So, I’ve been living as a digital nomad for the past two years.
It is, undoubtedly, the best thing I’ve ever done. Once you make the decision to set off, start your own business (or freelance) and go where the wind takes you, you become a different person.
Here are my 10 most valuable lessons from living a nomadic lifestyle. May they inspire, inform and intrigue you if it’s something you’ve been exploring.
Things won’t always go your way
Ugh, sorry to start on a negative but let’s just get it over with. Just like anything, things don’t always pan out the way you hoped. When this happens on your travels it feels slightly amplified. Remember that time you missed your flight, got food poisoning or had your wallet stolen? When we’re away from home, these things seem like huge setbacks.
Becoming a nomad has taught me that these things will happen and it’s how you choose to deal with them that will shape your future experiences. Choose to grow from the negative situations and you’ll become stronger, more adjustable person with a kickass attitude towards life.
Material possessions are just that
One of the first things living as a nomad taught me was the importance of minimalism. My life is packed up into one large suitcase and a roller. And there’s something very liberating about living like that.
Nomadism teaches you not to get attached to materials and place more emphasis on experiences.
Hoarding things isn’t an option so you no longer spend money on idle belongings. We have a one-in-one-out policy where if we buy something new, we donate something of ours (me being my partner and I).
The three essentials: WiFi, Kitchen and Location
These are my non-negotiables when scouting for accommodation. Good WiFi is pretty self-explanatory; you’ll need this to work in. A good kitchen can often be overlooked, but you’re not on holidays so you won’t be eating out each night. Make sure the kitchen is a decent size and at the very least has decent utensils so you can easily cook your own meals each day.
Location wise, I like to be in the centre of the action. Or at least in close proximity. This makes it easier to get around. Look for access to public transport, cafes and restaurants and of course a grocery within walking distance.
Anyhoo – nail those three and you’ll have a much better experience.
My go-to site is Airbnb but Craig’s List is also good. Just be wary of scammers and never transact any money before seeing the property.
Don’t neglect your wellness
I cannot stress this enough. Your health is the number one thing you need to keep in check whilst constantly on the go.
Not only does constant travel mess with our gut, it also takes a big toll on our bodies. It takes at least two weeks for your body to adjust to its new location so it’s super important to ramp up the acts of wellness and self-care.
Maintaining a solid routine is a great way to do this. Just because you’re in a new city every few weeks/months shouldn’t mean you fall out of your regular schedule. That said, take the time to identify what your ideal schedule looks like. Do you prefer an early rise then a few hours during the day to work? Or perhaps you’re better in the afternoon? Find your sweet spot – when you’re most productive and form your schedule around it.
Let go of your expectations
It’s a much more enjoyable experience when you don’t have preconceived notions about a new city or country. Remember what you see on the web is often the glorified version.
I’ve been disappointed after having a vision of what I thought would be a beautiful tropical island, which in reality was a developing country with no that much to offer besides.
Letting go of my expectations allowed me to go into a new situation with an open mind and heart with a new pair of eyes and embrace whatever came my way.
Remember to stop and smell the roses
When things go wrong, or not exactly how you were hoping they’d go, please do the above. It always works for me. I stop and remember that I’m one of the few lucky people who get to travel the world, grow my own business and each day feed my soul with what it craves – an adventurous life.
That said – the DN community is growing rapidly because more people are waking up to the fact that you don’t need to follow the standard rules of life – you can create your own path.
It pays to be a bit strategic
Whilst the idea of sticking a finger in the air and following the wind is oh-so-romantic, it’s not the smartest way to travel the world. Make a list of places you’d love to visit then do some research.
Does it offer good short accommodation? How many telco providers are there that offer good wifi? What is the cost of living like? Is it safe? Is this the right time of year to go?
For countries where you’ve got a few cities, pick one that makes the most sense to base yourself in and take day/weekend trips to the others.
Most people are inherently good
That’s nice to hear, isn’t it? Most people are kind, willing to help and go out of their way for you.
Human connections are what drives us in this world. A smile from a stranger, sharing a laugh with a new friend or catching a break from a kind bus driver who lets you hop on despite you not having a ticket.
It’s reassuring and reminds me that us humans are all in this together.
Become a Yes Man and life gets better
Seriously, it does. Say Yes to each opportunity that life presents you with. This is the easiest way to meet new people, have spontaneous adventures and make those unforgettable memories.
Becoming a Yes Man, or Woman makes you more adjustable to your circumstances too.
Quitting isn’t an option
When we launched our business we were six months into our nomadic stint. We had no plans of returning home and our list of countries was getting bigger by the week. We needed money. We’d been setting up our content marketing business for the last few months and now it was go-time. What faced us was a gruelling month of hustling, bustling and downright grit.
At one point we were down to our last $1000. But rather than pack it all in, we affirmed that quitting isn’t an option. We needed to make it work. And despite awful WiFi, a terrible spout of food poisoning and long, long days – we made it. We signed our first two clients that month. And it was all down to that grit, perseverance and a winner’s mindset.
Or if none of those do it for ya…there’s this;
“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” Paolo Coehlo