5 Most Common Mistakes New Digital Nomads Make

Starting your digital nomad journey is exciting, to say the least. But to ensure that it doesn't end prematurely, make sure to avoid these common pitfalls almost every new digital nomad makes:  

#1 Traveling Too Fast

Everyone loves traveling—myself included! I get it, trust me. Travel addiction requires a lifelong recovery, and I am a card-carrying member. But if you're just entering the digital nomad lifestyle for the first time, look at your travel schedule then cut it in half. Or less.

What happens when you travel too fast?


Honestly, it's really fun, but it's hard to get shit done. And since money is required to fund your daily and travel expenses, you do need to put in those work hours.

Only trial and error can help you establish your own travel limits, but here's the litmus test:

  1. If the thought of packing and moving again creates anxiety, you've been moving around too much.

  2. If you no longer enjoy or feel excited about a new destination, you're traveling too fast.

  3. If you feel guilty for sightseeing or doing pretty much anything else besides working, you've exceeded your recommended daily allowance of travel.

After spending 15 years in 55+ countries, I can tell you from experience that:

  • You will never check everything off your bucket list. It's fun to try, but for every one thing you check off, you'll add two more. Just accept it and enjoy the ride without rushing through it!

  • Passport stamp collection is an unhealthy obsession. This isn't a competition. Even if you go to every country in the world, you'll probably never stop traveling. So, unless you're a professional traveler, take it easy there!

 Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

#2 Not Planning Enough

When you never know where you're going next or how long you're staying where you are, you’ve turned too nomadic. Obviously, if you have infinite access to funds and no urgent goals to achieve, you could conceivably float around the planet indefinitely.

But most of us need some structure. Our human bodies and brains aren't well equipped to be 100% nomadic, forever gone with the wind.

It's especially jarring to the human psyche to go from one extreme to the other. If you've spent your entire life in school or a 9-to-5 job, the abrupt change of the pendulum swinging the other way can be too disruptive.

The sneaky thing is, sometimes months or years go by before nomads realize that something is not right in their lives. It can be hard to put your finger on it, but try to stay on top of things.


 Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

#3 Planning Too Much

See that conundrum? Yep, you need to plan some but not to the point of overkill. There's a happy medium you need to find for yourself.

If you have your entire year planned out before you leave on your first flight, you’ve got a problem. This is too much structure for anyone, and the weight of all those impending voyages can make it hard for you to enjoy the beauty of each moment.

Too many newbie nomads are constantly thinking about where they're going next. This prevents their nervous system from really settling in and calming the f*k down.





 Photo by  chuttersnap  on  Unsplash

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

#4 Traveling with Too Many People

When you think of the 9-to-5 grind you're leaving behind, you realize it's not natural to engage in highly social activities with new people every day.

Here is a sample daily schedule of the average non-nomadic adult:

  • Wake up

  • Go to the gym or get kids ready for school

  • Eat breakfast/commute to work

  • Work all day

  • Go to the gym or happy hour or something after work

  • Go home, eat dinner, watch tv, look at phone, read a book, go to bed.

In a normal day, social interaction can take place at the gym, at work, or at home, and neither of those places involve meeting different people every day. It’s pretty much the same people with whom you have an established level of engagement.  

Occasionally, people will attend networking events, parties or other social engagements, but these are not a daily affair.

When, all of a sudden, you are traveling with 20, 50, or 100+ digital nomads for an extended period of time, that can get exhausting for even the most open extroverts amongst us.

Constant small talk and interaction with strangers is not the most productive use of time, especially when your time is monetized, like for freelancers. By all means, have fun, but just keep that in mind so you can recognize the symptoms of social burnout when they come up.


Too many new nomads spend a disproportionate amount of energy on meeting new people rather than working on themselves or their careers. This fractionalizes one's attention span.

We are a product of our environments, and it’s important to exercise some social control for our own well-being.

 Photo by  BRUNO CERVERA  on  Unsplash

#5 Lack of Defined Routine or Work Schedule

If you're engaged in any of the other common mistakes that digital nomads make, like traveling too fast with too many people, life and work routines become nonexistent.

Like anyone, digital nomads need a routine in their lives in order to thrive. It's important to design a schedule that works for you.

Make sure you have uninterrupted blocks of time to serve your clients, grow your business, or hit your targets.

 Enjoying the digital nomad lifestyle from Munich, Germany!

Enjoying the digital nomad lifestyle from Munich, Germany!

Conclusion

The digital nomad lifestyle is still a relatively new one, the pros and cons of which are still coming into crisp focus over time.

By avoiding these common mishaps or being aware of their existence, you can help ensure that your future in the location-independent lifestyle is in good hands—your own!


What do you think are the biggest mistakes digital nomads make?

Let me know in the comments!