Nomad Life

Another Nomad-bashing Article Sponsored By The Proponents Of The #returntooffice Movement? A Response To The Recent Telegraph Article.

Sure, being a digital nomad can be glamorised but when hasn’t travel been glamorised? Everyone knows that in reality, travelling can be stressful, tiring and unpredictable but we do it anyway because it’s f**king awesome. This is my response to the recent Telegraph article.

The title (Tired’, ‘lonely’ and hated by locals) provides readers with a forgone conclusion which is somewhat supported by interviewees explaining why nomadding didn’t work out for them. If you ask me, they fell into some pretty obvious traps that could have been easily solved with a little creativity. Reading in between the lines, it seems they were just ready to settle down and that’s totally fine. I’m fairly sure none of them looked back and regretted the experience they had.

That’s absolutely not to say nomadding for everyone. If you can’t live without your own space and bed, or need a close knit circle of friends who you can meet up with regularly, it’s not for you.

Having faced many of the problems the ex-nomads mention, here is my two cents on the main points of the article.

“I started to tire of the constant travel”

Pretty easy one… Travel more slowly. We spend usually a month in one location. Burnout can be a thing. We get it sometimes and address it by chilling. We plan on spending longer in destinations in the future.

“I found it hard to maintain a healthy diet and exercise when I was on the move all the time, and this really started to bother me.”

This is something I can’t relate to. We always get a place with a kitchen and come up with creative interesting recipes using the available resources, when not eating out. The ingredients you find abroad are usually far fresher and better quality than those available in the rainy old UK or Germany. We walk far more than we did when we worked in the office and I do yoga or pilates regularly online.

“The fun of working from beautiful locations was often frustrated by poor Wi-Fi connections”

Research is essential. Most countries usually have a better LTE than broadband network and we make sure we don’t go somewhere unless we’re certain we can get online. You can easily find a map of mobile data connection for different providers in a country. People frequently leave reviews mentioning Wi-FI strength for hotels and rentals.

“Her long-term friendships began to suffer too: “I drifted apart from lots of people in my life. It wasn’t just the distance; it also became difficult to stay connected to some because our lifestyle was so different.”

People’s situations become different all the time throughout life. A lot of people say their friendships change when they have kids or grow older or whatever. I have maintained my friendships moving around the UK, when my friends moved abroad, when I’ve moved abroad, through COVID lockdowns. Video calls and fairly regular trips home help and I’ve also had friends visit abroad. No issues, I guess it depends on your friends and how much effort you’re prepared to make.

“Our clothes and luggage started to look ratty”

This is the laziest excuse I’ve heard. Buy new clothes and equipment. It’s usually even cheaper abroad.

“Airbnb had changed to the point that finding good value accommodations was a challenge. “

Our accommodation ranges from 500-1000 a month maximum (apart from the UK…1800). Our latest was a last minute deal in Greece for 660 a month. It’s completely new with a full kitchen, workspace and terrace.

It can be hard to keep fit

“Plus, although we built our business while we were digital nomads, it became challenging to fully focus on our work without a proper desk and consistent internet”

Starting a business and full time travel? Does that sounds like an easy task?? if you’re gonna do both at once, at least plan to slow travel.

“According to Nomad List nearly 16,000 people were remote working in Lisbon last December, where they now find themselves blamed for rocketing rents and house prices.”

This is clearly a government policy issue but personally we avoid oversubscribed locations. I’ve no interest in living somewhere overly touristy with hyperinflated prices.

As for environmental issues – we hate flying. We do fly but so far this year we’ve flown one way back from Thailand. We’re currently travelling southern/eastern Europe using a combination of trains, buses and driving. I think most of, if not all our co2 emissions are offset by us not commuting into an office daily, not needing heating (I hate cold) and even the fact that where we travel the food is local. In Greece, you eat feta that grandma made. In the UK, most of the food is imported. When we buy products, we get things that last. As we live out of a 60L rucksack each, what we buy doesn’t amount to much.

In summary, the writer of this article just found a couple of people who made some daft decisions and became fed up as a result. They also capitalise on the negative reports in the media caused by a few idiots (and the policies from some governments) which are by no means reflective of the whole nomad population. In a vague attempt to provide balance, the last interviewee is quoted, detailing her positive experience.

We’re really unhappy, unhealthy and hate our lives

I think it’s important for people to be realistic and honest with themselves if they’re deciding to live nomadically. It’s not a long term solution for most people but for every person it’s not suitable for, there’s someone for whom a 9-5 regular lifestyle isn’t appropriate. The beauty of it is there’s no right way. You can travel more, or less. You could travel 9 months of the year and spend 3 at home. Bored of the location? Don’t jive with the people? Move on.

Being a digital nomad is a lifestyle choice that many people aspire to and I believe it’s one of the most enriching decisions you can make. You learn so much about the world, people and yourself. Whether you decide to do it for a year or 10 years, it’s a truly mind-opening experience which I can only recommend. But as with all things in life, you should expect there to be hard days and challenges to overcome.

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