06 Dec Three years living as digital nomads, ten lessons for life
Today we are celebrating three years of our digital nomads lifestyle. We left Holland on december sixth in 2011 not knowing what this life would bring us. Now, looking back already three years later, we have learned so much and so many things have happened that we could not have anticipated (see picture above with our hiking boots on like as if we were going to walk to Argentina). We have written a post with a personal top ten learning for you to enjoy and use for your own digital nomad plans:)
1. It is is as cool as it sounds
Living this lifestyle really beats living from nine to five every day. It is not always easy but the the things you learns, see, feel and (get to) do are totally worth it. Being away from the people you love sucks but doing what you love is making up for it big time. Life is about doing and experiencing new things and the digital nomad lifestyle will definitely bring you that! We have learned and grown so much over the last three years in ways that would never have been possible in any other lifestyle. Living like digital nomads makes us feel more connected to the world, the people and to ourselves.
2. You don’t have to go far away
When we were back home in Holland we often have found ourselves living in different places, houses and hotels as well. We have gotten accustomed to the fact that home is where you know where the bathroom or the kitchen is (and the wifi password) and now it feels like we can do this from anywhere. Whether it was India, Thailand, Mexico or back home, once you have adjusted your mind, being a digital nomad works from anywhere. We also tried housesitting in Holland and this helped us to maintain our lifestyle even in our home country so you don’t have to go far away to start.
3. Spanish is easy to learn
After three years we can proudly say that we we speak more Spanish than English over here. Steven is now a full Spanish mentor for Startup Weekend in Mexico and Diana comfortably writes and speaks business Spanish with al our different clients. We make bilingual webpages that only contain small spelling errors (that even Mexicans debate about;)). We are not real language expertes but we have learned that if you submerge yourself into this language you’ll have no problem learning it. Especially if you need it to make a living:) So if you really want to learn a language useful for travel, go and learn Spanish! You’ll be able to have nice conversations and a job from Mexico to Argentina:)
4. Mexico is awesome for Digital Nomads
There is no other way to say how much we have come to love this country! The people, the food, the language, the nature, everything! The image Mexico has abroad is just not true. Yes there are still a lot of things to solve in Mexico but it is safe, easy to travel, cheap, very entrepreneurial and above all beautiful in so many ways. People are very helpful and the wifi /3G is fast almost everywhere. So, give Mexico a try, you won’t regret it!
5. Computers die faster at the beach
Computers and any other electronic gear dies a lot faster with sun, sweat, sand and salt eating away at it. We have had to change Steven’s brand new MacBook after only two years and Diana’s MacBook Air has been to the repair shop twice and now only works with external keyboard. We are now using protective cases around the devices we need most (camera, computers and iPad mini) so they don’t give up as fast as the first ones. When you choose to live and work in this climate, choose your gear wisely and protect it!
6. You can always live with less
We left with so much stuff in 2011 that we had to wear our hiking boots on the plane because they were to heavy and big to go in the backpack! We travelled at maximum capacity (25 kgs in a backpack!) and could barely close the lids of our bags. Today, although we are travelling with our bus, we own less then what we left with in 2011. When we now travel by plane we usually carry only 15kgs or even less. it is true what they say: things you own end up owning you. and getting rid of things is a liberating exercise every time.
7. Plans change
‘Down to Argentina and back up to Mexico in one year while working at the same time’ that was our plan when we left Holland and boy we couldn’t have been more wrong. Now, three years laters, the closest we have been to Argentina is during new years eve in San Cristobal, Mexico with some guys from Argentina, red wine and a steak. So that year turned out to be a lot longer than we thought and we still don’t know how long it will take us but Argentina remains our goal. In the meantime we have on an amazing journey with trips even to India and Thailand so our advice is ‘as with all things in life, things change, live with them and enjoy the ride. It is the journey that counts, not the destination’!
8. Warm weather isn’t always fun, stay hydrated
A lot of people choose for the Digital Nomad lifestyle to get some more sunshine and higher temperatures in their lives. We also love the sun but we have been severely dehydrated for a couple of times now. Steven even spend a night in a Mexican military after getting seriously dehydrated after exercising. In the hospital they had to setup an IV him six (!) liters of lost liquids and paracetamol to lower his body temperature! So, when you travel in hot countries (and especially when you exercise) make sure to have some water and electrolytes on you all the time. These small bags of salt, sugar and precious minerals are exactly what your body needs to stay hydrated. Headaches are often a first sign, don’t let this ruin your trip!
9. The digital nomad lifestyle is hard work
Although it might seem like an easy lifestyle when looking at the pictures of others, the digital nomad lifestyle very often is not. We are not saying that it is that more difficult than having a regular job perse, but is not easier for sure. A regular job comes with plenty of insecurities, other uncertainties and challenges. However, adjusting to completely new circumstances (where really nothing is the same), learning the local culture and the time difference are all examples of why we started this journey but that at the same time make it really hard. To start and maintain this lifestyle is very rewarding (we still pinch each other in the arm every day) but it is hard work, also at the beach:)
10. Technology sometimes makes it harder to be away
Ten years ago when you were away, you were away. There were no Facebook walls to check, Skype meetings to have or group whatsapp messages to reply to. You were really gone. Travelling was different back then. Nowadays with technology it is so much easier to keep in touch with home that it actually makes being away a lot harder. You hear those familiar voices, see those familiar faces and places and without noticing you are drifting back and then when the connection closes you are all of sudden thousands of kilometres away and we ofter miss home more than ever after one of these calls.
Hopefully these ten lessons have helped you a bit in your preparation as a digital nomad or may be you are already travelling a lot and you have recognised a few things. Whatever you feel, we love to hear from you in the comments so drop us a line:)