[title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”none” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]The Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad[/title]

I started a digital marketing company last year, for two reasons. The first was to help small businesses grow while strengthening my skills as a digital marketer. The second was to provide the opportunity to travel abroad for a year. All I needed was a decent internet connection, a few loyal clients, and a laptop. Luckily, my husband is in a similar situation work-wise, so it was an easy decision to pack up our belongings, rent out our house, and move abroad. It’s the best decision we ever made.

Working and traveling abroad is a lifetime opportunity and if you ever get the chance, go for it. It’s a great way to see another part of this beautiful world while still making a living but presents some challenges that need to be recognized – so you can solve any minor work/travel-related issues before you leave.

These are some opportunities and challenges I’ve encountered working overseas:

[title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”underline dashed” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]OPPORTUNITIES[/title]

Travel Opportunity One: See The World

It’s an obvious pro to working and living abroad, but there is something to be said about living in another country for an extended period. It’s an opportunity to learn about a different culture but can also present some challenges.

For example, every new place you visit will have its own public transit, currency, language, etc. Learning to navigate this new culture takes time away from 1) work and 2) your enjoyment of the surroundings and amenities. You’ll want to maximize your time spent visiting local sites of interest, without feeling like you’re trying to cram it all in.

Tip: Plan to spend several weeks (or months) in one location – it will let you fully immerse yourself in the culture and you’ll be more productive than constantly traveling.

Travel Opportunity Two: Make New Connections

Networking is an amazing way to meet new people and expand your horizons, from a work point of view. Travelling is now different – you can make friends and connections, which can easily turn into long-lasting relationships, both casual and professional.

If you are staying in one place, you can explore opportunities to attend meetups or other organized networking events, to meet locals and other work-travelers like yourself. It could also be an opportunity to attend conferences that might have been too expensive to attend when living at home due to flight and accommodation costs. It will help you expand your network on an international level and gets you out of the house to socialize – something that can be challenging when working from home.

Opportunity Three: Finance Your Travels

One of the big bonuses of this kind of travel is affordability. It means you don’t have to save for months and years to be able to backpack around a few countries for a few months. It means you do not home broke and unemployed. Most importantly, you come back with more experience to build your business and reputation, rather than starting from scratch. It’s a win-win, see the world while advancing your career.

Read this amazing article on how one entrepreneur built his start-up while being on the road.

Making such a significant life change does not come without some drawbacks, though. Keep reading to discover the challenges of working on the road, and some potential solutions.

[title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”underline dashed” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]CHALLENGES[/title]

Challenge One: Digital Access

The fact that the majority of business is done online nowadays is one factor that makes traveling while working achievable, but it also presents a significant challenge. For one, many areas of the world do not have internet, or may still be using dial-up, meaning slow load times and timeouts – not good if you’re on a deadline. Second, even in more metropolitan areas you may find that a decent connection is difficult, or costly. Third, even if your desired location guarantees great internet access, it might not be true once you arrive.

It’s best to check reviews or ask your host to determine if the internet will be strong enough to suit your needs. The other alternative is to give yourself a break and enjoy life – assuming you can push back a few deadlines and catch up on your next leg. But those aren’t the only options, today you can pre-purchase satellite internet access for those dire emergencies when you just have to get something sent on time, but this route can get expensive.

Challenge Two: Irregular Routine

When you are trying to run a business be productive routine is what keeps you on track. Setting aside certain hours per week to complete tasks and accomplish goals helps to maintain focus. When you are on the road, this can get tricky.

Over Christmas, we traveled to four different countries in a span of two weeks, while still trying to maintain a work schedule. It was difficult. On top of having internet issues, it was hard to manage expectations of visiting a new city, expectations of friends and family, and the need to work. Irregular routines can hinder productivity and cause stress and might also be compacted if you need to shift work hours to match with your home country or when you land in a new time zone or culture.

The trick is to try to find a balance of regularity and flexibility. For example, in Spain, I work in the morning and then again in the evening since everything happens later in the day and it gives me an opportunity to available for clients in North America during part of their day. You also need to be realistic about both your leisure activities and work – taking on too much of both won’t make for an enjoyable travel experience. This may mean heading to bed early, working into the midnight hours, or just finding a good balance that works for you and your business.

Challenge Three: Hermitage

You would think that working abroad would automatically mean a healthy social life, but it is not always the case. Depending on your personality, you might find yourself visiting the sites, then returning back to base to work. Part of your work/life balance should be meeting new people, but for some this isn’t easy.

You can use social media to your advantage to find friends (or friends of friends) who might be in the area. Look for events or gatherings that you might attend when at home: gallery showings, musical events, literary readings, etc. Each opportunity for friendship is also one that is good for your business, as well as being good for your health.

