Digital Nomad Family Destinations – The Hard Parts

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If I were to ask you what you thought were the hardest parts of being a digital nomad family, what would you answer? Would you think it was lack of stability and financial security? Maybe you’d crave routine and regularity? Would you think living out of a suitcase with few possessions would be an issue? Perhaps you’d find the actual logistics of travel hard? For me, as a mum, a woman with a digital nomad lifestyle, it is choosing destinations.

For us, the difficulties of being a long-term nomadic family and making a living online from wherever we find ourselves in the world are none of the above. Our biggest problem, is picking the next digital nomad family destination.

Destinations for digital nomad kids where to go
When choosing destinations as digital nomads you have to weigh up what’s best for your kids. Meeting up with friends, or new adventures off-the-beaten-track. The kids picked Egypt, they also chose Greece, but after these two, where will we go?

It’s a luxury to have choices in life. It sounds like a good thing but I find it incredibly hard. I’m the one in the family that’s often the decision-maker. Women are generally classed as the decision makers and to me it’s a burden. Chef (Dad) is the facilitator, he makes things happen and drives this ship. I’m all about choices, in destinations, and in what’s best for the kids.

Digital nomad destinations in Malaysia
There are quite a few places in Malaysia that would make great digital nomad families. Kuching is one. So far Kuching has remained a little off-the-radar for most nomads, but it’s a wonderful city, it’s cheap, with loads to see and do.

Being a Digital Nomad Family

We were a digital nomad family for almost a decade, but lockdowns stopped us travelling. Today we travel extensively from our home base. I would still choose a nomadic family lifestyle over living in a house, but things got complex. We got a dog, cats, and a few sheep, but that’s another story.

We still earn online and we could still support ourselves in full-time travel. The kids would still be happy to do this, to travel with their parents as young adults. But one of them has a job now, he enjoys it. Same for his dad. Both kids are taking driving lessons. This year I will be a solo digital nomad female. I leave in a few months. This time I won’t be going to the typical digital nomad destinations, I’ll be exploring the more difficult-to-visit countries. Sign up to follow!

Digital Nomad Family Destinations

There is a community of nomad families, most are slow-moving, others, like us, are faster-paced. You will find these families and their digital nomad kids in travel hubs for nomads around the world.

These destinations include Chiang Mai in Thailand, Bulgaria, Hoi an and Phu Quoc in Vietnam, Bali, and communities in Portugal and Greece.

These places are all cheap, easy, popular destinations for all kinds of travellers. Places are popular because they’re good.

If I were to add a few great destinations for families where I would be happy to settle and work for a while, I’d list Kuching, Pokhara, Kathmandu, Bangkok (of course), Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Hue, Hanoi, and Saigon.

These are all cities with good infrastructure, health care, shops, transport and plenty of things to do. I can’t think of any beach destinations that I’d recommend for nomads like us.

We’ve never wanted to follow the crowd and move as a group but we do like to meet up with friends sometimes. Before we choose a destination we may consider where other families and their kids will be going next, but more often than not, we don’t.

There are never any guarantees that a whole-family friendship made in Chiang Mai will work under more stressful travel conditions. We’ve learned the hard way that they often don’t. We’re very wary of making plans around other families now.

What we Love About Being a Digital Nomad Family

Great digital nomad family destinations -Vietnam Hoi An
Hoi An is a sensational digital nomad destination for families. We lived here for 6 months total, connecting with other expats and travellers, plus the younger people of the digital nomad world. It’s a great place. There are even worldschooling groups in Hoi An, if you’re looking for those opportunities to connect.

We already posted about the best things about travelling the world as a family, but below is the short version.

  • Freedom
  • Flexibility
  • Travel
  • Educational Opportunities – Learning Every Day
  • More Family Time
  • Flexible Working Hours and Days.
  • Career Opportunities and Building Business Skills
  • Being a Part of the Global Digital Community and Meeting Other Digital Nomad Kids.
  • Helping Other Digital Nomads with Kids Achieve Their Goals.
  • A Lower Income Funding an Amazing Lifestyle.

