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What Nobody Tells You About Being a Digital Nomad

· digital nomad,Work and Travel,work online

Digital nomad, remote worker, location independent… call it what you will, but before you get started here are some truths about working while travelling the world.

What no one tells you about being a digital nomad

You may miss some important events

It completely depends on your budget and where you choose to live but you're unlikely to make every birthday, wedding or family event while you're travelling.

The first time I felt the full impact of this is when I had to miss my sister's bachelorette party last february. I had just arrived in Vietnam a month previously, had settled in to teaching English and didn't have either the time or the money to make a 46 hour return trip to Ireland.

On the bright side, when you do make it home, these events will be all the more sweeter.

Leaving behind your four legged friend can be tough.

I mean your dog. Or any pet for that matter. It's not practical to bring your pet on long flights.

Now I'm not saying it can't be done, because it can. BUT, it's going to cost you and depending on the countries you're travelling to you may need extra paperwork or your pet may have to stay in quarantine for prolonged periods of time… and nobody wants that.

I've wanted a dog for the last few years but with the type of travel I choose to do it simply wouldn't be fair on the animal.

How can you meet the one if you're always moving?

If you’ve been finding it hard to meet the love of your life while you’re firmly settled, just know that the challenge is going to be that much harder when you’re jet setting around the globe. The longer you spend in a location, naturally the longer you have to make meaningful relationships.

The good thing is you can still have a lot of fun. Attend some MeetUps, join Tinder or some other dating apps and meet some people at a local co-working space. You never know, maybe you can convince him/her to come travelling with you.

You actually have to work.

Pictures of laptops on beaches and working by the pool… if you work nine hours at home, you're likely going to work the same here. Personally, I can't concentrate unless I'm in a quiet work space such as a less busy cafe or a co-working space.

Working by the pool - you still have to work as a digital nomad

If you're working on a business, you may have to work even longer hours. But hey, it's not so bad if you are doing something you love.

It can be lonely to travel somewhere new.

Maybe you've always dreamed of living on an island in Indonesia. You arrive, you're fulfilling your dream… a few days go by and maybe it's not everything you expected. Sometimes it can be hard to fit in and make friends.

Why was it so much easier to make friends when you were a kid? All you had to do was play outside on the road or offer them some of your sweets and... new best friend!

You meet some cool people, hang out with them for a couple of days and then their backpacking trip is over and they're off home. Damn.

There is a way to avoid this. You can join a co-working or co-living community, which means you get to hang out with people who are staying longer term in a place, have similar goals and with whom you can build meaningful relationships.

Travelling solo doesn't have to be lonely when you have a community of likeminded people

I wish I listened in that cross cultural management class in University.

Other countries have different rules, customs and norms (both written and unwritten) that may take some getting used to.

When I first went to Asia the biggest difference I noticed was how chaotic and crazy the roads were. Everyone was driving motorbikes without helmets, sometimes with 4 to 5 people on a bike, swerving in and out of lanes and beeping to let others know they should move out of the way. To cross the roads in Hanoi you simply have to step out in front of oncoming traffic or you'll be waiting forever.

In developing countries, you will often notice more corruption, a lack of rules and less organisation than you may be used to.

You may experience culture shock when you move abroad to work and travel

In some countries in Asia there is often a need to save face, which means people would rather avoid confrontation or high-tension situations. I have experienced this first hand in Vietnam when waiters in restaurants are too embarrassed to tell you that they don't understand what you asked for. This "saving face" culture can be disastrous for business as people can be afraid to be honest with you, give you constructive criticism or tell you what they really think about your product, service or new business idea.

However, the longer you stay in one place, the better you get to know the country, the culture and all its quirks. Experiencing new cultures helps to change your perspective on the world and also makes you a more understanding and intuitive person.

You may experience reverse culture shock

What? How you can get a culture shock from the country you grew up in? Yes, it is possible.

Going home after spending a long time on the road can be as challenging as exploring a new country for the first time. You might find that not a lot has changed.

Maybe you won't have anything in common anymore with friends that you haven't seen in a year or two. When I went home for a week last June my friends were all still in the same jobs, living in the same place, hanging out with the same people and going out to the same places to eat and party. I felt like so much had happened for me in the past year but I didn't know who to share it with. I had met so many fascinating people, tried new foods, had lots of adventures and had seen so much. But would I just be annoying my friends with my travel tales?

Reverse culture shock is a real thing for women who work and travel

Perhaps you have to go back to living with your parents after a couple of years of independence or maybe your hometown just doesn't seem like home anymore. The streets in Thailand may seem more familiar to you than those in the neighbourhood where you grew up.

Depending on where you come from you might find that the cost of living is way above what you’ve become used to with your new nomadic lifestyle.

How long will it take to settle in?

It may take you a few days to recover from jet lag or to acclimatise to a new country. All these things can have a negative impact on your work so before you plan a trip, take time to think about your work schedule. When you get to a new place there are a million things to do from sorting out accommodation and a workspace to renting a motorbike and getting a sim-card. And then you have to make an effort to meet some people.

If you're looking to be productive from day one you may consider joining a community orientated retreat programme which makes it easy and takes care of everything from when you arrive in the airport.

Work and travel - it may take a while to settle in due to jetlag and time difference

Don't let these truths stop you from becoming a Digital Nomad.

These truths are here not to put people off becoming location independent, but instead to forewarn newcomers that being a digital nomad is not all about sipping cocktails on the beach and posting photos to Instagram. You still have to work. You will miss your friends and family. Sometimes it's lonely. But the pros far outweigh the cons. Nothing beats being able to travel the world, experience extraordinary things and enjoy every day.

For me, the best thing about travelling is the people you meet. I now have so many friends from all over the world. If you're looking to make lifelong and meaningful friendships, join a community of likeminded people and enjoy your work and travel experience from day one, I would recommend joining a co-working and co-living community, such as My Travel Tribe. Our next retreat is in Chiang Mai from January 13th until February 10th 2018.

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