The reality of being a freelance digital nomad and ambitious travel blogger hits me after 4 months on the road.
This is officially the longest I’ve been on the road. I’ve lived out of my backpack for four months. And while I don’t long to have a home to go back to, the romance of being location independent is slowly wearing away.
Also Read: Two Months on The Road: Highs and Lows
The dream life
I still wake up with starry eyed dreams and endless possibilities of where the road might lead me. One moment, I’m drinking opium with a tribal shepherd community in Rajasthan. The next I’m sipping Gluhwein in the festive Christmas markets of Germany. One day, I’m watching a tiger look for its prey in the open grasslands. The next I’m marveling at the underwater life of Seychelles.
These experiences sound extraordinary on paper, and even in my head as I pen them. But the realities of long term travel – and those of being a freelance digital nomad and an ambitious travel blogger – are slowly hitting me.
The flashpacking challenge
I sit on the rooftop of a guesthouse in Udaipur, overlooking the Pichola lake as I pen this, and being here is the foremost challenge I continue to face.
Busting my freelance digital nomad budget at 2000 rupees a night, I neither have a decent standard of living (all those years in Singapore have certainly raised my expectations) nor a fast enough internet connection. To arrive here, I could change three local buses from the village in Pali I was at, eat a truckload of dust in the 4 or so hours it would take to get here, and pay a maximum of 150 rupees. Or I could take an AC taxi that would cost me 2000 rupees and 2.5 hours.
I’m forever struggling for a middle option, a flashpacking alternative if you may. And you can say that taking local buses and staying in budget accommodations is the way India is meant to be experienced, but after you’ve done it for four months straight, and seen the sheer standard of budget travel in Europe or another developed country, it’s tough. It certainly has been tough for me.
The reality of being a freelance digital nomad
Add to that the continuous struggle of never being paid on time as a freelance digital nomad. And the continuous negotiations with PR companies whose only agenda seems to be squeezing more
blood blog posts out of you on unfair terms. When I thought I was finally learning to walk away, I was only learning to walk into traps of unfulfilled promises. Sigh, I feel exhausted.
I know I can hardly complain when I look back at the fabulous year in travel I’ve had, especially the last four months. I get emails every day from people who admire my way of life. But I think I’ve gone from dreaming about waking up in a different place every other day (which I’m doing now), to dreaming about having a nice bathroom to shower in! Life is strange, and atleast on some days, the grass seems to be greener (and cleaner) elsewhere.
120 days on the road have put much into perspective, and I’m determined to make some tough decisions for next year. I guess we’ll have to wait and watch how my freelance digital nomad life evolves.
Do you ever see yourself as a freelance digital nomad? How have your travels evolved over the years?
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I’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star.
In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life.
Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.