They told me to grow roots, instead I grew wings. — Louis de Bernières
Yes, it’s hard. For some people, it’s hard to believe that being a location independent digital professional and working from the most stunning places on the globe can be challenging.
“What is challenging in working at the beach while drinking a fancy cocktail?” they ask us.
Well, I can answer only for myself, of course. Firstly, it’s disturbing. Why? Because I want to sunbathe, swim, (kite)surf and have fun and not to work. Secondly, if it’s windy, there is a risk to have a laptop full of sand. Then, it can be too hot and buzzy. Exactly, too good to be true. I’d better work before going to the beach or work with a nice view, but not exactly at the beach.
However, the issues above are not on my list.
I’m a slowmad (the one who traveling the world slowly) for almost 7 years now. I’ve stayed in every country for more than 6 months until I settled down in Portugal. Loving it so far: meeting new people, working on new projects, boosting my career, traveling, and learning new stuff. Badass Times, for example (no shit haha).
It is cool. But, despite all the benefits nomadic lifestyle can be challenging. I was thinking about it recently and decided to share the issues of my digital nomad life and how I deal with them.
“Bullshit!” you say. Ha! We ALL are scared. Maybe not of the same things, maybe not all the time. Yes, I’m a fucking badass. But sometimes it’s scary, and I accept it.
It is scary to go out of my comfort zone. To travel solo. To appear in the wrong place in the wrong time.
I’m afraid to lose my things. To be stuck on the road with no food and water. When people don’t speak English (once I really freaked out in Beijing). When something goes wrong, you have nobody to ask for advice or where… the… fucking toilet is?!! I’m a pussy when up in the sky in that machine again.
What if I miss my flight? What if the internet sucks? What if I’ll be robbed? What if I can’t eat their food? What if it will not work out and I will have to leave? Where will I go? And all that blah blah blah…
Can you relate?
Here is the solution: close your eyes and start to breathe – slowly and deeply. Try to think about good things, about all the opportunities that you have in life. What are you grateful for? Think about the beauty of the place you’re going to (or are at). Meditate. I also think about freedom and become excited about new adventures in my life.
How do you deal with your fears?
The world is very different. Cultures, weather, languages, laws, medical services, visa rules, etc. And it becomes a problem when you read all the different opinions and get lost or ask the wrong people about your next destination.
The thought that I didn’t do almost any research before going to my first trip ever – to Sri Lanka – is giving me chills right now. No, I read something, but (honestly?) it was that feeling… like my spaceship was about to start its journey. I was just sure that it would be alright. It felt like a superpower. I was lucky that time.
You need to get ready, as simple as that.
Before moving to Portugal I found an awesome resource on YouTube in my native language about everything in this country, literally. Later, after my arrival, I even met an author of the channel and asked some particular questions. It helped me a lot. And that important connection helps me until now.
Solution: just do your research. Ask Google and friends, check Badass Times and forums, read reviews. And get that medical insurance, you never know. There are also companies that can help you to relocate without a headache, doing the most difficult work for you. So you can remain busy with your projects and have fun. Also, I’d recommend you start learning the language before arrival: there are a lot of apps and online courses nowadays.
# 3 L(i)ONliness
I have a lot of interests, there is always something to do for me. I work, do yoga, sports, travel, attending events, or organizing them myself, meet with friends.
But loneliness is creepy. It tiptoes up to me unexpectedly and whispers with a creepy voice, “Hello kiddo, remember me?“
Sometimes I just feel it too much and wish I’d appear next to my Mom or my best friend.
But after years of wandering this feeling is not sharp anymore. And now I call it LIONliness. Because it taught me to get along with myself and to understand myself better, to be my own best friend.
How can you get along with someone if you can’t get along with yourself?
My solution: One day I learned an expression: “We are born alone and we die alone.” So when I feel too sensitive, I remind myself about this quote, do or eat something I like, call my relatives and friends.
You can also invite a friend to watch a comedy with you, name ten things you’re grateful for or go to some cool event (even if it’s online).
#4 Time management and self-organizing
It can be difficult to concentrate on work when it’s summer. You pretend that you’re a unicorn who wants a beer, to procrastinate, and get lost in the jungle. You name it.
And the thing is that you are actually (a unicorn?) a digital nomad and can allow yourself to have a day off whenever you want (almost hehe).
But the most important task that you need to accomplish is to organize yourself and manage your time. ‘Cause as you know – time is money.
I think it’s a bit different for everyone. Someone feels more productive early in the morning. My brain starts to work only closer to noon. I dedicate mornings to myself: do yoga, meditate, enjoy breakfast with a view.
So the secret is to plan your day accordingly: choose to work in your most productive hours, don’t reply to any messages, don’t scroll the Facebook newsfeed – just concentrate. However, have short breaks in between the tasks: have some fresh air, have a snack/drink, and don’t forget to eat your main meals. Missing these never adds value to your work and it’s not good for your health plus it’s completely uninspiring.
I use online organizers (there are plenty of apps), set up reminders, automate some processes (e.g. posts in Insta). Outsourcing is a good thing too. Hire an assistant or another specialist to do the work you don’t like to do and stay creative or do what makes you feel proud of yourself.
I used to think that if I worked 24/7 it meant I was productive. A few months like that and I’d be exhausted, worried, anxious, and angry with a lack of sleep and joy in life.
But productivity is not when you are able to work 24 hours in a row. It’s when you’re checking those boxes in your organizer, working several hours a day, reaching goals and/or showing excellent results to your boss, and having fun the rest of the time.
Because having fun is important.
While we are having fun, we are getting inspired and then the working process becomes fun too.
Solution: work on your time management and organize yourself. But don’t forget to have fun. Do what you love to do: meet friends, explore, surf your heart out, attend workshops, go hiking, or dancing.
#6 Affordable housing
When you want to stay in one place for several months it’s hard to find affordable accommodation with monthly rent. Usually, it is an option with a daily rate or a long-term contract.
Of course, you have to pay attention to the internet speed, comfortable space for work in your apartment with a table and a good chair, etc.
Three times during my nomad career I was lucky – I had housing provided by companies I’ve worked with.
Solution: stick to monthly accommodation. Prices may vary, but you still have a chance to choose what is suitable for you. Check ad boards and catch a good offer.
I’ve met incredible people in every place I’ve been to. I’ve made friends for life. We had an amazing time together, we learned from each other and had loads of fun. But when you constantly moving from place to place, it is always time to say goodbye – sooner or later. And it’s always sad.
Solution: stay in touch and make reunions in other parts of the world. True friendships never end!