Is being a Digital Nomad fun? Yes.
Is being a Digital Nomad difficult? Also yes!
Sounds contradictory? Absolutely. However, that really is how it is. There are amazing things about being a digital nomad that makes you feel like you would never want to go back. There are also things that you have to face making you want to book a flight back home the next day sometimes!
If you are considering moving to a DN lifestyle and doing research about it, most of the things you find out there are about absolutely amazing it is. You see success stories of the digital nomads who have traveled to every continent on earth, and their perfect Instagram feeds with pretty captions and laptops. Are they all lying to you? Not necessarily. However, there are many, not so pretty things that you have to definitely go through in your journey as a digital nomad. It is a tough life if you are actually a digital nomad – a working traveler – and not a vacationer who is blogging just to kill time.
Following are some of the not so glamorous things that you have to face as a digital nomad. At the end of the day, however, it is usually all worth it!
You miss out on the vacationing aspect
Being a digital nomad simply means that you get work from different places, see different horizons, experience different cultures. However, at the end of the day, you still have to work. That always remains the constant whenever you go. While this may seem not like a big issue – because you get to travel around anyway and you should not complain – sometimes not having the mental freedom to just lie down and do nothing for a few weeks as if you are in a vacation can feel quite stressful. At the end of the day, you are still doing a job. You have to put your hours, professionalism and the work ethic in order to make money, which will fund the next parts of your travels.
Due to the difference in the time zones, sometimes you have to work at the times that people from your part of the world are having fun, going out and just living life. Since you are forever “in vacation”, you will never get to truly experience what you would feel in a vacation when you were doing a regular job, which is not the best feeling at times. You can’t take a “break” when you feel like you are already on a break!
The Exhaustion of Traveling
While it might sound like the biggest irony ever especially coming from someone who loves traveling so much that they are doing it fulltime, you can really get exhausted from traveling. For me personally, as a young female solo traveler who is a digital nomad, the fact that I need to always be on top of everything exhausts me sometimes. You need to be responsible, remember that you have enough savings, enough earnings for the next few months, your flights booked, your accommodation reserved, your projects delivered on time, your communication done well and your safety is in check can be the most tiring and draining thing ever.
The worst part of it all is that you feel guilty about being tired since you are living your dreams and your best life. It feels like you are being ungrateful, slacking or letting yourself down when sometimes you just want to sit down and do nothing. When you are at home, your free time is spent on your familiar places and familiar things. When you are a digital nomad, everything you encounter every day is something new and unfamiliar. While it is exciting, it can also be extremely tiring.
Less is more
For some people, including me, “less is more” is the motto that they live by when they are traveling or not. However, when you are a digital nomad, it becomes your reality and a requirement. You cannot have more even if you want to. You simply have to live out in your backpack so it is easier for you pack up and leave to your next destination. This means you often have to leave your old belongings to make space for the things you buy from the places you travel. You cannot grow fond or attachments to your belongings since at the end of the day, everything is replaceable for a digital nomad except their wallet, passport, and the laptop.
You need to constantly abandon things, and therefore you should never allow yourself to grow attachments to them. If you were used to living a life where you owned many things you loved, being a digital nomad can be emotionally agonizing.
Lack of human contact!
When you make the decision to be a solo digital nomad, you are taking the risk of not being able to maintain many relationships. When you move to a certain place, you are aware that you are there only temporarily. Therefore, you tend to no make many emotional attachments to friends or people around you, since you know that you need to leave them eventually anyway. It is true that you can always maintain long-distance relationships with the help of internet and social media, but as a DN, your work and traveling always become your priority. Everything else comes second. The freedom that comes with traveling can be very addictive, and you just simply not want to get attached to other humans. While it can be liberating in ways, it can also be harmful if you ever want to maintain relationships and friendships with people.
Losing track of time
Back in February, I was settled in Ubud, Indonesia for a month and I was working on a bulky project that demanded a lot of time. It was something that I truly loved working on, and the days simply went by. I tend to keep my phone away when I am working on a serious project in order to keep myself focused. One day I heard an alert on my phone that I have a flight in about 3 days. I had worked day and night on a project for 20 days without even realizing that it has been that long! I still wonder how fast that February went.
Unlike a regular job that you can always wake up with a sense of certainty that you have something to do every day, being a digital nomad comes with a constant sense of uncertainty. While you may have long-term clients who are giving you a steady stream of work, you can technically lose it all tomorrow. You can only hope to keep a few lines of work going simultaneously, thinking that you can always fall into another job if one happens to fail. This means that you have to be on top of your game every single day, still with a feeling of uncertainty whether you will lose it.
Despite all these unglamorous factors of being a Digital Nomad, it really is some of the best decisions that you can make for yourself if you are capable of taking that huge step. The important thing is to know all the good and the bad that DN lifestyle has to offer you and using that knowledge to create the best life possible for yourself. Good luck!