Steve Jobs said it perfectly when he was discussing the rules for success: “People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing And it’s totally true. The reason is because it’s so hard, that if you don’t, any rational person would give up… So if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, you’re going to give up… If you look at the ones that ended up being successful.. oftentimes the ones that are successful loved what they did so they could persevere when it got really tough.”

No, the life of a digital nomad isn’t always easy. Like anything, it takes work and dedication and, like anything, it comes with its ups and downs. But as we’ve mentioned, the travel lifestyle is our passion. We love it, we have fun, and we’re not going to give up.

We’ve already touched on some of the downsides of the travel lifestyle in our previous post but we only scratched the surface.

More Hardships Of The Travel Lifestyle

cons of the travel lifestyle

 

Here are our final 6 hardest things about the travel lifestyle we lead:

No, I Can’t Call To Confirm, I’m in Asia!

You may think, since we’re constantly connected, that it would be simple to get many tasks done online but believe us when we say it is far from easy. Credit card companies often require you to call from your home number, mail doesn’t come direct to you so you’re always going through a middle-man, and getting taxes done is an ordeal when you are across the world. There has been very little we’ve been able to do easily, if at all, and the number of times we’ve had to explain that no, we can’t deal with it when we are back home, because we don’t know when we’ll be home, is ridiculous!

In fact, the only issue we’ve had resolved quickly and efficiently was a small one with our account on StubHub. We think they deserve a shout out just for their extremely helpful customer service line and the fact that they acknowledged that we weren’t able to deal with the situation from home and made sure to follow up by email and provide avenues of contact that were easiest for us.

If only it was that easy to change our credit card bills from paper to email (nope, we can’t even do that)!

What Should I Wear Today? My Black Shirt Or… My Black Shirt?

Carry on suitcases backpacks

This one isn’t really so bad. We love that we travel light – with only a carry-on sized backpack (we down-sized significantly after our trip home for Christmas) and a laptop bag each – as there is something incredibly freeing about not owning a lot of “stuff”, but sometimes we get the urge to own something new, or different, or wear an article of clothing that isn’t already in all of our photos, or something that isn’t a different colour than when we first bought it. Sure, we could buy more but that costs money and takes up more precious space we just don’t have enough of to waste.

Not to worry, we do update our wardrobe, on occasion, by throwing out one thing and replacing it with another, though it’s been hard here in Asia as the sizes are smaller and we can’t always find what we need.

There are times we look at something at a market or store and think “I want that!” but it passes quickly as we realize there’s absolutely nowhere to put it and no sense in buying it when we’re always on the move.

We feel lighter, not just because we literally are, without having too much but the natural tendency to gather and accumulate rears its ugly head every so often and in those moments we contemplate buying a bigger backpack…

No I Haven’t Seen That Movie… But How About The Great Wall!

hardships of the travel lifestyle

There’s a real loss of common ground when you start travelling. We’re having a bunch of different experiences compared to people back home, or many of the people we meet on the road, and frankly, most people just don’t care – they’ve got their own lives to live – and we understand.

But we’re living a completely separate lifestyle and the loss of that commonality can be tough. Sure, when we talk to people back home we’re all always interested in what’s new and what’s been going on in each other’s lives, but there are times when it seems it is difficult for both ends to relate.

Neither party can commiserate about the others’ problems. Our lack of foresight in bringing toilet paper to a squat toilet seems like an alien concept back home and the hunt for the perfect car-seat or crib seems absolutely foreign to us.

We listen, we care and we offer our insight but we’ve got less to contribute then ever and it can feel like we’re not just continents apart, but worlds. And it can suck.

Fortunately, we have an amazing travel blogging community that we can connect with, share stories and experiences and literally talk travel non-stop. We just never get sick of hearing about each others’ adventures!

What Country Am I In?

Alright, it’s not that bad – we don’t usually forget what country we’re in. Well, at least not most of the time. We travel slow enough that we don’t wake up every morning forgetting whether we should be saying “sawadeeka” or “konnichiwa” (although this often happens when we just arrive in a new country).

