I was meeting with some good friends recently and reminiscing about our past travels and active days abroad. Some younger folk joined us, and it was interesting to me to find that our discussions about travel and adventure had the same passion between all of us. My friends remarked how much energy and boldness we had when we were planning things. A discussion around the topic of digital nomads and remote working while traveling came up where we mused about how cool it would’ve been to have had the opportunities back then that we have today.
The passion was so powerful with some of these young people to start an internet business and plan to travel for years that it got me thinking, what is so cool about being a digital nomad? The coolest things about being a digital nomad are that you:
- Get to do your own thing and it’s sustainable
- Are enabled to grow and learn to do things you couldn’t do before – work and adventure
- Make all the decisions about work, adventure travel, rest, social
- Can be real and authentic in your own way and by your own definition
- Get to explore the extremes – minimum and maximum
- Can travel to places you’ve always wanted to go
- Create your own story which becomes a part of you
Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
SUSTAINABLE – DOING YOUR OWN THING
One of the things that the digital nomad lifestyle gives you, and this also one of the significant points, is that it enables true independence. If you build this lifestyle correctly, with an Internet business that brings in steady income that you can rely on, there are very few limits to what you can decide to do. It is true independence: however, it comes with ALL the strings attached meaning that some responsibilities and repercussions come along with it. You’ll need to learn how to build a business that sustainable because if you don’t, you’ll have to go back home if you succeed, continued living in this lifestyle for years. Everything is up to you, including when you jump to another location and how long you stay.
LEARN AND GROW WHILE DOING NEW THINGS
My experience with living the digital nomad lifestyle was that I was continually learning and building new skills in almost every area of my life. I became much more self-confident and independent, which is true of virtually every digital nomad I meet, that they have built new skills in working, traveling, in care of themselves and learning to get along with people. What is most interesting is that you need to learn how to do things in another culture. Working remotely in rural China has just as many challenges or even more than working in, for instance, a fishing village in Portugal. The tools that you use are a bit different.
It is not only work areas that you learn new things, but also in your traveling approach, your leisure and how you mentally and physically take care of yourself. You’ll learn new things about yourself, and while doing this, you will grow. For instance, you will have the possibility to change your mode of travel. Instead of taking the direct train to a new city or location, you can take the bus and explore the smaller villages along the way.
IT STARTS AND ENDS WITH YOU
When living this lifestyle all the decisions you make about work, adventure and travel, sleeping time, exercise, what friends to see or how to make new friends – are all made by you. What a great feeling this can be as well as incredibly thrilling and if you haven’t experienced this before, it can give you a natural high! The coolest thing that you can say after a particular experience is that “I made that decision” and it’s terrific to see the impact on your daily life. Decision making will increase your self-confidence. When you have a chance to craft and plan how your day will be structured and who will be included in your activities all while doing this in a new environment you start to realize all of the potential and possibilities. And all of them are possible because you decide them.
BEING REAL AND AUTHENTIC
One of the things that start to happen to people, I know what happened to myself, when living as a digital nomad is that you start seeing things in a very realistic way. You begin to see tourist attractions for what they are and all the fluff that is sometimes built around it to attract more people. Because you start to see things from this perspective for some people they want to start becoming more real and authentic in their own lives, you are building your lifestyle and your character and personality as well as your energy will mold that into something that you can call your own. Many people, especially older digital nomads, want to reject the fluffiness and the things that are not authentic so that their chosen lifestyle becomes an expression of themselves.
THE EXTREMES OF MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM
When the things that I noticed when I was a digital nomad was that you could experiment or test yourself with the extremes of minimum and maximum. What I mean here is that you can choose living with minimalism, only a bare minimum of what you need to survive for three months, for instance. You can cut everything out of your life, even the morning coffee or the evening ice cream.
How do you respond to that? Are you able to work the same way? Are your travel trips still satisfying? One of my caveats when traveling around rule China was that I could lodge in the most basic of youth hostels or hotels; however, I always wanted a Western toilet if possible, and my decisions were based on that piece of information. After having experimented with all the minimums while traveling, I decided that this was a must.
You can explore the opposite too – live in luxury for some time for instance at a spa resort for one month. How do you respond to your work and exercise schedule? By studying the minimums and maximums, you get to know what your comfort level is. In many ways, this leads to a lot of self-discovery.
TRAVEL TO ALMOST ANY PLACE ON THE MAP
Many people have bucket lists and dreams of the places that they want to go travel. Only a percentage of people albeit a higher rate these days will do what it takes to go and travel to these countries. A digital nomad has a better chance of being able to go and experience these countries in a real and authentic way than others. As mentioned earlier in the article this lifestyle enables you to sustain living in another country for months or years at a time, so the number of options available to you are multiplied. For instance, you get to travel to those places the way you want to and also at the speed that you want to.
I used to go to a distant city for one or two days and see if I liked it. If I liked the city, then I would go again for one week. In some of the extreme cases for instance when I was in China, for exciting places that appealed to me I would spend upwards of two months in one city or village. The world is open almost any continent and country if it is on your list and you decide to go.
CREATING YOUR OWN STORY
All the things that you decide to do and all the experiences that you have traveling and working as a digital nomad are uniquely your own. It is your story all the experiences, good and bad, can be learned from interestingly after time passes even the bad experiences can be an entertaining story. These collections of stories of what you have done living in another country and traveling to neighbor countries and succeeded in working your Internet business become part of you – it becomes part of your identity and character. That’s a cool part of your living as a digital nomad – you become the story, the main character and because you have lived through it the experience is yours to tell. It’s something unique and exciting to share with other people.
There are a lot of positives and a lot of really cool things that you can experience living as a digital nomad. As I reflected on some of the experiences I had in Europe and China when I was a digital nomad, I have a high appreciation of those days because not only were they cool and exciting experiences, filled with beautiful people and beautiful sights. But also they led to a lot of self-discovery, self-confidence, the building of skills and, of course, growth. It’s all possible for you too!