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What is a digital nomad and how to become one?

A woman sits at a coffe table on a balcony, working on a computer.

You’ve almost certainly heard the term “digital nomad” floating around in the last several years. It has become sort of a buzzword, synonymous with flexibility, travel, and social media influencers. If you’re wondering “what is a digital nomad, really?” look no further.

Put simply, a digital nomad is someone who works remotely from different parts of the world. They may or may not have a specific home base. Many digital nomads spend most of their time on the road, traveling to different cities, countries, and national parks. Some digital nomads live in vans, and drive to different destinations. Others travel by planes or trains, spending days, weeks, or even months in a location before moving on.

The nomad lifestyle is a unique one, though it’s becoming more and more common. If you have the ability to work remotely and on your own schedule, it’s a great opportunity to see the world! As more and more jobs become fully remote, the digital nomad life is increasing in both popularity and accessibility. Thinking about becoming a digital nomad? Start here:

 

 

A woman works on a laptop in a beach hut.

 

 

1. Save money

For most people, finances are one of the top barriers to working and traveling remotely. Most digital nomads have some kind of reliable income while they’re on the road. That doesn’t necessarily mean a remote nine-to-five job. Many digital nomads do freelance or contract-based work. Whichever path you choose, it’s important to start saving money early. You always want to have some security when you head out, so a savings account with some room for error is essential.

 

2. Minimize your possessions

If you’re going to be living on the road, you’ll need to start by paring down your possessions. You probably don’t want to take six suitcases with you if you’re visiting a new country every month! If you own furniture, consider selling it or putting it in a storage unit. Think about bringing only the essentials with you – for work and travel. Think about clothes that have many uses, and that make sense for the climates you plan to travel to. Consignment stores, garage sales, and clothing swaps are your new best friends. If you have a large book collection you can’t take with you, consider an e-reader.

 

3. Sort out the essentials

Before you set out for your adventure as a digital nomad, there are a few key things you must sort out beforehand. Make a list, and get these done as far in advance as possible. Health insurance will be key. Your usual insurance might not cover you abroad, so make sure to find travelers insurance that operates in the countries you plan to visit. An up-to-date passport is an absolute must. You’ll also almost certainly need reliable internet. Either make sure you know when and where you’ll be able to access the internet or consider investing in portable wifi. And finally, sorting out your income is the most essential task. How will you make money on the road? Will you work remotely for a company based in your home country? Will you take projects, and then travel for a few weeks? It’s important to figure all of this out in advance.

 

4. Do your research

There are a lot of unknowns when you set out to become a digital nomad. You’ll have new experiences almost every day. Many aspects of your life will be completely different. So, know as much as you can about as much as you can.  Research safety in the places you’re planning to visit. Start learning the languages spoken there. Apply for visas if you need to, and know if there are any requirements such as vaccinations.

 

5.  Find a community

Before you head out on the road, find a community of people to support you. Consider joining Facebook groups of digital nomads in your career field or your region. If you have friends or family in the different places you want to visit and work from, reach out to them in advance! Make a plan for how you’ll communicate with friends and family back home.  This is particularly important if you intend to travel through several time zones which might make scheduling phone calls more difficult.

 

Dreaming of becoming a digital nomad? Check out our brand new Digital Nomad Program here.

 

Photos:

  1.  Working in the streets of Cuba, by Persnickety Prints on Unsplash.
  2. digital nomads can work everywhere, by Peggy Anke onUnsplash.

Blog by Maeve Allsup

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