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Living as a Digital Nomad for a month

I hit the road this summer. Here are my takeaways.

A lot of people who read DNW have immense flexibility. They can live and work from wherever they want.

Both my wife and I own our own companies and can work from wherever we want, but it’s not something we’ve taken advantage of much. Having a kid means we need continuity in education, but there’s still summer break that we can take advantage of. Despite this, I think the longest time I’ve been away from home in the past decade is just a couple of weeks.

This summer we decided to try something different. We spent an entire month in Seattle and worked while there.

The benefits are obvious. One day this was my office:

The view from our campsite in Olympic National Forest.

But there are challenges, too. Here are some of the challenges I faced.

1. Separating work time from fun time.

Since we weren’t true digital nomads on the road for good, a large portion of our time was spent doing vacation things. I generally worked for a few hours in the morning and then relaxed in the afternoon. Separating this time was tough, especially since I tend to write a lot of timely/breaking news. GoDaddy releases earnings? Gotta write about that, even if it’s in the afternoon.

Also, since Seattle is in the Pacific time zone, I felt behind every day when I woke up. Some days I would write a post and schedule it for early the next morning.

2. Working from my laptop.

All I technically need to work is my laptop and an internet connection. But I work best when I’m at my desk, docked into my dual monitors, keyboard and mouse:

It’s hard to replicate this on the road.

3. Recording podcasts on the road is difficult.

You’ll note that my workstation also has a good setup for recording podcasts. I have the mic on the left, a camera on top (when needed) and acoustic sound panels.

My wife is also a podcaster so we brought a mic with us. Still, it was hard to get good sound. While we were on Bainbridge Island we had birds in the background. While we were in Capitol Hill we had city noises to contend with.

There are a few things I would do differently next time regarding podcasts.

First, I’d try to record as many “evergreen” podcast interviews as possible in advance. I can then record the intro and news part while on the road.

Second, I’d hit up people who live/work in the area to use their equipment/space.

Third, I’d consider renting professional studio space. In fact, I came across this sign one afternoon:

A sign for a podcast studio in Seattle that rents by the hour.

4. Overcoming feelings of guilt.

If I’m only working a few hours a day, am I neglecting something important? Should I do more? For example, I posted only two of my website builder reviews and didn’t get around to completing the others yet.

This was a constant struggle for me. If I travel like this again next summer, I’ll double down in the weeks leading up to my travel by pre-writing as much evergreen content as possible.

Of course, we weren’t true digital nomads on our trip. We returned to our home. It was more like an extended working vacation. But the definition of digital nomad is expanding; you can think of it as just the flexibility to work from wherever you want.

As I mentioned at the top, there are lots of DNW readers who enjoy this flexibility. It’s one of the perks of doing what we do.

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Author: Andrew Allemann

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