3 steps for convincing your partner to become a digital nomad family

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 know firsthand how you can convince a reluctant naysayer. Why? Because I was that reluctant naysayer…

In this blog post, I’ll tell you the steps me and my husband have taken (in retrospect) to come to the point where we agreed to travel full time and live location independent. Even better, when I was finally there, I outdid him by being even more enthusiastic about living location independent.

Copy these steps, and you’re good to go!

1. Take baby steps

Don’t shoot the messenger: convincing your partner will take time. It took me three years, and I think I was relatively fast in adapting my mindset.

I don’t say it will take three years before you and your partner are there, but still, don’t push it because that’s counterproductive.

So what does help? Take 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 can be the next step. Traveling the world indefinitely is then a bit more within reach.

Also, if you hear our partner complain about a certain thing in his life, jump right in and tell him about the obvious benefits of working remote and traveling full time.

Keep in mind, though, you do not necessarily have to execute all the plans you come up with. You only need to talk about them and see how the two of you imagine carrying it out. That’s the next step:

2. Visualise your ideas and plans

You have an excellent idea, but when you explain it in a few sentences, giving only the core details, your partner reacts with an ‘oh no, definitely not’. Sounds familiar? This was how I always reacted when Joost came with a new ‘wild’ plan.

The solution is to talk about it, like a lot. Also, talk at the right moment. It might seem obvious, but timing is everything. If your partner is tired or cranky, don’t start talking about selling the house or moving to Alaska. Just wait for his* mood to change.

And then, find out why he reacts so firmly with a no. What are his objections?

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.

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).

Throwing up roadblocks

One of the major problems naysayers suffer from is seeing problems everywhere. Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary as hell, but it is something your partner can learn. Don’t push it though, think of the baby steps.

These tips can help your partner see fewer problems and more solutions and possibilities:

  • Read about it. Share these stories with your partner. Like the stories you read here on this website.
  • Join relevant Facebook groups with families having different lifestyles or are traveling full time.
  • Watch shows on YouTube. For example, this interview with world schooled teenagers was an eye-opener for me.
  • Meet up with others living a different lifestyle. Even if it’s not how you would want it, it can help broaden the mind. For example, when we were on holiday in Bonaire, we visited a family living in a little farm cottage. It helped me visualize living in a smaller space and it made me realize we don’t need that much space to be happy.

Also, if you notice some careful positive vibe from your partner, let him come up with ideas. Or let your partner think about how your wild plan could be adjusted to fit his wishes. Make it a two-way conversation instead of only you trying to convince the other. 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 my family in The Netherlands.

3. Go for a test run

You can visualize all you want, but in the end, it comes down to actually doing it. You should find out where you’re both comfortable with.

  • Want to know how life in a van is? Rent one for the holidays.
  • Want to know how living off the grid feels like? Join an off the grid living family for a few weeks and help them with all the daily chores.
  • Don’t want to change scenery constantly? Try how living abroad in one place feels like. Rent a house for a month, go to the local market, make new friends!
  • Don’t want to travel all year round? Think of a way in which you can have a home and still travel for a few months a year.

In my experience, plans change regularly, even if you’re on the same page about them. You and your family change, your wishes and desires change, your view of the world changes. It’s a process and it evolves constantly. Two years ago we traveled with a trailer RV of over 8 meters and stayed weeks in a row on the same campsite. I couldn’t imagine living differently. Now we travel with a 6-meter campervan and we almost only do free camping, switching place every one or two days.

These changes happen, so never stop talking, visualizing and experimenting!

In the meantime… create your remote income!

One of the first steps in becoming a digital nomad – and probably the number one reason why most people say ‘no’ to the plan – is finding or creating a remote job. Don’t worry, working through these three steps will take time, and you can use this time useful by setting up your remote career.

This will tackle two possible bumps in the road:

  1. You offer a great solution for your partner’s most likely objection about how to earn a living.
  2. You can more easily execute your experimentations from step 3 because money won’t be an issue.

Maybe you’re also interested in reading:

This blog post is lastly updated on 14th of February 2018.

Comments 8

  1. Rutger February 13, 2017
    • Nanouk February 14, 2017
  2. Rudi February 14, 2017
    • Nanouk February 14, 2017
  3. Wandermust mummy June 2, 2017
  4. Jo at Rejecting Routine June 3, 2017
    • Nanouk June 17, 2017
  5. lindsey s November 19, 2020

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