Hashtag Tourist is a lively Female Digital Nomad Blog that combines advice for leading a remote working lifestyle while traveling the world and guides for popular travel destinations. I truly believe that remote working and being a Digital Nomad is a revolution and have a passion for coworking, solo travel, helping others become Digital Nomads and growing this community.
Living in a time where the world has become so small and accessible, more and more people are inspired to travel and discover more places. And since we have the ability to work online easier than ever, this has made the life of a digital nomad more desirable than ever.
But like with anything else, a new start is never easy. That being said, the nomadic lifestyle can be quite challenging and harder than expected for others.
You might be ready to embrace the adventure and start your life as a digital nomad. But we want to make sure that you know what the life as a digital nomad actually means.
Thinking You Will Never Feel Loneliness
Nowadays, social media is saturated with people living the digital nomad or location independent lifestyle. Always sharing pictures from the exotic, colorful places they go, the wonderful people they meet and all the experiences they have along the way. It seems like the perfect lifestyle, right?
But what they don’t show you is what’s behind all those fun experiences. As a digital nomad, you are mostly traveling alone. This means that at the beginning at least, you are going to be going to new places where you don’t know many people or even anyone at all.
You will be discovering places by yourself and will be far from everyone you love. You might be okay with it, but you need to know that it’s inevitable. And it is not a bad thing, just be prepared for moments when wish your best friend was beside you. Or feeling sad that your hometown friends are having a party and you’re not there to share the fun.
Just remember, you are creating new experiences a thousand times more valuable for yourself than that party you missed. So when that happens, think about all the things you’ve accomplished!
Leaving Too Soon Without Having Control of Your Finances
When you decide to become location independent, you might be so excited that you would rather leave today than tomorrow – which we totally understand! Traveling the world, experiencing new places excites me the most too. But trust us, sometimes it’s worth waiting a little longer to make sure your finances are in order.
To afford such an untraditional lifestyle, you need to have money, of course. And I’m not talking about having millions here. I’m talking about having enough income to be able to live that lifestyle comfortably without being stressed about the next pay check or how you’ll pay for an emergency, if something were to happen.
Unless you have a massive amount of savings, you’ll definitely need a steady income to rely on while traveling. This means you won’t overly stress about finances and will be able to enjoy your newfound nomadic lifestyle even more.
Some basic milestones to confirm before you leave for a major trip include:
Freelancer? Build a steady influx of clients so you can budget an average estimated income.
Running an online business? Make sure it’s automated and efficient. You can always grow it on the road, but make sure it’s providing steady income when you leave.
The other important thing when it comes to money is to spend it wisely. Spend the money you have, not the money you don’t have or think is coming soon. Thing happen- clients don’t pay, payments get put on hold via PayPal… the list is endless.
Don’t spend more than you have, thinking that this month for some magical reason you might earn a little more. Don’t spend it until you get it. By doing this you might be putting your digital nomad lifestyle at risk.
Not Knowing Your Value and Not Valuing Your Time
A lot of people that want to become digital nomads start by looking for freelance jobs. This is a great way to start earning an income online.
The thing is that nowadays with job site platforms such as Freelancer or Upwork, it is easy to ask for less than you deserve because the competition is fierce.
There are many people willing to work for very little money. Usually, people asking for very low fares might not have the expertise you have. When you just start out you think you need to compete with them and lower your price, too. Just remember what you are worth and don’t settle for less.
The same phenomenon happens with time – value your time! it is the most important asset we have. Finishing a project takes time, and that is also what people pay you for. So don’t give your time away for free. And when it comes to valuing the time it is also important that you take time for yourself. As a digital nomad, you will be in beautiful destinations, and people might think that you are on vacation all the time. And as we know, that’s definitely not the case.
But like all digital nomads know, a lot of time on those places is spend working. At least, when you are starting out. So make sure to take some time out of work and enjoy your adventure.
Traveling Too Much and Not Planning Time for Work
When we think of digital nomads we think of people that are constantly moving and it seems like every day they are in a different destination. That is why many people when they think of such a lifestyle they believe that they need to travel a lot. They start planning they nomadic lifestyle and they plan a new destination for every 4-5 days.
Relax! You will have plenty of time to discover all the places you want to go. I have come to realize that it is better to stay for longer in one place. Working is something that you will have to do if you want to keep supporting that lifestyle. So if traveling slowly you will have time to work and to enjoy the city you are in.
Otherwise, you might get stressed because you have to finish your work so you can do all the things you want to do. Or you miss deadlines because you were doing everything under the sun, except working.
Also when traveling constantly you will take a lot of planes, buses, trains… This is all a lot of time where you might not be able to work. Plus you will be tired from all the traveling and you will need to rest when you get to your destination. And don’t let us get started about jet lag.
These are all obstacles that you will face when you travel a lot in a short period of time. On the other hand, if you travel slowly you will have more time to adjust with the flexibility to take a day off because you had time to work.
Having Unrealistic Expectations
As we said, most of what we see from digital nomads come from social media. This might create unrealistic expectations how we imagine this lifestyle to be. It can be as wonderful as all those pictures show, and it probably will, but don’t expect exactly the same.
Starting out as a digital nomad can be hard and it might take time until you have a steady income that will allow you to have the lifestyle you want.
Another very important misconception is the quality of internet connection. As a digital nomad, you will be relying on the internet to work. A very common mistake can be assuming that the connection will be the same everywhere you go. There are some countries or places where the internet connection might not be as good as the one you know from home, like Australia.
So make sure to inform yourself about the conditions. If the internet connection is lacking, be sure to map out some dependable co-working spaces or internet cafes that cater to digital nomads.
It is your turn to take the first step
Now that we have gone through some common mistakes and some things that definitely should be avoided is your time to jump into the life of a digital nomad!
If it is your dream, I want you to experience it for yourself. Whatever your decision – is stick to it, and don’t give up on it.
Set achievable goals and work hard to accomplish them. It all starts by taking one decision, creating a plan to reach your goal and working for it.
