How I became a digital nomad and how it affected my life

digital nomad

This is my personal story of becoming a digital nomad.

I am, like many others, living proof that one does not need a lot of money to travel. Granted, everybody lives their ‘digital nomad’ life in their own special way. Be that nomads with a six digit income or nomads that enjoy living on a manageable budget.

Where my digital nomad life started

Nearly 2 years ago I graduated from university and I ventured into the big bad world. I already knew that working 9 to 5 wasn’t something that would make me happy.  Routine is something that kills my hope and dreams and I wasn’t (and still am not) ready to give those up. Many more digital nomads start their life because of this ‘hate’ against 9 to 5, and I have to admit it is a damn good reason to do so.

Next to that I wanted something adventurous. When I first read about others doing the same I was skeptical, to say the least. “That won’t work” is what I thought and what many others said. Travel is what I love and the idea of combining 2 of my favorite activities in the world, traveling and webdesign, sounded very appealing to me.

Therefore, one month after graduation I set out to one of the more popular European nomad destinations: Budapest.

What have I learned from this so far?

I’m not the only one doing this, nor am I the first one

You are not the one that invented this lifestyle. You are not alone in your way of thinking. In your environment others may choose a different path in life but with the internet a whole new world has opened up. This world can introduce you to people all over the world, people that share your ideas and view of life. Benefit from this. When choosing the digital nomad lifestyle, read up how others experience it, what problems they faced and how they overcame them.

Perseverance and discipline are key

‘Uggghh. I dont feel like working today’ or ‘I better sleep 2 hours more’ are things I often think. Yet, I don’t give in to them. Because it’s actually very simple: if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. If you don’t get paid you’ll be home in 2 months.

The ability to motivate yourself is crucial in the life of a digital nomad. So I don’t have a boss and my schedule is a bit looser than that of a normal employee, yet I also have deadlines to make. If I don’t, my clients wont be happy and won’t work with me anymore. Don’t give up, stick to your own timetable and don’t be alter it. If you do, you mind find yourself without clients sooner then you think..

The necessity of an optimal working environment

In 2015 I wrote an article on the neccesity of an optimal working environment this but it’s a true now as it was in 2015. Wherever you work, your health and wellbeing are essential. Invest some money in a decent chair and desk. It’ll save you time and money in the long run.

People often think I’m able to travel the world thanks to some glamorous job, comfortable income, or helpful external financial support. But the reality is that I’ve always lived on a fixed budget to make this dream happen.

You decide what the budget is

Allright. Busted. I’m a bit of a scrooge sometimes. I like to spend money on things that make life worthwhile for me, not on things that have no value for me. The thing I want to tell you is that you can decide yourself if you want to spend a lot or not.

My rule is quite simple: if I don’t spend a lot, I wont have to make a lot either, which leaves more time for fun. Time is more valuable than money. Remember that.

Be happy with the smaller things in life

This is something I learned myself just this year. I was driving throught Vietnam with my bike and spend a lot of time with local families in local villages. They don’t have a lot of money, yet there are always smiles on their faces. Back in The Netherlands in western society we have enough money to buy stuff, yet our outlook on life is pessimistic, to say the least.

More money doesnt mean more happiness, that doesn’t add up. You need enough money to get around, and be happy with what you have. A dinner with newfound friends, dancing with someone you like, watching a sunset with family you haven’t seen for a long time. Happiness isn’t found in materialistic things in life. It’s in the small things, the moments that fly by if you don’t pay attention.

Realize you’re a lucky motherfucker that you’re able to do this

We nomads are in a privileged position. If you are reading this you are probably already a digital nomad yourself, or planning to become one.

You should take into account that a good health isn’t something that should be taken granted. You probably have, which makes you one lucky bastard. Not everyone has the opportunity to start a remote career. You do, which makes you the exception, not the rule.

I’m from a western country where there are plentiful opportunities to take in life. However, when you talk to the people from less privileged countries they will tell you they simply cannot travel to (for example) Europe, because they would have to save years and years to be able to do so. Also, their passports aren’t as powerful as ours.

Next steps in my so called digital nomad life

So far I have lived in: Budapest, Barcelona, Valencia, Curaçao, Sicily, Athens, Chiang Mai, Koh lanta, Siem Reap, Hi Chi Minh city, Hanoi, Canggu and Ubud. There are so many more locations to live.

For 2017 I plan on living in a few South American cities. People have been telling me Medellín is a gorgeous city, so perhaps I’ll take a look there. Furthermore some American and Canadian cities sound intriguing aswell. In any case, the world is full of possibilities and knowing I have the opportunity that I can live my life the way I want to, makes me extremely happy.

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Author: Thom Wensink

Founder of @NomadProjects | Front-end developer | Webdesigner | Startuplife | UI & UX | Digital nomad | Freelancer | Traveller