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The Most Important Lessons of Being a Female Digital Nomad

female digital nomad london

These are the Most Important Things I’ve Learned Being a Female Digital Nomad

There are many things I’ve learned about my myself and the world around me during my first few months of being a Female Digital Nomad. In my opinion, these experiences are priceless and have taught me more than any job, parent, friend, or classroom, ever could.

Most lessons come with experience, and as I travel to more places, I’ll be able to pick up more along knowledge the way. But there are a few core truths I’ve learned so far. And in my opinion, these are the most important things I’ve learned so far from being a Female Digital Nomad.

Listen To Your Gut

If being a Female Digital Nomad means you’re traveling solo, one of the most important things to keep you safe is to listen to your gut and pay attention to your surroundings. If you are walking down the street in the dark or a particular taxi driver is giving you bad vibes, don’t feel about about stopping in your tracks and getting yourself out of that situation as soon as possible.

I once lied about my songtaew stop in Chiang Mai for no other reason than I didn’t like the new passengers who hopped on board. I was supposed to get off about a mile away, but I hopped off the back of the red truck, paid the driver 20 baht, and waited for the next one. No biggie, because peace of mind is priceless.

I was supposed to visit Sydney, Australia recently and I didn’t get on a plane as I was boarding.  I wasted hundreds of dollars I had already spent on a non-refundable flight and hostel for the sole reason that I had a panic attack physically could not get on the plane. It just didn’t feel right. I followed my intuition, but I didn’t feel good about it. I knew I was wasting money, but I don’t have any regrets. I’ll get to Sydney another time. Your peace of mind being a female Digital Nomad is priceless, and that is one of the most significant things I’ve had to learn.

Buy Travel Insurance, Splurge on Flight Protection

flight protection

I have travel insurance through World Nomads and Travelex, but I just recently began adding flight protection when I book my tickets.

Hindsight is 20/20 because I reallyyyy wish I had bought insurance for that flight to Australia that I didn’t get on because $500 is a lot of money to lose on an unrefundable ticket. But I don’t purchase flight protection for all of my adventures – I usually abide by the $300 rule. Meaning, in my opinion, flight insurance is only really worth it if your flight is over $300. My standard travel insurance World Nomads didn’t cover the missed flight, nor did I splurge the extra $30 for flight insurance in case I needed to cancel for any reason. I learned my lesson.

Check out my favorite travel tools

Use Tripadvisor Reviews to Scout Fast Wifi

Do not book that lavish trip to Thailand based on it’s beautful pool alone. Yes, a lavish rooftop pool makes for a killer instagram photo, but remember that you’re there to get work done. Do a quick search on TripAdvisor or Expedia based on reviews from other travelers about what that apartment or hotel is actually like. Unfortunately, being a Digital Nomad isn’t all about the perfect instagram pic, you’re actually there to work – and you can’t work if the wifi is slow or intermittent. Sometimes you will have to choose the less pictureque hotel, homestay, or Airbnb if the wifi is more condusive to a successful work environment.

If you have a surprise conference call and can’t make it to the cafe or coworking office, you’ll be so thankful that your residence has strong internet service. It’s worth it to read the reviews before you book!

Do Not Risk Your Health

For the most part, I got really lucky in that I had no injuries while traveling, which many travelers cannot say the same. Just walk around Pai, Thailand and see all the backpackers bruised and bandaged from motorbike accidents. I did, however, get a pretty bad case of Dengue fever/food poisoning for two weeks while I was in Chiang Mai. It put me on my ass for several days where I was sending illegitimate emails to my coworkers (although thankfully not to my clients) and walking to 7-11 for water and Tylenol like a zombie.

It is so important to take care of your health when in a foreign country before it gets too serious. Go to the doctor as soon as possible if you think you need to be seen by a practitioner. Trust me, the local doctors and nurses are professional usually half the price of treatment that you’re used to if you’re an American.

I went to RAM Hospital in Chiang Mai and was pleasantly surprised at the modern facilities and compassionate care. My outpatient and medicine total bill was less than $100 USD.

Don’t Neglect the Tourist Hotspots!

female digital nomad malaysia

Yes, I know you are in your particular desinaton to work and not play, but remember why you became a Digital Nomad in the first place – to experience life outside your comfort zone. So go ahead, take an afternoon off to explore caves, tour temples, hike that mountain. Because, if you hole yourself up in your apartment or coworking space, what’s the point anyways?