Everyone makes their own experiences and now it is your time to discover yours! We are Carla and Oliver and together we run our blogExciting Adventure. We left our lives in Berlin to travel and explore the world. We became nomads by doing it and now we are on our way to becoming digital. You can follow our journey on our blog, where we give useful tips so that you can do the same. We believe that everyone should do what they love, and for us, it is easier as digital nomads. (Facebook,Instagram,Pinterest)
Prepare yourself, this blog entry is just one giant complaint about Reverse Homesickness.
I was warned: coming back home from an extended period of traveling is extremely difficult. And yes, it’s also a major #FirstWorldProblem. I get it, I’m an asshole. But I am also So. Freakin’. Bored.
Have you heard of “Reverse Homesickness“? It’s a term that loosely means you’re missing the excitement of travel. You feel like your true “home” is exploring new corners of the world and you miss it when you’re back home in your normal, everyday life.
If you’re like me, you know this feeling all too well and struggle with the readjustment period after returning home. Wanderlusters, I know you agree with some of the following!
Traveling is My Only Talent
I don’t have many talents, unless you count trying and failing to be witty and charming, but I am a GREAT traveler. I can recite all the tricks to get hella discounts on flights, I thrive professionally when working remotely from cafés all over the world, and I am happiest when I don’t have a routine. Sidenote: Routine is the wooorrrssttttt and no creative professional should ever have to work under those circumstances.
I’ve had (and I’m sure you’ve had, too) countless moments walking through winding city streets thinking to myself how natural it felt to be in this element. Exploration and curiosity come naturally to me and when breathing new city air and walking over new city pavement, it’s impossible not to feel that electric charge. You are in your happy place, your natural element. Reverse homesickness is real, yall.
I’m Convinced Routine Leads to Burnout
I’m a half-and-half Digital Nomad. I spend half the year traveling to exotic destinations and working remotely, and half the year back home working the typical office schedule. Because of this, I can confidently review the pros and cons of each, and let me tell you, working remotely while abroad significantly improves productivity and inspiration. Yeah, go ahead and tell your boss that. To help, here’s how I convinced my boss to let me be a Digital Nomad.
When you return home from being a Digital Nomad, your work routine is a significant change you have to adapt to. When you feel the luster from your days start to dim, you second-guess why the heck you’re even keeping the job you have when it’s preventing you from living a life of freedom that you crave.
While I was abroad and working at 9:00pm, a coworker told me, “We don’t want you to burnout by not sleeping and working at odd hours of the night.” But the honest truth is, I’ve never once felt burned out while working remotely and traveling. But I have experienced burnout multiple times when I’m back home.
I’m Homesick For My Kind of People
Digital Nomad Girls
What is “home” really? Because I feel like my home is with people I’ve met who are fellow travelers, the adventurers, the startup owners who are always looking for something new and exciting and innovative. The people who spend their days brainstorming ways to create a profitable side hustle, and turning their passions into possible business ventures. These are the people I want to spend my time with.
Aside from coming back to traditional work hours (yuck), the second most difficult part post-travel is seeing friends post pictures exploring new destinations, while you’re working office hours in your hometown – it hurts the soul. I’m a fairly jealous person (and clearly, too self-aware) and so ensues mild temper tantrums when scrolling through photo albums from casual weekends in Cambodia and Australia.
I’m ready to be back with my people.
Dealing With American Politics is Exhausting
I’m sure a lot of you will agree with me here, I am just utterly exhausted with American politics 76% of the time. I’ve never been indifferent in wanting to make a change for the better, but damn this country makes it difficult to continue caring sometimes.
I thank the universe that I was 8,000 miles away in Thailand from the tumultuous election season in 2016. Spending the months leading up to the election in Southeast Asia and having insightful conversations with open-minded travelers was such an incredible experience. Different viewpoints were challenged and strengthened by citizens of the world, but coming back to a climate where civil discourse is near impossible, was extremely defeating.
And with how the political climate has unfolded since Donald Trump’s inauguration, some days it’s so disheartening that it’s enough to want to surrender your passport and get the helloutadodge.
Normalcy Is Fine, For Like… A Week
The first few days after returning from an extended excursion is pure joy. Having the comforts of home again are so joyous! Relishing my dogs and cat, my own bed, and having a variety of CHEESE (Yes, the non-existence of good cheese is a major issue abroad) is an unparalleled feeling. But now that the day-to-day normalcy has set in, I would gladly trade my Brie for the thrill of not knowing what my day entailed – waking up and wondering if I would go to the beach? Or to a creative meetup with other nomads? Have lunch at the Burmese restaurant around the corner? The excitement was in the surprise.
So yes, I am aware that sometimes I insert myself into conversion with “Oh my gosh, that reminds me of this time in Malaysia when….”
I promise I’m not trying to be boastful, I’m just homesick.
I wrote this post out of frustration because I feel like the Digital Nomad community is misunderstood. The majority of doubters and nay-sayers automatically assume this community is just full of bloggers who depict themselves living a fantasy lifestyle in order to sell their next e-book.
Every now and then I’m playing defense explaining myself to others about what it means to be a remote worker and battling misconceptions of being a Digital Nomad. While in reality, it’s much more complex than sitting on the beach drinking cocktails during a conference call.
There are many misconceptions about Digital Nomads, but for now, I’ll just stick to 11.
1. I Am Not on Longterm Vacation
NOT REAL LIFE
The first and most important fact on this list. No matter how my Instagram looks (and it looks pretty baller), I am not on vacation. I still have work to do and clients to manage. In fact, it’s probably more difficult to be a Digital Nomad because we don’t have the comforts of home or a full-service office. We have to make due with crowded cafe life, spotty internet, and communicating with clients at all hours of the day and night due to time differences.
Trust me when I say that I am not working on the beach because… A. THERE’S NO WIFI AT THE BEACH and B. Sand. Sand, everywhereeee. I’m not getting unfortunate tan lines on my legs from my resting laptop next to a bright blue ocean because that’s not real life. Oh yeah, and C. could you imagine how hot your laptop would be sitting in the sun like that? Stock photos, you sit on a throne of lies.
2. We Learn to Appreciate Fast WiFi While We Can
That slow internet can trigger a rage deeper than a woman scorned. We appreciate a good wifi connection when available, which in turn, makes us far more productive in shorter amounts of time than someone stuck at a desk procrastinating on Facebook and Buzzfeed for hours. I know what it’s like to get stuck in the dreaded dark hole of the web, unable to climb out for the remainder of the day. I know what it’s like to nonstop until you’ve finally find out if the Taylor Swift/Tom Hiddleston relationship was a sham or not – internet sleuths, I feel you.
