How Fast (Or Slow) Do Digital Nomads Travel?

How fast Is Too Fast?

Traveling is all about The Glide – moving quickly and seamlessly from one activity to the next, with as little friction as possible. Well-designed gear eliminates the gremlins that slow you down and steal your focus away from making cool stuff and enjoying your destination.

Those gremlins are what we call ‘travel drag’, and yeah: that’s the enemy.

Every move you make on the road has a certain amount of friction baked in, even when you’re using gear that knows how to get out of your way. New cities are full of everyday challenges that we all secretly (or not so secretly) dig. A new city means time spent sussing out the best neighborhood and finding an ideal place to stay. It means discovering the best local spots to get work done and a new gym where you can work out alongside Japanese grandmothers, Peruvian musclemen or Venice Beach bicep-poppers. And you’ll definitely need to track down a market to buy groceries, and maybe find a way to meet friends.

Oh *yeah,* friends are a thing too! Actual human relationships are easy to neglect when you have your hands full setting up someplace new. That and….

Crap, is it already noon?! My deadline!

All the fun of figuring out a new life situation can suddenly turn to toil if the balance tips from exciting exploration to unwanted distraction. If and when that happens, it can leave you feeling lonely and adrift. When you start feeling frayed on the road, that’s a good clue that you’re moving too fast.

So, how do you set your travel pace?

Once you’re out on your own, you realize very quickly that there are no predetermined rules. You have to go with what works for your specific situation at the time. Sorting through that can be part of the adventure, but it helps to have a place to start. For a few guide points along the way, we’ve (momentarily) pinned down 18 seasoned digital nomads and long-term travelers to ask how often they move, how they found their ideal travel pace, and whether or not a permanent base is important to the way they travel.

JODI ETTENBERG, LEGAL NOMADS

How Fast Do Digital Nomads Travel - Jodi Ettenberg Saigon

Depends on the year and the season.
 I tend to move for conferences and weddings of family or friends, and then in-between, I pick where I want to eat. I try to spend at least a month in each place if I can help it! At the beginning of my travels it was a far more rapid pace, but after seven years and with a business to run, taking my time is important for my routine and my sanity.

JAMES FEESS, THE SAVVY BACKPACKER

How Fast Do Digital Nomads Travel - James and Susan of Savvy Backpacker loving every minute of life on the road

I’m in grad school at the moment, but
 I finish in a few months. When I was traveling, we tried to move around every few days or we’d stay in one spot (mainly Paris) and take trips from there.

JOSH SKAJA, FRETBOARD ANATOMY

How fast do digital nomads travel - Josh Skaja on stage

Over the last three years we did something like 20 weeks/year of bus touring, mostly split into two to five-week legs, with some “fly dates” sprinkled in here and there.

It’s worth mentioning that while “bus touring” may conjure images of dirty city busses, it’s actually far more glamorous than going by plane. A tour bus is like a rolling apartment, with a dozen beds, a bathroom (or two), and a kitchenette. We drive at night, so a typical day is: play a show, load out, have a drink on the bus, go to sleep, wake up in a new city. It’s like time travel.

This year we’re doing mostly fly dates, which really forces you to elevate your packing chops. We head somewhere different most weekends and then return home to Chicago on Sundays.

Sebastian Canaves, Off The PAth

How fast do digital nomads travel - Sebastian Canaves Beach

Ever since I lived in Australia, I have constantly been on the move. I’ve lived in 10 countries and have traveled to over 70. I have lived in the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Thailand, Scotland, Sweden and Bali in
the past years. My home base has always been Berlin, but I am planning to give up my apartment to escape all the hassle of finding new tenants and truly become a digital nomad.

CHRISTINA CANTERS, THE C METHOD

How fast do digital nomads travel - Christina Canters cold yoga

It varies, depending on whether I am more work focused or vacation focused. Some places I stay for weeks or months at a time (NYC, Berlin, Chiang Mai); other places, I’ll stay for a week or less (Iceland, London, Austin). Right now, I’m based in my hometown, Melbourne, Australia.

LIZ CARLSON, YOUNG ADVENTURESS

How fast do digital nomads travel - Liz Carlson Dubai

I go back and forth, but I am happiest when I have a base. I usually try and live somewhere for a year at a time. I’ve
 done that five times since 2007, the most recent being here in Wanaka, New Zealand, where I am trying to settle for 
a few years. I’ve finally reached the point in my life where I am tired of starting over in a new place. While I still plan to travel overseas frequently, I hope to keep Wanaka my home base.

AMIT GUPTA, AMITGUPTA.COM

How fast do digital nomads travel - Amit Gupta in profile

It depends on the place. The past few months my girlfriend and I have been moving pretty quickly – spending only between a day to a week in each place – currently, we’re staying put for at least a month to regroup.

Rob Hanly, RobHanly.com

How Fast Do Digital Nomads Travel - Rob Hanly examining charts

I move a lot, often with a focus on re-visiting familiar places as often as visiting new places. No base just yet, but considering my options.

