So you’re lucky enough to have a job or business that allows you to live without borders? Awesome! Go travel and take advantage of it!
Except, it’s not holiday. And you have work to do, quite possibly every single day. How do you balance that? How do you make sure you enjoy being in a new city every week or month while you’re working?
The travelers you meet or staying with might actually be on holiday, enjoying every second of it. They make full-day plans for the next day or it comes up impromptu since the responsibilities are low. Best to live every second like it counts, especially since their vacation might come to an end soon.
You’re in a completely different position. Think about what you’ve done before in your office life. You wake up, eat breakfast before heading in to work. You might bring your lunch or go to a restaurant with your co-workers, then finish off your work. Afterward, you meet some friends at a bar or drive home to unwind. A typical office workday. Of course, every now and then there are special get-togethers. Local events, concerts, etc. to enjoy. Though on an average workday that sounds pretty familiar, right?
Party party party, or not
Doing something new every day, going out for every meal, and then partying every night is not sustainable. You wouldn’t do this in your day to day office life and I wouldn’t expect a digital nomad to do this all the time either.
Yet, so far into my journey I tell myself I should. I'm not satisfied if I’m not staying out all day exploring the city and then ending my night at the bars. I’m in a brand new city where tourists jam-pack their weeks before traveling to their new destination. And here I am, sometimes laying in my bed watching South Park or developing yet another side project app. How lame am I? 😂
A large part of it is about setting expectations. What am I wanting to achieve out of this traveling while keeping my job and working every weekday? Seek inwards for this answer, and realize that you’re doing a good job as it is.
I’ve never been one to do the “tourist” lifestyle. I like living more like a local, in longer durations than a normal 1-2 week vacation. For me, it’s about a new environment where every day feels like something new. Repetition makes me anxious, being in the same place bores me. This is more than likely why I’ve gotten a new job at least once every 1-2 years and moved every single year in the last 8.
I get sick of the same ol same ol. Sure, part of it is on me to be happy and exploring new things no matter where I live, but I get disinterested pretty quickly. I probably have a problem here I need to resolve, and I’m completely avoiding it. One of my long-time friends once told me that I’m expecting too much out of life if I can’t be content with the present moment. They are more than likely right 😂 but for now, travel!!
So how do I (and you, if you’re in a similar position) meet expectations and fulfill digital nomad goals?
Keep It Simple, Stupid
Plan one thing a day, that’s it. It doesn’t even have to be something new. Maybe it’s that local coffee shop you fell in love with or the restaurant with the best tapas. On the weekend, do something you’d reserve for the weekends back home. Go walk or swim at the beach, go to a night club, try to do something that might be a couple of hours. Even if your remote week was uneventful (I hope not!) at least you did one cool thing at the end, making it worthwhile if you feel let down by your week.
Planning for one thing makes sure that you go out for the day. If you’re fortunate enough to be staying at a place with good WiFi and a desk, you want to make sure that you go out once a day. Expected, but if you’ve got a lot of introvert in you, you may want to stay nice and comfortable where you’re at. You're also more likely to choose something new as “the one”. Of course, feel free to do several things! Go out once, feel accomplished, and everything else is a nice bonus. I like taking a “divide and conquer” approach when deciding where to go in a day - I may elaborate on that more in a future post.
Surround yourself with like-minded folks
Stick around those in a similar position. It’s one thing for you to tell yourself it’s okay to take it easy and not feel the need to explore or party every night. It's another when you're actually in that position. Being around other digital nomads will help solidify these values. There are several ways to find other nomads: a local group, an online one (nomadlist.com), a coffee shop known for working travelers, or even better, a coworking place.
I have not taken advantage of a coworking membership yet, though I want to. I have been keeping track of my coffee shop expenses and I've noticed that even though it’s possible to stay at one for free, I often spend way too much. I end up eating there for breakfast and I'm always tempted by their deserts after lunch. Some coworking memberships include these amenities so it’s an easy decision to make! They can range anywhere from $100 to $400 a month. You may not like getting locked into duration or location, though some have daily/weekly memberships. You may also find yourself spending every day at one while you’re in a particular city. I will admit, bouncing from coffee shop to coffee shop throughout the day is a nice change of routine.
Join a meetup group
One thing I haven’t explored yet which I’m looking forward to - international meetup groups. I used to go a lot when I moved in to Dallas. Met a good group of buddies that way, but haven’t done so internationally. Is meetup.org still a popular thing abroad? What kind of groups are there? Are there more popular ways for this? Not sure yet, but I would love to find out. Of course, expect that my first meetup search will be for a bitcoin group.
Most importantly, have fun
Don’t let expectations of what your backpacking trip should look like because let’s face it, you’re not backpacking. You’re working in a different city. Everyone’s situations are different, and after all, who are you doing this for, them or yourself?
Take a breather, relax, and enjoy doing what you enjoy no matter where you are.
And yes, I’m mostly talking to myself 🙃