10 Tips to Help You Settle Into a New City as a Digital Nomad Girl

10 Tips to Help You Settle Into a New City as a Digital Nomad Girl

Today we’re talking about how to settle into a new city as a digital nomad girl, quickly and with ease. I also created a totally free downloadable checklist for you to help you settle into a new city! 

It’s mid-April, and I just arrived in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, 10 days ago. And I’m knackered.

jennifer lachs digital nomad girls las palmas

Why? Because I left Chiang Mai at the end of last month and travelled to Bangkok, London, Wiltshire, Munich and now Las Palmas while attempting to run my business.

Not surprisingly, I have been struggling to settle into this new place quickly, despite having spent a lot of time here in the past.

A few years ago, I would have beaten myself up for this, and while I am still tempted (thanks, mind!) I know now that this is quite normal for me.

Here are a few hard facts that I learned about settling into a new place as a digital nomad that I have learned in my over 5 years of travel:

  • Settling in is hard. I know this sounds crazy for someone who’s been travelling for over 5 years, but whenever I arrive in a new place, the first few days I’m a bit uneasy, questioning why I even left the last place because I liked it so much and thinking I’ll never like this new place as much.It usually doesn’t last, but I know now that this feeling is quite normal for me, so I give it time to pass.
  • It takes me a long time. Even if I’ve been to the place many times before, it’s just an adjustment and for me it takes a long time.
  • It’s important to make the best of your time in a new place. A few years back, I spent 6 weeks in Berlin. We split our time in different apartments and neighbourhoods, and I never fully felt settled. I didn’t have the best experience, and I think part of it comes down to me never feeling like I’d settled properly.

Thankfully I’ve come up with a few tips, routines and exercises that help me settle into a new place when I arrive which I hope you’ll find helpful!

As always pick what works for you and ignore the rest!

10 Rituals, Exercises and Tips that Help Me Settle into a New City

1. Travel Slow

The rule to rule them all: TRAVEL SLOW. I repeat: Travel Slow.

I’ve met dozens if not hundreds of nomads over the past years and one thing most of us learn eventually is that attempting to travel to fast is the worst you can do. I’ve met girls who travelled to over 40 cities in 6 months!! How they get any work done in the meantime is beyond me… but the point here is, it’s not sustainable.

Eventually this kind of pace will take its toll on your health and your productivity.

I know there’s a whole world out there and you want to see it all. right. now. But try to slow down as much as possible.

I now try to stay at least one month, better 3 – 6 months in one place. You’ll have to find your own pace, but remember, slower is usually better as a nomad.

2. Plan ahead as much as possible

One of the keys to settling into a new place is to plan ahead as much as possible.

girls planning friends digital nomad girls

Some people are planners, other more spontaneous, it’s up to you how much prep you want to do, but a certain amount of planning will not only make the actual travelling part easier, but also settling in once you arrive.

Things I like to prepare:

  • Figure out what the sim card situation is. Will you need a new one, or can you use your Sim and roam (like in most the EU now), where can you buy one once you arrive. For me, knowing I’ll be able to connect (and use Google Maps) is super important as it helps me feel more relaxed in a new place.
  • Where are you staying? Sometimes you don’t want to book ahead for your whole stay, but booking a place to crash for at least the first few days will help ease any anxiety you might have about arriving in a totally new place. Then once on the ground, you can find a more permanent solution.
  • Make some friends pre-arrival. How do you make friends before you’ve even landed? Facebook Groups of course! Whenever I plan a trip to a new place I reach out to other nomad girls in the DNG Facebook group and also join a few local digital nomad, expat or traveller groups. Not only can I ask some question about the new place, but I might even set up a coffee date with a potential new friend or coworking buddy on one of the first days after I arrive.

3. Take your time

Another important rule when it comes to settling into a new place, is to take your time. Some people only need a day or two, others take a week or even two or three. It’s ok. You can’t really change this about yourself, so accept it and be kind to yourself.

digital nomad girl travel settling in

My boyfriend for example arrives at an Airbnb or flat we’re renting, rearranges the furniture to his linking, puts away his stuff and finds a cosy working space to set up his laptop stand, mouse and keyboard. Et voilà, he’s arrived!

For me, it ain’t quite that easy.

It can easily take me a week or two to feel like I’m even halfway settled, even in places I’ve been to multiple times before. I know that now and just take it easy.

And despite being a total extrovert, I don’t force myself to be sociable too early on. I need a couple of days just for myself, to feel comfortable at home, buy my favourite groceries (and tea!) and walk around the neighbourhood to get my bearings.

