In my perspective, what you’ve tried to do has nothing to do with being a digital nomad.
I think what you’ve tried to do, is not for you. This does not mean you can’t enjoy the lifestyle of a digital nomad. A digital nomad is not the same as a working backpacker. It’s a life without the constraints of a set office, pay check and contract and a whole lot more by utilizing newfound technologies. Some travel, some find freedom in other things. It’s a way of thinking, and I do not sell anything, yet… 😉
But it’s also like you said:
“Whatever a true digital nomad really is.”
Not much has been truly defined about digital nomads. So the lifestyle of digital nomads are still very much in flux and a state of constant change, pushed and formed by the will and desire with people to be more free then the generation before them. Because we can, for a big part, due to digital advancements.
I’m sure you have that desire for more freedom too, since you tried it one way. Maybe their is a way for you to be more free, without the big disruption you’re talking about here? I sure hope so!