The Nomad Grind: How Hard is it to be a Digital Nomad?

By Stephanie Ansel

Is being a digital nomad as easy as it sounds? While the lifestyle promises freedom and adventures abroad, several challenges come with living on the road as a remote worker.

As someone who has tried the nomad life myself, let me assure you there are a few things you must know before taking the plunge.

First, the onslaught of choice paralysis can be real.

With so many amazing destinations welcoming digital nomads, how ever will you decide where to live next?

Then there’s the follow up dilemma – beach or mountains? City or rural escape?

I once spent three weeks iterating through potential new homes before my willpower finally broke in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Internet woes also arise more often than expected.

One rainy afternoon in Chiang Mai, I naively believed a cafes’ “Super Fast Wifi!” sign, only to spend two hours debugging a crashed project as bytes trickled through like molasses.

And don’t get me started on the time I tried to upload videos from a lamasery in Bhutan! Needless to say, buffering ruins the zen.

While flexibility is key to the digital nomad life, bouncing between time zones every few months plays tricks with your internal clock.

I once woke in a panic thinking I was late to work, only to realize it was 3am and my brain was still in Bali time.

Whoops! The struggle is real, friends.

Now I understand you may still be thinking this nomad thing sounds pretty great.

And it can be – with the right planning.

Keep reading to learn my top tips for minimizing difficulties as you embark on your own location-independent adventures!

Trust me, with the right preparation you can make your remote work dreams a reality.


How hard is it to be a digital nomad?

Test driving as a digital nomad comes with unique challenges, from adapting to new cultures to managing work-life balance. (1)

Success requires resilience, flexibility, and a willingness to overcome obstacles.

Navigating Digital Nomad Challenges for Test Driving

YouTube video
Source: Ali Abdaal

As someone who’s lived as a digital nomad for years, I hope to impart lessons learned on navigating this lifestyle’s ins and outs.

Whether testing the waters short-term or embarking long-haul, heed these tips for smoother sailing abroad.

For trial runs, commit 2-3 months minimum.

Shorter stints rarely outweigh challenges like homesickness or loneliness.

Longer lets you settle in, join communities, and thoroughly vet locations.

Test projects also requiring travel complicate matters.

Consider simplifying work to focus on adjustment.

Most importantly, commit with an open yet discerning mind.

Nomading isn’t for all, so self-awareness helps determine fit.

Stay flexible on specific plans.

Unexpected housing delays, WiFi woes, or new connections may steer your experience.

Go with flows instead of forcing rigid structures.

Both successes and problems provide valuable insights, so embrace unexpected twists.

Maintain avenues to reconnect with your purpose when inevitable difficulties arise too.

Networking aids navigation as fellow nomads gladly share “been there” wisdom.

With time and experiences, uncover your true nomad style and needs.

Some thrive hopping constantly while others prefer extended stays.

Both are valid – you decide what energizes your work and wellbeing most.

This lifestyle uplifts when authentically living yours.

Logistics and Essentials for Nomadic Life

How Hard is it to be a Digital Nomad 2

Digital nomads require reliable income sources tolerant of flexible schedules and unpredictable locations. (2)

Remote consulting, freelance services, affiliate marketing and established online businesses suit this the best.

Before embarking, bolster cash reserves and ensure stable client pipelines.

Acquire essential technology like laptops, backup drives, international power adapters and noise-cancelling headphones.

Sign up for high-speed virtual private networks (VPNs) and investigate eSIM options for WiFi on the go.

Opening an account with a global bank allowsmoney movement and credit access overseas.

Some provide foreign transaction fee rebates and convenient services abroad too.

Coworking spaces offer change of scenery, networking, mail forwarding, and services addresses useful for forms, packages and jurisdiction needs.

With fundamentals secured, you’ve everything needed to work hard and play hard around the globe as a true digital nomad!

Focus on rich experiences and personal growth over challenges along your journey.

Buen viaje, explorers – the world awaits you.

Entrepreneurship on the Nomadic Journey

How Hard is it to be a Digital Nomad 2

Friends, let’s explore how entrepreneurship beautifully aligns with nomadic journeys.

Whether starting businesses or building brands, knowledge empowers remote workers to thrive globally.

For aspiring founders, the seed may sprout while abroad.

Witnessing local needs inspires one Malaysian coffee shop owner I met.

New partners and 15 cafes later, her business flourished across Southeast Asia through relentless resilience.

Global individuals also spark opportunities.

An Italian friend realized skincare’s tropical demand, now serving travelers worldwide from her brand.

Leveraging online skills or services also permits remote work control.

One digital Marketer I connected with reinvented herself after burnout to reduce stress through location independence.

Her clients increased as fresh destinations energized routine tasks.

For all, community stretched their skills and resources through knowledge exchange.

Whether rooted ventures or nomadic ones, embrace ways entrepreneurship enlivens your journey.

Navigating Taxes and Banking Abroad

Taxes require forethought when business spans borders.

Consult experts knowledgeable in international tax law.

Consider forming an offshore company to simplify complex classifications.

Freelancers may categorize income as self-employment or independent contractor depending on structures.

Banks accommodating expat needs include boutique options accessible worldwide with zero international fees.

Shop features fitting your requirements like fast money movement, cash access abroad, mobile banking, and account types.

Some offer tax consulting too.

Credit unions remain an alternative with fewer limitations than traditional banks for entrepreneurs unleashed upon the continents.

Proper preparations preserve peace of mind while generating globally.

