Every digital nomad remembers that first trip where you really feel like you’ve stepped outside of your comfort zone. That trip or me was Mexico City. Up until this point, most of my travels were limited to just around the US. I was always in a familiar environment when it comes to the culture. Mexico City would be the first time really being in a country with a completely different culture and way of life than I was used to. Upon arriving, I realized how completely unprepared for the digital nomad lifestyle I was.
Mexico City would be my first city to experience how it is working while traveling. Up until this point, the only thing I knew about being a digital nomad came from blog articles and Youtube vlogs. I didn’t even do research about Mexico City so I can really be surprised when I arrived. Little did I know, I wouldn’t be prepared for almost anything. I opted out of many of the recommended travel gear for nomads which was a big mistake. I didn’t start to realize the value of information, suggestions, etc. until my first experience with culture shock in Mexico City.
The trip became real as we began to descend over the vast city lights and the pilot began saying the greetings in Spanish. My Spanish was only limited to “Hola” and “Gracias” so this was a big deal. We touched down at night time but I had already sat through a layover lasting more than 12hrs. By the time I touched down, I was half awake trying to comprehend everything around me.
The first recommendation that I should have listened to is to have additional chargers. Between the layover and the flight lasting a few hours, the battery power on my phone was almost drained. I had just enough juice left to find the hostel address to put on the immigration forms. The battery on my phone was completely drained soon after. This was a time that I needed it most. The plan was to call Uber to take me from the airport to my accommodation. With my phone not charged, I was stuck wandering around the airport trying to find a plug to charge it up a bit.
This moment is where I realized how valuable Wi-Fi was. Since my phone had to remain charging, I decided to call the Uber in advance. This combination actually ended up costing me unnecessary money. Every time I would call the Uber, I could never locate them out front and my phone would lose charge. Since I couldn’t respond, I’ve gotten at least three cancelled trips.
My only other option was to take a cab. I purposely was avoiding taxis because it involved having to interact with them and I couldn’t understand the language. I also wasn’t prepared with much cash upon entering the country. I was planning to get my ATM card notified for using abroad so I was hoping what I was able to exchange would cover the fare.
Trying to communicate with the taxi driver was one of my most interesting experiences out of the entire situation. I hadn’t written down the hostel address so all I could mention was the area. I was lucky enough to find one guy who spoke enough broken English to get the gist of where I was trying to go. It took a lot of hand motions to get the point across.
The entire process of landing and getting to my final destination for the night was truly overwhelming. I knew about cultural differences between the US and Mexico but you never really have to apply them until you get there. The culture shock experience in Mexico City including trying to communicate without understanding the language, as well as learning how to navigate the city overall. Much of this situation could have been avoided if I had appropriate technology to support me. Digital nomads rely on technology to build careers. As my first experience as a digital nomad, I quickly understood why it’s important to have it.
Although I had read a lot of information about being a digital nomad, actually stepping out and doing it makes you see exactly how the lifestyle is. There will always be learning that you have to do with every city or country. Every new destination will have its own form of culture shock to you.