Being a digital nomad and working remotely from a sunny, exotic beach seems like the ideal lifestyle. If you think you’re ready to travel the world and work from just about anywhere, read on to learn more about becoming a digital nomad.
What is a Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is a person who travels often, at least twice a year, and earns a living by working online. As long as they have a computer and an internet connection, digital nomads can continue to work and earn an income.
There are many different variations on the definition of digital nomad. Some people who are location independent, which means they can work remotely from anywhere, consider themselves digital nomads. However, digital nomads are characterized by their lack of one home and their travels, which may occur every few weeks or up to every six months.
Digital nomads may earn an income from selling physical products, digital products, or services online.
Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad
Choosing to become a digital nomad is a life-altering decision. Before selling your home and saying goodbye to everyone you know, weigh the pros and cons of adopting this lifestyle. Instagram and travel blogs typically only show the positive, glamorous side of being a digital nomad. As with any lifestyle, while there are definite advantages, there are downsides as well.
The freedom to see the world on your own schedule sounds like a dream. There are many appealing aspects of being a digital nomad.
- Having a lower cost of living for the same or better quality of life
- Traveling whenever and wherever you choose
- Having the flexibility to set your own work schedule
- Experiencing other cultures
- Making new friends from all over the world
The reality is that being a digital nomad involves more than searching out jungle waterfalls and sandy shores. Becoming a digital nomad takes a lot of hard work, and not everyone is cut out for the laptop lifestyle.
- Saying goodbye to family and community connections with potential isolation challenges
- Getting rid of personal belongings, or paying to keep them in storage until your return
- Finding a good internet connection that will allow you to work on the go
- Communication challenges with team members and clients that are in other locations and timezones
- Being disciplined to keep your work productivity while traveling the world
Steps to Become a Digital Nomad
Everyone has varying careers and lifestyles, so you may need to spend longer on some steps or be able to skip some entirely.
1. Eliminate expenses while increasing income
Take a good look at your expenses and subscriptions to see what you are able to live without. You’ll want to begin to eliminate the unnecessary spending so that you have more money to spend on your travels.
Work on paying off your debts as quickly as you can to reduce interest payments. Look for side jobs or ways you can earn extra money, such as dog walking, Uber, mystery shopping, or anything else you can do in your spare time.
2. Reduce location ties and reduce your “stuff”
Think about what is keeping you in your location. End long leases and cancel memberships. When you pick up the essentials and live abroad, you won’t need or want to bring most of your things with you. Start cleaning out the clutter from your house.
Many things you may be able to sell at a garage sale or on sites such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Sell your car, or put it in storage and lower your insurance premiums while the car isn’t in use.
Go through your photos and keepsakes; toss what you don’t want, and make digital copies of what you’d like to keep.
3. Consider turning your current job into a remote position
Many companies are starting to allow employees to work from home. Find out if this is something your current employer would offer. If this isn’t common practice at your workplace, do your research first so that you are prepared for a discussion with your boss. Common concerns are communication and efficiency.
4. Identify the skills you have, then improve them or learn more
You’ll need to work to fund your travels, and if you can’t turn your current job into a remote position you’ll have to make your own. Have a look at the skills you already possess or the skills you can improve upon to earn money. If you are great with kids or have teaching experience, you may want to become an online English tutor.
If you are a developer, look for freelance work building the front- or back-end of websites. Apply for jobs online and create a website and business cards to attract more clients. Continue to take courses and learn so that you can keep improving your skills. Expand on what you know and teach yourself something new.
For example, if you already enjoy taking photos and making simple edits, learn how to use Photoshop for more complex edits and sell them on stock photo sites.
5. Choose your first destination
Remember, digital nomads travel at least a couple times per year, so don’t get too concerned about where you should go first. Choose somewhere with a good internet connection and where the cost of living is low, so that you are sure you can work and fund your lifestyle for a while. Create a rough budget so that you know how much you’ll need to earn and spend.
6. Do a test run
Try out a shorter trip, roughly three weeks long, to see how you fare with living and working from somewhere else. You may encounter some issues you hadn’t expected, and will need to think of solutions before you sell your house and pack your things.
Resources to help you start as a digital nomad & remote based professional
Thanks to the growing popularity of remote work and the digital nomad lifestyle, there are now loads of fantastic resources out there to help you make the most of this unique way of living. We’ve compiled some of the best into one place to give you instant access to advice on every aspect of working remotely:
1. Becoming a Digital Nomad
If you’re interested in taking the first steps to becoming a digital nomad (working remotely while traveling), these articles give you a warts-and-all view of nomad life along with some helpful starting points:
- 8 Ways to Make Money as a Digital Nomad by Entrepreneur – want to be a digital nomad, but not sure how to earn money? This article has plenty of inspiration.
- How to Become a Digital Nomad by Webworktravel – from the skills you need to some of the practical steps to take, this useful piece tells you how to set yourself up as a digital nomad.
- The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Digital Nomad & Travelling the World While You Work by Unsettle – this post busts some myths about digital nomad life and has more detailed suggestions for choosing this lifestyle.
- 6 Steps: How to Get a Remote Job This Weekend (Ultimate Guide) by Ryan Robinson – an actionable step by step guide to get your first remote based job, including jobs resources.
- Resources for Digital Nomads by Legal Nomads – a bumper list of useful resources organised by different ways of becoming a digital nomad, from freelance writing to coworking spaces.
- Women Digital Nomads – a fantastic resource for women taking on the digital nomad lifestyle.
2. The Keys of Working Remotely
Remote working isn’t without its challenges, but these posts have loads of useful tips to make it easier:
- Remote Work Research You Can’t Afford to Miss by Dan Hoppen – if you’re looking to make the case for remote work, take a look at this research.
- Why Great Teams Embrace Remote Work by Trello – download this guide for everything you need to know about remote working, including actionable advice for making a success of it.
- How to Grow, Manage and Work with Remote Teams by Zapier – if you’re running or working as part of a remote team while you’re living the digital nomad life, you won’t want to miss downloading this guide to remote work.
- The Ultimate Remote Guide for Digital Nomads & Location Independent Professionals by Nomad Pass – contains lots of useful apps and other resources to make remote working go smoothly.
- The Complete Guide to Working On A Remote Team by Megan Berry – advice on how to be an effective remote worker and collaborate with remote colleagues.
- How To Manage Remote Employees by Corinne Purtill – a useful piece with practical suggestions for running your own team of remote workers.
- Managing Remote Teams – A Crash Course by Andreas Klinger – how to set a distributed company? Criteria, setups and considerations.
- Working Remotely: A Complete Guide to Turn You Into a Pro by Alexandra Cote – a complete reference to start working remotely, from pros and cons to tips for effective remote work, and companies hiring remotely.
3. Keeping your Productivity as a Digital Nomad
Productivity can be challenging when you’re often on the move. These articles give you insider tips on maximising your productivity when you’re living the digital nomad lifestyle:
- 23 Productivity Tips for Digital Nomads by Buffer – including crowdsourced tips from real digital nomads.
- 15 Essential Productivity Apps That Every Digital Nomad Needs by Wifi Tribe – these apps will help you work effectively as a digital nomad.
- Stay Productive On the Go – the Top 20 Tools for Digital Nomads by Lifehack – even more useful tools for digital nomad life, from tools to help you work out the cost of living to apps to help you stay in touch.
- 9 Secrets to Maximizing Your Productivity as a Digital Nomad by Digital Insider – practical productivity tips tailored to those who travel while they work.
4. Life as a Digital Nomad: Destinations, cost of living, health insurance…
As a digital nomad, the world is your oyster. These posts give you loads of inspiration for destinations that work for nomads, as well as some of the practical arrangements needed for this lifestyle:
- 30 Destinations for Digital Nomads – the best places to live and work remotely by Chris the Freelancer – a compilation of great destinations by a digital nomad who’s been there, seen it and done it.
- 52 Best Digital Nomad Destinations To Go in 2018 by Tomas Laurinavicius – a crowdsourced list compiled by 30 digital nomads, picked for various factors including unique experiences, fast internet and a nomad-friendly budget.
- How To Calculate Your Cost of Living as a Digital Nomad by Full Time Nomad – keeping track of costs is vital as a digital nomad, and this post tells you how.
- What Digital Nomads Need to Know About Travel & Work Visas by Remoters.net – which countries can you visit without requesting a visa? How long can you stay without one? can you work while you’re there? Answer these questions and more with this post.
- Top International Health Insurance Options for Digital Nomads by Remoters.net – our guide to the best health insurance designed for people who travel while they work.
- Top Mobile Hotspots for Digital Nomads: Keep connected to work when traveling around the world by Remoters.net – some of the best options to keep connected to the internet when traveling internationally and be able to work on the go.
- 10 European Coworking Spaces Perfect for Startups by Remoters.net – if you’re going to be a digital nomad in Europe, check out our guide to some of the best coworking spaces across the Continent.
Read more advice on how to work remotely and succeed digital nomad with our handy How-To Guides.