There are numerous reasons why people ditch their regular nine-to-five lives and head off to work and travel overseas as . Some people do it for the sheer adventure of it all, to live a bohemian lifestyle travelling by the seat of their pants, drifting wherever the wind may take them. Others do it simply because they want to get far away from the 'Rat Race’, concluding there is more to life than fulfilling a role in a '' society so that they can afford to buy things they don't really want or need.
Regardless of what the reasons might be – the push to leave or the pull of adventure – those who decide to become digital nomads soon realise that this a life which delivers extreme highs and lows.
From my own personal experience, I can say that working and travelling abroad creates some of the most powerful, life-affirming highs you might ever hope to experience. Without doubt, there is something incredibly potent about arriving at an airport/train station/sea port with a backpack, passport and netbook and knowing that – within reason – you can go pretty much anywhere you choose. Moreover, that realisation you get once you're into a journey proper, that feeling of knowing you don't have to be anywhere, that you're never in a rush to arrive or depart, or any way obliged to tell anyone where you're going, is supremely intoxicating. Being on the road feels great; working in different cultures feels great, having the world at your feet and the time and means to explore it feels great.
Being a digital nomad is, at times, the best legal high in the world.
The corresponding lows
There is of course a direct correlation between the degree to which your emotional highs and lows are relative to eachother. If you experience only moderate highs in your day-to-day lifestyle then you will not feel overly down whenever a cloud of negativity comes and parks itself over your head for a while. However, if you are fortunate enough to live a lifestyle where extreme emotional highs are a regular occurrence, you can be sure your low points will feel pretty epic when they surface.
And so it is with working remotely abroad.
The 'digital nomad blues'
It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, what your job is, or how long you've been on road; there will come a point when - seemingly out of the blue – the digital nomad lifestyle doesn't seem so great any more. More often than not, aspects like the perpetual packing and unpacking that comes with living out of a rucksack; being far away from family and friends at times like Christmas and birthdays, and making only transient 'on the road' friendships are arguably the most common catalysts for the digital nomad blues.
Whenever we human beings feel down, we normally go to loved ones and/or familiar places to seek out reassurance. Indeed, nothing feels quite as nice as a hug from a parent or partner, or a nice long soak in the bath when life's getting you down. Sadly, this is not something that is readily available when you're living and working overseas and that is why the digital nomad blues often feel so oppressive – they're compounded by the inability to 'treat' them in the way you normally would.
How to deal with them
The best way to take the edge off the digital nomad blues is to expect them beforehand. It's like watching England at the FIFA World Cup; if you expect the team to play predictable, uninspired football then you'll be less disappointed when they get knocked out of the tournament with a game to spare at the group stage. Chances are you will get the blues at some point – knowing that in advance will make the phenomenon seem slightly less debilitating when it happens.
When the blues hit proper and you can feel you're really in the mire, don't just fester and wallow in your misery. Take a few days off work, pack up your things, and take yourself off somewhere which has a sight/memorial/person/event you've always wanted to see. Once you're there and have seen what you wanted see, find a quiet spot and collect your thoughts. Take this time to reflect on how fortunate you are to be able to do what you just did; consider how many people would love to be able to just take off and treat themselves in this way whenever life feels like it's getting a little 'on top'. Sure, you may not have your family/friends/favourite bathtub close to hand, but let's face it; you're friends and family are never more than a call away, while a relaxing soak in a spa bath/hammam/onsen can be found if you look hard enough..!
In most cases, the digital nomad blues fade away after the best part of a week. Talk to other nomads/travellers and they will confirm this to be true (and reassure you that you're certainly not the only one to experience them). If for some reason, your cloud doesn't lift after a few weeks then it is likely your heart is trying to tell you that your time on the road could well be coming to an end.
Image courtesy of Travellersinkblog