Because we don’t have to suffer through an 8 hour straight workday, there is no such thing as procrastination. Really! We may get inspired at 10:00am or 10:00pm but either way, we know when to get shit done.
3. There’s No Such Thing as a Weekend
A Saturday is the same as a Wednesday or Thursday to me now. The usual M-F routine isn’t a thing for most nomads, including me. Usually these are the best work days because you don’t have your email inbox exploding and can actually get things done uninterrupted. However, there is a downside to working on weekends. If you work for a legitimate company and not self-employed, you are usually still required to work Monday-Friday, even if you also work on the weekend.
I recently learned the hard way that this routine is not stable for a full-time employee of a company. On a train from Vienna to Prague, I was on mental overload from logging in at least once every day for a couple of weeks. Every single new was like a bomb, just sending me over the edge until I quietly cried in my seat. What’s worse? I was next to a super cute Spanish man reading seated beside me who was totally giving me googly eyes before my meltdown. LESSON LEARNED to take days for yourself, you need it and you’ve earned it.
4. You Can Do It, Too!
Seriously! Step 1 is saving money, Step 2 is asking your boss or finding remote jobs that will let you travel while working! I don’t have a trust fund or Mommy and Daddy giving me an allowance or have one of those fancy-dancy passive incomes that dropshippers just love to talk about. It’s just me, my computer, and a steady job – which is so attainable for anyone, I just want to shout it from the terrace of my new Prague apartment. See, when you’re a Digital Nomad you get to humblebrag like that
5. It’s Not the 4 Hour Work Week
I know The 4 Hour Work Week has been a ‘Bible’ for some aspiring or current remote workers, but trust me, 95% of all Digital Nomads are not living this lifestyle and we regularly work 30-50 hours per week. Although that’s not to say it isn’t a dream of ours, and maybe we’ll get there one day, but today (and probably tomorrow) is not the day that we are able to only work 4 hours per week.
And honestly, the 9-5 schedule is a little bit of a fantasy, too. Although some days you can allow yourself a 9:00 – 3:00 or 12:00-5:00 schedule, more often than not, your day is realistically like: First batch– 10:00-3:00 Second batch– 5:00-7:00 Goodnight batch– 10:00-11:00
6. You Deserve More in Your Work/Life Balance
If I had a nickel every time a friend of mine said they couldn’t take a vacation because of their job, I really would be able to work 4 hours a week! And to them, I want to give a giant GRRROOAAANNNN. Bored. Next.
Stop undervaluing your worth and what you deserve, especially if you’re American. We are internationally known for being Work Martyrs and that is not a good thing. Yeah kid, pull yourself up by your bootstraps only to pay bills and die. What kind of life is that?
If traveling is truly a dream of yours, but your company doesn’t extend much time off, learn how to negotiate or ways to ask for more vacation time. Instead of a cash bonus, ask for an extra week of paid time off (which could actually be worth more), or tell your employer about an upcoming conference in a city that you want to visit. Be sure to position the opportunity as a good investment for the company and that you will return with new skills to share with the rest of your team that will ultimately increase revenue.
None of the above manageable? Go freelance or build your own business. Take a shot of whiskey and just do it. Here’s a ton of resignation letter templates.
7. Please Let Me Complain Sometimes
Behind this half-smile, I’m secretly miserable in Bali’s wet season.
And don’t make me feel guilty about it.
I try to be on my best behavior and never outwardly complain to friends and family because I realize how appreciative I am to travel and work at the same time, but, sometimes I want to complain danggit! You can have bad days even when working from charming Bavarian cities or on the beaches of Spain. You can have bad days no matter where you are! Sometimes it’s even more overwhelming being a Digital Nomad because you’re in unfamiliar territory without the comforts of home and that’s stressful.
So when I want to tell you about the rough time I am having, please listen to me. Don’t brush me off with “How can you be stressed when you’re living it up in Europe?!”
8. Sometimes It’s Lonely
I recently met a girl from Australia and she told me how she was in Budapest last week and rarely left her Airbnb, only to grab dinner and explore a little on foot. I was so surprised to hear her say this because within the travel community, that particular aspect of traveling is very hush-hush. We feel like we are supposed to live this Instagram-worthy life and constantly make friends in hostels and bars but sometimes that gets exhausting and you just need to decompress alone.
And also, it’s hard to make friends in some cities. I was in Salzburg for 4 days and didn’t have a meaningful conversation with anyone but my food delivery man who wanted to practice his English. I tried to start light conversation in various places, but many people were not fluent in English and I don’t know enough German to carry on anything for longer than 3 minutes. It’s acceptable to admit that sometimes you and a city just don’t ~vibe~ and that’s okay.
9. And Sometimes It’s Not
Being a Digital Nomad Girl means getting to meet and be inspired by people all over the world, from all over the world. There’s no better opportunity to grow as a person and reflect inwardly than by creating relationships, no matter how strong, with fellow adventurers and explorers.
That friend from Australia mentioned above? She was my roommate in a hostel in Vienna and as soon as I walked in the room we hit it off and went to the bar that night, and ate dinner at the Naschmarket the next night. We realized we’d both be in Prague during overlapping days so guess what? We met in Prague a few days later and experienced the world-famous Prague bar and club scene. Countless new friendships have been made while I’ve been traveling and that’s not only an incredible feeling while on the road, but a great skill to have in the “real world.”
And PS. Sometimes you’re sitting in Prague Old Town eating a hotdog when an attractive backpacker from Illinois sits next to you and you strike up conversation and end up spending the day drinking beer and having an innocent little fling for a day. Let things happen as they may!
So for every lonely day on the road, you’re going to have twice as many exciting, whirlwind days meeting new people.
10. I Live Modestly, And Probably More Cheaply Than Non-Digital Nomads
My LOVELY Airbnb room in Prague. $22 USD per night.
This is one of the most frustrating things of being a Digital Nomad – people assuming I’m bleeding money, living extravagantly abroad. Nope. I spend the same amount as someone who works from home, only my home isn’t a stationary apartment, it’s wherever I am with my computer – anywhere in the world.
