Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.
I have managed to keep up with a few favorite hobbies of my own since I left my home country 15 years ago. I’ve also picked up a few new ones along the way. If you’re thinking about a nomadic lifestyle or are already a digital nomad you may be wondering what hobbies can digital nomads do.
Here are the top 5 hobbies for digital nomads
- Foreign Languages
Aside from these top 5 digital nomad hobbies, there are dozens more hobbies digital nomads can do. Let’s explore them below and what makes these hobbies the best fit for digital nomads.
What Kind Of Hobbies Are Best For Digital Nomads?
Being constantly on the move, the last thing you want to do is start a hobby that requires large equipment. It’s difficult to travel around the world with a potters wheel for instance.
Requiring a partner or group of other people is another no-no when choosing a new hobby. If you want to start playing DnD it might be difficult to find people to play with as you travel around. Best to find a hobby you can do alone.
The only exception to the two rules above is very popular hobbies that you can find equipment or practitioners everywhere. Finding a piano to practice on can be done even in the most rural places around the world. And finding a group to play soccer with usually isn’t too difficult.
Hobbies that improve your life as a digital nomad give you an added benefit. Learning a foreign language as a hobby, for instance, will be useful as you meet others that speak it or live in the country where it is spoken.
Hobbies that help you document your travels are also of particular interest to digital nomads. Learning photography for example will give you better pictures of all the places you visit.
So here are the best Hobbies for Digital Nomads
Drawing (or Painting)
Learning to draw requires little more than a pencil which is ideal for digital nomads who are trying to travel light.
Drawing or painting also gives you a chance to capture all those beautiful views and turn them into pieces of art. Drawing or painting is especially useful to those who most need to use the logical part of the brain for work. Being creative or artistic gives the left hemisphere a break
Being a digital nomad it’s part of the job description to be familiar with computers. If you’re like me and enjoy tinkering around then learning to code may be the best hobby for you.
Learning to code can be a really satisfying hobby as you become able to build your own programs, websites, or apps.
Starting to learn to code can be daunting, picking a language and learning the syntax seems like an insurmountable task. I recommend you just pick something and get going, use the table below from my post on Essential Digital Nomad Skills, to pick the language for you.
|Desktop Applications||C++, Java, C#, Python|
|Scripts||Bash, Python, Pearl|
I love taking photos as much as I love looking back at photos I’ve taken over the years.
Photography is a great hobby for digital nomads not only for taking travel photos but also to improve whatever work you’re doing as a digital nomad. If you are writing a blog, photos can make the difference between people reading it and not. Even if you’re not blogging, your digital marketing efforts are always improved by adding photos. This study showed that tweets with images are 94% more likely to be retweeted than tweets without.
A sales booklet, a menu, a training guide, or a presentation can all be improved with great images.
You don’t need a huge amount of gear or a bag full of lenses to take great photos now. You can start with the camera you already carry around with you on your phone and when you feel ready upgrade to something more professional.
Learning a foreign language might seem like the most obvious choice for a hobby for digital nomads but very few actually make significant progress with their language studies.
As someone who has learned 3 new languages as an adult, my advice would be to be intentional. Let’s face it you’re not going to become fluent in a language by asking a native speaker how to say a few phrases over coffee one morning. You need a plan and you need to be intentional about how your study and practice.
Read this post if you’re still wondering Should I Learn the Language?
In another post, I’ll expand on how to make a language learning plan and how to stay consistent. For now, just ask yourself if you’re trying to learn a few phrases for fun or do you want to achieve fluency.
Does reading even count as a hobby?
I think it does. There was a time when you’d buy a book and swap it with someone when you were finished. Many a cafe I’ve been in even had shelves of books you could take away as long as you left something in return. Nowadays though I find using an e-reader just too convenient and the extra price is worth paying to read books I actually want to read rather than whatever is available.
Though my favorite e-reader is this one because it opens so many formats and side loading is so easy, I’ve found that most of them are about the same in terms of usability.
