The truth about being a digital nomad

Digital nomad and business founder Isabelle Tucker shares what combining remote work and global travel is really like, how to do it and why it's good for business.
Isabelle Tucker
Isabelle Tucker and her dog

In less than a decade the digital nomad lifestyle has shifted to the mainstream, growing by 131% from 2019-22, largely fueled by the pandemic. It's estimated that by 2030, there will be 1bn nomads globally

As a long-time digital nomad and founder of a remote-first business, I know first-hand how to live and thrive in this lifestyle to enjoy freedom, exploration and meaningful work. In the past year I´ve lived and worked in over 9 different countries; from Brazil and Mexico to Costa Rica, India, France and Portugal. 

Taking the leap to leave my corporate 9-to-5 job to embrace this lifestyle was the best decision I ever made. And if you´re worried about your employability should you decide to return to an office job then don't be - studies have shown that recruiters see long-term travel as a huge plus. It builds skills that are valuable to employers such as negotiation and communication skills, being able to adapt to change quickly, problem-solving and empathy. 

That being said, this lifestyle can often get the filter-effect on Instagram and just look like a holiday 24/7. After 4 years living as a digital nomad here's what it's actually like with six key ways you can set yourself up for success when taking the leap:

1. Trust yourself and take that first step

First you need to be confident in making your decision to embrace the nomad lifestyle and take the risk, despite what anyone else around you is telling you. I meet so many people who ask me how I had the bravery to step out on my own and build my own business that allowed me this lifestyle - the truth is I didn’t have a big plan or strategy or even any idea what the next week or month would look like. I didn’t know if I’d have to start looking for a job or if I should give it up at any moment. All it really took was that first step, that first decision to just give it a go and try and live my life in a way I’d always dreamed of. It obviously didn’t look like this at the beginning - I wasn’t traveling the world or even earning any money from it - I was stuck in the bedroom I’d grown up in at my parents house with nothing else to do but teach myself how to code all day and all night.  The most important part was that first step, then the incremental movement in the right direction with small actions that after 4 years have built into a successful business that allows me to live that life I had always dreamed about.

2. Get comfortable being alone 

As a digital nomad you will often find yourself traveling and working alone so you need to be comfortable spending time by yourself! Don´t get me wrong, even after years of doing it, getting off the plane and arriving in a new place can still feel intimidating. But after the first day I love the time I have for myself and I encourage you to think about it this way too. You have complete freedom to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it and that feeling of independence and headspace that comes from enjoying your own company and having time alone is like nothing else

3. Build a community 

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to network and try to meet like-minded people across your travels.. When taking the leap into the digital nomad lifestyle I would recommend starting your travels in places that really embrace digital nomads like Portugal or Bali, so you know that you will be somewhere where like-minded people will also be, and plenty of resources, (in particular good wifi) that will make working a breeze even if you´of re by the beach.In advance of your trip scope out  popular digital nomad coworking spaces to go to, these are not only a reliable place to work but a great opportunity to meet people, share stories and get more recommendations. . In Bali my favorites are Kinship ( and B Work  and closer to home in LIsbon, Portugal I love Outsite and Dear Breakfast Cafe. 

4. Continue to upskill

Since I first entered into this lifestyle I have been using travel as a transformational tool and a way to upskill. I am always learning and like to mix up taking more official courses on my travels  like the coding course I completed at Institute of Code in Bali, with learning simply by doing and trying out things myself, making mistakes and then learning from them. Honing your skills means you can deliver better work for your clients, attract new ones and help your business to grow and thrive. 

5. Take time off

I learnt this the hard way and suffered with burnout for years because I didn't take time off working. Even though I was working constantly, my mental health suffered because I never gave myself a break to reset, recharge and give space for reflection and renewed creativity. Especially when first starting out on your digital nomad journey it can be really challenging to allow yourself that time not to work. But trust me when I say that taking a break is the most important gift for your productivity and mental health! Set boundaries and be intentional with your time and your work will thrive as a result. You also need to remind yourself that you aren't living this lifestyle so you can work all the time! You are doing it so you can also enjoy the freedom you have to enjoy new cultures and experience the world in a richer way.

6. Stay safe

As a woman I have often been asked how do you do so much solo traveling and stay confident and safe? Unsurprisingly, currently only 39% of digital nomads are women and I think that safety is a big factor that contributes to this imbalance. We can't  pretend that traveling is 100% safe (particularly as a woman) all of the time so I make sure that I research and make connections before I travel somewhere. That can look like messaging people I follow who are at the destination I am going to on Instagram so as soon as I arrive I have at least a couple of connections and don't feel entirely alone. Choosing where I am staying with reputable reviews is also important. If I get there and don't feel comfortable then I leave. It's never worth staying and taking a risk no matter how slim that risk can seem. I also always pre-download google maps, make sure I know some language basics to ask for help and know the number for emergency services.

Written by
May 13, 2024
Written by
Isabelle Tucker
Founder of Klioh
May 13, 2024
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