“Trying to juggle a normal work routine when you’re also trying to figure out where to sleep next week just isn’t ideal.”
– Matthew Karsten, a digital nomad.
Nomadic lifestyle may seem ideal and fitting to many people, especially the youth, so at some point you may ask yourself “How do I become a digital nomad?”
But instead, you should ask “Do I really want to become a digital nomad?”
Take a moment to think about this as you read on.
Why do people become digital nomads?
Young digital nomads start fresh and full of power, finding inspiration from multiple sources and traveling the world at their might. They get all their work done wherever they happen to be and are in search of new exciting places.
This location independent lifestyle makes them productive, confident and financially free. They become more flexible and adaptive to the places they move to and develop a sense of ownership.
Of course, there are many advantages to being a young digital nomad, but not everyone imagines what it really takes to experience the journey.
Where it all begins
General consensus is that all digital nomads start their extreme vagabonding similarly. It’s not true and whichever way they choose to do it is not easy.
Some young nomads start with a lifelong dream strong enough to make them quit their stable job and simply buy a ticket to another country. Decisions like this usually seem unreasonable and impulsive to their family members and friends. However, they find the determination to start fresh and alone in a sea of strangers.
Other digital nomads pack their backpacks because they don’t find stable jobs or get fired out of the blue. These people explore remote work in more doubts that it will be better than a regular job. So when it does end up in success, it becomes the trigger to their motivation to start vagabonding.
There are also young people who don’t really have a vagabonding dream, but rather stumble upon it randomly while traveling. They visit a country, stay there longer than planned and take off to another country. It goes on until at some point they realize their essence is being a digital nomad.
Sneak peek into daily routine
Young nomads have usual days except for they sometimes spend sleepless nights working. After settling at a new location, the routine adds up with a quest to find a good coffeeshop to work at, if they don’t feel like working from the hotel.
How does a young nomad define a good coffeeshop?
The one with WiFi, food, and quiet atmosphere. It would be a nuisance to try talking to someone while surrounded by loud music and noisy crowd. What’s even worse is joining a conference call and discussing important topics. They can always change their location but that would require more time since not every place has a quiet environment.
You know how else to deal with this? By using the Krisp app! This AI powered app is designed to recognize your voice, make it crispier and suppress the background noise.
Using the same principle it can effortlessly mute the noise coming from other call participants, even if they don’t have Krisp installed. In the end, you’re left with crystal clear voices with no noise on both ends of the call. If you like what Krisp does then give it a try now.
Moving on, what usually comes next is exploring the town and taking a bunch of pictures or meeting friends that live nearby. Nomads also meet new people during their explorations or at the places they’re staying in.
Later in the day, they’re left with going back home and relaxing for the night, unless there is some unfinished work left, or they choose to work ahead of the time.
The truth is, young nomads don’t really have a fixed routine. If they choose to explore first, they’ll have to compensate it with evening work. More importantly, they need to regularly keep up with their plans for future trips.
Dealing with recurring struggles
Even though nomad life seems to be perfect, there are still struggles to be dealt with on a constant basis.
Imagine this: you travel to a completely foreign country where you have no friends. Your family reaches out only through the computer screen, and you don’t really have anyone to be there for you and give you emotional support. This is where loneliness takes over and it’s one of the common struggles digital nomad lifestyle makes you face.
It takes some hustle and patience to be social and meet new people. They have to attend events and parties or make a good impression during conference calls and business meetings. Having successful conference calls especially when you’re on the go is a difficult task.
It’s not only that. Since nomads are the ones who control their work, they easily procrastinate and eventually lack motivation to finish up the pile of work. That’s how digital nomads end up pulling all-nighters and get their routine mixed up. However, doing it the other way around and focusing solely on work is also not a good idea. The real struggle is to find the right balance between work and life.
Most people aren’t aware that nomads struggle with digital nomad insurance because of constantly changing locations. It can take time to find necessary info, and in case you decide to stay short-term it can get even more expensive. Nomads must also decide whether they need travel insurance for short term emergency care or health insurance for long term regular checkups.
Most people think that regular jobs take up more time than digital nomad jobs. If you happen to ask that to a young nomad they will debunk it for you because they have to work just as hard or even overtime, especially if the environment they work in is noisy and doesn’t have the right accommodations. They get tired from traveling, planning trips, looking for places to work at, picking hotels, making new friends each time they change location. The list goes on and on, and as much as the excitement for discovery is big, sometimes exhaustion gets bigger.
A glance at financial life
Not all young digital nomads can lead an expensive vagabonding lifestyle. Backpacks are their valuables but starting off and keeping up the pace with financials can be difficult. Money saving habits usually begin before the very first trip, where young nomads sell property, or start cutting their expenses to buy that first ticket and plan that first trip.
Most nomads confess that it gets easier to get rid of material things or unnecessary purchases over time. Their main hack for that is being able to section out the budget for every single trip, separating their needs from wants and, you’ll be surprised, cooking meals themselves. Some nomads even change their digital nomad cities or jobs to earn more.
Things digital nomads leave unsaid
Despite the problems, not everyone in the digital nomad community makes it all the way into the journey. Some of them are faced with a failure while others realize that digital nomad career just isn’t for them.
Young nomads don’t have experience in digital nomad lifestyle, so starting the journey without doing enough research and having high expectations leaves them at a disadvantage. Top it off with wrong budgeting, inconsistent travel routine and too much leisure – you’re in trouble. Sometimes even working too much can cause them to fail at leading this lifestyle because it triggers disappointment and stress.
However, nomads don’t need to fail to quit being a vagabond. They quit for several other reasons even though once being a nomad was their lifelong dream. It mainly happens when the struggles get unbearable and nomads feel the need to stay in once place and call it “home, sweet home”. Some grow up and build long-term relationships and quit to spend more time with their family. Others simply want to slow down and take a break.
What happens after quitting?
Whether by facing a failure or leaving by their own choice, it’s not easy for digital nomads to return to their original lifestyle. Especially if they’re still young, they have a full possibility to reconsider giving nomadic lifestyle another try. But still, some adapt to their usual life in their home with their stable job, while others opt for a third option, which is location independence without digging deep into remote work travel.
By being location independent, these people have the ability to travel less, and have a home where they can always return to in case they want to take a break from traveling. They also gain more chances to focus on their lifestyle and spend less time planning for future trips. This option sounds fair to nomads because it feels like the perfect balance between being a digital nomad and leading their original lifestyle.
So, what is your answer?
According to Pieter Levels’ presentation, by the year of 2035 there will be 1 billion digital nomads. The life of a digital nomad is challenging, but it’s always worth to experience and learn from. Their impact on the world is enormous, and after reading about them it’s your turn to answer the question:
“Do you really want to become a digital nomad?”
We’re waiting for your answer in the comments below!