Being a Digital Nomad is an amazing thing. It’s learning, it’s a lifestyle and it’s a lot of fun. Saying that, it does take some time to get used to and it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, (looking back at my time in Ho Chi Minh City, when it stormed every day for 2 weeks…). There are things that I have learnt along the way that have massively helped me make my Virtual Assistant nomad journey that little bit easier.
Chill out, there's no need to rush. Try and stay in one place for as long as possible. When I first started working and travelling, I had a rule to stay in one place for at least 3 weeks at a time. This allowed me to find my feet, build a routine and get working. But as time went on, I wanted to tick more things off of my list, (greedy). I started being quite sporadic and chaotic with my travel. One week here, two days there, three days in that city. I quickly started realising that it was too much and just too tiring. I was here, there and everywhere. Being on the go affected my motivation and my work. So I put a stop to the madness. The best way for me to work, travel and enjoy it, is to stick around for a while in the places I visit. I need to have some sort of routine, I need to give myself the chance to become comfortable and familiar with my surroundings, this helps me be a better person and create better work.
You know what’s right
Listen to your gut. When I was in Singapore, I had a lot going on and I needed somewhere that I could call home for a few weeks. I needed to recharge and get my head screwed back on. So many people laughed at me for wanting to stay for three weeks, (it’s not the largest of cities…) and asked if I wanted to move on with them. But I knew I needed time for myself and it was one of the best decisions I made. I managed to get myself back on track, without any outside pressure and need to entertain others. I didn’t have the feeling of FOMO and I could just do exactly what I wanted and needed at that time. Everyone travels differently, no one person is the same. Make sure you listen to your heart and head when it comes to travelling and working, it’s your experience, so make sure YOU’RE doing what’s right for you.
Have a plan B
Always have a backup when it comes to the important things. The internet may be dodgy at your new hotel or the café's power might be down. Your accommodation might be awful and full of bugs. Your flight might have been cancelled to your next destination. Don't let it stress you out.
Wi-fi > Sim Card
Offttttttt. I swear by a sim card. The amount of times the wi-fi was unusable in the places I stayed was mad. Normally this would make me extremely stressed and I would quickly scramble to find a café in close proximity, instantly putting me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. BUT with a sim card, you can hotspot from that baby, and more often than not have some pretty decent internet speed and get what you need done, done.
For every country I fly into, I buy a sim card at the airport. Depending on the country you can get a sim card cheaper once you’ve left the airport, but I like to get it sorted there and then and I know I’m set, removing the stress.
Hotel > Hostel
When it comes to booking your accommodation, have a plan b. Have a second place in mind, just in case. My friends in Bali stayed at a gorgeous hotel in Uluwatu, (it wasn’t cheap!) but unfortunately after a day of exploring they were welcomed home to a swarm, (billions) of insects in their room, it was something out of the film Alien. They had to move pretty quickly and the hotel had no more room for them. They spent hours at night calling hotels trying to find a place that would take them. Of course, you hope nothing like this happens, but it’s always useful to have a second place in mind, just in case those Alien bugs get in.
Plane > Bus > Boat > Train
Touch wood I’ve been super lucky when it’s come to travel.I never had any cancelled or majorly delayed. 🙌 But speaking to some fellow travellers, this does happen a lot. If you need to get somewhere for a specific date, just have an idea of another way or route of getting there. I met someone who needed to get to Bangkok for a wedding but her flight had been cancelled and the next flight was after the wedding date. A nightmare. Luckily she had pre done some research and knew that she could get a bus from where she was to Bangkok in time to still make the wedding. Hooray!
Money > Debit Cards
I’ve never lost a card. I’ve always been a security freak when it comes to keeping an eye on my phone/money/card/passport. But, when I was in Bali, it happened. I left my card in the ATM, (face palm). When I got back to the hotel and realised my mistake, I was fuming. Luckily, I had another card with me. I lost my Wise, but I had my Monzo 🙏. I wasn’t completely stuck and I could still carry on,(after freezing my Wise). By having a back up I could carry on with my travels plans and didn’t have to massively change my route.
It's a lifestyle
It took me a while to get my head around this. That's why a routine is helpful! I try to start my work super early so I can finish just after lunch and still have time to explore! It's all about balance. When I first started travelling I felt like I was on holiday for the first few weeks and weirdly working. I just wanted to explore but knew I had work commitments. I then got over the constant heat and found a way that worked for me. Travelling and working isn't a holiday and you’re also not a traditional traveller. Being a Digital Nomad is a wonderful and weird thing in between that takes time to get used to. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’ll find what works for you after some time. It’s a new type of life and it will come with some growing pains!
People are good
People are the shining light when it comes to being a Digital Nomad. You will come across amazing, unique, different, difficult and mad types of people. People who get what you’re going through, people who you can work with, people who will cement themselves in your life for the rest of time. Being a Digital Nomad can become quite lonely. So put yourself out there, join an Indie Hacker event, visit co working spaces. If that’s too much for you, work from a coffee shop, (you’ll definitely come across other nomads). For a lot of my travels I stayed in hostels. One, because I wanted to keep an eye on my finances and two because hostels are the hotspots for meeting people. Not every hostel is a party hostel. There are now so many hostels out there that cater to Digital Nomads. Do a little research and you’ll find your team in no time.
Self care is always important
It doesn’t matter if you’re at home or travelling, self care is always important. When you're on the go, it's even more important to look after yourself. I try to find a Yoga studio in every place I visit. Not only are you giving yourself a break from work but you're working on yourself too. It really can be anything, grab a Matcha, (my new obsession), go to the cinema, even work for fun. Make yourself a priority, because if you’re not good, you’re not going to create good work that you’re happy with.
Along with self care comes safety. I felt very safe when travelling by myself, but there were a few things I would always do that would help me feel like I’m fully covered. I would always share my rough plans and accommodation addresses with family and friends. As well as this, I would make sure to make a note of my accommodation’s contact details, so if I ever got into a bind, I could speak to them straight away. Do what you need to do to make sure you are safe.
It’s the small things
See you later materialistic items. Travelling is humbling. It turns out you don’t need all that shit that you carry around with you, (mentally and physically). It really is the small things that make such a big difference, so make sure you remember that and appreciate it too! When I was travelling around Bali with a friend, we would be over the moon if we stayed in a hotel that had a duvet, it was the best thing ever, ecstatic vibes all round. You start to enjoy the little things in life - it really is the best thing!
You’re constantly learning when you’re a Digital Nomad, how lucky are we! Let me know what you’ve learnt as a Digital Nomad.