4. Plan your ‘perfect day’

This is a relatively new ritual of mine that I started when we arrived in Medellin, Colombia after living in Las Palmas for over a year and it really helps settle into a new city, plus it’s fun!

If you’re not familiar with the perfect day exercise, it’s a simple visualisation exercise where you write down in great detail what your perfect day looks like, from the moment you wake up, to the moment you fall asleep at night. It’s a great exercise to find out what’s important to you and what you want your ideal life to look like.

planning travel digital nomad girls

As much as I love this exercise, as a nomad I’ve found it really tricky as my perfect day wasn’t always feasible. For example, I love to channel my inner Moana and spend time by the ocean, but in Medellin that wasn’t possible.

That’s why I now go through the perfect day exercise every time I arrive in a place that I’ll stay for longer than a week or two.

For example, in Las Palmas I like to go for a run along the beach a few mornings a week, but in Chiang Mai I’m landlocked, plus there’s a lot of traffic, air pollution and a lack of proper pavements or a park where I could run. So running wasn’t really an option for me there (I don’t like gyms much).

Instead, I made sure the place we were staying had a pool (I wish I could have a pool everywhere!) so I could go for a swim in the morning.

Once you have explored the new city a bit and know your neighbourhood, go through your whole day and come up with a perfect day. This will also help you adjust your routine to your new surroundings. Planning to eat dinner at 5:30 pm ever night might work well in North Carolina, but won’t fly in Spain where you might starve by the time your tapas are served at 10 pm.

I created a free checklist for you which also includes a worksheet with the Perfect Day exercise, you can download it here > >

 

5. Tell Google you’re ‘Home’

As soon as I arrive in a new apartment I whip out my iPhone and do a wifi speed test set my Google Maps address to ‘Home’.

This is super crucial as I have a terrible sense of direction and knowing I have my new home saved, means I can always find my way back without the need for breadcrumbs (couldn’t help myself, sorry!).

If you’re not quite as “orientationally” challenged as me, then you can skip this step.

6. Actually do a speed test

Most of us do this anyway, but knowing I can rely on my wifi at home makes me feel so much calmer. I like to also do speed tests in cafes to see if this could be a good potential working spot.

7. Walk everywhere

Now that I can safely find my way home, it’s time to go explore a bit. In order to get your bearings, it’s really best to just walk around your new neighbourhood, get a bit lost, find cute cafes or shops and your nearest grocery stores.

If you’re in a big city, find out what the deal is with public transport, do you need a monthly pass, what are the operating hours etc.

digital nomad girl travel settling in walking

Also check if there are any local bicycle shares like Mobike in Chiang Mai, if there’s Uber or Grab available and how much taxis cost. Knowing how to get to different places in town will help you feel much more independent and if there are any events or meetups you want to go to, the barrier will be much lower already.

I even do this in places I’ve been to before as things change, restaurants disappear (rest in peace ‘Los Girasoles’), new tram lines appear and it’s just nice to get the lay of the land.

8. Make friends

There’s no way I’d ever really feel settled and comfortable for longer periods than maybe a couple of weeks if I didn’t have any friends to hang out with.

Of course, you can’t expect to make new ‘best friends’ (best friends are a tier, remember, not a specific person) everywhere you go, but I do find it important to have some buddies to explore local markets with, go on adventures and meet up for a bowl of ramen or three.

girls hiking friendship travel

If you’re more introverted and don’t find it so easy to make new friends, you can also plan your trips around your friends.

So either travel somewhere together or visit friends in different places. It’s always easiest if they’re fellow digital nomads as you’ll get each other’s lifestyles and they won’t be disappointed if you have to, uhm, say… work.

Looking for fun ways to get involved with the Digital Nomad Girls community and make friends? Check out this blog post for 10 fun ways to get involved!

9. Find a few favourite work places

Personally, I work mainly from home for a few reasons which I’m gonna share in a separate post with you soon.

Suffice it to say, I’m a bit of a couch potato when it comes to my work set up, but I do like working outside a few times a week because I find it helps me focus. I prefer working from quiet cafes (or better: tea houses), ideally ones that also serve food as I can then use the need for pasta as a motivator to leave the house and work outside.

friends tea travel digital nomad girls

Find a couple of places you feel comfortable working so you know where to go when you feel like a change of scenery.

10. Coworking

A lot of my nomad friends swear on coworking and even if you don’t want to join a full-time coworking space, you can still cowork privately or virtually.

In many nomad hotspots (and plenty of other cities too actually), you can find local coworking groups, usually freelancers who meet up regularly at cafes or libraries and get some work done together. I love this concept as it’s a great way to combine meeting new friends with being productive and getting out of the house.

If in-person coworking isn’t feasible for you, then virtual coworking might just be the perfect fit.

