Especially not in south east Asia
You open Facebook.
There’s a photo in your news feed of a digital nomad kicking back beachside while working on a laptop.
Perhaps it’s a sponsored post from some cloned-but-totes-unique ‘genius’ with a magical blueprint to teach you how to build a crafty sales funnel to drive mega dollars to your business while sipping a mojito and dangling a leg out of a hammock.
Pony up a few hundred and you could have their mystical blue print and dangle your leg, too!
Having recently lived the life of a digital nomad copywriter in south east Asia, let me tell you, it’s not all dangly legs and mojitos.
Stock photography has a LOT to answer for.
And so do those laptop lifestyle boffins and their mystical business blue prints.
However, if you’ve got a business that could be run from anywhere in the world, you might be tempted to grab your backpack, laptop and bathers and head off to a cheap and warm place to live and run your business remotely. But before you do, consider these 11 reasons why you shouldn’t be a digital nomad.
1. Sand in your laptop sucks
And it’s not just sand. Greasy sunscreen fingers all over your keyboard, squinty eyes from screen glare even under a beach umbrella with sunnies on… and why hello there humidity, the instant hair volumiser. Working by the beach sucks.
2. Ergonomic hell
I know they call them laptops, but trying to balance one on your lap while reclining on a beach towel is not the most ergonomically pleasing position. Throw in that hammock and where the hell am I supposed to put my cocktail within arm’s reach while I’m simultaneously slurping and working? Now I need a $5 massage to iron out the kinks in my shoulders from all the hunching.
3. Lock up your laptop
Have you considered who’s going to look after your expensive bit of plastic, magnesium alloy and silicon while you go for a dip? Because believe me, in a tropical climate you and your big humid-haired self will be sweating fat dollops of last night’s pho within three seconds of walking out your air-conditioned accommodation. And who wants to be on the beach and not swim?
4. Bite me
Then there’s all the tiny critters and the nasty, NASTY business their tiny bites can bring. Imagine this: you’re covered in skin lesions, your joints are swollen and non-functioning, you think you’re about to die in the next 48 hours.
You stagger into a lift at a hospital and press the button for the floor to the infectious diseases unit and your lift companions look they wish their superpower was to melt into their metal surrounds.
(For the record, it was typhus and I didn’t contract it while digital nomadding but travelling through Thailand a long time ago.)
Waft of the very sexy tropical strength Aeroguard, anyone?
5. The views are too distracting
Forget Facebook as a time sucker.
That’s easy to shut down with a browser plugin.
Check out that amazing view from your room.
Don’t expect to want to stare at your computer screen for long periods when you can be staring at azure waters and white sandy beaches lined with palm trees and the parade of interesting people enjoying it …while you work.
Who’s the sucker now?
6. Becoming a tipsy typist
$3 martinis, 40 cents for a can of beer and $1 bottles of cider.
When you’re eating out and beer is cheaper than a bottle or water or Coke, what’s a digital nomad to do?
If you’re motivated and strong-willed enough to avoid the all day, every day happy hour, then brave it – become a digital nomad. If not, step away from the mini-bar, cos yes, even the mini-bar in south east Asia is affordable.
7. The linger
If you’ve ever felt guilty about lingering in a coffee shop when you’re all coffeed out after those two double espressos and slice of cherry ripe cake while devouring their free Wi-Fi, then imagine how guilty you’ll feel lingering when you’ve spent less than a handful of change on all the above.
If you’re a guilty lingerer, best you stay at your accommodation.
You haven’t got what it takes to be a café-hopping digital nomad.
8. The obligation
Airports, planes, trains and buses – you’re trapped and you can’t go anywhere, sometimes with no Wi-Fi to power your social media-fuelled procrastination (oh look! Another hedgehog video!) This means you’ll feel obliged to do some offline work while your fellow passengers are binge watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend.
9. Homesickness sucks
There will come a time when you’ll miss home and get an unstoppable hankering for a packet of cheese Twisties and to chat face-to-face with your mum or high school bestie.
Life doesn’t stand still back home while you’re on the road. Sometimes, bad stuff happens when you’re 8000 kilometres away and all you can do is send a posy of flowers when all you want to do is hug someone other than the bell boy.
And eat all the cheese Twisties. ALL OF THEM. Tissue anyone?
10. No guarantees of up time
Have you seen the crazy wires and cables and power poles in a south east Asian city? Unsurprisingly, electricity isn’t a given.
You can’t rely on 100% uptime of your internet, either. If you think PJs and Uggs aren’t classy home office attire, well imagine what happens when the power goes out, there’s no air con, your apartment is stifling, your laptop’s battery is running low, you’re on a deadline so you don’t have time for a refreshing dip.
Instead, you have to work in your undies or less while sitting on a towel to mop up your sweaty puddle and so you don’t have to peel your skin off your plastic chair.
Been there, done that, minus the towel.
11. The hustling touts
Walking down the street you’ll have to dodge and weave your way through the touts. But don’t ignore them, learn how to hustle from the masters:
- The demonstrator: Here, let me show you how running my cigarette lighter over this genuine crocodile leather purse proves this is a genuine crocodile leather purse.
- The emotional appealer: You look tired and stressed, come and put your feet up and we’ll give you a foot massage.
- The complimenter: Hey beautiful lady, I want to take you to a waterfall on my motorbike.
- The in your facer: BUY ALL MY SUNGLASSES NOW!!!
You’ll know you’re starting to fit in with the locals when the touts recognise you and put their cigarette lighters away.
Is it really all that bad?
Nah, despite the upset tummies and the horns tooting all night, the typhoons and shore-dumping waves, living on the east coast of Vietnam as a digital nomad was a life-changing experience for me and my family.
We can’t wait to do it again. We’ve sold our house and soon we’ll be heading on our next adventure a little further east to South Korea where the internet is fast and the power more stable. Pass the packing tape.
Editors note: Kate Toon
While I dream of being a digital nomad, I think I’ll leave it to Sandra and live vicariously through her stories!
Over to you
Where’s your ideal digital nomad destination? Let us know in the comments below.
Who is Sandra Muller?
Sandra is an SEO copywriter, writing coach and sometime digital nomad. As an online specialist, she loves helping small business owners develop their online presence.