There’s a reason remote work that allows for the digital nomad life is so popular — you get to travel around and see the places you’ve always wanted to without asking a boss for vacation days.
The major upside? Getting to spend your life seeing the places you’ve only dreamed of before.
The downside? Solo travel can also be lonely, even for those who consider themselves free spirits, so many chose to travel with a fellow digital nomad to keep costs low, especially when starting out.
Culled from direct advice from two pairs of successful digital nomad pairs, here’s how to get along, be productive, collaborate on travel plans and more to ensure a harmonious co-digital nomad life.
Alignment is key and communication is how you get there
While it might seem obvious, making sure you and your travel partner are aligned on your goals, dreams, and ambitions for your new digital nomad life is essential. “We’re not like crazy foodies, but we love good food,” says Tristan Pollok and Danyelle Ludwig, the We Did That couple who transitioned their 2018 extended honeymoon into a digital nomad lifestyle that they continue today. Any place they traveled too, they looked for neighborhoods with amazing vegan and vegetarian food, a diet they share, as a way to not only satisfy their mutual needs but get to know the culture around them at the same time. “For us, [food] is a great way to understand a culture and think more about what traditions mean,” they say.
Eddy and Alessia, otherwise known as the Digital Nomad Couple, agree that a shared diet goes a long way, as does honest and open communication about budget and goals for their travel. “We are also traveling on a budget, so our first goal was not to live with the same standard as in France,” they say. Over the last three years of traveling, their goal has been to ultimately find the best place to start their future family. This is what guides their decisions on where to head next.
Being on the same page is impossible without both stellar communication and a deep love and acceptance for your partner, the couples say. Pollock and Ludwig meet with a communication coach once a quarter to focus on and refine how they communicate with each other, focusing on third solutions — options that meet both of their needs — over compromises where one or both make sacrifices in the name of alignment.
For Eddy and Alessia, it’s been all about genuinely loving the person you’re with. “That person will be the person you’ll spend most of your time with,” they say. Alessia adds that she accepts Eddy even when he’s distracted with work and not as present as she’d like and, in turn, he doesn’t get bothered by the worry and stress that can overtake her when planning out their next destination—and that harmony becomes the tenor of their travel.
Be flexible, but also add in some structure for good measure
When Pollock and Ludwig began their adventure, they went to Mexico City and had little idea of how long they’d stay or where they’d go next outside of making it to a friend’s birthday in Bali and a wedding in Greece later in the year. Besides those major events, “we planned maybe a month in advance depending on cheap flights, the weather, and food we were craving,” Ludwig says.
Flexibility is especially important in the COVID-19 era. When booking a flight, “in Italy, you have to call the airport to see if the flight is really going to fly [that day],” Alessia explains. If the flight doesn’t go, the money for the ticket is transferred into credit with the airline.
Handle the transition smartly and remember that you might return to a more traditional job someday
While Eddy and Alessia were both working remotely before their travel, it took some time to manage their clients and relationships to prepare them for their new way of working. Alessia was already a freelance writer who was able to easily transition into a digital nomad life, it took Eddy a bit longer to make the leap. “My team was already remote,” he says, “but I had to take the time to tell clients that I wouldn’t be meeting with them [in person] anymore.” It took time to have those conversations and expectations with clients moving forward.
For Pollok and Ludwig, they wanted to keep working while traveling in order to wander for an extended period of time without having to explain a gap in their resumes once they did return. They were careful to use their network of contacts to take on projects like starting start up accelerators in places like Saudi Arabia and Russia. Not only did they avoid a resume gap, but their work brought them to countries they might not have made it to otherwise—a win-win!
When it comes to productivity, keeping a routine makes a major difference
The major thing that separates a digital nomad from any other traveler is work—digital nomads are still working, which means the added challenge of maintaining productivity not only on the road but balancing the demands of two careers when you’re in a pair. Both couples touted the benefits of sticking to a routine the best that they can, no matter where they are.
Eddy and Alessia make it a point to wake up around 7 a.m. and not turn their phones on until around 10 a.m. as much as they can. Rather than diving into their inboxes, they spend their mornings making breakfast, spending time at the beach if they’re near water, and getting exercise to balance their days spent at the computer. Pollok also likes to start his day without hitting snooze, drinking water to kickstart his digestion, meditating, and doing a workout from YouTube with Ludwig.
The bottom line for both couples is this: it’s possible to live the life you want and do it with the one you love. With some extra thought and preparation, a life outside of the traditional nine to five is more than possible.