The Millennial’s Dream
Being raised in a time of limitless connections, digital nomads are computer savvy, multi-skilled, 90% multilingual, and all yearn for a life of perpetual movement and meaningful experiences.
I first became aware of the digital nomad community when I learned how to kitesurf, so the connection between extreme sports and digital nomads has always been obvious to me.
I had just left university, and having been met with a slew of “don’t call us, we’ll call you” type of responses after many rounds of shitty job applications, I packed whatever I could fit into a 50 litre rucksack and took off for China.
The kitesurfers in Hainan were the first and best friends I made, and what a crew they were.
I had never met people like them before.
People who could fit their entire life into their board bag, who traveled the world based on where the wind was blowing. As I listened to them swap stories from Mauritius to Miami and Cape Town to Tarifa, I felt like I had been let in on the world’s best kept secret.
All romantics aside, the practicalities of how they managed to fund and maintain this lifestyle were still a mystery to me.
But not for long.
Extreme Sports and Digital Nomads: The Symbiosis
By the time I became a digital nomad myself, I had already accumulated a good 20 kilos of kite gear. Not exactly “minimalist” by anyone’s standards, yet it’s still a surprisingly common scenario for us extreme sports lovers hell-bent on traveling the world.
The relationship between extreme sports and digital nomadism isn’t just an abstract connection
It’s a powerful symbiosis that is changing the way we work, the way we play, and the way we choose to live.
Up until very recently, our subgroup existed only on the margins, but as the digital nomad movement gains momentum, the extreme sports faction of adventure-fuelled wanderers are rapidly moving from the sidelines to the mainstream.
The Nature of the Nomad
The original nomad life was all about minimalism.
Things that are once again becoming more and more relevant in today’s consumer crazed, debt-heavy, mortgage warped culture.
Nomads never owned more than they could carry, and they would never carry more than they needed. Their concept of ownership was radically different.
Sharing was the ultimate device that allowed them to reduce their individual load.
Communal culture was at the core of their ethos, which not only influenced their personal inventory but their entire attitude to themselves and their peers.
Constant movement and a reliance on their natural surroundings fostered their deep respect for nature.
After all, they knew that their livelihood depended on it.
All things considered, it’s no surprise that our modern human living in an IKEA showroom apartment, commuting to and from work for hours each day to sit in their air-conditioned cubicle crunching numbers and counting down to each Friday night are feeling the disconnect.
This, more than anything, is why so many people are breaking up with their cubicle, with ‘conventional’ life, in search of something more meaningful.
The Philosophy of Sport
Anyone who runs will be fast to tell you about the addictive “runner’s high”.
Downhill bikers can describe the jitters they feel before they take off down the steep mountain track.
Paragliders often recount the sense of calm they experience shortly after they launch into the air and see the tiny ant-sized world below.
Whatever the sport, and however extreme, the simple act of getting out of your brain and into your body is transformative.
It’s just about the most real thing you can do.
No ego. No advertising. No notifications. Just total engagement.
Wind riders, wave seekers, and trail blazers- we all share something important, something the old school nomads knew very well but that we’ve largely forgotten in the age of the iPhone.
This is where our newfound digital nomad comes into play.
Why Extreme Sports and Digital Nomads are the Perfect Match
The American Dream is dead in the water.
Today’s “dream” is a lot simpler.
No SUV, no house with a pool and a picket fence, and no gigantic fridge with an ice dispenser in the door.
Just a laptop and a wifi connection.
Enter: the age of the digital nomad, where the lure of location independence is- more often than not- at the top of the list of priorities.
Just as our modern day nomads seek freedom to move, travel, and discover the world as they earn, the extreme sports community is always on the search for the perfect new spot to ride. Or surf. Or fly.
Travel is inevitable for many of these sports (that is, if you want to keep things fresh).
And, by virtue of the wind and weather, many of these sports are seasonal, so being prepared to chase the right conditions around the globe is important if you want to practice year round.
For those lucky enough to work online, this means you don’t have to miss out on those windy days, or wait for your annual holiday, or pull a sicky when the conditions are just too good to miss.
But the best part of being a lover of extreme sports and digital nomad?
You control when and where you work, and that means being able to clock in the hours needed to get your project done without having to sacrifice your session.
Your office is where you want it to be.
Your hours are yours to do whatever you see fit.
In keeping with the digital nomad’s refusal to be a prisoner of the 9-5, those with a passion for extreme sports are fuelled by the freedom their discipline offers.
The psychological freedom to take the daily struggle out of the mind and into the body where it can be worked out with muscle power, no more a slave to stress.
And then there’s the physical freedom.
Maybe to explore the new beach town you’ve just arrived in, but from a different perspective. Maybe by taking your kite for a ride up and down the coastline to discover a couple of secluded beaches or hidden lagoons, or maybe by cruising around on your bike, down the little hidden tracks nearby your new “office”.
Only by virtue of being a digital nomad can you enjoy this level of flexibility to do the sport you love- whenever and wherever you want.
#3 The Symbiosis Between Extreme Sports and Digital Nomads
It’s easy to talk about our shared wanderlust, our flexibility, and our hard-fought sense of freedom, but what does it really boil down to?
What is at the core of these two distinct communities- extreme sports and digital nomads- that draws them, almost magnetically, closer and closer together?
It’s one simple fact.
The ability to do one is what fuels the other.
Being able to choose where in the world you work means you can put down your bags wherever your inner stoke screams “Here! Here! It has to be here!”.
Being able to choose your hours means the best session of your life could come today. Or tomorrow. Or any day, actually. Because your session doesn’t have to wait for the weekend or the annual holiday anymore.
And when the seasons change and it’s time to move on, your itchy feet just need to find the next best spot with a decent wifi connection and awesome wind. Or waves. Or trails.
And the best part of all?
You’ll take all of that stoke, and energy, and enthusiasm, and put it right back into the rest of your life.
That’s what a work-life balance really is.
It’s about learning from the world, not just the country, and it’s about working smarter rather than working more. And of course, it’s about being able to squeeze in a little sunrise surf session before a day of work, just because you’re a freelancer and the people you work for are called customers, not bosses.
Extremenomads.life is the sports and outdoors destination guide for digital nomads, board riders, adventurers, and explorers.
After fumbling my way through a year of studying abroad in China, I made the mad-hatter decision to pack up my life in Ireland and move to Asia full time. It's been a wild ride, and I've even managed to pick up some cool little tricks along the way- like how to kitesurf, and speak Chinese (though not very well simultaneously). These days, you can find me beach-bumming around this part of the globe, looking for the best places to put down my bag of bikinis, my board, and my little black doggy.