Wake up, eat, get to work, come back home and sleep. Party? Yes, on the weekends. Passion? Listening to music, umm yeah, that’s it. Any girlfriend? Yes, I had one 6 years back but it didn’t quite work out. My insides tickle with discomfort, as I hear another person respond to these questions with eyes so bereft of life and magic. As I see people around me, living their life in concentric circles of their misery and limitations, without having the slightest idea of what they are doing, clawed and caged in spirals of other people’s expectations and conditioning, I howl in pain at this suffering the human self subjects itself to. I wake up everyday trying to break free, of something. I wake up everyday trying to break free, of everything.
Wanderlust sits in my chest like all the tears you hold back sit in your eyes. Day after day, I see people living the same day 75 times and calling it a life. But there are some people who paint their skin with courage and desires. Who walk with legs like swords cutting through the human limitations of time and distance. They are the Digital Nomads! Yes, you heard it right. These are a bunch of “crazy” people who are always on the move, living in different places, and working through the miracle we call technology, look at those smartphones and laptops. They turn technology from a tether to one specific place to a ticket to freedom from any physical office space. Digital nomads work in everything from blogging to web designing to coaching to consulting to researching, from Hongkok to Singapore to Thailand, exploring new people, places and perspectives.
Why do you think, some people choose to leave everything behind, and go anywhere they want? Isn’t that scary? Digital Nomads are people just like you and me. People like you and me who are tired of their 9-5 jobs but just can’t leave their jobs. Digital Nomads break the boundaries between work and leisure, challenging established concepts of work. They work anytime they want, from anywhere they want, on anything they want, having qualitative time to spend with family and friends or to engage in gardening or painting or absolutely anything. They get past the restrictions time subjects one to by making one sacrifice their present in hopes of a beautiful tomorrow, by learning to survive in difficult situations and creating opportunities for themselves in places where apparently none existed. They believe that life doesn’t equate work and see work as a means to grow personally and professionally. But most of all, these crazy gypsies challenge our unreflective habitual lives and routines. These are people who believe in conscious deliberate living. They are people who know that home is not a place, but something that you come back to, and the thing that you come back to, could be the tingling in your stomach at the danger and the excitement that anything new presents to you.
You need to choose your Digital Nomad Destinations, with that wild brain. Consider – the cost of living, easy visas, the speed and availability of internet, the proximity to other digital nomads and/or an inspiring community. Look for inspiring environments with safety and a good weather. Bali, Indonesia is known as the mother ship of digital nomads, a co-working island, with volcano-climbing, surfing, diving and motorbiking. Next, Say yes to thailand! Because easy travelling, great food and a unique culture. Moreover, Chiang Mai in Bangkok is the digital nomad capital of the world, with open social network groups, and with co-working spaces like the PunSpace, provide an opportunity to share workspace with filmmakers, programmers, lawyers and media designers, helping each other in finding new solutions and ideas. Co-working helps nomads to have colleagues who are working, but are just not working on the same things. Cape town, South Africa, is value for money with the bliss of breathtaking surroundings, where you can do anything that doesn’t require snow. Berlin, Germany will poke the musician, the entrepreneur, the artist, the academician, and the writer buried in you. Goa is the hippy paradise in India, which is one of the world’s cheapest countries to live in with foreign currency. Mexico is an overlooked digital nomad heaven-to-be with outstanding local cuisine. Costa Rica is not just a wi-fi heaven but offers great deals on accommodation. Colombia has a bad reputation for drugs and crime, but has an unmatched diversity, home to Medellin – “the city of eternal spring”.
Amarit Charoenphan who is the Cofounder and Co-CEO of HUBBA which is Thailand’s first co-working space for tech and creative startups, says that work isn’t about being stuck to one place and one company. You can be happy in Bangkok one day and in Bali the other day, you can be working on your own projects, getting mentored, meeting random strangers and exploring collaboration.
Tijana Momirov who is a Kitesurfing digital nomad and helps create joint ventures, talks about the magic of having never-ending summers. She emphasizes creating well researched job profiles, focusing on specific skill upgrade, switching between one’s top three skills, and transforming the ways we live and work. She knows that you don’t need much to be happy. She advocates minimalism, because once you’ve lived in a tent, everything is luxurious. She spent a few summers in a van with her boyfriend in Greece, having solar panels for energy, and bicycles to reach local villages for food. She describes it as the most challenging and beautiful experience of being a digital nomad while following the sun and the wind in the world.
There is a human need to plug into communities and spend time with people, so it’s difficult to move constantly. Digital nomading presents it’s challenges, which are actually what make it all the more interesting. You have to be productive, professional and structured to work in some of the best places in the world. You need a strong presence of mind, open mindedness, a strong emotional base, to sustain yourself in the face of frequent change and challenge. You might be waking up to a beautiful beach with a cocktail in your hand, but you might still need your exchange of ideas with people in order to get the best out of yourself. You may even experience isolation, as you might have a difficulty in forming meaningful and lasting relationships while you’re on the move. However, building connections with the locals, building a support network of friends and family back home and connecting with them through skype and social media, and using co-working spaces of freelancers, can help to wash away these feelings and help you rock the digital nomad lifestyle and live life on your own terms. Moreover, the infrastructure may not be convenient, and you might face a problem in following a routine in new environments. But I’m sure, you won’t feel the stagnation and the helplessness you would’ve felt if you were in the same place with the same job with the same people with the same thoughts with the same perspective all your precious life.
The spirit of the digital nomads is based on experiencing a free existence. The human need to travel pre-dates the digital revolution. Travelling to new places to keep ones creative juices flowing, instances of student unrests, popular protests to fight conventions and authority, go back to the beginning of time itself. But merely being a digital nomad doesn’t solve any problem in the world, so digital nomads have a big responsibility to wisely use resources like air travel, technology, cheap travelling options etc. They are the change makers, the movers, the doers. They need to work on entrepreneurial projects to bring out ideas that matter. They need to promote sustainable lifestyles and connect with the local community of people, and get out of the bubble many digital nomads are still living in.
Caged birds don’t sing, they cry. Captured animals still have cages in their minds after they are removed. Some people move in circles of denying themselves their absolute and free spirit. They don’t do what they love. They don’t touch a soul’s life. Never do an act of remarkable courage. Some people are buried before they die.