How did COVID-19 impact your Digital Nomad lifestyle?
Updated: Aug 24
No one saw it coming. And there was virtually no time to plan ahead.
As a digital nomad, the Pandemic hit a little too close to home because by definition - I don’t have one. I was in Malaysia, planning a tour through Japan and New York when borders started closing, and flights were canceled.
I didn’t have much of an option - I didn’t want to be stranded. I wanted to be close to my family. So I ended up purchasing last-minute tickets to come back to Argentina (vía London) and here I am, in a country that has shut down its borders until September - at least. Can you sense the claustrophobia and anxiety in my writing? That’s because it’s real. I feel it. But I know this is for the best. Or at least I’d like to think I do.
As icing on the cake, on my first day of quarantine, I switched jobs. So the “new normal” brought along a whole new routine, which ultimately had a lot of benefits. It’s a key feature of all digital nomads, I think. Being able to adapt to foreign situations. And sometimes, getting stranded in your hometown (sometimes even your childhood home) feels like the most foreign territory of all. Especially after being away for months at a time. The wanderlust definitely doesn’t disappear. For me, it’s only intensified. I long to be care-free. To wander from street food stall to street food stall, sampling everything I can get my hands on. To crack my computer at some instagrammable cafe, slowly becoming over-caffeinated as I take full advantage of the free wifi.
But this couldn’t be happening to just me, of course not. I’ve met several people following this particular work-and-travel lifestyle around the world and I felt curious about how the Pandemic had affected them and how they’ve responded. Were they stuck, like me? Were they able to move around, and decided not to? Were they settling in for the long haul? To ride this unparalleled situation, for better or worse?
These are their stories. And I’d love to hear yours, too! The comment section is open.
Matías, Web Developer: I was in Bali with two friends. Things started to get intense in Asia, so my friends and I decided to go to Istanbul. Once there, I was supposed to travel on a holiday to Morocco, but borders shut down when I was passing through Barcelona, so I decided to stay here. Well, not here. A fishing village one hour away from the city called Tarragona. Because it was winter and it’s a seatown, it was practically empty, so it felt safer than the city. I can’t go back home yet, but at least it’s summertime now and I’m able to enjoy the beach!
Laurel, Fashion Designer For a while, I’ve been living in Milan. Quarantine made me realize it was very important to live somewhere I felt comfortable - so I decided to sign a 2-year lease for an apartment. This means I can only travel on weekends, but that’s also working for me at the moment. I’m already able to travel around - I spent last weekend in Portugal! The airline made us all sign a waiver and use a facemask - but people were not very respectful of these rules. Next time, I’ll probably stick to trains instead of crowded airplanes.
Maxi, Graphic Designer: COVIDcomplicated my plans to move to Italy even before it was an actual problem in Italy. I had a trip scheduled for work - to Malaysia and Hong Kong. After things started escalating in Asia - my friends there mentioned they couldn’t find masks or sanitizer anywhere - my office shut down and canceled the Annual retreat. I was supposed to go to Croatia and Greece after the retreat, but now I had no real reason to head to Asia and beyond. And then, my plans to head to Italy vanished as well. I spent so many hours canceling or rescheduling flights and Airbnbs. Not too long after, cases of the virus were spotted close to home in Argentina, and finally, all borders shut down. I was staying with my parents momentarily, but it became permanent with the mandatory quarantine. I finally decided to move here and stay put for a while, pausing the idea of traveling for the moment being. Luckily, I maintained my job and there were no big changes in the “working from home” department.
How did the Pandemic affect your Digital Nomading plans? We want to hear your side of the story, too!