All of the above advantages go without saying, but a digital nomad family life does have the disadvantages that come with making choices and decisions. For me it’s a lot of stress.

The Choices We’re Making as a Digital Nomad Family

We have to choose what’s best for the kids. That’s important in picking where to go next. We also need to make decisions with regard to our blogs, business and income. Those decisions are mostly down to me.

I ask the kids where they’d like to go, but they never give me a straight answer. D likes the idea of buying a little house in Wales, to use as a base while we continue to explore the world.

Boo wants to be a traveller still, but he’d like his base to be London.

They don’t appreciate the financial considerations and neither of them thinks further ahead than 5 minutes, so much as I love to please them, we can’t rely on their choices of destination.

Chef generally wants to go wherever I want to go so long as we factor in plenty of time for Ironman events. We have another race this autumn and they’re a massive time and financial commitment.

Options For Digital Nomad Family Destinations

Here are a few of the options we have at the moment, mostly good options, some not so much. These may help you plan your own destinations.

  • Leave Romania forever, to return to full-time travel, backpacking with kids if you prefer. We’re still waiting for our house deposit refund, so we’re delayed by that. We also don’t truly want to say goodbye to the village of Breb Maramures forever, a piece of our hearts will always be here.
  • Go to Mexico and live there for 6 months or so, explore more of South and Central America.
  • Go back to Australia to sell our house, this will be a big time suck, it could be a year of living in Port Douglas. We have to do it soon.
  • Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a while. We all love expat life there.
  • Go back to Nepal, travel, do every trek we can and stay as long as possible. D and I like that idea.
  • Continue to take short travel breaks, as we have done recently, to explore new destinations more like holidaymakers than long-term travellers with slow travel periods in between.
  • Go back to London and living in Richmond on Thames. It’s home and offers many advantages, but it’s expensive. Chef would return to full-time temp work in top-level hotel kitchens and cease to be involved in our lives. He’s cooked for Joan Collins more often than he’s cooked for me.
  • Make a big push to get to “bucket list” destinations such as Myanmar, Tibet and Bhutan. We set out with the intention of seeing them 4 years ago, but somehow got sidetracked. (Spoilers: we did tick off Tibet and Bhutan.)
  • Return to living in Hoi An.  Either Hoi An or Chiang Mai are great for digital nomads with children as there are great nomadic communities there.
  • Focus less on travel and lifestyle and instead turn the websites into money generating machines. It would be pretty easy, we’re at that stage, but are we prepared to sacrifice time for money as we used to back in our pre-travel days? I know how to make money blogging, it’s finding the time for a complete site overhaul that’s hard.
  • Become the sort of professional travel bloggers that take press trips and skip from one hotel review to the next.  The kids are old enough now that I could maybe leave them with Chef to do some promotional solo travel. This is my least favourite option, it’s not my scene. I like my websites as random and unplanned as they are. You can read how World Travel Family blog works here.

Countries That Are Not Good Digital Nomad Family Destinations

You generally won’t find digital nomad family communities in the more expensive countries. Countries like Bhutan, Singapore, Australia, maybe London, are too expensive.

You also won’t find a large number of families in countries with strict regulations around visas. Some now do not allow digital nomads to work within the country. Some require us to purchase digital nomad visas (look into Indonesia and Thailand’s digital nomad visas.) These visas tend to be expensive.

Because we are not slow travellers, we have taken short trips to all of the more expensive countries. For those few days we focus on our destination and enjoying it with the kids. We forget work, sometimes don’t even pack a laptop. We live in the moment and enjoy the travel. For us travel is far more important than any community of nomads.

Where Next?

I don’t know what will come next. This was a post created for our followers, not for SEO. So what do you think, what comes next in the World Travel Family adventure? The Egyptians used to read the entrails of animals for guidance, I’m asking you.

Hover over the image below and use the magic button to save to Pinterest – thanks!

What's the Hardest Part of a Digital Nomad Family Travel Lifestyle

Maybe when I’ve got my head around this I can go back to writing the travel posts, but I’ve been unable to do it for days now, my mind is too busy. Back to our Egypt travel guide next time.