What we do have to remember is exactly what it MEANS to be in a different country. We sometimes forget that by the sheer nature of being a “foreigner” we are more open to scams,  being taken advantage of or ripped off. No, it’s not as bad as that makes travelling sound but we are definitely more susceptible and also have the additional downfall of sheer ignorance.

Ignorance about every new neighbourhood we venture to means not knowing where to find the best and cheapest food or accommodation and that means we almost always end up spending a bit more the first week we are in a new area. If we’re only in a place for a week, well, that means we’ve only begun to crack the surface and find the best local options before we’re up and leaving again.

Fortunately, most people are willing to help and point us in the right direction.

Feeling Like A Broken Record

digital nomad

Yes, we travel full-time. No we don’t have a ton of money. Nope, didn’t win the lottery. We have a blog, we do freelance work and we move around, a lot. We don’t have any real plans passed our next plane ticket and then, we only have that because customs required it for us to get into the country.  We love what we do, it’s not a trip, not a vacation and it’s a full-time job.

We are constantly explaining, and re-explaining, what we do and why we do it and while we don’t mind overmuch because we really do enjoy it all, it can get taxing to have to correct all the wrong assumptions that are made and frustrating to see the looks of disbelief and derision.

One time, after talking to a fellow traveller about why were were in South Korea, we happened to mention that we didn’t have any plans for the week as we had lots of work to catch up on. She actually laughed in our faces, rolled her eyes and said “oh yeah sure, so much work!”.

The travel lifestyle isn’t traditional and, while it’s increasing in popularity, it’s not all that common, so we understand the lack of knowledge about what we do. In all fairness, most people are ignorant of what a job entails unless they are doing it themselves but then, that’s why we wanted to write these two posts – to show that while we may work in different places around the world, when it comes down to it, our jobs aren’t any easier than most. We just love doing it a lot more than anything else!

The Emotional Roller Coaster

Perhaps all of these things come together to create one seemingly constant emotional roller coaster. We know this isn’t specific to the travel lifestyle, but we definitely feel the highs and lows and we feel them strongly. Combine any and all of the previous 11 points and you’ll get the cause of some of our lower moments.

When our views are up, freelance and other jobs are flowing in and our affiliate links are getting some love, we’re feeling like life just can’t get any better. But when we have a day of slower traffic, have issues with clients and finances, and are struggling to fit in all our tasks for the day because things just aren’t working smoothly? We’re down, we’re moody and we’re convinced this one day will never end.

Just because we’re travelling, doesn’t mean it’s a vacation and we’re exempt from feeling stressed and frustrated. Sometimes, the stress is all that more difficult BECAUSE we’re travelling, away from home and comforts, away from friends and support systems and without the ability to turn it all off, step outside and just relax.

Nothing Worth Doing Is Ever Easy

best par

These hardships are just a small part of our lifestyle and as what we do evolves and changes, these are surely bound to as well. We may eventually have a more permanent ‘home-base’ from which we travel, eliminating some of the feelings of homelessness and homesickness, and we may manage to find a better balance with our online work. What we do know for certain, is that we’re the happiest we’ve ever been and loving every moment of this crazy ride.

We don’t advocate quitting your job, selling your stuff and travelling the world as digital nomads. It’s not for everyone. What we do advocate is evaluating your life, finding what truly makes you happy and going for it, no matter how scary, how difficult or how hard you have to work for it. It’s what we did and even though we’re able to make a list of the hardships of this travel lifestyle, our list of positives is much longer and wouldn’t change a single thing.

 

Take a look at the first 6 of our list of hardships of the travel lifestyle

 

We went for the biggies and larger topics in these posts but: Did we miss anything? Is there anything that falls within one of these points that you’d elaborate on more? Anything surprise you about the travel lifestyle? Comment below and let us know!

