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5 Debunked Myths About Being A Digital Nomad

Myths About Being A Digital Nomad

I like what I do.

I might not need to be doing the rest.

Being a digital nomad is nice. I get to journey, meet new individuals, converse totally different languages, mingle with new and thrilling cultures, and be taught an entire lot a couple of world that I didn’t know existed.

And I can maintain this stage of nomadicism with my digital work.

At the moment, I’m working right here at SML as an editor. I’m additionally a contract author, I’ve run part-time companies earlier than (with very part-time earnings), and shortly I’ll be beginning up my very own weblog.

All of these items happen on the web (apart from writing, however posting articles and getting paid requires the web), so all of these items may be achieved wherever there’s web connection.

However being a digital nomad is a couple of of those romantic desires that will get touted by self-professed “web gurus” that attempt to promote you their merchandise.

I’m right here to say:

  • It’s not a very glamorous way of life.

I’m not sipping Piña Coladas with the Sultan of Brunei on a secluded Thai seaside 24/7. Positive, possibly on my time off I’ll try this, however the Sultan of Brunei is additionally a fairly busy man.

Actually, a lot of the day I’m working. I’ve acquired rather a lot to do and solely a lot time to do it.

5 Myths About Being A Digital Nomad

I typically hear a variety of myths round being a digital nomad. And whereas a few of them could also be true for some individuals, they’re undoubtedly not true for a majority of individuals.

Listed below are 5 widespread myths that want dispelling:

1. I’m wealthy

If we’re speaking about wealthy in spirit, then sure, I need to admit, I’m completely superior.

However most individuals additionally assume I’ve some huge cash. Certainly I should be dwelling a lifetime of luxurious if I can afford to journey 24/7.

digital nomad

Which one among my non-public jets ought to I take to Tahiti at present?

Nicely, no, really.

I’m not wealthy.

In truth, by USA requirements (my dwelling nation), I’m actually poor.

A part of the rationale I journey is as a result of I can’t afford to stay within the USA. That’s undoubtedly not all the cause, however it’s a part of it.

Prepared for this fact bomb?

It’s cheaper for me to fly round Asia than it’s for me stay within the most cost-effective elements of the States.

Now, that mentioned, the USA is a very egregious and costly place to stay, however it does say one thing about my earnings after I can’t even afford to stay in my dwelling nation.

  • Fable: All digital nomads are wealthy.
  • Right here’s the reality: By “western” requirements, I’m hysterically poor.

2. I do superior issues on a regular basis.

I do know you may have these Fb associates which are all the time posting photos of their nice, adventurous lives whilst you’re sitting there considering, “Hey, that douchebag from highschool resides such an important life whereas I’m over right here losing away…”

However the actuality is that that one image is an atypical expertise. Nobody resides that type of way of life 24/7.

A part of the rationale that I hate Fb is due to this selective selecting and selecting of what we permit ourselves to indicate our “associates”. It’s vital to do not forget that what we see on Fb is not actual life.

The truth is that digital nomads are spending most of their time engaged in work tasks, sleeping in cramped busses, and coping with every day logistical points.

Now, I can undoubtedly publish a bunch of images of me that may make you jealous of the place I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. And whereas these moments do certainly outline a lot of my expertise, they’re not consultant of the overwhelming majority of my time.

I’m not “dwelling the life” that you simply would possibly assume I’m just because all the photos I publish on Fb are of me sipping Piña Coladas with the Sultan of Brunei.

Right here’s an instance…

I’m on a prepare proper now going by the mountains within the south of China. Right here’s an image I simply took:

Mountains in the south of China

“Stunning day using by the mountains in China. #DigitalNomadLife”

It appears fairly, proper?

Nicely, the surroundings is sweet…

Right here’s that very same prepare trip with the digicam pointed the opposite method:


“What’s that scent? Is it pee? I feel it’s pee. #DigitalNomadLife”

There’s no energy, no web, it’s cramped, it’s smelly, there are individuals loudly speaking on their cell telephones, infants screaming, individuals loud night breathing, individuals smoking (on a prepare!!), this desk is admittedly soiled, and my tiny seat might be probably the most uncomfortable seat I’ve ever sat on in my total life.

So preserve that in thoughts subsequent time you see me posting the primary image on Fb.

As a result of, even for me, a digital nomad, life is normally nonetheless fairly tough.

  • Fable: Digital nomads are “dwelling the life”.
  • Right here’s the reality: A overwhelming majority of the time, being a digital nomad shouldn’t be very “enjoyable”.

Three. I can work anyplace there’s the web.

