Last Updated on16 min read
I was lucky enough to attend the Nomad Summit twice!
First in Las Vegas, then in Chiang Mai.
What exactly is the Nomad Summit?
It’s a conference for digital nomads.
What’s a digital nomad?
My definition is a nomadic person who makes a living online. They don’t typically stay in one place for too long and are location independent in how they make a living.
Sounds interesting? Well, then you might want to check out the next summit! It’ll be in Cancun!
Now that you’re aware that this event exists, you might be wondering…
How was it? Was it worth it? Should I go? Would you go again?
Here’s my honest compare and contrast opinion on both events I went to!
Basic but inspiring
Top notch & healthy
Easy to organize
Expected more advance topics
Hard to organize
It was nice that the first summit I went to was held in North America. I was already familiar with the language, culture, food and the city itself…Canadians love going to Vegas 😉 No stress here, just fun!
I arrived a whole month before the summit to get situated – I was planning on staying here for a few months anyway.
This certainly helped with reducing the stress from being in a foreign country, where I didn’t speak the language and most locals did not speak fluent English.
I can’t even imagine what other attendees who flew to Thailand just for a few days or a week felt like.
Overwhelmed from being in Asia for the first time? Exhausted from jet lag? Or OK because they only stuck to touristy areas? No idea!
At 120 people, it was nice, small and intimate – I really enjoyed it!
By the end of it, I was able to recognize 85% of the other attendees and knew about 40% by name. Afterward, I kept in touch with at least 10-15 people. Today, 5 months later, I still message about 5 of them regularly!
Although I don’t message some as regularly, if I were going to visit their city, I’d still be comfortable enough to let them know I’m coming to town and ask to meet up.
Even the speakers were able to recognize and remember you by name.
For example, Grace Taylor and I are still friends! Of course, it helped that we’re from the same city…
It’s roughly 3X as big as Vegas. I read somewhere that last year, they sold out and headcount reached 400 attendees.
That’s WAY too many people.
At the pre-registration mixer, there were already crowds of people at the bar and outside by the pool when I arrived. I remember walking into the space and immediately walking out.
I was so overwhelmed!
I went to use the washroom and hid there for a bit while I collected myself before trying again. It was easier the second time when I was more mentally prepared for it.
A Note on Gender Ratio
The male to female ratio was high in Vegas but even higher in Chiang Mai!
I don’t know why but this seems like the standard in almost every industry I’ve worked in, including in the nomad world.
It’s an even-level playing field. Anyone can learn the skills needed to be location independent, so why aren’t there more women?! I don’t get it! Maybe they just don’t find these events appealing?
I had an interesting conversation with another female attendee about going to events that are male-dominated.
She said that based on her own personal experience she’s been treated in two distinct ways: 1) ignored because the men in the room don’t think you know your stuff, or 2) hit on the entire night.
I can’t say I disagree.
This one time at another conference, I was talking with 3 guys and I asked one a specific question. He answered me but only made eye contact with the other guys the entire time…Rude, much?
I still have faith in mankind though 🙂
The content during the conference day itself was inspiring and motivating.
We had about 6 speakers that came on stage to talk about their own experience transitioning into a location independent lifestyle and some that gave out helpful information. About 1-2 were technical, which is a good mix for people who are still in that ‘exploratory phase.’
The topics covered were: Merch by Amazon, US Tax Break, RV Life, Sales Funnel, Coworking/Coliving, and Relocation Plan.
The talks were at a basic level but inspiring, and it served as proof that the remote working lifestyle is achievable.
It was exactly what people still in their home country and haven’t made that leap yet, like myself at the time, needed.
I expected the content in Chiang Mai to be more advanced.
It’s been running for 4 years now and I thought the people attending the conference in Chiang Mai would be in the next stage after exploration: building.
I was wrong.
The content was pretty much the same level of depth as Vegas.
There were 6 speakers and they covered topics like selling courses, dropshipping, blogging, selling offline to online, and retiring like a millionaire.
Unfortunately, I didn’t learn anything new that I could apply to my business. HOWEVER, I did take away some general concepts that served as good reminders.
Sad to say, but I think I’ve outgrown this conference – I’m no longer the right audience.
Obviously, I don’t have exact numbers to perform a data regression analysis but from people I’ve met and hearing other’s feedback, a high percentage (75%?) of people were brand-spankin’ new to the nomad scene.
