It’s not often that we travel for long periods of time at once. Don’t get us wrong, we love being digital nomads, but we usually take one month doing a tour of an entire country and then come back home, in the every day routine.
Both Victor and I are software developers who work remotely, so it goes without saying that we need some structure in our lives. That’s why sometimes being on the road for more than one month starts to seem like a hustle. We don’t like staying too much in one place either, so going to a new place every other week (or even days), while juggling deadlines and also exploring the location, makes us loose a lot of sleep.
Moreover, after some time travelling, we kind of enjoy being back home, to the day to day routine and spending time with friends and family. Call us digital nomads with an old soul. But we would not have it any other way.
This past summer was different. Both Victor and I having some work commitments that require going abroad, we thought about making it a bigger trip extending the work locations with some surroundings worth seeing. Locations: East Coast of the United States of America plus Germany and a few cities outside it. Total time: 3.5 months. Not too shabby, but I must confess I was quite skeptical we would not be able to handle the hustle.
I’m not going into too many details about the trip (if you want to know something specific, get in touch – we can discuss and maybe I’ll write a new post about it), but I will tell some lessons that we learnt along the way, and why not, about ourselves. I was surprised about the way I felt (and I think Victor feels the same way) when we returned back home and it made me think that maybe some of the lessons can be helpful for some of our readers.
We have previously written another post about lessons learnt after working remotely while travelling, but this one will be different. This one will focus just on the travelling part.
Lessons learnt travelling
1. Stay in one place at least 3 nights
We tried several options. Staying in one city for 1,2,3 or more nights. Regardless if we would catch a weekend or not, we need to spend at least 3 nights in one place not to feel we are in a hurry. Nomads might mean having no home, but we still have stuff. Packing/unpacking very often can be exhausting. Not to mention you can barely have time to explore the city/town/exotic place if you have to work in the same time.
2. Access to a washing machine once per week
Even if we talk about having an AirBnb with a washing machine or staying near a laundromat, we would need to clean our clothes at least once per week. And making sure we would get them cleaned fast. For example, in a hotel sometimes you might get them from dry cleaning after a day or two. If we would stay in one city for 2 days, that might be risky.
3. Loving the road trips more
For as long as I’ve known myself, I didn’t like travelling by car. It might be because I have car sickness or that I don’t like not being able to move for a long time, but road trips were never my thing. All I can say is that now, after doing the whole East Coast of USA in a car for 5 weeks and having multiple weekends in Germany spent on the road, that now they are my thing.
Yes, I might be a little sick in the car, but I can stop whenever to take a break. Also, the stops are the best thing! We have seen so many beautiful places down the road, sometimes more beautiful than the actual destination. Thinking of how many amazing locations we could have missed just by taking a plane, it would have been a loss!
4. Travelling for 3 months is not like travelling for 1 month
I think that only now, after going from place to place for 3 months, I can understand what it means to be a digital nomad. It’s a different feeling. When we were away for a month, it still felt like a vacation. But in 3 months, you start to build a new way of life. You find new routines and try to stick to these new ones. You spend money differently and your day is different.
5. The more we are away from home, the less we miss it
When we started the trip I was quite anxious about how I would feel after beating our usual one-month travelling record. The funny thing is that the more time passed, the less uncomfortable with all the hustle of moving from one place to another we would be. We would even like it more and more.
Also, I would miss my habits from back home less and less. Even though at the beginning I missed the nights spent with my friends, with time passing that empty space left by them got replaced by activities in the new place. Maybe that’s what it means having a new way of living life. I don’t really know, maybe some of you went through the same thing?
6. It’s hard to start working in an office after your worked remotely for a long time
For a few weeks, I had a work commitment in Frankfurt and needed to go work at my client’s office. That 9 to 5 schedule every remote worker wants to run away from. But, to be honest, the main reason why I accepted was because I wanted to test myself if I was done with working remotely. And the result is: absolutely not!
I admit it was hard waking up early every day and going through the routine of getting myself ready for office, routine that doesn’t happen when working remotely. But after a week or two I got used to it and maybe I started to like walking to office every morning.
What I could not get used to was not having the flexible hours and when I was being blocked in my work with nothing to do I would still need to be in the office. Even if I was not productive. At the end of the day, I think that was the most exhausting to me.
At home, when I have blocked moments in my work I cook something or work out, it’s time spent doing something for me. When travelling, I go explore something outside. I don’t loose the time in any way. At the office, I felt like sometimes time is getting lost and I am not used to it. And I would get frustrated when I would not have time for myself in the evening knowing I had plenty of time during the day spent at my desk waiting to get unblocked.
7. We can be more economical, if we want
This is something that we found about ourselves also in the weeks spent in Frankfurt. We were staying in a rented apartment, but with no car on our plate. We can say we lived like residents, so we needed to act like ones. Like shop for groceries, taking the subway every day, cleaning the apartment etc.
One thing that we noticed was, because we did not have a car, we went to the supermarket by foot. That meant we needed to buy only what we could carry in our hands. So we bought less than we would use to at home, where we went to the supermarket by car.
To our surprise, what we bought was actually more than enough and cheaper than in our country (where the costs are less than in Germany). Conclusion: we can very easily be more economical in our expenses. If we want to 🙂
8. Friends can be made everywhere
I am a social person. I like having as much friends as I can and spend time with them. We both are. So travelling for a longer time without our usual friends by our side used to gave me anxiety. Especially thinking that because we would travel so often from one place to another is much harder to make new friends.
But the truth is, this was just in my mind. We would always find people thinking like ourselves and sociable that could easily become our close friends if the time was on our side. I now have the theory that people alike would always find their way together. We are not limited in being social by travelling. No no no!
9. We are more open to new things
We are. I don’t know what the exact reason is. Now, we are always trying new food, new ways of exercising when travelling or even new ways of spending our free time. I think it is because it becomes addictive to see other perspectives. Did this happen to you?
10. We should be more positive
This is because of the American people. We have not ever seen such positive people. Some might say they are not sincere, but honestly, I don’t care. You can be the most fake person on the planet, but if you gave me a good feeling and made my day better, my hat down to you!
We used to be the kind of people that got upset easily sometimes and always remembered what other people did wrong. Now, we feel that we don’t have the time of being upset. It’s lost time and exhausting. Instead, if you try to get the best from a relationship and forget about the bad, the days will be for sure better.
11. We appreciate things differently
Before going in the 3 month trip we had different priorities. Now, we feel that those priorities changed a little bit. What was important before, now is meaningless and vice-versa.
We focus more on health, quality moments and relationships with people. More on positive relationships and try to avoid the negative ones. We say ‘no’ more to activities that do not makes us feel ok and focus more on ourselves.
12. We would be ok to live in another country
Until this trip, I was the one that was definitely against moving to another country. I was holding too much on my family, my friends and basically what was known to me. Victor was always ok with going somewhere new.
Well, I had a surprise about myself. The things that I thought I would not be able to let go to from my country, don’t seem that hard to let go. Maybe even they don’t need to be let go off.
By the end of the trip, the idea actually started to become appealing to me and it is in my mind more than ever. Sometimes, I even become excited about it and start doing research about the few countries I have on my mind. Never say never!
13. We came back different people than we left
We actually did! Maybe because all of the points above, but I actually feel I am not the same person. I cannot have the same conversations like I had before or the same ideas like before. I maybe like different things and have different priorities. I see my life differently and I don’t regret anything.