nominal nomads reality

Here it is. You´ve quit your job and booked a one-way flight to Thailand. You´re finally doing it, you´re becoming a digital nomad. Are you ready?

  • You´ve read the ¨The 4-hour Workweek¨ by Tim Ferris.
  • You´ve watched YouTube videos on all the ways you can make money online.
  • You´ve read blogs by people who quit the 9-5 hustle and became their own boss, they own their own online business, and now make $$$ each month!

What could possibly go wrong? Well, truth be told, you probably haven`t given that question much thought. Have you?

All you can think about right now is laying in a hammock, with your MacBook and a cocktail in your hand. But the reality is, that is not the reality.

digital nomads reality

Firstly, have you ever tried to use your laptop in the sun?

Hello, GLARE! It`s a terrible idea. Not to mention, overheating problems. Unfortunately, the digital nomad lifestyle has been glorified all over social media.

As a result, ambitious wannabe digital nomads are picturing themselves starting an online business, traveling around the world, being here and then there.

Even though most digital nomads are in fact business owners, the fact is; the failure rate of digital nomads is high.

Most digital nomads fail, and that`s a fact.

There are so many people who move to Chiang Mai, or Bali, or other digital nomad hotspots, and end up going back home after 6 months, usually with an empty bank account.

Not so long ago, the digital nomad lifestyle was an under-the-radar trend. Nowadays, it`s a common aspiration for millions of people around the world.

It´s estimated that there are at least 17 million wannabe digital nomads in the world. So why is it that so many aspiring digital nomads fail? Let´s have a look at the most common mistakes: (and hopefully you can avoid making them yourself)


digital nomads reality

Mistake No.1:

Not knowing your skills If you’ve searched online for digital nomad jobs, you might have come across long lists of ways to make thousands of dollars each month online.

There are many so-called digital nomads out there who are making a lot of money from telling other people what to do. You´ll find expensive courses scattered all over the web claiming that if you take that course, you´ll be making $$$ in under 6 months.

If you really want to enchance your skills and learn from quality teachers at a good price. I recommend skillshare. I´ve taken many courses on skillshare, ranging from photography to language courses.

The great thing about skillshare is that you pay a monthly fee. You can take as many courses as you like each month!

As a skillshare member, I can offer you two months FREE! Using this link

What if I don`t know what I want to do? If you really don`t have a clue what your skills are, or how you`re going to make money online then you need to really think again about becoming a digital nomad.

Don`t get on that plane if you don`t know what skills you can use for an online job. It won`t suddenly become easier when you reach your destination. In fact, it will likely become much harder.

Why? Because there are going to be so many distractions around you.

digital nomads reality

Mistake No.2:

Trying to do too much with all the people on social media publicly sharing how much money they are making from various different online jobs – it can become overwhelming.

Suddenly, you find yourself wanting to give everything a try. You want to keep your options open, you want to see what will work.

My advice to you: STOP! Slow down. Don´t become a Jack of all trades, and a master of none. What will happen if you try to do everything? Nothing.

Nothing will get done and you´ll have wasted your time. Just because someone is making good money doing something, it doesn´t mean you have to try and do it too. Stick to what you´re good at. If you´re building your skills, become an expert in that area and stick to it.

On your digital nomad journey, you´re going to come across many different people who will tell you that they are making huge amounts. Maybe they have an FBA store or a drop-shipping store.

You don`t need to do what everybody else is doing. Have you ever heard of Shiny Object Syndrome? This is what entrepreneurs define a tendency to chase something new. It can be a new business, skill, or goal – instead of focusing on what they are doing.

Remember, the most successful people only focused on one thing to start with. They became successful because they became an expert in that field. This is what you need to do.

digital nomads reality


Not having a plan Once you arrive in your digital nomad hotspot it´s all too easy to go into ´holiday mode´ especially if you´ve never lived in another country before.

If you aren´t already working online, it might be tempting to put that on hold for a few weeks while you get settled. The problem with that is, you can easily get too comfortable in that routine. How do you balance your work and social-life?

You´re trying to make new friends, so you´re going out and socialising more. You want to explore your new city or country, so you´re trying to see everything you can.

If you don`t have a plan of how you`re going to manage your work, time and social life – especially if you haven`t done what I mentioned in the first two points, you´re going to fail.

Try to start working online before you arrive in your new digital nomad location. By doing so, you can get comfortable in your routine and start managing your time effectively.

It´s always a good idea to base yourself in a city or country for a few months so you have enough time to explore and do everything you want to do, while also being able to work.

digital nomads reality

Mistake No.4:

Not having enough savings Not being able to manage your money is a sure way to lead you to failure. Before you know it, you´ll be on a one-way flight… back home!

Just because your chosen digital nomad destination has a cheap cost of living, it doesn´t mean you don´t have to manage your money carefully and responsibly. What is your budget?

Most digital nomads I have met, regardless of their income, always have a budget. The majority of people, don´t want to be spending all of their savings on maintaining the digital nomad lifestyle. Spending all your money isn’t what it is about. This is not a gap year, or a few months of traveling.

What you´re aiming to do is, earn a living.

Don´t leave home unless you have enough money to live-off for at least two months. Why wait?

Don´t rush into your new lifestyle until you can afford it. Wait.

digital nomads reality

Many people think they´ll start making money right away. For the majority of people, it can take at least a couple of months to generate an income. If you´re planning on setting up your own business and you know that you won´t be earning money for a while, you need to make sure you have saved enough money before you move.

One of the benefits of moving to a country which is cheaper than your homeland, means that your money will go further, meaning you can probably afford not to be making any money for a couple of months without panicking about rent and bills.

If you´re struggling to save money, sell anything that you don’t need. If you’re going to be away from home for a long time, get rid of stuff you don´t want to take with you or which you don´t want anymore.

