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Digital Nomad Myths and Cold Hard Reality
Travel constantly and work from your laptop - countless success stories circulate about the fantastic lives of digital nomads.
Some work while traveling, others get paid to travel.
How much is reality,how much is myth and what is needed to achieve it?
The digital nomad lifestyle is increasingly popular and profusion of bloggers, communities actively encourage, some even teach their fans how to follow this lifestyle.
So, it's fashionably to just hit the road, travel and live earning on the road or directly getting paid to travel the world. The latter is the rare case and believe me: sponsors will easily find candidates suitable to work for them.
The most popular way to combine your job with traveling is to either work as a travel blogger/travel writer or simply adapt your working style to a more mobile way of life.
Photo credit: AdrienBe via Pixabay.com / CC0 Creative Commons
Computer programmers, tour guides, photographers, web designers and graphics designers are just a few job titles that can be adapted to moving around in the worlds, while you're earning.
10 years ago there were a handful of amazing success stories, nowadays there are thousands.
Thousands of "travel bugs" who managed to successfully adapt their lifestyle and are out seeing the world are spreading their recipes for success.
In this article we'll take a look at the reality of having a sustainable digital nomad lifestle. One thing I'm also aspiring to.
What exactly do you need to become a digital nomad and how sustainable is it?
Amazing stories of success and exaggerated myths abound, but how much of this is true?
What are the limitation and most importantly - how can achieve this goal?
Let's examine the key aspects of the digital nomad lifestyle...
#1 It's easier if you're from a a rich country
The vast majority of digital nomads come from developed countries: mostly from the US, the EU and Australia. Due to lower income levels, it's less likely for someone from Nicaragua or Bulgaria to become a digital nomad traveling globally.
Yes, this is the first key issue you should look at. The reason is easy to see: income levels.
A profusion of the most popular nomad travel bloggers are from the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany...
How many of them are from Vietnam, Bulgaria, Ecuador or India? A lot less.
Higher purchase power, higher income puts its stamp on the way we live and the way we travel.
How often do we hear affirmations like "Vietnam is cheap", "wow, how cheap Thailand is", "Peru is cheap", "visit Guatemala, because it's so cheap!"?
It's the rich westerner's perspective, obviously. It doesn't go the other way around: "wow, London is so cheap!", "Paris is dirt cheap, let's travel there", "the USA is so cheap!"
Where we come from and where we're traveling to makes a huge difference.
A monthly 1,000 USD salary is considered low in the United States. And with 1,500 Euros a month you can't really live a decent life in Western Europe. But those amounts are indeed sky high to someone in Cambodia or the average joe in Peru.
#2 Traveling on credit, on someone else's money
The endeavours of many western travers are backed by credits: borrowed funds!
A vast number of US travel bloggers praise themselves with using college credits for traveling...
This habit is a lifestyle thing: in some countries (USA and EU especially), people are used to living on credits. Because, they have (or they expect) high incomes to be able to later pay off the accumulated debt. They're literally traveling on behalf someone else: usually the banks (credit cards).
Traveling on credit is not about earning and saving, nor about earning well. It's about accumulating debt and therefore very risky to do on the longer term, even to those who have higher incomes.
It is stunning in the beginning, but it can backfire: accumulate enough debt and you'll be back home in no time, running in the hamster wheel to pay back what you owe.
#3 If you want to travel at any cost: prepare to give up good comfort
Few will be able to successfully live the nomadic traveler lifestyle and even less will be able to do this in good comfort, even luxury.
Get prepared to hit hostels, hitchhike and eat cheap junk food or prepare your own meals. Thus, exposing yourself to more danger and live under low comfort.
The economic nomads focus on travel: the experience. "The best things in life are free".
It's not a holiday, keep in mind. You're not a tourist, but an adventurer.
Indiana Jones doesn't sleep in luxury hotels, nor does he rent luxury cars.
Think about that for an instance!
Have you ever dreamt about becoming a real adventurer? Going out in the wild, meeting exotic people and living in the pure sense?
Well, that's not about comfort, leisure, tourism, not even about top attractions, but living life a bit closer to the edge. That means: getting closer to real life!
You'll be very lucky if you can maintain a quality lifestyle, stay at a decent hotel, while living like a digital nomad.
#4 Travel must truly become part of your life
Forget stability, don't expect many lasting relationships, get used to new cultures... move, adapt, understand, survive. It's a perpetual adventure cycle.
If you're willing to become a digital nomad, don't think about returning to your "normal life" too soon. Your new "normal" should be working while traveling and this must fit you like a glove. Get trained, get prepared and know what to expect.
You'll need excellent communication skills and high adaptability. Excellent financial management skills are vital or you'll go bust and you'll return home in no time.
Think well before you decide to become a digital nomad.
Passion and dreaming is not enough. Wanting is not enough. Have strong nerves, pick your destinations well. Train well and learn well. Plan like a good investor.
#5 Competition between nomads is high and growing
Youngsters are increasingly involved in the online economy and in just about anything that has to do with the digital world: online marketing, web design, digital graphics, programming etc.
An increasing number of people are going to do just what you're dreaming of.
Nowadays there are entire communities of digital nomads. Travel blogging is just part of the "industry".
More popularity means higher competition and it will be very hard to maintain a decent income stream when there's so much supply to potential sponsors and clients whom you'd have to work with.
The spread of hostels and low cost airlines is only fueling the urge of many to become traveling entrepreneurs.
#6 You must differentiate yourself from others
If you read about the recipes for others' successes, then you'll find that some of them are day traders or popular travel bloggers/travel writers, IT specialists doing coding work, others have jobs back home and all they do is long-distance manage them, some do digital graphics, but teaching languages or photography work is also popular...
All of these are only worth doing if there's good return on investment. You have to be needed enough to be paid well enough, frequently enough.
What would you choose to work?
It might not be the best choice to do exactly others do. It might work for a while, but decline could kick in due to increasing demand.
Differentiate: find work for which supply is rarer, yet payment for it is substantial.
You'll need at least one major competitive advantage (reasons why a client would choose you and not your competitors). This part is getting harder as the world is gradually digitizing.
#7 Think about your future and your retirement
Traveling shouldn't be only about living the moment, burning all your money without knowing how far you can stretch the cord.
If you're still ahead of your studies or if you don't have a business or haven't built a career, then you're exposing yourself to tremendous risk on the longer run.
It's easy to go out and "fool around", but facing the consequances later could potentially ruin your life.
While you can always pick up studies later, a "travel gap" that's too long will negatively affect your value on the work force.
If you have your own business, then it's a totally different story. But what if you can't maintain it for the longer term?
Even if you're financially able to travel for longer periods of time, don't forget to plan for retirement. It's what you do during your most active years that sets the basis for your senior years.
Will you have the funds required to live well when you retire?
Beside the retirement funds, you should also consider creating emergency funds...
Yes, live the moment and yes, memories are more valuable than things, but life doesn't run for free and you most likely won't be able to make as much money as easily when you're older.
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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