I love sharing all my travel experiences and knowledge with my readers, but there are certain issues I can’t speak on with any expertise because I haven’t really lived them. While I do work from my laptop while traveling, I am far from a full-time digital nomad, but I have always wondered what the challenges and benefits of such a life would be like.
Jess Signet of Tripelio kindly stepped in to share everything you can expect when you make a life as a digital nomad.
Life as a Digital Nomad
To live as a digital nomad is to subject yourself to a life of uncertainly and adventure. It can be a richly rewarding life and the adventure of a lifetime for the right people, and if you are reading this article, you are probably thinking about setting off on your own. You can take advantage of the digital world and make a living online as you travel around the world, going to all the places you’ve dreamed of and meeting friends you’ll have for a lifetime.
It also takes preparation and hard work. You can’t exactly treat it as a vacation as you’ll need to find ways to support yourself if you want to last longer than your money (it never takes you as far as you think it will). Yet there is nothing stopping you from making the cut, and the opportunities for people grow every day given the advancements in telecommuting technology. Once you find enough regular work and have a starting point, you should ignore minor lingering doubts and get out there!
Here are some realities about living your life as a digital nomad:
You Need Good Hardware
Amazon might not ship spare parts or have two-day shipping where you’re going. If your main means of survival is going to be your computer and other related devices, you’re going to want to get the best hardware you can afford. You need something that will withstand the elements and keep going over time, and that isn’t easily found in today’s environment. If you’re going to the tougher places on earth, look into rugged laptops or smartphones that are built to withstand whatever you throw at them.
Additionally, look into buying cases and bags that are more supportive than usual. Learn a few things about computer repair and bring a small toolkit with you wherever you go (a screwdriver will take you far). Look up the options you know you will have in the next country you will visit, and don’t be afraid to buy a backup laptop if you’re worried. So long as it’s quality, it won’t go to waste. Treat it properly, and it will treat you properly.
Expect the Unexpected
Whatever you expect to happen on any particular leg of your journey is probably not going to happen. Even if it does come to pass, it won’t happen like you expected. Your plans to see a set of sights will be waylaid by construction or a discovery on the way there that looks more interesting. You will find yourself eating food you’ve never heard of before and sleeping on the floor sometimes. You’ll work odd hours and find yourself knowing a few words in a dozen languages.
Just go with the flow. It is your journey and your life, and you answer to no one but yourself (and a few legal systems). Learn to improvise regarding food and living arrangements, and don’t be afraid to talk to strangers. You’ll learn a lot and become more independent as time goes on. When you visit home, even the strangest occurrences won’t affect you. If all this appeals to you, then a digital nomad’s life is the right choice.
Know other people who are thinking of the digital nomad life? Share and pin away below!
Beware of Data Theft
One of the worst things that can happen to you is data theft or another computer security issue. Hackers exist all over the world, and they won’t be afraid to strand a traveler if they think it’ll keep them financially afloat for another month. It can take days to recover, and an attack could ruin your professional reputation depending on what you’re doing for work. This means you’ll need to guard your data such as your passport.
One issue you’ll need to worry about in particular as a digital nomad is data interception on public networks. They’re very convenient, but they’re very dangerous to unprotected devices. A hacker can use a simple program or device to intercept and log any data sent or received over your connection on the network, meaning they’ll be able to read your communication and get into any private accounts regardless of other defenses you put up.
Your best defense will be a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is a service that will connect your device(s) to a secure offsite server elsewhere in the world. The connection is encrypted to protect your data on public networks and your IP address will be hidden so that you can remain anonymous online (privacy is another form of security). It will even allow you to appear as though in another country and thus get past regional restrictions such as those used by Netflix. You’ll be thankful for it when the weather doesn’t agree with your travel plans.
Finding Balance Is Key
Depending on who you are and where you are at the time, you might find yourself inclined to overwork or underwork yourself. If you overwork yourself and spend all of your time in front of the computer screen, you will be missing the point of your journey even if the money is good. If you only work, would it really be any different than if you stayed home? If you don’t work enough, you’ll find yourself in some rough situations without a safety net, and digging yourself out will be even harder should you run into any problems.
You will want to figure out a schedule and stick to it, which won’t be easy at first. This is especially the case if you travel even more than most nomads and need to get used to new routines often. As your location changes so will your financial needs, and thus you can adjust accordingly. Just remember to err on the side of caution, as you can be liberal once you have a solid foundation of skills and resources to lean on.
Life as a digital nomad can prove difficult just like life anywhere, but the rewards are immense and you’ll find yourself grow as a person in ways you never thought possible. Just be sure to have a plan of action and a few contingency plans in case things don’t go as planned (and they absolutely won’t). You’ll have stories to tell and experiences to share with the people you love. If you think it’s the life for you, at least for a while, don’t let anything stop you.
Are you a digital nomad yourself and have some interesting stories to tell? Are there aspects to life as a digital nomad that went differently for you because of your career or connections? Do you have anything else to say? If so, please leave a comment below as we’d love to hear your thoughts.