If you want to live a digital nomad life with your family, but your partner doesn’t, then you probably face some discussion and frustration at home. But don’t despair; I have some great tips for you on how to convince your partner that a digital nomad lifestyle is the best thing for your family.
And I should know because I was the reluctant naysayer in our story.
Infected by the travel bug
I was a genuine stay-at-home kind of girl. I liked to go on a 2-week holiday, but that was enough adventure for me.
But, about five years ago, I met Joost. He was already living abroad (while I lived steadily in our home country the Netherlands) and had serious plans to move to Australia. He renounced this plan when we decided to move in together, but his restlessness never ended.
And he got me infected.
However, it took me three years until I was open minded enough to go along with his “wild” plans. But when I was finally there, I outdid him by being even more enthusiastic about living location independent.
As a former skeptic, I can give you advice on how to best approach your reluctant partner.
1. Give it time
It took me three years, and I think I was relatively fast in adapting my mindset. So if you want to live a location independent lifestyle, you should take into account that it can take a few years before your partner is open to the idea.
Sorry for bringing the bad news!
Breath in. Breath out.
Don’t shoot the messenger and continue reading…
2. Take baby steps
During these years, it’s all about baby steps. My husband talked about moving to the jungle of Suriname when we were only a few months together.
Living in a jungle is NOT a baby step.
When Joost saw my horror face, he changed his plan into moving to Geneva (Switzerland) which was far more comprehensible than the jungle of Suriname. For me, this was a baby step.
You need to discover what your partner’s baby steps are. Moving to another town? Traveling for a few weeks with a backpack and no set plan? And then, extend your ideas bit by bit. For example, when your spouse is open to moving to another town, moving to another state is the next step. Traveling the world indefinitely is then a bit more within reach.
You do not necessarily have to do all the plans you come up with. You only need to talk about this and see how the two of you imagine doing it.
So that’s where my third tip enters:
3. Talk, talk and talk some more
You have to talk a lot about your plans. What does it entail and what are your partner’s concerns? Find out together the why and what of both parties. Maybe your partner says A but means B.
For example, your partner might say he* doesn’t want to quit his job because of the fun colleagues there. Which is a fair reason, but maybe deep down, he is scared to start a location independent job because he doubts his skills.
* I use he and his throughout this blog post, but this can mean she and her as well.
If you find out the true reasons for your partner’s objection, you can also find actual solutions (instead of talking about the things that in the end are not decisive).
So talk and talk and talk some more.
4. Read about other digital nomad families
When you know your partner’s the real concerns regarding living as a digital nomad with your kids, you can start looking for relevant sources that deal with these issues.
Numerous families travel together, schooling while on the road with one or two remote working parents. They can be a source of valuable information that can help ease out your partner’s reservations.
Does he has educational-related concerns? Let him read blogs about roadschooling, or even better, let him see a vlog in which worldschooled teenagers tell about their experience. Reading about other traveling families can also give you an idea of what a typical day looks like. These stories might ease his nerves.
One of the first steps in becoming a digital nomad is finding or creating a remote job. Read more about it here:
5. Visualize your plans
Another important tip for getting your partner on the same page is visualizing your ideas. You might have an excellent idea, but when you explain it in a few sentences, giving only the core details, your partner will probably react with ‘oh no, definitely not’.
If you then go into the details, by explaining what your daily life would look like, he might be more open to your plan.
This was how it worked for me. For example, one of my husband’s plans was to move to Curacao. My first response was ‘what about my job then?’ (I was at a time in my life where I still had a 9 to 5 job, one I liked mostly). He then gave some ideas about what I could do for a living and he pictured what our daily life would be like. Of course, he painted a very rosy picture, but that was okay for the moment.
We ended up going to Curacao only six weeks later to see if it was the place for us. My husband even had an interview for a job there. I was seven months pregnant with our first baby, so we also checked for schools and childcare and such.
Ten months later we visited the island of Bonaire for the same reason. That was the moment we realized moving abroad was not the answer for our restlessness (yes, “ours”, by then, I was highly infected). We then came up with our traveling through Europe in an RV plan.
The three of us, sightseeing in the Algarve (Portugal)
This plan, however, could never have come into existence if I hadn’t been actively thinking along. So that’s my next advice:
6. Let your partner participate
By the time your partner is a bit more open to crazy travel ideas, let him come up with new plans. Or let your partner think about how your wild plan could be adjusted to fit his wishes.
For example, it was me who decided Europe was a better destination for us. We had a baby, and I wanted to be only a few hours by plane away from “home” (aka my parents in the Netherlands).
My husband and I set at the poolside of our vacation apartment on Bonaire, when he asked ‘why not travel through Europe with an RV?’.
And that was it. We had already sold our house, so we bought an RV two days after flying back from Bonaire, and we left two months later.
Bonus Tip: Go for a test run
We visited Curacao and Bonaire because we thought we might want to move there. That was our test run for moving abroad. In the end, we didn’t migrate, but we never tested the digital nomad lifestyle either. We just jumped in because we were both ready for this.
However, if your partner is not yet ready, or maybe you don’t feel like going in head first, you can test a location independent lifestyle as well.
Go with (or without) your RV on weekend trips and when successful, extend these trips to a few weeks, especially when you both work entirely remote. After that, the step to a complete location independent lifestyle is only a heartbeat away.
What about the kids?
As a family, you have your kids to take into account as well. When writing this blog post, I pictured a family with very young children (age under 5) like in our situation. If the little ones don’t have special needs, you can easily take them wherever you go.
Of course, when they are older, you might need to deal with your (pre)teenagers too!
Well, let’s start by convincing your partner. After that, you and your partner can recharge your energy and deal with your kids together.
Tell me, what is your significant other’s biggest concern?
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