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What Digital Nomad Life is Like on a Day-to-Day Basis

People tend to romanticize the digital nomad lifestyle. Aspiring digital nomads may imagine themselves working by the poolside for a couple of hours during the day and then spending the rest of the afternoon sightseeing before going out for drinks in the evening.

For most digital nomads, this isn’t the reality. The lifestyle really revolves around work. It takes a lot of time and effort to plan your travels and make sure you have everything you need to get work done. You’ll also have to spend time on normal everyday tasks like cooking and exercising. You may only have a couple of hours a couple of days per week to explore or socialize.

In this guide, I’m going to explain what digital nomad life is like on a day-to-day basis. I’ll cover planning your travels, finding a workspace with reliable internet, getting work done, travel days, socializing, sightseeing, and more. 

I have been living as a digital nomad for the past 2 and a half years. I love the lifestyle but there are some major downsides that I didn’t consider before I started. In this guide, I’ll share my schedule to give you an idea of what the lifestyle is like. 

Zac in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In Rio last year. One of my favorite nomad destinations.
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A Day in the Life of a Digital Nomad: My Schedule 

  • 9 am-11 am- I wake up and start working pretty much immediately after I get out of bed. I like to do most of my work in the morning because my mind is fresh and I’m most productive. If I work later in the day, the quality of my work decreases.
  • 11 am-12 pm- After working for an hour or two, I take a break to make myself some coffee and have some breakfast. While I’m eating, I’ll read the news or watch some YouTube videos. 
  • 12 pm-2 pm- After breakfast, I continue working for a couple of hours.
  • 2 pm-4 pm- In the afternoon, I take a break for a couple of hours to do some sightseeing or take a walk to get some exercise. Depending on the day, I’ll take 1-3 hours off. I might also run some errands during this time. Maybe I’ll go grocery shopping.
  • 4 pm-7pm- When I return home, I work some more. Usually for 2-4 hours.
  • 7 pm- 9 pm- After I’m done working, I have some dinner. Usually, I cook for myself. Sometimes I go out.
  • 9 pm- 2 am- Oftentimes, I stay up and work until late at night. Sometimes, I’ll just watch some TV or a movie. Once in a while, I’ll go meet up with some friends or go on a date. I usually go to bed at around 1 or 2 am because I am a night owl. I try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. 

On an average day, I work around 8 hours per day. On travel days or on days where I go on a day trip, I may only work 4-6 hours. Some days, I work 10-12 hours. I work 7 days per week. I work more than other digital nomads because I own my own business. The more I work, the more I can make. If I was an employee I would probably work fewer hours.

Day to Day Life As a Digital Nomad

Zac on the Tropic of Capricorn


Planning may not be a daily thing but it is something to consider. The digital nomad lifestyle requires quite a bit of planning. You have to consider where you’re going to go, where you’re going to stay, where you’re going to work, which type of visa you need, how you’re going to get around, what you’re going to do, etc. You have to book tickets and accommodation. Every week, you will spend at least a few hours on this.

First, you have to choose a destination that is suitable for remote work. These days, you can work online from almost anywhere in the world. There are still some remote places where the internet may not be reliable or fast enough. 

Next, you have to plan where you’re going to stay. Are you going to stay in an Airbnb, in a hotel, or in a hostel? Maybe you’re going to rent a regular apartment and furnish it yourself. You’ll have to take some time to read reviews and look for a suitable place that’s in your budget where you can get work done. 

Next, you’ll have to plan where you’re going to work. You could work in your hotel or Airbnb, in a cafe, in a co-working space, or in a library. If the place you’re staying has poor internet or lots of distractions, you might have to find another place to work. 

You’ll also have to consider visas. Are you going to apply for a digital nomad visa or are you going to work on a tourist visa. You have to research visa requirements and plan ahead if you need apply for a visa in advance. 

You’ll also have to plan how you’re going to get to your destination. You’ll need to research routes and schedules if you’re taking a bus or train. If you’re flying, you’ll have to research flights and book in advance. 

Of course, you’ll also have to research the things you plan to do. For example, you’ll have to research ticket prices, transport, costs, etc. 

An Airbnb in Bali, Indonesia
My Airbnb in Bali

All of this planning takes quite a bit of time. I tend to move once every month or two. I spend at least a few hours per week just making plans, booking accommodation, booking tickets, and researching everything. It is surprisingly time-consuming. 

For example, recently, I spent a month in the Philippines. I didn’t really make any plans before I arrived other than booking an Airbnb in Manila. After I arrived, I spent almost an entire day researching where I wanted to visit, booking flights, and booking hotels.

A lot of new digital nomads underestimate how much time it takes to actually plan everything out. There are a lot of logistics involved in planning a work trip. 

Getting Work Done

Most days you’ll be working. This is what you’ll be spending the majority of your time doing. Exactly how much time you’ll have to work every day depends on the type of work you do.

If you work remotely for a company, you’ll probably work 5 days per week for 6-8 hours per day. If you work for yourself or if you freelance, you can make your own schedule but you’ll probably work 6 or 7 days per week. On the days that you work, you’ll probably have to spend 6-8 hours online.  

