We don’t understand ourselves that well. The more time the behavioral sciences spend studying us, the more judgement errors they find. For example, Daniel Gilbert spends a whole book on how bad we are at figuring out what makes us happy.
At the heart of the digital nomad life resides a similar misconception. We have an inborn need to belong and be part of a community. And yet many people seek out this life to be free and unattached. They don’t seem to realize that when a need goes unfulfilled it ends up dominating your mental landscape. (Try locking yourself in a room without seeing anybody for a week if you don’t believe me). And when a need goes unfulfilled it ends up leeching the color and enjoyment out of everything else.
Yes, I did cover this at length in why most digital nomads fail. Don’t worry. I’m not going to get into that side of it again. Instead, today I’d like to discuss the other side of the coin. If we have an evolved need to belong what advantage does our community give us? To paraphrase Mont Python, what has the community ever done for us? And why if it is so meaningful, do so many of us fail to recognize it for being as important as it is?
Continue reading Why It Is So Important To Be Part Of A Community
Now I know how an ant under a magnifying loop feels. I look at the others. Their faces bathed in sweat that reflects harsh light of the mid-day Caribbean sun. None of us had expected it to be this hot. “I need a break,” Somebody – maybe it was me – mutters. Nobody disagrees. Finding a place to stay can be hard work sometimes.
Yeah, sure, you can do a lot of it from the comfort of your couch – but often you should still hit the pavement, ask around and shake hands. The reason is pretty straightforward. When a place is easier to find, that means more people are going to find it. And as economics 101 taught us when demand goes up so do prices.
So we’re out here on the Colombian coast looking for a place where to stay. It’s not fun, exactly, but it sure beats working from a crappy hotel room and it’s vital to be productive as a digital nomad. And since we’re looking for a place to rent for several months, it’s well worth it. Even five bucks less per day adds up. What’s more, by taking to the pavement we’re getting a good feeling for the town and where we want to stay.
In fact, we’ve gotten quite experienced at this whole deal over the years we’ve been out here. And, since many people seem to struggle in this regard, I thought that while we take a break from the hammering sun, I’d run some tips by you. (Note, this article was written after apartment hunting in Santa Marta, Colombia and so is extra applicable to that area).
Continue reading How to Find a Great Apartment When You’re on the Road
It’s quite incredible what some people believe about the digital nomad life. Whenever I scan the many questions of the wanabes I’m left dumbfounded. Do you think digital nomads live in paradise? Are we modern-day gods to you?
Sorry to burst your bubble, but it isn’t anything like that.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what I do. I’ve met tons of awesome people, visited lots of countries (I’ve long since lost counts) and done some awesome things. For example, a few weeks ago in Nicaragua, we climbed a volcano and swam in a crater lake, near Granada. Last night we were in a hostel located beautiful old mansion in Costa Rica called Tripon 2. There the owner plied us with free rum as we discussed how we could work together.
Continue reading 6 Myths about Digital Nomads You Need To Let Go
Do you know why most digital nomads fail? Most people pick something like, ‘they can’t get their careers off the ground’, ‘they chose the wrong enterprise’, or ‘they can’t hack it as freelancers‘. Others will say it’s because they run out of money, they didn’t budget well, or they got scammed. And yes, these can all be the straws that break the aspiring nomad’s back. The thing is, often these are only symptoms of a much bigger underlying problem.
What am I on about? I’m talking about what I like to call the digital nomad disconnect.
Most travelers eventually feel the need to go home because they’re not socially integrated. The digital nomad’s existence of drifting from place to place might sound appealing, but it has some serious problems. In time, these lead many to pull the plug.
There are two main reasons why this lack of belongingness affects us so. I’ll cover each in turn.
Continue reading Why Most Digital Nomads Fail (And How To Avoid It)
As you might have noticed, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. The last one I wrote was all the way back in November, when we in Corioco in Bolivia. Why haven’t I written one since then? It’s quite simple, really. There just weren’t any places that I felt were worth talking about! Every place we visited lacked something essential for the digital nomad life. Some weren’t inspiring. Others were too basic. And so on.
The first place where all the pieces were in place was here in Granada, Nicaragua. If you’re thinking about settling down anywhere in Nicaragua to work for a while, then go here. On the boards, people will try to get you to go to San Juan del Sur. I wouldn’t listen to them.
