Life on the road is full of surprises. Some great, some good and some absolutely awful. As a digital nomad, you have to take a lot of things into consideration to at least minimize the awful. If you can have things come down mostly in the middle, life can be really grand.
To achieve this, though, is the real trick. There are so many things that you can’t really account for if you are new to living as a digital nomad. Sure, the best way to learn going forward is to experience things for yourself and then adjust for the next time.
Yet, if you are unprepared for some of these unexpected events, then you may have a short shelf life as a digital nomad.
In this article, I will go over several of the things you need to be aware of if you plan to live and work out on the road.
Packing is always an issue
Some digital nomads like to be on the move every couple of weeks or so. Others enjoy a slower paced way and will move on after a month or two. Either way, you are always going to have to have a packing plan.
Every single thing you own or buy has to be considered on a variety of levels. One, in terms of budget. I,e, you have to ask yourself if you can actually afford it. And two, if you will be able to travel with it. Literally every single time you buy something you have to have this internal dialogue.
Now, there are things to make your life easier when it comes to packing. Reducing space that items take up in your luggage is one of the major advantages of packing cubes and other space saving products. You’ll have to find the product that works best for you so you can minimize how painful your packing and traveling is going to be.
It’s hard to budget
Every digital nomad has to be keenly aware of how much it is going to cost to live on a month to month basis. Which means carving out a sustainable budget. Which is extremely difficult since you don’t always know how much life is going to cost you at any given time.
Usually people can budget because things like rent or mortgage are fixed costs as well as other living expenses. As a digital nomad, your costs vary widely according to where you are living, for how long and how comfortable you need to be.
You’ll need to research the costs of every destination before you travel. For instance, Thailand is a hot spot for digital nomads, but can you actually afford it. You’ll need to look at the daily cost of living in Thailand before you book your trip.
Then add in the cost of travel to get there plus any visas that you may need. Make sure there are no financial surprises so you don’t have to cut your career as a digital nomad short for lack of funds.
When you are in a place temporarily, you end up spending lots of time alone. You’ll rarely make connections with the locals as language is an issue plus the fact that you are not there long enough to do so. You’ll likely end up in spots with lots of digital nomads so you can have some semblance of a social life, but this still isn’t the same as having friends and family around.
Traveling alone can be nice since you don’t have to worry about the needs of a travel partner, but at the same time, you may tire of life on the road without the ability to create deep and lasting friendships.
It’s hard to stay healthy
As exhilarating as travel can be, it is also quite exhausting. It takes a toll on your health as your body is in a near constant state of stress. Add to the fact that you might not have the healthiest diet while living out of a suitcase and are often eating on the go.
And most digital nomads are found in areas of the world that are not exactly modern with their healthcare system. These destinations are very cheap because living standards are much lower. So if you are not feeling well while on the road, you may lack the infrastructure for getting proper care.
Make an effort to keep yourself well fed with a healthy diet and take breaks to rest occasionally so you don’t burn the candle from both ends health wise. There may be times when you have to hit the pause button when it comes to moving around and stay in one place for a while.
As long as your visa allows it, stay out to rest up and let your immune system get a break. When you travel you are stressing your immune system so it is very easy to get sick. This is true for people who travel for business so it only makes sense that a full time traveler is going to have a particular set of health issues from being constantly on the move.
You still have to pay taxes
If you are American, then it doesn’t matter where you are in the world or where your income comes from, you still have to file taxes every year. And at some point, you will need to be paying taxes either to the US or some other country.
A lot of digital nomads think they can live tax free since they are not in any one country long enough to have to pay local taxes. And that might be the case, but all it really does is complicate your tax status. You’re still going to have to pay taxes.
It is a good idea to hire a professional tax preparer that understands the implications when you are a digital nomad and don’t have permanent tax residence anywhere. They aren’t cheap, but it can save you a lot of money later since you may find yourself with a big tax bill that is past due.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.