Entrepreneurship revolutionizes remote work through location independence.

Your experiences abroad elevate perspectives applicable worldwide.

Staying Connected and Secured as a Nomad

Living location-independently presents thrills and challenges.

As an 8-year nomad, balancing freedom with safety requires nuanced strategies.

Please accept these tips from hard-won experience.

Connectivity proves vital for work and well-being.

Research each destination’s infrastructure reliability via nomad forums before arrival.

International SIM cards providing data abroad save navigating cafes daily.

For critical tasks, conservatively budget an additional WiFi source like mobile hotspots.

Digital security also demands continual vigilance on insecure connections worldwide.

Employ virtual private networks (VPNs) encrypting all online activity from prying eyes.

Enable two-factor authentication for sensitive logins and never use public devices for financial tasks.

Backups preserve your livelihood should equipment fail, while travel insurance brings peace of mind for unexpected medical costs.

Build community for practical support systems too.

Participating in online nomad networks fosters valuable international friendships and advice during life’s hurdles away from home bases.

With diligence, you’ll thrive connected wherever restless soul may roam!

Discovering Ideal Digital Nomad Destinations

Countless locales welcoming online professionals exist, each with merits fitting unique travel preferences.

Cosmopolitan destinations like Chiang Mai offer low costs, convenience and vibrant community on your doorstep.

Beach towns serving similar perks include Bali, Medellín and Playa del Carmen amongst surf, sun and cocktails after hours of creation.

For scenic solace, mountain retreats across South America, Europe and Asia await, trading nightlife for nature bliss.

Digital vagabonds value affordability most appreciate Mexico, Southeast Asia and parts of Eastern Europe where dollars stretch farther than imagined.

Weather also influences seasons best matching work rhythms and wanderlust.

Explore reviewed top spots, but uncover hidden gems yourself with open eyes.

Ultimately, mindset matters most for sustaining location independence – whether amidst bustle or solitude, your contentment fuels endless creation.

Safe travels friends! The world, and all its perfect places for nomadic work, awaits discovery.

Transitioning into the Nomadic Lifestyle

Friends, embracing location independence promises adventures and fulfillment.

Yet adjustments require wisdom.

As an eight-year nomad, let me share insights into this transition.

Nomadism demands flexibility – in schedules, living situations and daily routines accustomed land-based lives rarely permit.

Decentralizing from “home” also produces psychological adjustments.

Alleviate stress by maintaining routines redeeming normalcy abroad.

Solidify workstyles suitable mobile careers too.

Develop project management skills keeping multiple streams organized yet nimble enough to produce wherever imagination may roam.

Upgrade existing qualifications valuable virtually also eases making meaningful money across borders.

Finances also bear forethought.

Save robustly to navigate unexpected costs joining an international community reliant little public assistance domestic lives offer.

Part-time gigs supplementing incomes stabilize funds’ flow likewise.

Surround yourselves encouraging communities quickly embracing wandering souls.

Loneliness afflicts many leaving behind support systems for uncertain independence.

Commit also to self-care maintaining sanity separated from familial love.

Wellness permits staying energized through challenges ahead!

Weighing Pros and Cons of Nomadism

Let me shed some light on weighing the pros and cons of a nomadic lifestyle based on my own experiences.


  • Freedom to work from anywhere in the world. No office walls confining you to the same environment daily.
  • Opportunities to immerse in different cultures by visiting diverse places and meeting new people.
  • Challenges of adapting to changes in countries, time zones, and pace of work that come with traveling keep life interesting.
  • Higher quality of life in many countries where cost of living is lower than one’s home country. Savings go much farther abroad.
  • Personal growth that comes from experiencing complete independence and adapting to unfamiliar settings. Confidence increases.


  • Unstable income if relying solely on freelance work without contracts or a steady stream of clients. Income may fluctuate between high/low months.
  • Loneliness can be felt being constantly surrounded by transience with little deep community like at home. Extra effort needed for socialization.
  • Logistical challenges such as finding short term accommodation, setting up utilities and internet, dealing with different systems/laws in places. Adaptability is key.
  • Sacrifices regular comforts of home and familiarity with areas. Constant change requires flexibility and openness to unfamiliar ways.
  • Further from family/friends back home which can create feelings of detachment and missing important events/milestones in loved ones’ lives.
  • Additional expenses occur due to high costs of traveling frequently, having multiple residences or coworking memberships concurrently.

Overall, pros certainly outweigh cons if one embraces a life of perpetual learning experiences and values personal growth from living so internationally.

But this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, so considering pros and cons carefully is wise before transitioning.


In closing, while the digital nomad lifestyle offers unparalleled freedom, living on the road does require diligent preparation and ongoing maintenance.

Make sure to have reliable backups, an effective time management strategy, and bountiful patience for any technical hiccups along the way.

Above all, embrace flexibility and a sense of humor – you’ll need both in abundance as an expat remote worker.

I hope you now feel better equipped to embark upon your own nomadic journey, whether based primarily in one destination or constantly on the roam.

Remember, this lifestyle is what you make of it – so focus on the experiences, connections, and personal growth over challenges along the way.

Who knows, you may even find a new favorite city or country to call home base in the process.

Wherever the road may lead you, I wish you safe travels and smooth WiFi.

Happy exploring, friends – don’t forget to share your highlights on social media using #BeADigitalNomad as you go.

Our global community is always here to support each other through the ups and downs of location independent living.

Now get out there and create some memories!



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