The digital nomad life isn’t exactly a dream.
We often tell people that we have been traveling for over a year now, and the first thing they say is: “that’s my dream life!”
Then they ask: “so, how is it?”
We always squint a bit and say: “well… you know it’s not all that glamorous.”
In return we get a shocked facial expression, basically saying: “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?”
Don’t get us wrong, living the digital nomad life certainly has its perks and we are fully enjoying it. But, like anything else in life, there are always advantages and disadvantages.
Of course, everyone experiences the different aspects of the digital nomad life differently. In this post, we want to reveal the downside of being a digital nomad.
You can judge for yourself whether these pitfalls will affect your decision of becoming a digital nomad. But, we just want to point them out before you start your nomad life.
Since you are here, you probably want to read these posts as well:
- Digital Nomad Guide to Make Money Online
- Ultimate Guide For Your Career Break
- How to become a digital nomad in 2020 – 6 Skills You Need
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Here are 9 pitfalls of the digital nomad life
You’re not on vacation, this is your life
You might have seen some digital nomads on Instagram living the life. Eating out, going on excursions, and working from the beach.
We hate to break it to you, this is only a fraction of their lives.
Firstly, eating out every day loses value over time. It is just not that special after a few months.
You start missing home-cooked meals. Finding a nice place to eat becomes a chore, so you end up eating at the same place over and over. Moreover, you cannot have expensive luxurious dinners every day.
When you are on vacation, you want to enjoy your time off and you spend on eating at nice restaurants for the period you are on vacation. But if you spend $100 on eating out every day (breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner), you’ll be spending over $3000 every month on food.
Secondly, you will be visiting some of the nicest places in the world. However, you also need to work and earn money to sustain the nomad life.
So going out on big adventures every day is not on the menu. You spend more time in places and often end up skipping many of the tourist attractions because you don’t have enough time or energy to do them all.
Thirdly, working from the beach is the biggest myth out there.
Not only does your laptop keyboard get clogged with sand, which is almost impossible to get out. It is too hot for anyone to concentrate. And besides, who wants to be working at the beach?
You want to go to the beach to have fun and enjoy yourself, not to slave away when everyone around you is having fun.
All in all, the digital nomad life is not a vacation, it is a way of life.
Being a full-time tourist is exhausting
We know, going on holiday, being a tourist, visiting places and experiencing new cultures is a lot of fun. So why is it not fun to do it full time?
Firstly, too much of anything takes the fun out of it. Yet, more importantly, doing tourist stuff all the time is simply tiring.
You will reach a point where you don’t want to see anything anymore. Instead, you’ll simply want to stay in your hotel room or Airbnb and not see anything new or go on any fun excursion.
You will be tired of seeing anything tourist activity. This is when many digital nomads decide to settle for a month or more at one location and just live life.
Travel burnout is real!
We are not kidding when we say that you can reach a point of travel burnout.
Moving around all the time, arranging and planning your next destinations, all while you are being a tourist. Tourist destinations can be quite stressful, with the masses of people and hawkers coming at you from all directions.
All these things together can be quite stressful and even lead to a travel burnout.
Did you want to stop commuting for work? Think again
The freedom of the digital nomad life means you can go pretty much anywhere in the world whenever you want. By obtaining remote work, and starting your journey as a digital nomad, you suddenly start feeling a pressure to move around the globe and get as many stamps in your passport as possible.
Although, as a digital nomad, you will often stay in places for longer periods, you will want to visit some tourist attractions and eventually move to the next destination.
Usually moving around the country will be most economical and maybe even only possible by bus or train. If you are like most digital nomads, you will visit countries where the infrastructure is not that great, and doing a 50km trip by bus can take 2-3 hours.
Spending 20-30 hours per month on a bus, and 2-8 hours a month a plane becomes heavy commuting.
When getting a remote job, you probably want to wave a big bye-bye to commuting to work. But little did you know that the digital nomad life will involve a lot of commuting too. It gets exhausting and even irritating to move around after a year on the road.
Just when you feel at home, it’s time to move on
As mentioned before, as a digital nomad, you are by definition moving around from place to place. Getting to know the places you go to takes time and effort.
Becoming familiar with your surroundings, getting accustomed to the culture, and making some local connections happens over time.
It will usually take a few weeks before you start feeling at home, knowing your way around the city or town you are at and have some friends and acquaintances.
Once you finally start feeling like you are becoming part of the community and the place you are at, it will be time for you to move on. Either you already booked a flight ticket out or your visa has expired.
And besides, you are a digital nomad, staying in one location for more than a few months would defeat the whole purpose of being a nomad. Not to mention FOMO.
Time management becomes more difficult than ever
All in all, being a digital nomad is quite unproductive. Having to find a new routine every couple of weeks, getting used to a new working environment and place are all factors that reduce your productivity.
