Have you been wondering about taking your online practice on the road and becoming a digital nomad? The LIT Community’s co-founder, Sonia Jaeger, has been a digital nomad for 9+ years, and here are some of the best digital nomad tips she has for mental health professionals who want to travel while doing the work they love!
So whether you’re just curious or planning to set off soon on your travels, here are our digital nomad tips to help you along the way.
And if you want to hear more Sonia’s experiences as a digital nomad therapist, check out our interview with her here!
Tip #1: Settle into each new location
Arriving in a new place can bring a whole host of emotions – from excitement to overwhelm or even a bit of fear. Sonia has found that the best way to settle into her new location is to take the time to set up the basics.
First of all – never plan any work on a travel day! You’ll only end up feeling stressed, distracted, unable to focus, and disappointed by how little you’ve got done.
Once you’ve arrived, spend a day or two getting your bearings – find your local shops, market, cafe, and coworking space. Stock up on some essential food items and walk around your new neighbourhood. With these simple steps, you’ll soon feel at home wherever you are.
Sonia also recommends setting up your workspace as soon as possible. Figure out where you’ll work, set up your laptop, and make any adjustments (such as your background). Think about angles and lighting so your clients can see you. This way, you’ll be much more prepared for your first client call in your new location.
Tip #2: Slow it down
Everyone’s travel style will differ slightly – some love fast travel, while others prefer to stay in one location for several months or longer. You’ll need to work out what’s best for you – but be careful not to overdo it, especially as you find your feet.
Remember that you’re not on vacation – you’ll still need to keep up with your clients (not to mention admin, marketing, bookkeeping, etc). It also helps to lower your expectations of how much you’ll do and see in every place you visit and to actively plan time to rest, watch Netflix, or read a good book.
There are a lot of advantages to spending more time in each location compared to fast travel. Staying for a month or longer can often lead to better deals for accommodation, and you’ll be able to see more of each destination.
Tip #3: Plan your travels around friends, family, events, and interests
You might already have a long list of places you want to visit – and it’s exciting to plan your travels around these bucket list destinations. But Sonia recommends also thinking about where you can connect with friends or family around the globe – especially when you’ve been travelling for a while and want to catch up with your loved ones.
You might like to meet up with other nomad friends and spend a month together. That’s also great for counteracting the loneliness some experience when travelling solo!
Or you could plan your travels around conferences, events, and work travel. For example, Sonia recently visited New Zealand to host some corporate workshops (see our Instagram post about this here!) and explored a lot of the country while she was there.
Are there any events you’d like to attend in the coming year? Plan your travel around them to save costs! Even better, you can often expense your travel costs if you’re there for work reasons.
Tip #4: Revisit Places You Know
Another of Sonia’s travel tips is to revisit places you already know. Returning to the same places might seem boring, but it can be comforting to go back to your favourite spots. Not only can you connect and catch up with friends, but you don’t have to find your way around from scratch.
When planning her travels, Sonia likes to have a mix of new locations and familiar destinations. If she knows that she has a busy work period coming up, returning to a familiar spot often works out best. That way, she can focus on upcoming projects and doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on anything.
Keep this in mind when planning your travel, and be realistic about how much time you’ll have if you have a full client load. You might need to spend longer in one location to make the most of it!
So, don’t be afraid to revisit spots you’ve loved – it’s not just about collecting passport stamps or counting how many countries you’ve been to. As a digital nomad, you need to create a sustainable lifestyle that you can continue to enjoy in the long term.
Tip #5: Travelling on a Budget as a Digital Nomad
If you’re travelling on a budget, we also have some tips for you!
First of all, keep your budget in mind when planning your travels. If you have a modest income or you’re just getting started, consider basing yourself in a region with a lower cost of living, such as South East Asia or South America.
Another tip is to limit your long-haul flights – basing yourself on one continent for 6+ months will save a huge amount compared to crisscrossing the globe back and forth.
You could also look into the possibility of house or pet-sitting. Not only will this save you a lot of money on accommodation, it’s ideal if you love animals but don’t have your own pets. You can find some great house-sits via reliable websites like Trusted Housesitters.
However, house-sitting isn’t for everyone. Make sure you factor in the time and energy involved in caring for someone else’s house, plants, and pets. If you’re the spontaneous type who likes to hop on a last-minute flight or spend all day sightseeing, it might not be the best option for you.
Tip #6: Setting Work Boundaries
As a digital nomad, it’s easy to fall into the trap of always travelling but never taking time off. But even digital nomads need vacations to recharge their batteries. And it’s no fun if you’re in an exciting new location but are too busy working all the time to make the most of it.
So, make sure to schedule some time off and vacations – and not just on travel days! We all need downtime to recharge, spend with our loved ones, and do some sightseeing.
Having clear boundaries around work and free time is crucial. You might find it helpful to turn off work-related notifications at the weekend and/or only get work emails on your laptop. You could even remove your work apps altogether when you’re on vacation, so you’re not disturbed by notifications or tempted to check anything – we all know how easy it is to slip back into work mode!
Digital Nomad Tips: To Wrap Up
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful – maybe they’ve even inspired you to take the plunge on your own digital nomad journey!
If you’re thinking of becoming a digital nomad therapist, we’d love to hear from you – share with us in the comments below! And if you have questions about how and where you can work as a therapist, check out our blog post on navigating the rules and regulations as a location independent therapist!
Don’t forget to check out the LIT Community – our space for location independent therapists to find support, inspiration, and connections with our like-minded professionals. Find out more here and sign up for our waitlist while you’re there!