bad. It’s what makes it memorable.
These are just four considerations that aren’t spoken much about but if you’re a digital nomad as well, you may have other valuable experiences to share.
Write and tell me what you’ve been through and learned.
PS Whenever you are ready to overcome your nomad challenges and create your ideal lifestlye, book a call with me.