The Biggest Sacrifice You’ll Make as a Digital Nomad

“Don’t you ever feel lonely?”

I get asked this all the time and the honest answer is no, not really. There’s a big difference between feeling lonely and feeling alone and during my travels I’d say there have been very few times when the sadder loneliness has hit, but yes, I’m a social person and I travel by myself so of course, I do sometimes feel alone.

24/7 friends, to nothing

Day of the Dead Festival

– Day of the Dead Festival last year – no one told me my face was filthy

I’ve travelled Eastern Europe, Central America and Asia alone, I definitely wasn’t lonely though. During the last six months dipping in and out of Europe that feeling of being alone has grown a bit and definitely started to bother me. I’ve spent quite a bit of those six months meeting up with friends and family – BBK and San Sebastian with Helen, Barcelona with my family, Bestival and Lake Garda with Chloe, Paris with Kellie, Cuba with mum and Mallorca with Cailin, Candie and Kate – when I look back it’s those times that have been the best, and the worst have been the days after when after having someone fun there 24/7 I’m alone again.

During my long term travels, when I wouldn’t see anyone from home for months I had the chance to get used to being alone. When I say ‘alone’ of course I met people along the way, but never travelled for more than a week with anyone and they were from that life, from living in the moment.

I’ve done the whole solo travel thing and I’d 100% do it again, but really I enjoy being with people a lot more than travelling by myself. It’s not good for me to be on my own for so long – I need a little real life community I can meet for a drink, food or party.

Finding friends

Tarifa digital nomads

– Good photo to illustrate me on the search

This hankering is what pushed me towards going to Tarifa and looking into where other digital nomads work and live for my next adventure. The sad reality and truth is that my school / uni / old work friends have another 30+ years of working in an office before we can go travelling together. They only have 20ish days holiday which are usually taken up by family, other friends, partners – I’m lucky and honoured that some took the time out to chill out in Europe with me this summer. People have stuff to do.

As I travel I often think about how much more fun I’d have if my friends were there but my circle of true, close friends has decreased. That’s one of the things about this digital nomad way of life, to maintain friendships you both have to try. I don’t have any friends out of convenience, all my friendships need to be well tended. I lost quite a few friends when I split up from my boyfriend, their lack of care and interest made me respond with the same nonchalance and that was the end of that.

So I need to find more friends with a flexible schedule like mine who are able to meet up in fancy locations around the world and to bring their work with them. This community is what most of the digital nomads / travel bloggers I’ve met are looking for. There are digital nomad communities around the world but it’s the lasting ones I find the hardest to pinpoint.

The contradiction

Digital nomad and community

– Working on my terms in my cafe office in Taipei

I want to travel, to see the world, to not be tied down to a job and to be free: most of the time. The rest of the time I want to buy a house, get a husband, a TV, put some cosy socks on and just chill out with a cup of tea while my sprogs are out at a playdate. Then I’ll jump back to thinking that sounds like the most boring thing ever and Google flights to Peru.

I see my school friends’ eyes light up at the thought of marriage and babies, and then I see my nomad friends get all excited about their latest projects and where they can take them. I’m somewhere in the middle not really knowing what I want to do or where I want to go, it basically depends on who I’m with.

In the last few weeks I’ve stayed with two different friends in England and just remembering what life is like going to work every day, having the office politics, needing to request time off and trying to fit life around work reminds me of why I’ve worked so hard to build this up. Whatever happens, I don’t want to go back to that.

I’ve lived in transit for a while. Before I travelled full time I lived in a depressing, cold flat in Vauxhall, London, for two months with horrible housemates and before that I lived at my ex boyfriend’s mum’s for almost four years in a situation that was meant to be temporary. I never properly moved in or had things organised. I feel like I’ve been living temporarily for about six years now and I have flashes of wanting something more permanent.


Digital nomad life

– Some of my beautiful travel blogger friends

“Get on Tinder, blah de blah met blah on there right away.”


Match, Happn, Plenty of Fish, all the sites I’ve been told, pointless. They’re full of people with jobs and kids who’d never be able to do anything fun and free. Even the thought of organising a date drags me back into that world of responsibility and obligations. Not interested. Boring.

Unless he’s a digital nomad too I just don’t see that there’s any point. Why work so hard for this life of freedom and then sacrifice it all with someone who ties you down to a particular place? It’s incredibly hard to find a long-term partner in a life like mine. At digital nomad meet ups it’s always a topic of conversation as the night goes on.

I heard about a digital nomad who developed a nomad dating app and then ended up meeting his partner on there and so sacked it off. Love that story. It’s like he coded her up online, but it’s not much use for the rest of us.

Real life community?

Digital nomad community

– Known these girls forever #girlpower (not sure what Carla’s doing?!)

