The 5 biggest challenges I faced living as a digital nomad

I became a digital nomad about 2 years ago, so most people in my field would consider me a newbie. Nevertheless, I have something to share with you.

Although my job rarely had me traveling, I loved it in some way. I’ve spent a significant part of my professional life at the teacher’s desk. You can imagine how exhausting that was.

When I discovered digital nomadism, however, I thought that it was a perfect fit for me.

So I decided to quit my job…the next move? Buy a one-way ticket to Canada.

Fortunately, my professional skills allow me to work on a remote basis. Often, I traveled for months on the road, but it didn’t bother me as an adventure seeker.

Unfortunately, along with adventures, come the challenges. Frankly speaking, the first years of work and travel for me were a bit difficult because of various reasons.

Want more? Have a listen.

I’ll describe them in this article, and I’m sure that any fellow digital nomads will understand and learn something useful.

1. Sacrificing relationships

Going away for months doesn’t contribute to good relationships. For me, it was very hard to sacrifice the relationships I’ve worked so hard to build.

For example, I had a small company of friends that I used to hang out with every Saturday night. Barbecue, a board game, and laughs – now, I can’t do that anymore.

I realize that many of my friends will not wait for me, and I don’t blame them, obviously. It’s just something you need to sacrifice if you want to become a digital nomad.

Besides, when you’re moving at a fast pace (for example, the average length of stay in one place for me is two to three weeks), it’s almost impossible to develop new, meaningful relationships. What can I say, who wants to be a friend to someone who’s never around to congratulate you on some major milestone in your life?

My Advice: loneliness and anxiety can ruin everything, so just relax and concentrate on what you have to do. Be open to meeting as many new people as you can.

2. Achieving work-life balance

This was a huge problem for me during the first year as a nomad and it still remains one of the hardest things. Many people think that traveling around the world is so glamorous and easy, but it’s not.

As a digital nomad, you have to work. A lot.

Doing all of this on the road actually can take most of the fun out of the entire experience if you’re not prepared. If you’re thinking that digital travelers don’t have routines, you’re wrong. We do.

In fact, having a life without an established routine can make for a less satisfying experience.

My Advice: have a few “home bases” while you travel. What I mean by that is you should have a destination that you’re familiar with. Visiting a place multiple times ensures that you know where you can work and stay comfortably. As a result, you’ll have more time for exploring.

Oh, and another thing: don’t become a digital nomad if you want to just travel. We are people who work, first and foremost, so we have a routine and good self-discipline. There is no way you’ll enjoy the experience if you cannot balance freedom and responsibility.

3. Uncomfortable working conditions

Not every country I’ve visited had an excellent infrastructure like the one in the U.S. In fact, a lot of places I’ve been made it really difficult to get some work done because of issues like slow internet.

For example, I rented an apartment in Mexico City and hoped for quiet evenings to complete a project. On the day after I moved in, the city services began to repair the road on that street. To make a long story short, I had to leave the house every day to find a café with good Wi-Fi and returned only after they finished their workday at 6pm.

My Advice: do your best to make sure that the city you’re planning to visit has a good infrastructure and the internet won’t go down when you’re expecting an important call.

4. Missing loved ones

One of the biggest struggles so far has been leaving my family back home.

Sometimes I feel really guilty that I’m not around to help my parents and join my sister and her own family for a basketball game. Even though I FaceTime or Skype them every week, it’s obviously not enough.

To let them know that I’m thinking of them, I send them cards and gifts from every city I visit.

My Advice: missing your family is something you just cannot ignore, so contact them on a regular basis and use every opportunity to chat with them. A good idea is to ask them to join you for a vacation in an exotic location!

5. Bureaucracy and health issues

If you have lived most of your life in the U.S., you might have difficulties understanding and processing all official documents in other countries.

Believe me, bureaucracy is alive and well in many of them, so you may have to go through a lot, which can very disappointing. For example, simple tasks like signing a contract can take way more effort than it should.

Next, there are health issues. Being hospitalized in a third-world country could be a nightmare for any digital nomad, so take care of your health to avoid further problems.

The experience of digital nomadism is truly rewarding and life-changing. Unfortunately, it is not deprived of challenges, so those thinking that all we do is travel and relax need to try it out first and see if it’s right for them.

I’d love to hear your experiences as a digital nomad. Leave me a comment below!

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About Diana Clark

Diana Clark once gave up her educator career for something she always dreamed about – writing. Diana is a freelance writer at College Paper writing service. She discovers the world of digital nomads and believes that some day people will become location independent. Feel free to follow Diana on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Hadie Rijanto says:

    My comment: Great Diana! … After finished in reading your story about “digital nomad”, I could figure out what it’s all about. And I could catch some keywords, such like discipline, work-life balance, have home bases, just relax, keeping the healthy condition (is a must), etc.
    And I agree that some day people will become location independent. Thank you for sharing this useful article.

    Kind regards,
    Hadie

  2. This was an amazing post. I loved it! I’m trying my way here as well!

  3. Interesting insight from another digital nomad! Thanks for sharing this Diana.

    I was always wondering how it is to be a digital nomad, kind of attracted me to try it out for a 6months at least. But when I get everything on the table and calculate -/+, I rather prefer just to travel few times a year for 7-30 days at a time.

    Enjoy your digital nomad lifestyle and please keep us updated! 🙂

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