Being a travel blogger has put me into this alternate universe where it’s perfectly normal to work online from any corner of the world that gets internet. Where some people choose not to have a home at all and travel from one location to the next every few days or weeks or months. Technically I could do this. I work online, I love to travel, and I don’t have to be in any one place. But for many reasons, being a digital nomad is not for me.
1. I enjoy having a community of friends
Traveling brings you to interesting places, which means interesting people. I know plenty of full-time travelers who make new friends in each new location and enjoy having a new batch of friends. But I’d prefer to have a consistent community of friends that I can hang out with on a regular basis, not just for a month or two until I move on.
Making friends is hard. Sure, I love meeting people when I travel, but finding people I truly connect with, people I have lots of things in common with, people I feel comfortable with, takes time. It’s rare that I bond with someone in just a few days or weeks.
I’m finding that making friends in general is harder and harder as I get older. I’m more picky about who I want to spend my time with than I was when I was younger. We’ve been living in Berlin for almost two years now, and I still don’t have a lot of friends here. But I’m slowly making progress.
2. I crave more stability
Being a digital nomad means near constant change. You have to adapt quickly because you’re always in a new place, learning where everything is and how everything works. Now, some of that is really interesting when you travel, but I’m not a fan when I’m trying to work as well.
When we tried traveling for long stretches of time, I realized the stress of figuring out a new place was exhausting to me. I love the newness when my only objective is to explore, but when I have to find the grocery store, cook, work, AND explore, I sort of shut down. I end up not enjoying any of it.
I’m a very routine person. I know that might sound boring to some of you, but having a routine helps me not get bogged down with endless decisions, and it helps me work faster. I love breaking out of my routines when I travel, but it’s hard to be productive when that stability is gone.
3. I need my comforts
This is another thing that I think has changed as I’ve gotten a little older. When I traveled in my late 20s, I was a lot less picky about the comforts of a hotel or hostel room. It had to be safe and clean, but I wasn’t so bothered by the comfort of the bed. Now bad beds are one of my biggest irritations as we travel.
Light coming in through the windows early in the morning also bothers me more now than it did when I was younger. I want it to be as close to pitch black as possible.
You don’t have control over these things when you travel. If the trip is a few days or even a few weeks, I know I’ll get through it and be home in my comfy bed soon enough. But as a digital nomad, I think it would eventually break me. The uncomfortable beds we’ve had on longer trips drove me insane, and I rarely got a good night’s sleep.
4. I’m healthier with a decent kitchen
I’m no world class chef or anything. But I have quite a few dietary restrictions, and life is much easier and healthier for me if I can make my own meals at home most of the time. Long term travel means cooking in rental apartments that are often poorly stocked. It’s hard to cook properly if the kitchen is only equipped to make tea.
We once stayed in an apartment that had a rusty pan. We’ve stayed in several that had almost no counter space to prep on. There was one place with no oven. Often they don’t have things I consider basics, like a peeler.
Some people are better at going with the flow and adapting to varying conditions. But not me. I like having a decent kitchen where I have everything I need, and I can easily cook my food.
5. I simply like having a home base
Overall I like having a home. Sure, I love traveling, and despite my routines, I actually do enjoy having a changing of scenery every now and then. But I like the consistency of a home base.
I’m not a hoarder or anything, but I like owning a few things and having pictures on my walls and having a comfortable place to hang out. We still own way fewer possessions than average, but I don’t really want to reduce down to only owning what can fit in my backpack.
Andy and I work from home, and over the past year we’ve morphed our guest bedroom into an office. It felt like a waste to have a guestroom that hardly ever had guests in it, and it made no sense for Andy to work at the dining room table and me on the couch.
Now we each have a desk with a nice work setup in there. I’m not a fan of working in cafes, so this is an important space. The last step is replacing the bed with a couch and making the room we spend the most waking hours in a comfortable, non-cluttered place.
Being a temporary digital nomad
All of these points conflict heavily with my desires to travel and see as much of the world as possible. I still love the idea of taking several months to travel around South America or Asia or some other region of the world. Winters in Berlin are pretty awful, so I still want to find different ways for us to be away and in a warm, sunny location.
I guess I just want the best of both worlds. Being a digital nomad is not for me, but being completely tied to one location all year round isn’t either.
You might also enjoy:
- Non-Traditional Interviews: Full-Time Travel with a Dog
- Dear Nomadic Life
- On Living a Non-Traditional Life
- Blogging Income Report: December 2016