Whether you’re starting down the path to becoming a remote worker or are a seasoned pro with a passport full of stamps, there are always lessons to be learned. The life of a digital nomad is full of opportunity and adventure, but with that comes uncertainty and room for error. While everyone’s experience is different, there are many common mistakes and ways to avoid them.
HERE ARE OUR TOP 5 DO'S AND DON'TS:
1. DON’T 'EMBRACE THE UNKNOWN' WITH YOUR TRAVELS
While your switch from a ridged work life to a more organic one is a valid and welcomed change, there still needs to be structure. Embracing the ‘go with the flow’ lifestyle may seem tempting but remember that you’re literally turning your life upside down. You’re traveling to new countries and cultures, redesigning your workday and maybe even your job in itself. With all of this constant change it’s important to do your research and prepare yourself for whatever lies ahead.
DO RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATIONS
Before jetting off to a new place, it’s always important to do your research on the country and culture in which you will be living. Apart from picking a destination that is of interest to you, research factors such as visa requirements, language, and level of safety and health to make sure it’s a good fit on all levels. Finding information online is very helpful and virtually endless but, if possible, talking to friends and past travelers is a much more genuine and personal way to learn about a country and it’s lifestyle. Doing research prior to arriving at your new ‘home’ will allow you to more successfully adapt and thrive once you get there.
2. DON’T BE 'LAISSEZ-FAIRE' WITH YOUR FINANCES
It’s true that living in ‘cheaper’ countries abroad can often be much more economical than life back home. Just remember that although you may be saving money on food and accommodation, other aspects such as quality wifi and transportation can add up quickly. Without the familiar structure of daily life back home it may seem challenging to try and plan a budget abroad but it’s more important than ever.
DO DRAFT A BUDGET AND STAY ON TRACK
Drafting a budget of some form is highly recommended for any long-term travel especially when you’ll be depending on making a living while on your adventure. Expenses such as visas, public transportation, accommodation and phone/internet access are important factors to keep in mind. Remember that your ‘spending lifestyle’ from back home compared to abroad is bound to differ as your daily life changes. You may not be getting your usual morning Starbucks abroad, but your remote business operations and weekend adventures can cost a pretty penny. You can be as strict or as relaxed as you want with your budgeting, as long as you keep track in a manner that works best for you.
3. DON’T ‘SLACK OFF’ BY BEING YOUR OWN BOSS
The freedom that comes with being a digital nomad can often cause people to become overly relaxed and less disciplined when it comes to their workload and deadlines. Whether you are a freelancer, work for a global corporation or run your own business remotely, the change from a single-location work atmosphere to a worldwide office can be distracting to say the least. When there’s no one peeking over your shoulder, it’s easy to slack off on setting and reaching goals. Discipline and organization are key to combat this tendency.
DO SET GOALS AND DEADLINES
Instead of working around all of life’s built-in structure back home, you’re creating your own structure from the ground up when you’re abroad. Everyday is a chance to change things up for the better and find what makes you most efficient and passionate to complete your work. It’s important to create clear goals and deadlines for yourself on a daily/weekly/long term basis. Factors such as time-zone differences are important to remember when scheduling communication and deadlines between countries. This schedule and structure of your work will not only insure that you are reaching your goals in a timely manner, but allow you to schedule in guilt-free time to explore your new life abroad.
4. DON’T WORK/PLAY TOO HARD
Moving to a new country, with new people and culture, is quite possibly the most exciting prospect out there. The opportunity for new adventures is quite literally endless. It’s almost inevitable, as a remote worker, that at some point you’ll forget about work in favor of fun. And vice versa: trying to singlehandedly manage your career while abroad can sometimes become all consuming. The key is to find balance in the two and in turn within yourself.
DO BALANCE YOUR WORK/TRAVEL LIFE
As a nomadic worker there will always be new places to visit, people to meet and experiences to explore. If you treat these opportunities with as much respect and importance as your work, then you will find balance. If you find that you’re getting burnt out with work tasks and can’t concentrate, give yourself the afternoon off to explore your new home. If you’re finding that you’re putting off work in favor of fun, intentionally separate yourself from the distraction and refocus yourself into your work. Pay attention to what grounds you and balances you. The whole point of you taking the leap to become a digital nomad is finding your own form of work/life balance, so intentionally make time to do so!
5. DON’T TRY TO DO EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN
Traveling abroad can sometimes feel like a free-for-all on a worldly scale. You may have your list of countries to see and top adventures you’ve always wanted to experience, but rushing through countries and cultures will never let you truly experience them. If you’re zipping from one city to the next every few days you’re leaving no time to form genuine relationships with others, immerse yourself in authentic culture or connect to new places.
DO EMBRACE SLOW TRAVEL
Slow travel is where it's at. I repeat, slooooow travel is where it's at. If your schedule and budget allow you, I recommend spending 1 month at the very least in any given destination. The more time the better! Taking your time in a new country and culture not only helps you create a new sense of ‘home’ but allows you to truly connect to a place and its people. There’s so much to learn from every corner of the world that it’s tempting to want to explore it all, but if you take it slow you will have a much more wholesome and rewarding experience. Instead of constantly planning your next travels, be present where you are and engage deeply in your work and your life.
I could go on and on about mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned during my years abroad. But the truth of the matter is you’re going to learn the best by living it for yourself. So take these few tips and get out there!
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