After traveling on a digital nomad journey for almost a year (with a short break in between), in this article, I will share with you the essence of my findings and what I have learned for life.
Let’s dive right into it.
- Working While Traveling is Easier Than Expected
- Maintaining Contact with Friends is Possible
- Traveling as a Digital Nomad Isn’t More Expensive Than Living a Normal Life
- A Switch You Have to Flip in Your Head
- There are Interesting People Out There to Meet
- My Advice to Young Digital Nomad Newbies
- You Can’t Escape from Yourself or Your Challenges
- You Find a Lot of Time to Deal with Yourself
- I’m Strong in Quickly Building a Base and Connecting with Others
- A Great Lesson in Showing Vulnerability While on My Digital Nomad Trip!
- What I Learned for Life – Conclusion of My Journey
Honestly, I thought it would be harder.
It turned out that it is super easy for me to combine work as a digital nomad and travel.
At least around Asia and Australia. These are the regions I have been so far.
I still have clients contact me at my German number from time to time, but thanks to voice over IP phoning no one even recognizes that I’m not in the country.
The mobile networks and Wi-Fi connections in this area of the world are almost as good as everywhere else I have been, as long as you are close to a city.
I quickly got used to working from cafés and coworking spaces.
As I started my journey, one of my concerns was whether it would be possible to keep in touch with my friends.
Thanks to WhatsApp and Skype, it turned out that it is possible to stay in touch with my lovely friends.
If you care about someone and make an effort to keep in touch, the distance isn’t relevant.
If you are good at budgeting, traveling won’t change much. If you are bad, it won’t change either.
Before I started traveling, the partner of a friend asked me:
“Wow, how much does it cost to travel 6 months or longer?”
I guess the thought behind the question was… “If I spend $2000 on a 2-week holiday trip, then a longer trip must be crazy expensive.”
The reality is, the longer you travel, the cheaper it gets.
Often the biggest expenses are flight tickets.
But if you stay for one month or even three months in one place, you still have the same costs.
The costs for housing and necessities vary from country to country.
On my journey thus far, Asia was much cheaper compared to my home country of Germany.
Likewise, Australia was more expensive.
In total (including the flights), I haven’t spent more than I would be living at home.
I was a bit surprised that this was possible. I expected a bit higher cost.
To make this possible, I just had to flip one switch in my head.
I don’t know how it is on your side, but I’ve always had one behavior pattern while holidays.
One specific sentence I always said to myself…
“While on holidays I don’t worry about spending money.”
In my daily life, however, I’m exceptionally frugal. I guess I learned it from my grandpa.
But on holidays I always had this voice in my head telling me:
“Enjoy life and don’t look at money.”
It was quite a challenge for me to change that pattern.
I constantly have to remind myself:
“You are traveling, but you are NOT on holiday!!!”
To call it something different helped me to change my thought patterns.
Often, I get the question:
“What is the best part of your experiences while traveling so far?”
This question is always a challenge, as there is no single best moment, place, or experience.
My answer is mostly:
“The people I met.”
There are always interesting people to meet while traveling. It feels like people with travel experience are more open-minded.
Especially in the Digital Nomad hubs like Chiang Mai and Bali, I met lovely and interesting people.
You always have something to easily connect about whether it is traveling or working digitally.
I’ve met interesting online entrepreneurs, coders, bloggers, writer, coaches, and many more.
I also met a lot of young newbies in the digital nomad scene who had just started out.
Most of them were on the hunt for or working in, remote jobs.
Some were trying to build a business online.
I have always shared that in my experience, it takes 3 to 5 years to build a business.
The most important skills for an entrepreneur, besides many others, are
- Endurance, and
- A willingness to learn from mistakes and adapt.
So, if you are just starting out, I recommend having a remote job as a side hustle as you ramp it up.
This is the best strategy from serial entrepreneurs that you are able to endure at least 3 years to build a business.
One of the reasons I started my journey as a digital nomad was that I was unbound.
Half a year before I started my journey, I had a breakup.
I was single again and without liabilities.
After a seven-year relationship, it took a while until I found my new life rhythm as a single person.
In earlier times, I never had an issue with living alone. My motto was always
“Better living alone than in an unhappy relationship.”
