What Dangers and Risks Do Digital Nomads Normally Face

Digital nomads have been taking social media and the blogosphere by storm as of late, leaving others jealous of their wandering exploits. From adventures in exotic locations to photos of them working with a laptop at a beach bar – what’s not to love? But the reality is that these photos only show the best parts of what this lifestyle has to offer.

Looking to join the nomadic lifestyle? Don’t get deceived by captivating pictures of glamorous locations and jump in headfirst. First, read through these common risks (and sometimes threats) that most digital nomads have to face during their travels.

What Defines a Digital Nomad?

So you want to shun the tethers of traditional employment and life roles for a more independent lifestyle? Turns out, you can’t just decide to stick it to their boss one day and hit the road. Beth Altringer’s (Harvard) study on this topic proved that the nomads who thrive started their journey with a stash of savings already in place.

The study also showed that those who made the switch to digital nomadism already had marketable skills that made the transition easier.

Breaking the Confines of Everyday Life Comes With Some Risk

…And no, it’s not just about the consequences that come along with leaving a stable 9-to-5 job for a more open-ended career. That is a big part of it, of course; it does require bravery and planning to achieve success in this non-traditional approach to the work/life balance.

However, uncertainty is only part of it. Nomads frequently face a number of threats that stem from their unique circumstances.

The main risks digital nomads face

Traveling Can Be a Nightmare

Those who travel frequently can attest to the various trials and tribulations that make for constant traveling companions. From finding deals, a place to stay, and planning the trip, to getting there and dealing with foreign customs, languages, and laws. Even someone who plans out every aspect of their trip can still fall victim to unforeseen circumstances like lost luggage.

Being Dependent on Technology Has its Downsides Too

The modern nomadic lifestyle is only possible thanks to the many new opportunities that technology has opened up. But this means that nomads are extremely dependent on technology to get their work done. It also means that they are much more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats than the normal office employee. Whether it’s public WiFi at the airport or a local coffee shop, stolen devices, breached accounts, or infected files from a client.

This is why it’s also important that digital nomads take extra care with the security tools and precautions they have in place. They have to keep their software up to date, activate two-factor authentication, use a VPN, and don’t reuse passwords – for a start. If that sounds like a lot, keep in mind that this only scratches the surface of cybersecurity considerations for most nomads.

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Perceptions Can Be Hard to Overcome

While those who work in freelancing take their careers seriously, sometimes negative perceptions from and they can stick. Especially when people see digital nomads post dozens of pictures of their latest travels on social media. Clients see those posts too, and it leaves them with the (usually unfounded) notion that this person isn’t working as hard as they could or should.

Exotic Destinations Aren’t Always Safe

digital nomad risks

The nomadic lifestyle usually involves near-constant traveling, often to far-off destinations that aren’t always as safe as the streets back home. Many nomads choose countries with weaker currencies, where they can live well for less. Some just choose less touristy places with cultures that look interesting to them. Either way, this can mean having to deal with crime and infrastructure problems that are often a package deal in poorer countries.

Also remember that depending on where you are, your health insurance may or may not cover you for quick access to the treatment or medical assistance you need. Some health problems give you fair warning, but many won’t, and it’s important to be prepared when necessary. Always having an emergency budget so you can fly home to have a coloplast catheter fitted, or to check on a lump emanating from sun damage can all be essential. Of course, preparatory medical care matters too, some countries will require vaccines before you head out. Always be wise, and remember, your health is the greatest asset you have.

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Becoming a Nomad: Everything Worth Doing Involves Risk

Does all of this mean that anyone who’s looking into switching to the digital nomad lifestyle shouldn’t follow their dreams? Not at all. This article isn’t meant to scare anyone into sticking to their traditional job. Rather, it’s an all too necessary look at the reality of what this decision can sometimes look like.

That doesn’t mean that Instagram-perfect life doesn’t exist and isn’t worth pursuing. Those who make a success of it are the ones who plan ahead and take their safety – both physical and digital – seriously.

Do you have a burning travel question? Join our Nomad is Beautiful travel community on Facebook and ask experienced travelers!

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