Yesterday, I chatted with someone who was just accepted into Remote Year.
He expressed hesitations about the program and wanted an honest view from someone doing it - beyond the Instagram feeds with verbose captions and the constant expressions of gratitude. A note to readers: I'm always willing to do that, if you've been accepted into RY and are not sure whether or not to join the program. Email me. We'll chat.
Anyway. I noticed something about him, something that was true of myself when I received my letter of acceptance.
Neither of us realized, or else truly appreciated one crucial thing:
There are lots of alternatives to Remote Year.
You are not limited to the choices of "join RY" or "get a desk job." That's what it felt like, to me, when I first heard about nomadism. I thought that I could either take this big leap with an established program OR stay in ennui-filled convention.
It seemed to me that there was no middle ground.
I thought that the logistics of nomadic life must be extraordinarily complicated, because why else would a program build a value proposition on solving them for you?
I thought it must be expensive to travel full-time, so expensive that $2,000 / month suddenly seemed reasonable.
I thought that nomads must get lonely, because again - why else would a program emerge to solve the issue of community in a full-time travel context?
Y'all. That's a fallacy.
A fallacy of false choice, to be specific.
Remote Year is one way to do nomadism. I've written before about how I don't think it's the best way - not for a passionate professional who places career in her top priorities (along with nurturing a relationship - but that's a whole 'nother story). It's, perhaps, not even a logical way.
RY, on the surface, presents a lower barrier to entry for nomadic life. The programs offers the comfort of traveling with 75 friends, a cushion of community in which to confide as you "figure out" how to do nomadism and how to make remote work a long-term, sustainable lifestyle.
But "lower barrier to entry" and "best option for a newcomer" are not synonymous. Just as first-to-market is rarely best-in-market (also relevant here).
Traveling with 75 friends sounds idyllic. Sometimes it is. I've made friendships on Remote Year that I already know will last for a long time (and not just because Martin has a place in Belize).
But sometimes it isn't idyllic. Often the social energy is exhausting; sometimes it's even toxic.
I didn't know about #nomads, or Nomad Forum, or the existing community of people who do this already. Because of course digital nomads formed their own community. Of course they did. Why wouldn't they?
I didn't realize that some coworking spaces, particularly those in Europe, doubled as a place to live and a place to form community.
I definitely didn't realize that RY culture would often overlap with the bar scene - boozy Tuesday nights and bus rides soaked in Jack Daniels. It didn't occur to me to be concerned about partying ruling the social culture. I've been removed from that scene for so long that I legitimately forgot that people my age spend lots of time and money in bars.
That's not to say I hate the social scene. I might leave the party at 11 pm, downing only one glass of wine, but I still enjoy my time with my RY-ers.
It's just not the social culture I'd choose for myself.
The point: you get to choose.
If you decide against Remote Year, you don't necessarily have to decide against nomadism. You don't have to decide against community, or full-time travel, or remote work.
You have options. Don't forget that.
And for the record, you don't need a year of hand-holding to figure out how to "do" digital nomadism.
Relevant: I just wrote a post for the Tortuga Backpacks Medium publication, Life + Travel + Work. It's a resource on coliving and working spaces around the world - both static places to live for a month or two (like Sun Desk in Morocco, a place I'm dying to go) and short-term retreats like Hacker Paradise. That should help with the fallacy of false choice issue.