OK, this one is totally true.

However there’s one thing else that can also be true:

  • I spend most of my day trying for the web.

For many work-from-home individuals, they do exactly that- make money working from home. At their houses, there’s normally fairly respectable web.

For me, I may by no means “make money working from home”. I’m a nomad; I would like to maneuver. Even when I discover a homestay or guesthouse with WiFi, I’ll solely “make money working from home” for 50% (at most) of the time. What’s the purpose of being in a overseas land should you don’t mingle with the native tradition no less than somewhat?

However right here’s the catch: Many overseas lands have frustratingly sluggish (or no) web.

I spend hours on buses and trains, looking for a spot with WiFi that may let me chill there for no less than a number of hours. And discovering that place is usually very troublesome.

Relying upon the place I am going, many of those locations may have an unwillingly sluggish web connection inflicting me to not be capable of do what I must do. That connection will normally drop out at actually vital moments and/or change into unworkably sluggish.

Proper now, I spent over two hours making an attempt to add the few photos which are on this publish.

Looking for internet

“You need ‘good’ web? I’ve by no means heard of that mannequin earlier than…”

A part of being a nomad is discovering and coveting sustenance. For a digital nomad, that sustenance is the web. Consuming in a pleasant, large glass of web is fairly fulfilling while you’ve been traversing a largely web desert for a extremely very long time.

However for a traveler, that sustenance is new cultures and experiences. Sitting in a Starbucks in Jakarta is rather a lot like sitting in a Starbucks in Dayton, Ohio. Nothing new and thrilling there.

Looking for a stability between the precedence of touring and the precedence of working is a refined ability set that I’ve but to grasp.

If my associates say, “Hey Eric, we’re going into the jungle for Three days. Wanna come?”

I’ve to both work double time to make sure all of my workflow will get achieved (which implies discovering an web supply for two or extra 10+ hour days) or maintain out hope that there’ll be some slivers of web within the jungle (which is… eh, not typical).

Or I’ve to say that I can’t go (which is a torturous choice that I typically must make).

One in all my least favourite photographs is of the “guru” lounging on a seaside chair sipping cocktails whereas fairly individuals fan them and rub their ft. They name this “work” as a result of they’ve their laptops with them.

OK, Mr. I Want To Validate My Way of life So You’ll Give Me Cash In Order To Perpetuate This Way of life That’s Primarily based Totally On The Damaged Guarantees Of These Whom I Swindle, you might be “working” like this proper now, however you’re in all probability not getting a lot achieved.

There’s not prone to be web there, and if there’s, it’s in all probability so sluggish that you simply’ve downed six or seven cocktails by the point your web site lastly masses, and now you’re too drunk to work anyway.

My office for the day

“My workplace for the day. #ThereIsSandBecauseItsAnInternetDesert”

Sounds enjoyable, certain, however it’s not productive. And if it’s not productive, it’s not sustainable.

I’ve mentioned it earlier than and I’ll say it once more: There’s no substitute for onerous work. You gained’t be an exception to the rule. It’s not going to occur.

Word: Fortunately for me, I’m a author, so being with out web can nonetheless be productive. As an example, I wrote nearly all of this on a 10-hour bus trip. (And I’m now enhancing this on a 23-hour prepare trip.)

  • Fable: The web is in every single place, and it’s all the time a good friend.
  • Right here’s the reality: The web nearly all the time sucks within the locations I need to spend most of my time.

four. I can journey anyplace I need.

Other than the aforementioned web challenge, this one is a bit more nuanced.

Let me drop somewhat extra fact right here:

  • Going by customs shouldn’t be all the time straightforward when nobody understands what “being a digital nomad” means.

Right here’s a enjoyable story:

I used to be staying in Malaysia for nearly Three months. My visa was for 90 days. Once I entered Malaysia, I assumed, “Oh cool. I’ve 90 days to remain in Malaysia”.

I calculated the precise date I wanted to go away so I wouldn’t overstay my visa, and I really left a couple of days earlier than my mandatory departure date. Complete win!

Or so I assumed…

Apparently, in Malaysia, regardless that I had 90 days, I wasn’t actually supposed to remain for 90 days. I do know, it doesn’t make sense to me both, however that’s what the Malaysian border brokers informed me. I acquired held up on the border whereas three brokers requested me repeatedly why I used to be staying within the nation for therefore lengthy.

Border Agent: “What have been you doing in Malaysia for nearly three months?”

Me: “I used to be visiting a good friend, touring, and spending time attending to know the nation.”

