As I sit here writing this blog post, I’m in Toronto, Canada. This was meant to be our final destination for a while… but it hasn’t quite turned out that way. I’ll reveal more in the newsletter about what’s happening, but for now, we are here till next week then down to Tampa, Florida then off back to Brisbane, Australia for the foreseeable future…
At various stages of my life, during the past 4 years, there have been times when I would have considered myself a digital nomad. This has been when we’ve been travelling and I’ve been working in between sight-seeing.
But for the past 3 months, I would consider this to be more of a true reflection of what I consider a digital nomad — someone who works from their laptop more than they sightsee.
If you’re considering heading off on your own digital nomad adventure, the following will definitely be helpful. I think a lot of people gloss over some of the more challenging aspects of being a digital nomad, while others are all doom and gloom.
I believe in having all the information before making a decision, good and bad, and hope that the confessions and observations below help you to make an informed decision.
The Truth About Leading a Digital Nomad Lifestyle
- Truth #1: South East Asia is the cheapest place to go if you're looking to make your money last much longer. Food is cheap (and good) and accommodation, fuel, car/bike rentals are ridiculously cheap.
- Truth #2: Wiping your bum and NOT flushing the toilet paper but rather placing it in a bin beside the toilet gets old very, very quickly. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
- Truth #3: Pick your locations well. We have spent time in both Phuket and Chiang Mai in Thailand and both had their pluses and minuses... Phuket was all beach and sunshine, making it pretty hard to focus on work, where as Chiang Mai is set up for digital nomads, but can be isolating and extremely hot because of it's location.
- Truth #4: You will only meet other digital nomads if you seek them out... contrary to popular belief (mine included), people won't start up conversations with you intuitively when you're working at a cafe. If you want to meet others, join Facebook groups and local meetup.com groups to find out where all the peeps are at.
- Truth #5: Travelling with your business partner/lover/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/family is awesome. You have a built-in support network and someone to share in all the good and bad aspects with.
- Truth #6: Travelling with your business partner/lover/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/family is challenging at times. It will be a true test of your relationship, because when the shininess of being in a new place wears off and the not-so-great bits start to wear thin, you will start to crack. I love my husband, but living and working in the same space, 7 days a week can get a little cray-cray... particularly if you don't work the same. Be aware of your differences BEFORE you head away on your trip and try and preempt issues and how you'll deal with them ahead of time, it will save you a lot of arguments.
- Truth #7: Scooters are the best way to get around most foreign countries. They are easy to manoeuvre and cheap to run.
- Truth #8: Scooters are also the worst when it comes to wet weather and riding in places like Thailand and India, where crazy driving is the norm. My amazing husband handled all the scooter driving while we were in Thailand while I sat on the back, marveling at how crazy everything else was around me. I wouldn't recommend attempting to ride scooters in a country like Thailand unless you're pretty familiar with a bike. And crazy driving.
- Truth #9: You will crave 'comfort' food. This surprised me because I love Thai food, but this time, for some reason, I found myself really missing my comfort foods, like crumbed chicken, cheesy fries etc. If you're a big foodie, you'll love travelling, but if you're not, be prepared for the cravings. In most large cities, you should be able to find Western food, at the very least, a McDonald's 🙂
- Truth #10: All work and no play will make your life feel pretty dull, no matter how pretty your surroundings are. We took our time in Chiang Mai as a predominantly working holiday, but after about 3 weeks straight of working, I'd had it. I wasn't motivated to work at all. I should know better than anyone that it's important to schedule in downtime, but for some reason, I figured that just being somewhere new and getting out to eat would be enough. It wasn't. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, you still need to play.
My ideal life is a mixture of being a digital nomad and having a home base. We were hoping that Canada would be that home base… but for now it’s going to be Australia. We’ll still be travelling, but our plan is to spend more time at home in the next year as we refocus on what it is we really want.
The key is to be flexible in your approach to achieving your dreams. If you’re too hung up on one approach, then when that doesn’t pan out, it can be extremely difficult to get back on track. This is what we are dealing with right now. It’s tough, it’s heart-wrenching but we’ll get through it.
Time to adjust the approach and be open to reaching our dreams in whatever way we can!
Have you experienced any of the above truths while travelling and working? I’d love to hear about them! Leave your thoughts in the comments below!