3 Lessons To Help You Thrive As A Digital Nomad
My name is Nicolaus Jannasch. This same time last year I was still in college in Boston. I was really stressed out but I didn’t have any money issues, a kid on the way, or anything like that.
My stress came from knowing that I wanted to do something different and that I was letting my fear get in the way. I had read a ton of personal development books that year which fueled the fire. I had many sleepless nights. In class, my endless thoughts kept me from hearing the professor. I wasn’t sure if anyone else was thinking like me.
Last October I decided it was time for a change. I took up some work online as a freelance writer and booked a trip to Chicago to test the digital nomad lifestyle. The next month I boarded a plane to Puerto Rico. Both trips were successful and I knew that it was time to make the big leap. I felt so free. I had never done anything like this before, and even though the idea of flying to Asia was scary I was very excited!
My plane touched down in Bangkok in January of 2015. I had about $1,000 and if that were going towards living expenses it wouldn’t be enough to get me home! I had to learn how to live comfortably, earn money, and simultaneously manage travel in my own digital nomad ‘crash course’. One year later, I’ve successfully done all that!
While traveling, I’ve picked up a few lessons that I wish I had known starting out. I hope you find them useful!
Exercising And Staying Fit
Some people think it’s impossible to exercise while traveling. It’s not true, and if you don’t exercise as a nomad the street food will fatten you up quickly!
Here’s my first tip. Work out as soon as possible when you arrive in a new location. When you just move in, your brain is a blank slate and it’s up to you to teach it what behaviors are normal in this environment.
By jumping into a workout immediately you teach your brain that this is a place where you keep yourself healthy. I usually work out in a new apartment within the first 3 hours.
Build a routine you can do anywhere and with no equipment. Usually you’ll just have some floor space. Push-ups, sit-ups, and squats are my go-to exercises. Big 6-liter water jugs work well as barbells for ‘pull’ exercises. (Wrap a sock around the plastic handle to soften the grip)
Lastly, never miss a workout. Ever. It’s already easy enough to get de-railed from a good habit when living at home, but with so much changing around you all the time you need to be extra diligent on the road.
Don’t try to work in a hostel. Hostels are for parties and fun, not Skype calls with clients. Finding a quiet space with a table next to an open outlet and with good Wi-Fi is nearly impossible.
If you want a dedicated workspace, co-working spaces are your best option. They can cost as much per day as a hostel or apartment, so mind your budget. If you don’t mind working where you live, renting an apartment and working from there is a good option. There are no extra costs and the space is all yours.
Travel slower if you want to be more productive. Constant travel is tiring, and distractions in new cities will scatter your focus. I’ve found that staying in one location for a month or two gives you enough time to get to know the area, settle in, and be mentally ready for distraction-free productivity.
Dealing With Loneliness
The fear of being lonely keeps a lot of people from becoming digital nomads. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to stay connected with friends and family. Today, nobody is more than a Skype call away. I’m in Hong Kong and my dad randomly calls me on Skype all the time! It feels like I’m hanging out at a friends’ house across town.
You can make friends wherever you go. There are thousands of travelers just like you, and they’re also looking to make friends. Getting to know the local people is another great way to crush loneliness and learn about the culture at the same time.
I stayed with a Vietnamese guy who brought me to meet his family! I spent a few days playing with the kids, sitting on floor mats for dinner, and driving their motorcycle to the market.
Even when you don’t speak the local language, it’s very easy to connect with locals. I’ve spent many evenings laughing with people who don’t speak English. Sports are another great way to connect. Soccer is a language spoken around the world, and you can play on a team with anyone.
Ready To Jump In?
If you’re already living the location independent lifestyle then you can apply these tips today. If you’re still considering whether this lifestyle is for then you this post can help you decide to take the leap!
About the author: Nico Jannasch has spent the last year traveling the world, starting multiple businesses, and going on adventures. He has just put everything he’s learned into an online course called ‘How To Become A Digital Nomad.’ (half price for Become Nomad readers).