Being a digital nomad is great. I get to travel, meet new people, speak different languages, mingle with fresh and exciting cultures, and find out a great deal about a world I didn’t know existed.
And I can sustain this level of nomadicism together with my digital work.
Presently, I’m working here at SML as an editor. I’m also a freelance author , I’ve run part-time companies before (with quite part-time earnings), and soon I will be starting up my own blog.
All these things take place online (with the exclusion of composing, but submitting posts and getting paid necessitates the internet), so each one these things can be done wherever there is internet connection.
But being an electronic nomad is much more than just one of those romantic dreams that gets touted by self-professed”internet gurus” that attempt to sell you their goods.
I’m here to say:
I’m not sipping Piña Coladas using the Sultan of Brunei on a secluded Thai shore 24/7. Sure, maybe in my day off I’ll do that, however, the Sultan of Brunei is additionally a pretty active guy.
Really, most of the day I’m working. I have got a whole lot to do and only so long to perform it.
I often hear a great deal of myths about being a digital nomad. And while a number of them might be true for some folks, they’re certainly not true for a vast majority of people.
- I’m rich
If we are talking about rich in soul, then yes, I have to admit, I am totally awesome.
But most people also assume I have a lot of money. Certainly I must be living a life of luxury when I can afford to travel 24/7.
Which one of my personal jets should I choose to Tahiti today?
I am not wealthy.
In reality, by USA standards (my home state ), I am quite poor.
Part of the reason why I journey is because I can not afford to stay in the USA. That is definitely not all the motive, but it is part of it.
Ready with this fact bomb?
It’s cheaper for me to fly about Asia than it is for me live in the cheapest parts of the States.
That said, the USA is a particularly egregious and expensive place to live, but it does say something about my earnings when I can’t even afford to stay in my home country.
Here is the fact: From”western” criteria, I’m hysterically poor.
- I do awesome things all of the time.
I know you have those Facebook friends that are constantly posting pictures of their great, adventurous lives even though you’re sitting there thinking,”Hey, that douchebag from high school is living such a great life while I am over here wasting away…”
However, the truth is that that one picture is an atypical experience. Nobody is living that type of lifestyle 24/7.
Part of this reason that I despise Facebook is due to this selective picking and choosing of what we enable ourselves to show our”friends”. It’s important to keep in mind that what we see on Facebook is not actual life.
The truth is that digital nomads are spending the majority of their time engaged in work projects, sleeping in crowded busses, and dealing with daily logistical troubles.
Now, I can certainly place a lot of images of me that will make you envious of where I have been and what I have been doing. And while these moments do indeed define much of my experience, they are not representative of the overwhelming bulk of the time.
I’m not”living the life” you might think I am simply because every one the images I post on Facebook are of me sipping Piña Coladas with the Sultan of Brunei.
I am on a train right now going through the hills at the south of China. Here’s a picture I just took:
“Beautiful day riding through the mountains in China. #DigitalNomadLife”
It seems pretty, correct?
Well, the scene is fine…
Here’s that same train ride with the camera pointed another way:
“What is that smell? Can it be pee? I believe it’s urine. #DigitalNomadLife”
There’s no power, no internet, it’s packed, it’s smelly, you will find people loudly talking on their mobile phones, babies crying, people snoring, and folks smoking (on a train!!) , this table is truly dirty, and my small seat could be the most uncomfortable chair I’ve ever stumbled on in my entire life.
So keep this in mind the next time you see me posting the very first picture on Facebook.
Because, for me personally, a digital nomad, life is usually still pretty rough.
Here is the truth: A vast majority of this time, being an electronic nomad isn’t very”fun”.
- I can work anywhere there’s the internet.
OK, this one is completely correct.
But there’s something else that is also true:
I spend most of my day searching for the internet.
For most work-from-home men and women, they do exactly that- work out of house. In their houses, there is usually pretty decent internet.
I am a nomad; I need to move. Even when I find a homestay or guesthouse with WiFi, I will just”work from home” for 50 percent (at most) of the moment.
But here is the catch: Many overseas lands have frustratingly slow (or no) internet.
I spend hours on buses and trains, hunting for a place with WiFi that can let me chill there for at least a few hours. And finding that location can be quite difficult.
Depending upon where I move, a number of these places will have an unwillingly slow net connection causing me to be unable to do exactly what I have to do. That connection will normally fall out at really important moments and/or become unworkably slow.
At the moment , I spent more than two hours trying to upload the few pictures which are in this post.
“You need’great’ web? I have never heard of this version before…”
Part of being a nomad is discovering and coveting sustenance. Drinking in a pleasant, large glass of net is pretty fulfilling when you have been traversing a mostly internet desert to get a really long time.
Sitting in a Starbucks in Jakarta is a lot like sitting at a Starbucks at Dayton, Ohio. Nothing new and exciting there.
Trying to find a balance between the priority of traveling along with the priority of functioning is a refined skill set that I have yet to learn.
If my friends say, “Hey Eric, we’re going into the jungle for 3 days. Wanna come”
I must either work double time to guarantee all my workflow becomes completed (so finding an internet resource for two or more 10+ hour days) or hold out hope that there’ll be some slivers of internet from the jungle (that will be… eh, not typical).
Or I must say that I can’t move (which is a torturous decision that I sometimes must create ).
One of my favorite images is of the”guru” lounging on a beach chair sipping cocktails while still pretty people fan them and rub their feet. They call this”work” since they have their laptops with them.
OK, Mr. I Should Validate My Lifestyle So You’ll Give Me Cash In Order To Perpetuate This Lifestyle That is Based Entirely On Your Broken Promises Of People Whom I Swindle, you may be”working” like this right now, but you’re likely not getting much done.
There’s not likely to be net there, and if there is, it’s likely so slow that you’ve downed six or seven cocktails by the time your site finally loads, and now you’re too drunk to work anyway.
“My office for your day. #ThereIsSandBecauseItsAnInternetDesert”
Sounds fun, confident, but it’s not productive. And if it is not productive, it’s not sustainable.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There’s no replacement for hard labour. It’s not going to happen.
Note: Fortunately for me, I’m a writer, so being internet can still be productive. For instance, I wrote the majority of the on a 10-hour bus journey. (And I’m now editing this on a 23-hour train journey.)
Myth: The world wide web is everywhere, and it’s always a buddy.
Here’s the fact: The internet almost always sucks from the places I wish to spend the majority of my time.
- I can travel anywhere I want.
Aside from the aforementioned online issue, this one is a bit more nuanced.
Allow Me to drop a little more reality here:
Going through habits is not always easy when no one knows what”being an electronic nomad” means.
Here’s a fun story:
I had been staying in Malaysia for almost 3 months. When I entered Malaysia, I thought,”Oh cool. I’ve got 90 days to remain in Malaysia”.
I calculated the exact date I needed to leave so that I would not overstay my visa, and I left a few days ahead of my mandatory departure date. Complete win!
So I thought…
Seemingly, in Malaysia, though I’d 90 days, I was not really supposed to remain for 90 days. I understand, it doesn’t make sense to me either, but that’s what the Malaysian border brokers told me. I have held up at the edge while three agents asked me why I had been staying in the nation for such a long time.