Finally I’m not the only one anymore that preaches some realism into the full-time traveller or digital nomad lifestyle. The happy-ever-all-day-sunshine-model is slowly disappearing for a more down to earth view on the life of a wanderer. And I’m glad.
I have heard to many stories of backpackers on their endless travel having to beg for food, and nomads failing in raising enough money for their trip home. And some of them finally start to write about it on the internet and in travel magazines.
Some sleep on the beach, just to save money because it all turned out more expensive than they expected or calculated
Off course it is not up to me to advice you on your life choices. The only thing I can do is share my experience and thoughts on the matter to help you make a better balanced decision.
I’m on the road for over a year and a half now. And my first visa run is approaching. Am I ready for that? Not by a long shot.
I need to save money for that trip: hotel, plane ticket and pocketmoney and after that the money involved in the re-entry procedure. I so hope that the Immigration office will grant me that extra bonus year I can apply for.
And that is what travelling around the world and working remote is all about: money and planning.
Same boring stuff as back home, the only difference is that you can do it from a location of your choice.
Some things to consider when you want to change your life for good:
On the nomad and remote working thing:
- real nomads don’t own homes ‘back home’. There is no home to return to, can you live like a wanderer for ever and ever?
- working remote makes you in charge of finding your clients, and only you. Maybe there was a network, ‘back home’ , but is it internationally and flexibel enough for you to work remote and get you knew prospects?
- can you handle the discipline of working remote, travel and working can be a very tiresome combination.
- working from countries where the internet is not always reliable, deadlines can be hard to meet. Can you handle that stress, and more important: can your clients handle that?
- is you service ‘solid’ enough to withstand the future. Will the service you provide last long enough to get you around the world a few times and to pay next months hotel cost or the rent of your short term lease?
- can you stand the solitude? Or are you going to hang out in one of those co-working/digital nomad hotspots for ever, and re-create your own 9-5 office space abroad?
- can you replace your ‘office’ while travelling? What if your laptop breaks down? Or your phone?
- are you ‘into taxes’? Do you know anything about international tax laws and which apply to you?
- how, and I mean step by step, how do you think to make enough money to pay for all your new dreams? Do you know how much per month you need?
Make a plan! And a backup plan!
For the endless world traveller:
- if you are about to give up your job, are you skilled and specialised enough to find a new job when you return?
- how are you going to pay for your endless travel? Do you have enough back-up budget to get you around the world a few times?
- can you sleep in dorms, in beds with bedbugs and even on beaches when times get though?
- do you have any experience at all in solo travel? If not, please travel some in your present situation before you make drastic decision!
- how will you insure yourself for accidents and sickness?
- do you know any languages other than your native one? Can you manage in other countries?
- have you looked up your starting destination and learned something about it, what are the entry requirements and how much will you visa and maybe vaccinations cost you? And what about the next destination?
- how are you going to manage your finances? Cash? Creditcard? ATM-card? Do you have a back-up?
- do you leave your home behind in good care?
Okey, maybe these are questions you do not want to look into because you feel all adventurous and you want to be the biggest dare devil of all times on your departure day. But stop and think for a while: these questions and maybe even some doubt must have crossed your mind at some point while making plans?
Be realistic about your expenses abroad, do not underestimate the costs
Your new plans is a difficult subject tot talk about to others. Believe me, I have been there. Some may think it is fantastic, others might say you are absolutely crazy and you are the only and only one that can make the decision right for yourself and make it work. You will not get any profound feedback from those you will leave behind, that will help you make a solid decision.
Be realistic about what you are going to do, and do listen to your gut feeling and your senses. Do not only think of the big adventure and how it will change your life forever, also think about the risks involved, the setback in your career and the troubles that might come on your path.
Believe me, trouble will come!
No one ever travelled the world without being challenged by life and/or circumstances. Do not believe all those super optimistic websites that only show you the beauty of it all. There is no beauty without ugliness and you are going to face that ugliness some time or another.