If you work for a company, you may have to be online at specific times. In this case, time zones are an important consideration. If the company you work for operates on the Pacific time zone, and you’re living in Southeast Asia, you might have to be online in the middle of the night. 

If you work for yourself or if you freelance, you can choose when you want to work. Maybe you want to maintain a regular schedule and work 9-5 or maybe you prefer to work late at night.

It can also be hard to get work done when you’re a digital nomad because there are so many distractions. You have to have some pretty strong self-discipline. You can’t just go sightseeing whenever you want or go out partying every night.

Laying in bed on my laptop in a hotel room in Cairo
Working in a hotel room in Cairo, Egypt

I work around 6-8 hours per day, 7 days per week. Some days I only work for 4 hours. Other days, I work 10+ hours. Getting my work done is my top priority. Working allows me to live this lifestyle. I don’t allow myself to go out sightseeing unless I get my work done. I have found that setting quotas for myself helps me stay productive. After I meet my daily quota of work, I allow myself relax a bit. 

Travel Days

By definition, digital nomads move around a lot. You will spend a good amount of your time traveling from one place to the next. Travel days are time-consuming.

You can decide how often you want to travel. On average, digital nomads spend 4-6 weeks in each destination. Some move every week. Some settle down for 3-6 months in each destination. Others apply for digital nomad visas and stay for a year or more. 

When you move from one place to the next, you’ll spend at least a day. You have to pack up all of your things, find a way to get to the airport, check-in, go through security, then spend hours in the air. When you arrive at your destination, you have to wait in line at immigration and navigate your way through a new city. Sometimes, it might take a couple of days to get to your destination. Even if you’re traveling domestically, you’ll spend hours on a bus or train. After you arrive, you have to unpack and start adapting to your new home.

Travel days are stressful and tiring. They also waste a lot of time. It’s hard to get work done on travel days. You may be able to pull your laptop out and get some work done while you’re waiting at the airport or train station but you won’t be very productive.

The actual travel is my least favorite part of being a digital nomad. I hate packing and unpacking, waiting in line at airports, and carrying all of my stuff around. I tend to move around once per month. In some regions, I move every few days or once per week. Sometimes, I stay in the same country for 2-3  months. 

Sightseeing and Having Fun

You’ll also want to make some time for sightseeing. It would be a shame to travel to the other side of the world and not see anything. 

Exactly how much time you’ll have for sightseeing depends on the type of work you do. If you’re working part-time, you’ll have plenty of time for sightseeing. If you own your own business, you might only have one day a week to go sightseeing. 

The nice thing about being a digital nomad is that you can take your time and see everything you want to see. You don’t have to rush through everything like you do when you’re traveling short-term. Even if you only have one day off per week, you can see all of the major sites in a month.

If you’re in a big city like Buenos Aires, Mexico City, or Bangkok, there are loads of things to do. Research them and prioritize them. You may not get around to seeing everything, even if you’re staying for months but you can see all of the main sites.

Sightseeing in Manila during the rainy season

I like to set aside a couple of hours per day for sightseeing. Sometimes, I just go to a park or to an interesting neighborhood and take a walk. Other times, I’ll spend half a day or a whole day visiting a museum, archeological site, or other attraction. Once in a while, I’ll take a day trip or a weekend trip to visit another part of the country. I like to pick and choose a few sights that I really want to see in the countries I’m visiting. It doesn’t matter if i don’t see everything. I also know I might not get around to seeing everything because I’ll be working. 


Digital nomad life gets lonely. There is no avoiding it. You will eat alone. You will work alone. On travel days, you’ll spend hours alone on planes, buses, and trains. You will want to make some time for socializing at least a couple of times per week. If you don’t, you will start to feel isolated. 

There are a few ways you can go about socializing when you’re a digital nomad. You can do online dating. You can use social media. Join Facebook expat groups for your destination and see if anyone wants to meet up. There are also some websites you can use to meet like-minded people. For example, and Couchsurfing are great places to find friends. You can also go to bars, join clubs, or take classes. There are lots of ways to meet people. For more ideas, check out my guide to meeting people while traveling.

There are plenty of things you can do with your new friends. You could meet up at a bar or restaurant. You could go sightseeing. Depending on your destination, you could go to the beach, go hiking, or go for a bike ride. 

I try to go out and socialize at least once per week. I tend to isolate myself so I have to force myself. My favorite way to meet people is through online dating. It’s always nice to go out with a local. Once in a while, I’ll go to a digital nomad meetup. I recently attended a couple in Buenos Aires. 


Of course, you’ll also have to eat. One of the best parts of digital nomad life is sampling the local cuisine. You can try out local restaurants. Some parts of the world have cheap and delicious street food. 

You’ll probably want to cook for yourself at least part of the time. Going out to eat every day would get very expensive. It’s okay to eat out every meal when you’re on vacation but when you’re living abroad, you will want to cook for yourself. I recommend you stay someplace where you have access to a kitchen. That could be an Airbnb,  a hostel, or a hotel with a kitchenette. 

