Does The Digital Nomad Life Really Work For Black Freelancers?
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Earlier this year, I committed to the full-time freelancing lifestyle. While I knew that budgetary constraints would be real, I looked forward to a life on my terms. That is, the ability to earn money while traveling to all of my dream locations. Now, after a few months of doing this, here are some things I’ve learned about the digital nomad life as a freelancer:
1. Racism Still Exists In Black Countries
This one caught me off-guard because I grew up in a majority-Black country and thought I would feel comfortable in any other majority-Black country. Additionally, I had heard from other Black digital nomads how much safer and more respected they felt outside of the U.S.
The truth is, any economy that relies heavily on white tourism will not be entirely accommodating for Black tourists, even if their population is largely Black. Between suspicious glances in restaurants and coffee shops, to outright rudeness from service providers because they assume you’re “just a local girl,” you might find that traveling, even in Black countries, will expose you to nuances of racism, classism, and colorism that remains ever-present abroad. The first time you are slighted in a bar or restaurant in a Black country in favor of a white patron will abruptly shake you out of the notion that Black countries will offer some sort of utopia for all Black people.
2. The Expense
In many countries, finding reliable WiFi and workspaces can be downright challenging. You will need to do your due diligence before settling on a destination by researching the general internet quality in that area and what it will cost you. Coworking spaces can also be costly, with some of the higher-end locations charging as much as $30/day.
3. Accessibility To Clients And Projects
Networking can become more accessible and more difficult in varying respects when you travel abroad. However, it is still important to network as a freelancer. When you’re on your home turf, you can be more selective about your social and networking activities. However, when you’re in unfamiliar environments, it can be hard to connect with specific professional groups.
This could be both beneficial and harmful. On one hand, it could impede your access to the kinds of gigs and projects you would typically pursue. Conversely, this situation could force you to have more organic and spontaneous interactions with others, which could feed your creativity in pleasant and unexpected ways.
4. It Can Be Downright Exhausting
I pride myself on my ability to travel light and find my way around any city or town. However, continually changing locations can drain your energy and distract your focus from your work. We achieve a certain level of efficiency by accomplishing specific mundane tasks on “autopilot.” If our brain needs to learn a new city every few weeks or months, it can become preoccupied with simply surviving in the new locale, not producing outstanding work.