[title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”underline dashed” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]DECISION TIME[/title]

Hands down, working while traveling is a great experience and offers the best of both worlds. It could do wonders for building your business or career, by exposing you to other cultures and experiences. In addition, you may meet the perfect business partners to liaison with and start building your empire. The shortfalls, such as poor internet connections, your social life, and a disruptive work routine can be easily overcome with a bit of planning and patience.

If you are thinking about taking the plunge to move your life overseas for a while, and need advice or have questions about how to work and live abroad, send me a message. I’d be happy to help you get organized and motivated in making the best decision of your life. Adiós!

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For Note:
Written from a cozy Airbnb apartment in Barcelona. This has been our base since November and we’ve squeezed in several side trips since being here. Below are a few pictures of our travels. Our next base will be in Japan in March. Stay tuned!
[images picture_size=”auto” hover_type=”zoomin” autoplay=”no” columns=”3″ column_spacing=”5″ scroll_items=”” show_nav=”yes” mouse_scroll=”no” border=”yes” lightbox=”yes” class=”” id=””][image link=”” linktarget=”_self” image=”http://www.hunter-digital.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/The-City-of-Barcelona-500×333.jpeg” alt=”The City of Barcelona”][image link=”” linktarget=”_self” image=”http://www.hunter-digital.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/The-beaches-Barcelona-500×333.jpeg” alt=”The Beaches of Barcelona”][image link=”” linktarget=”_self” image=”http://www.hunter-digital.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Montserrat-A-Perfect-Day-Trip-from-Barcelona-500×333.jpeg” alt=”Montserrat – A Perfect Day Trip from Barcelona”][image link=”” linktarget=”_self” image=”http://www.hunter-digital.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Arc-de-Triomf-Barcelona-500×333.jpeg” alt=”Arc de Triomf Barcelona”][image link=”” linktarget=”_self” image=”http://www.hunter-digital.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/A-Trip-to-San-Sebastian-A-Must-for-Foodies-500×333.jpeg” alt=”San Sebastian – Spain”][image link=”” linktarget=”_self” image=”http://www.hunter-digital.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/IMG_9664-500×333.jpg” alt=”Mijas – South of Spain”][image link=”” linktarget=”_self” image=”http://www.hunter-digital.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/IMG_9740-500×333.jpg” alt=”Majorca – Spain”][image link=”” linktarget=”_self” image=”http://www.hunter-digital.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/IMG_8865-500×333.jpg” alt=”Austria for Christmas”][/images]
2015-09-02T15:10:10+00:00 February 18th, 2015|
  • Hi Marie!
    Great article. At the moment, I spend half of the year in the Caribbean and the other half in the UK. My goal is to become a fully digital nomad. I think it’s great to have the opportunity to build connections for work and it’s been a bit of a challenge for me, but I am determine to change that this year. Nice view of the city of Barcelona. I was there about 10 years ago. Time go so fast.

    • HunterDigital

      Now that’s not a bad gig, spending half your time in two different places!

      I struggle as well with creating new business connections. For my work, as a digital marketer, most leads I’ve had so far are from connections and people I know. It’s hard to network and build relationships without meeting face to face. I admire your enthusiasm and know you will make this lifestyle a full-time deal.

  • Barcelona looks gorgeous! Now that I’m fully self employed, I’d love to do some travelling. I don’t know that I’d go on the road for extended periods, but I definitely want to have some ‘working vacations’ and have the chance to explore new places.

    • HunterDigital

      Robyn, it’s a beautiful city and worth putting on your radar especially in the spring and fall seasons. Maybe you can visit Spain after crossing the UK off your life list. Great post by the way.

  • Annemarie

    Hi there! Great post! I loved how you captured all the pros and cons. I wish I had read about it before I just went ahead and did travel blogging but maybe it would have sounded much scarier then. Now being in the midst of it, it is super hard but passion keeps me trying and learning.
    I have one question, though. The internet factor is super important and I have been struggling with it in Australia. I thought that going to Japan (in March as well!) would improve things but apparently it is even worse! Did you do some research of wifi in Japan and do you have a plan on what to do? Would love your input.

    Cheers,
    Annemarie

    • HunterDigital

      Hi Annemarie,

      Thanks for the comment and I’m happy this post was helpful. Glad to hear you took the plunge with your blog. Sometimes it’s better to just do it, otherwise we overthink it and miss the opportunity! Send me the link (marie@hunter-digital.com), I’d love to read it.

      Internet is definitely one of the biggest challenges of running a business or blog on the road. I’ve definitely had some hair pulling experiences. For Japan, we (my husband and I) made sure the place we are renting has internet. Also, I’ve done some research on shared workspace to rent in case our connection at home isn’t strong enough (plus it’s good for networking). Lastly, we are looking to rent one of these wifi devices as backup – http://www.wifi-hire.com/en. Once you order, you can pick it up at the airport when you arrive. The rest we will figure out when we get there.

      Hope that’s helpful and if we are in the same city, at the same time, let’s meet up!