As some of you might know, 2017 was for me and my boyfriend the year that we went on a digital nomad journey in Southeast Asia. We decided to quit our corporate jobs and become freelancers and travel the world.
We initially decided to travel for eight months and see if we liked the lifestyle and if it was something we could adopt for the next couple of years.
Beginning of December 2017 we came back home and made our decision: We would be settling down for now and for me it also meant starting a new job in Amsterdam, thus stop being a digital nomad.
What I learned during this once-in-a-lifetime journey
Being a digital nomad is amazing, don’t get me wrong. It was absolutely awesome to see all these stunning places in the world, and meet all these cool, creative and inspiring people who are living this lifestyle.
But freelancing is quite hard as well and there are many insecurities and distractions. Working at the beach might seem like a dream, but the reality is that it’s pretty distracting (Read my post Myths about Digital Nomads). And finding projects while on the road is quite difficult and there were months where I didn’t have any projects. Luckily, I had some savings, so I had a safety net. If you don’t have this safety net, I can imagine these situations are really stressful.
I also learned that while traveling is a lot of fun, it’s also exhausting if you are a perpetual traveler and staying in a country for just a couple of months. Living out of a suitcase for months at a time might be fun for some people, but we discovered that it wasn’t really what we were looking for.
Why I decided to go back to a corporate job
The reason why I decided to go back to the lifestyle that I initially fled from is very simple. At the beginning of my journey I also switched careers, going from Marketing to UX design, meaning that when I started out as a freelancer, I had absolutely no professional experience in the area. Therefore, it was pretty hard for me to find clients and paid work in this area.
Because I really wanted to learn more about UX Design, I decided to look for a full-time job. The thing is that bigger companies just have more resources to conduct UX research and design, and also have the ability to provide me with further training.
Remote working is the future
Don’t get me wrong – I think a 9-5 lifestyle is outdated and remote working, or at least a combination of the two, is the future of working. I firmly believe that. There’s no way that you can force all your employees to be productive exactly between 9 AM and 6 PM. Some people are just so much more productive late at night, or very early in the morning. I definitely think that all companies should shift towards this trend, and allow more employees to work from home as well, and just be more flexible in general.
It’s a simple reasoning: Hiring an employee means trusting them to do the job they were hired to do in a way that they can be most productive and efficient. If that means they want to work at night because they feel most productive then, so let them do it.
Constant traveling is pretty tiring
One major reason why we decided to settle down again is that traveling perpetually was actually pretty exhausting for us. Even though we would stay at a destination for one to two months, it was still pretty hard on us to constantly search for a new place to live, find new friends, new places to work from and soak in the lifestyle and culture of the place, as well as constantly living out of a suitcase. Don’t get me wrong: it was fun and a thrill to do this as well, but in the long-term, I think this lifestyle is just not sustainable.
Of course, every person is different and while for some this might be the perfect lifestyle, for us it wasn’t very optimal. After all, having your own home to come back to is quite a beautiful thing as well.
What I think is a better option for remote working and the digital nomad lifestyle is having a home base and traveling from there. And when you do travel, staying at a destination for one or two months, then go back home. That would be my perfect lifestyle I believe!
Of course, this is entirely my point of view and my choice. And I have to say that I’m very lucky to have someone at my side who had exactly the same thoughts and supported me in my decision to go back to the corporate world! I absolutely understand if people love the digital nomad lifestyle and continue to travel the world. If you love it, then just do it! Anyway, I’m very happy that I tried this lifestyle, and I’ve learned so much from it. And who knows what will happen in the future! 🙂
Are you a digital nomad? Or thinking about trying out this lifestyle? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below! I’d love to hear from you 🙂
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My husband and I have been digital nomads for over a year, and we completely agree with your points here. We too are feeling the travel fatigue (constantly looking for the next place to stay is exhausting!). Appreciate the honesty here. 🙂
Hi Stephanie, Thanks for your comment! I’m glad that there are other people out there who feel the same way 🙂 I guess digital nomading is nice to do for a year or so, but I don’t think it’s a sustainable lifestyle.
I am a digital nomad Nina – for 7 years with my wife – but we have spent much of the last 2 years in New Jersey, hanging with our family and doing tons of NYC house sits. Traveling non stop is tiring indeed. Plus toss in running full time businesses, and I can appreciate why you are doing the corporate thing for now.
Hi Ryan, thanks for your comment! 7 years is a long time indeed, I can definitely understand why you want to stay put for a while! Cheers, Nina
Agreed! I’m in my 12th year of being proverbially homeless, sustained only by the fact that I’ve had a few home bases along the way. I’m now in search of a new home base, and one that I hope will be a bit more permanent.
Although you’d think that 1-2 months in a place would be sustainable, I agree with you; it’s hard work constantly looking for the next place, and then learning to live there. Things that are way more time consuming than you’d expect until you actually have to do it.
Glad you found a new home base and a lifestyle to suit you better!
Hi Nora, Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, I definitely think having a home base where you can always come back to is the best solution. Even though you are free to travel, you still always have a home, friends and family to come back to. I hope you will find a suitable home base soon! 🙂
We traveled for one year straight, then came “home” and worked for three years, saving money and taking short trips along the way. In six months we will take off again, this time for probably 18 months. Then I bet we will repeat- settle down again, work, save money- and then nomad. It seems to work for us. Travel is tiring!
Hi Deah, Thanks for your comment! That sounds like a pretty good idea as well, and one that I might copy haha! I think after some point I will definitely feel the travel bug itching again. Perhaps it’s good to be a digital nomad once every couple of years. Anyway, I wish you lots of fun on your upcoming trip 🙂