Traveling is one of the great joys in life. You can immerse yourself in new cultures, make friends around the world, see wondrous sights, and have experiences most people only dream of.
It can also be challenging. Adulting is hard enough as it is. It can feel overwhelming when you’re far from home and separated from friends and family. And sometimes the best way out is through.
Here are some ideas to help you get a handle on the basics of adulting while living the digital nomad lifestyle. It’s not a comprehensive list (life doesn’t come with those) but working on these skills will give you a foundation to thrive, no matter where you find yourself on your adventures.
Learn to Cook
Learning to cook will help you save money in the long run—plus it’s a life skill that comes with many benefits.
When you’re traveling, cooking even the most basic meals can be a wonderful avenue for making connections with people. Food is universal, and people love to try foods that are foreign to them. Preparing an old family favorite can remind you of home while providing a wonderful experience for the people you’re with. Plus, nothing beats learning recipes for new comfort foods.
Knowing the basics of cooking will stay with you for the rest of your life. You can start new traditions and pass family recipes down to the next generation. Pro tip: invest in a cast iron skillet. They’re small enough to pack and versatile enough to cook almost anything in.
Live Within Your Means
Let’s deal with the elephant in the room. It costs money to live, no matter where you are. It also costs money to travel. To build a sustainable lifestyle, financial literacy is critical. Funding your journeys by taking on an increased level of debt could burden you with high costs (interest payments) that stay with you long after you stop traveling. If not careful, that debt can constrain your goals for years—and in extreme circumstances leave you much worse off.
If you already have a lot of debt, make a plan to pay it off. The snowball method is a popular technique that can be very successful. If you’ve accumulated a lot of credit card debt, you might consider taking out a personal loan. It could make a lot of sense if it results in lowering the interest you pay. If you have more than one type of debt (e.g., student loans and credit cards) or multiple versions of the same debt with different companies, a similar practice when considering a personal loan is to consolidate those different debts into one loan. Not only will it potentially be easier for you to track and handle, but it also often can result in a lower interest rate.
Discipline and willpower are like muscles; the more you exercise them, the stronger they become. If you are disciplined with spending money, you will have a significantly easier time navigating one of the most stressful parts of being an adult, no matter where you live.
Learn Another Language
You don’t have to reach native fluency—but learning another language can open up a whole new world to you, especially if it’s the native language of the place you’re visiting. The practice can help you see the world from a different perspective, and you might even learn words for emotions that don’t exist in English.
There are also cognitive benefits to learning another language, including better concentration, improved memory, and improved critical thinking and problem-solving skills. When you boil it down, critical thinking and problem-solving really are the essence of adulting.
Studies have proven over and over that one of the greatest threats of modern life is a sedentary lifestyle. If you find a way to get moving—even just taking short walks to explore your surroundings—this will serve you well over time and can be a great way to make friends.
The mental benefits to exercise are just as important as the physical ones. If you’re struggling with your mental health, adding some form of exercise to your daily routine can make a big difference. Traveling is easier when you are healthy, inside and out.
Cultivate a Community
We will all face struggles on occasion, whether professional or personal. Hard times are much easier to get through with support, versus going it alone. Building a community isn’t just about the difficult times either; studies show that social connection is one of the most important factors in being happy.
This can be tough when you’re a digital nomad. If you’re having trouble building a sense of community, start by thinking about things you like. TV, film, and music are all great forms of entertainment that can help you connect with others who like them as well. Sports is another great unifier. You could seek out a new sport, or even check to see if your travel destination has a local fan chapter that supports your hometown favorites.
It’s hard to make friends as an adult. But by connecting to people through work and your passions, you have a good chance of meeting people with a shared interest. That’s a great starting point.
Set up Familiar, Healthy Routines
A great way to feel more comfortable in a new destination is to set up basic, healthy routines that make you happy and centered when traveling can sometimes seem like chaos.
Whether you want to make your bed each morning, if you have a specific brushing and flossing routine that you prefer, or if you have other familiar, simple routines that you can bring from home, it’s important to be comfortable, healthy, and happy in the space that you’re in.
Nobody’s perfect, and life doesn’t come with a do-over button. You’re going to make mistakes. The key is to learn from them and keep going. Resilience is one of the most underrated qualities of successful people.
Keep your head up, keep your feet moving, and remember to give grace to yourself and to others. But most of all, embrace the adventure, messy as it is.
About the Author
David Stone CFA® is an investment professional and Certified Financial Analyst with 15 years of experience. He has spent the majority of his career working with financial institutions to provide advice and support to high net worth investors.
Featured image by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash