The idea of being a digital nomad and having a family at the same time may seem like a pretty far-fetched idea. But actually, we think it isn’t such a crazy thing! The digital nomad family life can be an amazing one that’s especially rewarding. This isn’t to say that being a digital nomad family doesn’t come without its challenges, of course, there are plenty. Especially so when compared to a single digital nomad lifestyle, as you only have to worry about yourself. But the benefits of such a liberating and interesting lifestyle can easily outweigh such challenges. After all, when you are working and traveling alone you only have yourself to rely on. When you are traveling with others, you have your partner to also rely on. And of course, having your family with you can help to combat loneliness – perhaps the biggest enemy of the digital nomad.
Best Parts Of Being A Nomad Family
Before we get into the challenges that a digital nomad family life brings, let’s look at what makes the lifestyle so rewarding.
Once In A Lifetime Experiences As A Family
Once you have removed you and your family from the “concrete shoes” of traditional life, travel has never been easier as when you are a digital nomad family. When you are traveling the world with your family you’ll be able to have truly amazing experiences as a family. And you won’t be limited to just one “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. Such adventures are much less prohibitive if you’re moving from place to place and experiencing what the new location has to offer. This means that instead of expensive holidays that require round-trip tickets and (often expensive) accommodation in hotels, you can see more and spend less. By having a short-term residency in a long-term accommodation in either a rental property or Airbnb, you can save a lot of money on where you’re staying and you can use it as a basecamp to do what the region has to offer.
Becoming Closer As A Family
There are many ways that being nomadic can bond the family together and the unique experiences and adventures previously mentioned are just one of them! Some other ways that a family can become closer is because you’ll spend more time together in general as work, school, and home can all become the same place. Another way that perhaps is less enjoyable at the moment but can build strong bonds, are the obstacles that you navigate together. Few things can bring people closer together than adversity. The midst of difficult situations like a broken down car in a strange country, or a missed flight can be difficult. However, there is a lot of room for growth and becoming closer after you get through such situations.
Freedom & Flexibility
The day-to-day life no longer has to be mundane. You can dress how you want to (depending on the culture). You can work where you want to. And you can ditch the cubicle in favor of a poolside table! Additionally, to not being bound by any formal work and school environments, you can also choose where in the world you and your family want to go and how you want to live.
Flexible Working Days
Say goodbye to the 9-5 grind in either a dreaded open-office or a bleak cubicle. You can also say goodbye to business meetings in board rooms. Instead, you can choose your schedule and be your own boss.
Meeting Interesting People
While there are no doubt interesting people everywhere in the world, there is something inherently a bit extra interesting about people you meet outside your home town, region, or country. While living in various places around the world, it gives you and your family the chance to make those sort of introductions they otherwise wouldn’t have at home. This includes meeting people from various cultures, ages, nationalities, and religions. By meeting people with such diverse backgrounds you can enrich you and your family’s lives.
Better Health – For The Mind And Body
Falling into a sedentary lifestyle is something that’s far too common when you are living a traditional lifestyle. The 9-5 schedule and the life stresses that come along with it make it far too easy to “settle in” to a routine that is convenient and often not so healthy. Which is understandable. When you have a full schedule, it’s difficult to make time to think of and cook healthy meals. And going to the gym? Forget about it with today’s packed schedules.
When you are a nomad family with a more flexible schedule and lifestyle, you have more time to not only prepare healthy meals for your family but also fit some exercise into your schedule. The benefits of this flexibility that allow for better nutrition can improve your physical health, but also your mental health. Ridding yourself of the stresses that are a part of a 9-5 lifestyle can also have a positive impact on your mental health.
Make sure when travelling as a digital nomad family to have travel and medical coverage that extends anywhere you go. There are specific providers that offer coverage for digital nomads like SafetyWing.
Of course, when you are a digital nomad family, you aren’t alone – which can be a major negative aspect of being a solo digital nomad. So having family support is great for multiple reasons. It means that one, you have your partner available to help with not only the earning but also to help make decisions and to come up with solutions to problems too. Second, you will have people around you that you care about, and vice-versa and not just “friends” for a few months. Third, when you are sick, there are others that can take care of you. Which can be particularly challenging when you’re by yourself. Lastly, you get to experience things with your family. Sharing special experiences with your family while you’re living a nomadic life is perhaps one of the most rewarding things of all.
