Is the lifestyle of a digital nomad the ultimate expression of living alone with confidence and self-assurance? Does the lifestyle present unrivalled opportunities to Solos who can do their job remotely from anywhere? Maryna from ThriveMyWay lives a location-independent lifestyle and offers an introduction to the digital nomadic lifestyle and how you can become a digital nomad.
There’s a big wide world out there to explore, but not everyone has the cash to go on a great adventure. There’s also the issue of doing it alone. Heading out into the world can be a daunting thing to do when you’ve only got yourself for company.
There are numerous options if you want to see more of the world and at the same time earn a crust. Remote working has become more acceptable during the pandemic, which means you can ask yourself if you would like to take your work with you while travelling around the world. As long as you have a computer and a stable internet connection, the world’s your oyster.
Think about where you’d like to be next week, next month, next year, or even further into the future. You could be in Mexico for a few months, then travel to Thailand, Tibet, Spain, South Africa, or anywhere else that takes your fancy.
Living the life of a digital nomad means having more adventures in your life, along with excitement, fun, and fulfilment. You can achieve all of this by exploring new countries, meeting unique people, and experiencing new cultures. And just because you’re travelling solo, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be lonely. On the contrary, travelling alone can offer the freedom you may be seeking if you are considering life as a digital nomad.
On the work side of things, you’ll be making an income while continuing to experience the joy that comes with adventure and exploration.
The digital nomad community has been growing rapidly over recent years. Many people want to level up their working life and start travelling while making money.
We’ve all seen the picture on social media of a nomad working from a beach, hotel, or plane. Remaining financially stable while being located on the other side of the world is many people’s dream.
According to MBO Partners, 4.8 million American workers consider themselves digital nomads. But what are digital nomads? Where are they based? What do digital nomads need, and how do you become a digital nomad? Whether you’re new to this topic or you’re an expert, you’ll find all the answers you need in this article.
1 What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is a remote worker, may it be an employee or a freelancer, who travels around the world while working and maintaining a financially stable situation. Digital nomads are usually employees or freelancers working for a cloud-based company, or a business allowing them to be located anywhere. They usually work in co-working spaces, coffee shops, libraries, or in their rented apartment.
Creating a great work-life balance is the ultimate goal for digital nomads. The digital nomad lifestyle is all about excitement, fun, and being adventurous. For this to happen, digital nomads travel to different countries, encounter various cultures, and interact with unique people from all over the world.
The lifestyle is suited to a person who chooses to travel while working at the same time. Digital nomads can get their job done provided the internet connection where they travel to is good and secure.
2 What does a digital nomad need?
Digital nomads are free to travel wherever and whenever they want while working. But, what exactly do they need? Working remotely can be fun, but there are challenges, and it’s essential to be prepared before and while travelling. Here is what every digital nomad needs:
Stable internet connection + internet backup
A stable internet connection is a critical factor to consider. In fact, without a stable internet connection, you simply won’t be able to work. Therefore, it is crucial to determine how strong a wifi speed and connection is before renting an apartment. For this reason, most digital nomads need the assurance and will contact their host or rental company and ask about wifi before committing to stay.
Furthermore, you don’t want to experience temperamental internet issues while working. That is why, as a digital nomad, you will want to invest in an internet backup system. A wifi hotspot enables you to be connected to the internet at all times. Whether you are using a hotspot router or sharing the connection with your mobile phone, anything works as long as your internet speed is good enough.
Remote meetings are typical for most digital nomads while their varied locations can potentially be open to background noise. For this reason, noise-cancelling headphones are often used to reduce background noise and allow more focus on meetings.
They are particularly useful when working from coffee shops, co-working spaces, or, in the worst-case scenario, from an airport. High-quality headphones are essential to all digital nomads. They can also help avoid distractions during work and help you to be more productive.
Portable power bank
As a digital nomad, you will always either use your phone or laptop when travelling. It is important to carry a portable power bank with you to avoid all the frustrations that a dead battery can cause. High-quality power banks can charge your devices quickly and, since most have multiple ports, they can charge more than one device at the same time.
Power banks are cheap, small, yet incredibly useful and will often save the day! In short, if you want to keep peace of mind and work robustly from anywhere, don’t forget to pack a power bank before travelling.
