End of June made me realise that I’ve been a “Digital Nomad” for 6 months already. Well actually it’s slightly longer than that to be honest. But this year was all about being location independent, relying on 2 small bags for everything I needed to live and to see the world, whilst keeping costs down to less than living in London like I used to.
I didn’t really know how to do this as an article, so decided to format it like an interview of myself. Made it easier to think about what I wanted to know about my own experience and easier to answer those questions.
So what’s happened in 6 months?
As a quick overview, here are the stats. I keep these updated fairly regularly, so you can check out the Full Travel Stats by clicking here.
Total Distance Traveled: 40,134 KM
This figure is spread across Planes, Trains, Boats, Cars, Buses and my own two feet.
In terms of countries? England, France, Gibraltar, Spain, UAE, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Scotland… So far…
It’s been an incredible 6 months and the year is far from over in terms of travelling. I’m already planning and scheming for the next part of this mammoth nomadic year.
Favourite place in 6 months?
Koh Ta Kiev in Cambodia. A small island that is cut off from the “real” world. They only have generators, so electricity is in limited supply. But even better, no mobile phone signal, no wifi, no internet.
This made for a completely perfect cut off weekend. Away from the world. Wish I could have stayed away longer, but alas, I have to work during the week.
The island is big enough to go on adventures, walk through the rain forest, go to find other beaches on the opposite side of the island, or perfect to simply laze around the beach, or the bar area (yes they have cold drinks and ice, brought on to the island every day and kept in amazing cool boxes).
Either way, it works. Without the technology people go back to how I remember behaving in my childhood in the playground, you socialised with others!
No more just sitting on your phone / laptop or anything like that.
You can find our more about Kactus in Koh Ta Kiev here.
What’s the best thing about being a digital nomad?
Getting to move around, fluidly, no real plans at any one time. I sort of point myself in a direction and then head off down the road. If I like a place, I’ll stay longer, if I don’t I’ll make a move sooner than I thought.
Best example of this was towards the end of my South East Asia trip. I decided to head to Phuket for the last 10-14 days in Thailand before having to come back to London / Europe for some events. Having spent 48 hours there, I swiftly decided that it wasn’t for me.
I can’t tell you what in particular put me off. But by having this freedom to change my mind (unlike a 2 week holiday away from the “real” life) I jumped on another plane and headed back to Koh Samui, one of my favourite places in Thailand.
The idea of being tied down to just one spot right now makes my spine tingle. It’s not what I want… For now.
And the worse?
You’ll often hear the expression:
“Being alone, doesn’t mean your lonely”.
I agree with this for 80% of the time I spent in South East Asia. You’ll find and meet people everywhere you go and there’s something about travel friendships. You seem to create bonds far quicker than in normal day-to-day life.
On the flip side of that, having a location independent job means you actually do need to just get shit done. There were a few occasions where for a few days I found myself basically in a hotel, for 9-10 hours a day, focused on getting a particular project finished, or a specific task done for deadline.
These moments can feel a little more “lonely” than you might want. I tried to do the whole co-working space, which hasn’t really ever worked for me. Unless you’re spending your time talking to everyone to get to know them, you’ll quickly realise that sitting in a co-working space is no different from just getting stuff done in your room or a cafe.
Note: For those that are staying in one place for longer periods, YES, there is a lot to be said for the whole co-working community and social aspects that come with that.
What have you learnt from these first 6 months?
Simplicity is the key to success.
You want to get it down to as little material goods as possible. This changes everything in terms of the “freedom” factor when you’re moving around.
I thought I was super light on these first 6 months. I had a backpack for my laptop and then a small bag for clothes / toiletries etc (less than 8kg in my big bag).
I’m slowly reducing, and hope to be down to just a north face Surge back pack, that will have everything I need for me to move around freely, with a lot less… STUFF!
Most useful piece of kit for you as a digital nomad?
My MacBook is the most important and useful piece of kit. I’ve looked at getting an iPad so many times, and I’m almost always sold on the idea, but always hesitate as I use my laptop for Photoshop, Final Cut Pro as well as the usual, spreadsheets, documents etc.
So looking at the size of my MacBook, and realising that it’s pretty much the same size, it’s a no brainer. It’s easy to use when travelling and it’s battery life is enough to get some work done and even watch a film after.
How much have these 6 months cost you?
In terms of just my personal costs, in other words, travel, accommodation, food, essentials and extras (think having a few drinks/snorkelling etc), I am confident that I’m under £1,350 per month on average.
Bearing in mind that I could have reduced costs when it comes to accommodation. I’m no longer willing to sleep in hostels or roach infested motels of any sort. Let’s call it an age thing!
So my accommodation on average whilst in Asia was about £20 per night.
To give you some perspective, I paid £650 a month in my house share back in London up until last year.
Anything to add about being a digital nomad?
So I’m not a massive fan of the term Digital Nomad if I completely honest. Location Independent is probably more befitting for me.
But yeah, as I keep moving around, I realise that there is so much to discover, so many great people to meet and so many opportunities in life that I just don’t want to miss out on anything.
The other day I posted a pic about my travel stats.
A friend replied with a simple quote that made my day.
“Not all who wander are lost mate”
This reminded me of what I’m doing and it’s something that I like to keep in mind when moving from one place to the next.