For the past 4 years, I’ve been living like a digital nomad: working from coffee shops, on my laptop, no fixed hours, no boss. Before that, I was an online entrepreneur, building‒and successfully selling‒vertical portals, in niches like car industry or cooking.
Living “off the grid”‒without fixed hours, without an office and any imposed schedule to respect‒has its perks, no doubt about it. But it also has its fair share of responsibilities. All in all, I confess it’s a beautiful journey. Unfortunately, very few people know what it takes to be a digital nomad. So, let’s see a few things a digital nomad does differently from the rest of the world.
1. A Digital Nomad Makes Friends Before And After Going To The Toilet
Yep, I saw that smile on your face. It’s ok. Let me tell you how it works: you’re in a coffee shop, had 2-3 cup of tea so far, and you really need to go to the toilet. What do you do with your laptop? Well, you ask someone nicely to take care of it while you’re out there, fighting your own fights. In 4 years, I never had a single “no” for an answer. Even more, I made friends with almost 50% of the people I talked to this way. It may sound like a strange situation, but, believe it or not, people love to care about other people. True story.
2. He Travels Lighter
And I mean, WAY lighter. Most of the time, when I travel in a different country, I have only 2 bags: a backpack for the laptop, and a very small bag‒which some airlines may even consider a carry on‒and that’s that. I learned how to take advantage of whatever I find at the place of destination. If I need clothes, I just buy the minimum from a local shop. It goes the same with shoes, or anything else you may imagine you need to properly function in a given society. To be honest, the most precious belongings are my laptop and my phone, because that’s how I make a living.
3. A Digital Nomad Immediately Sees All The Power Outlets In A Given Room
It’s a skill. After you work in random places for more than a year, and your work involves powering up a laptop, you kind of learn how to immediately identify all the power outlets in a given room. It may not win you points if you’re at a party, but it can surely save your ass if you’re in between flights, in an airport, and you have to turn in some work in the next two hours.
4. He’s More Disciplined Than The Average Employee
If you work in a normal structure, you have a boss. Or you report to someone. Or you have to do something in a certain way; otherwise somebody will fire you. Well, if you work for yourself, you don’t have that. You’re your own boss. You have to be really tough on yourself to actually get up from bed, go out, get that coffee and start working. Being a digital nomad is not a walk in the park, although it may seem like it from afar. But the good news is that discipline is good for you, in the long term, regardless of how you choose to work‒as a digital nomad or otherwise.
5. He Smiles More Than You
Let me tell you a secret: the best thing to do when you’re in a foreign country and you are unfamiliar with the native spoken language is to just smile. But do it openly, honestly and cross your fingers. It will amaze you how people around you are doing their best to support you. You’re also free to do the opposite, like frowning, and see what happens. I did both and, believe me, smiling works better all the time.
6. A Digital Nomad Has More Friends Than You
When you work from coffee shops for a few months in a row, you end up making friends with the regulars of that place. Period. And if you do this with a few coffee shops for three to four years, you end up with a tremendous number of people you know and are close to. So, if you’re a digital nomad, your friends circle is likely to be an order of magnitude higher than the average Joe, which is kinda neat.
7. His Income Is More Or Less Passive
As a digital nomad, you have to maintain a decent work / life balance. Because, in a way, your life is your work. Maintaining a fluid lifestyle, ready for everything, at any given time, means you have to have some safety cushion. So, you may do work for clients, but, in order to make sure you’re not going to be stuck for months in a foreign country because you have no money for the plane ticket, you first grow a layer of passive income. And that’s also kinda neat.
8. He Is A Part Of The “Immediocracy”
“Immediocracy” is a term I coined myself (I guess) and it basically means: “the power of the immediate, of the now.” From taking advantages of instant opportunities, to getting to know first about important events, this new breed of influencers have the ability to always be connected, through social media, mostly, to the most intimate mechanisms of our modern society. If you have to rent parts of your time during the day‒like being an employee‒you can’t really understand this new type of freedom.
9. He’s Healthier Than You
“Nomad” means “always moving.” So, just by the mere fact that these guys are always moving, something better happens to them at the physical level. Diversity is a very good thing. Being it the diversity of the places you live in, or the diversity you get by choosing each day a different work place, you get to experience a lot of it, as a digital nomad. You walk more. You see more. You experience more. So, you build up a better immune system.
10. He Manages His Fears Better Than You
Being a digital nomad is not easier, nor simpler than living a regular corporate life. The mere act of “jumping in” takes a lot of courage, not to mention the amount of self control and discipline needed to actually keep this lifestyle going on is int. But once you’re on that train, once you’re past this fear of being “lost” and once you’re actually making a living, you just realize your “courage” muscles have just been upgraded. And you’re ready to tackle challenges you never ever though of before. And that’s a very, very good thing.