3 How to become a digital nomad
Becoming a digital nomad isn’t as difficult as you may think and if you know where to start and where to look for work, you can take all the necessary steps before embarking on travelling.
Ask your employer
First, you need to start by finding a job that allows you to work from anywhere. This may be a possibility with your current employer but is often dependent on the kind of work you do and whether or not it can be done remotely. Your employer may also have limits on the locations from where you can work.
While working from home has rapidly increased during the pandemic, not all employers will be open to you being locationally independent and being unavailable to work in the office occasionally. However, if you believe it is possible and you can present a strong case, then it may be worthwhile asking your employer first, and before leaving and finding a remote working job or embarking on a freelance career.
Find a remote job or start a freelance career
If it comes to it, then search for jobs in your field that specify remote working. Alternatively, find private, long-term clients and work as a freelancer.
The most popular websites to find remote work and contracts are:
- People Per Hour
- We Work Remotely
Of course, having some experience in a specialised field will definitely help in finding a job as a digital nomad. You may also want to establish your freelance career for a period of time before embarking on your travels. Securing contracts and regular work from clients will help you earn enough money to fund yourself while you travel.
Save money before travelling
While you don’t necessarily need a huge amount of money to get started as a digital nomad, you certainly need some savings to get going. Your laptop might fail, you might have health issues and end up at the hospital, or you might simply want to give yourself a treat.
Obviously, raising extra cash before travelling is a good idea, and it’s useful to consider selling any possessions that you’re not going to use anymore. Selling furniture for instance, and other belongings you will not need while you travel could also be liberating.
Get rid of unnecessary expenses
The digital nomad lifestyle is all about new experiences, discovering places, and, unfortunately, spending money. The lifestyle has price tags including paying for visa expenses, tours, hotel rooms, transportation, and more.
Therefore, it will be essential for you to cancel unimportant subscriptions, gym memberships and clear outstanding debts before setting off. That way, you will be able to organise your budget more efficiently and invest your money in your travels and expenses.
Get travel insurance
When travelling abroad, one of the best investments you can make is travel insurance. As mentioned previously, challenges will happen while travelling, and being covered will definitely back you up in the worst situations. Travel insurance can save you some cash, offer peace of mind and provide protection in case of unexpected situations like road accidents, illness or if your belongings are stolen.
Choose your destination
Exploring the world is what digital nomads enjoy the most. But, where should you go? Is the country you are considering safe? Are locals friendly?
Choosing the best digital nomad destinations can be tough, so plenty of research is required. Generally speaking, it’s advisable to research the following:
- The visas you will need
- How you will travel between places and countries
- The best attractions to visit
- The safest neighbourhoods
- Hotels or Airbnbs close to hospitals and transport
- The average cost of living to include: meals, transportation, and accommodation
To sum up, choosing your destination can be relatively straightforward but still, doing rigorous research is always needed to have the best possible experience in a new country.
4 Benefits of being a digital nomad
There are numerous benefits to living a digital nomad lifestyle, no surprise there. You name it – working from anywhere, being free to travel everywhere and making money online are just three benefits of being a digital nomad.
According to the State of Remote 2020 by Buffer, 32% of remote workers think that the biggest benefit of working remotely is a flexible schedule. On top of that, 26% love their flexibility to work from anywhere.
Needless to say, digital nomads love their flexibility. With that said, let’s dig deeper into the main benefits of being a digital nomad.
You’ll be free to go wherever you want
Having the freedom to do and go where you want is a significant benefit for digital nomads. They are locationally independent, and that’s the reason why they’re able to explore the world while making money online. Whether you choose to be a remote employee or become a freelancer, you’ll be free to go wherever you want, whenever you want when your budget allows.
You’ll have time to enjoy life
Digital nomads usually have a better work-life balance compared to their colleagues at the office because of the chance to enjoy life while working.
According to a survey from Robert Half, 60% of employees said their work-life balance improved since the pandemic and without the commute associated with work.
Moreover, Buffer’s State of Remote in 2019 revealed that 32% of remote workers have unlimited vacation offered by their company each year.
To conclude, seeking a better work-life balance is something digital nomads strive towards.
