What do you do when you have a good job, but love to travel and want to see the world? Your head might tell you to spend a few years working to save money for traveling, whereas, your heart might tell you to just go for it and choose the adventure.
“It wasn’t healthy sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, my commute sucked, and having to work on someone else’s schedule wasn’t enjoyable,” says Smith, who now considers herself a digital nomad and spent the past year and a half working remotely. “It was always a “pick one or the other” type of scenario and I decided to make a change.”
After determining that her next job needed to be more flexible, Smith discovered a travel program called Remote Year, which takes 75 digital nomads to a new country every month for a year.
“It was the perfect choice for me: I’d be able to maintain my professional career but get the work-life balance that I craved,” says Smith, who works full-time for one client.
Her actual role is in online marketing, so she manages social media channels, automated e-mails, and creates landing pages and so forth. Smith has an office job just like everyone else–she just does it in different countries instead of at a desk.
If you’re curious about what it’s like to have the best of both worlds, to travel and work at the same time, Smith let Glassdoor in on some secrets to being a digital nomad.
It’s affordable and yes, you can make money while you travel.
Depending on where you travel, it can actually be quite affordable. Smith notes that, instead of paying rent in your home country, you pay rent in another country, which usually has a lower cost of living. For example, you might travel and live in Bali, Indonesia or Chiang Mai, all places where Smith says rent, groceries, and transportation are cheaper than what you’d typically spend t home.
“When you are hopping from country to country you usually work your way to a country that is nearby, making flights cheaper as well,” explains Smith. “We also have to flexibility to pick up whenever we want, so that means if there is a flash sale on flights, you can take advantage.”
If you budget yourself, you could save money so you’re not totally broke when you decide to return home.
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Unfortunately, you won’t have always enough time to explore everything.
Smith says one big challenge to working abroad is that you’ll meet people you like and want to go exploring with, but you might not have the time to do so if you’re on a deadline. This can be especially frustrating if the people you meet are only in the same place as you for a short amount of time.
“It’s tempting to want to leave work and go enjoy the country. You have to be more patient, and understand that although you can’t go out right at that moment, there will be another opportunity since you never really “have” to leave,” says Smith. “When you are traveling you can go wherever you want. However, as a digital nomad, good Internet is crucial, which means you can’t really go to places with no Internet for extended periods of time.”
It’s the complete opposite of the cubicle life–and it’s amazing.
Smith doesn’t miss working in an office at all and says she will never go back to doing so.
“I don’t have to waste time or money commuting, I avoid all the office politics, I have the flexibility to work when I’m most productive, I don’t have to “show face”. This allows me to focus on what’s most important and that’s work,” she explains.
[Related: Want to Work Remotely? Here’s How to Ask]
It does and will get lonely at times.
Though you will likely encounter fellow travelers on your adventures, it can get lonely when you have to miss out on meeting new people because you have to get your work done.
Smith says it’s important to connect with other digital nomads to avoid too much loneliness.
“It can get lonely when you’re on the move so much which is why it’s important to find co-working spaces so you can create your sense of community. This is a common challenge for most digital nomads. We live such a unique life that it’s hard to find those connections,” she advises.
But you will meet and travel with other people.
“I do travel and work with other people,” says Smith. “It’s good to go alone every so often to refresh, recharge, and gain perspective. You also always meet people along the way that you can meet back up with at some point in your travels, which is nice.”
It’s definitely a big decision to decide to become a digital nomad. But, if you’ve been daydreaming one too many times about skiing the Swiss Alps or hiking through the jungle in Costa Rica, then maybe the remote traveler life is for you!