In December last year my wife and I decided to leave our cushy lifestyles behind "get uncomfortable" by testing ourselves as a digital nomads. I quit my comfortable day job to become a freelancer and my wife was lucky enough to maintain her work remotely.
Since then we've traveled to Bali 🇮🇩, Sri Lanka 🇱🇰, Morocco 🇲🇦, Austria 🇦🇹, Hungary 🇭🇺, Slovakia 🇸🇰, the USA 🇺🇸 and now Mexico 🇲🇽. It's been a topsy-turvy adventure to say the least.
While our Instagram photos do a great job of capturing those perfect moments of bliss, there certainly have been many more sub-optimal times where things didn't go to plan.
I love to travel and don't regret any of the up's and downs, for it's all part of the journey. It allows you to grow as an individual and as a couple. Your patience is tested time and time again but you will break through barriers and become a better person for it.
Despite the dream of wanting to work half the time I was before, I've actually found myself working more than I ever have. The goal was / is to work less and spend more time exploring and creating. However, it's been a bumpy couple of months simply because of all the travel and unpredictability.
On the road it's to know how or when I will get the chance to put in a productive day's work. In most countries internet connectivity can be unreliable when traveling, which means I often burn myself out working long hours in uncomfortable places. Secondly, as a freelancer you've got deadlines to meet and clients to please. It's hard to take on new jobs if you can't predict your work environment.
That's not to say it's all doom and gloom. There definitely are some brilliant co-working cafes around the world that are pure paradise, like Verse Collective in Sri Lanka. There, you can sip coconut coffee's in the morning and surf all afternoon as the sun goes down. To me, that's paradise and I highly recommend it 🌴.
In order to make the most of a digital nomad "holiday" you've gotta give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the good times when you find them.
This means traveling s l o w.
Avoid pre-booking hotels or hostels if you can. Allow yourself to truly discover a place and figure out if you like it. If things are good, let them be good and just relax. As a digital nomad the point should be to explore the world. Work is just the fuel to maintain your desired lifestyle.
Sometimes it's easy to forget when you're drowning in deadlines, sitting on your hotel room bed coding late into the night.
While I'm grateful for my steady stream of freelance work, I also know that it's not a sustainable way to do business. When you've only got ~40 hours a week to spread out, you quickly realise that billing by the hour isn't the best option. Sure, you can offload some work to other contractors and take a small cut, but then you've got your reputation on the line. That can get messy very quickly.
I want to experiment with billing per project. That might lead to some quick wins and allow me to reuse code more often. But again, it's inevitable that as a freelancer, a ceiling will be hit.
So what's one to do?
While I'm on this world trip I plan to spend more time on creating. I would love to build a personal project that could well grow into a product or a business. I'd love to work for myself full time and call the shots. Plus in my mind, it's the only true way to scale your time, your income and your lifestyle according to your rules.
Are there any other digital nomads out there in the same boat? I'd love to hear from you!