Digital nomads travel from place to place, enjoying the freedom to choose where they lay their proverbial hat, whilst still earning money. But living this unconventional lifestyle is not without its unique challenges. That said, the inherent flexibility of digital nomadism means that minor scrapes and even major obstacles can be overcome with a simple change of location, or a little forward planning.
Here, we discuss some typical nomad challenges and provide useful tips on how to solve them.
Becoming disillusioned with your destination
Digital nomads are more than just keen vacationers. They still must work and find the right country to settle in. What might seem like an ideal place to set up shop because of the people or the scenery, is not always the best decision when it comes to being able to work efficiently and productively. Being a successful nomad means finding freedom and positivity, but it also means doing meaningful work and building deep relationships.
Then there is the important issue of digital connectivity. Many countries have incredible beaches to theoretically work from but heading to a remote beach in the likes of the Philippines, or Bali might not be the optimal decision to stay connected with the rest of the world. After all, we all know that a digital nomad lifestyle cannot function without a fast and stable internet connection.
Even in countries that do have a stellar infrastructure with great internet, the cost of staying online constantly can be a prohibiting factor.
Solution: Do plenty of research. Plan your destination according to internet speed, reliability, and cost. Do you have a few months of particularly intensive work projects ahead? Select somewhere with reliable and cheap internet and plenty of co-working spaces. Save the scenic but less connected countries for some down time!
The challenges of building a community
The nomadic lifestyle undoubtedly provides unparalleled, dynamic opportunities to meet new people, potential clients, and friends. But as a lifestyle that involves moving regularly from place to place, it can create a sense of transience and superficiality when it comes to building relationships – meaning that you might feel like you lack support.
In theory, digital nomads might seem to be the ultimate prototype for a fully liberated, nonspatial perspective on community life. But as Rachel. A. Woldoff and Robert. C. Litchfield’s book, Digital Nomads, demonstrates – many nomads do not believe that technology is a match for face-to-face community. In fact, particularly in destinations such as Bali, they often select the destination specifically to develop more meaningful physical social networks.
Solution: Stay committed to keeping in contact with people you meet around the world, both online and offline – it is a critical part of building your own community. Be aware that you will often need to make more of an effort to stay connected when you are constantly moving around. That said, don’t forget that there is a huge network of like-minded nomads already out there such as www.nomadbase.com.
Meet ups and introductions can happen anywhere, so you never have to feel alone. Try to get used to getting to know people quickly when you arrive in a new place.
Balancing work and pleasure
The stereotypical snapshot of the nomad is the laid back, beach-dwelling laptop user who is more interested in sunbathing and partying. But digital nomadism is a radical self-reinvention for those with strong work identities who are simply frustrated by disempowering norms. The reality, is that many nomads find it hard to switch off from work when there is always one more email to answer, one more project to take on and taking a day off means not getting paid. In a world where we are always digitally connected, and where work messages and emails are sent at all hours, striking the right work-life balance can be really difficult.
Solution: Dedicate some time just for yourself, your friends and your activities, as well as some time for doing nothing at all. You have to be strict about building a routine, scheduling work and making room for yourself within it. A clear schedule combined with disconnecting or turning off work email notifications, will go a long way towards achieving a healthier work-life balance.
Being away from loved ones
Everyone’s individual situation is unique. For some, distance from “home” is an absolute blessing. But for others, missing friends and family back home can be a very real and impactful problem. Constantly making new introductions can be socially exhausting and there is something comforting about having people around you, at times, who truly know you.
Solution: Remember that online connection still counts. Phone and video calls can go a long way to helping you stay in touch with the people who matter at home. The beauty of a digital nomad’s life is that you can work from absolutely anywhere, and sometimes that might mean heading back to old destinations to reconnect!