Led by the desire to work and see the world at the same time, “digital nomad” lifestyle has grown popular in recent years – but with the coronavirus pandemic, this budding lifestyle of travel has taken an inevitable hit. While some naysayers say that the digital nomad lifestyle has seen its peak, the pandemic has also shown us that going virtual is easier than ever.
Kicking the doors open for a new tendency for remote work that many predict will last long after the pandemic subsides, digital nomad lifestyle might just be ready to take off.
But if there is one thing that we’ve all experienced in quarantine, it’s the deep need for connection in a way that a video call or text message chain cannot fill. We’ve missed our coworkers, friends, and even the familiar faces in the coffee shops we frequent. While every digital nomad is different – some stay put for months or years on end, some move cities and countries every few weeks – they are marked by moving, which can make relationship-building challenging. It’s one of the biggest challenges of digital nomad lifestyle, and one to be aware of if it’s something you’re considering.
For digital nomads looking for other digital nomads to connect with, many cities around the world have become digital nomad hubs, where it is easy to join a coworking space and find your place in an instant. Places like Bali and Chiang Mai, Thailand are filled with digital nomads, digital nomad meetup and networking groups to stir connections, and more. These places make it easy to connect with people from all over the world.
Some spend time here only to move on to places with fewer digital nomads, which facilitates building relationships with locals, rather than other digital nomads. But there are also places that hold a strong digital nomad community without being overrun by it – being a digital nomad in Buenos Aires promises an experience closer to this, with a strong digital nomad community but space to venture out of it, too.
However, for many that seek a long-term travel lifestyle, the idea is to connect with those that are different from them. To see new things, meet new people, and connect across cultures, languages, and experiences. Well, what about taking your laptop and settling into a place with fewer digital nomads?
What about being a digital nomad in Ecuador, in one of its bigger cities like Quito with plenty of resources for nomads? Or what about being a digital nomad in Cuba, much more challenging with internet speed and access issues, but a paradise for those that need to disconnect a bit.
It may be a bit more challenging to set up and work from these places, but the reward for branching out and stepping outside your comfort zone is often a fantastic and unexpected one. Spending time in these places, surrounded by fewer short-term travelers, I’ve made life-changing relationships and connections I never would have otherwise. It’s these experiences and relationships that have me ready to travel again and seek out more as soon as it’s safe to do so.
The digital nomad lifestyle is more than just about working from behind a laptop and having the freedom to work from a new place every day. Or it should be, after all. It’s also about finding and making new connections, wherever you are.
After an unprecedented year of constantly remaking our definition of connection, however you can find it, just make sure that you find it. There is no right way to connect and build relationships as a digital nomad – part of the luxury of the lifestyle is finding exactly what fits for you.
As the “nomad” piece of the digital nomad lifestyle begins to tick up again in 2021, we will see what has become of this popular lifestyle in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Whatever happens, the need to connect and make meaningful relationships, near and far, will be the same.