BA: “Yeah, however what have been you doing?”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t perceive the query.”

BA: “You have been right here for 3 months.”

Me: “Yeah.”

BA: “Have been you working?”

…so right here’s the dilemma…

If I say, “Sure”, then I’m insinuating that I used to be illegally working in another country.

If I say, “No”, then I’m setting myself up for a litany of questions on how I get cash (of which drug dealing is normally an apparent suspicion).

Right here’s what the everyday “Sure” dialog appears like:

BA: “Have been you working?”

Me: “Sure. I work on-line.”

BA: “So that you have been working right here.”

Me: “Nicely, sure, form of… however I don’t work for a corporation in your nation.”

BA: “However should you enter right here on a vacationer visa, you aren’t allowed to work.”

Me: “Proper, however I’m coming into for social functions, not for work.”

BA: “However you’re working.”

Me: “Techincally talking, sure, however I’m all the time working. And it has nothing to do with why I’m coming into your nation.” (though it type of does)

BA: “So that you journey and work?”

Me: “Precisely.”

BA: “However should you’re right here for work functions, it’s worthwhile to get a piece visa.”

Me: “However I’m not right here for work functions, I’m right here to journey.”

BA: “When you work?”

Me: “Sure.”

BA: “Are you planning on coming again right here?”

Me: “In some unspecified time in the future, possibly.”

BA: “Why?”

Me: “As a result of I wish to journey round.”

BA: “So as to work?”

Me: “Nicely, probably not. As a result of I just like the nation.”

BA: “When are you going again to your own home nation?”

Me: “Ehh.. I don’t know.”

BA: “You don’t know?”

Me: “Not likely, no.”

BA: “However you’re working right here…?”

Me: “Form of, however probably not, effectively, form of… no? I don’t know. I’m confused now.”

(and so forth…)

This dialog normally will get escalated to no less than two superiors. After a number of rounds of the very same questions, they understand they’ve wasted sufficient time with me and let me go.

To counter this, right here’s the everyday “No” dialog:

BA: “Have been you working?”

Me: “No.”

BA: “So that you have been right here for therefore lengthy with out a supply of employment.”

Me: “Proper.”

BA: “So the place do you get cash?”

Me: “I’ve a financial savings.”

BA: “From a earlier job?”

Me: “One thing like that.”

BA: “One thing like that?”

Me: “Yeah, effectively, I work on-line. So in between jobs, I journey.”

BA: “You’re employed on-line?”

Me: “Yeah.”

BA: “So have been you working on-line right here?”

Me: “Ehh…”

(cue “Sure” dialog)

And it is a quite common incidence.

Now, I do know you’re imagined to lie on the border, however I’ve a tough time mendacity about my livelihood. It makes me really feel like I’m doing one thing incorrect.

And getting questioned like this additionally looks like some type of mini-existential disaster as a result of it makes me really feel like my way of life is in some way not allowed.

Additionally, I’m a nasty liar, so telling the reality all the time makes me look rather a lot much less sketchy proper from the start.

This can sometimes occur as soon as each 1-Three months relying upon how lengthy I keep someplace (and the way relaxed the border brokers are). However the questions get much more intense if I resolve to re-enter a rustic I’ve already been to.

Digital Nomad

“Welcome to Mala.. Hey, you have been simply right here. Why are you right here once more?”

Right here’s probably the most annoying half:

  • I’m from the USA.

I can roll as much as most borders and so they’ll simply give me a visa. I nearly by no means have to use for one prematurely.

This privilege is what permits me to be so laissez-faire about the entire thing.

I can’t even think about what this course of could be like for somebody with a “much less priceless” passport. (Really, I can, as a result of I’ve met a few of them, and the issues they should undergo are terrifyingly pointless.)

I can get away with this habits as a result of I characterize some cultural perfect of “excessive class”- which is, after all, utter nonsense.

For these digital nomads who come from a much less globally dominant nation, touring freely around the globe requires rather more cash (for issues like visa purposes), time (for issues like ready 2 months for visa approval), persistence (for issues like having to resubmit when your visa request is denied and ready one other 2 months), and persistence (for issues like persevering with to persevere within the face of societally irrelevant hardships).

Even nonetheless, as a US citizen, I’ve been held up for hours at borders (together with the Canadian border (!!!)) simply because they couldn’t perceive why I do what I do.

Word: I’ve but to be denied entry into any nation. Once more, I credit score this luck to my US passport.

  • Fable: Digital nomads can go anyplace at any time.
  • Right here’s the reality: Getting around the globe with an “various” way of life shouldn’t be all the time that straightforward.

