Normally Nomadic – What being a Digital Nomad really means…

I read A LOT of articles about being a digital nomad. Leaving the corporate world behind and seeing the world sounds exciting, but what is the reality? Well, you probably won’t get rich, and you’ll pull your hair out when you can’t get decent WiFi, that’s for sure. You’ll also work long hours at times and be forced to be productive when you least feel like it.

Being a digital nomad requires many temporary offices!
My Mother-in-law has, very kindly, turned a spare bedroom into an office for us.

I have seen a decent amount of the world nonetheless. Not so long ago I house-sat my way around six countries, including Australia for two years. More recently, I worked in Switzerland, France (where I live, most of the time) and the UK. Leeds, Birmingham, Edinburgh and London are just a few of the exotic climes I’ve found myself in of late.

There are other upsides, like being able to take the afternoon off to go to a cricket match or the cinema, without annoying holiday quotas getting in the way. Doing your shopping when there’s nobody else at the supermarket. Or not starting until 10am because you’re an hour ahead. That’s my personal favourite. You must remember that this time needs to be caught up somewhere though. No work, no pay!

Hotel living for a digital nomad
There’s only ever one desk in a hotel room, so I always end up working here!
The Excitement, the Glamour!

Living out of a bag is by no means romantic or glamorous. I’ve got used to wearing the same clothes and never having tidy hair. I do dress for work most of the time, but sometimes I work from my bed. I seldom wear make-up, except for video calls, depending on who they’re with.

You have to be super organised. Realising you’ve left your laptop charger plugged in at a friends house and getting them to post it to your next destination gets old pretty quickly. Leaving that all important piece of paperwork on your desktop is not an option either. So EVERYTHING gets stored in the cloud, even my birth certificate. Unless it fits into my little notebook, I do still like pen and paper sometimes.

Easier Every Day!
As a digital nomads I'm no stranger to working from a sofa!
Working on the sofa at my Mum’s. Note the ever untidy hair!

This isn’t a short term thing either. I started on the digital nomad path in 2012 when being location independent was still a dream for most. That is changing thankfully and my lifestyle is rapidly becoming the norm. It’s certainly normal for me, but working from six different locations in the space of a week sometimes, isn’t easy.

What is easier now is connectivity. Ever improving WiFi availability, a mobile app for every possible occasion and more flexibility from the most important people: the ones who pay my invoices! As long as the job gets done to my usual high standards, clients and collaborators don’t care where I am. I’m even a selling point in some cases, including this one.

As a freelancer, I know all about juggling. I try to split my time in the same way each working day, but this isn’t always possible. I keep on top of it all with a mixture of cloud based calendars, I ditched the paper diary this year in favour of them. My phone, tablet and laptop are all I need.

Sadly, while I love discovering new locations, I’m also the world’s worst traveller. If somebody could please invent a device that I can read without getting travel sick I’d be eternally grateful! 

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