Traveling the world for as long as you want, and working at your convenience on your laptop – the Digital Nomad lifestyle seems like all your wildest dreams come true!
However, like every good thing, maintaining a DN lifestyle comes with a few demands that you should follow. While there are many people who attempt on getting into a digital nomad life, not everybody succeeds due to many reasons. These are some of the things you should not to as a digital nomad if you want a long and consistent career working remotely and traveling as you please.
Getting too preoccupied with being a “digital nomad”
This may sound a little confusing at first, but too many people fail at maintaining a digital nomad lifestyle because they get caught up in the aesthetics. If you are constantly going to the best coffee shop in town so you can get that perfect picture for your Instagram with a #DNLife caption, you are likely to run out of your emergency fund soon and be in a very risky position. It is always good to enjoy the freedom you have, but you should always give priority to actually working on your projects rather than trying to show it off to the world.
Trying to go to the digital nomad hotspots in the world
There are a few countries in the world which are popular for being ideal for digital nomads – Chiang Mai, Thailand and Bali, Indonesia is two of the most popular spots for DNs. However, it does not mean that you need to go to those places in order to be considered or be validated as being a digital nomad.
As long as you are a traveling remote worker, that is all that matters. Spending a lot of money on flight tickets to go to the other end of the world and trying to find a place to blend in despite the many cultural shocks is surely not the way to start your life as a digital nomad. Just like anything else, try to ease yourself into it.
Depending on one client
Just like Warren Buffet popularly said, never put all your eggs in one basket. You should never depend on one income stream. As a digital nomad, you are putting yourself in a position that potentially has many risks and instability. Therefore, you owe yourself to make sure that there is always a Plan B or C if the Plan A goes wrong. It is good to have one stable client with a constant stream of work, but always keep a client or two on the side who would provide enough work for you to get a fulltime client again in case your existing client changes their plans of hiring you.
Apart from having an emergency fund that you do not touch and a fulltime client with a steady stream of work, have a good relationship with a few part-time clients ideally with a potential of turning into a full-time contract once your schedule clears up. Being a digital nomad puts you in a position that you need to be extremely responsible for yourself, which can be even more difficult than being responsible for someone else. Plan ahead, and keep things ready for a rainy day, until you find a shelter at least.
Digging too much into savings
The reason that you are calling yourself a digital nomad is because you have decided to work while you are traveling. If you starting digging too much into your savings on the road, you become a regular vacationer! In the very beginning, you can give yourself up to 100 days maximum in order to create a good and steady income stream. If you do not manage to make it by then, perhaps this lifestyle is not very good for you after all.
In my personal experience, it is always good to keep 3 working bank accounts for yourself while you travel. One should be long-term savings that you do not touch at any cost. Second is your checking account where you keep a reasonable amount of money that you can live comfortably with. The third is your short-term savings or the emergency fund that you can use for any emergencies while you travel, or in case you have to wait a while in between clients.
Assuming that your lifestyle will be similar to a vacation
One of the most damaging assumptions that you can make as a digital nomad is thinking it will be like taking a vacation. Being a DN is about working in more beautiful places in the world, but it still works! You have to meet your deadlines, be available for meetings, put a certain amount of hours per day to work and actually take what you do seriously. It is not always the “4 hour work week” that Tim Ferris told you about. Sometimes it can mean working more hours a day than you did back home!
This might mean that you having to stay in and work on a beautiful summer day while the vacationers around you are just chilling on the beach or lounging at a swimming pool. It means missing out on going to parties or drinks every night. The biggest priority for you as a DN should be successfully completing your work as you enjoy your travels. If it is something that you do for fun as you are traveling, then you become a regular vacationer like the rest!
Moving around often
Yes, being a “nomad” requires never staying in one place. However, as a digital nomad – a traveler who works remotely – you need a certain level of stability in order to focus successfully on your work. Therefore, you need to plan your travels in a way that you can settle at one place for at least a month. As a DN, one of the biggest expenses you have will be flight tickets. If you are flying from one place to another every week, it can cost you more than you earn, eventually leading you to dig into your savings and fail as a DN.
Your mind and the body requires rest and peace in order to be productive and focused. You need some routines, a place where you know that you can sit for an extended period without disturbances work. It is true that sometimes you have to work at the airport, or in a coffee shop with bad coffee and bad wifi. However, in order to be successful in your adventure as a DN, find stability and peace for a good amount of time whenever possible.
Being too “busy” and forgetting to be productive
While this is a problem faced by many people who are working in all kinds of careers, productivity essential for a digital nomad. If you tend to get too “busy” and not be productive, you are not only putting yourself through stress for nothing but also missing out on the best parts of being a Digital Nomad. This lifestyle is meant to bring you freedom, and if you are shut inside a room all day trying to do everything but not accomplishing anything, you do not get to enjoy the kind of joy that being a Digital Nomad has to offer. Manage your time, be focused, strive to make every working minute efficient and productive, and you will be able to thoroughly enjoy your new life as a Digital Nomad.