What is virtual coworking?

Basically it’s like real-life coworking, just that you meet on Zoom or Skype; you can take a look at what that looks like right below!

Digital Nomad Girls Homepage Blurb Inner Circle

Sounds crazy? I personally do virtual coworking multiple times a week in our DNG Inner Circle, and some of our members are so hooked, they do it almost every day and plan their schedules around the sessions.

It’s awesome because the barrier to join is extremely low (hello, I sometimes show up with a towel on my head) and it can be very productive and sociable at the same time. Win win win.

Bonus: Have a leaving routine

This is more about settling out than settling in, but knowing what you need to do before you leave a place is equally as important as knowing what to do when you arrive.

I’ve got a new personal rule that I need to know minimum one month in advance what I am doing, otherwise I get super anxious and am not able to focus on anything. That also means know when I’ll be leaving, how I’m getting to the new place and what I need to prepare.

travel digital nomad girls

Getting all my travel ducks in a row means I have to stress less which in turn means I arrive less stressed in a new place.

I also allow myself to take the day before travelling off if possible, so I have enough time to pack, say goodbyes, and do any chores that need doing (like last minute mani pedis or equally important stuff).

Phew, who knew I had so much wisdom stowed away about settling into a new place. One thing’s for sure though, as I continue to travel and adjust my travel style, I’m sure my settling in routine will also change.

I hope a few of these tips will help you settle into a new city quicker and with more ease and if you need a bit more help, you can download our Settling In Checklist for free right here.

Settling In Checklist freebie Mockup

The Settling In Checklist includes a full checklist of everything to do before you arrive to a new spot, once you arrive and even how to plan your departure and will help you settle into a new city quicker. Plus – just for fun, I threw in our Perfect Day Exercise worksheet so you can get to planning your perfect day in your new city.

Happy exploring and happy settling in! 

Settle Into a New City as a Digital Nomad Girl Pinterest

5 Lessons from 5 Years of Travel

5 Lessons from 5 Years of Travel

It’s been 5 years to the day since I strapped on my shiny new backpack (pink, of course) and jumped on the tube to London Heathrow to meet my boyfriend Simon and catch our flight to Lima, Peru. I can still remember how excited, nervous, terrified and thrilled I was to finally be going on my big around the world adventure.

I’d been planning this day and this trip for nearly three years. Travel was the only thing I thought, read and talked about, and I’m sure I drove at least a few of my friends just a little crazy.

But what was supposed to be a one-year around the world trip ended up becoming my life and full-time lifestyle. I could probably reminisce and share stories and anecdotes for pages and pages, but instead I want to share some of the travel lessons I learned in the last 5 years, both as a backpacker and as a digital nomad.

So here we go, here are my 5 Lessons from 5 Years of Travelling:

1. Nothing goes the way you planned

Both in travel and in life, we tend to imagine things a certain way. We plan, organise and prepare to make sure everything is just right. #perfectionism

I planned out my around-the-world-trip for nearly three years, so you can be sure I knew exactly what I wanted to do, see and experience. Thankfully this was pre-Instagram days (well, I was a little late to the ‘gram game) or I would have had even more skewed visions of what my trip should look like.

Do you know the quote ‘Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans’? Well that applies to travel just the same.

In three years of dreaming and planning, I never imagined that I would hike the Inca trail for four days with both a sprained ankle and severe food poisoning. But that’s exactly what happened.

5 Lessons from 5 Years of Travelling Angry Hiking Inca the Trail

Worst of all, on the final day of the hike, when were due to arrive at Machu Picchu, the heavens opened up and we got drenched as we’ve never been drenched before. By the time we arrived at the sun gate (the spot where every Instagrammer worth her Himalayan salt takes that iconic Machu Picchu shot) the site was completely covered in clouds and we could see nada.

Peru Machu Picchu digital nomad girls travelling jenny

Was I sad, gutted, annoyed, frustrated and just a little angry? Hell yes! But did it ruin our experience and memories? Absolutely not.

Because anyone can just go to Machu Picchu on a train and enjoy that view, but I earned it.

Strapping my ankle into its brace every morning, braving the squat toilet situation along the trail (I’ll spare you the graphic details), and shivering my way around one of the 8 modern wonders of the world was NOT how I imagined it, but it’s my own unique experience and I’ll cherish those memories and stories forever.

So don’t be too annoyed when things go differently in your travels (or business, life, love…) than you expect, it’s all part of the fun. Just enjoy the ride.

2. It’s the people that matter and that you remember

Before I went on my trip, I was daydreaming of iconic sights like Chichen Itza, the Golden Gate Bridge, and of course, Machu Picchu. I was imagining feeling humbled and inspired by these views and, truth be told, there’s nothing quite like sitting on the side of the Grand Canyon and gazing across to the other side.