Before I became a Digital Nomad, I was living in Charleston, SC which is experiencing exorbitant rent hikes and cost of living. A bedroom in a nice apartment within a 20 minute commute to Downtown would average around $1,000 and a 1 bedroom apartment would also average anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000.
So imagine you spend $1,000 on rent + going out on weekends, ordering lunch at the office, a car payment, concerts, shopping…. see where I’m going with this?
I live from a suitcase so I don’t need to shop. I eat from markets or find great food and drink deals while walking down the street, and I live comfortably in modest Airbnbs or Coliving houses for half the cost of living in Charleston. Plus, I’m single so I don’t need to buy shit for a significant other every single holiday or anniversary. HA!
11. We Care About our Work and Careers!
Don’t confuse backpackers with Digital Nomads. Not that there is anything wrong with backpackers, but for the most part: we are Digital Nomads partly because we want to engage and grow in our careers, and feel the best way to do this is by traveling. We even create entire businesses while traveling the world.
PS if you want to meet like-minded women from all over the world and work on your business or project in an encouraging environment, I HIGHLY recommend the Digital Nomad Girls retreats! I was fortunate to attend the past one in Las Palmas, and looking forward to attending another.
There are some people who say that it’s a nice way to make a living. Yeah, sure, you may have to pull in extra efforts, but at least, it’s going to pay off in the end. But there are also some who says otherwise. “Will it really pay off in the end?” , they say. “What if I work all my life, not being able to have a taste of what life is really like?” This is one of the most common questions that haunt all of us.
It’s no wonder that new terms in the career world have become popular such as the digital nomad.
What is a digital nomad?
Digital nomads are pioneers of the digital age. Other people use technology to make their lives easier: having a machine do laundry for them, booking a plane ticket from the comfort of their home, and the list goes on. Oh, but these digital nomads thought “If I could use technology for my career advantage, then maybe I wouldn’t need to wait for my vacation leave to be approved”.
With that, they quit their office jobs, packed their bags and went on an adventure? How did they manage to survive without money you say? Well, that’s the thing with digital nomads. All they need is a laptop, smartphone, wireless internet, together with their online and offline computer software, then they can already work from where they are traveling or from home.
Sounds fancy, right? Do you want to join them? Well, then here are some tips on how to create a life on the road:
Be a freelancer
Have you ever heard about that freelancer who became a superstar after year? Well, I haven’t either, but what I do have are skills, skills that I have come to acquire throughout my education and work experience. Skills are the only think you need in order to become a freelancer. Apart from the laptop and internet connection, it’s the only thing left you to need.
You have your own set of skills too. All you have to do is to choose the best and sell your services either by our or by day.
Don’t underestimate your abilities. If you’re an easy to work with professional then you’re already a few steps ahead of most freelancers. It doesn’t take great skill to be a freelancer. The most basic freelancing jobs include data entry, transcription, and administrative services.
Freelancing has never been this easy. With the help of the computer and internet, you’ll find yourself surrounded by loads of freelancing opportunities. Even so, one question remains: how does one become a freelancer? Read on to find out.
Decide which skills and services to promote
You have to assess your skills. Which ones are your best? Once you answer that question moving on to the next phase will be easy.
Advertise your freelance skills
There’s no need to get out of your house and shout at the top of your lungs that you have just decided to become a freelancer. There is no need to put up posters or bulletin boards, just to advertise yourself.
With the help of the internet, you can start promoting your freelancing services to the entire world. There are loads of websites aimed at helping people get freelance jobs such as:
Reach out to clients and start doing freelance work
Once you register to a freelancing site, you’ll be given your own profile. The first thing you need to do is to fill out everything in your profile. Your profile serves as your resume, and it is the first thing that prospective clients will be looking at before they invite you for an interview. After that, you can start reaching out to different clients.
The moment you register to freelancing sites, you’ll have access to a series of job orders, which you can apply for. The process is sort of like looking for an office job, except that all of it would be done online.
Perhaps you can make money out of your skills a different way. Instead of offering to do someone’s laundry, perhaps you can teach them how to do it.
Perhaps you’re a pretty good guitarist, technician, speaker, or graphic artist. You can make a living by teaching your skills online. Your skills might seem to be the simplest thing in the world for you, but there are people who would die just to have those skills.
Teaching online has never been this easier. All thanks to the gift of technology, you can now make money out of your kills, even while you’re chilling at a resort. You can start your own teaching business, but just in case you don’t feel like it, you can just register to these teaching sites:
Don’t feel like letting go of your job? Negotiate a work from home agreement
Quitting your job is risky. What if you don’t manage to get another one? How will you ever through it? I mean, our job is really important. Without it, you won’t have any source of income. How will you ever pay for the rent, electricity, cable, or the internet? Most importantly how will you ever feed yourself?
Losing your job is tragic, but if you really want to be a digital nomad, you can still negotiate with your boss. Try to convince him how letting you work from home is a good idea.
Sue C. Smith is a fitness coach and mompreneur. She established http://essaycrest.com/to share her passion for writing that sprung from blogging about her fitness regimen and healthy lifestyle. She then explored the world of writing even more and gradually fell in love with it. Sue wants to share the knowledge with her readers. She has two lovely daughters who she teaches everything she knows about health, fitness, writing, and business. She aspires that one day, everyone will pay attention to their well-being through living a healthy lifestyle.
More freelancers and traditional employees are trading in their cubicles and home offices to travel the world at exciting rates. And with the surmounting buzz surrounding Digital Nomads, comes a lot of misconceptions. Especially for female adventurers who are a significantly smaller piece of the Digital Nomad pie, often called “Digital Bromads.”
Often Digital Nomad Girls are underrepresented or misrepresented all together. So I want to give some honest insight to any women who thinks becoming a Female Digital Nomad may be a lifestyle they can hop on board with. Without further adieu, here are 6 stories from women living the dream – in their own words!
