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What I've Learnt as a Digital Nomad

People often look at me with interest when they find out I’ve stayed for extended periods of time in seven different countries and many times I’ve jumped between three, or four, of those countries in a year. But what does it truly mean to be a digital nomad?

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For other people, the notion of traveling the world and turning any desk into an office, sounds romantic. Or maybe adventurous…exotic. Yet, those who travel the world, while they enjoy their nomadic streak, nod at each other, sometimes in pained recognition. There are perks with seeing the world. There are also downfalls with not having a home in one place where you spend the majority of your time.

Personally, I think traveling is something everyone should do, but I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a digital nomad. Here’s what I’ve learned from a lifetime of travels.

Strangers Are Angels in Disguise

There’s an inscription on a wall in Shakespeare and Co. in Paris that says that strangers are angels in disguise. I’ve found this to be true. While you’ll encounter grumpy bus drivers in London, lazy waiters in Cape Town and divas in Hollywood, as a traveler you soon learn that wherever you go, people can and will help you. If your car breaks down, if you need a couch for the night, if something else happens (I was once stranded in Paris without cash, for example), someone will come through for you.

I think this is one of the most valuable lessons as a traveler — if you ask for help you’ll receive it. Eventually. In one way, or another. People, as a general rule, have an innate wish to help others. That lost person with a map will receive random offers from strangers to assist them.

Problem Solving Becomes Your Second Name

Whether you’re lost, your car has broken down or you find yourself in some unexpected circumstance, you need to figure out a way to solve it. In a new place you also simply need to learn to figure things out, even if everything’s going splendidly. It’s new. You have to learn. Time and time again how to navigate your way in a new place.

If you’re uncomfortable with asking directions, think again. Soon you’ll be asking all sorts of people about all sorts of things to be able to get from A to B. Whether you need to find out how to operate the laundry machine, or find a restaurant, traveling means you’re constantly in need of advice from people whom you’ve, most likely, never met before.

I’ve always enjoyed getting lost in a new place. Not having too many plans. To experience what unfolds. You learn to deal with the unexpected.

You Learn to Say Please and Thank You

If you want to get anywhere as a traveler, people skills help immensely. By being kind, caring and polite to the people you meet, you’ll be greeted by lots of unexpected kindness in return. People will go the extra mile to help you out, be it with finding wifi, or giving you a free meal.

The truth is, how we approach people affects how they treat us. If you want them to treat you well, you have to treat them well.

Social Media Allows You to Keep Your Tribe

If it wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t know what most of my friends are up to. As I often spend different parts of the year in different parts of the world, it’s hard to keep track of friends and family. I would have missed out on a lot more if it wasn’t for social media. I get to see glimpses of people’s lives, even if I’m not there. I also get to keep everyone I know in one place and can reach out to them at any time, no matter where I am.

It’s hard to have a normal social life when you don’t stay in one place. It’s really hard. But at the very least you can reach all your friends with the click of a button.

Network Is Net Worth…Sort Of

There is an old saying that your network is your net worth. This is obviously related to career, but as a traveler, your network is who will help you out when you’re in a strange place. I don’t know how many people’s couches I’ve crashed on over the years. Friends who have lent me cars, homes… People who have been there for me when something’s happened. And the above mentioned Facebook has often been crucial for this — you update one status and someone leads you to someone, who connects you to someone…

When you grow up in a place, or go to college in a place, and stay there, you usually have a close-knit circle of friends who are there for you. The people you can call on for anything. But as a person traveling, you make new friends all the time. And these are the people who will do anything from showing you around town, to sorting you out when you need a ride.

You Adapt

Whether you’re renting an AirBnB where you put up with the host’s OCD, or messiness, you soon learn to adapt. Your office is a cafe, a hotel room, an airport…

What’s more, you’re constantly orientating yourself. Finding the nearest supermarket. Working out how the trains work. Finding a place for a haircut. Working out social codes in a new culture. Trying new dishes. Everything is about orientation and learning new things.

It can be terribly annoying sometimes. Not to have the exact environment you want. Not to have fast wifi. Not to know if you’ll have to cook amongst the remains of someone else’s dinner. But if you let it get to you, you’re soon in a bad mood all the time. So you adapt.

You Can Be Whoever You Like

There’s something liberating about traveling. No one knows you. You are free from the expectations friends and family have of you. By the time you return home, you’ll have changed.

You’ll Likely Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

At some point in your travels, chances are you’ll be forced to do something that’s beyond your comfort zone. And by breaking that kind of barrier, you learn that fears can be overcome. It’s liberating. It also takes a lot of courage. Makes you a braver person.

You Learn That There’s No Place Like Home

As many people as you meet during your travels, it can also be lonely. You have to meet a hundred different people, to find forty you gel with. You force yourself to attend Meet Up Groups and InterNations events, even when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes you meet people you have the most amazing connection with though. You realize that you have soulmates everywhere. Unique individuals whom you simply hit it off with. But that doesn’t mean that they know your history, your quirks…and that can be great, but it can also make you feel lonely. Home is a place where people do know you.

Stability. Coming home to a place you’ve decked out to suit your needs. The ability to be near those you love. Those are all things you learn to value. Heck, just the feeling of being able to relax because you know where you’re going is incredible. You don’t have to figure out how to get to the supermarket.

