And then the dog ate the fruitcake…


The Three Contingencies Every Digital Nomad Needs

We’ve had a tough few days.

First, Lady Luck, our 28-year old campervan developed some serious brake issues that required a trip to the mechanic and a big spend, complete with heart palpitations. I panicked thinking about potentially missing meetings and falling behind on work as a result of being stuck without transport for any period of time.

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Then, we found ourselves in a gorgeous AirBnB. It’s a really lovely place but one without wifi or a reliable phone signal. I know this sounds like a ‘first world problem’, but as I need to run my business, I can survive without one or the other, but not without both.

And, finally, we turned our backs on Humphrey, our seven-year-old Bearded Collie, for a minute, not realising that he only needed a fraction of that minute to devour the locally made Yorkshire Brack Fruit Cake I’d left on the coffee table. This mistake required a trip to the vet, a significant amount of sick and a bill of over £100.  We wondered what the world had against us this week!

Life on the road has many, many advantages. Costs are generally lower than at home and you truly can go where the wind and your work takes you. You live in places that most people only visit on holiday and you are free from the repetition of the standard 9-5 workweek.

Life on the road also comes with an amount of unpredictability which, whilst thrilling and adventurous, can also be stressful and tedious. Wandering around someone else’s back garden waving your laptop in the air, trying to catch a mystical wifi signal to send an email or find something on the internet is agitating and not the best use of anyone’s time.

However, the stresses of all of these situations can be limited by three “contingencies” and every digital nomad should have them in place to successfully live and work during their travels.

1. A Financial Fund

We live on a budget, partly to make the year possible and partly to break a habit we developed around a belief that shopping is a valuable use of leisure time on a weekend. I want to have experiences - not buy stuff.

However, even though we’re on a budget, we have money in the bank for emergencies. Having sold our house, we have a healthy amount in investments that are accessible if we need emergency funds. We have some cash “hidden away” for unexpected costs like Lady Luck and her aforementioned brake issues and Humphrey and his fruitcake obsession that resulted in rather expensive treatment.

It might sound counterintuitive but being able to throw money at a problem is sometimes vital for stress management. After all, no one chooses to work as a digital nomad because they want to INCREASE the amount of stress in their life.

If you are contemplating this lifestyle, set some money aside for emergencies. They’re unavoidable and you’ll be thankful that you don’t have to eat baked beans for the next month because you had to pay for medicine for your greedy pooch. Trust me on this one.

2. A Virtual Assistant (VA)

Day to day admin ‘things’ like organising flights for work-related events, researching car hire in a foreign city, booking meetings with clients - can rob you of a huge amount of time. Why not let an admin expert handle these types of things so you can focus on work only you can do? Work that  pays the bills. Having an assistant on side also allows you to enjoy the freedoms of your new lifestyle.

This week my VA sourced office space for me to work while we are in Yorkshire so that the wifi situation is no longer a headache. Organising this myself (without wifi or phone signal) would have been extremely frustrating. My time was better spent preparing for a speech I have coming up this week and engaging with my coaching clients. Can I find office space? Yes. Can my VA write my speech? You see where I’m going with this.

A good VA will save you time and money. You only pay for what you use, so some months you may have no costs at all, depending on your schedule. When you’re at the end of your tether and you just need someone to FIX IT NOW (please), you’ll be glad your VA is just a call or text away - assuming you can get a signal, of course.

3. Technical expertise

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In addition to my VA, I have a great mechanic, a brilliant website person, a dedicated accountant and a superb financial adviser. When I pick up the phone to any of those people I know their technical expertise will be high-quality and they won’t take me for a ride on the price. Importantly, they’ll prioritise my needs.

You may not need the precise “team” that I have, but think about what kind of technical experts you might need in an emergency to keep your business and yourself on the road.

When you hear a new squeak coming from the brakes of your van or when your laptop dies in the middle of a proposal, or your AirBnB host lets you down or whatever you rely on to keep the wheels turning, you need to know who you can call and that they can make the problem go away. Have them on speed dial. Treat them really, really nicely. Recommend them to friends so they stay in business and can continue to rescue you when you need them to. Being very honest, you will eventually need rescue.

Of course, these three contingencies also make sense if you’re not living the digital nomad life. If you’re still in the ‘rat race’ or in the beginnings of thinking about taking a brilliant gamble, all three are still incredibly relevant. We all have emergencies.

When you take a gamble, you remove some of the safety nets of conventional life and prioritise adventure over predictability. For this reason alone, it’s important to have a little security for the moments when everything goes wrong all at once. I say this from my laptop, perched in co-working space with Lady Luck and Humphrey parked outside.

If you’re thinking about becoming a digital nomad or taking a brilliant gamble of your own, let’s connect on LinkedIn or send me an email. You might also find episode 69 of the podcast of interest or if you’d like a laugh, there are plenty of photos of our adventures on Instagram. Finally, if this post resonated with you, please give it a share on social media using the buttons below. 

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