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    • I've called myself a digital nomad for two years now: it's been 24 months sustaining myself on the road via online freelancing. While this certainly isn't easy, lazy or simple, I've never looked back and at this point, couldn't imagine going back to a geographically limited 9 to 5.

      So many people are dying to hit the road and travel the world, but never do because of their jobs. While fear of the unknown is understandable, why do so few people become digital nomads? All it is is self-employment while traveling at your own pace, comfort level, and wishes. In this day and age, when almost any kind of profession can be transferred or adapted for online, why do people - especially those who love traveling - still cling to regular jobs?

    • The idea of being a digital nomad really appeals to me. Only problem: I own a house and a cat and a bunch of stuff! The truth is I wouldn't do well as a full-time nomad anyway — I like having a routine and sleeping in my own bed, even though I enjoy a break every now and then.

      What would be cool is if I could alternate between spending one month at home and one month on the road, or something. But traveling tends to be either uncomfortable or expensive, and I don't enjoy being uncomfortable, so it seems like the cost could add up fast. 💸

      @Evergreen, I'm curious how you make it work. Any tips? What are the drawbacks? Do you ever get tired and just want to have a place to call home for a while?

    • I am curious how this conversation evolves. I have always loved taking long motorcycle trips, the further the better. I don't mind camping or "roughing it" moderately but only for short time. Thirty years ago I used to not think twice before leaving on a shabby two stroke motorcycle, without even proper clothing during winter or rainy season, much of a destination route plan, and perhaps even not enough money for gas. I slept on a bench in a park near my bike once, or other times did crazy all night riding, to arrive at some scenic rest stop where I could lie down and take power naps during the day to avoid using hotels. But now for the majority of time do prefer basic comfort in a clean, relaxing place. And hate the moments when I need to rush and give the room key, to get back on the road to cover triple digit amount of miles ;-) Not smelling the roses!

      Which brings me to time and finances - as you well put it, being the limiting factor - having to be "back" and then perform daily for a full time job, whether in a brick & mortar building or not. Speaking of which, creative jobs seem almost always flexible, and could lend themselves to become main revenue for a digital nomad, depending on one's creative skill and inspiring muse, whereas something requiring man hours, not so much.

      I am with @yaypie on really enjoying the comfort and convenience of a home, my ideal balance work and travel, could be a month or two, perhaps a season if really travelling in a interesting place.. I love my garage and tools where I can work on the bike, going for daily health walks, and be my own boss in my own place, without having to pay daily rates or mind other's rules of the house. But I also know habits can be learned and unlearned, it just takes motivation.

      Another important aspect which perhaps could be well managed, is staying healthy, or getting healthy during a trip should one become ill, and eating healthy. But, there may or may not be also truth in what I recently heard, that buddhist monks don't need or have health insurance, so perhaps there is something to be said for living a life more free of material obligations or worries of possessions, drawing life spiritual energy from the world.

    • I'm curious how you make it work. Any tips? What are the drawbacks? Do you ever get tired and just want to have a place to call home for a while?

      I'm not sure everything is so black and white, either/or.

      Being a digital nomad doesn't mean you have to be on the road all the time. It just means that you can, if you want to! Being a digital nomad is all about flexibility and living the life you want, not the one you're "supposed" or "expected" to. The definition of life on the road is different for everyone. Paul and I often rent an AirBnB apartment in some nice place with great WiFi, like Medellin or Quito, and stay for a few weeks to rest up or get work done. Then, hit the remote Andean tracks again. One might say, we're not on a "true adventure" if we hang out at leisurely AirBnB apartments once in a while, but the beautiful thing is, we don't really care whether our trip is kosher or not by some made up standards. We love what we do and how we do it, and that's all there is to it.

      Some people might want to wild camp and only ride gnarly off road tracks all the time, some might want a lot more comfort and luxury - but there is no right or wrong way to travel, and there is no right or wrong way to be a digital nomad. It's all about freedom!

      So if you want to do it month on, month off, or three months off/on, or in whatever other way you think you prefer, then that's the perfect way to do it.

      It's the same with "it's either expensive or uncomfortable". Not necessarily. A nice, comfy two bedroom apartment in Medellin's fancy El Poblado area costs $17 a night, which isn't that much. And sure, Paul and I have slept in some very basic, cockroach-infested hostels and wild-camped a lot, but that's because we try to get to very remote places. Again all of these are just personal preferences. Leveraging world's currencies, you can travel very comfortably for $50 a day or less including transport, food, and accommodation. That's $1,500 a month or less, whether you're hanging out at the turquoise blue beaches of the Caribbean or going out for drinks in Buenos Aires.

      Tips? Do what you love! In our culture, work is virtue, and the harder the work, the higher the virtue... and I think we got it all wrong. I'm never more productive and creative than when I'm doing what I truly love. And when I have to force myself to do something, the outcome is never great. I't okay, or it's mediocre at best... But when I'm in my element, awesome things happen.

      And no, I don't ever get tired. As I said, we do stop for longer periods of time sometimes. The world is home at this point. You stay somewhere, the old lady who sell avocados around the corner starts putting two aside for you every Wednesday, the supermarket security guy starts saying hello, the shopkeeper knows you want your water from the back of the fridge... Everywhere is home:)

      What I do miss - badly sometimes - is my own language. But then, there's always Skype. And if I get homesick, a round trip plane ticket to Europe is around $400 so I can get home once in a year or two if I really want to.

    • Dracula, again, anything can be done with a little imagination.. The job, skill set or profession doesn't have to be "creative". It just needs a bit of creativity to be transferred online:) Plumbers can consult people or companies online about pipe maintenance, chicken farmers can start a monthly magazine on raising healthy poultry, somelliers can start teaching people about wine online, and so on an so forth... You don't need to be a "creative" for this at all. Just transfer the skill.