Challenges Of Being A Nomad Family
Just as there are many amazing things about digital nomad family life, there are some drawbacks as well. You may find that some problems are bigger than others. Or perhaps, not even problems at all. But here are some challenges that you may face as a digital nomad family.
Being Separated From Friends And Family Back Home
Anytime that you move away from home, whether it’s for a job relocation or to adopt a nomadic lifestyle, it can be difficult being separated from friends and family back home. You and your family will likely miss important events and your kids will certainly miss their friends. It’s also nice to be able to see some familiar faces that are outside of your family.
Finding Doctors And Dentists
How easy it is to find a doctor and dentist that speaks English (if you don’t speak the language) can greatly vary depending on where you are. And unlike when you are back home, where you will likely have had the same doctor or dentist for some time, being nomadic requires you to make this sacrifice. Health check-ups and teeth cleanings will have to come from a patchwork of different practitioners. So if there are some health concerns in your family, or perhaps you or your partner is pregnant, the prevalence of quality English-speaking health services can be of utmost importance.
Financial Insecurity & Complex Budgeting
While it’s likely that the overall lifestyle while being a nomadic family will be cheaper than back home, there are some other components that can complicate things. When you are home you can set a budget and quite easily expect to stay within it. Generally, you can expect what you will pay for and how much it will cost. Groceries, gas, insurance, mortgage, etc. are all pretty constant. However, when you are moving from place to place, the budgeting can quickly get a bit more complex. Prices can fluctuate, as well as the currency itself. You may find that you are paying very little in one place, like in Thailand, but then pay substantially more, like in Hong Kong.
And if you’re working as a freelancer, your income may not be as guaranteed as it was back home. Unfortunately, this can be one of the drawbacks of the digital nomad lifestyle in general. Professional freedom may come at the cost of financial security. However, if you work in a remote salaried job then this perhaps is not such a big issue.
There is also the chance of a major problem like an accident or something similar. This can be a nightmare whether you are home or abroad. But dealing with such problems can be even more stressful while dealing with them in a foreign country, which is something important to keep in mind.
Providing an education for your kids can be a serious hurdle. Especially if both you and your partner are working. Also, how old your kids are can play a role. And while inherent aspects of a nomadic lifestyle like learning different languages and about different cultures are important, they can’t replace reading, writing, and math. The good news is, is that there’s a plentiful amount of online learning resources and opportunities available for them to get a comprehensive education outside of a physical classroom.
There are always going to be bumps in the road. Even in the movies, there isn’t such a thing as a “perfect” family. And in reality, it’s the same. There will be disagreements, even arguments. Of course, you will smooth things out, but things can get a bit uncomfortable. Traveling long distances can be particularly challenging. 36 hours of flying and transfers are much easier the older you get and can potentially be very challenging with kids in-tow.
The traveling aspect of being a digital nomad family is GREAT. It’s one of the biggest reasons to take-up the lifestyle after all. However, the planning aspect of travel can be pretty miserable and time-consuming. It’s particularly frustrating if you have many options to choose from and not everyone agrees on what to do or where to go next. So in addition to the logistics of it all, some family politics may be in order as well. Not so fun.
Yes, you read that right. It can be both more healthy and unhealthy at the same time to be a digital nomad family. But it’s just the other side of the same coin essentially. While you most likely be more active and eating better, it’s not always the case. Especially if you are in a place like Southeast Asia where you can eat out for almost the same price as cooking at home. Eating out is not always unhealthy, but it certainly is more likely to be unhealthy compared to cooking at home.
Too Many Choices
The dilemma of choice is a real thing. And if you have too many good things to choose from, you may find yourself paralyzed and seemingly unable to make the best decision. And when the world is your oyster as a digital nomad family, you will have many more options than you would at home. You may need to intentionally limit your options to not be so overwhelmed by all the choices that you may have to make.
Living Out Of A Suitcase
Perhaps the biggest challenge of a digital nomad family life is making do with limited possessions. Since you’ll have to carry everything that you want to use or wear with you, you can’t bring too much. So you’re quite limited to what you can own and bring with you. While you may still keep your home and be able to still own other possessions, it may be difficult that they are out of reach. You will only be able to wear so many different outfits and have so many personal items. But, the bright side of this is that you’ll likely realize how many things you don’t actually need.
The digital nomad family life can be a particularly challenging lifestyle. It can be quite intense and it asks for you to give up a lot. However, ditching the 9-5 and giving you and your family true freedom and amazing experiences as nomads can make the challenges more than worthwhile.