What do you get when you mix love, wanderlust, and an entrepreneurial spirit? Well, it looks something like us, and for us it’s a perfect mix!
The freedom this life provides and the amount of time we get to spend with each other is invaluable to us. It’s exactly what we need to be happy. But is it for you?
I’ve written this post to help you figure that out.
A little bit of our history
Almost three years ago, Ian and I started our nomadic journey together, when we traveled to Norway on a one-way ticket after I’d quit my job. He had started a photography business (Lonely Speck) a year before, and the modest income from that alone would get us through our first few months of frugal nomad life.
Twenty-two months of perseverance, deep conversation, and business experimentation later, we surpassed our former lives’ income. For us it was a fun and thrilling journey, but getting to that point (post coming soon) wasn’t easy, and not everyone might find our path as exciting as we did.
Which is why, if you’re a couple considering a digital nomad life, you should ask yourselves some important questions first.
The truth is our life is not the perfect life for every couple. Some might find the challenges, uncertainty, and amount of learning required overwhelming. Here’s a few realities you can expect as a new digital nomad couple:
- You’re going to be together almost ALL the time.
- You won’t make a lot of money right away.
- You’re going to experience failure.
- Missing holidays or events happening at home is going to suck.
- It’s hard to maintain friendships from afar.
- It takes a lot of hard work to start seeing any results.
- You’re going to have to learn a lot of new things.
Some are prepared to face these challenges head on.
I believe the single most important factor in determining success as a digital nomad couple is whether or not you have the will to succeed. Put two strong-willed people together, and that’s a recipe for success.
In addition to that, there are several other factors involved in whether or not a digital nomad life will work for a couple, and they stem from three key aspects of any digital nomad couple’s life: entrepreneurship, travel, and love. Your expertise and experience with each will be a factor in your success as a digital nomad couple, and the way they interact will make or break you.
Can You Answer ‘Yes’ to These Important Questions?
Below are some important questions to consider as you’re making your decision to embark on the journey of the digital nomad together. Can you answer yes to most of these questions?
Do you have business skills?
- Are you business-minded and creative?
- Do you have any marketable skills or knowledge? Can you think of several ways you could turn those into a successful online business?
- Do you have any business experience and does it translate to a digital nomad business?
- Are you good with computers and experienced with social media?
- Have you ever created a website?
- Do you have experience with accounting or creating a budget? Are you good at math?
Are you open-minded and highly adaptable?
- Are you willing to seek out and listen to feedback, including criticism, from potential customers?
- Can you conquer your fears and take action, despite the potential for failure?
- Can you move past failure or rejection, learn from your mistakes, and try again with a new approach?
- Can you objectively analyze what is and isn’t helping your business succeed? Are you open-minded and willing to make changes?
Are you committed to putting forth the effort?
- Do you know someone who has done this before and can mentor you throughout the process? If not, are you willing to seek out successful like-minded individuals to network with?
- For any lack of skills or experience above, are you willing to learn:
- how to start and run an online business
- computers, website development, and social media
- accounting and budgeting
- Can you commit to creating a budget together and sticking to it?
Does traveling inspire you?
- Do you both like to travel? Have you traveled together before? Do you travel well together?
- Can you see yourself getting work done in an unfamiliar location?
Are you willing to change the way you travel?
- What are the first three destinations you want to travel to? Are you willing to research affordable flights and accommodations and strategize your travel schedule to make costs reasonable?
- Can you commit to traveling light (carry-on only) to save money (and your sanity)?
- Are you okay with staying in a new destination for at least a month (longer if you’re on a smaller budget)?
- Are you familiar with alternative accommodation booking sites like Airbnb?
- Can you commit to cooking your meals at “home” rather than eating out?
- Are you willing to choose your first destination based mostly on affordability?
Are you willing to make some sacrifices?
- Are you okay with not seeing family or friends in person for an extended period of time?
- Are you willing to sacrifice having a “home” so you’ll have enough money to support your travels?
- Are you okay with potentially missing holidays at home and family get-togethers in order to save money as you’re starting out?
Do you inspire each other?
- Do you believe in each other? Do you believe in yourselves as individuals?
- Do you both have the drive to succeed and the desire to see the other succeed? Will you continue to support and encourage one another, even when times get tough?
Do you have patience?
- Can you live together? Can you stand each other’s company nearly 24 hours a day?
- Can you work together? Can you both commit to creating and sticking to a schedule and daily practices that create a work environment that allows you both to succeed?
- Can you be respectful of each other’s space and creative processes? Can you commit to not doing anything your partner views as distracting while your partner is working?
Can you commit to supporting each other through thick and thin?
- Are you both ready to embrace, adapt to, and support each other through the huge changes that come with transitioning to a nomadic life? The foreseeable and unpredictable?
- Can you keep each other motivated? Will you always take the time to listen to the other’s struggles and help them find a solution?
- Can you commit to maintaining a healthy work/life relationship? (Not overworking, turning off notifications on your phone, taking breaks, having a scheduled work day, and enjoying a real work-free weekend or other days off)
Listen to Your Gut
Notice I didn’t say ‘heart.’ If the only thing that makes you want to do this is the fact that your partner wants to do it, then this life probably isn’t for you. You both have to want it. Individually. And if you both do, then embarking on the journey together will make the whole adventure even more amazing.
While you can ask yourselves a million questions to try to determine whether or not you have what it takes to be a digital nomad couple, your decision should also rely on simple instinct. A healthy amount of fear is normal, so look past it for a moment to ask:
What are your guts telling you?
So Who’s In?
I hope this post has been a helpful read for those of you considering a digital nomad life with your significant other.
If you’ve decided to go for it, tell us! We’d love to hear about your plans. Please feel welcome to share your story with us personally or with us and all readers in the comments below.
About the Author
- In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.