The Hidden Dark Side Of The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

The Hidden Dark Side Of The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Some claim that they feel lonely after leaving the comforts of home, family, and friends for an indefinite trip.

This is the situation of Lauren Juliff. To pursue her passion for seeing the world, she quit her part-time job at a British supermarket after graduating from college in 2011.

She was initially successful and used her travel website, Never Ending Footsteps, to record and fund her travels.

Lauren began traveling the world with her partner, another digital nomad she met along the way.

“This continued for five years. We traveled to 75 countries over this time, interspersing fast-paced movement with basing ourselves for several months in a single city,” she said. 

However, Lauren started having severe, recurring episodes of panic after five years.

“I suspect the panic attacks stemmed from the lack of stability or predictability in my life. Every few weeks, I was changing country, changing friends, changing cuisine, and changing language with no real levels of consistency,” she said. 

She decided to settle down. After moving to Lisbon, Portugal, her physical and mental well-being improved significantly.

Lauren managed to develop positive friendships, acquire cooking skills, and pursue interests outside of travel.

She was able to increase her salary threefold by having a workstation, a reliable internet connection, and more time to work on her career.

These days, Lauren is making people aware of the harsh reality of being a digital nomad.

17.3 million American workers identified as digital nomads in 2023, more than twice as many as in 2019, according to self-employment experts MBO.

According to a Post Office statistic, 72% of workers said they plan to become digital nomads.

More and More Digital Nomads Start Publicly Sharing Their Struggles

This is the No. 1 State for Digital Nomads in 2023, According to New Study

I spent 2023 as a digital nomad in South Korea. It was lonely and daunting, but taught me what really matters to me. – Wyin Kong, 28, shared a story in the interview.

Wyin Kok’s journey as a digital nomad in South Korea, inspired by the shift towards remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, presented both enriching experiences and significant challenges. Despite the benefits of cultural immersion and the growth in personal independence and confidence, Kok faced initial loneliness, safety concerns as a solo female traveler, and the financial burden of living expenses abroad. Her experience underscores the complex reality of digital nomadism, balancing personal growth with the struggles of adapting to a new environment and lifestyle.

My year as a digital nomad looked perfect online. The reality? Lost luggage and no days off. – shared Francesca Specter.

Francesca Specter’s digital nomad experience, transitioning from London to Bogotá and beyond, highlights the challenges and disillusionment of blending work with travel. Despite initial excitement, Specter faced exhaustion, disorientation, and a struggle to balance work with the enjoyment of travel. This lifestyle, while enriching her social media, failed to provide the tranquility and routine needed for her writing or the relaxation expected from being abroad. Ultimately, Specter’s journey underscores the hidden costs of digital nomadism, leading to her realization of the value of separating work from leisure and appreciating the stability of home.

The Dark Side of Being a Digital Nomad, A 2023 Study

To better equip those considering this lifestyle, researchers spoke with nearly a thousand digital nomads in the U.S. to gain insight into the less glamorous side of digital nomadism.

These are the key takeaways: 

  • Approximately 41% of digital nomads report that their lifestyle impacts their ability to sustain romantic relationships.
  • Around 83% of location-independent professionals experience feelings of guilt when taking time off or disconnecting from work.
  • A substantial 77% of nomads have encountered burnout at least once, with entrepreneurs (80%) being the most affected by this issue.
  • On average, 40% of location-independent workers frequently or always experience feelings of loneliness.
  • Nearly 77% of nomads are concerned about their financial stability, with remote workers (84%) showing the highest level of concern, surpassing entrepreneurs (71%) and freelancers (75%).
  • As many as 84% of digital nomads have encountered tax-related challenges at least once.
  • Nevertheless, 94% plan to continue their nomadic lifestyle in 2023 and beyond.