 

53 replies
  1. Paula McInerney
    Paula McInerney says:

    I would have to agree with everything you have said. Despite the fact that it is a harder life than many realise; as Steve Jobs said, I love it – I have the passion. What i have found however is as you say, the loss of that commonality and yes this is a tough one. On another note, I now correct people when they say we are going on holidays ..again .. no, it is a business trip, because it is… with many fringe benefits.
    Paula McInerney recently posted…Stay on Montague Island NSW, AustraliaMy Profile

    Reply
  2. Jenia
    Jenia says:

    Nice post guys! We’ve experienced all of these to one extent or another and can totally relate — and that’s important as you point out that we are out there somewhere in the digital space understanding each other!

    I was thinking the other day about traveling light with clothes — we are currently at our home base, in a kind of ‘re-building year’ as we look for opportunities to travel sustainably — which means we both go to regular work and have more or less of a routine lifestyle. However, we are both still in a traveler’s mindset, which means we don’t own a lot of clothes. And I have been really, really bored with all of the options in my closet. I am craving shopping. Meanwhile when we were traveling full time for a year +, I never got tired of my 5 outfits. I think it’s because my external environment was changing so much. So once you become stationary, you kind of replace the excitement of new places and people, with new clothes. Sad, eh?
    Jenia recently posted…Wanderlust Friday at the BeachMy Profile

    Reply
  3. Jen Seligmann
    Jen Seligmann says:

    Hey Guys!

    Loved reading this post. It has given me a lot to look forward to ;)

    My husband and I are 7 months away from selling up our lives in Sydney to travel around Australia for a few years. We did something similar a few years back, moving to London for a few years but in London we had jobs, money and stability. This time we will be like you guys, moving from one place to another whenever we feel like it and earning our income online. We are saving like mad right now so we have a safety net but I feel that no amount of money will ever be enough for this to not feel like a daunting experience. Despite all “hardships” we might face along the way. I absolutely can’t wait to be on the road full time, working with my husband and being free.

    Thanks for a bit of insight into what we are in for. I’ve just discovered your blog so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into some of your other similar posts soon.
    Jen Seligmann recently posted…What Inspires Kiki from Wanderlust ExplorersMy Profile

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      We’re not sure if there is an amount that would eliminate the stress. It was one of the most challenging decisions and times in our lives but, like we said, it was totally worth it. There are struggles as in anything but we welcome them as they are no where near as unwelcoming or frustrating as before. Can’t wait to read about your transition to full time travel!! Let us know if there’s anything we can help with or any questions we can answer!

      Reply
  4. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    I should have some of my friends read this post. They think that travelling and blogging is all fun and relax. I’d say it can be, but there are times when I feel overwhelmed. I know it is time to go home when I stop being in awe of the places I visit!
    Claudia recently posted…Where is Sardinia, anyways?My Profile

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      It’s definitely a good time to get check-in when things start to seem commonplace. We’re always checking to make sure we’re still enjoying our travels and getting the most out of it!

      Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      Very true! We’re not complaining about our lifestyle – we wouldn’t change it for the world! Just illustrating that nothing good is ever easy and that even travel takes hard work :)

      Reply
  5. Meg Jerrard
    Meg Jerrard says:

    Thanks for writing this – I think that the lifestyle of a full time traveler is glamorous and lovely from the outside, though every single one of us goes through everything you’ve mentioned above at one point or another. Like anything, it has it’s ups and downs, and I think that when we’re writing posts about how awesome the lifestyle is, because it definitely does have it’s perks, it’s also important to acknowledge the downsides too.

    Because ultimately, if we don’t write about these things, we may feel like we’re alone, or the only one experiencing it. And that’s not healthy either. So thankyou for writing this post! I love my travel lifestyle, and not planning on giving it up anytime soon, though everything you’ve said is spot on, and some days I do struggle through!!

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      That’s a huge part of why we wrote these two articles – every time we talk to other travel bloggers it feels as though we’re all just excited to find someone who FINALLY understands and we wanted to share that sense of camaraderie with others!

