Word Innovations

My Firsthand Experience with the Digital Nomad Lifestyle


Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about “digital nomads.” These tech workers work from all around the world at remote jobs or provide freelance services to clientele. With just a laptop and an internet connection, they are logged into their “jobs.” This allows them to earn their living from any place they desire. As a freelancer, I was curious about the feasibility of this lifestyle for myself. I set out to answer the burning question in my mind. Why would you want to be a digital nomad?

I’m basically a homebody. I love working from home on my writing projects. I happily connect with clients all around the world. In fact, I have ongoing clients in Asia, Australia, and Europe. However, the most adventurous I’ve been has been taking my laptop out to my patio to write in the shade.

I’m documenting my 4-day trial of the digital nomad lifestyle.

SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS

I’m a planner. Winging it? Not for me. I wanted to try out the concept at one of my favorite places in the world–the Wilmington, North Carolina. I booked a hotel room near Carolina Beach, just a few miles from Wilmington. Reaching out to a client for whom I write travel articles, I lined up some work from a client. After all, if I’m not working, it’s really just a vacation.

After a short three-hour drive from my home, I began my quest for a better understanding of the digital nomad lifestyle.

DAY ONE: May 17, 2018

An early check-in at noon, dropping off my bags, and I headed off to do hands-on research. I have two articles to keep in mind to write for a client’s travel blog. One of these is about the top places to visit in the Wilmington area. The other one is about things to do in Carolina Beach.

Since my hotel was in Carolina Beach, here is where I started. After exploring some really cool local places, an idea was taking shape in my mind. Instead of only discussing what to do in Carolina Beach, I’m exploring the concept of local hangouts in Carolina Beach. I was inspired by a visit to a local shop. The salesperson mentioned a little-known-to-tourists beer joint that she’d be heading to after work. I checked out that little dive bar and enjoyed meeting some local hotel workers. In addition, I found a cozy little artisan coffee shop where locals gather.

I interviewed people first-hand. For those who don’t produce web content, this is a rarity. Most of our research is done via the internet. This was a refreshing twist that really inspired me. Also, I began to think of what places could double up in my top places to visit it Wilmington article, as Carolina Beach is such a popular destination.

I took about a hundred photos, headed back to my home/hotel room to edit photos and start writing a really rough draft. Plus, I sat down and wrote the first part of this blog post while the details were still fresh in my mind.

  • The Pros: Day One

Yes, I worked all day. But a day of work at the beach is way better than working at my home. I found new inspiration, got a lot of fresh air, and had the opportunity to meet some cool people. Moreover, I came up with a fresh angle on my Carolina Beach assignment that I wouldn’t have found sitting at home. I have a lot of photos and ideas that I can use for original content. Although I’m not ready to share it, I also tried my hand at shooting some video footage of surfers in the ocean.

  • The Cons: Day One

I miss my favorite co-worker–my toy fox terrier, Rocco. He’s at his Grandma’s house for a few days being spoiled rotten. But, I do miss his company now that I’m in the quiet of my room and writing my post. Also, it’s more expensive to write from a hotel room than at home–I’ve spent a good chunk of change on lunch and dinner, gas, and my hotel. Then again, I guess true digital nomads opt for more affordable housing than I am during my short trial.

DAY TWO: May 18, 2018

Like all writers, I have my more productive hours. My best time?  The early a.m. hours. I love to rise when the sun is just starting to break, sip coffee, and write in my pajamas for a couple of hours, I spent the first hour of my day writing drafts of a couple of guest posts for a client. They were amazing! There’s something about the sea air that just makes me feel good.

I also checked and responded to emails from clients, caught up on social media, and responded to comments on my personal blog. Not a bad start to the day.

I quickly realized I’d been working almost four hours. After hitting the shower, I drove into downtown Wilmington to meet people, make some cold calls on prospective clients, and take some more photographs.

