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Why and how to become a digital nomad?

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Becoming a Digital Nomad was one of the great aspirations of the confined workers during Covid. Few, however, have dared to take the plunge. Indeed, digital nomadism implies a renunciation of a geographical anchorage and reorganizing one’s personal and professional life. In this article, we share the testimony and experience of a real digital nomad. Olivier Caeymaex has taken the plunge and now lives in a mobile home. For us, he goes back over the practical aspects of his new life and shares his advice so that you can also become a digital nomad if you wish.

Olivier Caeymaex became a digital nomad after Covid. As an IT consultant, he now lives in a mobile home and moves around as he pleases.


Summary


Why become a digital nomad?

There were some ideas and also desires that led me to become a digital nomad. First of all, the desires. Being on the road has always appealed to me. For the past 4-5 years, I’ve been in the habit of regularly taking a few days off on my own, going to the mountains, making a retreat, or doing an internship. I used to talk about them as moments of solitude, even if I was never really alone. They were rather moments of disconnection, and they gradually became indispensable for me. Every time I set out for such a moment, I was invaded by a kind of intoxication, like a hypersensitivity, a connection to beauty, perhaps? Everything touched me: the encounters, the landscapes, the sounds…

The complexity of the layout and the need to plan things ahead are inversely proportional to the size of the vehicle.

At the time, I had fitted out an old Pajero to be more or less autonomous in the mountains. To be on the road, in a way, is to escape from all this madness, if only in a symbolic way. And then there is the psyche, which tries to find its way in this end-of-the-world atmosphere to make sense of this absurdity in which we are immersed.

Olivier Caeymaex’s digital nomad life now takes place in this mobile habitat


Covid, the trigger for the digital nomad life

Covid was the trigger for my conversion to digital nomadism. Besides the discussions that monopolized the media (especially social media), there was an abundance of microscopic initiatives. An ecology setting here, something in transition there. That’s when I understood what a “bubble” was. This click opened the way for me to switch to a digital nomad’s life.


Digital nomadism: what impact on your professional life?

My professional life has changed a lot. Before the pandemic, I traveled 25,000 kilometers a year and spent my days going from one customer to another. And then, almost overnight, my digital consultant and agile coach business went online. What seemed unimaginable became the norm in a few months. So yes, everything changed, but not because I became a digital nomad. It’s rather the opposite.


How did your family and friends react to the transition to digital nomadism?

It was pretty clear to those around me that I was moving towards becoming a digital nomad. The Pajero, my regular roaming, it was in the air, and everyone at home had a pretty independent lifestyle.


What was the reaction of your clients when dealing with a digital nomad?

Professionally, I had a real problem talking about it for a long time. As a consultant living in a truck, I feared it would put clients off. Digital nomads may have been fashionable, but it wasn’t easy.

Positive reactions to the project

It wasn’t until the beginning of 2022 that I started being transparent about this, sharing my intentions explicitly and communicating about the truck layout. And it was a bit of a surprise. I was talking about it enthusiastically, and the people I was talking to were also enthusiastically responding.

Digital nomad = marginal?

It helped me overcome the fear of some form of marginality. I was afraid of being marginal, marginalized, or weakened.

Little by little, I got this little exhilarating feeling of helping to inspire people. Making radical choices is a source of inspiration for those who don’t dare to cross the line (I didn’t put my life in danger, but it’s still a little dizzying) and to be aligned with that. From there, inspire, inspire, inspire. It’s more or less the only thing we can do. In addition to sorting your waste…

The truck bought on Facebook at the beginning of his transformation into a life of a digital nomad


Practical aspects: going from the conception to realization in 7 months

I bought my truck on Facebook. This configuration is ideal. No heavy goods vehicle license, yet it weighs 7 tons. So, there is space and comfort. Since I don’t plan on driving hundreds of thousands of miles, it’s perfect. I purchased the truck in December 2021. I started in earnest to fit it out in March this year, and by July, it was ready to go. And so was I!

Fitting out the truck. Digital nomadism is earned!


How did you create your digital nomadic space?

I did it by instinct, frankly. No plan, a lot of salvaged materials, some old furniture, an old gas stove… I bought what I liked. I still had to resell a few items that I had bought a little quickly.

That being said, the complexity of the layout and the need to plan things are inversely proportional to the size of the vehicle. The smaller it is, the less room there is for improvisation. In my truck, it’s okay; I have room, and I don’t necessarily have to think strategically about every cubic centimeter.


Digital nomad for 2 months: a first assessment

For the moment, I have two sentiments. One is a kind of exaltation that connects me to everything I meet on my way: people, experiences, landscapes, and places where I land. I don’t know if it will last, but I have this joy for the moment.

And then there is the other feeling: a kind of vertigo, a feeling of perdition, almost of madness. The loneliness, the distance from my daughters, the link with my wife (she is also well connected to the light habitat) when we are at a distance, inventing the way we meet again. Not always easy, not because it’s difficult in itself, but rather because it’s like a territory to explore.

I let these two feelings infuse me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 2-3 years, it’s that there’s absolutely no point in making plans! So, I savor it as if it’s all coming to me, and I try to feel where my alignment is in it.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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