Published: April 2023
Being a digital nomad sounds like nothing but good news: the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, flexible schedules, and the opportunity to explore new places.
In many ways, it’s a dream come true for those who have been bitten by the travel bug. However, just like any other lifestyle, being a digital nomad comes with its own set of drawbacks.
As someone who has been part of the digital nomad community for years, in this article, I will share the disadvantages of being a digital nomad that I have experienced over the years.
One of the biggest challenges of being a digital nomad is the lack of community, and the constant need to start over in new places.
Although some digital nomads may travel with friends or partners, many are on their own, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Building meaningful relationships take time and effort and can be tough when you’re always on the go. Even if you do find like-minded individuals, you may have to say goodbye after only a few short weeks.
One tip I have personally learned from my experience being a digital nomad is that it’s important to connect with others who have similar passions and interests as you.
This can mean connecting with others who are also digital nomads or perhaps if you run your own business online, others who are entrepreneurs as well.
It’s important to meet friends and make connections with those who have similar interests, and this helps to ensure a long friendship, even if you are across the world from each other.
Another tip is to stay connected with nomads you meet during your travels on Instagram. If you connect with these people via social media, it is much easier to stay connected in the future, see where they are in the world, and if you are nearby for a meetup!
When you’re constantly travelling, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss out on important events back home, like weddings, birthdays, and graduations.
I have personally missed out on some big family events and felt regret later on. This can be incredibly challenging for those with close ties to family and friends in their home country.
When you know a big event is coming up for your family or friends back in your home country, it’s important to plan ahead. I always make sure that I plan a FaceTime or a Zoom call, either before or during the event if possible.
I try to be as present as possible through life events with my family and friends while I’m on the road. Just because you’re a nomad doesn’t mean you have to be completely disconnected from your life back home!
While it’s true that digital nomads have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, the reality is that not every location is conducive to work.
Unreliable internet, lack of privacy, and noisy environments can all impact productivity. As a result, digital nomads may find themselves scrambling for a workspace at the last minute or working strange hours to accommodate time zones.
The lack of a consistent work environment can also make it difficult for some to establish a routine, leading to burnout and stress.
Personally, I’ve had quite a few bad experiences in an unpredictable work environment while on the road as a digital nomad.
One of these instances was when the internet went out in my Airbnb, and I had a meeting that morning. Thankfully, I ended up waking up early, and I was able to go to the local Starbucks to get Wi-Fi.
I would encourage you to use Google Maps to see where the closest cafe or Starbucks that has good Wi-Fi is in relation to where you’re staying. You just never know when the electricity or Wi-Fi is going to go out in your Airbnb or hotel. It’s always better to be prepared!
It’s also important to note that a lot of the time you will be working from places where you don’t have complete privacy. If you do have an important call or a meeting, I highly recommend booking a co-working space somewhere such as a Selina or WeWork.
These co-working spaces can be lifesavers for that important meeting you just can’t miss!
Another disadvantage of being a digital nomad is financial instability.
Many digital nomads have a mix of freelance work and their own projects to make enough income to fund their travels. This can make it difficult to predict earnings and can lead to stress and anxiety in the long term.
If you’re travelling long-term, you may also find that your savings don’t stretch as far as you thought and that you need to go back to full-time work sooner than expected.
There are a few options I would suggest to mitigate financial instability as a digital nomad or traveller.
First, I would recommend looking into freelancing or starting your own business. While this is something that will definitely take time, skill, and patience to grow and scale, it is very rewarding if you are looking to embark on a journey of self-development, discovery, and a lifelong entrepreneurship adventure.
If you have questions about building a business or entrepreneurship as a digital nomad, reach out to me here. I would be more than happy to chat about my many years of experience travelling and running my business online.
Another option, if entrepreneurship is not something that interests you, is to find a remote job. Remote jobs can be very difficult to find and are in quite high demand. However, it can be very rewarding when you do find one.
Click here to grab my remote work job board guide with over 60 different remote work job boards in various different industries.
It’s important to note that with remote work, you may be asked to stay in a specific time zone that your company operates in.
While this position may not be completely remote, you can still travel to different countries and live a digital nomad lifestyle.
While it’s true that being a digital nomad allows for more flexibility in terms of schedule and travel, it can also make it difficult to maintain healthy habits.
The constant change in time zones, irregular work schedules, and lack of routine can take a toll on physical and mental health. Those with pre-existing health concerns like asthma or allergies will also need to ensure they have the necessary medication and treatments available as they travel.
Another concern when it comes to health is diet and proper eating. This can certainly be difficult if you are travelling to many different countries, experiencing different and local foods, not knowing what food you will find at the grocery store, and being tempted to eat out more often.
Of course, you will want to be able to indulge and eat treats and delicious local food during your travels, and it’s a great idea to balance that with cooking at home. This ensures you are eating healthy and also enjoying local, and getting the nutrients that your body needs.
Food and eating well as a nomad can be a difficult balance that takes time to find what works best for you and your body.
This is one of the most important aspects of being a digital nomad, and I would say self-motivation is the number one item that will prevent many people from becoming digital nomads.
Self-motivation can be a big disadvantage in living a digital nomad lifestyle. If you are not self-motivated and find it very difficult to work or get tasks done in your daily life without having a structure or going into a nine-to-five office job, then the digital nomad lifestyle may not be best for you.
I highly recommend reflecting inward before becoming a digital nomad and asking yourself if self-motivation is something that you can truly sustain for months or years while on the road.
Being a digital nomad is not a holiday, and it does require a lot of work to become a successful nomad… sometimes even more work than a traditional nine-to-five office job!
However, there are many types of nomads, and you have options for which type of nomadic lifestyle you want to live.
There are part-time digital nomads, nomads who do RV and van life, nomads living out of a suitcase, and so many other types of digital nomads.
Don’t think there’s only one way to become a digital nomad. Be sure you know yourself and how you work best before figuring out how you want to embark on your unique digital nomad journey.
Possessions can be a tricky topic for a digital nomad.
While there are many different types of digital nomads, as previously discussed, and you may not need to sell everything you own to become a digital nomad, many nomads do opt to sell a lot of their things so that they can live a simpler and more minimalistic digital nomad lifestyle while on the road. This can be one of the major disadvantages of being a digital nomad.
I recommend that you figure out what type of nomad you want to be first, whether that be living RV or van life, part-time travelling, or others.
For example, if you want to pursue van life, you may not need to sell everything you own, as you will want to keep some kitchen and bedding suppliers.
I live out of a suitcase full-time, so I had to get rid of almost everything that I owned in order for everything to fit into one single suitcase.
This is the type of digital nomad lifestyle I have opted for; however, it doesn’t need to look the same for you. Be sure to look into the different types of digital nomads and what you really are wanting from your digital nomad journey before hitting the road.
Becoming a digital nomad is a dream that many have, but it’s important to balance this dream with a healthy dose of reality.
The disadvantages discussed in this post are not meant to deter anyone from becoming a digital nomad or to paint the lifestyle in a negative light. Instead, it’s important to approach this lifestyle with a clear understanding of what to expect and to have a plan in place for addressing any potential challenges.
If you’re aware of the potential drawbacks of the digital nomad lifestyle, and have a plan in place to mitigate them, you’ll be better prepared for your journey ahead.
If you want to learn more about becoming a digital nomad, creating a business you are passionate about, global taxes, and entrepreneurship, check out the links below:
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