Look after your money
Travelling isn’t necessarily more expensive than living in one place – and depending on where you live, it can end up being a lot cheaper – but your expenses are more unpredictable. When you’re on the other side of the world from everyone you know, having a safety net is important. Save as much as you can before you leave and budget as you go. Get a credit or debit card that allows you to withdraw money abroad without fees. And make sure you have more than one bank account, with cards kept in separate bags, in case anything gets lost or stolen.
It’s tempting to cram your days full when you’re travelling, heading out early to explore before work, spending your evenings meeting new people and your time off seeing as much as you can. But moving to a new place every few days while also working is exhausting. Embrace slow travel and get to know each country better. Create a routine. To avoid burnout, factor in time to do nothing and don’t feel guilty about it. You’ll make the most of the places you visit by giving yourself time to enjoy them.
Sometimes you have to prioritise work
For a digital nomad lifestyle to be sustainable, you have to find a way to work that’s compatible with travelling. Stay in apartments with good wifi or search for nearby co-working spaces, quiet cafes or libraries. Travel blogs and online communities can be great for finding places to work. Make things as easy as possible for yourself by planning in advance, backing everything up and staying flexible. And save the remote locations for periods when you don’t need the internet.
Let things go
When you’re sitting at home dreaming about travelling, it’s not the queuing that you think about, or the waiting for buses or having to walk half an hour to find water or ordering something you don’t like because you can’t understand the menu. But travelling is full of these little annoyances, and if you’re not careful they can weigh you down. The sooner you surrender to the place you’re in the better your experience will be. You’re a guest in someone else’s country and you’re going to have to do it their way (it’s good for you, I promise).
Document (but not everything)
Full-time travel is an incredible experience that you’ll want to look back on for the rest of your life. Documenting it in some way is important: write a diary, take photos, start a blog, keep a sketchbook. But when you’re experiencing so much every day, the recording can take over. You need to find a balance, go for walks without your camera, write down one or two observations each day rather than everything and make sure you have time to be in the moment.
One of the best things about travelling is the way your comfort zone gradually expands. You’re visiting new places, meeting different people and being thrown into situations that will challenge you. You’re growing without even realising it. Be open to trying things you never thought you’d do or things that scare you, go to places you’ve never heard of, ask people questions, follow your curiosity. The best experiences can come from being open to what’s going on around you.
Illustrations by @carolinetomlinsonillustrator