      I'm with you on the comfort, but again, there are so many different solutions out there from house sitting to longer term AirBnB. And there are always compromises. Sometimes, we both really want a nice steak. But, instead of paying $30 each in a restaurant, we buy a beef filet mignon in a supermarket for $16 and I cook the meat myself. Nice steaks for dinner, $60 restaurant bill reduced to $16. This is just one tiny example, but I'm just saying that comfort does not necessarily have to be sacrificed, merely slightly amended. I wouldn't want to rush out of hotel rooms or do crazy miles either... which is why we travel reeeallly slowly:)

      And as for staying healthy, for me, that's super important so I mostly cook all of our food myself, shopping at local markets for fresh veggies, meats and fish, and fruit. I work out at least 4 times per week (I have an online fitness trainer who helps me with my strength training and HIIT workouts). Obviously gym equipment isn't available, so my trainer and I find creative ways to use training bands (light, take up almost no space) and our Mosko Moto panniers as weights :D

      It really just depends on so many personal preferences, expectations, and habits. And I think it can all work as long as we're not trying to squeeze ourselves into too many "should"'s. I should be working right now instead of using Cake... But what if using Cake will inspire me to write a piece and it will make me half of my month's income?

      I guess what I'm trying to say is, living on the road teaches a lot about flexibility and plasticity and resilience - it's extremely hard to break something that's malleable.

    • I get you both and the lifestyle. There is definitely a great appeal to living in different parts of the world, with someone you trust and enjoy being with, yet not be tied up in either one place more than you like to. It's a state of mind, first and foremost.

    • I have loved every second of the times I've lived as a digital nomad either by bicycle, motorcycle, boat, or car. I dream about it often.

      I'm so busy with Cake though, every minute of every day except when playing with the kids, working out, or watching a movie. To make it work for me it would have to be a month where I'm okay being away from the kids and physical meetings. I couldn't spend time packing or finding hotels, and the travel time would have to be minimized and I'd have to work while traveling.

      I suppose that could mean a camper van where we didn't do much driving, just up the coast maybe. But I think what it really means is getting a lakeside airbnb somewhere.

    • Chris MacAskill

      I dunno, it feels very career-dependent. I do know of many people who had very successful careers partly because they were sometime digital nomads: Anthony Bourdain, 4-time Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Carol Guzy, Tim Ferris. Writers and photographers like Egle and Paul often do very well living that way.

      Most of our neighbors and friends have regular jobs. I live in Silicon Valley and that's the way most people we know are—they work at Google, Facebook, Apple, or Adobe as their only employer and have most of their evenings and weekends off. They just can't be digital nomads. They have too many meetings, they're working on hardware, they have to make presentations to management in person.

    • Just thinking about it, it seems we have to analyze the definition to understand better. What is a "Digital Nomad" ? Someone using the "Matrix" to live in real life. And we end up where we are, using social media! So yes, it's a two way street, very dependent on each person's circumstances and their persona, how much of each they pour into their version of nomadic life.

      But the truly fascinating part for me, is seeing and learning about them all.

    • what happens when your laptop gets stolen? What happens when your camera body faults out? How much lifeline do you have if you end up in a body cast for 8 weeks?

      This stuff is insurable, plus laptops these days cost as little as $200. Everything's backed up on the cloud... So really, losing a laptop or a camera would be very annoying, but easy and relatively cheap to replace (I'm actually on my second laptop this year). As for medical issues or injuries, again, there's insurance for that. I'm not sure why you're assuming digital nomads don't have any savings, aren't planning their pensions, or working on passive income? I do all three. Just because I don't have an employer, doesn't mean I don't care about my future or having some sort of a safety net (although I should add that my best asset for my future are my skills).

    • "very dependent on each person's circumstances and their persona, how much of each they pour into their version of nomadic life"

      Exactly!! "Their version" is the key here :D

      I'm not saying more people should consider becoming digital nomads; so many people are very happy with their jobs or businesses, and that's great. But Paul and I do meet A LOT of people who talk to us and say "oh, I wish I could do the same". To which we always reply, "well you can", but then, people very rarely actually try and do something about it.

    • Yes, perspective is extremely important. Surely if your job/business requires a $4,500 laptop or a $6,000 camera, the pay/income is substantial enough to cover a cost like that.

      A $200 laptop isn't just for writers or bloggers. It can be enough for online course creators, consultants, editors, teachers,.... the list goes on and on.

      And yes, I'm sure there are digital nomads who struggle in one way or another (or many ways). I sure do sometimes, it's no secret. However, I'm not convinced that a broad brush method - "all digital nomads are perpetually broke millennials with no safety nets or future plans" - is productive here.

      Do people sometimes get sold on the popular "blog and travel the world" idea and fail? Sure. But I got sold on the "be a cog in the machine" idea in my youth and that has not contributed to my financial or emotional wellbeing in any way, nor has it ever brought me stability and happiness.

      To me, the digital nomad story beats the traditional work culture narrative because it encourages creativity, flexibility, being your own boss, and freedom.

      I wonder why "digital nomad" evokes negative connotations for some people, wheres "businessman/businesswoman" is perfectly fine while these two things are often the same.

    • I was friends with an IT nomad who went on cruises several times a year. He’d get up an hour before his wife and answer emails, go on excursions during the day, return to the cruise ship and put in a couple hours of work before a late dinner, and then enjoy the rest of his evening.

      I think if your work is more project-based, a nomadic lifestyle is possible.

    You've been invited!