Travel nomads (the digital kind) have very different days than your run-of-the-mill backpacker, expat, or gap-year adventurer.
Talk to four digital nomads in the evening over dinner, and you’ll probably hear four very different stories of their days. Some nomads work remotely at full-time jobs during standard working hours. Some are “slow travel nomads” who spend long periods in each location, while others flit from place to place to see as many sights and countries as possible.
Still, one characteristic unites all digital nomads – they work online while they travel.
If you become a digital nomad, how might your day look? After talking to many in the community of travel nomads, here’s the common theme.
The Travel Nomad’s Morning
A sudden noise startles you. You pry one eye open, and light gushes in from the window, jarring you awake. You try to calm your confusion with a sleepy glance around your hostel room. What city was this? Ah, yes – right.
A short tap on your phone reveals thirty-seven new Instagram notifications on your “office of the day” post from last night, two urgent emails from clients, and that you overslept by three hours. No problem – you’ll make up the time tonight.
Five minutes with your phone, and you’ve got your travel nomad plan for the day. Your to-do list is in order, you filed your emails, and you can visualize the day’s timeline laid out in front of you. You don’t have to rush to an office, so you lay quietly in bed for ten minutes meditating.
Your hostel offers a free breakfast – but you’re not some broke backpacker. You’re a travel nomad earning money. Something more delicious fits into your budget. Your backpack swallows your laptop, charger, and a fistful of bills in the local currency.
You walk through the common area, wave to your new friends (what were their names?) from last night, and step out into the street.
Thirty minutes later, your belly is full, and you’re hunched over your phone. Finding WiFi is always a challenge, but Google Maps reveals a nearby cafe with a few reviews complimenting the internet connection. Time to go.
The Travel Nomad’s Afternoon
The coffee at this cafe is excellent. That’s a good thing since they don’t seem too welcoming to travel nomads looking for a place to sit with a laptop for nine hours.
Once an hour, the staff hover over the table and politely ask with a stern stare, “would you like anything else?” You need WiFi, so you oblige.
Six cups of coffee later, your fingers are furiously dancing across the keyboard. You fire up Krisp on your laptop to cut out the background sound from the cafe while you call a client.
During the call, you realize you’re starting to feel a bit jittery. Maybe it’s time to move on from this cafe. Just like that, the WiFi connection cuts out and leaves you feeling uncomfortably like an analog nomad.
You rather like this city – maybe you’ll stay here for a few weeks? Time to find a co-working space to kick your productivity up a notch.
While Googling for the best local co-working space, you realize it’s getting hard to focus. It’s time to take advantage of one of your digital nomad perks – flexibility. You head back to your room, stash your laptop, put on some shorts, and go for a run.
One hour and one shower later, you’re back in the zone. Your mind is keen, your laptop hunchback feels straighter, and you’re ready to take on the day once again. It’s time to resume the search for a co-working space.
Co-space Sharehub catches your eye. It’s not too pricey, the desk chairs look comfortable, and their Instagram shows a horde of astonishingly happy digital nomads busily working.
A puzzling taxi ride (did you get ripped off?) unceremoniously dumps you at the door, and you stroll in to get your day pass. A WiFi speed test passes with flying colors, and you set up for work.
Two hours later, you silently reflect on the fact that you’ve accomplished nothing as the chatty travel nomad next to you shares story after story. At least its been entertaining – they’ve just told you the best places to eat in thirteen towns, a story about the time they lost their passport, and the best district to hunt for an Airbnb in this city.
You pull your state-of-the-art noise-canceling headphones from your backpack and casually nod in your enthusiastic new travel nomad friend’s direction. They take the hint, and you get back to your remote work.
The Travel Nomad’s Evening
You glance out the co-working space’s window into the setting sun. A quick review of your to-do list indicates that you’re good to go. You’ve done enough for one day.
What now? You’re a slow travel nomad. There’s no rush to spend the night out and put a check in every sightseeing box. After all, you’re feeling quite jetlagged still.
As quickly as it came, your fantasy of a quiet night filled with peaceful sleep violently explodes.
“Come out with us. We’re getting food.” Your new travel nomad friend waves their hand around the room at a group of five other remote workers.
You can’t resist, give a thumbs-up, and delicately slide your electronics into your backpack. The food is better than you expected. Hopefully, your gut finds it as agreeable tomorrow – uncomfortable things tend to happen when encountering new cuisines in unfamiliar countries.
Your new friends are also quite interesting. The software developer kept a steady stream of if-then questions flowing your way, the writer said an incredible amount in a handful of words, the something-course creator almost sold you their masterclass for $997, and the dropshipper fist-bumped you precisely 36 times over dinner.
Still, it’s getting late. Your co-working friends invite you out for drinks, but the jetlag is intensifying. Tomorrow you need to find a new place to stay, plan your next visa run, and catch up on the work you couldn’t do during the flight to here.
Your new travel nomad friends are understanding. A discussion ensues of cool things to do on your days off as digital nomads. They become your next four Instagram followers while you plan a trip to the shore this weekend for the obligatory laptop-beach pictures (since the dropshipper’s travel insurance won’t cover scuba diving).
Being a Travel Nomad Isn’t So Bad
On the way back to your hostel, you silently reflect over the day. You’re living the dream. Exotic locations, full control of your life, freedom to hunch over a laptop all day, and new friends (that you’ll never see again after a few weeks).
You crawl into bed. Tonight, you’ll get an excellent night of sleep and definitely not oversleep tomorrow. Being a travel nomad – you could do this for a while.