André Gussekloo, author of Digital Nomads: How to Live, Work and Play Around the World, published a Medium article called 99 Digital Nomad Problems (But A Boss Ain’t One).
Location-independent workers share many digital nomad problems. Even Peter Levels – the notorious digital nomad founder of RemoteOk and NomadList – admits that digital nomadism has its downsides.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common digital nomad problems.
1. Too Many Shiny Objects… and Not Enough Time
What do you need to solve a problem better than anyone else has before? You’ll need a creative, out-of-the-box approach combined with free time and self-motivation.
As a digital nomad, you spend your whole life thinking beyond the boundaries. Almost every day, you’re discovering new problems. Planning is your specialty.
Soon, your gaggle of side hustles and new ventures far outweigh your available time. If you’re not careful, you just keep chasing the next new “shiny object” and never finish anything.
2. Sick? Not If You Want to Get Paid!
There are few things more stressful than trying to figure out how to be a nomad with no money. Without income from your job, the adventure quickly turns sour.
Got sick? It happens on the road.
Too bad – you don’t get days off. You have to do your work, or you don’t get paid (and maybe lose the job).
Don’t worry – in the end, you always find a way to pull through.
3. Noise, noise everywhere!
As a digital nomad you know full well what it’s like to hop on a quick conference call from a noisy place. You encounter the deadliest of the nomad enemies – background noise.
Noise cancelling headphones are not always enough to get rid of it, so here’s a digital nomad friendly app called Krisp that can remove the noise from both ends of the call in real time. Next time you hop on a call, just switch it on and watch it to the deed.
4. The Eternal Travel Dilemma: Packing Too Much, or Too Little?
Day one of living as a nomad: you were hauling a massive backpack stuffed to the brim, a daypack ready to burst at the seams, and maybe a suitcase.
After your first adventure, you realize all that stuff is too heavy, mostly useless, and costs a lot to check as baggage.
Before long, you’re a pro. You find yourself with a change or two of clothes and some electronics: the ultimate minimalist digital nomad packer.
Then, on one fateful day, you discover digital nomad problems from your ultralight way of life when you lose your only charging cable or need that paperclip (that you left behind to save 1.5 grams) to change a SIM card.
5. Always Missing Out (While Having the Time of Your Life)
You’ve finally created a lifestyle that gives you what most people want more than anything: freedom.
Freedom creates another digital nomad problem: too many choices! You can go anywhere you want (if there’s WiFi), pick your schedule, and have no one to answer to except yourself.
With such a dizzying array of options, which one should you choose? It’s easy to feel like you’re always missing out.
6. Work Becomes Play
You’re hustling. You’re succeeding. You’re making money. You’re living the dream.
One thing is missing: actual fun. You know, seeing the exotic destination you’re calling home (for now).
At this point, you’re so addicted to work that it’s fun. Your day trip has to involve a laptop. Squeezing in a little extra work at lunch makes sense, right? Hanging out with friends looks more like a pop-up office at a cafe.
Your only hope is to have an adventure somewhere devoid of WiFi.
7. Nobody Can Relate to Your Nomad Lifestyle Nightmares
A digital nomad’s worst fears look nothing like a “normal” person’s fears.
A sudden burst of rain isn’t inconvenient. It could be a career (and maybe trip) ending catastrophic event when your laptop gets soaked.
Did you lose your passport? Say goodbye to the next few months of travel plans.
That chunk of time you blocked out to get critical work done before a deadline? Internet connectivity says NO!
What about that overnight visa run so you can get back to your rented apartment, gym membership, coworking space, and friends? It worked for (almost) everyone else – but you ran into the immigration agent who got up on the wrong side of the bed.
Digital nomad life can make it hard to plan with any certainty. It’s one of the most terrifying digital nomad problems, but it also teaches you to be flexible.
8. Comfortable? Sorry, Time to Move.
Your plane lands. A taxi dumps you into your new, unfamiliar world. You gradually learn the (often confusing) new environment – grocery stores, airport terminals, unknown language, and new customs.
Once you’ve located the spots with good WiFi – you begin to get cozy. You make friends. Your new world becomes home.
