Jack Davidson is a seven-year digital nomad who’s made his home in such far-flung locations as Cambodia, East Timor, Colombia and Hungary.
What made you decide to become a digital nomad?
It was a no-brainer really. I’ve had a thirst for travel for as long as I can remember and – without limitless funds at my disposal – I needed a way of paying for it. Working while travelling made perfect sense.
How did you get started?
I originally left the UK in 2010 and, like so many before me, taught English in South East Asia for a couple of years. After that, it was my number-one priority to become location independent. I dipped back into journalism (my trade back home) but settled on freelance writing more generally as the best way to make a living while moving around.
Do you hate the term ‘digital nomad?’
I have to admit, it does make me cringe. But it also helps me explain to elderly relatives that I’m not just a backpacker who refuses to grow up (or maybe I am?).
Where’s all your stuff?
In my mum’s loft. Or in the homes of successful eBay bidders. Who needs stuff anyway?
Is banking complicated?
It generally involves lots of transfers, losing money on commissions and having to mentally hop between two or three different currencies at once in order to work out how you’re doing. Not very elegant, but it does the job.
Do you have a routine?
Surprisingly enough, I try to stick to a nine-to-five work week as much as possible. Otherwise you end up with late, bleary-eyed nights staring at a laptop screen while everyone else is socialising.
In terms of keeping set habits wherever I am, not so much. Moving regularly means you’re always looking for your new favourite café, after-work spot, jogging route or place to soak up the sun.
If you’re a creature of habit, this life may not be for you.
Where’ve you been?
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Cambodia, Vietnam, East Timor, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Germany. And passed through many more countries on my way.
How do you choose your destinations?
To be honest, there’s no criteria. Some places just appeal because they look pretty. Others are steeped in culture or history. Some have great weather. Others, a minuscule cost of living.
Think you’ll ever go back to the cubicle?
Got any tips for aspiring roamers?
Take the work seriously. That means finding somewhere quiet and cool with reliable internet where you can get your productivity on for a few solid hours. When you’re finally done for the day, you can genuinely enjoy the new city you’re in – without work stuff hanging over your head.
Hang out with locals but make nomadic connections as well. Being able to vent about the assorted frustrations that come from living in a foreign country (the climate, politics, weird customs etc) is an important part of keeping yourself sane. But, at the same time, delve into local culture as much as possible – otherwise, why be there?
Learn to live like a local. Eat where they eat, look for accommodation where they do – it slashes the cost of living as well as giving you the opportunity to converse with people outside of the tourist/English-speaking economy.
Finally, don’t feel obliged to continually travel. Settling in a lovely little beach town for six months because you get a good vibe from it is part of the whole experience. Sometimes ‘semi-nomadic’ is how you feel.