You might be in a similar position: You are tired of your uninspiring 9-5 job and your usual daily routines. You want to do something completely different, break free from your ordinary life and start living your dreams. You want to travel the world! You want to see those amazing places, experience different cultures, meet new people, and try exotic food.
How great would it be if you could simply pack up your work, bring it with you and start traveling? Good news: It is possible and not even that hard. But many people hesitate and are worried for different reasons. If you are one of them, read on. Here are 8 common fears of becoming a digital nomad and how you can deal with them.
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Becoming a Digital Nomad: 8 Common Fears
When I started my freelancing and nomadic lifestyle, I had many fears, too. (You can read about them in this interview I had with Emilie Blum of Heek). And from countless conversations with my family, friends and people I’ve met along the way I know, that there are many more worries people have regarding this kind of life.
However, they are often unfounded and only come up because of a lack of information or panic of the unknown. See what is really behind these fears and why there is no need to have them.
1. Fear of not having enough money
Many people assume that you need to have a lot of money when you want to be a digital nomad. But it’s actually quite the opposite. Nomads often (not always, of course) travel to places with relatively low costs of living.
There is a reason why Chiang Mai or Bali are so popular with digital nomads. Besides the great climate and lovely mentality, you can rent a very nice place for fairly little money. Food, internet, transport and entertainment are cheap, too.
That’s why many nomads will actually spend less per month than what they would spend back at home. Of course, this depends on your travel style and living standard. But if you wanted to, you could live a fairly cheap nomad life.
Apart from that, you will also earn money (at least that’s the plan, right?!). So it’s not like you will travel forever without any income. Sure you need to manage your budget wisely. But after all, you would have to do that at home, too.
Check this article if you want to find out how much money you would need to save if you wanted to survive as a digital nomad without any income for 6 months.
2. Fear of not making any income
Since we are talking about finances: Many aspiring digital nomads are scared that they won’t be able to generate any income while being on the road.
I have to admit it can be harder for some to find ways to make money online. It all depends on your skills, experience and also attitude. There are literally countless ways to make money remotely.
For example, you could start as a freelancer and offer your service to clients. That could be as a translator, web designer, virtual assistant, tutor, or as a content writer. Whatever skill you have or are willing to acquire, see how you can perform it online.
If you don’t feel like freelancing and prefer the security of being employed, don’t worry either! There are plenty of companies out there who are actively looking for remote employees. Check out this post to learn the best strategies to find these kinds of companies.
To add a third way of becoming a digital nomad and making money online: You could also start your own business. For instance, you could start a drop shipping business or make money with AdSense or affiliate marketing. Maybe monetize Instagram accounts? Or buy and sell domains? The list of online business opportunities is virtually endless.
Need more ideas what kind of online job you could do? Check out this list and get some inspirations.
3. Fear of being alone
Not many people are in the lucky position to start the digital nomad lifestyle together with a friend or their significant other. And if you don’t, you might be scared that you will be all alone during your next weeks or months or even years.
Again, this depends on your personality and how much you are actively trying to engage with others. But it is definitely not as hard to make friends on the road as you might think.
For one, wherever you go there will always be locals you can make friends with. In addition to that, there are thousands of other digital nomads, expats or travelers out there, looking to connect. You can find them in Facebook groups, such as Chiang Mai Digital Nomads, Meetup Groups, like Digital Nomads Hamburg, or websites and apps, such as Nomad List Forum.
If you want to find more online and offline communities for digital nomads, check out the linked article.
4. Fear of leaving friends and family behind
Another very common worry when becoming a digital nomad is what happens to your family and friends. Many are worried that staying in contact will be an issue and that they will fall apart with friends when they can’t see them as often as before.
I’m not going to lie; it is hard to say goodbye to your loved ones. It is hard every single time. But it is not like this is the end of your relationship.
You can always stay in contact with video calls on Skype, emails or WhatsApp messages. Sometimes I’m texting with my friends all day long so it doesn’t feel like I’m far away at all. And, of course, you can always come back for a short or extended visit. It’s not like you are out of the world.
Your family will stay your family no matter where in the world you are. They simply don’t have any other choice ;) With friendships it’s a little bit harder. You have to put in a bit more effort. But your true friends will stay with you no matter where in the world you are or how long you don’t see each other.