Shortly after, your visa is up. It’s time to leave. Rinse and repeat. You live everywhere – but have nowhere to call home.
9. Nobody (Really) Understand What You Do (Not Even Your Family)
Here’s one of the most relatable digital nomad problems: nobody has a clue what you actually do.
Instagram convinced society that you’re sipping fluorescent colored drinks on a beach all day after checking your email.
Your friends think your life is an eternal backpacker party.
Your family thinks you’re a homeless vagabond, who would rather suffer in subhuman conditions than spend time with them.
The reality? Let’s just say that the “laptop lifestyle” looks a lot how it sounds.
10. So… We’ll Stay in Touch on Facebook, Right?
One of the most commonly cited digital nomad problems is social fatigue from the nomadic lifestyle.
You pour out your energy in the hunt for new friends. You might even make a few. Before long, they leave. If they don’t, you do.
This cycle can be exhausting. A thousand acquaintances – even if you stay in touch online – isn’t the same as a few close, deep friendships.
11. One Weird Secret to Becoming a Millionaire Overnight
Want to be a millionaire (the easy way)? It’s easy. Head to a new country.
Insert your bank card. The ATM spits out thousands. Before long, millions fill your wallet.
Strut into a store. Buy a bottle of water. Awkwardly fumble with a handful of unfamiliar bills as locals curiously look on.
Realize your millions are barely adequate for a single meal. Oh – and before long, dozens of leftover currencies fill your closet.
12. How Long Can You Live Up to Your Image?
It isn’t long before your friends at home begin introducing you as “their friend that travels.” People stroke your ego with question after question. Photos of exotic destinations fill your social media to a roar of applause.
Here’s one of the digital nomad problems nobody thinks about when first starting: what happens when you want to go home? Live “normally” for a while?
You feel like a fraud. Pictures of everyday life suddenly get far fewer likes. Others associate you with an identity that sometimes you want to put on the shelf for just a while.
Are you still a digital nomad? Quick – start looking at plane tickets!
13. You Become an Invasive Species
Digital nomads do tend to flock to foreign cultures with favorable exchange rates. This impact of digital nomad tourism might have some questionable implications.
Even when ignoring any cultural impact, you might find yourself in a different sort of invasion. Every day, you’re building a new freelancer’s remote office in public spaces.
You’ll probably have a laptop, phone, headphones, external hard drive, notebook (and pen), a mug of steaming coffee, food (that you’re ever-so-slowly nibbling on to keep from getting kicked out of the cafe), and snake’s nest of electronic cables flooding the table.
A public table for two is adequate for about one digital nomad.
14. When You’re Home, It’s Still More Comfortable to Live Like You’re on the Road
Even if you do let go of your nomadic identity for a while to stay at home – you never really feel at home.
Your old clothes are still there. You sort through your wardrobe – ecstatic at all the new options (after wearing the same two shirts and a pair of pants for a year).
It doesn’t take long. The excitement fades. A few days later, you look in the mirror and realize – you’re back to wearing your tried-and-true trusty road clothes.
15. You’re Too Busy to See Anything
Society thinks you’re on a perpetual vacation – but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Instagram captures the 5% of your day where you’re actually out and about. How do you really spend most of your day?
Hunched over a laptop furiously mashing your keys, and silently cursing the WiFi as another outage strikes.
You move to a new location – but realize you barely saw anything of your last temporary home.
16. The Weather and Your Work Don’t Get Along
After enough panicked moments without WiFi and looming deadlines, you’ve matured. You made a schedule. You know when you’ll get your work done.
You stick to the plan. Productivity pours from your fingertips into your laptop keyboard.
Finally, your scheduled adventure time is here. You lather up in sunscreen, grab your beach towel and a bottle of water, and step out the door.
What’s that? Clouds and rain – but this was my day off!
The real world and your schedule rarely sync up the way you need them to.
It’s not all doom and gloom. With time, you get used to these digital nomad problems or find ways around (most) of them.
Can you relate to any of these? Leave us a comment below with your pet-peeve digital nomad problems!