Irrelevant shreds of thought

The promise of salvation of the Digital Nomads


Digital nomads. Travel while earning money, just with the laptop. Unbound, wherever you want. No obligations, no material baggage. Free!
This is what sounds to me increasingly on all possible channels, on travel blogs, social media or Spiegel Online. Ten steps to happiness: so you become a nomad, so you will be happy!
Why does that annoy me, I'm doing here.

Digital nomads. Travel while earning money, just with the laptop. Unbound, wherever you want. No obligations, no material baggage. Free!

This is what sounds to me increasingly on all possible channels, on travel blogs, social media or Spiegel Online. Ten steps to happiness: so you become a nomad, so you will be happy!

Why does that annoy me, I'm doing here.

1. Great: travel

It's hard to miss that I think traveling is great. Nonetheless, I would like to say it clearly at the beginning: Travel has become my biggest hobby and sometimes my job, and I love it. But that's not all.

2. Too bad: to be gone

Because sometimes it is a pity to be away. Especially on long trips missed important events: happy - and sad. One misses to cook together with his friends for no particular reason and to drink a few bottles of red wine. You miss the birth of your best friend's first child. You miss a party of the century (or so).

3. Always: compromise

Most things in life have to be a compromise. There is always one either / or. Either I am here, or I am there. Either I'm on vacation or I make money. It does not work, and anyone who can not stand it has a real problem - I can not dance at two weddings at the same time. So I have to set priorities.

The digital nomadism promises the solution of one of these compromises: at the same time traveling AND earning money. This is wonderful, of course, and works with some skill too. I have nothing against that.

Which dilemma does not solve it? The loss of what could be summarized under the beautiful word home.

4th Missing: home

But does a nomad need a homeland? Is not that even a contradiction?

This raises two questions. First, what is a nomad? And second, what is home?

Nomads in the traditional sense do not just talk to their sheep. Usually they move around with their families, so they always have the most important people with them. They do not move around because they have so much fun traveling. But because it is necessary for them to survive.

To call oneself a nomadic traveler is against this background a similarly distorted romanticization of the term, as it happens in our environment with the word gypsy. Almost none of the new "nomads" actually roam the world, living what the term implies. Mostly one has his well-regulated residence in Germany and goes above average often abroad. And then you come back.

It may be petty, but I find that "nomad" is a word that exaggerates the actual.
I do not like it.

And then the home. Everyone defines them differently. For some it is important to be welcomed by the baker by name. For others, above all, it means being able to cultivate long-term social bonds. The latter applies to me.

Homeland means to bind. Whether to a place or to other people, that is individually different. A consistently traveling Digital Nomad can only maintain such bindings home via a fiber optic cable. This is possible, limited, but you can not hug, you can not drink a beer together. It is definitely not comparable to direct contact .

But you do not meet so many people, almost everywhere? Naturally. But as a rule these are often refreshing, and certainly also personal encounters - but mostly of limited duration.

5. Strange: religion

But these things are rarely mentioned. I have the more impression that Digital Nomadism is being elevated to a quasi-religious status - with the strange flowers that bring about the exaggeration of a very earthly thing.

6. Ugly: Mission

Much of what I write is good and important. The point that makes me uncomfortable is a certain missionary zeal that often resonates. As if there were no acceptable alternative to leading a minimalist, "nomadic" lifestyle. As if only this was the way to paradise (and his virgins).

Of course, this is not formulated. But I feel it out, from the ten-point plans, from the counselors and especially when new believers without special experience in this field enthusiastically spread the promise of salvation: Yes, I'm new Digital nomad and I'm really really doll happy ! Will you too?

7. Beautiful: Differentiation

But it will not be like that: Because everything great (and that is the travel in many points) has its downside. To convey a round picture of the way of life that is currently called Digital Nomad - that's what I would wish for. More content depth than just the best tips to save money. More critical self-reflection, that I find really exciting.

Is digital nomadism really an alternative to a more conventional lifestyle? Or is it just a variant of the traveler who comes home after a year or two in the world and starts a family? Who wants and can fill what is being promulgated?

That would be interesting. (And not the 312nd bucket list and the 25 newest ways to make money on the go, text search engine optimized).

