Living the online entrepreneur/digital nomad lifestyle has a lot of benefits! You can work wherever you want, whenever you want, however you want – and the flexibility is incredible!
But don’t be fooled, being an online entrepreneur is not all sunshine and daisies – there are just as many cons as there are pros. The trick is getting into the habit of enjoying the pros while properly preparing for how the cons can dictate the way you maneuver through your day-to-day activities!
I just got home from being on the road for almost 2 months, and I never thought I’d say this, but boy does it feel good to be back in Maryland!
My husband and I plan to move to the west coast eventually, so we wanted to experience living there for an extended period of time vs. just a normal, quick vacation.
Since my husband teleworks full-time, we decided to rent an Airbnb in West Hollywood for one month and experience “L.A. living.”
How was it?
We hiked, explored new restaurants and clubs, went dancing with both old friends and made new ones, experienced the first-ever official West Hollywood pride, and even crossed paths with P. Diddy while flying the drone in the Hollywood Hills!
We got to experience new places in and around Los Angeles, the vibe and energy of the city made me feel excited and inspired, and I even began some new creative ventures that I’m really excited to share in the not too distant future!
The weather was incredible, our Airbnb was in the perfect location, and overall we had an incredible time!
So if everything was so good, what could we have possibly had to complain about?
I’m glad you asked!
I’m not one to complain about much, so these are more “things I didn’t properly plan or account for” rather than complete cons or negatives. I’m also quite aware they definitely fall into the “first world problems” bucket.
The first issue I had was definitely the amount of luggage I brought with me. As a digital creator and online entrepreneur, there’s an unfortunate amount of “minimum gear requirements” one has to consider, which when it comes to packing is pretty much unavoidable.
Since my goal was to be creating and working while traveling, I had to bring a lot of my gear such as cameras, drones, batteries, tripods, lighting, power cables, external hard drives, and everything else that goes along with the capture and creative process.
These things I could plan for, but what I didn’t take into consideration was the amount of clothes and additional living items I’d also be bringing with me.
Because I had all my electronics gear plus clothing, I ended up having to travel with 3 suitcases which was definitely a pain.
Going from airport to airport was one thing, but after leaving L.A. at the end of the month, I continued on to San Diego by train for a week, and up to northern California for another week to camp with my grandparents.
Getting my 3 suitcases from Airbnb to uber, then uber to train, then train to apartment, then apartment to hotel, then hotel to car, then car to camping was a huge struggle – something I wish I had foreseen and thought about a little bit more strategically.
The second issue I ran into was in regards to my schedule, or should I say lack thereof.
When we first got to L.A. I had every intention of using the first or second night to sit down and make a list of all the things we wanted to do, all the places we wanted to go and see, and all of the content I wanted to shoot and create.
I did pretty much none of what I had originally planned because that list never came to be.
I got so caught up in living the adventure day by day and doing things spontaneously that I missed a lot of the things I had planned to do prior to us arriving. Now don’t get me wrong, I still loved all of the stuff we did – but I wish I had pre-planned my days and weeks out a little better.
Because we were doing spontaneous things every day, I also got essentially no work done from a “finished product” perspective. I took lots of photos and videos that are now sitting in my hard drives waiting to be utilized, but I didn’t do any actual editing work while on the road.
As someone who’s lifestyle depends on the output of different creatives and digital media, not producing any serious output for over a month and a half is a bad business practice – which leads me to my third issue.
3. Work Necessities
After spending a month in L.A. my husband went home back to Maryland, while I continued on my journey, which unexpectedly led me to spending a week in San Diego.
This was honestly where I got the most work done during my one and a half month adventure because I was left alone during a few of the days while the friend I was staying with was at work.
But when he did get home from work, it was party time. This led to me being distracted, unfocused, and once again to me not getting as much work done as I’d have liked.
After spending a week in San Diego, I met up with my grandparents to go camping for 10 days. To be honest, I was looking forward to this the most. Not only do I love spending time with my grandparents, but I was going to be “disconnected” from the world (at least from a partying, friends, busy city perspective) and I was excited for that. It was exactly what I wanted because I knew it would force me to focus on work with a goal of getting a ton of projects done!