Make friends from all over the world
When travelling regularly, there’s no doubt you will make new friends from all over the world. Whether they are tourists, other digital nomads, or ex-pats sharing their experiences, meeting new people has never been so easy.
5 Drawbacks of being a digital nomad
Just like everything in life, there are disadvantages to being a digital nomad. For example, you may feel lonely, you may miss stability, and lapses in self-motivation can strike hard.
In 2019, Buffer’s report said the number 1 struggle for remote workers was unplugging after work with 22% of digital nomads and loneliness with 19%.
So, let’s have a closer look at some of the disadvantages of being a digital nomad.
Lack of stability
Establishing stability can be important, especially if you’re not used to travelling and being far from family and friends. While you can enjoy life working and travelling at the same time, constantly being on the road can be challenging.
Forget the gym subscription, always spending time with the same people, or having an everyday routine. Being a digital nomad can be tough, and you should be prepared to have a different lifestyle every week. Expect the unexpected.
Also, one cannot predict how a business will do in the future, especially if you’re a freelancer, which might make things difficult for you. You may have to prepare for short term contracts or contracts ending with little notice. Therefore, it is advisable to have a financial cushion for those times.
Self-motivation and team communication
Communication, collaboration, and loneliness can be real difficulties for digital nomads. If we look at the State of Remote 2020 by Buffer, collaboration and communication issues are the number 1 biggest drawback, with 20% of remote workers struggling.
Additionally, 20% of remote workers state that their biggest struggle is loneliness.
There is no doubt that travelling is fun. However, no one can guarantee that you’ll only find friendly people or meet friends on the road, and that can certainly add some weight to your shoulders.
To combat communication issues and loneliness, be proactive and take the lead when organising team meetings, sharing a coffee over a video call, talking about your travels with your friends, and joining digital nomad groups on social media.
Visa procedures can be tough
Digital nomads are likely to apply for visas while travelling abroad. While most (if not all) remote workers stay in the country with a tourist visa stamped on arrival, it isn’t technically legal.
To be allowed to work in a country, you do, in theory, need a work permit. This is, of course, a more complex process and, depending on the country, impossible to get if you’re working online. While some countries have embraced the idea of offering digital nomad visas, the prices and processes vary from one country to another, and some are very expensive.
In plain words, the easiest and quickest way to work online and travel is to enter countries on a tourist visa. However, it is recommended not to tell people you don’t know very well that you are there, working.
6 Common jobs for digital nomads
What jobs do digital nomads do? Being a digital nomad is not a job title in itself but more of a way to describe a lifestyle., There is a range of jobs you can find to start working and travelling abroad but most of which rely on working online. Let’s have a look at the most common jobs for digital nomads:
Finding a digital nomad job as a web developer is not the most challenging task if you have studied tech languages or have experience in the field. In fact, tech developer jobs are the most sought-after jobs in the digital nomad world. According to ZipRecruiter, web developers earn on average $80,000 per year.
The skills of content writers are needed in every social media post, advertisement, email, eBook, blog post, and even video script. The advantage of being a content writer is that you don’t always need to be connected to the internet to work most of the time. Glassdoor estimates remote content writers to earn $57,282 on average per year.
Blogger and SEO specialist
Just like content writers, bloggers and SEO specialists are fairly common jobs for digital nomads. While blogging and working on SEO can be similar to content writing, they are quite different in terms of tasks, responsibilities, and salary. According to Glassdoor, bloggers earn on average $33,074 yearly, while SEO specialists earn $46,193 per year.
All visual components require the services of a graphic designer. In fact, graphic designers are hired to build and maintain a brand’s visual concepts, logo, brochures, magazines, and much more. Like the other digital nomad jobs, some companies will hire a temporary freelancer to take care of their projects, while some businesses will employ a graphic designer long term.
Remote graphic designers in America earn on average $73,322 per year, according to ZipRecruiter.
I’ve given you an introduction to living the life of a digital nomad, how to become one, the most common jobs they do, and the pros and cons of a working nomadic lifestyle. Of course, as we know the pandemic put a pause to most international travel, and many digital nomads found themselves working from home, just like the rest of the world.
However, if you’re planning to start travelling and working remotely in the future, you now know how to prepare and start planning your life as a digital nomad.