Wouldn’t it be great if you could earn a living while you roam all over the world? Many individuals are doing just that in this day and age, thanks to globalization and technology. You now have the freedom to operate from any corner of the planet as long as you have access to a computer (or a tablet / smartphone) and an internet connection.As a digital nomad or a location independent professional, you need not be tied down to a particular city or country just because of your job. It is possible for you to live anywhere or even travel from one place to another every other month and still meet your contractual obligations without any trouble.
Contrary to what many believe, you don’t necessarily have to be an entrepreneur or a freelancer in order to become a digital nomad. Some employees are given the option to work with their organizations remotely whereas others may float about from one place to another, picking up any assignment or job that they can find.
This kind of lifestyle has numerous advantages and may sound perfect for many of us. However, a lot of young professionals are apprehensive about opting for it, because of the uncertainty it brings. While a globe trotter may jump at the chance to live as a digital nomad, this option may not seem very feasible to a person with a family. There are several pros and cons that should be kept in mind before you settle for working like this. For example, on one hand, you won’t be cooped up in a cubicle or an office 8 hours a day, five days a week but on the other, looking for the ideal space to maximize productivity may become a bit of a challenge. Also, do you think you will rake in the money while you are on a perpetual vacation? While the income may seem good, it may not necessarily be enough to support the lifestyle that you have chosen for yourself.
So, it is essential for you to look at all the aspects of working at your own time and convenience, before you make any kind of decision. Below are some of the most common myths about leading the life of a digital nomad.
Myth 1: You need to have a lot of money to travel and work
When looking for overseas vacation packages, a majority of figures are likely to seem exorbitant and therefore unrealistic on a long-term basis. However, do keep in mind that being a digital nomad is not the same as going on a holiday and so you need to settle for more economical options when making plans.
A majority of seasoned budget travelers reduce their costs to a great extent by booking their flights months in advance, cashing in on their frequent flyer miles and opting for excursion fares or discounted deals. Remember, the longer your journey takes, the less you are likely to pay; direct flights cost much more than those with one or two stopovers.
Many location-independent professionals also avoid taking a flight if possible and opt for trains or road travel instead.
Of course, you will have to spend some amount of money every time you decide to go to a different place. However, traveling can be as reasonable or expensive as you want it to be.
Myth 2: You won’t find places to stay very easily
Staying in a hotel for more than a couple of days can make a huge dent in your pocket and so it is best to look for other alternatives if you are planning to spend a couple of weeks in a particular city or town. Fortunately, it has become quite easy to get reasonable accommodation at most of the popular tourist and expat locations. These include serviced apartments, guest houses, and hostels.
In fact, a number of families in Europe, Asia and North America are also willing to “share their couches” with foreigners for a couple of weeks at minimal or no cost. Many of the hosts will offer to cook your meals too. As well as saving money, staying with the locals will help you get firsthand experience of a new culture. You can learn more about the place and may also get some useful tips on networking as well as working more effectively. However, you will need to check various resources to zero in on the most economical and convenient option.
Myth 3: You will face a challenge in working while you travel
Some of the popular digital nomads have made it a habit to post pictures of themselves in the mountains or on a beach along with captions about enjoying their work. These images make it look like they are on a vacation, instead of working hard.
However, not a lot of people understand that it is possible to seem relaxed even when you are trying to close a difficult deal or meet a strict deadline. The surrounding does not really matter as long as you have an internet connection and access to a computer. Successful writers, photographers and web designers often make the most of their time even when they are at the airport or are sitting in a coffee shop. Many of them actually claim to be more productive than regular office workers because they are happy with what they are doing and don’t need to be monitored constantly.
Of course, working flexible hours from home is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is possible for people to get distracted or caught up in their personal work, instead of focusing on their professional tasks. In order to utilize your time effectively and maximize productivity, it is important for you to prioritize your activities and draw out a milestone plan. Make sure that you maintain a disciplined schedule and complete your daily targets accordingly. Your routine should have adequate amounts of time assigned to work and play!
