I answer questions on the online platform Quora. Lots of people ask about the future of Digital Nomadism due to the worldwide situation with COVID-19 and travel restrictions. Can and will digital nomadism continue to exist or will it disappear?
At the moment I am stuck in Mexico, sure I can travel, Mexico has no travel limitations, but interstate travel will most likely put me in states where there are more restrictions or unstable situations that can change any moment. And I am also stuck in bureaucracy since my resident permit is still in the making. I have the permission to stay 4 years in Mexico but the plastic ID card takes an awfully long time to print.
Lots of free time for me to ruminate on the subject of the future of digital nomads.
What digital nomads have shown to be the vulnerable ones?
I talked to several nomads around the globe, and we are divided in our opinions. Sure, this pandemic has proven that we are a vulnerable group. Or at least some of us are vulnerable. Who are the vulnerable ones?
Those that were on a visa run, and got stuck in a different country from where they were supposed to be. Slow travellers among the nomads sometimes rent houses for a longer period, when you went on a visa run now you face double rental costs, you probably left stuff behind when going on a quick visa run and now you are stuck with half of your belongings in a country where you have to work around the visa extensions. For example, those in the Philippines are on lockdown forever, not able to leave and facing major extra costs, due to visa regulations and exit clearance.
If those costs were not calculated in your budget you might face hard times.
Those that work small projects for small businesses and private people are complaining in an income drop. Everybody suffers from COVID and a lot of businesses have to budget to survive. Website design and tweaks are the first costs to cut back on.
You will especially suffer if your portfolio is not large enough, or when you are in a more expensive place you can barely afford.
Travel writers and bloggers suffer due to lack of travel opportunities, Press trips are postponed, cruises down, and most tourist hotspots around the world closed or severely limited.
Those nomads that rented out a place back home through services like Airbnb or short term renters. Since the travel industry is down, those leases will be terminated, and since lots of people wanted to return home, they will lack income. One lucky side to that: If those nomads also returned home they had a place to live and have no need to crash with family or friends.
The average nomad that is scraping to get by will also have a hard time. For prices rise, tickets are more expensive and the flexibility of moving to cheaper places is limited due to travel restrictions.
I know a lot of those nomads that mostly lived on cup noodles and free wifi have gone home by the sound of the first alarm.
Nomads that earn money from stock trading and bitcoins will have a huge drop of income since worldwide every economy has shrunk and will continue to do so. Some stock markets are held up artificially by countries like the USA printing more money but devaluation is inevitable and with that stock markets will drop.
Are there nomads that thrive or do not suffer?
Yes, there are. Some nomads do not suffer financially from this pandemic and some even make big money.
Those that invested in dropshipping, life on advertisement income and have solid products online or offline to sell.
Sales probably continue like nothing happened unless your business is tied to a vulnerable sector like tourism or like mine: emigration. I really saw a stagnation in my income, and yet, now in the continuation of the pandemic, growth for a lot of people want to move elsewhere, tired of their countries policies and future vaccination rules.
Mostly those nomads that do not have their eggs in one basket do well. And those with an established product do well.
Will digital nomads survive this crisis?
I think this pandemic and travel limitations have separated the men from the boys. A lot of not so successful nomads following someone else’s dream of getting rich fast on a white beach in a tropical destination have gone home and unpacked the backpack, working as a freelancer from the kitchen table.
It is the die-hards that did not take the first flight out, that will survive. They have the right mentality to make it out there, those are the ones that are the most resourceful and resilient and have this winning mentality.
They know deep down in their hearts that travel will go back to normal once the vaccine is on the market.
The world population has proven that they easily forget. Humans are programmed to fight for just a short while than accept and forget. And we will not remember how bad it was in a country we long to go to. We will just go when the opportunity arrises or when we have a chance. And countries will reopen For the world economy has to restart sooner or later. And so needs tourism.
Lots of countries depend on tourism for they’re economic growth and wealth.
Airports will reopen and planes will take off to every destination in the world again soon. Simply because the world cannot afford to stay on lockdown or limited movement for a long time.
What does the future look like for Digital Nomads?
Now that is hard to tell. We might need a new set of paperwork to be able to move around. Maybe we need a proof of vaccination, like with Yellow Fever for example. Maybe our previous visas become more important at border crossings. But it is my guess that it will not be any harder than it was before.
Once you are back on track with your regular plans, you have your visas in order, you will be able to pick up the nomadic part of your digital life. Maybe it is wise to look into the vaccination rules in the country where you are now. Will it be free? Also for temporary residents or tourists? How much will it cost to get a vaccination and do you need one to get out of the country into your next destination.
I am bu no means an economist nor do I have a glass bowl to see the future. I wrote this article pure on following the news, trends and regulations around the world. You may have a different opinion, feel free to use to comment section to share that opinion.
If you are planning on becoming a nomad or if you are a nomad that needs a little more personal advice, please click here and contact me.
Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.