I have an incredible life. I work online, in a field I absolutely love. I get to spend time on passion projects and make my own schedule. And, of course, I get to travel a hell of a lot. Otherwise, what would be the point?
All of which is why I feel guilty ever complaining about it. I could have it a hell of a lot worse. But that’s the reality of all our lives. We could all have it a lot worse, but that doesn’t make our problems irrelevant.
So, if you’re a digital nomad (or plan on becoming one), here are some unexpected pitfalls and how to fix them.
Being a sports fan is hell
I love football (or soccer) and watch the English Premier League and Champions League religiously. At least I do when I’m in a country where it makes sense to do so. In Asian or American countries, matches take place at ridiculous hours, meaning that I have to stay up all night if I want to catch certain games.
Also, there’s the matter that I don’t always have access to the channels that cover sports. For this, I use a VPN. If you’re into US sports, you can watch MLB online free just by using a VPN and streaming from the US.
There are certain fixes I use to try and catch all the important games. The first thing I do is decide which games are unmissable. Then I look at my schedule and try to figure out how I’ll fit them in. If I go to bed early, I can wake up for the match and go back to sleep afterward. If I have important work to do the following day, I have to decide whether the trade-off is possible.
All vacations are working vacations
Yes, I get to travel a lot, but I don’t get paid leave, and if I don’t do the work that needs doing, no one else will cover the slack. The last time I went on a vacation where I did no work at all was in December 2017. If that doesn’t sound so distant, consider the fact that I’ve been on at least 8 vacations since then, and there’s no non-working vacation in the foreseeable future.
The key is to tell clients you’ll have limited availability and ask what they need doing before then. Then work your butt off completing as much as you can so that you have less to do while on your trip.
Of course, stuff will always come up, and I need to go on making money, so I make sure to compartmentalize my work hours.
Meetings happen at crazy hours
Finally, in spite of the fact that we live in a globalized world, time zones don’t play by the rules. Sometimes I’m in the same time zone as a client, while at other times I’m twelve hours away so that no meeting time is convenient for both of us.
In general, I try to keep meetings to a minimum, relying mostly on emails. It saves time I could spend doing more important stuff, anyway. However, even with email you run into problems – instead of getting the answer you need to continue a project now, it will come overnight and may delay everything.
To reiterate: I’m not complaining too much! I have an amazing life.