But what stays in your memory more than any sight or any tourist attraction are the people you meet along the journey.

I spent some of my best travel days in Panamanian suburbs, in remote jungle lodges and on dilapidated Nicaraguan boats. What made these days so special were the people I shared them with.

It didn’t matter if we were sleeping in hammocks for $3 a night or living on hostel pancakes because they were free, because the company was, just like a Mastercard ad, priceless.

But what surprised me more than anything is how easy it is to form deep and meaningful friendships with people you’ve just met a week, a day or even a few hours earlier.

Travel strips away all the bravado, the pretence and the walls we build up around ourselves.

5 Lessons from 5 Years of Travelling Best travel friends ever

You get thrown into situations where you can’t help but show your true colours, and the true travel friends you make will accept and love you for it because you shared these precious memories together.

Wow, this got a bit deep.

So let me just say, there’s nothing quite like spending an hour in total darkness on a chicken bus stuffed so full to the brim with people, luggage and actual chickens, that even the locals find it hilarious, and Reggaeton blasting so loud you can’t hear yourself think, while careening down windy Guatemalan dirt roads and swigging whisky from a hip flask to stop the oncoming panic attack.

Alone it would have been a nightmare; with friends it was already a legendary travel story 10 minutes after it happened that has bonded us together for life.

 

That’s also exactly why I created the DNG Inner Circle: to give us a place to find others who ‘get it’ and to be able to take our global friends with us everywhere we go!

We have coworking sessions, goal setting, book club, accountability buddies and so much more to make that amazing travel life even more amazing with our on-the-go community!

3. There’s no right or wrong way to travel (well kinda)

Let me give you an example. When we first started backpacking I’d read every budget travel blog and book I could find and I’d calculated our travel budget down to the dollar. I knew exactly how much we’d be spending every day in every country on accommodation, food, fun, transport, even miscellaneous (how is that even possible?). I even had the budget tracker app to stay on top of it all.

The only problem was, we didn’t stick to our budget at all.

Well kind of.

We did well on some days, but then crazy overspent on other days. In general, we were always around 10–20% over budget.

I was frustrated and annoyed with myself for months that we couldn’t stick to our budget. Until one day I realised that what we were spending was our budget. I had based my calculations and estimations on other people’s experiences and comfort levels.

Most of these people were backpackers in their early 20s who preferred to spend $3 on a 24-bed dorm room so they could splurge on a box of wine that night and party.

I, on the other hand, had just turned 30 and was more interested in eating my way around the world, visiting incredibly sights, going on hikes and even buying a few souvenirs.

eating rome jenny digital nomad girls

A very large majority of my travel pics involve food in one way or another – it’s just the way we like to travel!

I also value safety, so I’ll usually pay for the nicer safer bus rather than the cheap rickety version. Which is totally fine because that’s my travel style, nobody else’s.

As the years passed and we transitioned from backpackers to working-holidayers to digital nomads; so did our travel style. As nostalgic as I sometimes am for the good old days we spent making friends in hostel kitchens, I’d hate to stay in a cheap hostel now that I run my own business and need to actually work.

I’m also not embarrassed anymore to switch my trusty old backpack (yep, that pink one) for a shiny new hardshell suitcase with wheels.

jenny lachs gif suitcase antler digital nomad girls

I guess what I’m trying to say with my budget story is, your travel style will evolve over time, and there really isn’t one right or wrong way to travel; this is also quite similar to my belief that there isn’t a right or wrong way to be a digital nomad.

The only exception to that is, of course, to not be a touristy douchebag who disrespects cultures, the environment or local people. But that should go without saying, right?

Apart from that, there really is no one-size-fits-all travel style. So, bring your own pillow if it makes you happy, splurge on lounge access, or stay in a swanky Airbnb. But equally feel free to couchsurf, hitchhike or volunteer your way around the world. There’s no right or wrong way, just your way.

4. Travel changes you

Whether you like it or not, travel will inevitably change you in one way or another, and probably in lots of ways. And I don’t mean that you’ll get a tan, a funky hair wrap and start wearing tie-dye tops and Thai fisherman trousers, though this can even to happen to the best of us.

5 Lessons from 5 Years of Travelling Fashion Sins in Indonesia

The change will be much deeper and not quite as reversible as a temporary hippie wardrobe.

I could fill the pages of whole books about this topic, but here are just a couple of ways in which travel has changed me.

I’m incredibly impatient. Take it from someone who once got second-degree burns on her tongue from melted cheese because she’s too impatient to wait for her toastie to cool down (ok, this might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the gist).