I read a lot of travel blogs and a continuous peice of advice is to skip the popular tourist landmarks and instead go where the locals go. Well, yes, ok sure, but I am still a major advocate for fighting the crowds to see those hotposts. They’re popular for a reason! You can tell friends incredible anecdotes from places they’ll recognize like “Oh wow, when I was at the Eiffel Tower, I saw the most romantic marriage proposal!” A win/win!

The Importance of Saying Thank You

Say “Thank You” to your boss, the universe, god, whoever you have to that you feel you should show appreciation to for giving you the opportunity to be a Digital Nomad. It’s not always a glamorous lifestyle, but man is it worthwhile. We are privileged to have such an incredible lifestyle so it’s important not to take it for granted.

If you are a writer or keep a journal, jot down a few awesome, out of the ordinary experieces you’ve had in the past week so that you can look back and remember. Gratitude is key 🙂

Work 8 Hours, Sleep 8 Hours, Play 8 Hours

Update: the nighttime view is even better. I have a lot to be thankful for today. 🌃✨

A post shared by Digital Nomad 🌀Solo Travel (@hashtagtourist) on

“How do you have so much time to knock around and do so many fun things during the day? Don’t you have a job?”

Yeah, but while you choose to go to another dinner with your fiance, or stuck in commuter traffic, or sitting on your couch watching television after work, I’m trying new cuisine or enjoing a cocktail in a skyhigh hotel overlooking the city. I gaurantee most people wake up, work 9 hours, go home and sit on their couch until bed, and wake up and do it all over again.

It’s all about how you are spending your free time. Sure, because I instagram all the exciting things I do when I’m not working, doesn’t mean I’m never working. You just don’t instagram your bingewatching session of Netflix.

Sign Up for a Travel Rewards Credit Card

I’m not made of money, and most Digital Nomads aren’t either. I previously laid out my income and how I was able to save $5,000 for traveling and a major part of being able to afford this lifestyle is from redeeming every travel or airmile reward possible. I’ve personally used and recommend Barclaycard Arrival, Chase Sapphire, and Capital One Venture cards, although I don’t love the changes to the Capital One Venture interface lately -it’s not as user-friendly as it used to be.

The Barclaycard Arrival also lets you earn bonus miles by sharing travel stories, tips, and photos. How cool is that?

It also pays be loyal to an online reservation company when you book travel. I’ve been using Expedia for several years and now have Gold+ status. This means I have access to free VIP features, room upgrades, free cocktails at the hotel bar, and other perks.

I Am in Control

female digital nomad bali

I am still learning and teaching myself that I am in control of what I want to do each day. Whether it’s as small as where to eat for breakfast or which country to go to next. I have total control and can do absolutely whatever I want. This has been a weird thing for me to adjust to. I am fiercely independent anyway, but I find myself second guessing things like “Ugh, Chelse, don’t go to that same cafe again today for breakfast – try something new.” But then I’m like: SISTER, IF YOU WANT THAT SAME EGGS BENEDICT AGAIN YOU TREAT YO’SELF! Or, if I feel like lying in bed all day even though I’m in Bali, the epitome of paradise, I’m not going to make myself feel guilty about it because it’s what I want to do.

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Goodbye Thailand: What I’ll Miss the Most about Chiang Mai

what i miss most about thailand

I have little butterflies in my stomach right now as I’m writing this. I can’t decide if it’s from the Grande “Brewed Coffee” from Starbucks, the excitement for my next adventure, or the anxiety of leaving Chiang Mai after living here for 2 months. I’m gonna go with all 3.

It’s funny, I had this exact feeling while on the plane to Thailand (well, to China then Thailand) but those butterflies felt differently. They were a mix of oh god what the heck did I just do??? and similar variations of that. And now… I’m sad to be leaving! That trepidation of my heading to my first long-term solo trip as a Digital Nomad is gone and replaced with feelings of gratitude for landing in such an amazing town and meeting so many incredible strangers and getting to experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

And with that, there are so many things I’ll miss about Thailand and Chiang Mai. These are just a few, although I could probably go on forever.

200 Baht Massages

This, I think I will miss the most. Ah, the ‘ol 200 baht (appx. $6 USD) hour long massages in Thailand. I’ve never known a world so pure, so generous. I’m now officially spoiled in that I’ve been averaging a massage a week. I’ve had 2 already this week and will probably get another before flying out to Kuala Lumpur. Don’t hate the player.

I’ve found a new love for the Traditional Thai Massage, which is a little different than what I am used to in the U.S. The Thai massage manually manipulates your muscles and there’s various stretching elements involved and usually ends with a fabulous back crack. Damn, if I’ve never felt so zen than here in Thailand.