      Reply
  6. Tim Kroeger
    Tim Kroeger says:

    I totally agree with you. Especially #9.. Most students of my school never left their hometown, have a job, some even already a family. They talk about soccer, local news, etc. For that reason it is pretty difficult to stay in contact with them. Most things I have experienced while travelling they would not understand, it is difficult to have a deep conversation.
    Tim Kroeger recently posted…Ride The Ducks – Seattle Sightseeing TourMy Profile

    Reply
  7. Kate
    Kate says:

    It definitely isn’t easy travelling full-time. This is why I decided against being a full-time traveller/blogger. I do it part-time and have a full-time job and base with family and friends around. I think its each to their own and you find what works for you. I like to promote regular travel (even domestic/in your own region) during weekends and annual leave. Making travel part of your life is very fulfilling. Thanks for sharing your perspective
    Kate recently posted…Perfect Relaxation at Széchenyi Baths and Spa in BudapestMy Profile

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      Absolutely “to each their own”! We were all about including travel in our lives whenever possible when we worked full time and who knows how travel in our lives will change as time goes on! It’s great that you are incorporating so much travel and promoting it for various different lifestyles!

      Reply
  8. Linda Bibb
    Linda Bibb says:

    All true! I’m guilty of forgetting what country I’m in a few times, usually when I’m wake early in the morning, still groggy from sleep.

    And finding commonalities with old friends is hard, as you said. Even when we are sharing a common experience, it’s hard to find a way to elaborate without mentioning the country I was in. So it can sound like bragging no matter how it’s phrased.

    It is much easier to connect with other frequent travelers because we have more in common, but the problem is that by default we don’t see each other frequently.
    Linda Bibb recently posted…River Cruise Journal – Day 7: Regensburg #AWSIonVikingMy Profile

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      Very true! It seems that social media is really the main source of connection and socializing while on the road and it’s difficult to make deep connections with people you haven’t met or keep that connection with those back home!

      Reply
  9. The Educational Tourist
    The Educational Tourist says:

    Traveling full time isn’t for everyone. I even wrote a post about that once when I realized that full time travel wasn’t the type of travel I really was daydreaming about. You paint a realistic picture that others thinking of diving in should consider!

    Reply
  10. Bethany Dickey
    Bethany Dickey says:

    Awesome article. I’ve been travelling all summer on my uni break and despite being on a blogging break for most of it, the travel itself can be so overwhelming. Sometimes I’ll be sitting in a cafe thinking about Croatia or something and then look up totally confused about where I actually am.

    Reply
  11. Anda
    Anda says:

    Hi Carolann, thank you for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard. I am a travel blogger too, but I don’t think I would like to do this as a profession. I can understand where you are coming from, but for me writing and enjoying my travels at the same time it’s very difficult. I went on a couple of assignments and I was under a lot of pressure. Some people are good for this, some others are not. I love to write though…

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      It is completely a balance. For some more travel evens out with the rest while for others more stability is required. We just like to focus on doing what we’re happiest doing, whatever that balance may be or however we need to adjust it!

      Reply
  12. Gabby | The Globe Wanderers
    Gabby | The Globe Wanderers says:

    This post could open a lot of people’s eyes!! Although the ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle is much more common today than it was a few years back – it’s amazing how many people still find the concept baffling. We’re right back at the beginning of this journey, still working full time, spending all our free time on the blog and planning our big escape. We want travel to be our way of life. It’s what we dream of and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there. Blogging is harder than we ever expected it to be, it’s like having 5 extra jobs rolled into one, but we love it. Because we love it, we’ll keep at it. Watch this space :). Great post guys! You’re an inspiration.

    Gabby
    Gabby | The Globe Wanderers recently posted…Doorstep Adventures: How Turville Stole my HeartMy Profile

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      That’s exactly it – 5 extra jobs rolled in one! But just like you we love it too. We already LOVE your stuff so we’ll be following along and can’t wait to see how your travel lifestyle grows and changes!