However, travel teaches patience, even if it takes an eternity to sink in (#tooimpatientolearnpatience). I can now happily spend 23 hours on a bus, sleeping, reading, staring out the window, knowing I’ll get there when I get there. Travel teaches you to enjoy the ride. Literally.

Travel makes you adaptable. We recently did some cat-sitting for friends who went on a mini honeymoon for a week. We arrived at their house, unpacked our essentials, connected to the wifi and we felt right at home. I think most people would find it incredibly awkward to settle into a new place within minutes, it might even take them weeks. So, it’s kind of nice to be able to feel at home almost anywhere pretty much instantly.

And while we’re on the topic of home…

5. Home will never be the same again

Just as you will never be the same again having travelled for an extended time in your life, so will the concept of home. I’ve not yet met a traveller who didn’t struggle upon returning to their hometown after a long time away.

Reverse culture shock is a thing, y’all. And I would argue that it’s much harder to return home for good than it is to keep travelling.

It’s not that it isn’t wonderful to return home, spend time with family, catch up with friends and eat all your favourite foods. It definitely is, especially if you’re lucky enough to call a city as nice as Munich home, as I do.

But there’s also that slight distance that you feel when your friends fill you in about all the things that happened since you left and that you missed out on. And there’s also that nagging feeling that nobody really understands what you’ve experienced since you’ve left, or maybe even cares.

They probably won’t understand how different you feel. And not in a douchey ‘I found myself’ way, but in a way that is almost impossible to describe – as if you’ve just moved on from your old life a little bit.

It took me years to understand that it’s ok to not feel 100% at home in my old hometown anymore. I still love it and love spending time there with my friends. But I also have other cities now where I feel at home and have travel family spread around the world.

As writer Miriam Adeney once said:

“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

If you also love yourself a good travel inspiration quote, check out some of my other favorites here.

5 Lessons from 5 Years of Travelling Munich

 

Bonus Lesson: The world isn’t such a scary place after all

When I found out that I was going on a three-month placement to South Africa during the second year of my PhD, two things happened. First, I was ecstatic and incredibly excited for this opportunity. Second, I had to listen to every single person I knew and met tell me how I would definitely get killed/robbed/raped/taken hostage if I went to South Africa by myself.

Definitely.

It’s not like I wasn’t a little nervous myself already, I mean this was the first time I’d gone that far by myself and for so long. But listening to all the horror stories of people who, I should point out, had never been to South Africa themselves, but had an dentist/second cousin twice/old plumber who’d been there and was nearly killed/robbed/raped/murdered made this 5-foot 3-inch 20-something year old girl a little nervous to say the least.

The news and magazines are filled with horror stories of kidnappings, giant man-eating spiders, tropical viruses and terrorism, of course, to make you want to crawl under your duvet and never leave the house. But once you step foot into the real world you’ll see it really isn’t such a scary place after all.

Naturally, nobody wants you to know that because it’ll mean you might spend your hard earned dollars in a different country or maybe even get ideas that the way we live in the Western world isn’t the only way or not even the best way to live.

What I learned from over 5 years of travelling across 6 continents is that people are kind. So much kinder than we’re told at home. In fact, speaking to strangers isn’t only safe but it’s the only way you’ll really learn about a country.

Like that time our bus arrived with a 7-hour delay in Guatemala city at 2 am and we had no hostel booked. We had made friends with a local lady on the bus who was being picked up at the bus stop by her husband.

The two of them didn’t only drive me, my boyfriend and our friend to a safe hotel they knew, they woke up the doorman to help us check in and even paid for half our room because they sensed this was a little bit out of our usual $10 a night dorm room price class. This was just a few days before Christmas and we remember our saviour couple fondly as Maria y Jose because (a) we forgot their real names, and (b) this was clearly a Christmas miracle, right?

Actually no, it’s not that uncommon at all. In fact, I’ve heard similar stories of the kindness of strangers from many travellers.

The majority of people in the world are good. As one of my travel friends says: ‘Remember that this place you’re scared of is home to someone’.

digital nomad girls gran canaria jenny travel

So, there you go, 5 lessons plus 1 bonus lesson that I’ve learned in the past 5 years. To be honest, I found it difficult to write this post because I feel like I have 10 times as much to share, and many more meaningful lessons, but it’s impossible for me to put them into words.

So let’s just hope I’ll be more eloquent after the next five years! Here’s to new adventures!

6 Digital Nomad Myths and Why They’re Full of Crap

6 Digital Nomad Myths and Why They’re Full of Crap

This post is part of our new “Digital Nomad Girls 101” blog series where we talk about all the basics of the digital nomad lifestyle. Today we call out the biggest digital nomad myths and tell you why they’re full of crap.