The Smiling Thais

lanna-thai-woman

I’ve met friendly locals from many places, but I’m 100% serious when I say the Thai people are the friendliest and most welcoming group of people I’ve ever interacted with. I know it varies from person to person based on their experience, but for my 2 months here, I’ve never seen more smiling faces who go out of their way to accomodate someone, even with the language barrier.

I love it when a Songthaew driver or cafe barista wants to practice their English so they strike up a conversation. My favorite was a driver who wanted me to sit in his front seat so he could practice his English skills. It was the most adorable thing in my life. We talked in basic english about the weather (Hot, Cold, Rainy), where I am from (Oh, America! New York!?), and navigational phrases that would help him as a driver (street, highway, traffic light). I had such a great time that I gave him the last 100 baht in my wallet just ’cause. Worth it.

Meeting Rad People

chiang-mai-nomad-ladies

I am confident when I say I wouldn’t have had such an incredible time in Thailand if I didn’t fall into such a strong nomad community in Chiang Mai. My first week, I joined about 7 women for a Nomad Ladies lunch and by the next week it doubled, and the next week after that, we had 2 full tables of nomad women who were sharing stories and delicious Shan Burmese food at Free Bird Cafe.

If you’re traveling to Chiang Mai and want to meet new peeps, definitely join these Facebook groups and try to go to as many meet-ups as you can:

Chiang Mai Nomad Girls

Chiang Mai Digital Nomads

Street Sounds and Smells

chiangmai-street

If you’ve been to Thailand, you know there is absolutely no way to describe the smells of Thailand. It’s not bad at all, just unique. I would say it’s a mix of: spices, meat, motorbike exhaust fumes, and a hint of lemongrass. It’s distinct.

Walking down Nimman Street or the Old City, the sounds are also roaring with life. Close your eyes and you’ll hear unmistakably a few thing every time. Cars honking, motorbike engines, street food stands, tourists negotiating with vendors over souveniers, and for some reason, bells. Seriously, where are all these bells coming from? Am I the only one who hears them?

Ancient Temples

chiangmai-temples-wats

How crazy is it that you’re just a Songthaew away from ancient temples and structures that are hundreds of years old? You don’t need to travel more than a few miles or meters to stumble upon a beautiful, intricately designed wat. The thing that’s most incredible to me is that many of these wats are still active and in use for housing and teaching monks.

I still want to have a Monk Chat before I leave – this is a session at many temples where you donate money and can sit down with a monk and ask them questions and they can practice their English language. Having a conversation with a Monk is definitely something I never thought I’d be able to say I’ve done. If you’re a woman, just do your research beforehand. There are different rules for different areas of Thailand and temples, women usually cannot interact in public with Monks so doublecheck the rules of the particular temple you want to visit.

The Hilarious Translations

thailand-signs

Man, I am going to miss the quirky English translations and methods of communcation. For example, my friend was talking to a maintanence man for her apartment when the plumbing wasn’t working. She was exasperated trying to explain what was wrong over the phone, she resorted to “Toilet! Ping ping! No work!” and he understood perfectly. I laughed for a solid 10 minutes after hearing that one.

I think after a certain amount of time being in Thailand you learn speak how you think a Thai person would most understand. This leads to a lot of conversations like this: “Hello, coffee, big, YES!” or other broken versions of regular sentences.

7-11

7-11-thailand

Okay, I know we have 7-11 in the United States but it’s just. not. the. same. Convenience culture is at a premium in Thailand and I swear it’s a social gathering everytime you step inside. The density of 7/11 is insane here. Think of it like Starbucks being on every corner in New York City, then maybe add a bunch of additional 7/11’s and there you go.

Once you’ve had the cream filled bread or toastie sandwiches, you’ll never be the same. The Ham & Cheese toasties are a staple and I’m embarrassed to admit how many I ate here.

7/11, more like 7th heaven amirite?

Goodbye Thailand

With that, goodbye Thailand. I will miss you, but I will not miss the ants and geckos who want to live in my apartment with me, the street food squid, or the fact there is no damn cheese in this country, but other than that, you were awesome. Thanks for making my first big solo trip unforgettable <3

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Top Digital Nomad Concerns and Fears – and How to Handle Them

most-popular-fears-digital-nomad

Congratulations! You’ve decided you’re ready begin a Digital Nomad lifestyle and are about to embark on your first long-term trip. It’s daunting, I know. Especially if you’re not self-employed and work for a company in a 9-5 setting. Not knowing what to expect or potential situations that could arise are major stressors and Digital Nomad concerns.

