The Pros And Cons Of Being A Digital Nomad
Rhiannon Archipelago Communications
12th September 2017
The term “Digital Nomad” is a relatively new concept to the world of work and travel. The definition of which is a person who works online (also referred to as “working remotely”, or being “location independent”) and travels from country to country. On the surface, this is pretty much every person’s dream – living the ultimate lifestyle outside of 9-5 time constraints, whilst satiating the wanderlust fuelled by the “#travelgram” generation.
Seems perfect, right? Well, my friends, as they say – there is no such thing as a free lunch. Whilst being a digital nomad clearly has an abundance of perks, there has to be at least one catch, surely? Here, we debate the pros and cons of the digital nomad lifestyle to give a clear and well-rounded picture of the sort of work that everyone is coveting.
Freedom to travel is a definite pro of being a Digital Nomad
Obviously, one of the pros that come immediately to mind is freedom. Working wherever you want, whenever you want, is the universal dream, especially when opposed to being stuck in an office all day, staring longingly out the window into the great wide beyond. Having the freedom to sleep in, or go out for lunch rather than unwrap the sad sandwich at your desk seems vastly more appealing than a half hour break that’s gone in the blink of an eye.
Being your own boss
Along the same lines of that ever-elusive freedom, being your own boss is one of the biggest draws of being a digital nomad. Setting your own schedule, work days and work hours – especially while not having to deal with an overbearing micromanager – seems like a dream come true! You could choose to have a long weekend off or, if you have other plans or commitments, switch it around and work the weekend instead, in order to take any days off during the week that you might need, all without going through the process of asking for permission.
Being location independent
You can choose to base yourself quite literally anywhere in the world that takes your fancy. Do you want to live in Thailand for six months? No problem! (Well, visa permitting obviously). Feel like moving to Barcelona for the summer? Go for it! Time out in Copenhagen? Why not! You can choose to base yourself somewhere with much lower living costs than your home country and retain a larger portion of your pay cheque, or you can simply go wherever the wind takes you. The world is your oyster.
Heightened travel experience
Working remotely allows for slow travel, which means you can take as long as you like exploring your chosen country, rather than attempting to cram everything into a rigidly structured two-week itinerary that’s in keeping with your job’s holiday accrual. This means that you can better immerse yourself in the local customs, by living in a local neighbourhood, getting to know the local people on a more personal level, and seeing much more of the country than you ever would on a holiday package tour.
The life of a Digital Nomad can get lonely at times
As a digital nomad working online, you’ll find yourself depending on a strong and steady internet connection. This poses unexpected restrictions that may dampen the dream you had of trekking through the Amazon rainforest whilst living in South America. Planning your travel around good internet connections in order to work means potentially missing out on those off-the-beaten-path adventures you may crave.
INSANE MULTI-TASKING AND TIME MANAGEMENT
Whilst not having a boss to answer to seems to be legit #lifegoals, the only problem is that you have to answer to everything and everyone. You will suddenly find yourself a jack of all trades, because as well as liaising with your clients and getting your actual work done, you then also become your own accounts department, having to deal with invoices and taxes of your own accord. If someone complains, you can’t fob it off on someone else in a different department. You have to make all the decisions and delegate all of your work to yourself, all of which must be handed in on time.
It may seem like life’s a beach as a digital nomad, but in order to earn money you do have to, you know, actually work. This means keeping yourself motivated while plowing through tonnes of boring AF articles or teaching very uninterested kids online for hours as they sit there, picking their noses on your screen – rather than sunbathing at the beach or joining other travellers for a mid-week pub crawl.
BEING TOO BUSY TO FULLY ENJOY YOUR SURROUNDINGS
You may be blessed with abundant job offers and projects to work on – which is obviously fantastic – but if you get too busy, you may not get a chance to fully enjoy your surroundings, which means not often getting to go out and explore, let alone interact with other people.
NOT GETTING ENOUGH WORK TO SUSTAIN YOUR TRAVEL PLANS
On theflipside, you may not get enough work to fully fund your travel plans, which means having to come up with a plan B. Whilst being a digital nomad may seem like a total doddle, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, sometimes plenty of patience and persistence, as well as just pure luck.
SUCKY WORK HOURS TO CATER TO YOUR CLIENTS
As previously mentioned, though one of the main draws for becoming a digital nomad is flexibility when it comes to working hours and shift schedule, sometimes this does not work out as planned. It might turn out that your clients are in a totally different time zone from you, which means you now have a less desirable time-frame to work in, such as very early in the morning or late into the night. Perhaps you intend to teach online, in which case you must be prepared to work around the school hours of the country the kids live in.
You may think that a digital nomad has everything and never gets stressed, but that is not the case. Stress that comes with poor wifi connection when deadlines are looming, stress from too much work to get done in a short span of time, stress from too little work to sustain you, or simply the stress of not having a steady income at all can fluctuate dramatically every month. Stress still happens even if you’re living the “vida loca”.
As a digital nomad, working by yourself online can sometimes be incredibly isolating, as well as make it difficult for you to form long-lasting and meaningful relationships when you’re constantly hopping from place to place. In all honesty, sometimes you will get lonely and miss the face to face interaction that comes with working in a team, or having someone like a manager to turn to for expertise and advice when you’re facing a particularly difficult project.
LACK OF APPROPRIATE WORK SPACES
Surprisingly, working in a hammock all day isn’t actually as comfy as it looks. It can be a huge pain as a digital nomad to find decent working spaces with appropriate facilities. Hunching all day at a coffee table is far from ideal, and if you have a MacbookPro, you’re probably going to be a tad fearful about working at the beach or poolside, because it might cost you an arm and a leg to repair.
So, admittedly, though there are definitely some great perks, don’t be fooled by carefully constructed photos on social media of people working in hammocks or by the pool sipping margaritas. In a sense, being a digital nomad is almost a simultaneous blessing and curse, because whilst it offers great opportunities, remember that it may not be everything that you hope it will be!