Continue reading Freelance Abroad from Granada, Nicaragua
Our second fantastic guest poster is Etienne Koch. In his post, he paints us an explicit picture of his journey as a digital nomad so far. He’ll die happy once he’s saved the world from global warming, toured Europe with his guitar, and held a handstand for ten seconds. He likes to wear non-matching high-socks, oh, and is single.
Smoking hot Latina women fan me with palm fronds as perspiration drips off their bare breasts in slow motion. I glance up from my laptop at the crashing waves for a moment’s inspiration. Sensing the opportunity, one of the ladies cheekily slips a hand under my floral shirt. I politely remove it—“un momento por favor”—I’m only halfway through my work day. In five minutes I’ll be done and then I’m free to do—whatever.
A loud crash tears my dreams apart. Jeff, the drunk Canadian guy that was sleeping on the top bunk has smacked head-first onto the hard hostel floor. Contorted and face-down, he looks very—dead. (Oh my god!) I jump out of bed and try to shake him alive. He answers with a gentle snore. How the hell did he sleep through that?
Continue reading The Digital Nomad Life — A Tale of Inconvenience, Hot Love, and Great Joy.
What holds most people back from being a digital nomad isn’t the ‘nomad’ part (though there are plenty of myths about that). It’s the part where they aren’t sure how they’re going to be able to make their money online so they can take to the open road. If they could just learn that, then they’d be set. After all, once you’ve got income you’ve got the space and the time to learn the skills you need – including how to be a nomad.
For that reason, in this article, I’m going to look at the digital side of things. More precisely, I’m going to look at ways that you can learn the digital skills that you need.
Continue reading How to Learn the Skills You Need to Be a Digital Nomad
Warning! The what’s coming up might be upsetting. If you can’t handle brutal honesty and intellectually-explicit language, then look away now. You ready? Okay, here we go.
Digital nomadism has its downsides too.
Wait! Hey! Hold on, now! Let me explain! Hey, who threw that? This is a new shirt, you know!
Seriously though, like any life, it has its problems. And though for many these problems don’t outweigh the advantages, they’re there and need to be dealt with. One of the biggest problems for digital nomads and travelancers, as I’ve discussed before, is how to stay productive.
Continue reading How to be Productive as a Digital Nomad
I keep running into some incarnation of this question in nomad circles. Only this week it reared up again in a Facebook group dedicated to digital nomads. In this case, the question was, ‘when digital nomads outsource their work over the internet to low-paying countries are they exploiting them? Isn’t that damaging the digital nomad image?’ The discussion got heated. Nasty things were said.
To be fair, the original poster didn’t frame the question quite like that. Sure, they used a question mark, but it wasn’t actually a question. For them, the issue was already resolved. Now it was just time for everybody to agree. Low wages weren’t fair. They were exploitive. The digital nomad movement was betraying its roots. Anybody that disagreed with them was a small-minded greedy capitalist.
As you can expect, many people – particularly those who outsourced work to low-paying countries – weren’t happy. Who likes to get judged, right? Some of retorted with well-reasoned arguments. Others were nasty, brutish and small-minded – thereby proving the original poster right about that part.
Continue reading Are Digital Nomads Exploiting The Locals?
It’s terrifying to take the step from a sedentary existence into a digital nomad life. Even if you have enough money saved up, it’s a leap into the unknown. After several years out here, I’d kind of forgotten that. But the more I talk with those who want to take up the life, the more I’m reminded of how I too used to wake up in a cold sweat at night. I spent days worrying at the question if heading out or staying in was the bigger mistake.
Just like these people I was talking to, I’d wished I had a bit more certainty. I wondered if I knew enough about the travelancer life. I questioned if I had the right personality to be a digital nomad.
I dealt with the first question last week. So this week I’ll deal with the second one. And if you’re going to ask any questions about personality, well then you have to turn to psychology.
So, for a second time in a month, I’ve put on my psychologist’s hat. After a bit of research, I realized there’s a lot out there – far too much to cover in one article (here are two more about our need to belong and about mental mistakes).
Continue reading Do You Have The Right Personality To Be A Digital Nomad?