“I wish someone would have told me how important self-care is as a Digital Nomad, even more important than when you have a regular office job. We are usually under more stress, working longer hours so we tend to take care less of ourselves, which eventually can lead to burn-out even faster. Ironically, many people become digital nomads because they want to escape their stressful corporate lives but if you don’t watch out, you’re in for even more stress as a digital nomad.” – Kris Oak, Nutritionist, Luxembourg
“I always wish people knew it wasn’t a holiday! When I come home everyone always asks how my holiday was, when I’m settling down and getting a job, and where I’m visiting next! Of course I’m partly to blame by putting so many beach cocktails on my instagram, but I’m always trying to explain to people that this is my life now, not just a break. It is my career, and I’m living in these places not visiting. It’s not a holiday when you’re working 10 hours a day 7 days a week! But of course we love it all the same.” Louise Croft, Blogger and Youtuber, UK
“In my opinion a common misconception is, that Digital Nomads are always on the road, always travelling. I think, that is not really possible because the more frequently and faster you travel, the more unproductive you get. Especially in the beginning you need to focus and that is only possible with strict routines. In my experience most Digital Nomads are staying in one place for at least 3 months, as long as they have to work regularly. Of course there is more freedom as soon as you gain passive income.” Nives Kocht, Paleo Food Blogger, Austria
“I am a little unique because I’m not a twenty-something Digital Nomad. I’m in my 30’s and not traveling to ‘find myself’ or just doing this until I decide to ‘settle down.’ It’s a conscious lifestyle choice I’ve made to live abroad and I’ve found a true community in Barcelona, which I call home now. And no, all my friends aren’t expats and other nomads.” – Christine Lasko, USA, Web Developer
“People think of the term ‘Digital Nomad’ as a job description, rather, it’s rather a lifestyle that you create because of the job you already have. I’d say when you start out you should have a little money saved in your bank account, and start with shorter trips first to test out if the Digital Nomad lifestyle is for you or not. Otherwise you might end up without a job and travel plans that you can’t afford.” Bettina Wittmann, Austria, Digital Marketing Agency Owner
Do you ever get to the end of your work day feeling exhausted and accomplished only to glance at your to-do list and see you’ve only checked off a few tasks? This is me to a T.
I knew I was hustlin’ all day, but I had nothing to show for it. Where was all my time being spent?
Emailing is the Biggest Time Suck in the Modern World
I realized I was spending sooooo much excess time going back and forth with clients instead of focusing my attention to my actual assignments. I would partially complete the assignment, whether it was creating a graphic design, writing a blog post or creating content, and then feel the aching anxiety that I needed to open my inbox to make sure all was OK and see if there was any further communication being directed toward me.
Enforce an Email Budget to Increase Email Efficiency
Limit Yourself to no More than 3 Emails to the Same Person or Client
Sending and receiving too many emails per day stresses people out and is straight up unhealthy. Even. Researchers from the University of British Columbia say so.
Out of necessity, a Digital Nomad learns tricks to increase email efficiency because we value the time of others, and our own time. We appreciate and welcome alternative methods to doing things because, hey, we’re adventurers by nature.
In bullet points gather your thoughts, include your progress on any outstanding tasks, your questions for the client, any attachments or reports you need to send for approval. Send it all at once.
Your 2nd email of the day will be a followup of what you’ve discussed so that you can begin implementation.
Your 3rd email is a freebie for any followups for questions from both ends, to be used sparingly.
Without stressing about checking any unread messages or being distracted by new mail, you will be able to concentrate more effectively and bonus: since there is no communication clutter, you can use your bullet points in your email as a no-frills daily to-do list.
How Does This Boost Productivity? 3 Reasons
1. I am easily distracted by nature. For me, starting and completing a single thing at a time is much more efficient than working on several things at once. So clicking back and forth between my inbox and other open tabs gets me incredibly sidetracked. After refreshing my email and going back to where I was previously takes a few minutes for me to refocus. Now multiply this several times a day and you’ve easily just spend an hour or more reading, replying, and refocusing on your actual work.
2. When your client feels like they can email you changing their minds after you’ve already completed what they wanted in the first place – this is a problem. It is impossible to do your job correctly if you’re not given specific direction. And if you are getting specific instruction, and then implement precicely what was asked, there should be little wiggle room without a gentle reminder that both of your time is valuable and endless corrections are an impediment to everyone involved.
3. The amount of reduced anxiety and stress alleviated from internally deciding how I was going to control my inbox vs. my inbox controlling me is insurmountable. And because of this, I am free to see projects completed from beginning to end and allow my creativity to be set free without interruption, which promotes better results for everyone.
To increase email efficiency, you must stick to this rule unless it’s an emergency. I know how tempting it is to get sucked back into the black hole, but it’s important to hold this rule for yourself and others.
Organize Your Inbox by DAY Rather Than Subject
If you take a look at your inbox, I bet you have several ongoing email threads for different subjects, back and forth to the same person. Before I became a Digital Nomad, my typical email inbox at any given time had several messages discussing graphic design approval, blog posts, assignments, general maintenence questions and more…. simultaneously.
You know that this creates? A mess.
And also, a significantly wide room for error between you and the receiver. There are so many chances for a miscommunication or simply forgetting one of the things you were waiting for.
Check your email in chunks rather than as they stream in throughout the day.
Set a Precedent and Use This Canned Response
A sample email for the beginning of your work day would ideally look like this:
This is most likely going to only work for those who are self-employed or freelancers, but it’s a good template to follow for all email communication.
“Please note that due to high volume of workload, I check and respond to normal emails only twice per day.Your communication will receive a response within 24 hours.Thank you for understanding this move to create more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me to accomplish more and serve you better.”
Tools to Help You Succeed
SaneBox– SaneBox learns what email is important to you and filters out what isn’t — saving you from endless interruptions.
OtherInbox– Manages email overload by automatically organizing emails into subfolders like “Coupons” “Shopping” or “Work.”
Boomerang – Schedule emails that you can send at a later time. Perfect for nomads who work in odd timezones.
If everyone – clients, bosses, co-workers adopted this method of online communication, we could all could save hours of inefficiency, back and forth, and miscommunication. What do you think? How do you keep a sane inbox? What are your tricks to increase email efficiency? Let me know in the comments!
In less than one year, I’ve gone from working about 50 hours a week in a traditional office marketing job to traveling around the globe working from incredibly creative coworking spaces. I always meet like-minded professionals and have cut my work hours in half – here’s how I did it.