But as we humans are driven by habits, it feels hard to change habits after a long-term relationship.
I had to learn again to be alone, sleep alone, establish my new single daily routine.
Often it was very tough for me, as my body craved physical closeness with someone.
I guess everyone who has gone through a breakup knows this painful process of deprivation.
I Feel Lonely
I often felt and feel loneliness.
Sometimes the pain feels unbearable.
Distracting this feeling with travel experiences and an exciting digital nomad journey works just for a short while.
Too often, you find yourself with a lot of time to deal with your issues.
After the first few weeks of travel, my excitement disappeared, and working and traveling became the new normal.
Looking back, it is surprising how quickly I got used to this new lifestyle.
Our brains always work the same.
This reminds me of the TED Talk by psychologist Dr. Dan Gilbert in which he mentioned a study he had come across. In it, they found that a paraplegic and a lottery winner are equally happy 12 months after the event.
Surprisingly, I met a lot of travelers and digital nomads who were also coming off of a breakup or the loss of a loved one.
I knew before that traveling is a common strategy to escape painful situations or is seen as a rediscovering journey to get closer to oneself. Some also have the hope of finding “THE ONE” while on travel.
But I didn’t expect so many digital nomads to be in the same situation.
It was an easy topic to connect with the others who were open with sharing such intimate stories (internal link to “a great lesson in showing vulnerability”).
I learned that we, as humans, are hardwired to be connected with other humans.
As a result, feeling loneliness from time to time is something we all face.
Knowing that I’m not alone in this helped me a lot.
It even motivates me to help and inspire others in the same situation.
Over the years and especially while gaining my education as a life coach, I developed very effective strategies to deal with loneliness. But this is a topic for a separate blog post.
Another fact that I realized is, that I’m very strong at building a base in a new place and connecting with other people.
Therefore, I have a 3-pillar strategy.
- I choose a cool coworking space. That makes it easy to connect with other digital nomads. Often, there are also events and meetups for nomads.
- I join a local Toastmasters Club. At Toastmasters, I always meet like-minded and inspiring people. It is a supportive environment for personal growth.
- I join a local yoga school. Usually, my weekly routine includes 2 yoga classes. There I also meet like-minded, down to earth people to connect with or to practice in silence together.
With these options, it is easy to fill my schedule and to build up my weekly routine, independent of my location.
To my core friends and family, I connect with Skype and WhatsApp anyway, so they follow me wherever I go.
Within a couple of weeks, I feel at home.
This ability to connect gives me an even stronger feeling of self-confidence and independence.
I would like to share a highlight from my journey with you.
While at a coworking space event, I met Arica a digital nomad. Quickly, we figured out that there were some commonalities between us, as we both were working in similar fields and had gone through a breakup recently.
Arica is a very attractive woman, the kind of woman you normally don’t dare to speak to.
I then met Arica several times over the following days in the company of other digital nomads.
What absolutely stunned me was how openly Arica spoke about her inner world.
She spoke very openly about her issues with anxiety and how they had blocked her.
I never saw a person sharing her vulnerability so openly with strangers.
Even more surprising were the results.
Men around her started to open up as well and told about some of their anxieties.
YES, you read that right.
The words “MEN” and “OPEN UP” were in the same sentence. 😊
I’d never seen anything like this before.
The conversations that followed were the deepest and most meaningful of my entire trip.
I guess I never saw a better role model than Arica when it comes to showing vulnerability.
After that experience, I’ve tried to model Arica’s openness and have also had positive experiences with it.
But to open up about my feelings is still, to this day, one of the toughest things for me to do.
Especially because I’ve had, like most men, bad role models throughout my life.
THANK YOU, Arica, for this important lesson! 😊
True happiness isn’t found in the outside, you have to look inside.
Hunting pleasures doesn’t lead to fulfillment and happiness.
After this realization, I focused again more on my inward journey by doing yoga, being with myself, and listening to myself and my needs.
After an 8-week break from work, I also realized that my actual project, to inspire millions of people through making this website successful, gives my life real meaning.
This gave me renewed energy to push forward with my efforts to grow this site!
What a wonderful feeling . . .