How to choose the perfect digital nomad destinations for YOU

by | Mar 25, 2024 | 0 comments

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Choosing from the many digital nomad destinations available can be like dating – there are plenty of options around, but only a combination of intention and intuition will get you to the right destination.

When choosing your next destination, you’ll want to be intentional about the type of experience your soul wants and the type of environment your business requires, so that both can thrive. At the same time, you want to leave room for spontaneity and these gut-instincts that send you off in an entirely unexpected direction.

This mix, I’ve found, leads to the most profound spiritual experiences, the greatest personality and community growth, and the most sustainable context for your business to grow both strategically and spiritually. 

After 9 years of being either an expat or nomad, I’ve come up with a few guiding questions that help me connect to where I’m heading next. Before I dive into them, right off the bat, I’ll offer that something that has become increasingly important for me and my partner is health. How will we be able to sustain and strengthen our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health? We’re looking at a country’s health care system, their air pollution index, and trying to get a read of the locals’ and government’s mindset. Not to judge those living there. But to assess fit. More on that below.

So, how the heck DO you decide on your next few digital nomad destinations? Well, after years of living somewhere between “I don’t know where I’ll be 2 days from now” and “I’ve got the next four-ish months planned out”, and after having transformed from a solo-traveler into a traveling couple, I’ve got some thoughts and advice to share. Let me know what I’ve missed in the comments! 

What sort of experience do you want to get from your next destination?

Being intentional about what you want to gain from the next destination shifts your way of thinking about ‘next’: You ask different questions at mixers, you look for different things on Pinterest, and you walk through the streets or flip through a magazine with a more focused vision. Most of this shift in action will actually happen subconsciously. 

That said, my intention for you isn’t necessarily to go and write a bucket list of all the trips you want to take. Though that could be fun, too. I’m speaking of experiences more holistically: 

Do you want to move into a living community like Yon or Outpost, or would you prefer a more domestic lifestyle in a fully serviced apartment? 

Are you looking for a mountainous/adventurous, or a beachy/laid-back atmosphere? A mix of both worlds, perhaps? 

Are you looking for familiarity or stretching your comfort zone? 

Do you want to deepen your spiritual study or expand your entrepreneurial community? 

Of course, with all of these questions, you might answer ‘both.’ You’re not required to make a decision here. You’re simply invited to gain some clarity about what you’re yearning for. 

Ask Yourself:

How do I want to experience my next destination? 

freedom-based business, digital nomad destinations
Soaking in life on the Monk’s Trail in Thailand (and seeing the blue sky, having hiked above the smog)

What is your budget?

Next, you’ll want to sit with your numbers a bit and decide what your budget is, if you haven’t already. If you’re traveling with a partner, you might find value in this article where I write about traveling as a couple, and offer two major tips on discussing money and budget. When it comes to the list of digital nomad destinations, clearly London will cost more than Chiang Mai. 

How does your budget figure in with your long-term financial goals? Which countries work with your budget? 

Another way of looking at this is to ask yourself: What do you want to be able to afford? For those who have a permanent home, the answer to this question will reveal how their income must change. Funnily, that’s not necessarily true for you. While we’re certainly on a quest to increase your money and expand your freedom, when choosing your next destination, your answer will primarily be based on different country’s cost of living. Here’s a quick, relatable example: I recently paid $13 for a 75 minute massage in Bali and got 10x the value I had gotten from paying $100 for a 90 minute massage in Las Palmas 6 months earlier. 

While being asked to clarify your budget might cause some mental stress, I’d offer that this process can actually be quite liberating as it opens up a wealth of opportunities, digital nomad destinations, and aspirational dreams.

Ask Yourself:

What do you want to be able to afford in your next destination? And what’s your budget? 

 

Logistics – will they work for you?

I’ve got an EU passport, my partner has a U.S passport. Great passports. Until you want to spend both summer and Christmas in the EU and realize that one of you can only stay for 90 days per 6 months.

Enter: logistical considerations.

How long does your passport allow you to stay in Japan, Costa Rica, Bali? Have regulations changed since your last visit? Do you need a visa? Of course, does your passport expire anytime soon? 

Over the years, we’ve found that there is a direct correlation between how smooth a country makes entry and the prevalant mindset of that country. We’ve started to ask ourselves, what the complicated visa application process is telling us. And I don’t mean this in a spiritual sense at all. What’s this telling me about the government’s mindset? How are tourists being treated inside the country – welcomingly or as a walking ATM? (cough-Bali-cough)

What this boils down to is, how do you want to experience the journey to the next destination, and are the required logistics worth it, to you? Nobody can answer this question for you. This is an invitation for you to look back over your last few journeys and take note of what drained the heck out of you…might there be an opportunity to avoid the drainers? Or change up how you’re traveling alltogether?

Ask yourself:

How do you want to experience the journey to the next destination and are the logistics required of you worth it, to you?

Weather/Climate: when should you go? And should?

I’m writing this article in March, in Chiang Mai. I knew it would be dry season in March. What I didn’t know until the plane descended through a thick layer of smog was that March/April is the burning season in Northern Thailand and surrounding countries. While wearing a mask and having an in-house purifier allow us to somewhat maintain our respiratory health, I wouldn’t come here again at this time of the year. So, due to recent events of yours, truly, I’m adding this to the list: 

What’s the weather like – and is it healthy to travel there? Again, you can ask yourself what you’re looking for in seasonal weather and local climate and make appropriate choices.