By the way, did you follow us on Pinterest yet? Please do, it helps us a lot, go pin some stuff! If you want to find out what path we chose and more about the realities and practicalities of a digital nomad family lifestyle, take a look at the related posts below.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

28 thoughts on “Digital Nomad Family Destinations – The Hard Parts”

  1. I know you wrote this post a few months ago, but I spent most of March through August in Mexico City and I can tell you that it’s wonderful. That was far too long for me, even though it was split between two separate trips, but the city and the people are fabulous. My daughter and 14 year old granddaughter ended up moving there and they are absolutely thriving after their first month. My granddaughter says even the dogs always seem to be smiling in Mexico City.

    The food is delicious and super cheap, city transpo also cheap and plentiful. And there are so very many interesting things to do and see in the city. Also, English language movies are easy to find and have very cheap tickets. The tourist area near the zocalo is very clean and safe, I loved staying there. But other parts of the city are probably even cheaper.

    I now consider the city my home base, rather than anywhere in the States. It’s where I will return to when I leave this side of the Atlantic. There are still so many parts of the rest of the country I want to see, but I definitely have to get down to Buenos Aires and Montevideo at some point. So I’ll look forward to seeing what you have to say about those regions.

  2. So many exciting options, I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the year plays out for you. I get what you mean about choice, so much of it can be paralysing and it must be tough being the key decision maker in the family. Still, compared to the daily grind I used to endure, I definitely feel fortunate to have so much more freedom these days 🙂

  3. Hi Alyson, the only part of Australia with any great capital growth is Melbourne and Sydney. So Im not sure selling your house in Port Douglas would be worth selling yet you would have to check with the locals there. I am currently in Townsville and the market here is definitely depressed/ low. As per usual there are those that believe it can go lower and those who think we have hit the lowest point and already and the only way is up. Good luck with whatever you choose. Have you thought of running your own hotel/motel/restraunt. I suspect you could still travel and set up some sort of caretakers to cover when your travel bug bites.

    • The think is, the pound is so low right now it makes sense for us to sell. We plan to move most of our cash back to the UK, hopefully. Since we bought that house, maybe 10 years ago now, there has been little by way of increase. We should have kept our house in London, we’d be milionaires now! LOl

  4. I find your focus on travel and lifestyle (and less sponsored reviews) both inspirational and refreshing. It makes me think that living in line with your ethics while also being a travel blogger is possible. (I worry that we will commercialise the children OR begin to get brittle and professional – that you haven’t done that is AMAZING). While i can’t answer some of those bigger questions, i can say, don’t lose who you are – stick to your ethics. And sometimes doing the boring “chore” like things can be important lessons for the kids too.

  5. Hey Lady. Has anyone approached you about filming your travels — maybe through your kids’ eyes? I was thinking an episode per location…weekly series not a reality-type show. Just a thought.

    I like the idea ^^ of rating the ideas. Also, if you were to take all of the “base” location options off the list temporarily, maybe you could each make new lists of where else you’d like to go or places of interest…and rate those.…see if that stimulates new direction.

    Good luck figuring it out. As always, I’m excited to see what you choose — living vicariously through you guys, as we do. =)

  6. Gee, what tough decisions to make! But I’d say nay on the UK return — you’ve mentioned how pricey it is before as well as how busy Chef stays and so I vote something like the Mexico option, although I can certainly see how you’d have to go back to Australia to sell your house, as well. Regardless, I’ll be along for the ride! 🙂

  7. Hi Alyson,
    Sell you Aussie house NOW!
    As you probably know, Australia is in a bubble, and as soon as the Chinese investment goes.. so do the prices!
    If I had your capital I’d sell here, buy investments other places…. all over the world… jump from base to base while renting them out….
    Good Luck

  8. Out of everything, I think maybe the bucket list destinations that you haven’t been to yet. And the bottom of the list would be the money making- time is so precious! If you can afford to live as you are, happily, I reckon keep on keeping on. And it would be so cool to read about places like Bhutan, that is probably #1 on my bucket list!

