Have iPad, Will Travel: Notes From a Digital Nomad

Posted on 6th October 2016 by Sally Campbell
The digital nomad: with no fixed address, living in a camper van and running a business on the hoof, contemporary communication connectivity may just have the power to set us free. Author William Thomson (whose splendid guide to coastal Britain The Book of Tides was published in the autumn of 2016) lives just such a life and for Waterstones Online, he sets out the stall for the lifestyle's five key benefits.

1. More Nature

When we were living in a house in Deal, Kent, we would come home after a long day of work, close the front door and inadvertently ‘close out’ nature until the next morning. Van life was the polar opposite. Nature was ever-present; rain would patter above our heads at night, the van would blow in the wind, and the whole space would glow orange with the setting sun. It was invigorating to experience a closer connection with the natural world from the relative comfort of our ‘home’.

2. The Best Views

Along the coast, property prices get higher as you get closer to the water. It felt liberating to defy that rule; to enjoy a different million-pound-view every single morning from our £5,000 campervan. That was until I began to write the Tsunami chapter when the waters edge suddenly became less appealing. Not wanting to vocalise my irrational fears, I convinced Naomi there was a fascinating castle inland and we headed to the hills for a couple of days. But the tug of the tide was too tantalising and we were soon wild camping with the sound of waves sending us to sleep.


Photo: Family Portrait (c) William Thomson

3. Better For The Environment

It is to be expected that sacrifices must be made when embarking on a nomadic adventure. Wardrobes are reduced to the size of a small bag, anything but the necessity is sold or put into storage. Water must be conserved and you can only use the electricity you can generate. While this could be frustrating at times, it was compensated by the satisfaction that by consuming fewer resources our lifestyle was better for the environment.  

4. More Sleep

As our travels progressed I realised that I could lie in later and later whist still starting work at 9am. At the beginning of the trip I was waking up at 7am; after a year of tidal travels I mastered waking up at five to nine, quickly preparing breakfast and coffee, putting the kettle on the hob and sitting at my desk by two minutes to nine. The kettle would boil at 9:01 and I could lean over from the ‘office’ into the ‘kitchen’ and pour my coffee while attending to emails.

5. Less (Financial) Stress

A digital nomadic lifestyle does not come without stress, but after our first week of travelling I suddenly realised the financial burden of paying bills had all but dissipated. While renting our house I had perpetually been counting down the days to the end of the month, stressing about whether we would earn enough in that time to pay all the bills and have anything left to do something fun. With that financial worry gone, we could focus on enjoying life. And by stepping out of our comfort zone and doing something different, we were rewarded by a more prosperous business in which for the first time in my working life I could save money and plan for the future. 


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env: aptum