The Biggest Challenges of Being a Digital Nomad and How to Overcome Them

Digital Nomad Tips Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Author: Camila Soffia
Written by Camila Soffia

“Travelling the world and working from your laptop? That’s the dream!”

Well YES… and no.

Or better said: it can be.

Being a Digital Nomad is an amazing opportunity to explore the world, learn from new cultures, and meet cool people, while making money! It sounds dreamy, and in the past years the number of Digital Nomads has risen more and more. However, nothing is only good, because this is life.

Don’t get me wrong, the DN lifestyle can be fun, exciting, and fulfilling… and it can also be challenging, exhausting, and discouraging. It all depends on how you do it.

difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations desk decor
Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

In these past 4 years of nomading the world I have had some of the most incredible experiences of my life. And I have also felt sad, lonely, and lost. The thing is, it is not the lifestyle itself, but how you live it, that matters.

If there is one thing we can agree on, is the immense potential that a digital nomad lifestyle can have to help you feel free and excited to be alive.

In this article I will share with you some of the challenges I’ve faced on the road, and how I’ve managed to overcome them. If you’ve been on the road for a while, you will identify with more than one, and if you are just starting this adventure, I hope these tips will help you move faster through the tough parts so you can truly enjoy all that the DN life has to offer!

Finding a Healthy Work-Life Balance

woman in orange shirt sitting on white chair reading book
Photo by Dessidre Fleming on Unsplash

When you start your journey as a DN, you have a lot of energy. You want to wake up in the new beautiful location you’ve chosen, have a delicious coffee, open the laptop and get to work.

However, as many of us have experienced already during the pandemic, not having an office to work from can be challenging. Distractions at home abound. Now, imagine that the distractions are not just within the home, but everywhere around you! You want to go explore, try new foods, and have fun.

If you are also working on flexible times, meaning you get to choose your working hours, it becomes extra difficult to choose wisely when to do so.

The distractions plus the responsibility of choosing your hours can make you feel overwhelmed, and take you easily into extremes: either you have a hard time working because you end up getting distracted and then have a lot to do all at once, which can be very stressful and potentially get you out of a job, OR you end up working way too much because you don’t prioritise fun and rest and stay stuck in your home working non-stop, there is no one there to turn off the lights of the office and send you on your way.


While there are many things you can do to find a more balanced life, the three main ones I would like to share with you today are:

  • Create a designated workspace: find a spot in your apartment, or a nice co-working or café around, and go there to work. This will keep you focused and will help you have a clear beginning and end of your work day.
  • Plan your day in advance: if you don’t know how you want your day to go, it will be hard for you to know when to stop, when to work, when to try that nice noodle soup and when to go to the beach for a swim. Decide already in the morning how many hours you will work, in which time slot, and whether you will do so in blocks, all at once, with breaks in between, or whatever works for you (a big part of figuring this out is trial and error, so try as many combinations as you can to see what suits you best)
  • HAVE A WEEKEND: this one is so important, because it can be easy to get unorganised and end up having to work 7 days a week because you didn’t plan accordingly. In my experience, having at least two days of fun and rest are essential to our health.

Lack of Routine

white printer paper beside filled mug
Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

Following a bit on the same tone as challenge number one, finding some sort of structure - aka routine - to your days is essential to do all you want to do and keep your mental health in check.

Many of us choose the DN lifestyle because of the immense amount of freedom that it provides us with. However, with a lot of freedom comes lots of responsibility. While you don’t need to have every hour of your week planned, if you lack a certain structure that makes sense for you, you will begin to get lost in the midst of all that’s going on.

When so many things are constantly shifting in your life - where you live, what you eat, the people around you, etc - having some sense of stability is key for the mind. Also, without a routine, you might start to lose any healthy habits you might have incorporated into your life before going nomadic.

As we are exploring in this post, there ARE challenges when living this lifestyle. Make sure to make time for those tools and structures that keep you healthy, happy, and sane.


For this one the solution is more straightforward - create a routine. This routine can be however you like it, but make sure that at least some elements are constant in your life. A couple of tips I can give you that have worked for me:

  • Get up at the same hour every work day
  • Dedicate (any amount of) time to move your body and soothe your mind first thing in the morning
  • Get out of the house at least once a day
  • Eat (AT LEAST) one healthy meal a day
  • Designate a block of time of at least 1 hour solely for rest every day
  • Go to bed at around the same time on work days

As I mentioned, these are things that have worked FOR ME. The important part is that you try things out, and find whatever works for you. Remember: no one is coming to tell you how to do things now. This can be your superpower, or your doom, it’s up to you.

Finding a Good Work Spot

MacBook Pro near white open book
Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Another (kind of unexpected) challenge in this work and travel lifestyle has been finding a GOOD work spot. By good I mean that it adapts to my needs. Needs that I have had to figure out as I go.

Whether a workspot is good depends on your personal preferences and needs, but there are some things that can be particularly hard to come about and that, ideally, you can prepare for to make your work-from-anywhere experience as smooth and nice as possible.

Typical things to look out for finding a good spot include:

Wifi connection

So many places, especially outside of the western world, have connectivity problems. The energy goes out, the internet connection is unavailable, or the wifi is so slow that you can’t upload that video you needed to upload yesterday already. Also, many cafes don’t even have wifi, so make sure to check in advance.