Maintaining a good yoga practice is so much more than just a simple workout.
- Burn Calories
- Gain Strength
- Improve Balance
- Increase Flexibility
- Increase Focus and Concentration
- Mental Clarity
For digital Nomads, yoga is a great practice to keep because it can be done anywhere and requires very little equipment. You don’t even need to use a yoga mat if you’re on grass, sand, or carpet it will be soft enough.
If you want to start a yoga practice, YouTube is the best place to look there are lots of follow-along videos for all fitness levels.
If you’ve ever watched a tai chi master performing his tao lu you can understand the appeal of learning taichi. I started learning tai chi when I was 12, years later I would learn from one of four lineage holders from the original taichi family (Chen) in Beijing.
Once you know the form, it’s yours to keep and you can take it with you and perform it anywhere. Not only is it a good workout but it’s also one of the only workouts you will be able to continue to do into your old age.
The only thing you need to practice tai chi is some space which makes it a perfect hobby for digital nomads. I would recommend that you learn tai chi from a master on your travels but if you don’t have access to one, take a look at this video to get you started.
You might think that you could never learn to juggle but it’s not as difficult as most people think. Like most things it just takes practice. But you might be thinking what makes juggling a good hobby for digital nomads?
I’ll admit that taking up juggling as a hobby will eventually require you to take some props with you but juggling has so many benefits it might be worth it.
- Increases Brain Function
- No Equipment is needed – Can start with apples, bottles, or socks
Keeping a pack of cards in my bag is a must for me when I’m traveling. I can pull them out if I’m on a train and play with the passengers around me, sometimes I even pick up a new game to play. A game of cards can also be a great way to make new friends. By pulling a deck out in a bar or cafe you can the people around you to play.
If you’re walking around with playing cards anyway, it’s fun to know a few tricks with them. I’ve done magic tricks for kids in Nepal on my way up to Everest Base Camp and for passers-by when I’m sitting in the window of a hotel lobby.
Most of what I learned was from books when I was young. Nowadays there are so many resources available online to learn to mystify people with a deck of cards.
Running is another great hobby for digital nomads because all you need is a pair of running shoes and your off!
It is great for burning calories and keeping you fit. It’s also a great way to see a new place. You can use a run as a scouting trip, find new places that you’d like to come back to and visit. Running down little alleys and round corners you may find restaurants and museums you never knew were there.
If you haven’t been in a place long, just be sure to have your address written somewhere in case you get lost and can’t find your way back!
Much like running, hiking is a great way to take in a new place. All you need is some water and a snack and you’re good to go! Although you may need more gear if you’re tackling something more challenging.
Hiking is also the perfect hobby to combine with something else. You can get amazing photos while hiking, especially if you take your time (and have a nice tripod.) Still, juggling or reading atop a mountain can also be a nice way to take a break.
You’ve gotta eat!
I can’t think of anything more satisfying than cooking something for people that I learned to make on my travels. Making a traditional Indian Masala or real sweet and sour from China.
It’s one of the biggest perks of being a digital nomad, we can try food from all over the world. So why not learn how to make it and take it with you where ever you go?
Even if you’re not learning local dishes, learning to cook is a skill that will serve you for the rest of your life. If you’re a digital nomad on a budget it will save you money too. Later, when you have the money you can buy better ingredients.
I was missing having crumpets after being away from home so long I decided to learn to make them. Soon, the word got around that I could make them and I became inundated with crumpet orders. It turned out to be a nice little side business completely unintentionally.
You can find chess players the world over, and even if you can’t find someone to play with there is always someone to play with online.
I have never been a great chess player. I picked up go in China years ago and have played it online almost every day since then. It’s great being able to play go online whenever I feel like it. But nothing beats meeting someone and playing a game in real life.
For those times when you don’t have access to wifi, you can download an app to play chess an AI.
As for resources to learn to play chess, there are plenty of books you can read, or videos if you prefer learning that way.
If I missed your favorite hobby in this post, check out this huge list of 86 indoor hobbies!