Few lifestyles are as shrouded in mystery as that of the digital nomad (ok, maybe apart from vampires and and the yeti, but you know what I mean). Since Tim Ferriss published his 4-Hour Workweek in 2007, digital nomads have become a hot topic. Sadly, there’s also a lot of hot air, plenty of colourful stereotypes and a ton of utter nonsense surrounding this lifestyle.

There’s undoubtedly something romantic about the idea of travelling wherever the wind takes you and making money online with only a few hours’ work a day. But the truth is, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.

That’s why today we’re writing about the 6 biggest digital nomad myths and why they’re full of crap:

1. We all work from the pool/beach/lake (insert any body of water + a few inflatable pool toys and you get the picture)

Admit it, you’ve seen this kind of photo before: a tanned young nomad, tapping away while sipping a cocktail at the pool, Macbook sparkling silvery in the soft afternoon sun and inflatable unicorn floating in the background (did I mention I really really want an inflatable unicorn flamingo?).

girl laptop ocean

Maybe you’ve even taken that same picture. But here’s the thing:

I call bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of taking this kind of instagrammable pic myself. It’s a lot of fun and a great visual metaphor for the kind of freedom this lifestyle can afford.

But the reality is that no digital nomad who actually wants to get some work done ever does it at the beach or in the bright sun at the pool. And why would anyone actually want to work at the pool? When I’m at the pool, I want to play with pool noodles and drink coconuts with rum inside. Not work. That’s lame.

So apart from the technical issues of sand/water/chlorine in your keyboard and a mean sun glare, it’s not really that desirable to take your work with you anywhere you go. It’s important to draw the line between work and play, even if you love your job, which can be a huge challenge for many digital nomads. So next time you see a laptop-on-the-beach pic, don’t be jealous, pity that poor workaholic beachbum.

 

2. We all make money while we sleep

Aaah, this one’s a classic too. While I’m sure it can’t solely be blamed on the 4-Hour Workweek, I’m sure Tim Ferris’ teachings in this book about passive income have a lot to answer for when it comes to myth #2.

Passive income is the type of income that you generate without having to put in any (or much) continuing effort. Examples include affiliate income made through an affiliate link in a two-year old blog post, or sales on an evergreen course you created once and still brings in money.

While this type of income certainly exists and is obviously awesome, I think it’s also super important to note that a) it’s usually not quite as passive as it’s cracked up to be, and b) you don’t need to make passive income in order to be a digital nomad.

digital nomad girls laptop working

In fact, most digital nomads are either freelancers or remote employees, meaning that they exchange their expertise and time for money while helping their clients solve certain problems.

Many digital nomads now add passive income streams to their businesses, which is great in terms of income stability (you make some money even if you aren’t fully booked with clients that month), but it certainly isn’t a requirement to be a digital nomad. Sure, it definitely adds to your financial freedom and can free up time for travelling, knitting, or whatever other hobbies you might have.

However, I bring this up as a myth because there are a looot of online ‘gurus’ who are trying to sell the dream of passive income and make it out to be an easy solution.

Passive income is never 100% passive, you always have to put the effort in to create, maintain, and analyze whatever it is you create and sell online, which can be a huge amount of work itself.

So, don’t think that I hate passive income – I think it’s awesome – but don’t think you need to become a blogger to be a digital nomad. You’d be surprised at how many aspiring nomad girls with awesome skills and experience think they have to start a blog before they can become location independent.

 

3. We’re all poor as church mice

This myth lies at completely the other end of the financial spectrum of digital nomad stereotypes, but is also very common and completely wrong.

Are there many nomad noobies who are still getting their feet wet, living cheaply in places like Chiang Mai, Thailand and living off meagre blogging or freelance income?

Of course.

I know that because it’s exactly how I started out. I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with starting small and working your way up, especially if you don’t yet have any experience or skills that are easily transferred online.

But the good news is that it doesn’t have to remain that way.

Many digital nomads who work as freelancers or remote employees make a great living, often earning more than they did in their previous corporate jobs while working fewer hours and doing work they love. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if you spend some time in cheaper countries, but this should never be the basis of your digital nomad strategy, just a perk or a way to help you get started.

Once you have experience and have  found your niche and ideal clients, it’s time to scale your business and make more money.

 

4. We’re always on holiday

This one is a biggie and I’m sure it won’t go anywhere anytime soon. This is definitely exacerbated by myth #1 (we’re always working by the pool), as most people seem to think digital nomads are constantly on holiday. I don’t know about you, but this kinda bugs me sometimes.

