15 Oct Living the Dream – The Life of a Digital Nomad
*Guest Post by Andrea Leblang*
We live in an amazing world, full of new opportunities driven by technological advances. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with technology, so freeing and yet so tethering. I’ve recently become a digital nomad, traveling the world nonstop. My new company (a boutique travel agency) is marketed solely online, reliant on referrals and social media to drive new business. One simply amazing component of this new lifestyle is the ability to work from my laptop, wherever that may be! This means that I’ve had some of the most beautiful offices imaginable. Hooray technology!
The life of a digital nomad has unique freedoms, opening up worlds far beyond the monotony of a standard office job. This freedom is one of the main reasons I’m so thankful to live in a world filled with new career opportunities driven by technological advances. Living and working from the road is dynamic and exhilarating and it gives me goose bumps – the wonderful kind that you only expect on infrequent, once-in-a-lifetime occasions. For me, it truly is a dream come true.
I worked in corporate America for nearly ten years, and most recently in a position that required me to hit the ground running, in heels, at 5AM every morning. I was dressed to impress, and spent my days bogged down in meetings before having to network into the late evening hours. I enjoyed this role for many years, but as time went by and my job became more demanding, I realized I was working to feed my passion rather than living a life I was passionate about.
Having the capability to change your career path, and move into a remote-capable role, isn’t always an option. I’m thankful for my time in the corporate world as it was vital to my development. If it weren’t for the years spent wearing many different business hats, I would have never had the knowledge and the motivation to start my own company, allowing me to live and work in a world that feeds my passion on a daily basis. Following my dream of traveling the world, making my office wherever I take my laptop, might be the best decision I’ve ever made. With more companies offering remote capable careers, there are many options for others to make this dream a reality as well; however, it’s very important to have a realistic outlook on what you’re signing up for.
While digital nomadic life may seem glamorous, for every goose bump experience, there’s another that summons just as much negative energy – feelings of intense stress or even loneliness. Don’t forget: digital nomads aren’t on never-ending vacation – if they are successful in creating a sustainable, nomadic lifestyle, they are working hard as they move furiously across the globe. They are on their laptops for long hours, in a variety of conditions that may not be an ideal working environment. These people, like me, are indeed making sacrifices to support the lifestyle of their dreams.
There are certainly amazing times. There is nothing quite like the feeling of conquering a mountain or spending a day parachuting over beautiful valleys. Believe it or not though, there are many stressful times, stuck in uncomfortable accommodations, trying to simultaneously work and tune out a bar below thumping techno music until dawn. There are unreliable WiFi connections that drop on every attempted business call. There are also irregular schedules (most of my clients live in the US). I often end up working at odd hours and sometimes through the night, saving early mornings and weekends for exploration and adventure.
I’ve had multiple people tell me that I’m “living the dream“, but I don’t know if that’s true. While I am certainly living out a version of my dreams, the reality of this dream is that I never feel settled. As soon as I start to become familiar with a location, we’re off to the next. Many mornings I wake up, having little or no clue as to where in the world I am. I’m constantly connected – my laptop has become a fifth limb, whether I’m working or writing or keeping in touch with friends and family. I barely have a social life, outside of the one that lives within the world of social media or through video chat. I’m constantly having to get used to new customs, new foods, new insects and my body’s reaction to all of these things… figuring out the exchange rate for each new currency – the list goes on. Throughout history, human beings tend to settle, and for good reason – constantly moving from place to place, throwing yourself in and out of new environments, is emotionally draining and physically exhausting.
This lifestyle forces me to appreciate and miss simple things, like grocery stores with familiar goods, having a routine and family pets. I miss meeting a friend for a drink on a whim, or being able to call without worrying about the time zone changes. I miss seeing my loved ones, and being able to give them a hug. I miss personal interactions beyond seeing faces through my computer screen. I miss taking walks through a familiar neighborhood without having to always follow a map. I miss being able to speak freely and ask questions to people around me without having to struggle with language barriers.
So… am I living the dream? ‘The dream’ is quite relative, and it all depends on what makes you tick. What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning, and makes you feel accomplished at the end of a long day? I would say that I’m living MY dream. I’m passionate about exploring new places, immersing myself in new cultures and learning something new on a daily basis. With every new city we make our ‘temporary home’, I find myself jumping out of bed in the morning, without an alarm clock, just to see the sunrise over a new landscape.
I thrive off of adventure, and I even find myself motivated when we are forced into uncomfortable scenarios. I feel alive experiencing each and every new situation that this big, unknown world has to offer, and every goose bump experience makes every unfortunate situation well worth it. It all just adds to the adventures in the life of a digital nomad.
Andrea is a travel professional who escaped the ‘corporate world’ to answer the call of her wanderlust. Having an intense passion for exploring new places and experiencing new cultures, Andrea is circling the globe with her husband, Bryan, seeking out unique events and unforgettable experiences. Andrea’s travel blog, Best World Yet, provides firsthand recommendations and inspiration for adventure, as she and Bryan make the world their home. You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.
Andrea is an adrenaline junkie and yogi, who enjoys hiking, paragliding and cliff-jumping as well as food, wine, art and dancing. She is especially passionate about helping others make the most of their travels, and founded Elite Travel Arrangements in January of 2015. ETA is a luxury agency planning customized trips from curated travel selections. #bestworldyet