You’ll have to spend some time grocery shopping. I usually go to the grocery store 2-3 times per week. When I book accommodation, I try to book someplace near a supermarket.

Cooking is also pretty time consuming. When I cook, I try to cook a big batch of food so I can get multiple meals out of it. Basically, I meal prep. I might make a huge pot of pasta or stir fry and eat the same thing for 3-4 nights. This saves time.

I usually eat 2 meals per day. I’ll eat a late breakfast or an early lunch around 11 or noon then I’ll eat dinner in the evening. I usually stay in an Airbnb with a kitchen.

I prefer cooking most of my own meals. There are a couple of reasons for this. Most importantly, it saves a lot of money. Restaurants get expensive. I also like cooking my own food because it’s healthier. I can use fresh ingredients and I know the food is cooked properly. When I cook, I don’t have to worry about getting sick. I also enjoy cooking. 

I am also a big fan of street food. When I’m traveling in a country with good street food, I eat it almost every day. When I was in Mexico, I was practically living on street food. 

I’m a big fan of street food


It’s easy to get out of shape when you’re living as a digital nomad. You might not eat as healthy as you should. It’s difficult to maintain a workout routine when you’re moving around all the time. It’s a good idea to take some time every day to get some exercise. 

You could join a gym. Every decent sized city has a gym. Most offer monthly and daily membership options. It can be a hassle to find a gym when you’re moving around frequently. Walking, running, and cycling are also good options. Some city parks have free workout equipment that you can use.

I try to get at least a little bit of exercise every day. I go for a long walk pretty much every day. Sometimes I’ll rent a bicycle and go for a long bike ride. This is a great way to see a city. Sometimes I will also do some bodyweight exercises in my Airbnb. Doing some pushups, squats, and situps is better than nothing. I don’t go to the gym.

Money and Finance

You’ll have to spend some time budgeting and managing your finances. Budgeting as a digital nomad is more complicated than budgeting when you live in one place. This is because the cost of living is different in every country you visit. When you’re in Bali, you might spend $600 per month on accommodation. Maybe you fly to France the next month and spend $1200 on accommodation. You have to budget for this. 

You also have to factor in additional variable costs such as airfare and visas. Some months, you might spend $500 on a flight. Other months, maybe you stay in the same place and spend nothing on transport. 

You’ll also have to spend some time thinking about retirement. You’ll also have to consider your taxes. Dealing with finances isn’t a daily job. Planning your finances can take a couple of hours per week.

Other Little Tasks

There are other little jobs that you’ll have to do. Some tasks are a little more difficult and time consuming when you’re a digital nomad.

For example, you’ll have to do laundry. If you’re staying in a place with a washer, it’s easy. If you don’t have a washer, you could go to a laundromat or pay for someone to do your laundry. You could also do your laundry by hand. I do this sometimes when I just have a couple of things I want to wash. 

You’ll also have to do some paperwork. For example, you might have to get some documents printed or scanned when applying for a visa or renewing a visa. Once in a while, you’ll have to make a trip to the ATM to withdraw some cash. 

Once in a while, you’ll have to buy some new clothing or equipment. Maybe you’re going to a cold destination next and you need to buy a jacket. Maybe you lost your mouse and you need to buy a new one.

Bed Time

You need to get plenty of sleep to keep your mind fresh so you can remain productive. Some places may be noisy. There could be traffic noise if you’re in a big city. If you’re staying in a hostel, you’ll hear other guests moving around in the dorm while you’re trying to sleep. If you’re a light sleeper, this can be annoying. You can wear earplugs and a mask to make it easier to get to sleep. 

I try to go to bed around at around 1 or 2 am. I like to get 7-8 hours of sleep. It’s easy to stay up all night working but I try not to allow myself to do that. 

My Experience

On a day-to-day basis, the digital nomad lifestyle is much more stressful than staying in one place. Packing up and moving around gets exhausting. Navigating new cities is stressful and anxiety-inducing. It’s hard to develop a routine when you’re moving around all the time. It can also be difficult to socialize. Every day is a little bit different. There are always little challenges to deal with. You might have to apply for a visa one day. The next day, you might need to figure out how to get to a museum across town.

One thing I love about the digital nomad life is that it keeps things fresh. When you’re living in one place, it’s easy to fall into a routine and let a decade just slip by. When you do the same thing every day, time flies. 

If you’re moving around and having new experiences every day, time moves slowly. It makes your life feel longer and more memorable. At home, months could fly by without a single memorable thing happening. While living as a digital nomad, I have a new experience multiple times per week. At this point, I’ve been living as a digital nomad for over 2 years. That 2 years feels longer than the previous 10 years of my life just because I’ve had so many new experiences. 

Of course, it’s not always exciting. Digital nomad life can be monotonous as well. Many days, I just stay in, work, eat, and sleep. I’ve got to work to support myself. 

Are you a digital nomad? What is your day to day life like? Share your experience in the comments below!

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