Questions that kept me up at night before my first trek included “How will I make calls and be in touch with my co-workers and clients overseas?” and “What if my boss resents me for being an inconvenience?”

These doubts and questions are totally normal, although many of these problems are easily solvable and MUCH less stressful than you think they will be.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

How DO I stay in touch with clients and co-workers?

top-digital-nomad-concerns

This one’s easy. There are endless programs and apps dedicated to providing seamless communication between parties, whether it’s internationally, or just in different timezones. Prior to leaving the United States, my company used a program called GoTo Meeting to communicate with clients, but since then, I’ve discovered UberConference, which has changed my life. Such clear quality (and free!) conference calls across the globe. Highly recommended.

Did you know you can make audio and video calls through Facebook for free? Well now you do. Again, Facebook Messenger calls are extremely clear, in fact, they’re clearer than when I use my regular data calls to my mom when I’m in the U.S. The easiest part is, most people already have the Facebook Messenger App already downloaded so there’s no confusing sign-up process involved.

The Time difference

First thing’s first: Manually change the time on your phone to your destination’s time zone as soon as you board the plane. This will exponentially help ease jet lag and get you in the right frame of mind once you touchdown.

As a personal preference, I have found that it’s also easier to keep my laptop clock set to EST, the timezone of the agency I work for. I have found it’s sooo much easier to open up my computer when I’m working and automatically know what time it is in the States – especially since all of my meetings are still scheduled in EST time.

Also, add the World Clock Google Calendar widget to your desktop. I spent far too many hours looking up time changes and counting forward and backward on my fingers before I learned about this secret.

Feeling Isolated

digital-nomad-chiang-mai
Meeting new people at a Chiang Mai Nomad Ladies lunch!

I am generally a pretty social gal, so you can imagine my trepidation when I realized I’d be traveling 8,000 miles away where I didn’t know a single person. The best and easiest recomendation I can give to someone in that situation is to join as many Facebook groups for expats and nomads as possible. If you’re a solo female traveler and haven’t joined the Digital Nomad Girls Facebook group yet, what are you waiting for?!

Not only will you meet and connect with fellow Nomad Ladies, but you’ll gain useful insight on things like health insurance for travelers, where to find tampons (Yep, in some countries, they aren’t plentiful), how to vote abroad, and other expert advice.

If you plan on making Chiang Mai your first trip as a Digital Nomad, join these Facebook groups first:

The Break Room

Chiang Mai Nomad Girls

Chiang Mai Digital Nomads

Nomad Coffee Club – Chiang Mai

Your Clients Hate You for Leaving

digital-nomad-concerns

Let me tell you, the Digital Nomad guilt is REAL.

Even if you complete all your necessary tasks on your to-do list, you’re going to feel guilt about not being in the office and accessible at all moments of the day by coworkers and clients.

But you know what? It’s a blessing in disguise.

I think the American work culture makes you feel like you have to be “on” at all times and always available when a client needs something and it’s simply not true. Whether you’re sitting in an office, or working from a rooftop overlooking the mountains of Thailand (like I am now) you are not required to be at the beck and call of others 24/7. And you shouldn’t feel bad about it if you decide to take a stand against it.

Now that I’m not so available, those who work with me have adapted and now respect my time more. No longer are the texts at all hours of the day interrupting me, expecting me to drop what I’m doing, but now I get consise emails outlining what specifically they need from me in a professional format.

I’ve never been so efficient as I have been while working 8,000 miles away! How crazy is that?

Company #FOMO

FOMO = Fear of Missing Out.

If you’re lucky, you get to have co-workers you become incredible friends with, like I do. FOR REAL. Come work at The Modern Connection in Charleston, SC and you’ll find a rare team of individuals who genuinely like each other and work together to create awesome projects.

But with having a bomb work culture, comes with terrible FOMO when you leave.

The most popular worries when it comes to not putting in daily face time include: not getting a promotion, your peers will respect you less, or feeling forgotten. When I decided to be a Digital Nomad full-time, the hardest part has been preparing to ask my supervisor and boss. I put some feelers out to a co-worker on Gchat about what she thinks and if there has been any animosity or noticeable difference in my work and she said:

Well other than the fact that we miss you, I don’t think there’s any difference. In fact, I feel like you being away has seriously improved your work ethic. Like you can just tell that you’re super happy in everything you do now.”

And that’s when you know you’ve made the right decision, folks.

