“Digital nomad story” is a weekly story series sharing experiences and tips from nomadic entrepreneurs all over the world. Join the journey!
Hi, my name is Johanna,
I was born in Austria but have been traveling around the world for as long as I can remember. I finished my masters in Media & Communication last year and was not ready yet for a fulltime 9-5 monotonous office job. Due to my various travels and writing skills, I started an internship with a large online travel company in Germany. Even though the job was great, I realized that I couldn’t sit at a desk for 8 hours every day.
At that point, I knew I would need to be creative to not end up in an ordinary office, so I started to create my way of working online.
What’s your normal daily routine as a digital nomad?
I actually struggle a lot with a routine while travelling. That’s why I always try to set up kind of a base for at least one month in each country so I know where to get strong Wi-Fi and coffee – same importance ;-). As soon as I manage to have a daily routine I start off just as if I would be in an office – checking mails, getting some work done, skype, go to the beach and after that back to work until late at night. Ok, maybe not exactly like in a normal office 😉
What’s your favorite part about of being a digital nomad? & What’s the opposite – least favorite?
Most favorite part is definitely the flexibility and the freedom to say “Hey, I wanna see Singapore, let’s fly there” without having to get approval from a boss or having to give five weeks notice in advance. I also enjoy being able to just get up and go for a surf or be able to do whatever you just feel like. Sometimes I also work way more effectively at night – impossible in an office.
And I am able to change my workspace; I can always sit in different coffee shops and surround myself with a new environment every day. That is probably also one of my favorite things.
The least favorite is definitely a certainty. I never know when jobs will come in, when my money will be transferred, I need to do all my insurances myself and don’t have the security of a company behind me, if I screw something up.
What’s the first adventure that comes on your mind from your digital nomad career?
Three days in a row of a total power blackout on Nusa Penida in Indonesia with two super important Skype calls for two jobs I really wanted was kind of an adventure for my nerves.
What are the hardest things to keep up with while being a digital nomad? What’s your suggestion for dealing with them?
First is routine: when you travel it’s hard to find one. This can be due to bad Wi-Fi, wrong accommodation, transportation and other such things that haven’t started out properly on my trip. This brings you down many times, but makes you inventive to find options.
Organization: where do I pay tax, what does a proper invoice look like, what insurance do I have and what does it cover, where do I find more work, what do I do if someone doesn’t pay? There are so many things you need to consider and better get them sorted before you leave your home country because some of the information you just can’t gather online.
Are there any online resources you find really useful and essential?
Facebook groups help a lot. Jobs and tips get shared on a daily base and the community is open for almost every question you have.
What were your beliefs about “being a digital nomad” before you became one, that turned out to be a complete nonsense?
Mostly being able to sit in the sun and work – you actually can hardly see your screen and your fingers are way to sweaty to type 😉 But you get ingenious. I figured out how to cover my laptop so I can sit at the pool whilst getting work done.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about digital nomads? Is there any way we can try to change that?
I find it really sad that many companies don’t trust DN enough to give them the freedom to work from home or during travels. I figured out that many firms want their employees close no matter what they actually do, instead of making them travel and bring up enough trust to see that the work a DN comes up with is so much more high quality than from an “unhappy, unmotivated-forced to sit in the office” employee.
Being a digital nomad may include a lot of traveling. What are your tips & tricks for better travels?
Oh, there are so many tips, I wouldn’t know where to begin. But definitely traveling with light luggage is a big one. I also suggest getting a home base from where you can branch out. So for instance, I settled myself in Bali and did shorter trips around the island with hand luggage only.
I already wrote some tips about this topic on my website.
Many people are afraid of never being able to settle down after being nomads. What are your thoughts on this? Have you experienced these feelings? And what is your cure for them?
That is true – I do have those thoughts that I never know if I will ever find satisfaction in an office. Even the word office itself makes me shudder to think of. Of course, it depends on the environment and for what company you work. But in general, I can say that there aren’t many offices I would give up my life for. So I do need the freedom of being able to pack my bags and leave if I get stuck in one place.
The cure for this? I am still trying to figure that out. But I guess the internet gives us so many possibilities to make money that you can leave the 9-5 job.
About the partner: if you feel like travelling a lot and work online also during the time where you want a family you definitely need someone who will support the way you have chosen to live. Otherwise, both of you will suffer.
Where have you experienced the strongest nomad community? Also, please share, if there is any place where you’ve found a lack of it!
Definitely in Canggu/Bali so far. So many people work online here and no matter which café you go, you will find strong Wifi and lots of people on their laptops. I will also move to Dahab in Egypt soon and work in a co-working space. Dahab is meant to be a great place for online workers too.
There is a lack of online workers in Austria unfortunately. It seems my home country is not ready yet for this fantastic trend of letting people go, but get great content in exchange.
What’s your favorite way of meeting new people as a nomad?
I’ve never been to one yet, but I would definitely suggest joining a co-working space. Or participating in some retreats for nomads if it won’t blow your budget.
I have also kept an eye on Facebook groups for the places where I’m living so I can meet up with people doing the same kind of work.
What are the main things you are looking for when deciding where to go next?
I guess Wi-Fi is the most important thing. I could never go to the Philippines for a long period, as the coverage is way too bad for working properly there. It also depends on how much I earn, so I can calculate with the living expenses. I also need an open space and a beach, I wouldn’t go to a big city just by myself to be a DN.
Top 3 places to visit as a digital nomad
Bali: a paradise for DN: packed with cozy cafés and people working online. Plus living expenses are cheap and you live by the sea.
Thailand: basically easy to find good working Wi-Fi, many laidback islands to get some calm times to focus on work.
Dahab: haven’t been there yet, but apparently the upcoming hotspot for DN.
What’s your vision of the future? How long are you planning to keep up with your digital nomad lifestyle? Do you have any long-term plans on your mind?
Well, of course, I will try as long as possible to keep the lifestyle as a DN. I am not sure if I will constantly travel without having a proper home like I do now. But I guess, if I picture the perfect future for me, I want a base in my home country, work independently and do short trips once a month and maybe twice a year some bigger travels where I also get work done. I guess that’s my dream.
Gathering all your current experience – what would you now say to your old self, back when you just started?
As I just started half a year ago as a digital nomad I can’t really say that I am packed with experience yet but I definitely know that I shouldn’t sell myself for less money than I am actually worth. You tend to do high-quality work for a smaller salary because you are scared of not getting any money at all. So I should definitely be more confident about the value of the content I create. Learn how to sell yourself properly.
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