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Diving into the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Trusting myself on a new journey.

By Leona Françoise CaanenPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
Photo by Peggy Anke on Unsplash.

As a digital nomad, I’ve been lucky to enjoy the freelance lifestyle for a little over two years. But, due to the pandemic, I haven’t been able to enjoy the “free” part of freelance as much as I would’ve liked. I adore travelling and exploring new places. I had not intended on living on the same tiny island of St. Barth for the past two years. Living here has brought me many positives that bouncing around from place to place didn't offer me, like spending quality time with my family and really getting to tune in and focus on myself, learning what is good for me. Additionally, it has also allowed me to fine-tune my workflow and figure out what it is that I truly want to do and create.

Now, as the world is starting to open up again, I feel like the time is right to really start enjoying my professional and personal freedom. I don’t only feel this because borders are opening up again and travelling feels (somewhat) easier, but also because I feel more secure in who I am — feeling confident that no matter where I go, I can trust myself.

It seems the stars have aligned for me to go out there again, and I want to take you with me on my decision process and logistics, in which hopefully you’ll be able to find something that can help you embark on your own free lifestyle, no matter what shape that takes for your unique situation.

Heading abroad

Nomad life is calling! Moving around to a new location, a new place, this is precisely why I wanted to become a digital nomad. I want to travel the world, to be able to work no matter where I am. To divide my time so that I can do the things I love, spend time with the people I love, and also have time for my professional and creative projects.

Although I have chosen this lifestyle and am embarking on my next adventure in less than two weeks, there are still parts that feel scary. Like saying: “I’m moving to location XYZ”; even when it’s to the people that love and support me most. Even though this is the lifestyle I created for myself. Yet I think it feels scary because by saying it aloud, you make it a reality for yourself. It’s no longer a cool idea in your head. Being a digital nomad living any and everywhere is no longer only something you were practising from your mom’s living room. Now it’s an actual possibility, a reality, to work, live, and exist in a new place; a new country. Of course, you are always allowed to change your mind, to decide to do something different, but whether you do or don’t, the thought of actually jumping into the deep end feels both exciting and scary.

I have decided to jump. For me, it felt scary because, in a way, I’ve been enjoying my digital nomad lifestyle from the comforts of my family home. Yet now the time has come for me to be a digital nomad from a new location, a new place that I will make my own.

This journey starts in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in two weeks time. Funnily enough, the Netherlands is my country of origin, although it's also a place that hasn't felt like home since I left 13 years ago. It feels like any other international European city: filled with life, cool human beings, and plenty of opportunities.

In a way, returning to a place where I have the comfort of speaking both Dutch or English, moving there feels scary. Although I have family in a different part of the country and know how things work there, this doesn't feel like a security blanket. Somehow it makes it even scarier. What if this place takes on a totally different meaning from what I used to think or how I had envisioned it. I've never actually lived in Amsterdam and have only been there a handful of times. What will this adventure hold for me?

Yet the decision, albeit scary and nerve-wracking, also feels really cool. Why? because to me it feels like the decision that kickstarts the rest of my freelance and life journey. The first time you jump it feels scary as if you won’t be able to manage. But after you’ve done it once and land on your feet (smoothly or not), things feel a little easier. Next time it won’t be as intimidating because you'll already have a general idea of what to expect, what can go wrong, and of all the wonderful things that will go right; no matter where you are headed.


But being a digital nomad also comes with challenges and quite a few hard-to-plan logistics.

You have to decide when to move, buying a plane ticket that aligns with your move-in day. Find an actual apartment to move into that’s in a safe and good neighbourhood. And somehow one of the biggest challenges, telling your family or friends or even strangers that you’re moving to a new place just because. You'd be surprised at the strange looks and questions you get...

Some of the logistics may seem simple, but often require a bit more attention to detail. When buying a plane ticket you have to remember that you'll also be moving into your new home that day. You’ll have to think about what time you’ll arrive, how to get to your new address (public transport or taxi?), will stores still be open so you can actually feed yourself on that first day? Will your apartment be furnished? What do you need to bring, what can you buy later on? What do the sockets look like? Do you need a converter? Lots and lots to think about.

Maybe you buy your plane ticket first or maybe, like me, you’ll get your apartment organised as a main priority. Apartment hunting can be challenging. Now add having to rely on a website, google for neighbourhood research, and endless hours of scrolling to actually find something that seems decent or up to your personal standards, and it can easily feel like climbing Mt. Everest… Some tools to use (besides Google) are expat groups on Facebook (or elsewhere on the internet), they’re fantastic! A different place you can get lots of slow-travel or nomad lifestyle tips, whether for apartment hunting or for other simple things is the book: The Art of Slow Travel by Bhavana Gesota. I stumbled upon this book and it really helped me in my own nomad travel preparations.

Once you have an apartment and a plane ticket, the fun can begin. You can look forward with excitement on your journey. You’ve organised this 100% for yourself. You’re choosing to move somewhere because it suits you. There might be people who won’t understand why you’re moving somewhere if it isn’t for work or pleasure, but the people you meet along the way that do understand will bring you a lot of joy, laughter and good conversation along the way.

The digital nomad life, for me, and this decision to move to Amsterdam has been very exciting and scary, and I hope to share much more of my adventure on here and the challenges and beauties that it'll bring, so that you, my fellow writer, traveller, and possibly fellow digital nomad, will be able to feel a little less anxious and a little more excited about your own digital nomad journey!

solo travel

About the Creator

Leona Françoise Caanen

2x published author. World-traveller. 25-year-old, living in Amsterdam. I love to write about the things that really matter, but I also, occasionally, enjoy challenging myself with something that is more out of my comfort zone.

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