My goal was to find a few bullet points for the “Best Places to Visit in Wilmington” story for my client. I’ve been to Wilmington many times. As I’ve mentioned, it’s a great city. I’m always glad to visit. However, I’d never done the “tourist thing.”  On past visits, I found a local watering hole or park bench and observe, take in the gorgeous Cape Fear River views, and absorb the history that crackles in the air.

I did all that. In addition, I stepped out of my comfort zone and participated in the ultimate touristy carriage ride to view the historic homes and drove out to Fort Fisher to visit the North Carolina Aquarium, which is awesome by the way. At the end of a very productive afternoon, I headed back my hotel room to summarize my notes, download photos, and get some rest.

  • The Pros: Day Two

So, I’ll admit it. I was getting used to this new laid-back me! While I was working, I was slowing down and enjoying life just a little too much. I felt slightly guilty. This is too much fun to be work! Maybe I could become accustomed to the lifestyle of a digital nomad!

  • The Cons: Day Two

I could go for a home-cooked meal. Of course, if that’s the only complaint, life is pretty great!

DAY THREE: May 19, 2018

My sweet husband tolerated two days of me constantly taking photos, checking emails, and chatting with strangers to ask them endless questions for my research. This was his day!

We rose early and headed to a huge Jeep rally on Carolina Beach. This consisted of a parade of over 700 Jeeps through the town, a launching of Jeeps onto the beach, and a festival that included music, drawings, and fellow Jeep enthusiasts from throughout the southeastern United States.

I wasn’t supposed to work. I promised. But…I do have this client. She’s a marketing specialist and has a client who is in the auto parts industry. Ok. I couldn’t resist. I snapped away taking photo after photo and worked on some story ideas to sell to my client.

My poor hubby just accepts it. Since he’s married to a blogger and freelance writer, he’s used to the way my mind works. Fortunately, he’s ok with it and just chalks it up to my own special brand of eccentricity.

It poured rain and by 3 pm, we headed off to a local microbrewery for a bite to eat. Unfortunately, all that fun meant I had to work upon return to the hotel. I downloaded and edited photos, responded to emails, and rolled into bed early. I was exhausted from having too much fun!

  • The Pros: Day Three

We made some new friends. I had a blast tearing around the beach with the Jeep. I love the feeling of sand in my toes and the sound of the waves crashing against the shoreline. It was a blast.

  • The Cons: Day Three

I felt guilty because I have clients waiting for me to produce content. I rarely take almost a whole day off. Maybe I need to loosen up?

DAY FOUR: May 20, 2018

So, this was it. The last day of my trial as a digital nomad. You know the routine by now. I woke up early, checked emails, generated my weekly billings, created some social media content, scheduled a couple of guest posts for my blog. In fact, I got quite a bit of early morning work done.

Then, it was one last walk on the beach, and a three-hour drive back home, with a pit stop at my mother’s house to pick up my dog. Quite frankly, I took the rest of the afternoon off after I arrived home. It was a Sunday. The digital nomad thing was fun but tiring.

  • The Pros: Day Four

Home, sweet home! I was relieved to hear the snick of the lock when I opened up my kitchen door.

  • The Cons: Day Four

I will admit that it was hard to leave the beach. I had quickly become used to that cozy hotel room and my makeshift office on the tiny hotel desk.

Is the digital nomad life for me? The Verdict

I love to take short trips. Travel is always interesting. Meeting new people and seeing new places is always enriching for a writer. But, I must admit that I am a homebody. Whenever I’m gone from home for more than a couple of days, I reach a point that’s near to panic. I like the comfort of my own things around me, the smells of my house, and the comfortable presence of my neighbors and friends nearby.

So the verdict on the digital nomad life is in. I loved the short experience. In fact, I’d welcome the opportunity to live as a digital nomad again in the future. But, for me, for right now, it’s not the time. I love my quiet country life, my freelance schedule, and working around my life from the comfort of my little house in the country. However, I’m not counting it out–it could be a great way to see the world when I’m ready to travel later on in life.

Are you a digital nomad? Please feel free to share your true experiences. I’d love to learn more!

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