Now you`re aware of the common mistakes which digital nomads often make, you can prepare yourself better. Remember, no matter how prepared you are, there is always going to be an element of risk involved.

But, The biggest risk of all, is not taking any risk.

Do you know any other reasons why people have failed to become successful digital nomads? Or, are you an aspiring digital nomad who is afraid to risk failure? Let us know in the comments section!


Nominal Nomad

digital nomads reality


57 thoughts on “Why are Digital Nomads Failing? Expectations vs. Reality”

  1. I loved reading this article. It’s very appealing. If I was younger I would have probably have jumped on this band wagon without thinking twice. I’d love to be a minimalist traveler writing about my experiences. It just sounds so Zen.

  2. you make some really interesting and valid points! having enough money saved before quitting your job to pursue something on your own is so important. that’s how i was able to start working for myself! xx

  3. I’m always reading posts about people making so much money but I often wonder if it’s actually true. You’ve given some great tips for anyone who is embarking on doing this.

  4. It takes a lot of time and dedication to start making money, which I think is one thing rarely talked about. It’s great that people make money this way, but how long did that take them? How much hard work was put in? Too many people see it as easy or a get rich quick kind of deal. It is not remotely close to that. Which is what makes me appreciate your post, and telling people the reality before they jump on just what is being portrayed on social media.

    1. Completely agree with everything you just said, this is the point I am trying to highlight. Thank you for your comment

  5. I think the reality of what people are making versus what they say they are making are worlds apart. But I’d like to try working form the beach in Bali as a digital nomad.

  6. Good advice. No one should ever just drop everything and try chasing come money-making venture without proper planning and research. Also, yeah, it’d be great to be working from a laptop on the beach (I know cuz I’ve done it in Jamaica and it was glorious), but honestly, just being able to work from home primarily or from a local coffee shop is where you should start first. Traveling can be expensive and the last thing you want is to start burning through your savings as you try to build your life in a totally different area. Baby steps. Build your business from a side hustle and KEEP YOUR DAY JOB (as much as you may hate it). If your business starts to generate income on the side, you’re on the right track. If you’re able to fully supplement your income, that’s when it’s time to leave your job and go full time. Once you’re more than doubling your normal income, you can do your research and try traveling to different states, then venture further out from your home state. Get used to traveling, taking a plane, setting hotel reservation, etc. This way, when you finally decide to take that trip to Bogota, you’re already a pretty seasoned traveler.

  7. Having enough money saved before quitting your job to pursue something on your own is so important.

    Thanks for sharing

    1. Definitely Samar! Being a digital nomad requires some hard work and dedication. Thanks for your comment

  8. This concept is super intriguing and I can see why it draws a lot of younger people. So good you have tips or preparing before jumping in!

    1. It’s definitely important – especially as a lot of digital nomads are straight out of college. Thanks for your comment

  9. While it’s tempting, I think I’ll stick with my day job. I had to laugh at the comment about the glare of the sun on the laptop–so funny and yet true.

    1. Haha I definitely need to work inside, at a desk and maybe a coffee rather than a cocktail!! Thanks for your comment

  10. I would love that nomad life style, but I just don’t think my blog will ever be that style. I love travel (certainly from my blog), but I found I’m in that niche of just being a hobby blogger. Thanks for the solid plan. I had no idea how much time, energy and coffee would be involved when I first started this project.

    1. Completely agree with you Megan! I think it’s important to have your hobbies and your work seperate !

  11. So true. I would love to quit my 9-5 job and blog away, but I am not ready for the change. I am waiting to make my site concrete before I think of quitting my current job. And yes, without a proper plan and execution, we cannot expect to be successful in whatever we do.

  12. This is a great look at the not so glorious side of being a digital nomad. I would definitely want to start my online business and be generating at least some income before I decided to pick up and move to another country.

    1. It’s a shame that most digital nomads don’t think so clearly before hopping across to the other side of the world. Completely agree with you!

  13. I am somewhat a risk taker with sense. Before permanently taking a step, I normally test waters by trying it out for few moment on the very lowest level to see how it goes before going all hog.
    Digital Nomads may not be everyone’s success story and burning the bridge behind you may be catastrophic.

    1. Definitely true and like I said, we always need to have some degree of risk! Otherwise where is the fun?

  14. I enjoyed the unique and honest problems identified here. It definitley feels like you are speaking from experience and not regurgitating google reasearch. Very honest!

  15. I agree with many things mentioned here. Often we get too excited about something and forget to go through the planning stages (and do some rational thinking beforehand).

  16. This is so accurate- people get caught up in the glitz and glamour but don’t stop to think about how it isn’t a vacation, it’s your real life. You’ve still got the same responsibilities!

  17. Don’t become a Jack of all trades—- that’s one area of struggle for me! There’s so much I love to do and I find it hard to focus on just one or two things. I can really get in my own way! ☀️

    1. To be honest, I am the same. I always have new ideas for different projects – it can be hard to stay focused on just one thing!

    1. Thanks Melissa for your kind comment. We’re all for people chasing their dreams, but let’s also be realistic! 🙂

  18. So true – everyone thinks I work on the beach – my laptop won’t be taken anywhere near the sand. If I’m at the beach it’s for fun. When I’m working it’s focus time! Great points

  19. What an interesting take on all this. I did hear that the more these digital nomads travel places, the more overpopulated they become. It can ruin the beauty of the place.

  20. I wish I could just take the leap and do this. I see more success stories but also do people report the failures. I know I need to get enough money saved before I make some huge changes but with a plan thought out should be worthwhile.

    1. My tip is.. start working online before you go! I didn’t have much saved up before I became a digital nomad, I just already had a job lined up! It’s definitely possible! Good luck & thanks for your comment

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