  9. To be truthful, only you can say what will work for your family. My personal preference is to have a home base where I actually enjoy being and then to do trips of varying lengths from there. I consider myself very lucky to have found a part of the world I love enough to stay for months at a time as well as the opportunity to see the rest of the world too. But, if you’re feeling restless where you are maybe it’s time to move on. Is there a reason why going back to Australia would take a year or so? Right now markets are hot, it doesn’t seem like selling a house would be that hands on or time consuming. If that’s something that’s weighing on you and feeling like it’s limiting you in some way it may be a good idea to just tackle it and get it done then move on. Some decisions are just better met head on!

    • We may have to do some fixing up, painting, gardening, you know, the usual. Then finding a smaller investment property and the whole process, it all takes time. None of us wants to go back really, so it’s a bit of a chore, but we have to sell soon or we’ll need to start paying C G Tax on that house. We love being in Romnia, but it’s been 2 years now, we’re done. If we stayed it would be for sentimental reasons and we don’t think that’s a good reason to stay when there is so much more to experience out there.

  10. Hi Alyson, I feel your pain – sometimes I just want someone to tell me the answer! Personally, I don’t think I’d be happy without a long term base where I felt part of the community, and also some kind of financial security, but you’ve been nomadic for years so obviously don’t feel the same. Could you maybe get a base in Wales, then rent it out during the summer months to help fund your travels? It’s sounds like quite of your options can be achieved (e.g. Base AND bucket list trips). Could you all 4 look at all the options, and each rank they or rate them out of ten? Obviously this won’t give you a final answer, but it can help see which are the favourites and which don’t make enough people happy enough.

  11. Scratch anything that will settle you. You guys will never be able to settle again. You will only feel the need to go again after a year. Settling for a while in London might not be a bad idea but be prepared to leave again in a year or so.

  12. Why sell your place in Romania? We find that rental income helps with travel expenses.

  13. Hello Alyson,
    I just discovered your blog a couple of months ago. It’s been interesting to follow.
    I am not much help with the decisions you have to make. In fact, I’m wondering the same thing — from a different perspective. My husband and I live in the US with our two girls (8&10). We’ve traveled (pre-family) to India a few times (once for a year), Indonesia, Botswana for 6 months, and a few times to Mexico. Now we are wanting to travel for a year with our family, but don’t know where to go. Financially we can probably squeeze out a year in a cheap place. We’d want it to be pretty safe and fun for kids. How would you go about researching our best options?
    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • Hi Jessica, we’re currently 10 months into a year long trip, also with 8 & 10 year olds. We spent 4 months in SE Asia (loved all of it, cheap – we could live off the rent from our house and do this indefinitely), then 3 months in Oz (great, we had friends and family to stay with part of time which kept costs down; but accommodation and food expensive; too long – 6-8 weeks would have been enough), 1 month New Zealand, 1 month Japan (both amazing, NZ more expensive than we thought, Japan cheaper), now got last 3 months inter-railing back to UK from Greece (kids tickets free before 11 years). We haven’t regretted anywhere we’ve been; it’s been an amazing year for so many reasons, and we are already thinking about another long trip in a couple of years. If you want I have a blog with details of exactly where we’ve been –
      If you tak the bold step I don’t think you’ll regret it!!

      • Thank you, Carol. This is all so inspiring! We are leaning toward just starting out by going to Thailand. We have friends living there, so we can touch base with them and go from there. I will definitely check out your blog.

  14. I really enjoy your blog and have been for quite a while now. I’m also following you on your FB group. My family is going to be hitting the road in about a year for about a year… I love the posts you have about Thailand. That’s one place that we are definitely heading. (we have a 6 year old). I’m also going to walk the Camino in Sept 2018.

    I’ve started up a lifecoach business to help fund my expenses and it’s also something that I really enjoy and can do from anywhere in the world.

    Would you be interested in an intro coaching session to help determine how you can make this choice? Intro sessions are free and are meant to help move you forward in your life.


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