The Downsides of Being a Digital Nomad

In Confessions by Virginie4 Comments

Last week, I introduced you to the good sides of being a digital nomad. Most of the time, it’s an awesome thing to be able to wake up whenever you want and be your own boss. But, like anything, it also has bad sides. If being nomad is something you’re considering, I want you to be fully prepared and know what to expect. I don’t want to discourage you while writing this post, I just want you to know what’s really waiting for you! So here it goes:

1. You need to work (A LOT)

Before you can achieve the almost unreachable 4-hours work week, you’ll need to spend a lot of time on your own business. If you think you can achieve location independence within a few months, you’ll soon realize it takes longer than that. You need to put the hours in the beginning to grow your online business and it won’t be easy. Those that don’t have what it takes will quit at this point.


2. You can’t travel as fast as you want

Even if your business offers you the freedom to travel and see the world, you also have to put down the hours in front of your computer. To be able to balance the travel with the working, we found that staying in the same location for two or three months is the best thing to do. It gives you the chance to have a routine and also explore a city. If you want to see a whole country and change cities every few days, you’ll soon realize how exhausting that is. Some people can pull it off, but most nomads opt for exploring only one city at a time instead of traveling around the whole time.


3. Sometimes, you have to stay inside for the whole day

If you have a deadline or see that your business is taking a hit, you’ll have to stay in your house/apartment across the globe and spend the day in front of your computer. Not every day is spent exploring your surroundings or chilling on the beach. Even if we wished to, sometimes we just have to take it so we can have a few days off in the future.


4. Your paycheck might not come

Whatever you do, there is definitely a certain period in the year when people won’t buy your products or won’t hire you. Whether it’s during the summer or around Christmas, it doesn’t matter. Eventually, you paycheck will get smaller and you have to be prepared for that. When you see thousands of dollars going in your bank account, you’ll have to be strong enough to not spend all of it, as you’ll need that cushion in the future.


You can only affoard half a pizza…

5. You’ll start missing friends and family

Leaving everything behind to travel the world sounds like an exhilarating thing to do, until you find yourself in a foreign country, not speaking the language and wishing you had your best friend with you to go through this. On those days that you feel lonely after being rejected by the world, you want the simple comfort of people you already know and that you love.

Yes, you’ll meet people on the road. But every time, you’ll have to start again and introduce you, talk about what you do, where you’ve been, etc. Sometimes, it would be nice to have a drink with someone who already knows all of that!


The cat wonders where his family is (if you didn’t understand my choice of picture!)

6. You can’t own anything nice

Maybe it’s just me and I’m cursed or something, but all the nice clothes I had went I first left Canada ended up in the garbage or back in my closet at home. My problem? The washing machines across the globe and wearing the same thing too often. I’ve got bad rust stains and holes on most of my shirts. I’m done buying expensive new clothes, as they won’t last. And that super cute top I thought I’d wear on a special occasion? Well it ended up all wrinkled at the bottom of my rental closet and I never wore it, so I just left it home when I went back. When you live out of a backpack, you can’t bring that many nice things with you, as most of the time you just don’t have the space.


7. Having a proper ergonomic posture while working is impossible

Working on a tiny laptop is one thing. Doing it on the corner of a table in an uncomfortable chair is another. One thing we look for whenever we rent a new place is their table and chairs. If it looks “okay” or worse, we don’t rent it (unless we can find a coworking space). Otherwise, we’ll just kill our neck. Chris travels with a mouse and a keyboard, so he can lift his computer up wherever we go. I can manage typing on my laptop, but I have to take breaks as sometimes my neck gets sore. So before you leave for your next destination, maybe try to figure out how you’re going to work! There are plenty of option from standing to buying some kind of support. Find what you’re comfortable with.


You’ll end up sitting weirdly like him.

8. If you get sick, it’s complicated

Unknown hospital, you sometimes have to pay for it yourself before being able to claim anything to your insurance company. Or even if you just catch a cold, looking for medicine you trust halfway across the world can be hard. I can easily remember Chris and I looking for some simple cold medicine in Costa Rica and buying something way more expensive than it should have been. Some places in the world have cheap medicine: Costa Rica didn’t.


Cats are the best to represent situations! This one’s recovering from a bad food poisoning.

9. Staying fit is hard

Just in general, keeping a routine is not something simple. If you’re moving every couple months like us, you can’t really get a gym membership. And if you’re not by the beach, how do you stay fit? I’ve tried to found ways to do it in my Stay Fit on the Road series, but to be honest, it’s a daily battle. Food is too good and the motivation is too low. There’s always yoga and other classes like that, but they hit a budget pretty quickly.


10. You have to be strong

Mentally, I mean. You have to be strong mentally, otherwise the world will be too much for you and you’ll run back home. If you can’t control your emotions when you’re in a tough situation, or if you can’t have the discipline to sit in front of your computer and work even though it’s the nicest day outside, you won’t be able to make it in the digital nomad world. But don’t worry: once you leave home for good, you’ll toughen up. The first time you get scammed, you’ll develop a sixth sense that allows you to spot the shady people before they approach you.


But what I mean is, if you have the courage to leave everything you know behind you, whether you think you’re ready of not, you’ll grow whatever you need to survive. You’ll evolve into what you need to be and learn your own lessons. Humans can take a lot more than they think before they break. I mean, the caveman could survive without a roof in the middle of the jungle. Why can’t you? ;)

What is the worst that happened to you as a nomad? Does this scares you?