What is a Digital Nomad?
You may or may not have heard the term “digital nomad”, but it refers to someone who doesn’t live in any one particular place. Digital nomads travel to different places around the world while they work. You may have read other articles about working in order to travel or quitting your job to travel full time. While being a digital nomad does involve travel, it’s more about living in different places around the world and enjoying them while you still have a full time job. It doesn’t involve less work, you just do the work in many different places. Let’s take a deeper look into how and why it works and how to realistically become a digital nomad yourself.
Location Independent Work
The key to being a digital nomad is working remotely. That might mean finding a freelance gig (or two), or working for another company that allows you to go remote, but the travelling aspect of digital nomadism will only fly if you can work anywhere in the world. If you’re able to achieve this, you will no longer be dependent on your location to earn a paycheck. You can be free to travel the world and work wherever you land.
Being Your Own Boss and Working Remotely
If you have your own business, but you manage a storefront or place of operation within a certain town, it’s much harder to separate from that location. Sure, you might be able to travel more often than you would with a traditional job, simply because you are the owner of the business, but you might never be truly location independent. This means, you might not be able to fully achieve the life of travel that you want. Of course, neither choice is superior to the other, but digital nomads usually do benefit from being able to travel whenever they see fit, not necessarily when it is convenient for their business.
Focus on the Quality of Your Work
As such many digital nomads prefer to own a business or work for a company that relies on their quality work, not their appearance in a particular location. This is why you may read of digital nomads that belong to the marketing, writing, IT, customer service, or translation career paths. All of these niches are opening themselves up to more remote work possibilities. They rely on the quality of an individual’s work, rather than their presence in an office, which lends itself very well to a life on the road.
Life on the Road
As I mentioned, being a digital nomad is achieved by putting out great work while in a remote position. This means that you cannot let anything, even a beautiful location, get in between you and your work. You’ll need to be ready research places you’ll be staying to ensure they provide you with the means to an end, mainly good internet connectivity, most likely. You need to be confident that you can work to your fullest potential in every place that you stay. This means, setting a strict schedule with yourself about where and when you do your best work and sticking to it.
Logistics of Travelling and Working
You also have to be able to work out the logistics of travelling and working. You’ll need to have reliable access to internet while you’re travelling. This means you’ll either need to research places with internet before you travel or make sure that you have your own portable hotspot to take with you. A digital nomad is dedicated to their career just as much as they are to travel and they rely on it for a source of steady income. If you have problems staying focused or finding reliable technology to work with, you might not be able to come up with the cash to cover bills and expenses both at home and while travelling.
Travelling Light and Only Taking What You Need
In addition, you’ll need to be comfortable looking for hotels or available rooms on sites like Airbnb that you can stay in for a week, or however long you plan staying in one city. You’ll have to get used to staying in temporary residences, which means it’s also a good idea to pack on the light side. The joy of being a digital nomad comes in all the amazing places you’ll see, just make sure that you have everything you need to be comfortable and successful.
Digital Nomad Community
Luckily, if you’re scared about taking the plunge toward becoming a digital nomad, there are plenty of individuals out there who have taken that first step before you. Do your research and try to connect with others who have made their travelling dreams come true. You’ll be able to learn from others mistakes and understand overlooked elements of travelling and work that help digital nomads become happy and healthy with their new lives.
How Digital Nomad Forums Can Help You
What’s more, there are forums out there where digital nomads share information and connect with one another. These sites have information that you will need in order to become successful. Think of it as a guidebook to digital nomadism. You can connect with other digital nomads and also benefit from a plethora of data and life experience that other nomads have collected.
What Do Digital Nomads Look for in Travel Destinations?
Digital nomads travel all over the world, that is a given. However, what you might not know is the fact that nomads are sharing information about hub cities that are affordable, have great accommodations, and reliable wifi. In other words, these are often underrated travel destinations that are friendly to the working traveller.
For example, you might be surprised to hear that South Australia, Malaysia, and South Korea make it on many digital nomad’s lists. Some of the cities within these countries seem to be quite accommodating for those who prefer a nomadic work life. Many favorite locations include towns that are quiet (but are also central to many other nearby destinations), have eateries open at all hours, have accessible wifi, and charge little for available rooms. In a city like that, any digital nomad can truly make their own hours and see the country at their own pace.
Best Cities for Digital Nomads
For those who prefer to live life at a little faster pace, many cities like Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Chiang Mai seem to lend themselves very well to the alternative lifestyle of a digital nomad. Bali, Budapest, and Prague are some other hip cities that make it on many digital nomad’s lists of must visit towns. Each of these places has begun to open the door for a digital age of workers who prefer to roam instead of staying in a singular place. These are creative towns that are blossoming with innovation and often contain a significant digital start-up scene, which is wonderful for networking nomads.
Jobs for Digital Nomads
Any job that allows you to work remotely is a great start toward becoming a digital nomad. However, certain jobs, especially creative ones, like writing, digital media, and marketing lend themselves well to connecting with other creative people in cities around the world. However, you should not feel limited if you’re not interested in these fields. As we talked about earlier, other career paths are opening up to the remote world. Those interested in translation, customer service, and tech jobs are likely to be able to find something that allows remote work.
Is Being My Own Boss Easier than Traditional Work?
In addition, working for yourself can also facilitate the life of a digital nomad. Any business that can be operated remotely will work in the place of a traditional job that simply allows remote work. Just remember that starting a business, and working remotely in general, does not mean that it will take less work for you to enjoy a life of travel. Many digital nomads actually report quite the opposite. It takes more effort in order to connect with your co-workers, managers, and/or employees regularly. You’ll need to be dedicated to the success of your business, not just using it as a launching point for your dreams of travel.
How to be a Digital Nomad
Being a digital nomad takes hard work and dedication. It also takes a highly skilled planner that is ready to research and prepare ahead of time for their travels. Today, we’ve talked about things you might want to know and think about if you’re thinking about becoming a digital nomad, but in order to actually take the plunge you’ll need to dive deeper into the type of management it takes to become a digital nomad.
Being ready to move at a moment’s notice means that you’ll need to know where the best places to stay are, how to book affordable flights, where to find cheap (or free) internet, how to properly organize your work day, and so much more. Becoming a digital nomad can be done, thousands of people are already doing it right now. You just have to be clear and dedicated to your passion and let that energy drive you to do your best work. In turn, you’ll be able to reap the rewards in each city you explore.
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Trisha is a writer and blogger from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan, an avid gamer, cat lover, and amateur SFX artist.
This post was updated November 21, 2017. It was originally published November 25, 2017.