18 Things I've Discovered as a Digital Nomad

Michael Apr 24, 2023
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Michael McGovern Digital Nomad

👖 It's now been a year and a half since I've worn pants...

No wait… that didn’t come out right…

It’s because I've been wearing shorts...

…Because I've been traveling on an "endless summer" to warm places.

Anyway, here's 18 things I've discovered as a digital nomad in 18 months:

1. Remember: You're nomading... not traveling

Plan to stay in each place at least 2 months so you can make friends, build a routine, etc....

You'll be surprised how much time & mental bandwidth it takes to book your next flights, airBNBs… then find new gyms, grocery stores, etc… even just once every 3 months

2. Activated Charcoal supplements are a godsend

They have helped me avoid or drastically reduce stomach issues (like “Bali Belly”)

3. When arriving in a new place, book an airbnb for ONLY a week or so first

Yes, it might be good to lock down something for 2-3 months if you’re confident it’s a good spot…

But you don’t want to commit to a place and then find out you don’t like the neighborhood, vibe, etc…

PLUS, you can often find better deals once you arrive and call places directly… versus using something like AirBNB.

4. If you have a significant other, make an effort to maintain a date night

This life can feel like one big date, but it’s important to have that intention - even though you may be doing date-like stuff all the time

5. Even though you’re likely to be headed to warm places, you still need to be aware of seasons and timing

For example — Rome is scorching hot in August & nearly everyone takes the month off…

And Costa Rica’s rainy season starts in May… Bali’s in October...

6. When it comes to choosing your destination, consider WHO you are taking advice from

After we arrived, I realized most of the people who said they loved Medellin, Colombia, were single guys.

Big city, nightlife… not exactly our vibe in this stage of life.

We prefer the beach, waking up early, peace, smaller cities, etc.

7. Double check country’s entry requirements before your trips

(Ask me how I originally got denied while trying to enter Colombia 😅)

8. Each place you go, join a nomads/expats FB group or WhatsApp group chat associated with it

These can be a great source of info.

With that said, I prefer “nomad” groups rather than “expat” groups...

The former tends to have like-minded business people…

Whereas the latter can be hit-or-miss in terms of quality (Some expats can be… let’s put it… interesting)

9. No matter how awesome it is to be “on the road,” you’ll realize the benefits of having a routine once you start

Living in one place can get boring...

But it’s easier to stay focused because you’re not dealing with the random details that come with constantly adapting to new environments.

Pros and cons to each lifestyle.

10. Amsterdam sells psilocybin in stores… Mexico too, plus San Pedro

🍄 🌵

11. Nomad hot spots are popular for a reason

Bali… Thailand… Mexico…

Places like these have a combination of:

  • Affordability…

  • Decent infrastructure…

  • Beautiful land…

  • Modern amenities…

  • Networking…

  • Co-working spaces…

  • General safety…

  • Etc.

You might think you’d like to go to some remote, untouched beach…

But when you don’t have a good gym, reliable internet, etc. — you’ll get tired of it.

Keep your ear out for rumours of good places from other nomads.

12. It’s normal to feel fear before starting this life

It’s a BIG life change.

Don’t let fear deter you.

13. Going to your bucket list places is great, but don’t forget to save time for rest

It’s very stimulating to go to new places...

And you can feel guilty for taking a lazy weekend... like you’re not taking advantage of the moment...

But again, this is a LIFE... not a 24/7 vacation.

14. When looking for co-working spaces, try to find one which has a staff that organizes events

Some places are purely offices, whereas others are more like communities.

15. Not being able to speak the local language is not that big of a deal 90% of the time

Most of the world speaks English - especially in the “international” neighborhoods that you’re likely to be staying in.

16. If you’re relatively young, getting private rooms in backpacker hostels is really fun for short weekend trips

In places like these, people are in such a great mood, so it’s easy to connect with new friends.

It’s also a good way to get tips about the area.

17. Transportation is different everywhere

Playa del Carmen, Mexico doesn’t allow Uber; only taxis, buses, and "colectivos” (which is like a mix of bus and taxi)…

In Italy, you’ve got the buses, metro, and “Bird” & “Lime” electric scooters (f.y.i people drive like they’re racing there).

This is important to consider.

For example —

You may hate motorcycles…

But if you go to a place like Bali… you pretty much need a moto to get anywhere… whether you’re driving it… or you’re on the back of a moto taxi.

(Bonus tip): The Eurail pass is an easy, affordable way to see Europe by train.

18. The world is changing faster than you think

The USA is still the #1 land of opportunity…

But now, I believe that opportunity can be anywhere you have your laptop.

The quality of life in places around the world is VERY high, in some cases.

So, be open to what the world has to offer you.