      Reply
  13. Tracie Howe
    Tracie Howe says:

    I love this honest perspective on the travel lifestyle! You often hear a lot of “you can do it too!” or “I couldn’t be happier after selling everything and quitting my job…”, and while that may be true, it’s not true all the time and doesn’t work for everyone. Great post!
    Tracie Howe recently posted…Vasque Pow Pow boots reviewMy Profile

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      Absolutely! We’ve always said that we don’t want to motivate people to quit their jobs and travel full time… we want to inspire people to find their passion and follow their dreams, no matter what that is, and part of that means understanding that it’s not always going to be easy!

      Reply
  14. Valerie Perry
    Valerie Perry says:

    A huge YES to #s 9 and 12. I used to work on cruise ships so I would disappear for 7 months at a time. It was so hard to relate to people when I got home. I didn’t know any current movies, music, or TV. I didn’t have a house, husband, or kid. But I had just logged thousands of miles.

    To #12, I call that time the best and the worst decision of my life. I have zero regrets and it was an amazing experience, but I knew when it was time to say goodbye and go a new direction.

    Good luck on your journey!

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      A cruise ship would be quite the experience!! We were toying with that idea a time or two! We try and stay aware of our feelings too, and to make sure we’ll know if/when it’s time to switch gears.

      Reply
  15. Kimberly Erin
    Kimberly Erin says:

    Every blogger out there feels something with this one. I defo feel like a broken record sometimes and I also get a lot of flack from people about my lifestyle. It is difficult for others outside of the industry to understand that we are working and it is not a holiday always, sometimes its stressful, just like any other work. and don’t get me started on the emotional roller coaster….ohh the emotions of a literary artist

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      We’re so glad you can relate – we really wanted to create something that explained a little more of the industry. We think it may be a little more emotional than other jobs BECAUSE we’re so passionate and invested in it!

      Reply
  16. Doreen Pendgracs
    Doreen Pendgracs says:

    I can definitely relate to your post! I’ve been travel writing for almost 20 years now, and many people I know still don’t understand that my trips are WORK. Yes, I have some fun along the way. But as you say, I’m “on” 24/7, interviewing people, taking notes, taking pics and immersing myself in every possible experience.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Ste. Anne’s Spa nurtures your body & spiritMy Profile

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      That may be the hardest part – “Free” for us doesn’t actually equal free! The amount of time and work put into the posts, videos, photos and promotion of that “free” thing sometimes makes us question if it’s even worth it! But then, we love everything we’ve done so it’s fun for us too!

      Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      Adding kids to the mix would definitely be a whole other level!! That feeling is VERY weird! After a while it’s normal but the first bit of time in a new country takes some frequent reminders of exactly where you are!

      Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      Congrats! We know how big a step it is to quit your job and switch to the life of a digital nomad! It takes on a variety of different forms in itself and it’s great to work through to find out which suits you best – we know we’re having a blast figuring it out!

      Reply
  17. Mike - HoneyTrek
    Mike - HoneyTrek says:

    This paragraph really struck a cord. I have heard a lot of people sum this up, but you guys did it best!

    “Yes, we travel full-time. No we don’t have a ton of money. Nope, didn’t win the lottery. We have a blog, we do freelance work and we move around, a lot. We don’t have any real plans passed our next plane ticket and then, we only have that because customs required it for us to get into the country. We love what we do, it’s not a trip, not a vacation and it’s a full-time job.”

    Great blog post, especially when we are going through a lot of those same ups and downs.

    Your fellow travel bloggin friends,
    Mike & Anne
    Mike – HoneyTrek recently posted…Avenue of the Volcanoes, EcuadorMy Profile

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      So glad you found it easy to relate to! We’ve had lots of conversations with fellow travel bloggers and it seems like we all get the same comments of just how lucky we are and how wonderful everything must be. We wanted to show a clearer picture of the travel lifestyle, even though we wouldn’t change a thing!

      Reply

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