This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you I may make a small commission on products and services purchased through this blog. Thank you for supporting A Travellers Footsteps.
For years I have set myself the goal to travel the world endlessly while working online, from anywhere in the world!
It has long been my dream, and now I am living it. In doing so, I have discovered some things that no one tells you about long-term travel and working online.
Some good, some bad, and some just inevitable. Read on to discover the cold hard truth about long-term travel and working online.
The good part of this lifestyle is the obvious fact that you get to travel to countless countries, experience different cultures and cuisines and adventure until your heart is content. In the last 3 months, I have been road tripping around New Zealand, sailing through Halong Bay in Vietnam, exploring Angkor Wat in Cambodia, snorkelling in Samoa and island hopping in Bali.
Making money while travelling
While I travel, I work for several clients and brands, which helps me generate an income. If this is something you dream of, check out my article on 10 ways to make money while travelling.
I can work from anywhere I want (and when I want)
I get to work from some seriously exotic locations: the poolside in Cambodia, my campervan in New Zealand and even from the sky.
I choose when I want to work. Some morning I wake up at 5 am and start work, other days I start work at 8 pm. The choice is mine, which is honestly a blessing and a curse.
Another benefit is the fact that I get to choose who I work with, and only work with clients I feel are a good fit for me. You certainly don’t get this choice when you work a corporate job.
Now let’s be honest, you don’t just want to hear about all the good parts of travelling and working online, so let’s cut the crap and talk about the downsides – the things people don’t talk about.
Believe it or not, the lifestyle of a full-time traveller and digital nomad isn’t all good.
Jetlag and health
Changing time zones weekly can get exhausting! Your body doesn’t know if it should be asleep or awake and this leaves you feeling run down!
Travelling a lot can impact your diet, as you don’t always have great options and often eat less nutritional food than usual (at least I do).
The combination of changing time zones and lack of sleep and healthy food can have a negative impact on your health over time.
Working online can get lonely
While the term digital nomad sounds extremely sexy, the reality can, in fact, be the opposite.
Working online can feel extremely lonely, and like it is taking over you’re travel adventures.
Say you just arrived in Brazil but you have client work to catch up on, so you spend the first two days locked away in your hotel room finish off projects. Sure, you are making money, but it doesn’t make you feel good. You feel lonely and you feel like you are missing out on enjoying the destination.
When you work and online and travel, one thing you can’t tell your clients is “I just arrived in Brazil so I am going to take a few days to explore then I will get X finished”. No one wants to hear that. If you are assigned a task, you need to get it done, or the reality is that your client will find someone else who can do it.
My suggestion is to set expectations on timelines when you start working with a client and set realistic timelines for projects. When planning your itinerary, leave yourself a few extra days in the destination so you have enough time to work and do everything you want to do.
You waste a lot of time
Negotiations with potential clients can consume a lot of your time. Nevertheless, it is a necessary part of landing clients and projects.
To whoever thinks you just sit back and let the work roll in, you are OHHH so wrong!
Digital Nomads, freelancers, virtual assistants and the likes have to get out there and network to score clients, and this takes time. Sometimes you invest a lot of time and it just doesn’t work out, but that’s just the way it rolls, and something you have to accept when you choose this lifestyle.
Direction can be hard to find
When you work for yourself, it is up to you to set your schedule, prioritise your workload and get s*#t done!
You can very easily spend an hour or so jumping from email to email, Facebook to Twitter before you actually get anything done.
Starting the day with a plan is essential! Write a to-do list, close down your emails and social media and roll your sleeves up because the sooner you get your work done, the sooner you can explore.
You will work around the clock
When you tell people you’re a blogger or freelancer they imagine you laying near the poolside of a free hotel, drinking cocktails and working now and then!
Bloggers and digital nomads work around the clock. Some days you work more than 8 hours, or into the late hour of the night if you are working with someone on a project on the other side of the world. Weekends aren’t really a thing, most freelancers work 7 days a week!
But most people love it so don’t consider it work!
Other inevitable parts of this lifestyle
And with the lifestyle comes the other parts that aren’t necessarily good or bad, they are just a part of it that many people likely never consider. I mean I didn’t until I had to do it.
Booking flights and hotels, applying for visas and planning your itinerary takes A LOT of time, especially if you aren’t stopping!
Combine planning your travels, with actually travelling, blogging and doing client work and you will be one busy girl (or boy).
Travelling slowly is one way to combat the amount of time you need to spend planning! But sometimes you do just have to keep moving!
Nothing is free
A super common question bloggers get asked is, “do you get things for free?”
NOTHING is free. You may get a free hotel room, but the work you provide in return, either through photos, writing, social media promotion or blogging often far outweighs the cost of the hotel room. So, it really isn’t free.
A life of endless travel doesn’t come cheap, and therefore, strict budgeting is essential to maintain the lifestyle.
For me, that is ultimately finding a balance between income and expense, which requires planning and dedication.
I travel cheap, I eat cheap, I stay cheap and I fly cheap! To ensure I stay on track, I must track my expenses and create a travel budget for the months ahead!
If you want to learn all my tips and tricks for budgeting for travel, I have some good news for you! I just launched an ebook – A Guide to Affording Travel. If long-term travel is a dream of yours, as it is mine, this ebook is the ideal place to start for all the information you need on savings for travel, creating a travel budget and planning your dream trip! Get it here.