Tuning out Distraction

digital-nomad-blog

This is a biggie. I was convinced, as were my parents, that I was going to be too distracted trying new restaurants, walking the night markets, checking out temples during the day, that I would forget my actual purpose: to work and keep earning a paycheck to afford this nomad lifestyle.

But I’ve found that it’s the complete opposite! Because I am so thankful and appreciative of this opportunity, I make sure to go above and beyond so that I can keep doing my thang around the world. Actually, I have a secret (don’t tell my boss, shhhh) I usually get the same amount of work done in about 75% of the time. Meaning, because I’m not distracted by gossiping with coworkers, taking coffee breaks, unessesary meetings that could be emails – I get an 8 hour work day finished in about 6 hours and sometimes it’s even less than that.

It turns out I had a right to be fearful of distraction as one of my Digital Nomad concerns, but it certainly wasn’t while I was traveling…

How to Turn “Off ” Work

There’s obvious benefits to leaving the 9-5 office culture, but one of the biggest drawbacks is how to draw a line between when the work day starts and when it stops. This is especially true if you work with a team in another time zone. You have to decide with your team if you will be working on your destination’s time zone, office time zone, or a mix of both. I chose the latter.

At a 12 hour time difference in Thailand, I begin my work day around 4:00pm and work until around 12:00am midnight. This gives us an overlap of 4 hours where we can communicate with each other in real time with no difficulties.

It’s important to outline your avaibility time and let everyone know when they can reach you. This will maximize efficiency, and for lack of better words, force others to write everything they need from you and your tasks in one complete email. Instead of a text here, a Gchat there, an email here, and a post-it note left on my computer there…. which was an average day when working in the office 😉

Not Having Office Materials

Meh, I’ve rarely found that this is a problem so far in my journey. That’s the best part of technology, right? Everything is digital! If you do need access to traditional office materials or machines, your best bet is to join a coworking space. For a relatively small fee, you can pay monthly or daily to work and have access to a printer, desk, private Skype rooms or conference rooms to hold meetings remotely.

I hope this eases a few of your Digital Nomad concerns and if you’re considering becoming a Digital Nomad just BUY THE TICKET ALREADY!

 

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

How to Use Social Media to Travel the World

use social media to travel

This post was originally published on TheModernConnection.com. View their website for more social media tips and tricks from myself and my lovely coworkers. 

My parents have always called be a social butterfly and traveling the world has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl. I dreamt of seeing Buckingham Palace, the ancient Greek ruins, the Mayan temples and so much more.

Even though I can only mark one of these off my list (Hey, Queen Elizabeth!), thanks to the power of social media, I can virtually travel all over the world to satisfy my curiosity before I get the chance to do so IRL.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who uses mobile tools to virtually explore and document their dream destinations.

 Document your fun on social media

52% of social media users said their friends’ photos inspired travel plans, and 76% post their vacation photos to social networks.

travel blog london

Approximately one-fifth of leisure travellers worldwide turn to social media platforms for inspiration within different categories of their travel planning including:

  • Hotels (23%)
  • Vacation activities (22%)
  • Attractions (21%)
  • Restaurants (17%)

With an increasing mobile community, following hashtags relevant to the places you want to travel or wish you could travel to is a great option to see the world when you can’t afford the plane ticket or take time off work. It’s becoming a round trip experience without ever leaving your home.

 Follow Tourism Boards online for deals

Don’t limit yourself to following hashtags created by travelers, but also follow Instagram and Twitter accounts from official tourism boards such as:@paris_tourisme, @inside_vancouver and The Modern Connection’s hometown,@ExploreCharleston.

London social media

Catching up on the London Geotag on Instagram to choose my next tube stop!

Bonus tip: If you ARE planning a trip, these travel board accounts are likely to post or tweet discounts or be the first to announce big events. Follow them to be the first to know about upcoming activities to add to your itinerary!

 Attract Tourists to Your Business

It’s easy to take advantage of this if you are a business or travel blog using social media to attract traffic from travelers and tourists.

If you’re a business:

Implementing a Facebook beacon to your brick and mortar, or simply finding users who are vacationing in your city and interacting with them online, are all excellent ways for a beginner to reach their audience.

Your business should be where your customers are- whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or even TripAdvisor.

If you’re a blogger:

Constantly follow hashtags within your niche. This could mean a specific location or destination, or for example, I like to follow the #DigitalNomadGirls and interact with the tight-knit community of women who work independently throughout the world.

Establish geniuine relationships with folks with similar interests to you online – and not just to drive traffic to your website. Create friends in your community first, and the blog visitors will follow.

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!