The perils of being a Digital Nomad

Growing up, I was given a chance to explore the many different versions of myself - I went to two Universities in my country and to a fashion school in Milan but somehow, nothing worked for me. I didn't have the enthusiasm and energies to go to school and I realised that during my formative years in Europe. I forced myself to wake up early and struggled to complete my school attendance during the first semester. All these because I wanted to try. I wanted to try even if I have no idea why or what for.

Why whould I choose to spend a week's allowance to buy a train ticket to Rome? Why would I use Couchsurfing to crash a stranger's couch in Krakow? These thoughts made me explore our society's boxed ideology. The school system has groomed me to think "you should be a doctor" or "lawyers have higher salaries" but nobody ever encouraged me to put my ideas to life. When I am, I am corrected. The limit was set for me. Nobody told me I can be successful in my own ways. 

So I quit school and went to an adventure of a lifetime. Along the way, I learned how jumpstart my career as a Digital Nomad and it was a beautiful experience. I was able to work at my own pace and at the same time, endlessly travel and move. The only important thing about this job is having a stable Internet connection.

In the long run, that important thing became a challenge. During my stint in Africa and Latin America, I struggled to balance my work and travel time because slow Internet connection discourages me. I didn't have the energies to work when it took 2 minutes for a website to load. It definitely changed my game and routine. That was the first time I was challenged by the Internet and it affected the decision on the destinations I will visit. Whenever I think of going to a country, I always research if Internet connection is good.

I had the opportunity to volunteer in the Galapagos but when they said their WiFi is not stable, I had to back out that once in a lifetime opportunity. I felt bad about it but realised that there are downsides of buying your freedom. It's not always going to be perfect.

2018 is my fifth year as a Digital Nomad and there are many perils aside from stable Internet connection. For you to have more ideas on how a Digital Nomad's day looks like, I gathered my blogger friends to share their experiences and struggles in this "bought freedom."

Natalie Vereen-Davis, Cosmos Mariners

Photo Credit: @cosmosmariners / Instagram

Since starting my non-traditional career path back in 2012, I've had two kids, and I try to balance staying at home with them and actually meeting all of my deadlines. [I still struggle with this on a daily basis.] I am typically exhausted since I am with my kids all day (aka keeping them from destroying the house and one another), and then I'm up all hours of the night finishing what I SHOULD have gotten done during the day. Because I am also a travel blogger, I often get offers to go on press trips to amazing places, but then I have to figure out childcare, which is easier said than done. Sometimes, I get to go, but many times I can't. Add this to the fact that my work completely depends on the reliable internet (which is not guaranteed in all of the places we visit), and I can be a big ball of stress even doing what I love to do. Being a digital nomad and a parent is tough!

Ruben Arribas, Gamin Traveler

Photo Credit: @gamintraveler / Instagram

If you’re running a business from scratch, being a digital nomad can be very wrong for you. Now, this is not to dissuade you not to do it. In fact, we are in this exact same boat. Running a blog is already a big task, and we even run an independent social media agency as our main business. Because we travel most of the time, we can’t scale the business as big as we would want it to be. Also, this means that during the months we are continuously travelling, we actually work 10 times harder than when we are based in one place (the Philippines for us). This means burning through very long work weeks of 16+ hours work days (more or less). We also manage a team remotely, so travel for us is not the luxury everyone thinks it is. We may be working in remote islands, but while you take those really luscious island pictures, you are actually stressed if you’ll be getting wifi that day! Ha. It’s difficult so you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it. Not for everyone. It is for us, and we work hard daily to make sure we keep a happy disposition despite all the hard work. So if you decide to be the hardcore digital nomad, it’s a long, daily journey. Make sure you’re ready and you remind yourself daily of your WHYs.

Amy Hartle, Two Drifters

Photo Credit: @twodriftersxo / Instagram

While there are SO MANY great reasons it ROCKS to be a digital nomad, there are also several challenges I face all the time. Take today, for instance. I'm actually on "vacation" with my family, and yet here I am working on my laptop. The freedom of working for myself can't be beaten, but for me, it often means the work never ends! It's tough to separate my working life from my leisure life---especially as I am a travel blogger in addition to a freelancer. There are tasks to be done every single day, and I must do them. A big peril with the digital nomad lifestyle is that you no longer have anyone but you "in charge." No one is going to tell you what to do and when to do it. Nobody is looking over your shoulder keeping you accountable for your work. It's all in your own hands. Freeing, absolutely. But the tendency to be lazy or slack off is very, very real, even for the most ambitious among us. I LOVE staying in bed all day, but if I want to keep my business thriving, I cannot. If you want to be a digital nomad, you've got to be your own boss, and occasionally you've got to be tough and kick your own ass into gear! :)

Viktor Vincej, Traveling Lifestyle

Photo Credit: @travelinglifestyle / Instagram

Finding a proper workspace where I can be productive has always been a challenge while nomading around the world. Staying in a hostel with travellers/backpackers can be very diffusing because everybody is trying to make most of their travels while you are trying to "settle" and get work done. Working from the room of your hotel or Airbnb room can become super boring very soon unless you are travelling/sharing with more digital nomads. Therefore, I always try to find coworking space to stay surrounded by other digital nomads or local freelancers/entrepreneurs. Usually, it has strong internet, good seats, community, meetups, workshops etc. All that helps to stay focused, be productive and keep your mind straight. The downside is when you decide to travel to more remote places and destinations where you simply can't find proper coworking space or even cafe with good internet.

Nanouk van Gennip, Digital Nomad With Kids

Photo Credit: Digital Nomad With Kids / Pinterest

We are full-time RVers travelling with our toddler of 2,5 and baby of 9 months. It may seem like a dream life, but there is one major challenge we face every single day: in between the nursing, pooping, sightseeing, and travelling, we need to find time and energy to sit down and work. We mostly take turns nursing and working. Also, we work when the kids are sleeping during the afternoon and in the evening. Thankfully, we are blessed with good sleepers. My parents sometimes travel along with us for a few weeks. Hooray, babysitters! That's when we can get so much work done! But the majority of the time, we’re on our one. And working and travelling with little kids is chaotic and messy (literally, as you can see in the picture). Therefore, living location independent with kids is not for everyone: there is no break from family life, and there is minimal me-time. We don't mind, though. We love being together as a family. And it may seem a hardship juggling like we do, but kids are only for a few years this young. We just don’t want to miss a thing.

Are you a Digital Nomad? What are the challenges you faced when you started this lifestyle? How difficult was it? What are your best tips in order to survive? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!


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