Here are some of the down and troubled moments in my life after my departure:
- Money, it is always an issue, although some say it is not, it is! I name a few:
- my visa fees, they are a huge strain on my budget, because prices keep changing and so do the rules by the way
- that cheap hotel? Overbooked on arrival!! Great, so now I have to strain my budget and get a room in a hotel that is more expensive
- that little wound on my leg that did not heal, it took a lot of doctors to get it fixed, and with every doctor came a bill
- o, and my broken molar, god, that was at least 3 hotel-nights that disappeared into the dentist pockets!
- transportation costs are difficult to estimate, specially when you use busses, there are hardly accurate no prices available on the internet, and visa costs keep changing also.
- Danger: I do feel very safe while travelling alone. I’m very comfortable doing that. Maybe because of my experiences in travelling South America when I was 18. Maybe because I have a good gut feeling I can trust. The fact is I do feel safe. But sometimes shit happens that is beyond your control.
- I survived the tail of a nasty typhoon on Mindoro Island, and lived without electricity for over a week, even without internet and no means of communication to either loved ones or clients.
- I had to evacuate my hotel in Iloilo because of a huge fire, lucky I had time enough to pack most of my valuables and nothing got lost, although the fire was right next to my room and I could feel the heat. But god did I feel lonely and vulnerable
- that day I went to the ATM and I took out a lot of money and that guy started following me, that was scary, God what a dodgy neighbourhood was that.
- and the street-girl that slashed my bag in Cebu, unlucky for her there was only my hand-sanitiser and a face towel in the bag. Could have been worse though!
- Sickness: Lucky for me I’m pretty healthy (knock on wood) for I do not have an insurance. For Nomads the fees are so high that it does not add up for me. And most of the insurance companies want a fixed home address and I have none. So sickness is an issue. I try to stay as healthy as I can, but sometimes I fail:
- I hit my tibia (lower leg) on a coral rock stairs, the wound did not heal for weeks and got worse, in spite of the antibacterial creme I used. In a humid climate tiny wounds, even a scratched mosquito bite can cause serious problems. I had to see a doctor when I got a fever and it turned out that I had a inflammation of the periosteum.
- After that hotel fire, I got a severe case of post traumatic tress and a small depression, something from my past popped up on a lonely evening and hit me hard. I felt such anxiety to go out alone, even during daytime. It took a lot of will power to overcome this, lucky for me I had support from friend over Skype and Messenger, but again: it took time and a lot of energy!
- being in my hotelroom in Bacolod I could feel my stomach getting more and more upset with the minute, I spent over a week on a nasty food poisoning, how miserable you can feel when you have to go out alone to get yourself chicken soup and you are not sure you can hold it down.
- broken molar, I already mentioned it under “money” my broken molar. The dentist was kind, nice and well equipped to do the job, but unlike in my country where there is an emergency dentist on call every hour of the day, in the Philippines this is not so, finding a good dentist while in a lot of pain was very difficult and again, it makes you feel alone and vulnerable.
- Travel, getting lost and having to trust a random stranger is not a wise thing to do, lucky for me it did only happen once and the person I turned to was really friendly.
- Work, no work is no money and no money is no travel. It happened, on more than one occasion, lucky for me I have backup money, but it is diminishing faster than I like. Can you handle that? I can freak out over it every now and than.
Believe me, I do not try to discourage you from doing maybe the most wonderful thing you have planned for yourself. The only thing I beg you to do is to think it over, make a plan, re-write it, get some experience whit travel within the safe boundaries of your own country and think it well through.
Do not only look at the bright side of your upcoming adventure, think beyond and do visit the possibility of a dark side as well.
Do I regret my decision? No I do not, I love my new live.
Would I do it again ? Yes!
And from there, I wish you happy planning, happy and safe travelling and if you have any questions? The comment section is yours!