8 Things Every Digital Nomad Wants You to Know

Digital nomads are people who are location independent and use technology to perform their job.
— Investopedia
 Kalkan, Turkey

Kalkan, Turkey

1. We’re not all rich.

Even though our Instagrams may imply otherwise and it looks like we’re constantly on vacation, the reality of the matter is that most of us are working a normal 40 hour work week just like everyone else. A lot of us are freelancers fighting for assignments and accepting low wages in a competitive market, while others are killin’ it in the IT field or running their own businesses. It could go either way, but don’t assume our pockets are deep. Traveling the world obviously requires money in the bank, and we’re working our asses off to keep the lifestyles we love going strong. Regardless of our incomes, because we’re full-time travelers we're pretty savvy and usually know how to make our money go a long way. We’re pros at finding amazing flight deals, cheap accommodation, and have a network of friends from countries all around the world. The longer we’re on the road, the smarter we become, the more friends we make, and the more money we’re able to save.

2. We’re not undateable.

So we’ve popped up on your Tinder/Bumble/or other hot dating app of the week. You may see “digital nomad” in our bio, and a slew of pictures from various exotic looking places. We look fun and fascinating, and yet- you’ve already written us off as a dating prospect because we’re constantly on the go. Well guess what? Many of us are constantly on the go because we haven’t found a reason to stop! Sure, it’s fun to meet locals and go out for a night on the town, but we’re open-minded people with the most flexible jobs in the world- we’d consider slowing our roll for the right person. Don’t rule us out.

 Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

3. We appreciate a minimalist lifestyle…and experiences over material things.

Those 20 kg luggage restrictions have taught us a lot- namely how to live with very little. You’ll probably see us wearing the same 5 outfits in our photos because, well, that’s all we have. We actually find that the lack of options makes life a lot easier. We revel in the freedom of not being tied down by belongings. Our house is a suitcase (or a backpack for those impressive few) and that house can roll just about anywhere.
 
There may have been a time in our lives where we cared about brands and nice cars and manicured nails. But we’d rather spend our money on flights around Europe (literally the same cost as a mani, mind you), a good meal in a local restaurant, or an excursion. Not having a TV? It’s been great. When I was working a corporate job in the states I used to do nothing but work and watch TV all evening until it was time for bed. Not having one forces nomads to make much better use of our free time (although we will indulge in the occasional Netflix binge sesh on our laptops, let’s be honest.)

 Teotihuacan, Mexico

Teotihuacan, Mexico

4. We’re not all running away from something.

If I had a dollar for every time a person has asked me what I’m running away from, I'd have a few flights paid in full.  Most of us had some kind of life-changing trip somewhere (mine was a semester abroad in Australia ten years ago), and traveling soon became an addiction. We fell in love with the thrill of the unknown, and the adrenaline rush that comes with arriving in a country where absolutely nothing makes sense. Then, when we went back home to find that everything was exactly how we left it, we hopped on the next available flight looking to get our next travel high. It’s not that we don’t love the comforts of home, or our families, or our friends- travel has just spoiled us with new experiences and we really like to chase them. Lesson: we're not running away from any bad things, we're just running around the world chasing the good ones.

5. We love going home, but it can be difficult, too.

We know our lifestyle isn’t the norm, and when we go home, we often feel super out of place. We’re at different stages in our lives than most of our friends, and that’s totally ok; it just means that we don’t have a whole lot in common anymore. When we're asked how we’ve been, we’ll probably minimize our responses because we feel like we’re bragging. While our friends get married and start families and build their careers, we're still living life pretty selfishly. We know it’s hard to relate to one another, and that's nobody's fault. We also might get a little thrown off because we start to wonder if we should be settling down, too. Visits home can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for some.

 Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa

Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa

6. We may not always show our feelings, but that doesn't mean we don't have them.

Here’s the thing- we are MASTERS of goodbyes. More often than not this makes us look like complete dicks. But just because we APPEAR to be less emotional than you'd expect when we part ways, it doesn’t mean that we are. When we meet good people the goodbye stings every time; we just know how to put on a good face. We also get lonely. Like, really freakin' lonely. Especially when we’re in a super foreign country on our own. All of our friends are “internet friends” when we’re traveling, so we love a good Skype or Facetime to bring us some comfort.

7. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies.

If you follow us on social, we know how to make life look pretty damn good. And on most days, it actually is. Some days though, all hell breaks lose. We get completely lost and don’t know the language. We miss our plane/train/etc. Someone tried to steal all of our shit with a weapon of choice. We totally fell for someone in X city but we’re leaving. We're sick AF, and there’s no one around to take care of us. We’re on the other side of the world when our best friends are getting married/having babies and feel completely out of the loop. Someone in our family is going through something, and we're not there to offer support. In short, the lifestyle is a trade off. We give up a lot to get a lot.

 Tower of Belem, Lisbon, Portugal

Tower of Belem, Lisbon, Portugal

8. We’ll settle down when we’re ready to.

The most common question of all- “so when are you going to settle down?” Well, when I damn well please, is my answer! The world is at our fingertips these days, and digital nomads know this firsthand. A lot of us have experienced a better quality of life in countries other than our own, and we're out looking for the place that we would want to call home. We may want to settle down somewhere someday, but the best days of our lives have been spent traveling and we won't settle for a place if it doesn't tick alllll of our boxes and make us excited about life...every single day. Until then, the exploring continues!

 Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Are you a digital nomad? Agree/disagree/have anything to add to the list?