Working abroad, on a beach, or even from home may sound like a vacation in itself to people who spend their day in an office. However, any digital nomad will tell you that working abroad does not mean life is a constant vacation. Work is work, no matter where you are.
There are many misconceptions about the digital nomadic lifestyle. For those who tire of the structured nine-to-five workdays, becoming a digital nomad seems a relaxing alternative. Digital nomads are people work almost entirely remotely, and often while they travel the world at the same time. They might stay in certain places for a few weeks or months before moving on, and many blog about or document their travels as they go.
However, according to a 2018 study of digital nomads, it is mostly the younger digital nomad workers who look to combine work and travel. Those who have been living this lifestyle for longer opt to stay and work remotely from their home base as a break from the travelling lifestyle.
In fact, 83% of remote workers work from their home country. Only 76% say they travel while they work. This means that for the most part, these workers are not taking vacations while they are working. Even people who travel while they work need a break from it.
It is also important to consider that being a digital nomad requires concentration and discipline. To be a digital nomad and still make money requires that a person be focused and productive. They do not have the job security or structure set out for them like the standard office worker, and so they must push themselves and work hard to keep on top of different projects.
According to digital nomad Emma Sarran Webster, most digital nomads still work up to 40 hours a week—or more—and have to deal with a different set of challenges than the traditionally employed. They must learn to balance work and life in a new way, find employment, and deal with the trials of navigating life in a new place.
Another 2018 survey backed up Webster’s claim, finding that while 70% of digital nomads work 40 hours or less in a week, the other third work over 40 hours. With these people working so many hours, and so few travelling while they work, is it really fair to say that the digital nomad is on a constant vacation as a part of their career?
Nomad Marcella Korver clarifies that the digital nomad lifestyle is not at all a “vacation.” A vacation means time off from work to refresh and rejuvenate. Korver says that in fact, digital nomads are always thinking about work or working seven days a week to catch up from nights off.
A vacation to a digital nomad may be different from the average office worker—maybe they just stop working for a week and enjoy the foreign city they live in—but it is just as important. Everyone needs breaks, including digital nomads.