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One of the hardest parts of transitioning to digital nomad life wasn’t putting the wheels in motion, but dealing with the reactions of others as I did.
People have opinions. Really strong opinions, it turns out. And when you make a big life change like quitting your job to travel the world, they don’t hold back in voicing those opinions.
The constant questions and unsolicited “advice” were almost enough to make me change my mind. Even though many of the questions came from a good place, answering them – when I wasn’t even sure myself – was difficult.
If you’re thinking of making a similarly big leap, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with some of the same reactions right now. If that’s the case, I hope this posts helps you remain confident. And if you’re one of the people asking the questions… I hope this answers them :)
These are the questions I was asked over and over again (and still am!) and the honest answers to them.
How will you make money?
The question I was asked the most, and still am asked all the time. But I guess that won’t come as a surprise.
I totally get this one. This is nearly always the first thing people want to know when I tell them about my nomadic lifestyle – and understandably so. There’s this idea that travelling must be expensive and it’s something I addressed in this post right here.
The answer: I make money in the same ways as I always have – by working! My work is all online, so I don’t need to be in any certain location or even work set hours to get the job done.
I started out by doing freelance copywriting and SEO, but now my blog brings in a full time income in itself. I make much more than I ever did in London and my income comes from multiple streams, which feels more stable for me. If I lose one income stream, I have others to keep me going.
Even if I didn’t want to travel full time, it’s a work style that I’d want to pursue. I like to fit my work around my life, rather than the other way around.
What about your career?
Aside from learning, I’ve never really known what I wanted to do. I love soaking up information, feeling like I’m making a difference and getting to flex my creative muscles. I never really found a career that met those criteria, but I sure spent a lot of time searching.
The answer: It’s better than ever! I finally found a job that gives me everything I wanted: I learn every day, have to think creatively and try my best to help others with posts like these. I have a career that I love SO MUCH that I often forget to switch off and take breaks. That’s not a healthy habit – and it’s one I’m trying to change this year! – but I can’t complain about it.
Of course, I was well aware that I was taking a risk career-wise. But, in the end, I figured that it was better to take that risk earlier rather than later when it would be harder to go back to my ‘old life’. And I haven’t regretted it once.
But you have such a good job…
Eek, that was true! And I did love my job.
One of the hardest parts of leaving London was giving up a job I loved. I worked in the brand-new affiliate marketing department of one of the UK’s leading magazine publishers. It was a fun job with lots of responsibility and potential for progression, and it was in an industry I love. For the first time, I felt like I was on the right path.
The answer: As counter-intuitive as it sounds, it’s what made me sure travelling was the right decision. It broke my heart to tell my manager that I planned to leave, but I knew I had to do it. I’d toyed with the idea a couple of years earlier, when I was in a job I hated, and ultimately ended up getting more settled in London.
The fact that I still had that urge after finding the perfect job for me told me I’d always have regrets if I didn’t go. I knew I was leaving for the right reason – because I wanted to go and not because I was running away – and that’s ultimately what made my mind up.
Won’t you miss home?
I haven’t been asked this a whole lot, but it’s always the question that comes with the most concern. It’s also one of the things that made me change my mind, so I get it.
The answer: Of course! But I also miss home when I’m in London. And I miss home when I’m in my hometown. I consider more than one place home, and it’s impossible to be in all of them at once – so I’m always going to miss home!
The truth is, I’m never going to be further than a flight away. And as my friend said to me at our Christmas catch-up, we probably spend even more time together now that we have to make ‘real’ plans. Instead of hurried dinner dates squeezed into our diaries, we spend entire weekends together and skype for hours on end. In other words, we don’t take our time together for granted anymore because we can’t use the “we can see each other any time” excuse.
I’ve also lived abroad before, twice in Paris and once in Amman. At the time, there were only flights from Jordan to London on three days of the week, so it wasn’t super easy to get back. But, if I’d let that thought get in the way, I would have missed out on the best year of my life!
When will you settle down?
Lots of my friends are getting married, having children and working their way up the corporate ladder right now. It’s funny – I always assumed that’s what I wanted too, probably because I didn’t know of any other way. Now, I’m not so sure.
The answer: I don’t know if I want to ‘settle down’. I realise that I probably can’t keep travelling forever. Right now, though, I can’t imagine a life that involves kids or an office (that I don’t own). And without those things, there’s no need for me to be in one place.
I’m in a long-term relationship, I do work I adore and I absolutely love my life right now, so why do I need to change anything? I’m just taking life in the way that feels right and I’m not going to change that because something is expected of me. I’d like to buy a house (or two!) next year, but I don’t plan to live there for more than a couple of weeks at a time.
How long are you going away for?
The concept of location independence is becoming more mainstream, but it’s still relatively uncommon. For many people, the idea of travelling indefinitely is kind of odd. I didn’t have a plan beyond going to Malaysia and Thailand, and that’s difficult for some people to grasp.
Again, I get it. The idea of having no plans, no deadlines and no future commitments is usually reserved for retirement. Even though I’m far from retired, I’m basically doing all the things I would have been waiting for retirement to do while working, so I’m kind of living a weird hybrid lifestyle.
The answer: I had no idea and still have no idea! I know I probably won’t live nomadically forever, but I have no idea when or why it would end. There’s nowhere I can see myself settling indefinitely.
When I left the UK, I had enough money saved up to get me through a year if need be. It wouldn’t have been a very comfortable year, but it was the safety net I need to reassure me as I took the leap. If I didn’t make enough money in that time, I planned to come back and get a ‘real job’. And if I DID make it work and enjoyed it, I would just take it as it came and play it by ear. I’m still going nearly 18 months later and have no plans to change anything.
Enjoy your holiday!
Yep, this one still happens and sometimes it takes me by surprise. Even people who seem to understand my lifestyle sometimes throw this one out there. The truth is I’ve only had one true holiday since I began living nomadically… and that was in Cornwall!
The answer: Errr, thanks…
Sometimes I tried an, “it’s not actually a holiday…” approach, but I gave up. I get that it’s hard to see travel as anything but a holiday, but I figured time would be the only way to explain it.
Even though people still joke that I’m “always on holiday”, I know they now understand that that’s not the case. And if they don’t, it doesn’t really bother me anymore.
Of course, I understand all of the above questions and concerns are perfectly normal. Family and friends are supposed to worry – it’s their job! And I also appreciate that this lifestyle is still pretty novel to most people.
If you’re thinking of trying the nomadic life and worried about others’ reactions, I hope this post has helped. Save the pin below to save it for later.