But the Universe has a sense of humor, and when I asked it to give me a few weeks of being disconnected from everything, it laughed at me and simply said “Okay.”
When I got to the campground with my grandparents, I learned that not only did I have zero reception for my phone since we were in the middle of a valley surrounded by mountains, but the campground also did not have working wi-fi or anything remotely close to something like a “business center” (trust me, I asked) where I could bring my laptop.
I was REALLY disconnected, from everything and everyone; it was a nightmare.
I have been camping with my grandparents at different campgrounds since I was a child, but every campground we’d ever been to up to this point had at least some kind of way to connect to the world and get work done. So I was shocked that I had no way to connect to the internet. I had not planned for this (and to be fair, neither did they. They were just as shocked as I was) and had no idea what to do.
So what was supposed to be 10 days of hardcore, focused work turned into 6 days of stress and anxiety. I had all of my picture and video files on my external hard drives to work with, but I had no way to download required files from my shared drives, use program clouds for my video editing or picture editing software, or remote into my desktop at home to access other required media.
Needless to say, once again I got pretty much no work done.
On the plus side, I spent a great week with my grandparents and got to do some fun adventures with them, for which I am very grateful.
Last but certainly not least, sleeping arrangements. To put it bluntly, there’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed. This is something I knew was going to happen, but didn’t realize how much I’d miss my own bed after being somewhere else for that long.
The Airbnb wasn’t so bad, as even though it was pretty uncomfortable, at least it was consistent. But during my time in San Diego I was sleeping on my friend’s couch, and then while camping with my grandparents I was sleeping in their RV couch’s pullout bed.
This is one of those things that depending on where and how you’re going to travel, it’s pretty much unavoidable. But something I think is still worth mentioning, so you can at least mentally prepare for the potential and likely occurrence that you’re going to really miss your own bed.
Things to Know Before You Go
So, with all of that being said, here’s a few lessons that this trip taught me for the next time I go on the road for an extended period of time:
- Ask yourself what you REALLY need when it comes to your luggage. Like I mentioned before, as someone who works online through digital media, there’s just some items you can’t keep away from like laptops, cameras, etc. But when it comes to clothing or things not related to your work, are they really necessary? Pack as light as you possibly can, especially if you’re going to be moving around frequently vs. staying in one location for a majority of the time.
- Give yourself a schedule (even if only loose) before you go. Know what you want to do, where you want to go, and what work you want to achieve. Flexibility in the schedule is fine (and encouraged), but definitely give yourself some “mandatory work hours” for a few days each week. Otherwise it can shock you at how quickly the time flies, and if your traffic and engagement dry up, it can also lead to a decrease in income very quickly!
- Verify that everything you’re going to need in order to do your work is going to be available to you when you need it. I went through L.A. and San Diego with the mentality that I was going to be able to get a ton of work done while I was camping. If I had verified what the campground was going to have for access prior to me getting there, I would have gone about my L.A. and San Diego work in a different manner.
- Be prepared for different types of sleeping arrangements. We ended up ordering pillows from Amazon and having them delivered to our Airbnb, and while this worked while we were in the same location for a month, this isn’t a sustainable solution if you’re going to be moving around more frequently. Since I was already maxed on my luggage capacity as well, we couldn’t travel with them once we left the Airbnb.
So the Question is... Is it Worth It?
I like to look at everything in life through the lens of positivity and optimism. I truly believe that in any given situation, it could always be worse. As I often say out loud to myself or my husband whenever one of us complains about something, “It could be worse – It could be raining.”
Overall the trip was incredible and I look forward to doing it again, with the lessons learned in my back pocket to make the next adventure easier than the last.
At the end of the day, all we can really do is go through experiences and learn from them. The trick is to then use those experiences to better understand and plan for future situations.
Walking through the proverbial fire first is necessary to gain the experience and insight needed for continued success.
But when utilized properly, it can open our minds to new and exciting possibilities we never could have imagined beforehand.
So the answer is yes, it was definitely worth it!