A Day in the Life of a Full-Time Digital Nomad Writer

Auriane Alix
Follow me on a typical, simple day overseas.
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Photo by João Marinho on Unsplash

My daily life feels like a permanent vacation. Except it’s not. I certainly work less than the usual 9–5, but I also don’t spend my days sipping margaritas on a beach bed. My days are actually much more interesting than that.

I am a writer. A digital nomad. A full-time traveler. A 23-year-old woman trying to find balance, to grasp reality through mindfulness, to live a meaningful life, all this right now in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Last month I was in Lisbon, Portugal, and in a little less than a week, I will be in a small dreamy village in Costa Rica.

Today, I started my day as usual, with a cup of black coffee and some reading. This was followed by a long walk on the beach, the foamy water meeting my bare feet, the first rays of the sun giving my lightly tanned skin a golden glow. But soon after, I was sitting behind my laptop, typing up my first articles of the day.

Let’s shed some light on the myth.

Here’s what a full-time writer/digital nomad’s daily life really looks like.

Getting My Two Morning Hours

Most people I know wake up, at best, 30 minutes before stepping out the door. They jump out of bed after pressing snooze 43 times, hurry to jump in the shower, get dressed, and run to work.

That is absolutely out of the question for me.

Between the moment I wake up and the time I start working, two hours go by. I don’t even set an alarm clock. That’s one of the advantages of being your own boss. At first, I would get up at 7 a.m., and then after a while, I wondered why. Why would I deprive my body of the few extra minutes or hours of sleep it needs? I rather make sure I’m running at peak performance.

This morning, I opened my eyes naturally at 6:30 a.m. I hesitated between sleeping a little more or getting up. I felt well-rested, so I opted for the latter.

As usual, my phone remained off. I poured myself a large glass of water and drank it peacefully while waiting for my cup of black coffee to be ready. Then I sat in the armchair and sipped it quietly while reading on my Kindle.

After those 30 minutes or so, I checked my phone for the first time of the day. Text messages, emails… checking that nothing required my presence within the hour, especially with the time difference. I put on shorts and a t-shirt, brushed my teeth, and got out of my flip-flops for my daily morning walk.

I crossed the five streets that separate my Airbnb from the path that leads to the beach. This area of Playa del Carmen was slowly waking up. Dogs were barking, a few cars were passing by, and guys on bikes were on their way to work. The sun was still low, as was the temperature. It was perfect.

I walked on the beach, feeling blissfully happy to be there. Then I went home and fried two eggs that I ate on two slices of whole-wheat bread.

That being done, I was ready for my day.

Work, Work, Work

I’m not going to specify hours here because there aren’t any. I have no clock. My day revolves around my natural rhythm, not the contrary. Sometimes, I can work five hours at a time; other times, my attention span is exhausted after an hour and a half. However, here’s the pattern I follow most of the time.

My mornings are devoted to working. I usually start by revising my Medium article from the day before, before writing a new one. But I’ve received many requests from my clients over the last few days, so today, I started my morning by editing the three articles I had to deliver for my main client. I then prepared my newsletter for the following weeks, wrote another article for a client, and it was already 11 a.m.

I had worked for three hours and my brain had reached its limit.

So, I grabbed my Kindle and waited for the hunger to appear. After eating lunch, I worked again for two more hours.

Sometimes, I’m fine with two or three hours of work. There was even a time when I didn’t work more than two hours a day. But depending on the weeks, I sometimes have to work more, and that’s the case today. Anyway, it’s so hot outside that I won’t leave my Airbnb until 4 p.m. So, I’ll use this time wisely — by writing these few words, for example.

Leisure Time, Physical Activity, and Personal Work

I’ll probably call my family after work like I do every day. I miss them. This is one of the realities of being a full-time traveler: not everything is rosy all the time.

Then, it will be time to get some physical activity. I work out sometimes, but what I like best while traveling is to grab my Vans and go out for a few hours of walking. Whether it’s on the beach or in the streets, I love my daily walks.

When I’m tired, I stop at my favorite place, an organic bar in the center of Playa, and order my usual agua de coco, natural coconut water. I take my notebook and pen out of my bag and devote an hour or two to my personal work. At the moment, it consists of writing about my experience as a full-time traveler. It is strongly linked to a quest for myself, reality, and mindfulness. I therefore carefully record everything that this experience brings me.

It will usually be around 7:30 a.m. when I’m finished. There are then several options available to me. Sometimes, I meet my new friends at the restaurant or the beach bar for a drink and some Mexican tacos. Or I decide to dine out alone, which I love.

Going to the restaurant by yourself and enjoying the experience takes a bit of practice, but once you get past that, it becomes a special moment. A window of reflection, or a moment of full attention to your surroundings. I can take as much time as I want to study the menu, write again a few words while waiting for my meal, or simply observe the world and the people around me. And then I will be able to enjoy my dish, savoring it slowly, without having to talk to anyone (me, a loner?). Most of the time, however, I simply walk home, take a shower, and cook myself a light dinner.

For some obscure reason, I get tired very early since I arrived here. I read a little and go to bed when my eyelids start to get heavy, often around 10:30 a.m., happy with my simple but productive and balanced day.

Final Thoughts

Some people think we work full-time, which is true for a lot of freelancers. Others think I’m on permanent vacation, living on my parents’ money.

Of course, every writer, every freelancer, and every digital nomad lives by a different routine. Here’s mine. Indeed, I often work short hours. But when I work, I am efficient. I have no distractions, and I am fully focused.

My days revolve around my work for my clients, my work for Medium, and my personal writing. I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while at the same time keeping some time to explore the cities I live in for a few weeks and meet cool people.

Of course, there are also daily chores, like shopping or doing my laundry by hand. These tasks, if done with curiosity and eyes wide open, can turn into real mini-adventures! For example, I love grocery shopping in a foreign country. The shelves are so full of mystery!

The truth is that I didn’t choose to be a digital nomad to tick boxes on an endless list of tourist sites. My full-time travel lifestyle is actually a quest. A quest for myself and reality. I question my vision of life in another context and take my daily life on the road with me. I visit very few tourist sites. Some might say that I don’t do much — or worse, that I don’t make the most of my time!

I mainly work, walk, write, and eat. And sometimes I connect with other people. But it’s in simplicity that the essence of things is hidden. The rest are just distractions.

Distractions from what? That’s for everyone to figure out.

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