Digitally native or digital nomads are people who leverage technology to work remotely on the internet. They use this way of life as an opportunity to travel around the world while working on their laptop.
The typical view of a digital nomad is someone working in Starbucks with their laptops out — but that’s not true for everyone. You can get wifi almost everywhere these days, so some do actually go home after work, where they may even enjoy more comfortable surroundings. And some also stay in coworking spaces which are popping up in almost every city in the world.
But if you’re a homebody, then an important part of your digital experience is how not to feel homesick when working from a foreign place — how to make yourself comfortable and enjoy what you do despite being in a different place from what you call home.
I used to be very introverted myself and got crazy if I spent more than 3 days in a foreign place. But at the same time, a part of me wanted to travel and go on an adventure. So here are some of the tips that helped me switch.
Understand what makes you feel at home
Being a nomad is about being able to travel, so if you know what your home means to you, it’s easier to bring that feeling along.
Is it friends? Family? The comfort of your apartment? The view of your favorite city? The smell of your favorite food cooking downstairs? Once you know what it means for you to feel at home, it’s easier to bring the feeling along with you, either by creating that environment wherever you are or by planning trips to where you feel most comfortable.
Being a digital nomad is all about being able to work from anywhere in the world. Once I understood this, I started focusing on surrounding myself with things that made me feel good wherever I was. That allowed me to relax and concentrate much better because no matter how difficult my day would be — I always felt happier when coming back into my personal space after work, even if it were just for a few hours before bedtime.
Some people love living in their own flats, while others prefer staying in hostels.
If you’re the type that enjoys the independence of having your own space, then find out how much it would cost you to rent an apartment or hotel room online using AirBnB or Booking.com for example. Once you have your multiply it by the months you intend to stay — this will give you an idea of how much cash you need to save up for this adventure ahead of time.
It may be difficult at first if you are doing this on your own — but hey! Once you do it, it only gets easier! Once your savings are ready and you know where you’ll be staying, then it’s time to get started.
Tip: if you’re not a native speaker of the language of the country where you’re going to work, learn some basic phrases that will help your life easier — but don’t go overboard with trying to speak like an expert just after a week or two. It takes time.
After spending so much money on traveling and getting settled in your place, one thing people forget is how important networking is. There are tons of coworking spaces for nomads popping up all over the place — some even have free plans. Even if they don’t, you can negotiate a longer stay or a lower price depending on how often you travel and what type of work you do.
And if that’s not an option for whatever reason — then simply get yourself one of those amazing portable wifi hotspots. They offer various options depending on how long will you be traveling and where — so make sure to look into it before getting ready.
Take action: Get yourself a portable internet card, install some useful apps while at home, like the Google Translator (it has an offline function), Duolingo (learn a language in your free time)
Get connected on social media early on
Yes, I know social media is the devil. But if you’re traveling to remote places, it’s actually one of the best ways to make sure you’ll be able to stay in contact with your loved ones. You can use Twitter DMs or Whatsapp groups for example — there are tons of digital nomads out there that might even help you out!
You could meet other like-minded entrepreneurs at coffee shops and ask them where they usually work. Or simply look up #digitalnomad on Instagram or Twitter if you want to find people who do what you’re doing. Just don’t forget to take some time off for yourself — no matter how much fun networking seems.
Plan your days
This may seem like a typical piece of advice, but it really is an essential part of staying happy and fulfilled anywhere. The moment you start working online remotely, your days feel a little bit more fluid — which can be exciting but also intimidating until you get used to it.
On one hand, this feeling of freedom makes sure you have the opportunity to work from wherever in the world you want to. On the other — being alone in a foreign place can make you feel overwhelmed and lonely without a plan.
So why not try out this? Every day, set at least one goal for yourself — something that makes you excited about waking up the next day. It could be signing a certain number of new clients, sightseeing, taking part in unusual activity, you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to try.
Take action: Make a list of things that would be a great way to spend your day, and try them out. It will be rewarding both for the work you do and your life experience!
Habits don’t have to define you
I’m sure we all have those vices that we simply can’t “quit”. In many cases, these habits start taking over our lives to the point where they’re not just something we love doing but need. As a nomad, being able to leave your bad habits behind once you feel like it is essential — just as important as having them in the first place.
As mentioned before, working remotely requires some structure when it comes to organizing yourself for certain days ahead of time. However, there are no real rules set in stone when it comes to this. You can wake up whenever you want, sleep until noon, or start working at 5 am — it’s mostly up to you (and your employer)
I know staying out late and enjoying yourself is something that digital nomads embrace without any guilt. Still, just try not to be too harsh on yourself if you aren’t feeling like partying every night — turning into a hermit isn’t the best way to enjoy life either.
Take action: Have an honest conversation with yourself about your habits and how they affect the work-life balance while traveling. Also, make sure to reward yourself after achieving certain milestones in your professional goals. That could mean anything from taking part in a new experience or simply having some drinks together with people you get to meet co-working :)
Being a nomad is not as lonely as it may seem
A lot of people are traveling all over the world by themselves. It helps to be open-minded and friendly toward new people, but one of the best ways to feel part of a community is to simply ask questions.
Be it local people or other travelers/digital nomads: just try out things that go against your usual way of thinking and you’ll definitely meet some interesting folks along the way who will teach you something new about yourself.
Take action: Make sure to read tips for safe solo travel before planning your first trip! If possible, check with locals on where the best places to meet people are.
The sense of home is a choice
The most important part of staying happy where you are is to believe that there’s a place for you in this world — wherever that might be. Our brain does not like uncertainty, which is why it tends to attach to things that at least somewhat resemble a home. However, this connection can be broken pretty easily if we’re ready to try.
Take action: Think about what makes you uncomfortable in your current location? What are the things that make it feel foreign to you? Try to change one thing every month — it could be adjusting your sleeping schedule, trying out new food, or meeting people from another country. Whatever you do, remember that this is not only about traveling — when you feel at home in any location, you’ll be more focused and productive than ever!
Over time I’ve learned that being a digital nomad is not just about having fun and drinking cocktails at the beach all day. It takes a lot of patience, self-discipline, and openness to different cultures in order to be truly happy while traveling. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ease the transition from your usual life into something completely new.