Myth 4:Your career will not progress because of your constant traveling
It is only natural for people to associate professional growth with a stable career path. Most therefore believe that they should join a well-reputed organization and climb the ladder gradually to be successful in the long run. While some jobs may not accommodate a traveler’s lifestyle you should be able to pave the right career path for yourself, as you flit from one part of the world to the other.
Digital nomads, including those who freelance or have chosen to work on short-term assignments, are as committed to their jobs as anyone else. As long as your work is of a good quality and you have the ability to network effectively, you should be able to gain a good reputation for yourself in your industry. In fact, having global experience and being an independent worker may also give you an edge that not everyone has.
Myth 5: You cannot go on a real vacation
A lot of people believe that it is hard for a digital nomad to switch off from “work mode” even when traveling for leisure purposes. They believe that you will end up focusing more on work while others are basking in the sun’s rays or skiing down the slopes. However, this need not be true as long as you stay on top of your game.
When planning a holiday try to choose a place that you really want to visit or one that is quite different from the city you currently live in. Also, make a bucket list of all the interesting things for you to see and do so that you have something to look forward to. Schedule activities that are not a part of your daily routine.
Don’t forget to factor in an hour or two for work (at the start or the end of each day), lest you end up canceling other plans in case something urgent comes up.
Myth 6: You cannot be a location independent professional if you have a family of your own
A number of individuals give up on their dream of traveling because they don’t what to stay away from their loved ones for a long period of time. Some are apprehensive about moving around with their family. However, contrary to the common notion, nomadic families have the tendency to form strong bonds with one other. In fact, you can spend more time with your close ones even when you work.
Of course, it won’t be easy to uproot your family and have them move with you regularly, especially if you have kids or the other members have full-time jobs. However, several expat families travel regularly, living in a location for a certain period of time before choosing a new destination. In fact, the exposure to different places, people, lifestyles and cultures can be quite beneficial even for young kids, as long as the environment is safe and friendly.
You don’t have to be away from your family for long, even if you decide to venture out on your own. Use technology to connect with your close ones on a daily basis. Also think about making a trip home at least once a year.
Myth 7: You will feel lonely as most of your friendships will be superficial
It isn’t necessary for you to be in a foreign location in order to feel lonely; it could happen to you even if you are in a house full of people you know. On the other hand, if you have the ability to connect well with people, you will make friends regardless of where you live and how often you move.
Digital nomads often have the tendency to bond with like-minded travelers and while these interactions may be short-lived, they are generally quite meaningful. It has also been seen that people who travel regularly tend to feel more comfortable with their own company than others.
Myth 8: You can only do this up to a certain age
There is absolutely no truth to this belief; you are under no obligation to hang up your boots just because you have reached a certain age. As long as you have the ability and the inclination to use a computer, you can choose to work from any corner of the world if you are a digital nomad. In fact, a number of people only opt for this lifestyle after they retire. Many older people travel to their dream destinations and make money as freelancers or consultants.
Unfortunately, it may get harder for you to be on the move about as you age. In such a scenario, you may want to consider easier and more comfortable modes of travel.
Myth 9: You will soon get tired of being on the go all the time
If you are a traveler at heart, which is probably the reason you chose to become a location independent professional in the first place, being on the move will actually stimulate your efficiency and creativity. In fact, the only thing that you will get tired of is staying in one spot for too long.
Every time you start having second thoughts about your lifestyle choices, ask yourself if you are ready to spend the next few years behind the same desk in an office or a cubicle.
Myth 10: You will be on the constant lookout for a stable Internet connection
This one is actually true to a great extent, since your work will be highly dependent on the Internet. Lack of a stable connection may just throw a wrench in your work schedule. Fortunately, over a period of time, most nomads learn how stay online whenever required. Technology solutions like mobile hotspots, dongles and portable Wi-Fi have definitely made things easier. You could always pop into a café that offers internet to customers if there is no other option.
Do make sure that you carefully consider the benefits as well as the drawbacks that come with the freedom to work from anywhere in the world before you choose to lead this life.
Are you a digital nomad? What challenges have you faced in your life abroad? Let us know in the comments!