My definition of ‘new’ is: they still have a 9-5 at home that they’re trying to leave, came out on vacation to scout out Chiang Mai, and see how they can transition into a nomad life.
They did take that plunge (quit their job) and flew out here but haven’t yet decided on what they want to do.
That’s totally fair – I was one of those people in Vegas!
But I’m passed that stage now. I’ve chosen a path and am knee-deep in it.
Now that I have more clarity, I’ll be looking for more relevant conferences and events for me.
We were able to go for ‘free’ or by donation.
I’m not sure who sets the price for it – the organizers or the workshop facilitators – but because they had a bundle package, I thought it was worth it.
I went to 3 of the 4 workshops and one of them BLEW. ME. AWAY.
I wasn’t interested in the title of her talk so had low expectations, but the workshop content was so relevant and practical to me. It made the whole day of sitting though not-so-relevant workshops worth it.
To be frank, none of the workshop topics were interesting to me. One was semi-related to what I’m doing, so I contemplated going to just that one.
While I was humming and hawing, it sold out.
I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much…especially since I found a pre-recorded master class on their own website and watched it already.
There were 2 that were quite popular and sold out early. Luckily, the facilitators were very generous and opened a few extra seats so more people can benefit.
I’m sure the workshops were valuable to others but, regrettably, not for me this time around!
This is VERY important to me.
I love food.
I also know that I’m hard to please with food too due to food allergies and just trying to be as healthy as I can.
Lunch is included in the price of your ticket. It was buffet-style but delicious and healthy, even though we were at a relatively unknown hotel brand – the Downtown Grand.
I was pleasantly surprised and satisfied with the food selection.
Vegas has some of the most amazing restaurants around the world, so I knew there was a certain standard for them to meet.
Of course, this is through no fault of Nomad Summit.
I was disappointed in the hotel – I mean, isn’t this the Shangri La? A 5-star luxury resort chain around the globe?!
I expected a more…
Lunch was buffet-style, which is fine. But all I saw was unhealthy carbs trying to fill you up. Eg, mash potatoes, rice, noodles, sushi, different meat dipped in some sauce filled with MSG and fat…etc.
It wasn’t appetizing, so I just stuck to a big plate of salad, another plate of fruit and select desserts.
They also provided mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. That was a nice touch – their saving grace.
We had small jars of mango sticky rice and mini croissant sandwiches. After lunch, we had bite-sized slices of carrot cake – one of my favourites!
Because we were a smaller group and there were a handful of locals to provide us for hookups, it was easier to arrange activities.
Most (95%) of us were staying in the same hotel, so I’m sure that played a huge role too.
Where are we meeting? Main lobby. Where are we having breakfast? The diner to the right of the conference room. What are we doing tonight? Just meet in the lobby at 8pm
I even stepped up and planned a little fun for us!
Bigger groups are more complex to organize logistics for.
Even though they provided the same avenues for connecting as Vegas – FB group, group chats on Line or WhatsApp, Pool Party…etc. – I didn’t feel like I made many deep connections.
Maybe a handful of people.
Typically, these are people that are from the same country as me, worked in the same industry, have a similar story OR I’ll be visiting their city soon.
Otherwise, I find that without commonalities either party wouldn’t make too much of an effort to meet up again or keep in touch.
I skipped the pool party and the one workshop I could go to was sold out, so I only went to dinner and the after party with new friends on the day of the conference.
That was enough.
I was exhausted and networked-out by the time I got home. I needed 2 days away from people to just recover.
I’m not anti-social, I swear! Lol
We all got T-shirts so we can represent and easily recognize each other.
I think that was a brilliant idea!
There were some sponsored vendors in the conference room so we can check out their offerings and grab some of their swag too.
We were all sitting at a table with outlet plugs and there was a beverage station that we can help ourselves throughout. It was pretty comfy.
No Nomad Summit T-shirt 🙁
I saw 2 vendors and one of which was Empire Flippers. They’re pretty cool – a marketplace to buy and sell your online business. They were giving out a branded bag with their T-shirt, sunglasses, pen and stickers.
There were 2 ticket categories – Standard is just a chair and VIP is a table with bottled Singha water that servers replaced during each break and electrical outlet for your devices.
For the normal people, there were beverage stations outside the conference room, but only just tea and coffee. No water 🙁
Nomad Summit Format
Pre-Registration & Mixer
This is when the keeners (most of us) will go and exchange our tickets for a name badge instead of doing it the morning of. People naturally will stay there and that’s where some pre-conference networking will happen.
Weeks before I went to the one in Vegas, I directly messaged all the ladies that were “interested” and “going” to the Nomad Summit FB event.
I wanted to find a roomie to lower the cost and share the hotel room with.
As I was going through the list of attendees, I also messaged and connected with people who were from the same country or city as me!
When I met them at the mixer, we were already somewhat familiar with each other and can continue the online conversations in person.
Day of Conference
What do I bring with me?
Not much, really.
A pen and notebook if you want to take notes by hand, or just your phone and charger.
No need to bring your laptop – these aren’t workshops. Although, you might want to bring your own bottle of water, just in case they don’t serve it
What to expect?
This is the day when 6 speakers will come up on stage and throw information at you one at a time.
You may experience cognitive overload – that’s normal.
Take notes and refer back to them later.
Don’t sweat it if you miss something because they record the whole thing and upload onto YouTube. You can also get access to the presenters’ slides too – they’ll have a link to share.
In my opinion, the most important part of events like the Nomad Summit is not actually the speakers’ presentations, but making meaningful connections with other attendees, organizers and hopefully a speaker or two.
In Vegas, at break times, we were encouraged to change seats, which is what’s needed to meet new people. Everyone was open to and doing it, so it didn’t make it awkward. I don’t recall this happening in Chiang Mai.
You’ll be drained mentally, and potentially socially, by the end of the day.
If you’re not sure how to strike up a conversation, that’s OK. I get it – it’s intimidating, especially in a sea of strangers.
Try this: Make eye contact with someone that looks friendly, smile and say hi. Start off by asking neutral questions: which speakers they liked the best, what did they learn so far or where are they from.
I find it easier to meet people where the food/drinks are or in the washroom.
If you’re waiting in line for the next stall to open up, and you know you’re both there for the same event, why not strike up a conversation?!
Two hours after the conference ends, the after party begins.
Before that time, most people grabbed dinner with new friends or went back to their hotel to drop off their stuff and take a nap.
The after party is another networking opportunity.
This is where I met more people than at the mixer or during the day. Perhaps, we were in a casual setting, so people let loose but…keep in mind that this is still a professional event.
Not only were most people new to the nomad scene (which is totally fine!) but a big portion was also new to the business world, which I think is why they didn’t show professionalism.
I’m talking about basic networking etiquette and general social skills here.
The nomad vibe may be very chill, open-minded and casual, but that doesn’t mean you can leave your manners at home.
As the famed Warren Buffett once said
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Let’s be honest here.
We’re human beings. We’re judgemental AF by nature. I’m not saying that that’s right, just that most people are like that.
I form my first impression of you based on how you present yourself.
For example, if you’re going to be a sloppy drunk and trying to hit on anything that moves. Even if I know I need someone with your specific skill set to collaborate with. I won’t be calling you. Just sayin’!
An informal networking day at the pool the day after the conference.
It’s not my kind of scene but I can see how it can be fun. I did go to the one in Vegas just to check it out, and it was exactly what I thought it would be.
A massive sausage fest with too much alcohol involved. I decided to skip the one in Chiang Mai.
4 workshops took place the day after the pool party, which is also the last day of the summit.
Again, I went to 3 of 4 workshops in Vegas and ended up really enjoying one of them. There was only 1 in Chiang Mai that was remotely related to my line of work and it was all sold out, so I didn’t go.
I think some people just go to the pool again for the day or hang around the workshop room/hotel to do more networking.
My Thoughts Overall
Overall, the Nomad Summit is a good place for people new to the nomad scene to start off with.
Topic content is at a beginner’s level so it’s nice and easy to comprehend.
Inspiring talks and meeting long-lasting friends was awesome, but, with a heavy heart, I must say that this might be my last Nomad Summit. We’ll see.
Don’t get me wrong!
I’m not discouraging you to go. I’m just giving an honest opinion from my perspective.
I’d recommend the Nomad Summit
For People Who:
- are still in that exploration phrase.
- are interested in meeting others also in Amazon FBA or dropshipping
- haven’t been before and are just curious
- Want to make new friends from all over the world (easier in Vegas!)
Not For People Who:
- Have already figured out what they are doing. Even if you’re doing dropshopping or FBA or course creation, it may be too elementary for you. Look for conferences that focus on that topic instead.