What may seem to be the perfect way to make a living can turn into a nightmare – here’s why.
What is a digital nomad?
The term ‘digital nomad’ is used to describe a person who makes an income by being both location independent and an avid traveller.
Digital nomads typically work in remote locations and rely on technology to communicate with clients or employers. However, most digital nomads are self-employed and rely on their travels to fuel their businesses.
Digital nomads may be trained in ‘knowledge economy’ industries such as IT, marketing, design, writing, consulting or tutoring. Other common areas of expertise for digital nomads are blogging and vlogging, travel writing and social media.
While this lifestyle may seem idyllic, it can be tiresome and complicated. Most digital nomads are younger in age and use their skills to provide them with travel opportunities. The nomadic lifestyle is not inexhaustible and being a digital nomad is hardly ever a long-term career.
Here are some of the pitfalls of being a digital nomad:
It takes a huge investment to become a digital nomad
To fully embrace this lifestyle, one must be financially secure and have savings to fall back on. A person cannot simply pack up their entire life and move to a remote location if they are heavily in debt or without a savings cushion to fall back on.
There may not be a steady income
Again, money is an issue. Digital nomads often take on contractual jobs according to their skill set. If no new contracts come in, bills can pile up and travel may become limited. Digital nomads usually live in hostel dwellings or other low-cost accommodation to save their earnings. Many find that after long periods of not earning new income, the lifestyle becomes too difficult and they head home to look for a ‘real job’.
Alternatively, for bloggers or travel writers, the pressure of constantly having to be on the move can become tedious. Furthermore, if the nomad has no experience in social media marketing they may not be able to generate enough income to continue their travels.
Acquiring a work permit or a visa is can be costly and time-consuming. Digital nomads are constantly faced with the time constraint of these permits. The worst outcome of being a digital nomad is to become stranded in a foreign country after permits have been exceeded.
While many digital nomads have reputable skills, they may underestimate the dedication it takes to make a success of the lifestyle. Nomads must possess multiple skill sets and may need to run various digital platforms to be successful. Competition is also high as many people work remotely these days.
The nomadic lifestyle is isolating and solitary. As it requires a person to constantly be on the move, no fixed relationships can be formed. Many digital nomads return home to build family lives after a certain period.
The benefits of the lifestyle
Being a digital nomad can be an enriching experience. It is an alternative way of living that exposes a person to different cultures, place and people. It can help develop a person’s understanding of the world and their place in it.
This way of working can also be a good starting point career-wise. It allows a person to gain a following or client base which can be called upon in future business ventures.