When I tell people I freelance, they usually respond with something like, “So you can work from anywhere?” It’s a very popular dream, and a lot of us got into freelancing imagining we could work from a sunny beach somewhere, writing while sipping a beer.
Technically, nothing is stopping you from working from anywhere you want as a freelance writer. But, as you might imagine, not everyone can pull off the digital nomad lifestyle. If you can, though, all the more power to you.
In this article, we’re going to talk about what it’s like to try and write while traveling. I’ll talk to you about my experiences trying out digital nomading and help you figure out if it’s a good fit for you. Let’s talk travel!
An Introduction to the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
You’re probably already familiar with the term digital nomad. They’re those super cool folks you see posting pictures of themselves working from beaches and terraces year-round while everyone else is stuck in an office.
Being a digital nomad is a dream for a lot of people, and as freelance writers, we’re perfectly suited to the lifestyle. After all, all we need is a laptop and a somewhat decent internet connection, and we’re in business. However, pulling off the digital nomad lifestyle is more complicated than you might imagine. Here are some of the main issues that you can run into, based on my experience:
- Difficulties finding medium-term rentals, forcing you to jump from place to place.
- Not being able to get a decent internet connection depending on where you are.
- Budgeting becomes a nightmare if you’re constantly planning your next trip without a fixed income.
The digital nomad lifestyle is all about constant change. That means it takes an exceptional type of individual to bloom in it. Let me take you through my experience trying that lifestyle on for size.
My Experience as a Digital Nomad While Freelance Writing
Full disclosure – on top of my freelance writing work, I also do web development, so finding jobs can be a bit easier sometimes. Even so, I found I wasn’t cut out for the digital nomad life, or at least not for long periods.
For me, the primary issue was that I couldn’t get comfortable with my workspace on the road. As much as I love working from coffee shops and coworking spaces, I prefer to have my own desk with some degree of privacy. Plus, I like to decorate my workspace:
Last year, I tried out being a digital nomad for a few months while moving across South America. It was incredibly fun because I got to play tourist while most other people were in the office. The downside was it meant I usually had to work late nights to make up for that.
By the end of the first two months, I was already exhausted. I’d jumped through at least four AirBnBs by then and some friends’ houses. Getting to work was always a chore because I needed to find a decent coworking space or coffee shop. By the time I managed to get comfortable, I had to move on to the next leg of my trip.
On top of that, as a digital nomad, you feel a lot of pressure to try and make friends at every stop in the road. Chances are you’ll travel to a lot of places where you know no one, so you need a certain degree of charisma to make friends along the way.
During my time traveling, I met a lot of interesting people. However, most of the connections you make on the road are temporary as well, so nomading can get quite lonely after a while, as it did for me.
If it sounds like I’m trying to scare you away from trying to be a digital nomad – I’m not. However, in my experience, most people oversell the glamour of the constant travel lifestyle, and it takes a very particular kind of person to succeed at it.
Is the Digital Nomad Lifestyle Right for You?
Personally, I know I can’t hack it working from the road for more than a couple of months at a time before needing to settle down again. However, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t a great fit for the nomadic lifestyle.
Deciding to travel while you work is a big decision. It may mean letting your apartment go, spending months without seeing close friends, and lots of expenses. With that in mind, here are some questions you should ask yourself before you decide to take the plunge:
- Do you have enough savings to cover at least two or three months after your initial travel expenses?
- Do you feel comfortable with the idea of working from different places all the time?
- Are you social enough to try and make new friends at every turn?
- Can you handle living from a suitcase for months at a time?
If the answer to all (or most) of those questions is yes, then you’re a perfect candidate for the nomad lifestyle. Even so, it’s not something I recommend if you’re just starting as a freelance writer. At that stage, you need to focus on building a portfolio and getting a decent roster of clients (Paid to Blog Jobs can help you there!).
Once you have some stability as a freelancer, then your best bet is to try out small trips at first. Instead of booking an open-ended ticket to Asia, try doing some local trips and seeing how you feel about working on the road.
Some of the best things I’ve ever written were born in coffee shops, coworking spaces, and hotel rooms. I have nothing but respect for the people who can rock at their work while traveling, so if you think you’re one of them, give it a shot!
The digital nomad lifestyle can be amazing. You might get to travel regularly and have experiences most people won’t ever get the chance to have. However, being a digital nomad can also be exhausting.
Depending on how often you want to move around, trying to find some stability as a freelance writer will be difficult. If you have long-term clients, then you’ll find it easier to move around while working. Otherwise, it’s a bit more stress than most people can handle, so I recommend you dip your toes in with small work trips at first.
Do you have any questions about traveling while working as a freelance writer? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.