How I Cut My Work Week in Half While Traveling the World
When I was living in Charleston, South Carolina and working full-time at a Digital Marketing agency, I was putting in the standard 8 hour day, 40 hour work week plus as a Social Media Manager you’re expected to be ‘on call’ after hours and check-in on weekends. Plus factoring in any webinars or after hours events you to attend. These hours add up collectively and suddenly you’re working 50+ hours per week!
Working from an apartment terrace in Barcelona.
Even when your company promotes a healthy work/life balance, it can become very easy to border the line of burning out. Which is why it’s so important to set limits, explore alternatives in your work routines, and make sure you’re actively participating in something you’re passionate about. Whether it’s work itself or pursuits outside of the office. Although, let’s be honest, if you work for someone and not in business for yourself, you’re naturally not going to be as passionate about your work as the Owner or Founder expects you to. I’ve learned this the hard way.
Why Was I Logging in So Many Hours? Inefficiency.
When I was managing 7-12 clients, I prided myself on being such a hard worker. I was the poster child for the typical ‘Work Martyr’ who never took a vacation day or truly unplugged on weekends or holidays. I thought that’s how you were supposed to be as a Young Professional. But along the way, I’ve learned many tricks to working more efficiently from home or from a remote location.
But now I see that I was wrong. Oh, so wrong.
A neatly organized week, provided by Sun and Co in Javea, Spain!
I was spending countless hours tripping over my feet because I didn’t set limits or have a system in place to prioritize tasks in order of importance. I stressed myself out if I didn’t respond to every single email or complete every single assignment.
I decided I had to begin thinking about my time differently than how I had been doing it, or taught how I should be working by societal pressures. If you’re truly ready to become more efficient, don’t be afraid to think differently than how you’ve been told previously. If you’ve been taught to accomplish a tasks X way that takes twice as long as another method that yields the same results… why would you continue doing it the X way?
“There’s a way to do it better – find it.” – Thomas Edison
I Mastered the Skills I Already Knew
A common occurrence for young professionals is excelling at being a “multi-potentialite” who is someone with many interests and creative pursuits in several things at once, versus someone who really focuses as an expert in one specific area. To compete in many industries, it’s important to have this skill, but it can also be a major downfall.
A massive mistake I was making every single day was constantly looking up how to do things, even when I was 90% sure I was correct, but I doubted myself and my knowledge. I was re-teaching myself the same things every week, instead of being a Master of a few specific areas.
So now, as an efficient-as-heck Digital Nomad, if I doubt myself on a particular skill, I take several hours or perhaps an entire day, and teach myself everything I need to know from A-Z. This includes a bootcamp of webinars, reading peer written articles, and practicing, practicing, practicing myself. Those 5-8 hours of deep-dive learning will end up saving me countless hours spent on Google where the potential to getting distracted in the depths of the internet is exceptionally likely.
I Stopped Hopping on the Email Merry-Go-Round
You know how I mentioned earlier that I was constantly tripping over my feet, never finding a focal point in my work day? The majority of these distractions originated from playing Email Merry-Go-Round with clients all day, every day – sometimes even without a weekend reprieve.
What I not-so-affectionally call Email Merry-Go-Round means that you are constantly having to pause what you are working on to respond to emails from a client.
Especially when working with a new client, it’s important to establish a respectful and time efficient way of communication through email. I recommend establishing at the beginning of the relationship a routine consisting of checking in with a client in one, single email. Gather all information, questions, concerns, recommendations, screenshots of progress or elements/blogs/posts/graphics for approval and attach everything in a single email, in bullet point style.
Working from Sun and Co in Javea, Spain.
Allow the client to get back to you with their changes and approvals, and respond with a “Great, thanks! I will begin working on and implementing these ideas. I can’t wait for you to see the final results!” and then…. WORK ON IT. Do not feel the desire or anxiety of constantly checking your inbox for updates because you will end up dramatically reducing your time of executing these tasks.
The client feels taken care of, and you have just given yourself several hours of freedom to actually accomplish everything you listed in your email and shortened your work day. It’s a win/win!
Office Chatter, the Silent Killer
So here’s a little fact about me. I was voted “Most Talkative” my senior year of High School. Ha! Nooo, I bet you can’t believe that, can you?
I also LOVE my co-workers. We’re all friends outside of work and we all share a fairly small office space. Oh, and our team is mostly comprised of women who will drop what we are doing to help one another. Sounds like a super collaborative environment, right? We must get so much accomplished!
See, we actually like spending time together, ha!
Well, yes it is and yes we do. But because we are so willing to help brainstorm and share, it often leads to Office Chatter, the Silent Killer. (The Lifetime Movie will be coming out soon.) As a Digital Nomad only being connected by Gchat, email, and phone calls via Facebook, I am forced to be selective in how frequently I connect with my coworkers. Which helps me, and them, spend time their time more valueably because we are not getting distracted about other topics or go off on tangents catching up about weekend activities.
In fact, when my coworkers are also working remotely from home, we all agree that those are the single most productive days of the week because we both stick to our own to-do lists, help each other briefly over Gchat, say “Have a great rest of your day!” and move on.
So How Do I Balance Working Full-Time While Traveling the World?
First of all, let me preface with mentioning that I’m not one of those typical “Buy my e-book” Passive Income Hungry Bromads – I have a legit full-time job as a salaried employee, which is fairly unusual for most Digital Nomad communities.
A) Literally, how do you financially afford to travel longterm?
B) How do you afford to travel and stay on track with clients and work?
I think one answer can apply to both: I don’t travel like you do.
To me, traveling has become more of a lifestyle rather than viewing it as a luxury or a vacation. Of course, I am very lucky and appreciative of the opportunity to travel, but I think too many people still view travel as something “special” that is completely out of reach to do for long periods of time because they think they have to stay in resorts or AirBnBs with all the comforts of the western world.
I live cheaply, I grocery shop from markets or local retailers, I stay in modest accomodations, and when I am at home in the U.S. I don’t buy a bunch of “stuff” (clothes, trinkets, gadgets) so I save a lot of money in preparation for travel.
As for the second question, I am slowly taking the mindset of “I don’t have to prove to anyone that I am on my computer when I say that I am.” 1) I think most of my coworkers trust in me as an employee, and 2) I’ll allow my results to speak for themselves. This traditional mindset of not trusting employees and accounting for every minute is the reason the remote working revolution is taking off like wildfire and becoming increasingly successful and I am very proud to be a part of it.
