Have you ever bought a product or service that promised the world and delivered squat? Course you have. Outlandish claims. Every industry makes them. Every word and image is carefully crafted and edited to entice and intoxicate you to a point where you can’t say NO—because that’s what sells.
Call it a movement, call it an industry, call it what you like—nobody can deny the digital nomad train is gaining serious traction. And rightfully so. At a minimum, it provides you with an opportunity to experience different cultures around the globe while figuring out what it is you want from life.
They say travel broadens your mind. This shit sets it on fire. I see 24-year-olds with laser focus doing incredible work and loving their life in the process. It astonishes me. It needs to be celebrates and encouraged. When I was 24, I was either hungover or pissed. Anyone who wants to experience this lifestyle should because even if it’s not for you, it will open your eyes to a world of potential and possibility.
Having said that, it should be noted the life of a digital nomad is rarely as glamorous as portrayed. As with all movements or industries that become mainstream, there’s a lot of bullshit that comes with it. And with the rise of social media—many digital nomads go WAY over the top promoting a perfectly manicured life to induce envy and lure others in.
Yes, it’s polarising. Yes, it’s enticing. Yes, it’s exciting, sexy, and extremely intoxicating. And yes, a lot of it is a massive extension and embellishment of the truth.
I don’t like when people dupe other people into thinking their life is shit, and the only way to fix it is to live the life they live. Especially when behind the scenes, that person’s life is nowhere near as good as they make it out to be.
I don’t say this to put you off. Quite the contrary. It’s just a reality check based largely on false truths spread across social media so you can better prepare yourself to ensure you have the best possible experience should you decide to embark on a nomadic journey.
Consider this a reality checklist for the aspiring digital nomad:
It’s not the greatest thing in the world
For numerous reasons. First and foremost, you have to leave your friends and family behind. That shit can and will weigh on you. You’ll also miss a lot of events you don’t want to miss such as weddings, festivals, babies, whatever it may be. A trip home for a wedding could cost you the guts of three grand. You’ll also lose friends because unfortunately, that happens, but you’ll make new ones and always keep the best ones.
A lot of this stuff is mindset. Some love the corporate lifestyle and thrive in their 9-5 because they chose the right 9-5. Others can’t stand it and opt for this lifestyle. Misery exists in both worlds the same way happiness does. It’s not a holiday. It’s a lifestyle. If you’re running from your problems—remember the mind will travel with you. Speaking of which…
It can be extremely lonely
Loneliness exists everywhere, but when you’re in a strange place working on crafting a new life for yourself, it can hit you like a sledgehammer. Meaningful relationships and friendships take time. And you have to work for it. I wrote an article about escaping the loneliness trap which you can read here.
This is why places like Dojo exist and are becoming so popular, but even still, many people are lonely. Come with a sense of adventure and be willing to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t come if you think you’re going to meet your best friend in the first week. Come because you’re curious—not because you believe everything will just work out. Speaking of which…
It takes time
It takes effort to acclimatize to your surroundings, find good accommodation, people you like, and a good space to work from. It’s also takes time to find those little gems around the globe that line up perfectly with the life you want to live.
And it also takes time to start earning money. I’m sure you’ve been told by the Internet that you can easily earn six figures in six months by becoming an influencer. While there are exceptions, you’re probably a little late to the party—especially if you follow the guidance of someone who built their following five or ten years ago.
If you’re launching a business and you’re not experienced in doing so—you’re likely grossly underestimating how long it will take to start making enough money to live comfortably. Even in Bali. Speaking of which…
It’s not that cheap
It can be if you really want to slum it. Chances are you don’t. You need to account for insurance, visas, visa runs, flights, coworking spaces, trips, etc. It all adds up. Just because some things are much cheaper than home, doesn’t mean everything is. And if you go somewhere particularly beautiful and cheap, the chances of a good internet connection are very slim. Speaking of which…
You can’t work from anywhere
You need a stable Internet connection at a minimum. And often air-con and a comfortable setting so you can focus and be productive. Why the fuck people pose for pictures on the beach with their laptop pretending to do work is one of life’s greatest mysteries to me. Unless they’re snapping it off the coast of Brighton, it’s usually 100 degrees outside. Your laptop would melt. Speaking of which…
Instagram is lying to you
And not in a subtle way. Tanned bodies, endless parties, adventures, and the ability to conduct your workday on the beach while sharing stories on Instagram to piss friends and followers off and show them how great life can be and how foolish they are for not dropping it all and following their passion? Give me a break. Lies. Speaking of which…
It’s really fucking hard
Some have it sweet, but even then they’ve probably spent five years working their asses off to get there. Unless you have an employer willing to pay you to work remotely, you’re going to have to work extremely hard for this lifestyle. Speaking of which…
It is a lifestyle. And if you ask me—it’s the greatest thing to come from the Internet. There are a lot of dreamers out here—those who want to create a better life for themselves on their terms. And why not? When you take the time and surround yourself with the right crew, there’s no such thing as can’t. The support is there to help you find the way, so if you think this is something you have to experience for yourself, then fuck it, get yourself a ticket and come to find out.
Also published on Medium.