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
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.
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!
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
“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
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.