Is Being a Digital Nomad Possible in the Philippines?
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After I gave birth to my daughter almost four years ago, I realized that living life the way most people do it just wasn’t what I wanted. For some reason, I stumbled upon blogs about families who travel the world in different ways — on a bike, on a train, on an RV and more — and some even do it full time. That seemed a lot like how I wanted mine and so we set off to fulfill that dream ever since.
A little over a year ago, I finally had the courage to get out of the corporate world and enter the unpredictable but fun world of freelancing. I was working online but it was only this September that we decided to give the digital nomad lifestyle a try.
Also Read: How to become a Digital Nomad?
So, is this kind of lifestyle really possible in the Philippines? It’s challenging enough to do it on your own but what if you bring your family along?
We put it to the test. Yes, it was extremely challenging but we also found out that it was doable, like most things in life that we set our minds to.
Internet and Connectivity
Obviously, the biggest challenge digital nomads have in the Philippines is a stable Internet connection. Ours is one of the slowest, if not THE slowest of all, in Southeast Asia. Logging in on mobile was bearable but it becomes twice difficult when you do it on a laptop.
No, it wasn’t an issue about not getting enough signal strength (although there certainly are times and places that it was) but it actually was more on the data allocation part of it. Imagine starting work at 8 in the morning and finding out that your connection slows down to a crawl by 3 in the afternoon. You’d be lucky if your sites continue to load, albeit it would take a very loooong time for that to happen.
It isn’t all fun and leisure
When you are a digital nomad, you basically just transferring office based work into your laptop so you will essentially have to continue working even though your environment may look like it is continuously on a “vacation” mode.
I’ve spent days inside our hostel room catching up on work (ugh Internet) while the partner and our daughter decide to get out and stroll around to see the nearby parks and playgrounds. Of course, I try to balance it out and I would sometimes go out with them — work in the morning and attractions in the afternoon. Mind you, I still had to constantly check my phone to make sure I was around when someone pinged me.
The Budget Challenge
One of the biggest things people have to deal with, traveling or not, is money. While we were on the road, we had to constantly monitor our daily expenses (yes, up to the last cent) to make sure that we had enough to get by for the next few days or until we get our next pay (we lived on the money we made on the road). Each meal, attraction and fare were budgeted and we were very happy to have only spent a little over Php 27,000 for the 22 days that we went around Eastern Mindanao. Mind you, this already covers transportation, accommodation, food and leisure for two adults and a toddler.
When it comes to traveling long term, it is important that you grab opportunities that come by, especially those that help you save a huge chunk of your money. We met up with friends who were kind enough to pay for our dine-out bills and we also made friends with someone who offered us free accommodation for six days. Cool, right? It’s all about street smarts, as they say.
I could go on and on about the things that we have learned about living life on the road in the Philippines but if you are considering the digital nomad lifestyle, these are the three major things that you should prepare yourself for. Yes, it’s super challenging but, trust me, it will all beworth it in the end.