I’ve been a “digital nomad” since before the term existed. Home, for me at least, is on the road.
I’ve never found it challenging to form long-lasting and solid relationships — that’s completely down to the individual. People I have met on the road travel thousands of miles just to see me (and vice-versa) as the years move on.
There are times that I miss the country I come from but these moments are fleeting and involve comparing an idealized mental picture with where I am at the moment.
Also, I’ve been away so long that there’s nothing for me to go back to.
My number one tip for all nomads is simple; stop trying to be part of a “digital nomad lifestyle” or “digital nomad community” and start thinking about travel and work that makes you happy.
This isn’t backpacking. It’s not rapid travel. You have all the time in the world. If you find 3 months isn’t long enough to form the relationships you need — stay for 6 months or a year or two. What’s the hurry? The rest of the world will still be there when you want it to be. There is no prize pack that says “you have ticked off 8 destinations in the last 12 months and now you are an official digital nomad.”
If you want to live out of more than a single bag- you can, there’s nothing in the definition of digital nomad that says “you must travel light.” And so on…
Embracing the freedom of this “digital nomad” concept means doing things for yourself and not to fit an image held by idiots, most of whom only fantasize about living this way. Check out the “digital nomad” social network groups — 95%+ of the people in them have never so much as done a fortnight’s work away from home; they still believe that people work on the beach everyday and that all we do is drink cocktails and party. Why let those people define how you live?
Want to make friends? Learn to make friends. Seek out people in a position to be your friend. Expats are much, much better able to form bonds with you than other people flitting around “seeing the world”. They have security and know they will be where they are for a long while.
Get comfortable with breaking ice and talking to others. Do not hide behind the idea that being “introverted” gives you an excuse not to talk to people. If someone wants to travel the world — they need to take responsibility for interacting with that world rather than expecting the world to take the lead for them.
And finally, if you want to go “home.” Go “home”. That’s fine and the truth is that’s where 99% of “digital nomads” will be within 2–3 years of leaving anyway. Life on the road isn’t for everyone. It’s OK to choose otherwise.
Anyway rant over. Your piece is interesting, I think that what you write is the truth of being a “digital nomad” for the vast majority of nomads but I think it’s true mainly because most nomads never spend so much as ten minutes thinking about what they really want from work and travel. If you don’t know, how on earth can you expect to achieve it?