Some questions popped in about becoming a digital nomad and/or starting a travel blog. This inspired me to write a blog post to answer them all at once.
It is a huge step to burn all your bridges and start the life of endless travel or live the rest of your life as an expat.
And it won’t be all peaches and roses, just like your life now, reality knocks on your door, even if you don’t have one.
So you think you have it in you?
The life of a digital nomad looks appealing to you, you can work location independent and have the discipline to work while being at a holiday venue? You can concentrate in noisy places, failing WiFi connections will not spoil your mood and you never get homesick? You can leave all your earthly belongings behind, live out a suitcase or backpack and you can deal with being a stranger in every town? You might have the right mindset. But how can you be sure?
It is quite a thing: giving everything up for good and start a nomadic life. I, in the middle of doing this, find myself in this roller coaster of doubt, fun, fear, and joy. The abundant freedom, especially with summer on my doorstep is appealing and distracting. It takes iron discipline to work every day.
As a former coworking-space owner, I’ve talked to many entrepreneurs and freelancers. One thing I learned from those inspiring conversations is that you should build your business before leaving your home country.
And I, in my experience even take it a step further: Start the digital nomad lifestyle while preparing for the real thing.
Become a tourist in your own country
By practicing what you are about to do you can find your way around things like:
working from crowded, noisy spaces
finding good internet and using it without overstepping hospitality, for there is no such thing as free wifi
get a print job done without a printer
find projects, earn income, expand your business
sleep in beds, on couches, at campsites and get your work done anyway
visit tourist locations and get an expert on the country you leave behind
live without friends and family on a daily base
get used to Skype, Google hangout, Jitsi, Goober or whatever you want to use to keep in touch
Live out of a suitcase or backpack
get your laundry done while traveling
learn how to budget properly
And many more things that you stumble upon. Like dealing with deadlines, empty batteries, failing credit cards, dirty toilets, you name it.
Expand your network
While being in your trial period, you have this unique opportunity to expand your network. If you own a blog, like me, share blog business cards to people you speak with, share your plans. People love to hear about mine and they always come and visit the website when I hand them a website business card. Hopefully, they become lifetime followers.
For me, being a blogger the trial period is extremely important: I can write about my country and provide lots of information for those planning on visiting the Netherlands. In a few months, this will shift to my new destination: the Philippines.
While still being in the Netherlands I’m also in search of my target audience: Who will they be? Will they be the worldwide multitude dreaming of tropical beaches, the guys longing for Asian beauties, the bloggers that I can advise or the digital nomad? Or should I just keep it to tourism and fun?
The identity of my blog has changed over time, while traveling I learned, I learned what worked and what did not. So my initial plan for this website was outdated after a while. You have to keep in mind to be flexible, follow trends and stay focussed. Traveling in your own country first, without burning all your bridges can teach you of you have set the right goals and if you are really flexible and have a feel for trends.
There are many other things you might discover while practicing
If you are leaving the 9 to 5 workforce mentality and all the social obligations, you might get to know the true you. And that new person might surprise you. I realize that digital nomads are a special kind: they always feel a little outside society, not really belonging and yet when traveling they like to flock together every now and then or even travel together for an amount of time.
Are you a solo type or a social type? There are lots of questions that you ask yourself during the trial time.
I got this place I loved to work, they had this energy flow or something, or maybe it was the coffee or lemon drizzle cake? I have no idea, but once I sat down at that place I got tons of work done. I loved it. Until one day I walked over there and it was closed for a makeover. OMG! My office all turned upside down……..when I returned a week later my favorite place was gone. Instead of the soothing green colors and the nice seats that gave a kind of homely atmosphere, it was a dark brown uninspiring cave with very uncomfortable seats, the ceiling was gone and the noise was so outspoken I had to turn up the volume of my headset to max to create some kind of ‘own space’. Long story short: not my kind of place anymore.
And I’m still a bit confused by that. So how can I change my attitude and enlarge the boundaries of my comfort zone that much that environment is not all that important to me anymore? I should be able to get work done everywhere. See what I’m getting at? And I’m leaving in three months’ time.
I think it is very important that you get to know yourself in a simulation kind of setting of working location independent, budget-wise and traveling. Make sure you know what you’re in for. Make sure you really can handle this. Before you give up all security of a place called home and join the happy freedom of the worldwide community of digital nomads.
Do you have any questions? On digital nomadism or moving abroad?
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.