In your pre-digital nomad life, you would have had a routine that you can stick to. You would know where the best places for you to work are, and you wouldn’t have to get used to a different culture. As a digital nomad arriving in a new location, you have to find your rhythm first.
If you choose to work from co-working spaces, you’ll get a decent desk and the internet will usually be quite good. But, if you’re like a lot of digital nomads, you would often work from a cafe, and finding the best cafe to work from can be a hassle.
Sometimes it’s too crowded, sometimes the internet doesn’t work well, and sometimes they close half an hour after you arrived.
It takes much more effort to satisfy your basic needs when arriving at a new location.
Getting food can be a mission sometimes. If you want to stick to a certain budget, and still have some quality food, looking for a restaurant to have lunch can be an afternoon field trip.
After completing your mission, exhausted, you then have to get back to work, perhaps even find a new place to work from.
There is no doubt that it is easier to manage your time when you have a routine. You can plan things, prepare yourself mentally for certain tasks, and manage your energy throughout the day. However, when moving around every few weeks, you don’t have a routine anymore.
Lastly, there is FOMO. The fear of missing out.
Yes, it is a real phenomenon that many digital nomads encounter. You are going to all those amazing places, where most people would go on holiday to enjoy themselves.
Instead of enjoying your holiday, you are out there busting your butt to earn your pay. Managing fun and work time is tough.
Digital nomads are often lonely
As you are moving around all the time, and don’t stay too long in a single place, it gets more difficult to build strong relationships.
By the time you start having a strong relationship with someone, either one of you decides it’s time to move on.
This makes the experience quite lonely. In the first few months, it will be nice to meet new people everywhere and make new connections. However, after a few months on the road, you will start realizing that those short relationships do not match knowing someone for years.
Besides missing strong relationships in your life, you will also not always be surrounded by other digital nomads. In some destinations, it’s very easy to meet people, while other places have less digital nomads. In those places, you will have to put in some extra effort to meet people.
There are online communities that can help you to meet people quicker and easier, but still, after several months you’ll notice that it does take quite some effort.
Sometimes you won’t be in the mood, or you’ll have the flu and wish that your family or close friends were there.
Digital nomads wear the same outfits over and over again
You cannot take your entire closet with you. Don’t even attempt to.
This is perhaps a struggle that women have more than men, however, it is a fact for long-term travelers. You can only carry a limited amount of clothes, meaning that you will end up wearing the same outfits for months at a time.
When going on holiday, you would usually choose your nicest outfits to take photos with. When living the digital nomad life, you will pack a lot of practical items to combat different weather conditions around the globe. After that you might add some nice clothes, however, the space is limited.
Instead of taking photos wearing your nicest outfits with all the tourist attractions that you come across, you will be wearing 1 of 3 outfits. In your Around The World Trip photo album, it would look like you made it to the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, and Machu Picchu in one day.
You’ll be missing your family’s and friends’ life events
You will be far away from your family and friends back at home, which means that keeping in touch will become a challenge. Adding time difference to that, sometimes it is almost impossible to call each other.
If you want to keep in touch with everyone back at home, you will end up dedicating an entire day to calling everyone. This can be quite exhausting, but sometimes only Sunday’s work for everyone to call with you.
Besides the communication problems, your family and friends back at home will continue their life. You won’t only miss their birthdays. They will get married, have kids, and some may also have breakups. It will become much harder to be there for everyone during those life events.
Flying back home for every event could mean having to be home at least once a month. That is impossible for a digital nomad. You will have to choose which events you will attend and hope that your family can understand that you decided to live everywhere and nowhere.
Getting medical treatment can be challenging
Staying healthy while traveling is challenging.
Changing your diet every couple of weeks, and moving around a lot means that your body will need to adjust quickly. Going up and down between altitudes and weather conditions so rapidly can confuse your body.
In case you catch something, the medical system might be very different than what you are used to back at home. Digital nomads often stay for some time in developing countries with mediocre healthcare systems.
Getting treatment at a hospital that doesn’t look 1% as hygienic as what you are used to can be scary.
Therefore you need to take precautions and try to stay as healthy as possible during your travels. Nonetheless, you might catch the flu or break something, as this is what happens during your pre-digital nomad life too.
Having medical treatment in less enticing conditions is a risk of the digital nomad life.
We don’t want to discourage you from the digital nomad life
These 9 drawbacks are simply things that you will have to deal with when becoming a digital nomad. However, they should not discourage you. We just want to make sure your expectations are set correctly.
There is nothing worse than having high expectations and then discovering something to be completely different.
We do encourage you to pursue the digital nomad life if you have set your mind on it. There are many advantages as well that cannot be ignored. Yet, like anything else in life, nothing is 100% perfect.
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