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Life as a digital nomad during Coronavirus (the real story)

Covid saw the world crumble in what felt like a matter of minutes. But, what happens to the people stuck overseas, both intentionally and unintentionally?


If you were traveling and working as a digital nomad during covid, you’re probably going to be remembering the gut-wrenching rollercoaster of emotions you went through for a long time. 

There were days that I felt physically sick, unable to comprehend what was happening and how to deal with the pandemic. It was like something out of a film. 

Looking around at the people in my hostel all terrified, not knowing if they would make it home or what would happen to them.

We digital nomads basically had 2 options

1. Try get back to your native country

2. Wait it out. But at this point, no one knew exactly what that meant

I’ve seen a lot of heat lately towards people who didn’t come when it was first announced that people should get home immediately. But what most people don’t realize, is how incredibly aligned your stars would have had to be for that to happen.

I know people who were lucky enough to get a ticket home but had their flight canceled on the way to the airport, or even in many cases while they were there. 

This left so many people stuck in limbo and would literally have seemed like a scene out of the movie The Terminal. I actually recall reading a story where this actually happened to a German man because of Covid!

But the reality of it is, digital nomads were likely able to handle the initial stages better than anyone. After all, their lifestyle is not to be in their home country, it is to go wherever their heart desires. Which is what makes months of lockdown harder for the free spirits!

When the world fell apart

I’m not going to lie, when the world went into lockdown, I was scared. I was a fresh nomad, only about 8 months into my journey. And the media and other people were certainly not helpful in making us feel secure! We were told and read stories about all hospitality and accommodation closing down

I had no security, I didn’t know if my home would be able to afford to stay open and I would be left stranded. It happened to people in my community. I saw it on our local Facebook page, foreigners pleading for kindness and shelter. There were people who were forced to create a makeshift tent and live by the river and others forced to live in a nearby cave.

Racism towards foreigners started, even though I had been here for a long time. People were scared, especially of foreigners because that’s how this virus was spreading, through people traveling. 

I started to feel unwelcome in the country that I had loved so deeply. And I considered packing it all up and going back home, but it turns out that wasn’t a possibility. I don’t think that there is a single digital nomad during covid that didn’t have at least a fleeting moment of terror go through them. 

Coronavirus didn’t only shake-up the lives of locals and foreigners, it also turned the lives of digital nomads upside down as well. I didn’t know if I would become homeless, living on the streets in India.

Becoming Mumma Hen

Unfortunately - but likely a blessing in disguise - many people was unexpectedly forced to become a digital nomad during covid lockdown. So many people got stranded in countries that they had only really planned to pass through. 

And A lot of people lost their jobs because of this. It was heartbreaking to be dealing with this insecurity and watching people crumble because they had no idea what the future would hold. Whether they would be able to get a job again, when they would be able to go home, and if they could sustain themselves where they were stuck.

As an established digital nomad during covid, I was probably better equipped to deal with it than most. And that meant giving support. I was able to offer solutions to people for alternative ways they would be able to support themselves. 

Whether it be volunteering through Worldpackers, learning a new skill on Worldpackers Academy or finding an online gig with the Worldpackers Programs

So many people I spoke with were completely unaware of the options they had available to them - and trust me, there are many that I don’t shut up about! And I was glad to be able to provide that guidance and support, and I’m sure many other digital nomads during covid did as well.

Keep reading: 7 jobs you can do while traveling as a digital nomad

The mental struggles being a digital nomad during Covid

I think a lot of digital nomads during covid have felt this to be productive. To use this time while we are locked down to work more so that we can explore more when it’s all over. But on the other hand, your mind is so clouded with all the chaos that it’s hard to work productively

I ended up taking a month off from my regular work and tried to spend it finishing my novel. But my brain was constantly fighting with me that I wasn’t going enough and best utilizing my time.

As the months go by, other issues start to come up with being a digital nomad during covid. Like the restlessness. Now I’m not talking about the digital nomads who leave their home country and settle somewhere else for a long period of time. 

I’m speaking about the real use of the word nomad, the ones that are not in any one place for too long. The people who need to keep moving. And there is not a single thing that anyone can do about it, other than keeping that hope alive of travel in the future.

Being a digital nomad during covid has been hard, no doubt about it. But it has also brought about some beautiful new revelations. What has been wholesome, is being able to help so many people started on their journey of digital nomadism. People looked to their local digital nomads for support and guidance during this time, and that is something that everyone gave gladly.

If you’ve met many digital nomads, you’ll know that they are always harping on about how good the lifestyle is, and trying to encourage others to do the same. They’re not trying to sell anything. 

They gain nothing, but they know how much others stand to gain from it! So when someone asks us how to sustain the lifestyle, we are always prepared with a smile on our face and a list of suggestions to set you up with the best life possible. And I think that has played a big part in what has kept us sane, even during these wild times!

What’s to come

This whole year has been completely unpredictable. It was nice to see Europe open up shortly before the second wave hit and watching it close back down again. For the time being, myself and a number of other digital nomads during covid are staying put.

And when travel does start again and we are able to please the travel bug gods, we know that it will not be the same world that we were traveling through just last year. But I guess what we have all learned most, is that you can either be angry and upset about a situation you can’t change, or you can start to see the beauty in it.

This pandemic has shown us that many of us have taken our lifestyle for granted. Something that we will always have full control over. And now we’ve had a harsh reality check that we don’t. Most of us can’t wait to start meeting with other people again and exploring new things, because that is why we chose this lifestyle in the first place.

And I think that many people who don’t have this lifestyle are now able to consider it. Working remotely has become a worldwide norm. And that opens up a world full of opportunities. Although times have been tough, I think we are headed towards a much brighter future, and one that focuses on truly balancing your work, social, and personal life.

So here’s a cheers to anyone making it as a digital nomad during covid, and to all the new digital nomad recruits we have gained along the way. Welcome to our community! 

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