Let’s talk about how the world is getting cooler.
In the past, we’ve divided people into one of two groups – fearless travellers or humdrum 9-5ers. And most of us would place ourselves in the latter category.
We want to travel, but we need a steady income. We want to break free, but we have responsibilities. We aren’t eighteen-year-olds paying for a gap year with our trust funds. We’re adults. And for the most part, we have full-time jobs. We can’t just up and leave those.
But here’s the kicker – we may no longer have to.
Enter the year 2015. With a large number of companies employing 30 to 45 percent of their workers remotely, the workforce is changing. And so are our conditions as workers. We’re no longer chained to one office, one city or one traditional way of conducting business.
Startups are launching left, right and center. Freelancers and remote workers are in high demand. It’s getting easier than ever to work from home – and ‘home’ is a relative term.
For Remote Year participants, home is a round-the-world trip that allows them to work full time while they travel. For Startup Basecamp guests, home is a house full of entrepreneurial workers in exotic locations across the globe. For Hacker Paradise participants, home is a two to twelve week venture abroad with a group of remote developers. For the ridiculously rich, home can even be a catamaran that cruises around the world with remote workers on board.
For those who dare to forgo paying rent in one place, many of these programs are surprisingly affordable – some costing the equivalent of the rent you’d pay in any major city. Other remote workers choose to forge their own path – travelling solo to save a few bucks and have a unique experience. And they’re pulling it off. Jacob Laukaitis has been a full-time digital nomad for the past two years – making his way through over 30 different countries, all while keeping up with his full time job.
“I’ve been running my own ventures from the age of 15. Currently I’m a co-founder of a fast-growing online coupons company ChameleonJohn.com. I travel 9-10 months every year.
When I started I’d usually do 3-15 days per country, thus I’d be moving most of the time, which was very interesting, but extremely tiring. For my last trip I decided to spend 1-3 months per country, which allows me to explore them better and not get super tired.”
Sounds great, right? But Laukaitis’s position begs the question: How are people actually able to live like this? When balancing a full-time job, does life on the road not get exhausting?
Luckily, our enthusiastic ESTP friend has the answer to this as well.
“These people usually either freelance, have location independent jobs or are online entrepreneurs running their online ventures. The (digital nomad) movement is currently gaining more and more visibility and thus more and more people are becoming digital nomads. I’ve just created an e-mail newsletter with 3 tips on how to become a digital nomad. I hope I’ll be able to help at least a few thousand people with it.”
Laukaitis adamantly believes that his lifestyle is not only sustainable, but also more accessible than most people think. He explains:
“I think that the main think holding people back from becoming digital nomads is the fear of living the unconventional lives their parents and societies never wanted them to live. They fear leaving the boring ‘9 to 5,’ which makes them unhappy and miserable.”
There’s no typical day in the life as a digital nomad. I’m never in my comfort zone. The only routine I have is ‘no routine’ which pushes me to the limit and makes me learn, experience and see tons.”
Even when prodded, Laukaitis is hard-pressed to find a downside to life on the road.
“To be honest, I’m not sure what the worst part of this lifestyle is. People say things like loneliness, inability to have long-lasting relationships etc. but I don’t think any of them are actual problems for me, since I never feel lonely. I have friends in so many different places and I keep up with my friends and family everywhere I go. I guess I’ve yet to discover what’s the unglamorous part.”
True to his word, Laukaitis recently released a video of his latest solo trip, in which he motorbiked 8,000km across the Balkans, passing through 15 countries in four weeks.
Wanderlust fueled yet?
Here’s the thing about people like Jacob and situations like the one he’s found himself in: We like to believe they’re not achievable. We like to believe they’re out of reach. We like to believe that they only happen to those of us who are incurably lucky – but is that really true?
With a growing market for remote workers and travel more accessible than it’s ever been before, maybe we no longer need to save up fifty grand to quit our jobs and travel the world. Maybe we just need to reevaluate the jobs and the lifestyles that we’re choosing.
Because at the end of the day, isn’t this the one so many of us would rather be living:
“Sometimes I’m out surfing, diving, hiking, motorbiking etc. sometimes I spend my days in a co-working space, running new projects and finishing up my tasks. Just this weekend I rented a very nice motorbike and spent 11 hours each day motorbiking all across Bali, filming my new travel video. Today I’m spending my time jogging, reading and working. Tomorrow – who knows!”
For more inspiration on how to become a digital nomad, read Laukaitis’s article “Why I will never live 9 to 5.”
And then reconsider why, exactly, you’re living yours.