In medieval times, it was common practice to draw dragons and sea monsters on uncharted areas of maps. These mythological creatures illustrated the possibility of danger.
In other words…
Nowadays, much has changed. A new era of digital nomadism has dawned! One where you can work from a cosy rooftop cafe by the beach, sipping on a perfectly frothy oat milk latte and indulging in all the delicious vegan food you can handle.
The rise of remote work and the digital nomad lifestyle has opened up a world of opportunities for those seeking a flexible and location-independent career. Modern maps show charted terrain with seemingly calm waters and even reveal digital nomad hotspots for those seeking the security of a visa.
But dragons still exist, my friends. They can take many forms, not just the fire-breathing green-scaled varieties; from swashbuckling thieves waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting travellers to the perils of a spotty wifi connection, it’s best to be prepared before you jump head first into the murky waters of the unknown!
As a seasoned digital nomad who has been working remotely since 2018, I’ve experienced many of the freelancing advantages and disadvantages and have shared survival stories with countless other nomads along the way.
In this blog post, I’ll share some of the key remote work pros and cons, as well as my insights and tips for navigating the challenges of a digital nomad lifestyle, so you can avoid the dragons and make the most of your adventure.
So grab your maps and let’s get started!
Remote work pros and cons
The pros of being a digital nomad
It’s not all fire-breathing dragons and creatures from the deep, there are more digital nomad benefits than I can possibly list in one blog post, but I’ll do my best!
As someone with incredibly itchy feet, my favourite part of the digital nomad lifestyle is the freedom it provides. You’re not tied to a desk or a specific location, so you can go where the wind takes you and embrace all the adventure and excitement that comes with it!
Equally, freedom benefits those who choose not to travel. As a digital nomad, you can work from anywhere in the world, or from the comfort of your own home. You can set your own hours and structure your workday in a way that suits your lifestyle. Maybe you prefer to work early in the morning so you can hit the gym in the afternoon, or perhaps you’re a parent who needs to work around school drop-offs and pick-ups; whatever your situation, the flexibility of remote work allows you to create a work-life balance that works for you.
2. Inspiration and productivity
Whatever your line of work, I’m sure you’ll share my pain when it comes to creative block. And working in the same office day after day certainly doesn’t help.
As a digital nomad, you have the chance to mix things up and find new sources of inspiration wherever you go. For example, I’ve got a Floating Desk that I can position to look out over amazing views, such as strapping it to a tree on top of a mountain! Not only does this mean that I can literally work from anywhere at any time I want, but it also allows me to find fresh perspectives and creative ideas!
Plus, studies show that people who work remotely are often more productive than their office-bound counterparts. When you’re not stuck in a distracting office environment, you can create a workspace that’s tailored to your needs and preferences. The digital nomad lifestyle offers plenty of opportunities to find your flow and get stuff done!
3. Autonomy and personal growth
As long as you set, project and respect your workstyle, remote working will give you the flexibility and control to prioritise personal time and self-care alongside work responsibilities.
Digital nomads can take advantage of their autonomy to travel, pursue hobbies, start a podcast, write a novel, start a side hustle and spend time with loved ones without sacrificing career aspirations! With the right balance, you can thrive both professionally and personally as a digital nomad.
Since going freelance, I’ve been able to manage this editorial, travel the world, climb mountains, star in music videos, learn heaps of skills such as how to forage and cultivate mushrooms, take up weightlifting, start another blog (all to be revealed in the near future) and successfully apply for a PhD 🥳, all whilst working remotely as a vegan writer.
Check out one of my most recent adventures 👇
4. Cost savings
Dare I mention the cost of living crisis?
Depending on where you’re coming from, living as a digital nomad in certain parts of the world can be much cheaper than living at home.
Since I’m from the UK, which is super expensive right now (and a Brexity mess), this translates into big cost savings and a higher quality of life! This is particularly true when I housesit because I have absolutely no rent or utility bills to pay (no, not even accommodation) – check out my Trusted Housesitters review to learn how I travel for free.
