The digital nomad life: will it make or break you?

Mary Borysova
Oct 18, 2017 · 7 min read
Photo by Unsplash

Having read lots of stories about digital nomads who failed I was almost sure I would quit even before starting my nomad career.

However, I dared to try.

Here is why I want to share my story now.

I am 22 now, when I was traveling I was 21. I work for marketing and business development in international IT company.

Countries visited: Montenegro, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Portugal.

Here is a brief list of what I have learned by being a digital nomad for 9 weeks.

1. Focus

I was going to my next spot — an Airbnb flat in Portimao and hoped to make the change from the previous flat in an hour.

I called my host.

Nobody answered.

My colleagues were texting me like crazy.

More questions.

One more interview with a candidate.

Why is it not working??

Oh, have you already released and announced that last update?

I kept calling my couch standing near the doors of the house.

I couldn’t lose time.

So I sat on the grass between the road and the house, turned on wifi hotspot on my phone and started working.

If you could think that it is not really a work and you can’t do stuff as efficient as in the office, I may tell you the following:
I completed around 1,5 times more tasks than working from our office.

Your colleagues talking about the last vacation, or hot news distract you from working, which makes you take longer breaks, and spend more time to turn on “working mode” after.


Be ready to work from anywhere and make sure you have access to the Internet anywhere you go. Carry headphones with yourself if you are easily distracted by noise.

2. Openness

I got to the bus that should have taken us to the surfing beach an hour away from the hotel.

Just in a few minutes, I met one of the best funny but also reliable people in my life. The whole bus was sitting in the complete silence just listening to us laughing and getting to know each other. Why couldn’t they use the chance to talk to each other?

People inspire you or they drain you — pick them wisely.’

- Hans F. Hansen

Once I was sitting in the Airbnb flat with many rooms shared with some other people and eat pepper. An incredibly smiling Malaysian guy came and asked: how do you do that? It must be really hot!

Who could have known that would be a start of a great friendship and kgs of pepper eaten?

Photo by Unsplash

Smile to people and if these were the right people they will smile back.

I am an introvert and I feel superb spending time with myself but also I understand that taking courage to talk to people is worth it. You learn about the world much better from people, not from books and movies.

Socialising at work is super important, but are you sure the people with whom you are spending your breaks are the people with whom you share the same interests and values?


Make a rule: get acquainted with at least 1 person a day. Soon it will become a habit, then behavior shaping the way you feel in a group.

3. True friendship

Environment makes us.

People whom we don’t choose also shape our living.

I am happy to chat with some of my colleagues but much more I would like to have an opportunity to meet somebody else, who will become my soul friend.

The people whom I met in my trips become my best friends for years, and can hardly imagine how I could meet all these people staying in my country.

We all are different in cultural sense but also the same in terms of general life principles. We all want to be appreciated and loved. White skin, black skin or yellow — we all for the same: happiness.

Photo from Unsplash

4. Sharing

When you see the diversity of the world with all its possibilities and limitations at the same time, you are becoming a different person.

You dare to share.

Share your lunch with a hungry neighbor in the bus.

Share your experience with a guy living next to you in the hostel.

Share your beliefs with a guy driving you somewhere as a hitchhiker.

White skin, black skin or yellow — we all for the same: happiness.

You learn one of the most powerful things in life: the joy of sharing. Helping people and being happy from that.

Traveling helped me to understand that my Ukraine, the poorest country in Europe, is rich compared to African or some Asian countries.

I can and I want help those in need.


Giving is rewarding when you do it sincerely. The more you know people, the closer they are, the more you would like to help them.

Get to really know people and put yourself in their shoes.

5. Courage

I have done my best to take all chances when being at home, but when you leave the known land…

You are challenged many times more.

You are facing things that you have only heard before.

I didn’t do everything possible, but I have taken 90/100 opportunities this life proposed me.

I was afraid of water and couldn’t swim.

I have taken my chances of going on a canoe in the open ocean. Of surfing. Of simply trying to swim alone in the ocean every day.

You will try lots of things that will make you stronger.


Try one new activity every week and see how these challenges drive you.

6. Flexibility

Don’t worry.

Everything that will happen will either make you or break you.

The only difference is that it is you who decides how to react.

If something happens the way you didn’t plan, it is OK, since it opens new possibilities for you.

Photo from Unsplash

You learn how to tolerate with light and noise when you sleep, with hotness and little place sometimes, with a limited variety of well-known products in shops.

I can prepare myself for going out / moving to another hostel/flat/city/country in minutes.

This is closely connected to the next, one of the most important lessons I have learned:

7. Simplicity

I learned how to survive without makeup. How to make decisions fast. How not to regret. How to choose a simple style in clothes and hairstyle. How to focus on important things.

Understand me right, I always care about keeping all my stuff super clean, eating healthy and working out.

But when you think about your life in global you will see how much clutter there is.

How many clothes you wear just once, how much time on the hairstyle that will be spoiled in a couple of hours.

Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.’

Mother Teresa

You will learn how to stop paying attention to envy and angry people’s thoughts.

How to connect easily with people of different beliefs, from different backgrounds and with a different way of life.

What people say or think about you is up to them not you.

I have good Muslim Moroccan and Algerian friends, amazing friends from Asia and from far Lapland and Patagonia.

Life is not that serious, dare to joke and take people, places and events easier.


Try not to buy anything from what you don’t need for living, better invest money in memories and trying new.

For example, diving or surfing lessons are quite expensive and you may find it difficult go learn without an instructor. Use your saved from unnecessary shopping money!

Photo from Unsplash

General tips:

I would recommend you stay not in small cities since there you won’t have much to do and there is barely a good community.

Try to look for bigger cities listed as the best for digital nomads.

While choosing a city and place to stay check:

  • Internet

Thanks for reading!

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Mary Borysova

Written by

Passionate about change by writing, inspiring and acting.

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