Addition from 11.October - new contributions to the topic:
Oli vom Weltreiseforum: Comment: What the digital nomads do not tell you
On Travel Memories: Blogging is not everything
Florian vom Flocblog: Why life as a digital nomad is not for you
Conni from Planet Nomad: Hey critics, I love you
Tim of Earthcity: Digital Nomads - The Road to Ultimate Luck?

A new, very worth reading post comes from Tim of Earthcity: Do you even need location independence?

  1. Thank you for the slightly different view of digital nomadism. You have addressed important points that are worth pondering. Leaving friend, friends and family is not to be underestimated, even if good friendships survive the distance without any problems. Even people who just moved often notice how friendships change when you do not live in the same place anymore.

  2. Digital nomads are NOT free! I know, it is repeated prayer mills, over and over again. I earn my money on the web myself and once dreamed of using the laptop to go around the world. Not anymore.

    1. You are primarily looking for the web. No matter where you go, the first concern is where can I find access to the web. If I do not find any, I have a problem. Depending on the area, this can become a vital stress problem.

    2. You sell your soul. In order to survive today with a pure travel website, you will inevitably end up with marketing forms that demand a lot of imagination to be able to see in the mirror in the evening. Then you write very quickly not what you want to write about, but what your customers want to have written about and from there it is not far to the surreptitious advertising and the sale of links. End with freedom!

    3. You can not switch off - never! Are you on vacation you can do what you want. You work, that's just not possible. Do you work on the road and on the web, do you always work. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year. There is no time out, because you can not afford it and eventually you can not switch off, even if the money would be enough.

    It may be that there are a few people who like such a lifestyle, and who writes his website in English and has marketed internationally has certainly more air than a purely German blog, but for most people, such a lifestyle is simply not suitable. Personally, I enjoy the luxury of having a stable home with a large desk instead of constantly balancing the laptop on my knees. Traveling to take photos for my pages is stressful enough.


    • Hi Gerhard,
      Everyone has different pain thresholds ... Thank you for the description of yours!

    • Thank you, thought that I read nowhere more. I do not see professional travel logging as an exemption. Just a mobile hamster wheel. And somehow contradictory, these advertising-financed drop-out stories.

  3. Thank you! How many times have I had the same feeling on some blogs ... as if I would like to be persuaded to leave everything here and stand. Yes, sometimes I feel like it, and for a while I might as well enjoy that. But what happens then? After half a year in Hamburg, I missed my friends and family so much that three months later I moved back to Nuremberg. And if that is the case after traveling for a hectic year, which I could easily afford, for example in Southeast Asia? Then I come back and must revive the friendships, re-live myself and most importantly: I would earn at a new hiring in the same area about 800 euros per month (!!) Less. Sorry, I prefer to stay and invest the 800 euros in travel!

    • Hi Naninka, the idea of ​​the Digital Nomad is basically not to come back after a year. And that's certainly not the right thing for everyone, just as it's not a year round world trip ... :-)

  4. Thanks - great article! In addition, you should be on the road and never forget to really travel, sometimes leave the camera equipment in the guesthouse and just enjoy doing well, a few days without Wi-Fi to spend, that's somehow even when traveling ... Thank you for the honest Report! Best regards, Martin

    • Hey Martin, I find it really hard to turn off the internet when it's there. The better it is, if there is not one ... :-) But I always have the camera with me ...

  5. Thank you for the critical discussion of the topic. In many blogs, one does not read about anything else (about "The best tips on how to earn money while traveling") ... I always ask myself how many readers think that is true? How many are thinking of dropping everything, leaving family and friends on the side and jetting away for an unlimited time (or forever)? And how many do it? I also find it somewhat suspicious to call myself a digital nomad and to praise the lifestyle in your own blog, but never to highlight the downsides. In that sense, thanks.

    • Hi Katja, gladly! I do not want to judge the lifestyle (which I also live in parts). Only the missionary proclamation gets on my nerves.

  6. I want to sign this.
    That's right!

  7. Thank you for this post, which considers the really much romanticized "Nomadentum" with a little distance. I also often get on my nerves that there is never any question that such a lifestyle also has dark sides or a price.

    The "missionary" on the other hand does not bother me at all. I'm more pleased that the (often very young) bloggers, who are just starting out on big journeys and are still completely enthusiastic-minded, want to share their happiness with others and enable others to follow suit, instead jealously sharing their tips beware.