This myth can actually be really annoying, especially when you’re visiting home and people assume you’ll be available at any time for coffee/shopping trips/paddleboarding or any other non-work related activity, just because you work for yourself. I mean yes, I work remotely, but the emphasis is still on work.

digital nomad girls laptop working

It might not sound like a big deal and a bit of a first world problems, but for me personally it ties in with the feeling of guilt that I don’t spend enough time with my family or friends. I know, huge FOMO (anyone else??).

The truth is that most digital nomads actually work a lot, or at least more than most would expect. Part of the reason for that is many of us actually love what we do, so it’s hard to switch off. The other reason we often work crazy hours is that our work-life separation can be pretty blurred, with work dragging out because there are no set hours. That’s why it’s so important to create productive habits as a digital nomad.

 

5. We travel all the time

This is one of the biggest myths and also something that can put off a lot of new nomads. A lot of people have the impression that we are constantly roaming the planet with our little carry-on suitcases, travelling wherever the wind blows but never really stopping.

It sounds super romantic and adventurous. And super exhausting.

Travelling can already be exhausting, especially if you travel fast (think 11 European cities in 3 weeks kinda fast). But add actual work into the mix, client deadlines, time differences and meetings, and I bet you’d be exhausted after a month maximum.

Most digital nomads either travel slowly or have a home base that they travel from. That doesn’t mean they’re bad digital nomads, it just means they prioritise their mental and physical health, enjoy having a certain routine and like to get to know a new place and people better before moving onto the next destination.

digital nomad girls laptop working

Another popular option is to travel with your home, either by joining the growing #vanlife community, or with Tiny Houses or boats.

The best part of location independence is the independence, which means you can travel as much or as little as you like. The option is yours.

 

6. It’s a lonely life

Noooo! I know that one of the biggest worries of aspiring digital nomad girls is that they’ll be travelling all by themselves, working alone in cafes or Airbnbs, and basically being homesick and lonely all the time.

I’ll admit that this was also one of my fears, but it doesn’t have to be this way – trust me. There are sooo many great ways to meet new people, make friends and stay in touch while travelling, meaning that loneliness should not put you off this lifestyle.

That’s exactly why I started the DNG Facebook Group, to meet like-minded DNGs and make friends. That’s the mission of DNG and the DNG Inner Circle, where we can give more accountability and foster ongoing relationships.

 

 

Coworking and coliving spaces are also popping up all over the world and are a great way to meet other nomads. One other thing that is invaluable for me is to actually spend quality time with my online friends offline, whether it be at retreats, conferences or other nomad specific events.

The best part is that you can plan your trips around your new friends, and meet up or explore new places together, yay!

There you have it, 6 digital nomad myths that are definitely full of crap. Of course, there will always be people who will try to sell you these myths as the dream lifestyle or use them to put you off your nomadic dreams.

 

Now that you know the reality, I hope you feel less intimidated or worried to go nomadic yourself. Are there any other digital nomad myths that bug you? Why not share them with us in the comments!

There’s no right or wrong way to be a digital nomad

There’s no right or wrong way to be a digital nomad

Introducing a new series called #nomadtruths, or maybe it’s just a one-off, we shall see. I want to talk about the digital nomad lifestyle in all its glory but also share the ugly or difficult sides. Today: “there’s no right or wrong way to be a digital nomad’. 

 

One of the things I’ve been hearing myself tell people over and over these past few years is that ‘there’s no right or wrong way of being a digital nomad’. And I truly believe this. I’ve seen so many girls write things like “I’m not a real digital nomad because…[insert any random reason]’ and it bugs me. Not because it’s sooo important to be a ‘proper’ digital nomad – because hey, that’s really just made-up concept – but because I don’t want anyone feeling they’re doing something ‘wrong’ or that they’re living their life ‘wrong’. After all, we’re all creating lives for ourselves that we want to live. That we’ve dreamt about living.

 

This whole topic is especially frustrating and ironic because I’ve been beating myself up for months now for feeling like I’m not a ‘proper’ digital nomad. Crazy right? I mean, deep down I know there’s no such thing.

 

But let me explain. You might already know my story. The short version is: I used to be a chemist, then decided to ditch research in exchange for a round-the-world trip, and after nearly 2 years of backpacking and working holidaying (is that a verb? it is now…) my boyfriend and I took the leap and rocked up in Chiang Mai to try our luck at digital nomading. We had no clue how to, he became an online science editor and I started a challenge to take any freelance jobs I could find. I freelanced for about 1.5 years, travelling around 9 countries in Asia and Europe, working as a social media manager, translator, writer and website designer. All the while I was running DNG as a hobby before I decided to turn it into a business. Phew, that’s the short version.