Now It’s Your Turn!
Now it’s your time to shine as the most streamlined Digital Nomad you can be! What tips do you recommend I use to cut my work hours even more? Let me know in the comments!
5 Affordable Countries to Live in as a Digital Nomad
When you are traveling the world as a digital nomad, you want the opportunity to explore the incredible countries you’re visiting. But if the cost of living in a country is astonishingly high, you won’t have any money left over to actually travel. Which is kind of the point of being a digital nomad, right? Luckily, there are tons of low-cost countries that you can live in and travel through. Here are 5 affordable countries to live in as a digital nomad.
Top Cities: Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai
Average Rent: City apartment: $500/month; Suburb apartment: $300/month
Average Food: $200 or less/month
Official Language: Thai
Thailand is ranked as one of the cheapest countries to live in for digital nomads. The biggest costs you have to worry about abroad are your rent and food. In this country, you’ll spend an average of $500-$700 a month on rent and food combined. That’s just if you fall into the average, but you can always find cheaper rent and cheaper cuisine. The average price for a food item at the grocery store is about $1. For example, you can buy a loaf of bread, pound of chicken and eggs for a buck each. Thailand is a beautiful tropical country that has some of the lowest costs you’ll find abroad.
Colombia is one of the cheapest countries to travel to in South America. Rent is relatively affordable in most areas—even in populated cities such as Medellin. However, some areas can hike up the price and be around $750 a month. When you are looking at housing in Colombia, just remember that there is cheap housing, so don’t give in and rent an overly-expensive place.
Groceries also end up being on the cheaper side in Colombia. Fruits and vegetables are $0.30-$0.50 per pound, and bread and poultry end up being $1 per pound. Other expenses such as taxis and entertainment are generally affordable as well. Taxis cost about $2 per mile and a bus ride is only around $0.50 cents per ride. Colombia is the perfect country to travel to as a digital nomad if you want some Latin culture on an tight budget.
Top Cities: Ubud, Bali
Average Rent: City apartment: $500/month; Suburb apartment: $250/month
Average Food: $150/month
Official Language: Indonesian
As one of the cheapest and most extraordinary countries in Southeast Asia, you definitely want to consider living in Indonesia for your next destination. There are over 17,000 islands to explore and you’ll have plenty of leftover money from your budget to do so. Living in the city is extremely cheap compared to prices in cities such as New York City or LA.
But if you wanted to save even more money, you could stay outside of the city for an average of $250 a month. You also don’t have to worry about the price of groceries as you’ll spend an average of $150 a month on food in Indonesia. That rounds out to be between $400-650 a month. Those prices sound pretty good for your list of affordable countries to live in as a digital nomad, eh?
Top Cities: Kathmandu
Average Rent: $85-200/month
Average Food: $100-200/month
Official Language: Nepali, English
Nepal has to be one of the cheapest countries you can travel to as a digital nomad. The cost of rent alone will make your jaw drop. You won’t have to spend more than $200 a month on rent, and you know what that means? Plenty of remaining cash to have the most amazing experiences of your life as you travel through Nepal.
The cost of food is also extremely cheap; for only $100-$200 a month, you’ll be extremely well fed. In addition, you’ll spend an average of $75 a month on transportation if you’re traveling a bunch. Most attractions in Nepal cost around $2 for entrance—a low price for the amazing experiences you’ll have. It’s safe to say that money will be the least of your worries while you’re traveling through Nepal. The only thing you should fear is not having enough time to see all there is to see.
Top Cities: Lima
Average Rent: $280-$380/month
Average Food: $200 or less/month
Official Language: Spanish
When it comes to affordability, you can’t beat the prices in Peru. It’s very unlikely you’ll spend over $400 on rent in Peru or more than $200 on groceries. You can average out around $600 per month for rent and food in Peru, which should leave you plenty to have some fun.
The average meal at a restaurant in Peru will only end up costing you around $3. Beer is cheaper than milk here, adding up to around $1.30 per half-liter bottle while milk is $4 a gallon. The cost of having a good time in Peru isn’t much either as you can count on spending about $25 a month on transportation here. Peru is one of the best countries in South America to live in for the budget-minded digital nomad.
Are you ready for the (affordable) adventure of a lifetime? Get packin’!
You can check out more about the specific costs of these countries at Numbeo. These countries are both fun and easy on the wallet, making them the perfect affordable countries to live in as a digital nomad. So book your tickets and take your pick!
Hannah is a writer for trekbible and dreams of being an investigative journalist, or maybe a world traveling videographer, or perhaps the next voice of NPR; basically Hannah wants to be a multimedia journalist. Her voice is too big for her small body so she likes to stand on tall surfaces and shout very, very loudly. Hannah has many passions (some including poetry and the occasional chicken nugget or two) but is always searching for her next hobby.
Uhh, are all Digital Nomads Commitment-Phobes like me? Do the words “longterm relationship,” “longterm employer,” or longterm anything scare the shit out of you? Because it does for me. I cringe at the thought of any aspect of my life becoming stagnant or monotonous. But I’ve decided to start embracing commitment issues because I don’t think it’s really an “issue” anyway.
I view fear of commitment as the desire to experience everything I possibly can.
Screw It, I’m Gonna Own My Fear of Forever
After 26 years of being unable to commit to basically anything except being a Bossbitch™ I’ve decided to own my fear of forever. I simply like too many different things all at once and view commitment as turning my back on all of the possible opportunities that exist.
Even in my day-to-day life, I absolutely despise the idea of routine, or people telling me what to do for arbitrary reasons. I’m now learning that maybe this is why I had a problem with authority growing up. Regardless, I’ve always felt like pushing the boundaries of expectation and asking “why” when told I have to do something ~just because~ or follow the rules. I’m like, “Hey, why does this dumb rule exist other than the fact that it’s been existing for a long time.” Ya know?
Are all Digital Nomads Terrified of Following The Rules?
I’d say it’s one of our most common character traits. It’s a typical personality feature that leads us to often become explorers and adventurers. Routine is not designed for us, and so we must always seek out what’s new and exciting and soak up everything like a sponge. Or maybe it’s just a millennial thing. Either way, I’m definitely on board.