    You're certainly right, most of those who now rave about "nomadism" will eventually realize that sometimes you just have to step out of the way for great encounters and "travel" experiences. Maybe you had to travel wild for a while, that's how it was with me. If, as a travel freak 15 years ago, I had the opportunities that exist today in the digital age, I would probably have jumped over with enthusiasm and would have been quite unbearable for sheer enthusiasm :-)

  8. Oh man, you speak to me from the soul. I can not stand the word digital normade anymore. Of course I love traveling, but I also need some anchor. For me it is not necessarily tied to places, but rather to people. But I can not condone my whole family pulling with me through the world. Even if I like to travel alone sometimes: in the long run that would be nothing for me. And I also believe that I could no longer appreciate traveling when it became my "everyday life" ...
    Best regards, Jana

  9. Once again very well written. As always in life, there is hardly any solution to the way of living, traveling, working, etc. Everyone has to find their own way to make them happy. Whether digital nomad or not, everyone has to decide for themselves.

    To say: If you're on the road and working, you're happy, I think it's overkill. Maybe it's the opposite - to be on the road, to spend a few hours a day on the laptop, I imagine terribly unpleasantly.

    I am currently in the phase where I will leave in three months for a trip with "open end". I too one of those who will work on the way. I, too, one of those who use the "freedom" to report from all over the world and earn money.
    But that brings with it some disadvantages. Not only that you leave your home indefinitely, but it is the friends, the moments together with beer in hand on the grill or swimming in the river or just that you have to "work" on the road.

    In my case, I want to get to know myself a little better in a new, unfamiliar and challenging environment. Maybe some values ​​will be redefined and especially just take a lot of time for a place. Far from "48 hours in ..." much closer to "48 days in ..." there will inevitably be the way you get to know people and places closer - even if you work a few hours a day, you go someday eat (Das At least I hope so ;) ). The "digital nomadism" helps me, that this journey can take longer than usual - because money is also on the account during the trip. When I think about how much money my parents had to save to finance their backpacker trip to Asia, we are in a certain luxury situation today.

    There are many more pragmatic reasons than romantic reasons to want to live this kind of traveling. And I would think that is so many who have decided to do so.

    Maybe I will see it differently in a few months - I will think of the comment here and correct it, if necessary;)

    • Hi Jeremy! The pragmatic thing you describe is an important point. I also hope that you get something to eat in between ;-)
      I do not really want to understand the article as an argument against this lifestyle, but only against the somewhat extreme proclamation. Not only on blogs, but also on Spiegel Online, etc.
      I wish you a fantastic tour in any case !!

  10. I've moved 13 times in 7 years and I have to say that it was fun, but I always had an inner emptiness in me. In every new place, my subconscious has said that it is not for long anyway. So the shelf does not need to be wall-hung, I do not have to spend any feelings on the date, and I prefer not to buy the blender, which I really think is really great. Now I live 2 years in Munich and feel for the first time in my life something like home. I still travel, but I have a base camp and that's how I feel.

  11. 100% agree, Thank you very much for this article!

    I also think it's great when everyone finds their personal happiness. Be it with the best partner in the world at home, with a great job abroad or just with the so-called digital nomadism. But what I think is not - and I'm full of you and the other comments - is the eternal preaching of this lifestyle, so you should feel almost bad, if you are not such a Digital Nomad. This is taking over on some blogs!
    Incidentally, I can not hear this term any more. That's why I was almost afraid to read your article, which also begins with this title. ;-)

    But, I begrudge the friends of the "digital nomads" (I'm even maybe one-third of them) very, so please no envy debate à la "you just write that because you do not even such a lifestyle".

    PS: In your article there are twice "4." :-)

  12. Nice thoughts on the topic. There is always a delicate balance between "what does traffic and money do" and "do I still do why I started traveling and blogging?"

    In the end, our blogs are as different as we are and our lifestyles, loud or quiet, advisory or narrative. Against uncertainty are 10-point plans sometimes my checklist and for the heart I am often moved by great stories, encounters and finds (I mentioned that I have just collected?)).

    Thank you for your article and the food for thought, do not always ask for the wlan when traveling :)

  13. Nice article.
    As a part of the nomadic faction, who are not real "nomads", I'm a bit bored with the topic myself, and missionary zeal is not my thing either.
    In the same way, people who are predictably energetically agreeing with me and saying that it had to be said long ago!

