Experiences Lisbon3

Published on February 27th, 2014 | by Daniel


10 Important Things l Found Out While Travelling the World

Over time (3+ years now) as a digital nomad I have learned many things about the life and its lifestyle. Here are some of the 10 most important things I have taken away from my experience so far.

1. Travelling all the time can be cheaper than living at home

Perhaps it sounds strange but it is true. When I am travelling I am actually living cheaper than when I am staying at home. That is also due to the fact that back home life is relatively expensive. When visiting most countries around the world you will encounter cheap places for accommodation and food and so forth. The only things that are expensive are the airplane tickets and the imported goods. Interestingly on the other hand, in very developed countries imported goods are commonly cheaper than local goods.

2. You need more than just fun and games

The location independent lifestyle is a lot of fun and games, especially at the start. But only fun and games gets a bit empty after a while. And if you want to build something for the long term you will have to work. That is what I experienced at least. Now I have much more of a routine and I am really building on some long term projects, and not only making money on a daily basis. Of course, on the side I still do a lot of sightseeing, meeting locals and so forth. But I also make sure that every day I commit a chunk of time to my business.

3. The best destinations are the ones you do not expect

It is almost an iron law that the locations you read about beforehand – and those that have a great reputation – will disappoint. Reality can just not cope with the hype or your fantasy. Sometimes the place is also just too touristy. I had this “problem” in places as Bali or in Cuzco, Peru. Conversely, destinations that you do not expect much from beforehand can be a great surprise. For instance I liked Lima, Peru a lot, as well as Ko Lanta Island, Thailand. Both places do not really stand out in the common guidebooks.

4. Slow travel is much more interesting than quick visits

At first I was more into travelling quickly, ticking the boxes so to speak. I also liked the change of environment and the dynamics of fast travel. This was great but also very hectic. And I noticed that I never really got to know the place, I only saw it as a tourist. I discovered that when I took more time in every place it became more fun – and more obnoxious. Either way, it was more interesting to really get to know the country and its culture.

5. Most people around the world are similar

Most locals I met have the same dreams or peculiarities as anyone else. I am convinced that culture is less of importance to behavior than education and economic circumstances. In a way this is good because you can relate to each other much more. On the other hand it makes you realize that the world is actually very small. Globalization in full force. There are no real uncharted territories or “hidden gems” anymore. Just great places to live and not so great places to live –according to your own preferences of course.

6. Internet is always a concern

I can go a day without internet but more than that and I feel like I am getting behind with my business. Thus all my travel decision are influenced by the question: is there internet available and what is the connection quality? Frequent internet outages tend to be extremely frustrating. I remember when I was staying is Chiang Mai and the internet worked only intermittently. It was very annoying as for instance my skype calls were disconnected all the time or just had very bad sound quality. More and more I value the presence of the internet and its quality, and it is one of the top concerns when choosing a place to stay.

7. Flexibility is tied with quality of living

If you have low costs it can be easier to become a digital nomad in itself. But in case you have a greater budget you options become really good. So of course do minimize costs and maximize income. What I noticed though is that when I am willing to spend above average, in almost all countries my option for accommodation increased exponentially. And with that comes a better quality of living as well. So I do not go for only the minimum. Go for at least a bit higher than that and your options will be much more interesting.

8. Happiness is not strictly tied to success

When you have reached a goal, in business, personal or otherwise, you are very content for a moment. You are glad that it worked out you thought it would. But after a couple of days, you will get back to your normal life, the achieved goals fades away and your happiness level is average again. New goals are being set. Unhappiness comes perhaps from not reaching your potential. But once your reach your potential, you want more. I am more convinced that happiness comes from appreciating the small things in day to day life: driving a motorbike with your girlfriend in the countryside, taking a good shower after hard work, celebrating your success with friends, having a great dinner out in a bustling environment.

9. Working in a café has its pros and cons

It sounds great: working in a café on a tropical island, sipping a fresh juice and with the cool sea breeze slowly swishing your t-shirt. And it is great, of course. But the problem is that it is almost too comfortable for me. I will get distracted, as I am in the fun mood. The fact is that I get much more work done when I am at my desk at home than in a café outside or on the beach. The sun or the bustle makes me want to different things than work. I have experienced that for me it is better to keep work and fun in two different spaces. Ultimately this way I have more time for both.

10. Doing things gives you more clearance than thinking about them

It is a bit of a thing in the western world that everything is theorized and confined within rules. Western countries are socially engineered to a large degree, which causes most people to be afraid to take concrete action. Also theoretical knowledge is often seen as on the same level as practical knowledge, i.e. university degrees are universally seen as a good investment. I think that is wrong. Heuristic knowledge is the superior knowledge. Base your own theory in real life. This is also very true for digital nomadism. Only by doing things you get to know what you can do and what you want to do. And you get to know how to build your business. So start today by doing something to achieve that goal of location independence. In other words: practice > reflect > analyze > adapt > practice. You will get to your end goal much quicker than by just planning and thinking about it.

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