After all, an Airbnb study shows that millennials are more interested in spending their money on experiences rather than big purchases – like buying a home. And then I realize, being a Digital Nomad isn’t just able traveling, it’s about freedom. Being a Digital Nomad is alifestyle choice built on a foundation of counter-culture. Thriving off every new path we create for ourselves that’s out of the ordinary.
Am I The Only One Who Wonders”Why Settle Down?”
After years of watching friends get married, have babies, buying homes in their early 20’s, am I the only one scratching my head? While I’m happy that they’re happy, the biggest thought running through my head is once again, “why?”
Is it because it’s the easiest path that comes naturally after years of society telling us what our milestones should be, especially for women feeling pressure to settle down? We have grown up hearing fairytales of Happily Ever After once the girl finds her Prince and they live in a cottage with 2.5 nuclear kids – but that’s certainly not the only source of fulfillment that exists.
Some people call this ‘adulting’ but I call this surrender for someone in their early-to-mid twenties. Being tied down to mortgages for houses that are unnecessarily too big, spending tens of thousands of dollars on weddings that last for one day, luxury cars that get you from your office job to your mortgaged house and back again, day in and day out. Why don’t more people understand that freedom is more valuable than all of these things combined?
We Have the World At Our Fingertips
The ability to travel and see what this planet has to offer has never been more accessible than it is now, and as affordable as it is now. More companies are embracing remote culture for employees and airlines are competing for customers by offering unbelievable international flights. All you have to do is make the choice!
Settling down doesn’t mean you have to settle and I am a huge proponent not giving yourself ultimatums. You can do both! You can travel extensively and hit society’s milestones back home – it’s entirely possible to do each simultaneously! However, I’m not sure everyone knows that. It seems more common that people view travel and adulting as an either/or scenario.
“I can either travel or I can get married.” Hint: You can easily do both if you don’t spend an egregious amount on an American wedding.
“I can either travel or work towards this promotion.” Hellooo, doing both is what Digital Nomadism is all about
“I’ll miss my significant other too much if I leave without him.” No girl, don’t start with that.
Until Then, This is the Only Committment I Need
Maybe I’ll never know why people settle down at ages meant for exploration, but as long as they are genuinely content with the choices they make, and aren’t settling down just to be “normal,” then I wish them nothing but happiness – in their own way.
But for me at this stage in my life, the only commitment I need is…
– Commitment to explore new corners of the world.
– Commitment to learn new languages.
– Commitment to push myself out of my comfort zone.
– Commitment to try new cuisines, cultures, and traditions.
I’ve traveled for months at a time, and I’ve traveled on short excursions. The constant that runs between them both is the amount of items I pack that I realize I don’t need – even after scrutinizing each thing before placing it in my suitcase.
It’s so strange. Before a trip, I always spend days trying to decide what is “worth it” to bring: such as face wash, makeup, a hair straightener etc., and what I should keep at home. But each time, I have learned that when I don’t fill my suitcase with all of these items, I don’t miss them. Nor do I need these things in my “regular” life at home, because it’s all just clutter.
Minimalism isn’t just a trendy documentary on Netflix. It’s an incredible way to view your life and perspective. Trivial possessions have no value, nor should they control your life.
I find it especially difficult when I am visiting friends at their houses, with their shiny new *things* – each one matching the next and I know it makes them happy, but I don’t understand why. Why are people equating happiness with something that cannot return the favor? Guess what, we don’t need all this ‘stuff’ to make us happy. We barely even use it enough to justify packing it in our ever-precious suitcase weight limit.
A Lesson Learned in Southeast Asia
I’ll never forget this: The first longterm trip I’ve ever planned was spending 3 months in Southeast Asia. I had never been on an excursion this far away from home and I had to figure out how to bring 4 month’s worth of “necessities” to accommodate me. Naturally, I packed 4 pairs of shoes. Silly me.
More experienced Chelse laughs at her former self. What was I thinking?! If anyone who has been to Southeast Asia knows, #1 you only need a sturdy pair of sandals to brave every month of the year and #2 it’s much more cost-effective to purchase any additional activewear shoes at a mall, and then donate them once you leave.
No really. Even if you decide to traverse the sticky waterfalls of Chiang Mai, you don’t need more than one solid pair of strap-on sandals. And if you reallllyyyyy decide you need sneakers, it’s worth your peace of mind to pay 600 baht (~$17 USD), for the adventures you participate in, and give them away to a local cause like the Thai Freedom House. If you’re in Chiang Mai, Free Bird is an incredible organization many of us Digital Nomad Girls frequent. Consider donating any items there which supports Thai Freedom House.
Pack for Who You Want to Be
The clothes I wear when traveling reflect who I want to be as a person. I can be anybody I want when I travel because nobody has preconceived notions of who I am. If I choose to wear a crop top and slinky high-waisted skirt, nobody knows that I would usually feel ridiculous wearing that outfit – they just see a confident solo female traveler painting the town red.
I would normally never wear a trendy choker, but when in Rome… Uh, I mean when in Munich
Home Isn’t a Destination, It’s a Feeling
When I’m traveling, I have my moments of missing the comforts of home, but to be honest, when I am home I hate it. I would not trade all the comforts of home for traveling and seeing the world, no matter how stressful it is at times.
Without a bunch of stuff weighing me down, I feel light and agile – literally. I aim to be carefree and nimble and for me, I need nothing more than just my carry-on suitcase. Anything else it just too damn stressful to manage.
A Girl and Her Laptop
My office is wherever I am with my laptop and my community is whoever I make connections with in the moment. While working from remote corners of the world, you quickly realize how little you actually need. to operate a full-time job. All you need is a charger, adaptor, and your computer. It’s the best feeling when you start assembling all of your work files in digital form, instead of old school files and folder. Bonus points when you digitize – everything can be accessed from anywhere in the world!
Ultimately, travel can be the most enlightening aspect of life to show you how you can live life simply. With all the money you will save from not constantly purchasing items that don’t mean anything, you can invest your savings into future travel. And you know what they say, “travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.”
By the end of your first month traveling, you’ll have mastered the art form of throwing shit out. Congratulations!