In Closing

I love traveling. I love all it’s taught me. It’s in my blood. I also really appreciate having a home to come home to. For me, I’m not sure I’ll ever have only one place I call home. I mean California is home in that it feels like home. But then there’s France. And all my friends in London. And my place in Cape Town. However, to have at least one apartment, or house, that’s mine somewhere, is crucial. I need to be able to know there is one place where I can just kick back. One place designed how I like it. One place that suits me.

I believe the world would be a better place if everyone spent at least six months traveling to learn about different cultures. To see what other ways of thinking exist. I don’t think everyone can handle staying on the road as a digital nomad though. I think it all depends on what you need to be productive and happy. 


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It is almost time again. Blue Monday. So-called the most depressing day of the year. People would feel sad on this day for all sorts of reasons. We have lost sight of the good intentions, the salary is still waiting for us, the merry Christmas is the daily grind back ... Go on and on. How often do we hear: " January takes so long ".

Once. It is a long, gray and cold month. We are all secretly ready for vacation. A sunny vacation. Voyage Nomad have listed three sunny winter destinations that will certainly make you warmer!


CURACAO

It is about 9 hours flying to sunny Curacao, where you can enjoy an average temperature of 28.5 ° C for 8 hours a day! Cooling off in the sea is difficult, with a sea water temperature of 27 ° C. Want to sunbathe? Then go for the most beautiful beaches to the Kleine Knip and Grote Knip. On both beaches you really get a Bounty feeling! White sand, an azure blue sea and background music from the rippling waves ... Do you like quiet beaches? Then go to Kleine Knip. There are few to no facilities here and it is quieter.

Of course a small road trip in Curacao cannot be missed. Because yes, you also have the best holiday on the small island with a rental car at your doorstep! A nice route is that from Willemstad to Westpunt. Along the way you will not only come across beautiful beaches, but also a number of special nature parks. And near Sint Willibrordus you can spot flamingos. How fun!


GRAN CANARIA

Only 4.5 hours of flying and you get off in the warm Gran Canaria. The average temperature during the winter months is 21.3 ° C. Want to swim? With a little luck, that is still possible.

Are you on vacation with your loved one? Then a visit to Playa de Amadores, the beach of loved ones, should not be missed. The yellow gold beach is on a wide bay with crystal clear water. Finish the afternoon with a nice glass of wine or a tasty cocktail? Behind the beach you will find various restaurants and bars. A nice market is held twice a week near the beach in Puerto de Mogan. Also nice to spend an afternoon strolling.


FLORIDA

It takes about 13 hours to fly to Miami. Quite a long piece, but afterwards you can fully enjoy the winter sun! During the day it is a nice 22 ° C in Florida, the sea water is around 23 degrees and you can enjoy no less than 7 hours of sunshine every day.

Florida certainly belongs in this list of winter sun destinations. It might not be a destination where you can only sunbathe on the beach, but you can optimally enjoy a pleasant temperature during road tripping. So you can visit Miami, then to Orlando and of course not to forget: The Florida Keys. And yes, you can of course enjoy sunbathing, boat trips or snorkeling.

Are you the types who don’t wish to spend much on your vacation and still want to enjoy the holiday to the best, soaking up what all the place has to offer? Well, if yes, then the list is surely going to help you. Come, take a look:

Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

The “Yoga Capital of World” is also one of the favourite hippie spots and one place which can be explored even when you are travelling on a tight budget. Situated just about 250 km from Delhi, Rishikesh is well-connected via train and road including the state transport and private buses. In case, you are planning to travel by train to this holy city, it would be a good idea to check for IRCTC seat availability with fare and timings across different trains for a hassle-free experience.

Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh

If you live in the capital city or around it and looking for a nice vacation place where you don’t have to shell out much, then Mcleodganj would be one of the best bets. While the hotel tariffs can between INR 300 to 400 per day if you wish to stay at Dharamkot or Naddi, you can also explore the town without spending much. Some of the famous attractions of this pretty hill resort are Dal Lake, Tibet Museum, St. John in the Wilderness and the Cricket Stadium at Dharamsala among others. When here, don’t forget to indulge in some yummy local dishes for that complete experience.

Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu

Situated just about 80km from Trivandrum, Kanyakumari is a place which offers that much needed quietude and solitude from the chaotic city life. The most famous attraction of Kanyakumari is the Vivekananda Rock Memorial which attracts loads of tourists every day. With a number of good budget accommodation options, ranging from INR 800 per day and easy accessibility from Trivandrum via road and rail, the city is definitely one of the best choices if you are planning for a budget holiday. In case, you wish to take a train journey, it would be a goodbidea to check details train berth availability and seat availability prior to your bookings.

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

The holy city of Varanasi is another good option for budget travellers and that explains why it is one of the most favourite destinations for backpackers. There is a lot to explore and learn when you are here. For instance, you can take a lesson or two in meditation, Indian classical music or yoga- the choice is yours. Food, stay and transportation costs in Varanasi are very cheap and you can get a hotel room at INR 300 per day and the city is also well-connected via road and rail to almost all major cities in India. If you are planning to take a Delhi-Varanasi train, we suggest you to check with Indian Railways Enquiry for relevant details.

So, what are you thinking now? Plan your bags and happy travel.

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