    Everyone should do his thing. Digital nomadism does not have to mean prostituting your travel blog, as stated here in the comments. This is just as well done by some press travelers - but not by others.
    The fact is, the topic is of interest to many people. I recently asked my readers what they want to read more about and what they are less interested in. Quite a lot of people can do without nomadic topics. But many have many specific questions. And that's why this information in the blogs are not SEO texts. SEO is completely overrated here, there is nothing! They are actual readers who want to know that. Something draws people to where travel and work is spoken.

    But I agree that this is overrated. I doubt anyone will be happy just because he / she becomes a digital nomad.

  14. What is always striking: Felt 90 percent of the "digital nomads" are young, single, childless. Another 10% are young, childless couples. Children do not usually come with digital nomads. If digital nomadism were indeed the only true way of life and more than a brief episode in our lives, then our species would seem to be wiping out.

    This earth has an incredible number of incredibly beautiful corners (and so many brutally ugly corners). To see much of it enriches one's life immensely and expands one's own horizon. I will always be a friend of travel and especially advise young people to travel.

    I also think that a certain amount of minimalism is right. How to work crazy, and then accumulate status symbols with the earned money, certainly does not lead to a rich, contented life.

    I never wanted children - partly because I could not imagine traveling around Africa with small children. When others talked about their children at parties, I forced myself to nod my head in a friendly smile three times and then turned away annoyed and bored. At some point, parties became hell, because in the environment almost all children had and only talked about children. Today I still travel with a child - soon additionally limited by the German school calendar. But surprisingly, a lot goes on also with a child. And it is fun. I experience a lot from an additional perspective. Of course, it would be simple-minded to confine the happiness of the earth exclusively to own children. Children can be incredibly exhausting. But they also give a kind of happiness and contentment that traveling alone can never give you. As long as you have no children, you can not judge that.

    Finding the right balance, from traveling, from consumption and possessions, to a certain amount of moron and a few more points, seems to me the actual formula to be lucky. If you even think about such topics and do not blindly follow the straight current trend gurus that explain the digital nomadism or something else to the ultimate way of life, then you are already on a very good way.

  15. An altogether nice article, which I would like to contradict in various points.

    As it is called in the end, is secondary. That the term "nomad" is a bit inappropriate, so I have to agree in fact.

    The "location-independent work" should be brought into focus. I also have my permanent residence, a partner (who rarely travels) and am "only" 3-5 months a year on the road. Calling yourself a nomad is less appropriate. But somebody came up with that name someday.

    The brilliance of this lifestyle (if you can even call it that) is in my opinion to be able to carry out his work from anywhere. This also includes all the people who daily sit in St. Oberholz in Berlin and do their job at Latte Macchiatto, as well as those who work at home while they take care of their children.

    You just have so many options for self-determination. Traveling is just one aspect of it. Someone whose biggest hobby is traveling (and I count myself as well) just has to take advantage of this opportunity.

    As Patrick wrote before me, the subject draws! And so, in a way, you have to 'sell' it to the readers, but without asserting things that are not right. But who wants to sell his car, is not the first on the damage to the body.

    The criticism of too little self-criticism and reflection on the subject is justified. I accept them and promise as one of the 'digital nomad blogger' once again to shed light on the negative aspects.

    • I can identify 100% with Tim's statements!
      How something is named or in which form one uses the location-independent work for itself is individual!
      Why does such a thing need to be rated superfluously?
      But in any case, I also think that sometimes you can / should write about the "unpleasant" topics. I'll definitely take me to heart.