Get a sim card with data for when energy or wifi fail, ask your landlord for the wifi speed before booking your accommodation, ask if the wifi is working before placing your order at the cafe you plan to work from, and choose your destination wisely - some islands and more isolated areas have such bad internet that it is not really possible to work from there at all.

Energy outlets

This is one thing I tend to forget about until it's too late - when I’ve already arrived at the cafe. Many places don’t have enough energy outlets for you to plug your computer, so if you are planning to work for a couple of hours, this can be a problem. Also, many places have one energy outlet, but next to a table that is already busy, or next to an unappealing area such as next to the bathroom, or a spot where lots of people pass. This doesn’t usually apply for co-working spaces.


Check in advance where you would like to sit and if there is an outlet available, and/or bring your own extension cable (life changing, to be honest).


If you are planning to work in a public area (restaurant, cafe, the beach, outside, etc) the noise can really be a problem. Maybe you don’t realise at first because the cafe is empty, but you will realise as soon as it starts to fill up.


Get noise cancelling headphones, choose smaller and more low-key cafes, or work from your apartment.


So many times I chose a spot because it looked nice, had an energy outlet for me, and wasn’t that noisy… and then couldn’t keep working there because my body hurt so bad. Working from a plastic chair on a table that doesn’t give you a good distance from the laptop is ok for a couple of times, but if you make it your day-to-day practice, you will start to suffer. Body pain can be so distracting when trying to get work done. Comfort IS important when it comes to finding a good working space.


If you are going to do a longer working session that day, try to choose a place where you can sit on a comfy-ish chair with a proper table to work from. Try your setup before you place your order ;)


person at the top of mountain facing another mountain
Photo by Yash Raut on Unsplash

When I started my digital nomad adventure, I was so sure I would be surrounded by cool people all the time. I was backpacking the world for years before, and that was always the case.

But… Now I was not travelling and hanging out at fun spots all day. I was working, busy, tired at the end of the day. And making friends became a lot harder.

Even when going to a coworking space, people seemed so focused that I didn’t dare to start a conversation. And even if I would, many times people would be just leaving, or I would be about to leave the city, so building stronger friendships became even more challenging.

In addition to the new difficulties to meet people, you have to add the extra stress of being away from your friends. Keeping long distance relationships - including friendships - can be challenging. Time-zone differences, different experiences, or you trying to make the most out of your non-working hours to enjoy the spot you are currently at become challenges.

So, not to make you spiral down into worry about never being able to meet anyone again, I share with you some of the things that can help you meet awesome people and stay connected to your loved ones, while exploring and enjoying your DN life:

  • Make time to socialise: be intentional about meeting new people and make it a priority. Also, take time to call your loved ones on zoom every week.
  • Approach strangers: even though this is not what you learnt as a kid, having the courage to go and talk to people makes a great opportunity to make new friends. Try this at the common area or kitchen of the coworking space, approach other people with laptops at the cafe, and engage with locals as much as you can! You can make great friends with people all around.
  • Join meetups, couchsurfing events, and group activities: when you go to places where people are also looking to meet other people, your chances of getting out of there with some cool new acquaintances is super high! Get over your laziness or fear of going alone, and be surprised by how kind and awesome people can be.

Lack of Purpose

person holding compass facing towards green pine trees
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

The first question you ask yourself when going nomadic is:

How do I make money while on the road?

While some people become entrepreneurs and turn their passion projects into their business, others go the remote-employee way. There is no right or wrong with any of these choices, but they will have an impact on the point I’m trying to put across.

If you have a business that you love, you will have to work very hard for it, and it can be very draining and challenging, but if it gives you purpose, staying fulfilled might not be so hard.

There can be some challenges such as missing out on face-to-face interactions, if that’s something you enjoy. Or it can be tough when you have to do lots of things you don’t really like, so you can get to do the things you really enjoy in your work. All normal parts of being an entrepreneur.

However, if your job is not something that you particularly find fulfilment in, things can get a little more challenging.

Finding meaning in what we do is a big part of being human. Many of us like to feel like we make a difference, like our time is being used wisely. Maybe at the beginning if your only focus is making money, you have a blast and don’t really care about this aspect, but as time, and years start to pass by, you could feel a little lost.

Travel, fun, and adventure are awesome… but isn’t there more to life?


an obvious solution to this challenge would be to find a job that fulfils you, or start a business that has a mission that does. But there are other options, like volunteering in your free time, taking time to mentor someone that would like to do what you do, or exchanging your skills with other people to learn new things. There is no one thing that gives all people purpose, so as I’ve mentioned before, this is something you need to explore on your own. Find out what makes you want to be alive, and do it. Whether that’s on your working time, or your free time, that’s up to you :)

Same Challenges, Multiple Ways to Overcome Them

Creating a location independent lifestyle has lots of benefits. That’s probably why you have chosen it or are considering it at the moment. But since this will be your life now, it will come with its own challenges.

The most important thing when becoming a Digital Nomad, is knowing that with this huge amount of freedom, you will need to take a lot more responsibility. You can look at this as a burden, or as an amazing opportunity to get to know yourself better and build a life that aligns to what you need and want.

Keep these challenges in mind, use my advice, but most importantly: find what works for you, and don’t forget to have fun!