20 Jul Challenges for the remote worker or Digital Nomad (and how to deal with them)
The Digital Nomad lifestyle sounds pretty appealing to a lot of people. And yes, living on the most beautiful places on earth and working while traveling the world most of the time is like living a dream. But of course there are times when circumstances are challenging. It can be the time difference, the temperature, the rain, the mosquitos or malfunctioning equipment. In this post we will talk with some of these challenges and share how we deal with them.
1. Hot weather (and sometimes rain)
Because of the heat we mostly work very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Especially after 11.00 the temperature often is too high to keep working. If we really have something we need to finish or we need to think about, we look for places that are either windy or air-conditioned. On the island where we are staying now, you can often stay cool and use the free wifi for the price of a cup of coffee in the better hotels. When traveling in the rainy season, don’t leave stuff outside when you are going out. Storm and rain will hit faster than you are used to. Be smart and don’t spent too much time and money on laundry and put your clothes inside when you leave.
2. Mosquitos and other animals that sting
Although working really early in the morning or late at night sounds like a smart move to get away from the heat, unfortunately this is the time that mosquitos thrive on your blood. So when looking for a place to work or sleep, always be aware of the water, dark corners and look for places that have mosquito nets. During these times we use a combination of mosquito repellent and anti-itch cream. This way they don’t sting you that much and when they do you have something to get your mind of the itch and back to your work. (this digital nomad lifestyle sounds like fun, doesn’t it??)
3. Taking care of your equipment
When you are traveling and working at the same time, your equipment (computer, headset, cell phone, etc) is more important than your passport. Passports can be replaced quite cheap and simple, computers and all the other things often cannot. You don’t want the things to get stolen or stop functioning. That is why we always store our valuables in a safe with a proper lock. We almost never carry our computers in plain sight (what the eyes don’t see, the mind doesn’t want) and we keep them as clean and as far away from sand, water, dust etc as we possibly can. And when we travel, we always, always, always carry the things we need to our jobs with us inside the vehicle (bus, airplane, car, whatever). Never store these things out of sight! Also, we have one basic rule we like to call ABC or Always Be Charging. In this lifestyle, you never know when the power drops, if the location where you will be working has proper power or any other situation that you can end up in, so keep your batteries charged. (we will explain more about this topic in a future post)
4. The time difference
Working across different time zones means that you sometimes have to make sacrifices to make sure your clients don’t suffer from your lifestyle choice. We have been waiting till as late as 2.00 AM to talk with a client at 9.00 AM his time. Or we have gotten up at 4.00 AM to have a group meeting for international project through different time zones. Remember, you choose this lifestyle so it is your responsibility to make sure you customers notice as little as necessary. We always ask our clients for a date and time, not just today or tomorrow, because you never know what ‘tomorrow’ means. Also set an alarm in your calendar in the correct timezone and sync this with your other devices, this way you don’t forget the important appointments.
5. Dividing your time between fun and work
When the sun is out, the weather is nice and the other people around you are having a good time, it is important to realise that most of the time they are only passing by. It is their holiday. They have only a couple of weeks per year to spend time partying at the beach. You, on the other hand, are going to be here for a while. This means you have to pick your moments, just like working back home, and decide when you do what. If we meet some really cool people we sometimes might postpone our work a couple of days to sometimes even up to a week. The beauty of this lifestyle is the experience and you have to make time for that as well. But you can never forget that, although your costs are a lot lower, you need food and a place to stay at the end of the day and your customers expect quality so probably some work has to be done sometimes. Be smart, pick you moments, enjoy them to fullest and pick jobs that make you feel the same:)
6. Backup your data (like a crazy person)
You almost can’t be too focussed on safeguarding your data. After our first 19 months of travelling we have backup our data in so many different places that we even backups of backups of backups. When you take pictures of a lifetime, you want to make sure you have them for a lifetime. We use portable hard disks, Dropbox, Backblaze, Box.net, TimeMachine, USB’s and a 2 terabyte TimeCapsule in Holland to store all our personal info but also the projects we do for our clients of course. When you are carrying a portable hard disk, count on the fact that the thing will die. Always keep an extra backup of the most important things on a different location as well.
Hopefully these tips helped you. If you want to know how to make money while travelling, please read the ‘six simple steps to make money while traveling’ and if you have a questions, remark or whatever, please let us know!
Valerie ParisiusPosted at 16:06h, 02 August
Thanks for the great post. I’ve been traveling for two years through South East Asia now and I’m heading shortly to Central/South America. What I enjoyed mostly about working on the road is sitting with my laptop at cafe’s etc. I know that on that side of the world I should not flash my big cam and laptop but does that mean that you guys are only working inside your hotel room or at the client. Greetings from Curacao.
Valerie ParisiusPosted at 16:14h, 02 August
Hmm now it hits me that I see you on all pics with your laptops. Is this only for a photo shoot? I’m confused 🙂
Steven ZwerinkPosted at 16:45h, 18 August
Hi Valerie! Thnx for your reply and your question! We always take care how and where we take out our valuable gear. When we are going from point A to point B our computers etc are stored in a safe and when we walk through town, everything is packed in two old looking backpacks.. We have not come across any violence or theft but better safe than sorry… When are you coming to this part of the world??
Steven and Diana
MiliPosted at 19:34h, 02 September
It’s sooo good to find out i am not the only one who is living this kind of life 🙂
greetings from crete.
Steven ZwerinkPosted at 20:41h, 02 September
Haha! Right back at you!! Thnx for stopping by!
Tim HPosted at 11:56h, 23 September
ABC, I love it. Every time I get comfortable with half charged, life always seems to slap me with a power outage.
Steven ZwerinkPosted at 08:19h, 24 September
Hehe you are right Tim! That’s exactly what we have experienced a couple of times! How long have you been on the road?