    • Hi you two, in one point I would like to contradict quietly: I think it is not irrelevant how to name something. There are words that make sense. Especially for someone who works with words, it should not be enough to say: That's just the way it is. If it makes no sense, you have to come up with something new :)

  16. To a large extent, I can understand your points quite well. And: reporting on the fine print and the flip side of travel has not hurt any blog yet. On the contrary. With me something like that often even found more readers.
    However, I would not pay much attention to the term "digital nomad". For in my opinion he lacks any logic. Surely this phrase will not survive anyway. Currently, however, it helps Phrasendrescher of passionate travelers to distinguish what has a good.
    I'm just not sure how sensible it is to turn the wheel of exalted words even further and write in this context of salvationists and religion and criticize that. The broad mass of travel blogs and coverage only sometimes provides passionate sometimes dry insights into the everyday life of a long-term trip. No more and no less. Those who get lost usually have a weakness for traveling and feel entertained or even informed. But none of the blogs I've ever read made me feel like traveling. People with a well-developed mindset are not impressed. It probably has not traveled because it has talked him nice blog. And no-one has ever felt lessened with his hard-won semi-detached house, his car in the garage, and his annual 14-package vacation with travel praise reports, because a few media glorify travel for the ultimate in all-time. Traveling remains traveling. No more and no less.
    And those who are currently going crazy for the ultimate travel tips will notice that they will not be able to get a piece of the pie in the medium term.

    • Hi Siola!

      This one ... "And no one has ever felt the same with his hard-won semi-detached house, his car in the garage, and his annual 14-package vacation with travel praise reports, because a few media glorify travel for the ultimate in all-time." ... I see it differently.

      I have the distinct feeling that pressure is building up across the media, where the classic worker can get a pretty bad feeling. Which is unfair.

  17. In 2 points the opinions can be VERY far apart, I think:

    1. "Nomad" and "Home" can each define and use as it is funny.


    Because we are FREE. Unfortunately, it is just "typically German" to be upset when certain terms are used differently than you would like.

    2. There are actually people who do NOT need a permanent home. Yes, there are even people who NEVER need friends or family on the spot.

    If people of this kind are happy enough with themselves, then they can also praise it as "DEN Lifestyle" or not?

    I think for my part much more important that through the whole "Digital Nomads" here in Germany more and more in the public slips, THAT one can earn his money on the Internet.

    Instead of dumb discussions on basic income should rather consider special start-up grants for Internet founders.


    Because the Internet is the future of our entire generation. Anyone who prepares for a specified profession for a further 5-7 years by studying will experience a MORDSSCHRECK in just a few years.

    In the next 10 years, progress will be as fast as in the past 100 (!) Years.

    NO studies, NO training and KAUM employee parents can prepare for this. Because they all know nothing but "looking for a secure job".

    You will find more about this on my blog from time to time - soon also in video form.

    If you know English, you should search for "Ray Kurzweil - Singularity" on Youtube URGENTLY.

    Bye for now,

    Kind regards


    • Start-up grants for Internet founders instead of basic income? Safe job? Studying senseless? Sorry, but you are not visionary, but miles away from the realities in this world. If I read the text on your linked website: I could not look in the mirror anymore, if I would say something like that. I am doubly glad that I do not live the "Mobile Internet Lifestyle" and blogging for my grandmother and children with fast-track systems.

    • Phew, Tim, I'm having trouble believing that.

    • Reinsch

      So we need more people to make money by writing a blog telling how to make their money by writing this blog ... um ...

  18. Thank you. You speak from my heart. A normal traveler ;-)

  19. Thanks for this verbal "outbreak" :-)
    I would like to add to the many interesting thoughts: In my opinion (and experience) you can not really travel and work at the same time. I mean, yes, of course, that works: As a freelance editor, I do not care where I put my laptop. Und da ich meine Familie auf Reisen immer dabei habe, fallen Heimweh und soziale Isolierung auch weg.
    Aber wenn ich daran denke, wie oft ich schon verzweifelt auf der Suche nach Wifi war, weil ich dringend Deadlines einhalten musste, oder wie viele Ausflüge mit meiner Familie ich verpasst habe, weil ich in der Zeit eben arbeiten musste (und da war es kaum ein Trost, dass ich beim Tippen nicht am Schreibtisch, sondern auf meiner Isomatte im feuchtkalten Zelt saß), dann kann ich mir so ein Leben nicht wirklich dauerhaft und praktikabel vorstellen. Das ist für mich einfach kein „Reisen“.
    Vielleicht ist das auch ein Grund, warum die meisten (nicht alle, Guido! Ich kenne einige amerikanische/englische Familienreiseblogs) „digitalen Nomaden“ kinderlos und jung sind: Sie preisen eine Phase ihres Lebens als DEN Lebensentwurf, weil sie einfach noch nicht realisiert haben, dass das >