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
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?
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!
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
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
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!