5. Fear of letting go of possessions
Yep, humans can be terribly materialistic. When we live at the same place for a couple of years, we tend to gather oh so many possessions that they fill up entire houses. Tons of clothes, electronics, cosmetics, souvenirs and other bits and bobs.
Becoming a digital nomad often means that you will have to reduce your physical possessions. You can’t carry everything around with you and if you give up your home base you can’t simply leave it behind.
Most people get easily attached to certain things and almost panic when they have to give them away. That dress you haven’t worn in years? Your DVDs you haven’t watched in ages? The fancy kitchenware you have used only once or twice?
Be realistic: How often are you going to use it again? Maybe you only keep it “just in case”. Go through your house and sort out what you really can’t live without. In the end you will be surprised with how few items you really need to get by. And life is so much easier without having so many things to drag along.
If you want to find out more about how digital nomads can live a minimalistic life, check out the linked article.
6. Fear of language difficulties
I have heard that fear quite often: I couldn’t possibly move to a country where people don’t speak English! I would be so lost!
Nah, you’d be fine! First of all, you are likely to find at least a few people who speak a couple of words English in most big cities.
Second, it is astonishing how far you can come by simply pointing at things or nodding. And a smile is understood in every language!
If that doesn’t work, lucky you! Today there are countless of translations apps out there, that work even without an internet connection. You could use the classic, Google Translate, or go for something with more features, such as iTranslate.
And if you are planning on staying longer in a particular country, you can always do a language course and learn the language. Or at least learn a couple of words to get by.
7. Fear of failure
There is also the fear of general failure. People are scared that they are not going to make it. They could fail with generating income, fail with finding places to live, fail with actually enjoying their new lifestyle.
Being absolutely honest here: Yes, that can happen. All of it.
BUT if you prepare properly, chances are fairly small. Get as much information about the digital nomad lifestyle as you can. Do you really think this is the right way of living for you? Make a plan how you want to make money online. In best case, have your remote job sorted out before you leave. Save money so you don’t end up broke in case something goes wrong.
And if you still fail, what’s so bad about it? Maybe after six months you realize that the digital nomad lifestyle is not your thing. That’s completely ok! Nobody said that this is what you have to do for the rest of your life.
Take it as an experience. Analyze why it didn’t work for you. Were there parts that you enjoyed? Learn from it and see if you can use this experience and knowledge to create a lifestyle that works better for your needs.
8. Fear of negative situations
This is just a little excerpt of all those little fears people can have about becoming a digital nomad:
- What if I get sick and need a doctor? – You go and see one. Pay for it cash and get the money back from your travel insurance company.
- What if I lose my passport? – You go to your embassy and get a new one.
- Where do I get my food from? – From the supermarket, restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, street food stalls, markets etc.
- What if I miss my family or friends? – You call or text them. If it gets too bad, you go and visit them (or ask them to visit you – could be a nice holiday for them).
- What if I lose my phone? – You buy a new one (and, of course, you have made regular backup copies of important data).
- What if my camera gets stolen? – You report it to the local police (and your insurance company if you have one that covers theft) and buy a new one.
- What if my hotel cancels last minute? – You go and book a new one. Check Booking.com or Airbnb for spontaneous offers.
- What if I don’t like the country? – You go to another one.
This list could be endless. Out of fear, people can come up with the most irrational arguments you can think of.
Don’t stress out so much! You are only going to move to another country, not another planet. People there will most likely fight with the same issues as you do in your home country. For every problem, there is a solution. And it is often not as complicated as you might think.
Many issues can be solved with money one way or another (talking about things like theft, transport, accommodation etc.). That’s why I always recommend you to have an extra pot of savings for these kinds of emergencies. You will automatically be more relaxed knowing that you can get out of many situations.
Don’t Let Your Fears Stop You
As you can see, you are not alone with your fears of becoming a digital nomad. There are many people out there, who are worried about the same things as you are. This is fairly normal. After all, you are about to change your life completely and take a leap that not many people would dare to do.
If these fears help you to do better preparation before you start your new lifestyle, than it is even something positive!
It is important that you don’t let your fears control you. Try to be objective and realistic. What can happen in worst case? It’s very likely not the end of the world, so try to stay calm and don’t over dramatize it.
There are so many other digital nomads out there. Connect with them and support each other. If you feel like this is the right lifestyle for you and you are well prepared, then don’t let your fears stop you!
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