Being a “digital nomad” involves more than sipping cocktails while you’re working on a lounge chair at some exotic beach. Unless you’re lucky, you’ll find that it might be more demanding than you expect. Here are a few things about the digital nomad lifestyle that you might not have expected.

1.) Your mental and physical health can suffer

While expats tend to be healthier and happier than their compatriots back home, working while traveling abroad has its share of risks. Irregular eating schedules, strange and unsafe foods, and the temptation to indulge in all kinds of risky behavior can eventually take a toll on your health. Depression and anxiety are also fairly common issues, especially for digital nomads who stay for extended periods in a host country with a divergent culture.

This makes it especially important to take an international insurance policy from a specialized provider such as Now Health International.  This will allow you to have easy access to quality medical care in different countries. Unlike regular insurance, which has no coverage outside a specific country, and travel insurance, which has a focus on property loss and travel delays, an international insurance policy will give you real health coverage even as you hop across a variety of different destinations.

2.) You’re not going to be as nomadic as you might expect

Sure, you can probably dig your toes into the sand while working on your laptop – but you can probably only do that for a few hours at the most. At some point, you will want a steady electrical supply and a good internet connection. However, these two important elements of the so-called “digital nomad lifestyle” aren’t always present in the places you would want to visit.

This means that a lot of the time, you will be stuck in your lodging, a hotel, or a café. This can get old pretty fast, even if you’re working in a different one every week. And this sort of thing isn’t conducive for a lot of types of working styles either. In many cases, you will want a place that could serve as a “home base” of sorts where your mail could be forwarded, that could also serve as the address you put on official government forms, banking statements and so forth.

In any case, you will be spending a surprising amount of time stuck in the same old places. At least this time, it’s in a country you’re interested in. 

3.) You might crave the company of other people

Some simply people aren’t made to work by themselves.  It’s normal for some people to enjoy working in a group. Your workplace buddies can be an important part of what makes your job or even your entire career, livable.  Of course, it’s also normal for some people to prefer to work on projects mostly by themselves.

The ones who tend to do best in the digital nomad lifestyle are self-starters who are able to make friends quickly. While most people can learn to deal with any situation, including a work situation that involves a lot of solitary work and travel, it’s not exactly a good fit for a select few. If you’re the type who finds it difficult to proactively look after their own mental health and well-being, making the choice to be a digital nomad may not always be the best choice.

4.) You’ll still need a routine

The implied promise of the digital nomad lifestyle is that routines will be a thing of the past. While that can be to true to some extent – you can probably take more naps than you would have been otherwise allowed to, for example, at the end of the day you are still working. And without a routine, you will find it next to impossible to produce good output sustainably.

A well-designed routine or workflow can do wonders to conserving your mental energy, which can be important if you find yourself sleeping in a new bed every night. It can help you be more productive and even earn you more time to spend traveling and enjoying the sights, sounds, and sensations of your host countries. As a matter of fact, if there is only one takeaway you can have from this article, it’s that if you want to be productive, safe, and happy while you travel, a well thought-out routine is an absolute necessity.