Challenges of building a business while travelling – (Digital Nomad)

The dream; sipping on coconuts on the beach with a laptop and cashing in cheques. Everyone who meet us thinks we have a chill, easy life doing it nomad style. If you are thinking about living the Digital Nomad life, then here’s some of the challenges that I’ve experienced.

I’ve been in Asia with my partner Larisa for almost 2 years. We travel and work at the same time. I can tell you that we are yet to work on the beach with a coconut. We could of course do so, but in reality it just isn’t practical. Let’s dive in!

What countries to work from?

Digital Nomads can work from most countries now. There’s generally WiFi everywhere. You might be limited if you need the ⚡ flash speed internet.

So if internet isn’t a problem what is?

Larisa standing in front of a airplane
Lari waiting for me to get on the plane.

Funnily enough, we don’t like moving, or flying. We like to stay in one place for as long as we possibly can. That means finding and comparing different visa options and long term accommodation.

Just researching where to stay can take up a big portion of our time, but it’s worth it! We are trying to build a business, which means we need to be able to set up quickly each time we move. It’s definitely easier if you are just travelling for fun.

Here’s a couple of things we’d have to research.

  • Visa options.
  • Flight prices from our current location.
  • Transport from the airport.
  • Currency exchange rates.
  • Long term accomondation price.
  • Potentional places to work from.
  • Close to things we want to do/see in our free time.
  • Local 4G sim cards.
  • Any upcoming festivals that we should see.

We’ve found that Malasyia gives us 90 days on arrival. It’s visa exempt, so it doesn’t cost a thing. Nice! On top of that, it’s easy to get comfortable in Malaysia. We really liked Kuala Lumpur & Penang, but we loved the food and people in Langkawi! We felt at home in Langkawi and really didn’t want to leave.

Finding places to work from

Working from a Circle K conveinent mart in Vietnam.

Finding a good place to work in South East Asia can be a little challenging. So as a small guide, we have a mental list of what we usually try to look for when finding a place to work from.

  • Good seating (padded chairs, nice table height for typing). We’ve had some real back pains.
  • Reliable WiFi. Very important!
  • Power outlets for recharging our laptops.
  • Aircon or fans, it can be very hot in Asia.
  • Food & drinks at a good price.
  • Not too noisy or busy.
  • Toliets nearby.

Our list might be a no-brainer to some, but it can be suprisingly hard to find a nice and comfortable place to work from. We do travel on budget, so there’s also that to keep in mind.

Most coworking spaces seem to have high daily rates. We cannot justify paying the day rate or commiting to a membership, when instead we can spend less than half the cost at a cafe with lunch and drinks.

We’ve found that most of our accomondation has had the fastest internet, so we’ve worked from our rooms a lot. You might be able to see how working from a beach with a coconut may not be that practical, you’d be lucky to get WiFi or even see your screen in the sunlight. Who’s going to look after your laptop while you swim? That leads me to the next point..

Finding a Work/Life balance.

A lot of blogs and videos on the internet will present the Digital Nomad life as mostly travel and good time. There’s not much focus on the work.

If you are anything like us, then the priority is to build up our business. It’s important to remember; with great business comes great responsibility! 🕷 Most of our time goes into working on the laptops. Travelling, exploring food and new cultures are the after work bonuses.

I find it really hard to seperate work and life. I have a feeling that I’m always on call and have respond to emails in the middle of the night or while having lunch. It can be really hard to take time off when you are your own boss. I do believe that we are getting better at this. But as a digital nomad, it’s often very hard to structure our routines.

We might have planned to go snorkeling in the Gili Islands during the weekend, but big support tickets or bad weather means that our entire weekend is spent working instead.

On the other hand, when do have time to play, there’s always something new to do!

We might not fits, but we sits.

While writing this post we decided to work from a poolside hut for more of Digital Nomad look. 😊 It was nice but it’s not the best seating for our backs & necks.

More Challenges

There are few more challenges, but I think don’t need a whole section. Here’s a quick list!

  • Spending a few days getting familiar with a new place.
  • Managing deadlines around travel.
  • Getting replacement computers/phones when one breaks, because tech.
  • It’s travel, things are unpredictable.
  • Dealing with power outages due to weather or Asia.
  • Dealing with the heat/humidity and the health issues that come with it.
  • Carrying our whole life & business tech in a backpack.
  • Travelling with only carry on and the laptop weighs 2kg on its own.
  • Visiting a doctor.

What’s your thoughts?

This week’s post is a little different. I want to explore different types of posts. Don’t get me wrong, we do love to travel and work. I just thought it would be fun sharing listing some of the challenges without going too far into it.

This lifestyle makes sense for us right now, but we really want pets and a place to call our own.

What did you think? 😊

Please let me know what you prefer to hear about!

Techical business/WordPress posts?
Experience posts like this one?