Let’s be honest it isn’t all sunshine, adventures and good food although that is what most people think location independence means.
Don’t get me wrong, the freedom has its perks that make most people envious of the nomadic lifestyle. That is just it, a lifestyle, but you can’t have the good without the bad. In my opinion, the independence is well worth the setbacks.
The biggest challenges we have all experienced hit those of us that are location independent a bit harder than those that have stuck to the traditional structure of their lifestyles.
1. Loneliness and Solitude
If you have ever moved or even visited another country where the language is not your first, you can relate.
When you travel with your friends, it eliminates the effects of the solitude.
The truth is often times you feel alone, and some even enter depressive states. Despite being able to interact with people anywhere you are, you will most likely miss someone or something from home.
‘There’s no place like home’ is a real thing, even if home is wherever you decide to make it.
Don’t believe me? Spend the next month without interacting with people in your native language.
It will feel amazing when you hear your language again, like a sense of relief. You instantly feel at ease because you have something in common, no longer isolated, cut off from your ‘homeworld’.
The loneliness from the solitude does fade and will initially act as a barrier to you going out and actually embracing your new home.
Use it as motivation to go try something new and meet new people. You can always use resources like Facebook, Google Hangouts, Facetime, Skype and other chat systems to stay in touch with those nearest and dearest to you.
2. Scheduling and Prioritization aka Productivity
I will be honest here, I am not the best at organizing my schedule and tend to procrastinate on par with the best of them. This is true even when I am on my home turf.
When you add in the element of being solely responsible for your work-life balance, the balance tends to be the hard part.
Sometimes, you find yourself in a cafe on a beautiful day tapping rapidly on a keyboard developing content and projects for clients cramming 58 hours’ worth of work into a single 8-hour cafe sitting.
The plan was to cram as much work in as possible and go on an adventure the next day. Tomorrow your schedule is clear and guess what… thunderstorms and monsoons so it’s back to work for you.
Consistency is a vital component to the balance.
Developing set working hours and scheduled activities to stick to so that you don’t fall ridiculously far behind on your workload.
You also can’t work all of the time, you are location independent for a reason, enjoy it.
This is critical because if you are anything like me, you want to skip all of the hard work and charter a private plane to your next dream location.
This isn’t the way it works, unfortunately. The funny thing is this is how most people look at your location independence.
3. Friends Come and Go
This is one of the toughest things that most people don’t address.
We all have those lifelong friends that we pick up right where we left off even though you haven’t seen each other in years. Then there are the people you used to be extremely close with that dwindled to become acquaintances, meaning you don’t really connect anymore.
The longer you are away traveling and living your life, the more some people grow in envy and the more you disconnect from your previous friends.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It happens to everyone whether they move abroad or not. It just happens to the location independent population on a much faster scale despite having all of the technology in the world, the distance still divides.
This can fuel that feeling of solitude and loneliness if you focus on it too much, especially when you make friends with other travelers that are moving on.
The interesting piece that develops is a true independence.
You do not become overly attached to others because you recognize the temporary nature of most relationships. So you continue to pursue your dreams in place of revolving around other individual’s perspectives.
4. Crisis Mode
The panic sets in when a minor catastrophe strikes. I don’t wish this scenario on anyone, but it happens.
Perhaps you are 5,000 miles away from home when you learn one of your family members is sick or a friend passed away. Do you trek home for a while and come back, stay put or just call the adventure short?
Maybe something less traumatic happens like you lose your passport or get caught in the rain and your laptop is destroyed.
Ever take the bus in the wrong direction and end up 2 hours away in a not so friendly area? That was literally my first night out when I lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and it happened on more than one occasion.
Things happen. I once returned home from a road trip in Argentina with no pesos and no food for 24 hours. I miscalculated my budget for the trip, with just enough money for the bus ticket I made it home where I had more pesos waiting.
The point here is you need to be resourceful.
People are often helpful so if you’re lost ask for directions.
Broke your computer? Make some friends and find somewhere to fix it.
In extreme cases, you can always make the journey home and your country’s embassy can help with your passport problems. If you are from the US, travel.state.gov can help with your passport issues.
5. Go, Go, Go
This ties into the scheduling and prioritization but when you are free to travel and live where ever you please, you tend to stay on the go.
This is not a bad thing and again it’s not private planes and penthouses. It can be but that all depends on your income and budget.
Monetizing and budgeting are quintessential pieces you must nurture if your intention is to stay location independent.
If you are on the go nonstop, how can you stay productive?
You meet loads of locals and travelers when you are in foreign lands and there always seems to be a new adventure to be had. You cannot sustain your location independence if you are going, going, going and getting nothing accomplished monetarily.
Which leads to the next downside of location independence.
6. Travel Burnout / Addiction
Yes, you can get burnt out of travel.
Home sweet home. You will know what travelers mean when you spend a month in a foreign city and it feels like you have been gone for a year.
It is really a change in perspective. You will be surprised by how quickly you can adapt to the independence.
Once you have your productivity systems in place and you are on the go moving locations every few months or weeks, you will find a yearning to stay in one location for a while.
It happens and other times you will have just arrived in a new city and already want to move on to the next one.
Typically, you start with traveling a lot, exploring new locations until you fall in love with a place and decide to stay put for a while. Or, you start with one location as your ‘new home’ until you decide to pack up and continue your adventures to other cities around the world.
The truth is you will go through spurts of needing to stay on the move but eventually grow tired and want to decompress your adventures in a place that is familiar, most likely your home turf.
It is important to recognize how you are feeling and when it is time to put the traveling on hold to handle the burnout.
To sum things up, People, Productivity and Pursuit.
Remember, it isn’t all good and it isn’t all bad. Location independence is whatever you make it.
These downsides are to help prepare those that have not experienced the freedoms of their location and they affect everyone differently.
At times you will feel lonely and isolated from friends and family. Many new and old friends will come and go but you can’t let those things get you down.
You have to balance your work and play and take responsibility for the results your attention creates.
Be resourceful and solve problems. This is tough for many people but is essential to the true independence.
Lastly, plan your travels and enjoy each adventure. Take time to decompress and absorb each experience so that you don’t overwhelm your traveling spirit.
About The Author
Alex Fisher is a photographer, writer and traveler and currently writes for a global air charter company. He enjoys exploring new locations and documenting his adventures in multiple mediums. His favorite destination to date is Buenos Aires, Argentina.