12 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Digital Nomad
Want to travel the world full time as a Digital Nomad? It may sound great – and look great on Instagram – but it’s not always what it seems…
With the recent boom of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to work remotely. But before you jump into this lifestyle, here’s 12 things you may want to consider.
I quit my job in advertising last year, after 5 years of stressful account management. I was in dire need of a sabbatical at the age of 26 (which is ridiculous in itself!), and went to South America to learn Spanish.
While I was in Medellin (Colombia), I found the digital nomad community. Before I arrived, I didn’t even know what a digital nomad was. Once I was there – I decided I wanted – or needed – to become one of “them”.
I wanted their lifestyle. Not having to go back to stressful London, always being on an adventure, escaping rainy England, and learning salsa, spanish & surfing… yes please. SIGN ME UP.
So I did it. (Disclaimer: Be warned that it can be quite hard to get started. I used Upwork to start, so check out my journey here)
I’ve learnt A LOT. There’s a lot of lows, which people don’t seem to talk about. All I read are posts about bloggers making millions, while posing on a flamingo-inflatable in an infinity pool.
Let me let you into a secret….
IT’S ALL A LIE!
Well not all, but it’s not all roses and daisies as they make it out to be.
It’s f**king hard work.
So, after 6 months of working remotely – I wanted to share my real experience, of living as a digital nomad. So you can decide if it’s for you – or maybe the more comfortable permanent job may be more up your street!
Don’t get me wrong – I love it. And I don’t want to put you off. But it’s a proper lifestyle change, and you gotta be a real tough cookie. 🍪
A lot of people won’t understand. They will think you’re bonkers. To be honest, I sometimes think I’m bonkers. But I know I’ve got financial freedom, location freedom, and a constant adventure – which are enough for me right now.
1. It can be lonely
Meeting people ALL the time can actually feel quite lonely. As much as I love meeting new people, they come and go all the time. And there are times when I just want my best mates. And a hug from my mum.
2. Question time can get tedious
Gah – the dreaded “what do you do” or “how long are you here?”.
Most tourists are in these exotic places on holiday. So when you tell them you’re here for a few months, they often can’t quite believe it.
I still don’t know how to answer these without getting strange looks of confusion.
3. Most of your friends and family will think you’re mad.
I’m still trying to convince my parents that I’m not dealing drugs.
They’re pretty old school when it comes to technology – and don’t understand how I’m actually earning any money online.
Me: Mum, it’s called a bank transfer. Just like you got when you were in an office.
Mum: Hmmm. 🤔
Some of my friends have asked why I’ve ‘run away to Morocco’, and ‘when will I settle down in England?’.
I haven’t “run away”. Why do I have to settle down? And why does it have to be in England?
4. Say goodbye to city salaries.
There are a lot of blogs out there claiming it’s easy to make thousands of dollars a month just from a blog.
I don’t doubt that this is true, but it’s hard work and takes time to build.
I took a massive salary cut when I went freelance. But at least I have control of getting paid for every hour that I work. And I’m learning so much that my rates are going up, and so I’m hoping I’ll get my old salary back soon. So I can do this…
5. Sometimes bad stuff happens.
I lost my passport, iPhone, bank cards, $200 cash, and ID on my first day.
Prepare for it.
The silver lining is that it’s been a huge learning curve! Not much can trump the feeling I had when I realised I’d lost everything… so I’m generally a much more optimistic person now. If I can get over that, I feel like I can get over most things.
6. Getting ill is sh*t
Being ill is bad when you’re in the comfort of your own home. So, when you’re in a random town with people you barely know, it’s even worse.
And when you’re in a foreign country with different foods, the likelihood of getting a dodgy tummy is pretty high. It’s happened to me so many times that I’ve started to accept it as the walk of life on my trips…
7. Working for yourself can be pressurising
If you freelance as a digital nomad, say goodbye to the blanket of a normal job with an annual salary. You can’t pull a sicky or faff around – pretending to work on your computer.
If you work, you get paid. If you’re hungover and accidentally trawl Facebook for hours, you won’t get paid.
8. Be prepared for technology crashes
My laptop broke in Mexico. It took 3 weeks to fix.
As a result, I was fired from my job! According to my boss, it’s “not acceptable” to work on an iPad.
(To be honest, the job was so bad that I’m glad I was fired now.)
9. And power cuts…
I’ve been living in Morocco for 2 months, and there’s been two power cuts. Which means all wifi went down…
Unfortunately my bosses don’t let me off here, so no wifi = no work = no money.
And the worst part about it? You can’t reply to people to let them know you won’t be able to work. It’s a lil annoying.
10. Sometimes, you gotta be boring
Most people I meet are on holiday, so they cram in activity after activity, adventure after adventure. I do things slowly.
Just because I don’t have a regular 9-5 office job, I still need to work every day. If I surf, I’ll wake up super early – so I can do enough work before hitting the waves.
So then, people often wonder why I’m ‘being boring’ when I scuttle off to bed.
11. You might get harassed
If you’re travelling solo, lots of people will try to befriend you. Which is nice. But sometimes it’s hard to know who to trust.
Too many people (that I barely know) ask to be my Facebook friend, or for my number. And I find it hard to politely decline without sounding rude!
I’ve made the mistake in the past. Then all the messages flood in – to go for dinner, tea, clubbing, etc. I always say no but it can get a bit annoying. I want friends, I don’t want boyfriends.
12. There’s no British tea.
There may be tea where you go – but in Morocco, English tea is hard to find.
Don’t get me wrong- Moroccan mint tea is nice – but I MISS TEA.
Despite all this, I LOVE my new lifestyle.
No more commuting on the hectic AF tube… being shoved in-between smelly armpits, with delayed trains from winter coats getting stuck in the doors.
Instead, I can work from cafes on the beach. It’s always warm. And I have the time to learn new skills- like salsa, Spanish and surfing.
3 things you can do to prepare…
- Check out Nomad List to find the best places to go. This will help you find places with good communities, with the best internet so you don’t need to worry about power cuts.
- Buy a local SIM card with data. If you do experience a power cut, this will mean you can hotspot your laptop to your mobile data.
- And… just go with the flow. Some days will be good, some days will be bad. But this happens wherever you are, whether you’re at home or away.
Digital Nomad | Travel Blogger
A 20-something British chica travelling the world on her own, and on a budget.
Check out her blog Hats Off here