Launching into the lifestyle of digital nomadism may seem like the perfect way to combine your love of travel with your continuous need to make money. After all, not everyone can retire at 35 or take a paid six-month sabbatical.

Americans are notoriously bad at unplugging to take time off that we need to rest and recover from the daily grind. Our employers typically offer just a few weeks of paid vacation each year, which can cause us to feel like we are missing out on the best parts of our lives. And when we take time off, we are often logging into our work computer to avoid the landslide of emails and emergencies when we return. It’s much different than the way Australian expats or those in Europe may behave.

Digital nomads seem to have all of the pieces of the puzzle that the rest of us are missing. They can work from anywhere with a reliable high-speed internet connection. Are you tired of the scenery? Simply book a flight or hop into your luxurious school bus-turned-home driver's seat and move on.

Like many things in modern life, there's more to being a digital nomad than you see on social media. Young, beautiful, adventurous professionals who've either worked out a plan with their employer to let them work 100% remotely or those that ditched their full-time job for freelance work can make their digital nomad lifestyle look easy. Those waiting for the next long weekend away may yearn to replicate their documented experiences.

Here are five things you must know before you embark on your digital nomad lifestyle.

1. You Don't Have to Go All In
The Oxford dictionary defines a digital nomad as "a person who earns a living working online in various locations of their choosing (rather than a fixed business location.)"
If you fantasize about quitting your job or working from various locations 100% of the time while maintaining your already-remote full-time job or your freelance career, remember that you don't have to go all in. You can start small, travel for a few weeks at a time, and still be a digital nomad.
2. Digital Nomadism Can Be More Expensive Than You Think

Even if you choose to give up your permanent residence for full-time van life or temporary homes in different locations, some expenses may be difficult to anticipate, even if you thoroughly research projected costs.

If you are a full-time freelancer, work's natural ebb and flow can mean your income is unpredictable. Even if your yearly take-home pay is enough to finance your lifestyle, the peaks and valleys can be challenging to manage. Slower times may make it impossible to plan your new trip or move on when you are ready for new scenery.

3. Making Money While Traveling

If you are working for an employer while traveling, you still have regular responsibilities that you must fulfill in order to keep your job. If you want to climb the ladder or are dedicated to maintaining your status as a top performer, it may be difficult to make it work while you manage the day-to-day challenges that come up while traveling.
When you are constantly on the move, you may spend a lot of time getting settled and learning the basics of your new (temporary) home. Plus, things may not be exactly as advertised when you arrive. The high-speed internet promised in the Airbnb listing, the quiet campground with a beautiful view and easy access to electric hookups, or the lower cost of living in a specific region of a foreign country may look very different in real life than on the internet. There's no way to know until you arrive, and by then it's too late to do anything except damage control.
Missed deadlines, frustrated bosses, and less income may become commonplace as you face the normal problems of a digital nomad's lifestyle. As a result, you may be too busy playing catch up when you can work to really enjoy the area where you've decided to stay.

4. Care for Your Relationships
The flexibility of a nomadic lifestyle allows you to meet people and create connections that you can't access from home. You may choose to visit locations with a built-in community of other digital nomads. You could plan your travels to help you reconnect with far-away family members or long-lost friends. But since your time in any one location is temporary, you'll eventually have to say goodbye. Parting ways with new or old friends can be stressful, especially if you are going through the process of saying goodbye every few weeks or several times per year.
Even while you make new connections and friendships on the road, still keep connections to friends and family at home.

5. Your Experience May Differ From Social Media Portrayals of the Nomadic Lifestyle

It may not be feasible for you to work in different locations year-round. If you think a digital nomad lifestyle is ideal, try working from your favorite vacation destination for a few weeks. Keep track of your expenses. Notice how it feels to work from a location away from your home or office. Pay attention to the following:
Can you stay focused when you need to work or are facing a deadline?
Does your productivity suffer or are you more productive?
How long does it take you to set up and settle into a new routine?
Is your environment distracting or inspiring?
What are your concerns? (Income, social interaction, physical or mental health, etc.)
Do you know much about taxes while living abroad?
Your short stint as a digital nomad can reveal some potential challenges you may not have considered. Keep records of your experience to help you decide whether pursuing this lifestyle is the right choice for you.
Stay Flexible as You Explore Your Nomadic Future

You'll learn more about life as a digital nomad with experience as any new adventure. And while becoming a digital nomad may be the best decision you make about your future, it's crucial to commit to a flexible mindset as you embark on your journey.

Author's Bio: 

Angela Ash writes on a multitude of topics, including business, mental health, green living, travel and more. She also works with Flow SEO.