Additionally, I’d recommend staying away from blogs and vlogs for this one, and going straight to local weather forecast stations, checking out the official Air Pollution Index, and seeking out local news of the past 6 months. Is what you’re finding on par with what you’re looking for? Note that this might not simply be a matter of personal preference, but also a physical safety concern. 

Ask yourself:

What climate and weather am I yearning for? 

What business needs must be prioritized, and does that affect your next choice of destination?

Let’s be real, some business needs are better left to a private office in a coworking space, while others easily come to flourishing while working near the beach. Other weeks, you might simply need to hunker down in your AirBnB, unplug from the world, and get this project off the ground. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t love to move countries in the middle of a launch. I’m not a sell-on-stories-at-the-airport kinda girl. (Are you?)

The beauty of creating a freedom-based online business is that you get to move in and out of different phases, and that different digital nomad destinations can support and nurture different needs and phases. It’s a great virtue inherent to nomadism for you to become intentional about.

If you’re a digital nomad entrepreneur, you, too might find that different environments are more conducive to different types of business projects than others. And how wonderful is it that you get to intentionally design your experience of business growth?! 

This one invites you to do some introspection about what does and doesn’t work in your business, figuring out which circumstances support which projects. My free guide, setting purpose-aligned business goals, is a great resource to help you gain insights. 

Ask Yourself:

What kind of destination, or experience, would serve my business best? What does my business need from the next destination?

online business growth strategies, digital nomad destinations, freedom-based business
Design Your Biz around your Travels, and your Travels around your Biz


What soul needs must be prioritized?

Of course, you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t lead from the soul, would you? There are times when you simply need to unplug from the world. And there are times when you desire more community, or a connection with a spiritual teacher.

As with your business, I’ve found that traveling, on a deeply spiritual level, is conducive and celebratory of that innate vagabond’s sense of desiring constant change. I don’t believe in being a life-long introvert versus extrovert. I believe that we go through phases of seeking inspiration and connection on the inside versus the outside. 

Can you take a moment to feel into this, right now? Which phase of connection are you in? And how might you want your forthcoming travels to support this phase? 

Ask Yourself:

What does your soul need, and how can your travels honor that need? 

How healthy can you be?

As aforementioned, this is becoming an increasingly significant part of our decision. Sure, we both have travel insurance. Badr has had a Nomad Safety Wing subscription for years – and they never failed him whenever he’s been in a situation of need or emergency. Personally, I opted for a rather comprehensive insurance, that covers my needs preventatively, holistically, and, of course, in emergencies, including unforeseen deceases, such as cancer. It’s called Passport Card and let me tell you, Acupuncture is on them!

But there is much more to this question than being covered. I think of my health in four parts: mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional. And I’m a better person when I’m being intentional about strengthening all four areas.

That might mean that I’m taking a month off to backpack through the Alps with no real plan other than to connect to nature.

That might mean staying a little longer in a country like Thailand to get my holistic and annual checkup needs tended to.

That could also mean avoiding countries that don’t strike me as having a healthy mindset, overall. Sure, some of this means I’m generalizing, but can you blame me when health is of concern?

My body, my mind, my heart, my connection to Spirit…maintaining all of this with love and intention is as much your birth-right as it is your responsibility. Without it, your vessel gets wacky…your ability to travel might fall short, your ability to serve your clients could diminish.

Ask Yourself:

How would you like to be able to strengthen your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health over the next few months?

What’s your gut telling you?

In years past, I’ve found that this question has been tossed around too often, too far…much to its inherent value’s detriment. If we were to ‘follow’ our bliss, or gut, or heart, without healing our past wounds, we’d end up repeating and perpetuating harmful patterns. However, if we’re doing the cognitive and emotional work set forth, implicitly, throughout this entire article, and outlined in explicit detail in this article or this, our gut becomes a rich source of wisdom and information. 

This is a crucial part of any journey – business, spiritual, and physical. Where is your gut pointing you? Do you suddenly find yourself in a lot of conversations talking about Mexico? Do you keep reading about this one island off of Costa Rica? I booked my flight to Bali the night after I had a dream about the island…and met my boyfriend there. Check in with your gut. Your intuition bears wisdom beyond your mind’s wildest imagination. 

Ask Yourself:

Am I allowing myself to receive my own wisdom?*

*If you find this question challenging, you may wish to strengthen your connection with your soul, using some of these practices

Concluding:

Deciding on your next dreamy, adventurous, logical digital nomad destination can actually become quite a brainy undertaking: visas, flights, airbnbs, getting around the country, etc. Badr and I have found ourselves hovered over laptops for entire weekends…right up until we stopped, and reminded ourselves of these exact, fundamental questions: what experience do we want from the next destination? What are our budget, soul, and business priorities, and what’s our gut say? 

On the other hand, we’ve also gone entirely on a whim or intuition and that’s had its own set of amazing and not-so great results. At the end of the day, I’d offer that choosing your next destination is a big / not so big deal:

As long as you’re being clear on your priorities and design a travel style around your priorities, the next destination will come to you. 

Our next stop, after Thailand, are the suburbs of Hanoi. What’s yours? 

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