The sense of real life community is definitely the thing I miss the most with this life of perpetual motion but then sometimes I wonder if I’m pining for something from the past.

I grew up in the same village from 4-18 and every night would be filled with friends, same at uni and then the same in London too, even if it wasn’t the same friends there was always friends. But that was in my early 20s. Now all my friends have partners and jobs, and they’re saving and some have babies, no one has time for the real life hang outs more than occasionally anymore.

Community is hard to find. I have my London friends on Whatsapp and I love and cherish my travel blogging who now I only seem to talk to online, but I want someone to go to the pub with and seeing as I don’t have an office job, someone to hang out with in the day too.

It’s the simple things

DIgital nomad life

I know I have it so good – jetting round the world to meet up with mates, doing what I want and being able to go where I like – but the things I miss most are the simplest. Being in a house, showering in peace, having a wardrobe of clothes, being able to leave my toothbrush and paste in the bathroom, watching TV, understanding people – stuff I never even used to think about but now seem like a luxury now I’m home.

What to do?

Where shall I go?

So I’m currently halfway between signing up for a Match account, a gym membership and RightMove alerts and on the other hand booking a one way flight to Colombia for January (well, perhaps more on the Colombia side today, wrote this late last night).

Since April I’ve been flitting around the world. A bit of Europe here, a bit of North America there and a quick visit to Asia to finish it off. When you’re trying to work at the same time it can be pretty hard to have so many plans so I know I definitely want to slow down but I don’t know where.

I want to be by my friends but they’re either in London (too expensive) or all over the world. I want to live somewhere cheap but I’m over being a dirty backpacker. I want to not have to pack up and move every day but not be bored in the same place either.

I need your help

Where would you go if you wanted some sort of community, some sort of familiarity but you could live anywhere – the cheaper the better?

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  1. by Hanny on October 29, 2015  5:13 pm Reply

    Now that is a hard question! There are so many places you can live in - the possibilities are endless. I really wouldn't be much of a help since I live in the U.S, but travel around. I would say that you should follow your heart and also what makes you comfortable. A few questions you can ask yourself are:

    Has there been a place where you felt most comfortable?
    Has there been a place where you felt it was affordable?
    What place did you feel safe in?
    Where do you see yourself living?

    Hopefully that will help you determine where you want to stay for a bit. Another option would be a boat...you can live on the boat, but move to different places without getting bored. Good luck!

    • by Vicky on January 17, 2016  4:59 pm Reply

      I've definitely looked into living on a boat before but I think I'd just miss the infrastructure of being on land. It does seem like a good way to see a lot of places. My current plan, which could change tomorrow is to go to the USA for a few months and then South East Asia. But we'll see! Thanks for the advice, I know I'm a bit late but they definitely gave me something to think about way back when I wrote this. Feeling a bit more positive now...

  2. by Arianwen on October 29, 2015  6:23 pm Reply

    I have ALL of these feelings! I think you should come meet me in the Philippines and we'll have the best of both worlds! X

    • by Vicky on January 17, 2016  5:00 pm Reply

      Where are you now Ari! Adventure girl. Love how much you get about :)

  3. by sheree millington on October 29, 2015  6:27 pm Reply

    I hear chiang mai is where it's at for nomads. cheap, sunny, beachy... with plenty of ex-pats. The grass is always greener though, many people who have a 'community' have one because they've simply stayed in one place their whole lives and never evolved, seen the world or moved on. You have an incredible lifestyle but there's a price for everything. Thank god for the interenet, eh? A good twitter convo always makes me feel more connected. :) x

    • by Vicky on January 17, 2016  5:04 pm Reply

      Yeah, I've looked at going there before. I have a few friends who've really enjoyed it – the prices, the infrastructure, everything. Definitely somewhere I'd consider living. Yeah I love that I have different friends in different time zones, always someone around to chat to on social media. You're right about what a community is, sometimes people have no choice but to make the people around them their community. At least I can be picky who's allowed in mine!

  4. by Sabine on October 29, 2015  8:51 pm Reply

    Depends on what you like: easy for me, Tarifa. Kitesurfing, Spanish language and food.
    I have a home, a husband, a job and my friends nearby.
    I am 38, should have babies and get settled.
    Just quit my job and go travelling. A kitesurf solo trip in Asia. No idea what s coming after that. Infinitely unemployed and I like it.
    I totally understand your feelings. Even if I do not know you, I am sure you will find your way!
    Just take your time and listen to your guts.
    Maybe a kind of slow travel could help? Means choose a place that fits you and settle "a bit".

    • by Vicky on January 17, 2016  5:07 pm Reply

      Yeah if you know exactly what you want from life then being a digital nomad is awesome and you can tailor it to that. For me, I'm in the middle of everything, always something new going on to keep me interested. I definitely need to slow down with my travel, I keep saying that but I find it hard when things get stale (after like 5 days) and move on. I need to chill out!