BEN HEBERT, BENHEBERT.COM

How fast do digital nomads travel - Ben Hebert in Marrakesh

Before settling in Austin, I was moving quite frequently, but to set-up our company for scale we needed a home base. Austin is a fantastic place for entrepreneurship because everyone here is hustling! That means when I have questions about anything whether it’s marketing, business development, social media whatever I can tap someone in my network whose infinitely smarter than me. It doesn’t have that pretentious vibe either. Everyone is open and trying to move forward together.

CLINT JOHNSTON, TRIPHACKR

How fast do digital nomads travel - Clint Johnston at Petra

I am an unconventional travel blogger in this sense. Most travel bloggers move from Thailand to Mexico, or to Europe every few months but I call Brooklyn home year round. Until Triphackr became my full-time job I couldn’t leave for extended periods of time. I think this is why people working 9-5 jobs that want to break away relate to my travel style. I know what it’s like to want to become your own boss and how to travel with a full-time job. Now that I work for myself, I am going to be taking longer trips every year but I will always call NYC home.

ELISA DOUCETTE, ELISADOUCETTE.COM

Digital Nomad Elisa Doucette Rolling Her Eyes At The Thought Of Over Packing

I used to travel every 30-60 days, desiring all new experiences and adventures. Eventually, I wanted to settle into places a bit and “slow travel”, so that I could also focus on building my business and writing projects. Now I stay at least three months in most locations unless I really am just “traveling through.”

EYTAN LEVY, SNARKY NOMAD

How fast do digital nomads travel - Eytan Levy Hiking int he Tatras Slovakia

For someone who says he likes to travel all the time, I haven’t done much of it recently. I was working toward becoming self-employed, trying to spend as little money as possible (I wore the same pair of shoes every day for three years), and travel was just out of the question. Now that it’s more of a possibility again, I think traveling a few months per year would be ideal. I still want to visit all sorts of places, but shorter, more frequent trips sound good to me at this point.

Mark Manson, Markmanson.net

How fast do digital nomads travel - Mark Manson looking out over Rio

When I started, I would change locations sometimes every few days (backpacker style) and other times every month or two. These days I prefer spending 3-6+ months in each location before moving on, with maybe an occasional side trip or two.

CLAY HEBERT, CLAYHEBERT.COM

How fast do digital nomads travel - Clay Hebert giving a talk

From 1999-2009, I worked for Accenture, the world’s largest consulting firm, so I traveled a lot for work. Over that decade, I lived in Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia and San Diego and had client projects in numerous other cities. In 2009, I got an amazing chance to spend six months learning directly from Seth Godin, so I left San Diego and moved to New York City. I stayed there for seven years but just recently moved back to San Diego in April of 2015.

Stacey Herbert, Brazen Profit Lab

How fast do digital nomads travel - Stacey Herbert relaxing in Thailand

I’m more into slow travel. I don’t move that often as I don’t find it fun or really that enjoyable. I go on little trips to places but tend to pick a place and settle in for a bit. I’m currently in Berlin.

Fernanda Neute, FÊliz com a vida

How fast do digital nomads travel - Fernanda_Neute sips coffee at outdoor cafe

For the first 7 or 8 months, I used to move a lot, but that got old really fast. Now I try to stay at least 2 or 3 months in each place. What I found out after I started to travel like this is that I enjoy the freedom to be wherever I want to, but I don’t feel like I need to be everywhere or travel all the time. I also enjoy the “vacation” mood, when I just go somewhere for a few days to relax, enjoy myself and don’t have to work. I still don’t have a base, but I am looking forward to having one!

KIMBERLY RICH, THE BOLD LIFE MOVEMENT

How fast do digital nomads travel - Kimberly Rich lauging

When I was living abroad, I would stay in one spot anywhere from three weeks to three months. While I often returned to places, three months was the longest that I would stay before picking up to move again. I realized that always in that three-month timeframe, there was some travel involved. I find that at six weeks I tend to get stir crazy and feel the urge to book a flight for some change of scenery.

Nowadays, I have a home base in Austin, as my 90 lb. dog pulled me (and my inner softie) back to the states. That being said, I’ve been on seven trips in the first nine months of living here, including Portland, New York, San Francisco, and Barcelona to name a few. The nomad in me is strong.

DEREK SIVERS, SIVERS.ORG

How fast do digital nomads travel - Derek Sivers on Stage

Every two years since 1987!

No, how do *YOU* set your travel pace?

For a touring musician like Josh, it’s no big deal to wake up in a new city every day for weeks on end – especially with that penthouse bus he made us jealous with. For Elisa, changing locations every 30-60 days is pushing the pace. For a homeowner who seeks legal residence wherever he lands, like Derek, moving every two years is pretty much hauling a$$, especially when you consider doing it over the long term, like say… the last 30 years!

One of the best parts of the digital nomad lifestyle is that there’s not fixed set of rules. Let us know how fast or slow you travel in the comments below. The guidelines are being written right now by the people living it so, get out there and experiment and…

If you run into someone with a Minaal logo on their back, stop them and ask how they decide when it’s their time to move.

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Matt Gelgota