Tired of your cubicle? I dig you. Who wants to sit there staring at a picture of a sunset every day when they can do the real thing? You can, you know. If you’ve got a career online or work from a virtual office it has never been easier to work from abroad. After all, there is internet everywhere nowadays. What’s more, a lot of faraway places are cheaper than here. That means you’re making a western salary even as you’re spending your cash in a place where it will go many times further.
Want to hit the road and join the digital nomad community? Then there are some of the things you’ll definitely want to consider very carefully.
Is Your Career Suitable?
There are a few elements that are vital to having an on the road career. These are:
- Being able to work online and not need to meet people face to face.
- Not needing a lot of heavy equipment (and getting the right laptop).
- Not needing an internet connection that downloads terabytes of data.
The first one is obvious. If you have to meet people face to face then it’s going to be hard to get away from them. The second one also makes sense. After all, most airlines charge you an arm and e leg if you try to take too many kilos with you. Do note, some people travel with campers or cars to avoid this problem. Of course, that does restrict you somewhat but it’s better than never leaving the town you live in, right?
The third point is often overlooked by starting digital nomads. They don’t realize that in the cheaper places the internet is also a lot worse. As a result, they end up tremendously stressed as they need half an hour to upload or download a vital piece file that they really needed 20 minutes ago.
If Your Career isn’t Suitable, Can You Change it?
Maybe you can start doing some online work that fits in with what you do but isn’t exactly the same. That way you can start developing the skills you’ll need to actually take your life on the road. Note, some people think that they will hit the road and then learn the skills that they want to. And that’s certainly possible. It does have one drawback though.
And that is that as you transition, you’ll need to find both new teachers and new clients. Those can be hard to find if you’re on the road and can’t meet people face to face. It’s not impossible, mind you, but it’s a lot harder.
Generally, it’s better that you first get your career going and then hit the open road. Even better, become semi-nomadic and return to your home base a few times a year. In this way, you can sit down with your clients occasionally and also meet new ones.
Are You Stress Resistant?
You might think that it’s all rainbows and sunshine on the road, but it isn’t always – believe you me. It really can get quite stressful as you’re rushing around, trying to find a good internet connection to make sure that you get that job done that you should have finished yesterday.
One of the biggest problems that a lot of digital nomads have is finding good places to work. It can be really hard to find a good desk and a quiet atmosphere. I am, for example, currently writing this from the back of a bus. It’s not the most comfortable situation that you can find yourself in and you do have to be adaptable and relatively stress resistant for it to work.
Note, there are plenty of workarounds. For example, you can find well-reviewed places on Airbnb to check out. These will often have internet and can become an oasis of tranquility and peace of mind when you’re on the road a lot. It also gives you access to a kitchen. And that makes it so much easier to get to work almost immediately at the beginning of the day (as you won’t have to look for breakfast) as well as have your coffee exactly how you want it.
Yes, it’s a Dream! But Don’t Jump into the Deep End Without Looking for Sharks
The life of a digital nomad is fantastic. It really is a great way to see the world and live the life. But before you head out, make sure that you don’t just jump in without doing any research. Just because it’s not your home country doesn’t mean you’ve somehow gone through the cupboard and ended up in Narnia. It’s still the real world and there are still real problems. You’ve got to be ready for those and deal and have a plan for when they come along.
So do your research. There are tons of groups online – like on Facebook and Reddit – where you can ask important questions and find out how this life works. Then you can learn from other people’s mistakes instead of making your own. Trust me, that’s a lot less costly.
But Don’t Be Afraid to Try it out
At the same time, don’t let that hold you back. A lot of people think it’s a lot scarier than it actually is. They stress and they worry and as a result, don’t end up going out there and finding out if they can actually do it. They’re afraid they can’t speak the language (And forget that it’s easy to get things translated into a foreign language or that they don’t have the personality (forgetting that personalities can change).
If you’re worried that it won’t work, why not try it out for a few months first? It’s not hard to rent out your apartment nowadays on some service for a few months. Often that can make you more money than you’re paying in rent or maintenance. That means you’ll have a nice base to set up with. Then you can go to some faraway place and try it out. If it’s not for you, then you give it up. If it is, then you give your apartment and embrace the life full time.
What have you got to lose? After all, as St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and if you don’t travel you only get to see one page”.