Applying good habits to nomadism

I've been traveling full-time for three months and change.

In digital nomad terms, that's nothing. Some spend three months in one place before switching countries. Some have been traveling for years, with no idea when they'll return home. But to me, three months feels like a lifetime.

When I joined Remote Year, I gave myself a bit of a buffer in order to adjust to traveling. I didn't put pressure on myself to maintain my morning routine or eat as healthily as I did in Durham. At first, I stressed about my exercise routine (or lack thereof), but quickly decided to go easy on myself in the name of navigating change.

I've hit the time, though, to start thinking about those factors again. I'm established in the "routine" of full-time travel (routine in quotes, because there's never really a routine).

I now know how to land in a new country on Sunday and be productive on Monday. I'm getting the hang of the mental impact of changing everything, all the time. 

In Durham, I went to the gym three times a week. I cooked healthy lunches for the entire week on Sunday afternoons. I rose by 6am and finished work in the early afternoon. I cooked healthy dinners most nights and ate a protein-heavy breakfast. I budgeted my time and my money effectively.

I want those habits back, in some iteration. I am not, however, going to try to implement all of those habits at once. 

Because currently I spend too much money on restaurants, I don't exercise at all, I eat too much sugar, I sleep later, and my schedules are too erratic for my liking.

Trying to change everything at once will likely fail. I've never found success in the extreme - always in intention and focus, with room to forgive myself for missteps. With that in mind, here's my plan to adapt my healthy routines to a nomadic lifestyle.


May: focus on Food & Budget

I used to grocery shop on Sunday mornings, before the rush of the after-churchers. Sunday shopping was purely utilitarian. I didn't need a list, because I bought the same few ingredients every time.

Chicken. Veggies. Hummus. Pimento cheese (my vice). Eggs, for breakfast. Sometimes salmon, if it looked fresh.

I'd cook a chicken and broccoli stir fry in my dutch oven and divide it into tupperware for lunches. I'd whip together a dinner of lean protein and something green. 

Prepping ingredients in Durham.

Prepping ingredients in Durham.


I can't tell you the last time I made a simple stir fry. I don't always trust the ingredients in South America, and I don't usually have a kitchen, but honestly it's just that I've set bad habits of eating out all the time. I had to eat out in Uruguay, and sort of kept doing it after that. Not great.

I have a kitchen this month (and will do my darndest to have one going forward). To me, a kitchen is crucial for budgeting and for eating right. 

My goal is to eat all breakfasts at home, cook most dinners, and ideally pack lunches. The last part is difficult right now - Peruvian lunch meat sketches me out a little and we don't have a microwave at the workspace. Going to improvise based on what I find at the grocery store.

Budget is also a focus, but my main misstep in finance is also related to food. If I focus on cooking and eating healthier, the finance will follow.


June: Focus on Exercise

I'll be in London in June. I'll have switched time zones (and continents), so I'm going to leave the morning routine focus for July.

In London, I'll also have a kitchen. It's (obviously) an expensive city, so I'll try to maintain my cooking habits. It should be far easier in a place like London. I doubt I'll have trouble finding ingredients in London.

So cooking is solved. Time to add on.

Cusco's altitude makes exercise a bit challenging. London doesn't have that problem. In London, I will focus on establishing a regular workout routine. We (allegedly) have a gym in our coliving space. I may pair that with something like SkyFit App to make a treadmill workout bearable (and HIIT).

Ideally, I'd go to yoga and barre classes. London has ClassPass (yessss), though none of the studios are very close to my coliving space. Hm. Maybe I'll jog to a class? I suppose easier doesn't necessarily mean easy, full stop. I'll figure it out.

I hope my ankle will let me jog.

I hope my ankle will let me jog.



July: Focus on Morning Routines

July is Prague. I'll have been in Europe for a month. I should have the time zone thing figured out by then. Hopefully I'll have eaten well for two months and exercised for one. 

Time to optimize my mornings.

I have trouble with morning routines in South America. I love logging on at 6am, when the world is asleep. But here's the crucial part: I love doing it in my pajamas, steps from my bed, with a cup of coffee and a plate of scrambled eggs.

The internet is never fast enough in my room to make that morning a reality. I don't love getting dressed and walking to a workspace that early - I'd rather sleep until 8 and start my commute around 9.

My hope is that Europe's internet will be faster and more reliable than South America's, which will enable me to inject more productivity into my mornings. I'm really excited at the prospect of finishing my Prague workdays at 1pm and exploring the city from there.


August and Beyond: blend it all together

I know that my mornings, workouts, and meals will be slightly different from country to country. I'm worried a bit about eating healthy food in Serbia and maintaining a workout routine when it's cold outside (I hate being cold), but I'm hoping that starting these routines in a travel context will help me keep them up.

Here's to health.

Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.