“This lifestyle is not for everyone. I am still determining if it’s for me.
But everyone should have the possibility to experience it once.”
If you’re considering experience working and traveling abroad, there’s no doubt that you’re in for an exciting adventure. As someone who has spent six months traveling and working in Southeast Asia, I can attest that it’s an experience like no other.
While it’s essential to prepare and plan for the practicalities, such as visas, countries, and finances, embracing the unpredictability of this type of adventure is equally crucial. In this article, we’ll share with you some tips and realities.
1. How to choose the place that best suits you?
Choosing the right place to live as a digital nomad is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your overall experience. With countless options available worldwide, it’s essential to conduct thorough research and understand your preferences to find the perfect fit. Nomadlist may help you.
One of the first steps in selecting a destination is researching the country and city you’re considering. Gather information about the local culture, language, cost of living, safety, and visa requirements. This will give you a better understanding of what to expect and help you make an informed decision.
Knowing your preferences is equally important. Consider whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of a big city or the tranquility of a smaller town. Determine if you’d like to be close to the beach, surrounded by mountains, or immersed in nature. Everyone has different priorities, and aligning your destination with your personal preferences is crucial.While recommendations from fellow digital nomads and online forums can be helpful, remember that everyone’s experiences and preferences differ. What suits one person may not necessarily suit you. To truly assess whether a place suits you, there’s nothing like experiencing it firsthand.
2. Prepare to say "hello" but also to say "bye"
One of the biggest surprises I encountered during my work and travel adventure was the incredible diversity of people I met. From various backgrounds and cultures, saying “hello” to new faces quickly became second nature. However, the temporary nature of these connections also meant saying “bye” often, especially since many of these people were nomads constantly on the move like you.
Despite the challenges, we still created amazing memories and shared unforgettable experiences. But I also discovered the importance of connecting with locals. Befriending locals offers a unique perspective on the local culture and can lead to finding hidden gems and authentic experiences that you might miss otherwise.
So, if you plan on working and traveling, remember to embrace the temporary nature of these connections and enjoy your time with the people you meet, whether they’re digital nomads, backpackers, or locals. The memories and experiences you share will last a lifetime.
3. Work from Home or a Coworking Space?
During my travels, I visited some of the most amazing coworking spaces and coffee shops to work from. However, it’s important to find what suits you best, whether working from a coworking space or home.
Working from home can be lonely, and a good coworking space can and must provide more than just a workspace. Some coworking spaces offer a parallel social life and organize fun activities like exploring the city or monuments, board games, watching sunsets, dinners, and more. These activities can be a great way to connect with like-minded people and build a temporary family or community while traveling.
4. How much money will I spend?
When planning your finances for a work and travel adventure, it’s important to remember that unexpected expenses can arise, and it’s not uncommon to spend more than you initially budgeted for, even if you’re in a country cheaper than yours.
Before going, make sure you do some research about the country and the city you wanna go to have an idea of how much you can expect to pay for accommodation, food, transportation, coworking spaces (if needed), etc.
It’s also always a good idea to set aside some savings as a safety net in case of emergencies or unexpected expenses. Additionally, consider creating a budget with some flexibility to adjust your spending without financial trouble.
5. Can it be lonely?
Oh yeah! Feeling isolated and lonely can be a common challenge when working and traveling abroad, especially if you’re not naturally extroverted and when you start over again from a new country. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this experience. One way to combat isolation is by actively seeking out social opportunities. For example, many popular destinations have WhatsApp groups or online communities where you can connect with like-minded individuals and organize meetups since groups for hiking and groups do have a beer after work.
It is essential to maintain connections with your home base, whether it’s family, friends, or professional networks. Regular check-ins and virtual catch-ups can help combat feelings of loneliness and provide stability and support.
However, it’s important to acknowledge that feeling lonely or isolated can be a regular part of the work and travel experience. Challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone and make new connections can lead to personal growth and rewarding experiences.
6. Be always moving or staying longer in the same place?
Being a digital nomad can be an exciting and fulfilling lifestyle, but it’s essential to acknowledge that it can also be tiring. Constantly moving from one place to another, adapting to new environments, and managing work responsibilities on the go can take a toll on one’s energy levels and well-being.
The challenges of being a digital nomad include dealing with jet lag, finding reliable internet connections, and maintaining a productive work routine amidst changing time zones and unfamiliar surroundings. Additionally, the lack of a permanent home base and the constant need to pack and unpack can be physically and mentally draining.
From my experience, staying in one city/place for at least a month allows you to feel more relaxed and fully immerse yourself in the local culture, as constant moving can consume a significant amount of time and cause stress with the tasks of studying a new city/country, finding accommodation and coworking spaces, learning the culture and currency, and more.
In the end, many of the concerns and uncertainties we face when choosing a destination as a digital nomad are just “problems” for tomorrow. If you genuinely desire to embark on this journey, you only need the courage to book that flight. As you travel, you will learn how to overcome the challenges that come your way.
Reflecting on my experience, I still wonder where I found the courage to book that flight to Bangkok. However, looking back after these six months, it was the best decision I could have made. It opened doors to incredible experiences, personal growth, and unforgettable memories.
So, if you dream of becoming a digital nomad and exploring the world on your terms, go ahead. Embrace the unknown, embrace the challenges, and embrace the endless possibilities.
*by Manuel Faria, Social Media Manager @ FES Agency
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