 

Now once we’d travelled and worked basically non-stop for 1.5 years (and travelled for nearly 2 years before that) we were exhausted. Like “I-don’t-ever-want-to-move-again” exhausted. So we decided to make a home base for a little while to chill out and so I could focus on DNG without moving constantly. It was a great idea, settling down, living cheaply, enjoying sunny Las Palmas, enjoying the nomad scene and community here, and building up my business.

 

Fast forward 1.5 years and we’ve had a home base for all this time. Sure, we travelled a bit, but mainly for conferences, retreats and to visit family and friends. No ‘real’ travel. And during this time I started feeling like a total imposter. I mean, ‘who am I to run a business called Digital Nomad Girls if I’m not moving around at least once a month?’ and other helpful destructive and untrue self-criticism like this.

 

It got so bad that I actually started feeling disconnected from DNG and the community, which really sucked and felt horrible. Here I was running my dream business, totally location independent, but feeling like I didn’t deserve it. That I wasn’t being a ‘good enough’ digital nomad.

 

The crazy thing was that, from the outside, everything looked great, like I was doing all the right things. So when people talked to me about DNG and told me they loved what I was creating, I didn’t feel proud, I felt like a fraud. It really sucked.

 

But why am I sharing all of this with you? Because I realised two things:

First, there’s an incredible amount of pressure in the digital nomad world.

We might not realise it immediately, but after a while, it creeps up on us. We left the social norms and pressures of our ‘old lives’ behind, the white picket fence and 9-to-5 pressure, just to put a new type of pressure on ourselves. Now we need to be crushing it. We need to have constant adventures every day. We need to make a minimum of six figures or we’re undervaluing ourselves and basically failing. We need to constantly strive for more personal development.

What, you don’t have a morning routine yet? Ugh, you’re not a ‘proper’ digital nomad. You’re not making any passive income? Oooh, better work on that if you ever want to live the Four Hour Workweek (disclaimer, I don’t). And make sure you share your perfect life with everyone on Instagram to prove that you made the right decision to leave the ‘normal’ pressure behind.

It can be exhausting. But when did this become our focus? We wanted to live simpler lives, be in charge of our days, spend time doing things we love and helping people while travelling and exploring the world. Where did this pressure come from (I have a feeling there’s another blog post following about this soon) and why are we playing along?

 

And the second thing I learned was this: if I am feeling this way, there must be others out there who feel exactly the same. And isn’t that what DNG was supposed to be all about, and why I started the Facebook Group in the first place? To connect with others who were going through the same process, who had questions and were looking for answers? If I don’t get honest and real about my feelings about doing the whole digital nomad thing ‘wrong’ then how can others who struggle with the same issue start feeling better about themselves?

 

So, it all comes back to this:

 

There’s no right or wrong way to be a digital nomad. Full stop.

 

And I’m not talking about the type of work you do (don’t even get me started on that, more will follow on this topic). I’m talking about how you travel. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a home base and only travel for a month every year, or whether you travel carry-on only or drag two 23kg trunks around the world with you. It doesn’t matter whether you hang out in Bali or Lisbon, or in Munich or Manchester. There are no minimum air miles you have to accrue over a year. The only thing that matters is that you’re living a life you enjoy and that you’re not harming others and the communities you visit.

 

It’s time that we start sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of the digital nomad lifestyle.  

I don’t mind whether your Instagram feed is a messy mix of pictures of burritos and selfies with your new friends from around the world or glamorous shots of you in a ball gown on a mountaintop, but I applaud you if you have the courage to share real photos of the digital nomad lifestyle (#nomadtruths). Don’t get me wrong, I’m as guilty as the next DNG of taking pics by the pool and reposting drool-worthy Insta pics on my feed. It’s beautiful, it’s colourful, it’s fun. And it can also be real. But it’s just one part of the reality. One side of the coin. The lonely days, rough journeys, and frantic wifi-searches are also important parts of the picture.

 

This isn’t to warn others away from this lifestyle, but to make sure they know the reality of what they’re getting themselves into. Often it means working 12 hours a day in your pyjamas instead of 4 hours a week by the pool. And that’s ok. You’re not doing anything wrong. You just do you. And keep tweaking this life. If something sucks, talk about it, share it and improve it. But don’t expect perfection from the start. Everyone’s different and everyone’s nomad journey is different. And that’s what makes it awesome.

So, for me that means that I will be sharing muuuuch more stuff like this. I’ve been wanting to do it for ages and have been holding myself back, because it doesn’t fall into the shiny Insta-perfect grid of nomad expectations. But it’s part of my journey.

Do you feel a lot of pressure to get the nomad life ‘right’? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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