Don’t Call Me Digital Nomad
The digital nomad scene has come a long way since Tim Ferriss published The 4-Hour Workweek. What used to be a close-knit community of traveling lifehackers, is now a patchwork quilt of Instagrammers, virtual assistants, Bitcoin traders, and business consultants.
Some of these nomads, whether by trade or by nature, are very noisy about their new lifestyle. Over the years, this has contributed to an image of swashbuckling laptop warriers; of digital vagabonds who rack up countries at breakneck speed, with way too little interaction, let alone immersion, at their destinations.
While I would have been offended if, back in the days (2013-2014), someone called me “just a backpacker with a laptop”, the reality is that many digital nomads are, well, just that. Most are still figuring out how to make the location-independent lifestyle work for them, and spend more money than they are making, slowly burning their savings.
Is the digital nomad life unsustainable?
Any professional likes to be associated with the work hard ethos, but the play hard badge that digital nomads also like to wear is not necessarily something to be proud of. Especially when you’re trying to get funding for a start-up or when you’re working with high-profile clients.
Is running a successful business while traveling the world impossible? Not if you’ve got your systems and staff in place. But most entrepreneurs and workers will tell you that the digital nomad lifestyle is not a sustainable one. Sure, travel is inspiring, but any serious business requires regular buckling down, if only for a few months at a time. And even from a personal standpoint, constant traveling can get exhausting.
Toss the label
What may look like digital nomads to the untrained eye, more and more often are people who don’t like the label – or any label at all, for that matter. They engage in slow travel, staying at just one or two destinations per year (for example, Mexico in summer and Thailand in winter). They stay long enough to pay local rental prices, they make an effort to learn the language, and they share their skills with the local community. They might even volunteer or hire local help.
“It’s like comparing a fastfood restaurant with a fancy steakhouse,” says webdesigner Christine Lindebak from New York, who has made her temporary home on the island of Lanzarote. “I prefer to take things slow and really savour the experience. That’s what travel is all about.” Whereas Christine used to identify with the digital nomad scene, she’s not so sure anymore. “I see a lot of newbies in the online communities, who ask the same questions over and over again.”
Nomad City shifts its focus
For a destination, digital nomads are very interesting. They dish out on accommodation, work from local cafes or coworking spaces, take the occasional excursion, and they usually stay longer than regular tourists. From a purely economic point of view, digital nomads are a crowd you want to please. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria understands this and was a great help in organizing the first Nomad City event, last year.
However, the wave of the more sustainable, slow traveling nomads is something Nomad City wants to ride for this year’s edition. In their talks with the local authorities, they have argued how these ‘slowmads’ can impact the city – not just on a purely economic level, but on a social, too.
The organizers are not trying to bite the hand that feeds them: they still love digital nomads and organize a lot of interesting activities and workshops for them (and let’s not forget the farewell party right before the Nomad Cruise departs from Gran Canaria). It’s just that Las Palmas want the slowmads to feel welcome, too. And a look at at the program takes away any doubts about just that.
What can you expect in NomadCity 2017.
- What are hiring managers looking for when hiring remote workers?
- How to build culture on remote teams
- Is Virtual Reality going to improve productivity of remote teams?
- Coworking, Coliving and team retreats, and how they will shape the Future of Work
- Jump in the pool of remote work : How to go remote without burning your life savings
- How to attract, retain , motivate and maximize the talent of remote workers in your team.
- How to sell SAAS with SEO
- How to make your digital marketing effortless
- Remote tool trainings
- Career Coaching for remote positions
- Increase your engagement in social networks with video
- Building best-selling video courses
André Gussekloo is a freelance writer , fascinated by travel and entrepreneurship. He currently lives in Lanzarote with his family. He is the co-author of the guide “Digital Nomad : How to live, work and play around the world. Learn more.