5. I’m dwelling a dream life.

There’s no query that doing that is enjoyable.

I undoubtedly take pleasure in it.

I couldn’t consider the rest I might need to do at this second in time.

However is that this a dream life? In fact not.

I sleep on flooring, I miss out on nice adventures as a result of I’m working, I battle to seek out my Treasured (web) which threatens my livelihood, I typically spend all day on a cramped bus (with out my Treasured), and I work so onerous that it typically doesn’t matter the place I’m within the world- all I see is my laptop.

Living a dream life

If by “dream life” you imply actually asleep and dreaming, then sure, I sleep rather a lot.

The gurus may have you consider which you can spend all day on the seaside incomes hundreds of thousands in passive revenue. And whereas there’s a little fact to some of that, that’s probably not going to occur to 99% of digital nomads on the market.

And what these gurus gained’t let you know is that they spent years not making any cash, then they lastly began making sufficient cash to have the ability to journey to a seaside to take an image, after which everybody began paying them as a result of they noticed a man on a seaside saying, “YOU COULD BE HERE!!!”

And right here’s one thing else they aren’t telling you: Each “web guru” stares at their laptop display for 12 hours a day, no matter the place they’re on this planet.

  • That’s not a dream; that’s actual life.

Being a digital nomad requires fixed onerous work, similar to every little thing else.

It’s rather a lot like dwelling a life in a home. The one variations are the precise logistical hurdles.

I don’t fear about paying lease, I fear about discovering the most affordable ticket to my subsequent vacation spot.

I don’t fear about easy methods to pay my electrical invoice, I fear about passing by customs unhindered each 1-Three months.

I don’t fear about furnishing my home, I fear about discovering respectable web.

There are moments the place I have a look at others and I take into consideration how being stationary should be so good. I take into consideration how having stability should really feel fairly rewarding.

However I must remind myself that I’ve chosen this path as a result of I used to be unhappy with the “secure” path within the first place. And I must remind myself that I’m now happier than I’ve ever been earlier than.

It’s very straightforward to overlook why we’re doing one thing once we don’t really feel rapid gratification.

Us people are horrible at gaining perspective. We’re all the time affected by one thing I name GIGS- Grass Is Greener Syndrome. We all the time assume that the “grass is greener” wherever we aren’t.

And I’m no exception.

Once I’m having a second of despair, it’s normally as a result of I look on Fb and I see another person doing one thing higher, extra superior, and extra thrilling. And I must remind myself that their life shouldn’t be higher than mine.


“If I used to be on high of that mountain, I might have a greater view. Life sucks.”

It doesn’t matter should you’re an workplace employee or a digital nomad; life, normally, isn’t going to be “good”.

  • Fable: Digital nomads have figured every little thing out.
  • Right here’s the reality: Life, very often, nonetheless sucks.

Being A Digital Nomad Is Nice, However It’s Not All the things You Might Suppose It Is

This publish is to not discourage individuals from changing into digital nomads. As I’ve talked about firstly of this piece, being a digital nomad is critically a beautiful factor.

I adore it.

Nevertheless it’s removed from the romantic dream life most web advertising gurus make it out to be.

It comes with its fair proportion of troubles and hardships, pains and frustrations.

However for those who discover this sort of factor thrilling, it’s an important way of life.

For those who like exploring new locations, touring around the globe, assembly new associates, and sampling new cultures, then by all means, it is best to attempt to be a digital nomad. However you must also not count on an excessive amount of.

You aren’t going to change into a millionaire with out 1,000,000 value of labor. That has by no means occurred and can by no means occur.

You aren’t going to be beach-hopping with the Sultan of Brunei (however I may give you his quantity).

You aren’t going to be partying each waking minute of every single day.

You are going to be dwelling in busses and cafes, questioning when you’ll find sufficient web to satisfy a decent deadline.

You are going to be repeatedly positioned in bodily and mentally uncomfortable conditions that are always pushing your boundaries.

And also you are nonetheless going to need to work actually, actually onerous.

Settle for that the approach to life may not be as glamorous as you assume.

However in case you are OK with that and might perceive that being a digital nomad comes with some severe drawbacks, get your self prepared for an incredible journey.

As I’ve talked about in my different digital nomad articles, the one factor it’s worthwhile to get began is a few religion that it’s going to all work out.

So have religion, go end up a digital nomad job, then rise up, and go!

The world is ready…

Are you a digital nomad? What are some widespread myths that you simply run up towards while you inform individuals what you do? Share your experiences within the feedback under!

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