  5. by Jayne on October 30, 2015  7:45 am Reply

    I could see you fitting in Bali. Get a little bungalow in Ubud and then use the weekends to explore Asia and pop over to Oz for work every now and then. (We always have a bed for you here!)

    I really enjoy having a base and then exploring destinations from there.I've found a lovely community of freelancers in Sydney to bounce off and although we're always here, there and everywhere, there is an element of consistency to the friendships and also an understanding of what we each do. I miss my friends in London of course but, as you mention, when I go back I realise they are busy living their lives and that their lives are quite different to mine now. I think once you find a place you like to settle in (temporarily) you'll soon find your people.

    • by Vicky on January 17, 2016  5:11 pm Reply

      Yeah Hayley Love Puffin keeps telling me to do that. I wasn't super in to Ubud to be honest, don't think I'd live there. Too many dippy hippies. I'm mad into mountains and lakes at the moment, so I'm thinking Patagonia. We'll see.

      Thanks for the offer of a bed, would love to!

  6. by Jen on October 30, 2015  9:33 am Reply

    Love these musings. I miss friends sometimes a lot more than I think I should as it is true that times have changed. Even when you live in the same city as them you don't see them every night any more as everyone (almost) is all grown up and settled!

    I think wherever you stay for a while you will build a community, somehow people like you find people like you and everyone travels happily ever after.

    I'm not sure if I am making sense now so I will stop.

    • by Vicky on January 17, 2016  5:12 pm Reply

      Ha, yes, you're making sense. I think when I wrote this I was obviously feeling very nostalgic for a life that doesn't exist anymore. When your whole life doesn't revolve around the same things, like at school, friendships start to become quite fractured and it wouldn't be natural for them to continue in the same way. Times change!

  7. by Filippo on November 13, 2015  3:15 pm Reply

    Travelling is great, but it comes at a price. However, also a regular life with a 9-5 job has its problems (as we all nomads understand well). It really depends on what you really feel: if you need more relationships, you can't be entirely a nomad. You have to find a compromise, somehow. Nothing wrong to slow down a little.

    It's difficult to suggest an ideal place. I like the idea of the boat suggested by Hanny, but it would be rather expensive ( I made my calculation, since I thought it was a good way of living, but I had to descard it), and rather lonely too.

    London for me is an ideal place, not only because it's a fantastic city, but also for the huge number of flight connections; I agree that it is an expensive place to live, but there are many ways to save even in London, and travelling from London is often cheaper than from many other European cities. I live here now, and I'm quite happy of the choice.

    As Bob Marley said, "Love the life you live, live the life you love". Follow that, and you'll be OK.

    • by Vicky on November 18, 2015  10:40 am Reply

      Thanks for your comment. I agree, if I was to settle in England it would just have to be London. I have ideas of the rest of the country but in reality London is where it all happens. It’s also much easier to get around to the rest of the world from here as well, and you can say yes at the drop of a hat to opportunities here, whereas if I lived elsewhere in England I’d have to really think about it.

      Decided I’m happy enough travelling for another year or so for now, all that relationship stuff can come later.

  8. by Shandos on November 16, 2015  10:49 pm Reply

    I can't help you out with suggestions of a community (although Bali tempts me, as that's where a lot of Australians head), but I share the mixed feelings. I left my full-time job 6 months ago (because enough was enough at the job I'd been for 5 years, and I didn't find something else that was quite right), and have just been full time blogging and leaving off my savings. I haven't been travelling much (as I'm being careful of my savings until I build up an income or the ability to do comped travel), but would love to be travelling here, there and everywhere! There's also the difficulty of having a house in Sydney (with a mortgage), a husband who works full-time and isn't quite as adventurous as me, and a gorgeous dog that I don't like leaving behind. I've worked out that if I sold the house, we could travel indefinitely, but my husband would need to leave his job that he likes and I don't think we could travel with a dog! Plus, I love our house, and it's nice having a base, especially with summer coming up in Sydney. Argh!!

    • by Vicky on January 17, 2016  5:15 pm Reply

      Ah yeah it makes it more difficult if you already have a house and a husband, both a blessing and a curse! I think no matter what life stage you're at there are always pros and cons. I'm totally free and can do whatever I want, but the freedom can be overwhelming, and as soon as I'm home hanging out with my school friends I wonder if I should be going for the same things as them – houses, husbands and kids. I guess you can only ever do what's right at the time and I'm definitely doing that!

  9. by sara on January 19, 2016  3:01 pm Reply

    Impressive to see this kind of post with great pictures and it is really nice to see these kind of stuff with different thinking of pictures and blog colors all are really awesome.

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