5. Cultural exposure
One of the biggest digital nomad benefits is the opportunity for cultural exposure. No, I’m not just talking about trying the local plant-based cuisine (although that’s definitely a plus!). I’m talking about immersing yourself in a new culture, learning about different customs and traditions and gaining a fresh perspective on life.
Since I’m doing normal lifestyle activities, I am more likely to form local connections. For example, I often get myself a gym membership wherever I go and this has led to diverse friendships and invitations to events, such as street food festivals in Ho Chi Minh and lantern-making with a family at a temple in South Korea.
The cons of being a digital nomad
Just as medieval cartographers marked uncharted territories with the warning ‘Here be dragons’, it’s important for modern-day digital nomads to be aware of the potential work from anywhere drawbacks.
While the freedom and flexibility of remote work can be enticing, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. So, let’s explore some of the ‘dragons’ that digital nomads might encounter on their adventures.
1. Isolation and loneliness
Remote work can be a very solitary experience. Fortunately, I’m an introvert who thrives in my own company and I travel slowly, which gives me the opportunity to make social connections when I choose to. Nevertheless, I’m far away from my closest friends and family, which can occasionally leave me feeling disconnected.
A big part of being a digital nomad is accepting this and ensuring that the benefits outweigh these feelings. I deal with it by staying in frequent contact with my support network, volunteering and taking part in local activities. You could also join online communities and attend local gatherings to help you meet like-minded people whilst travelling.
2. Lack of structure
Remote work is not just hopping from one exotic location to another whilst sipping on mojitos. It’s a complex lifestyle that involves constantly managing logistics whilst trying to stay on track with our goals. And trying to balance the online and physical world without a defined structure can be a real challenge.
But fear not, there are ways to conquer this ‘dragon’ and make your nomad journey a success! It’s all about building a healthy workstyle routine with manageable habits and The Workstyle Revolution has resources to help you do just that.
3. "Computer says no"
As a digital nomad, it’s…possible, but…unlikely that you’ll have an IT department ready to help you whenever you face any technical difficulties. Actually, having said that, I have my sister on call and she’s way better than any IT department I’ve ever had access to in my past life (before digital nomadism)
Anyway, when you’re so heavily reliant on technology to work, it’s easy to run into technical difficulties such as slow or unreliable internet connections, computer issues and cybersecurity risks. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve torn my hair out because the wifi doesn’t work properly.
That means, if you’re a remote worker with deadlines, it’s crucial to plan ahead and take extra precautions to mitigate potential issues.
4. Illness, injury and theft
There be pirates out there, me hearties!
That’s right, in addition to dragons, it’s likely that you’ll experience illness, injury and/or theft along your journey. My sister got her bag (and our apartment keys) stolen in Cuba and I got a kidney infection whilst in Borneo and South Korea. Fortunately, thanks to two kind-hearted fellow travellers and my global travel health insurance company respectively, we survived both fiascos and lived to tell the tales!
And trust me, once I saw the hospital bill…I was over the moon that I’d decided to invest in global travel health insurance
Preparing for the unexpected
As amazing as being a digital nomad is, the world is unpredictable and sometimes things can go wrong.
But fret not, fellow adventurers, for in addition to everything I’ve already mentioned, there are solutions that can keep us protected against the cons of a digital nomad lifestyle:
Booking accommodation in advance can give you peace of mind and reduce stress. You won’t have to worry about finding a place to stay at the last minute, which can be a real headache in some destinations. Plus, having a fixed address (with working wifi) can help you feel more grounded and settled, as well as save you money!
Enter SafetyWing, the company that offers global travel medical insurance to cover people from all over the world, while away from their home country.
With SafetyWing, we can enjoy the freedom and excitement of living our best lives without worrying about the unexpected because, let’s be real, nobody wants to face a dragon without armour!
Not only does it provide great coverage (including for COVID-19), but its premiums are unbeatable and you can sign up even if you’ve already embarked on your journey.
And for those moments when we need to touch base back home to mitigate any loneliness, SafetyWing has got us covered for up to 30 days. It’s a win-win, really – we get the freedom to explore, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing we’re covered no matter where our adventures take us.