After the year we’ve had, it’s no surprise if you have a hankering to travel the world. Many employers switched to remote work to meet the need for social distancing. However, coffee shops and co-working spaces had limited or no capacity, and nonessential travel was discouraged. If you’re tired of logging in from a home office, it’s time to consider becoming a digital nomad.
Being a digital nomad is about more than just remote work. A nomad is someone who travels from place to place. While working remotely is implied, the nomad life means ditching work from home for something a little more “location independent”.
Vaccine rollouts and loosened restrictions means more flights are added to booking sites every day. When it’s safe, you should be on some of them. The same technology that made remote work a reality for millions of people in 2020 also makes a digitally nomadic career possible. Let’s explore why people are making the leap, and how you can do it, too.
Benefits of Being a Digital Nomad
Digital nomads are already working remotely from coffee shops, co-working spaces, RVs, and even foreign countries. As long as you’re productive and able to jump into virtual meetings, it hardly matters where you’re working from.
The nomadic workstyle isn’t free of complications, of course. When considering the pros and cons of being a digital nomad, it’s important to be realistic. For example, keeping an apartment or home paid for while traveling the world can be costly. And if travel plans go awry, it’s likely to impact your ability to get work done.
However, careful planning (and back-up planning) makes it possible to strike out into the world with confidence. When done right, you can enjoy benefits such as:
- Autonomy. As a digital nomad, you call the shots. Where you go, how you work, and even (if you’re freelancing) what jobs you take. You’re free from the pressure to be anywhere at a particular time and have the power to shape your workstyle.
- Flexibility. Want to be home for your parents’ anniversary? Go for it! Feeling a pull to fly south for the winter? By all means, follow that tug. Like most remote workers, you’ll also be able to dress comfortably and schedule yourself in a way that works best for you. Adjust your schedule and travel plans to be where you most want to be each week.
- Networking. It’s no mystery that travel introduces you to new people and opportunities. In fact, there are entire digital nomad communities online ready to welcome you to the world of remote work that isn’t at home. Make new friends, and perhaps discover some new career paths, as you travel the world.
- Motivation. What better way to ensure you get your work done each day than having an exciting new location to explore once you’re done? When a beautiful city or soul-refreshing hike is just a few steps away, the motivation to wrap up the day’s project is strong.
- Increased creativity. Speaking of inspiring locations, many digital nomads report feeling more creative and productive thanks to their frequent change of scenery. Between meeting new people, exploring new places, and potentially learning new languages as you move around you’ll keep your mind engaged in ways that fuel both your work and personal life.
- Reduced stress. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all of these benefits feed into reduced stress for many digital nomads. With financial stability, back-up planning, and informed decision-making, living a life where work comes second to enjoying all the world has to offer lowers stress and leaves nomads with higher morale.
How to Become a Digital Nomad
Becoming a digital nomad requires a number of considerations. Some big decisions, such as whether to keep your current home or fully move into a suitcase or RV, have major financial implications. Below is some advice we offer to those thinking about becoming digital nomads.
Advice for Aspiring Nomads
- Do a hard audit of your financial situation, and as with any goal, be realistic. Have some money saved before getting started, as surprise expenses tend to crop up in the first year. Plan to follow a strict budget.
- Worried about the cost of traveling internationally? Look for countries with a lower cost of living. If you can earn the same income you would in a country with a higher cost of living, your quality of life can actually improve dramatically.
- Make sure you have the right equipment. You need to ensure you’ll always have internet connection, barring a major event. Go for a laptop and cell phone with long battery lives, and invest in wi-fi boosting technology. The right software tools will also go a long way.
- Get travel health insurance, and know where the nearest healthcare facilities and/or hospitals are to where you’re working. Medical emergencies happen fast, so always know where to go if you need help.
Career Paths That Allow Remote Work
Thanks to rapid digital transformation over the last year, more careers than ever before lend themselves to remote work. This means there are many more opportunities for digital nomads. According to remote work site Flexjobs, the top companies hiring for work-from-anywhere jobs are in industries like:
- Web design
- Marketing & advertising
- Smart contracts
- Academic test prep
- Language learning
- Social media
- Customer engagement
- Video game development
- Mobile game development
- Content creation
- Knowledge sharing
Websites for Finding Remote Work
In addition to Flexjobs, you can find jobs for digital nomads on sites like JustRemote, We Work Remotely, and Remote.co. You can also search LinkedIn and more popular job boards like Indeed and Monster for remote jobs by designating remote work as part of your search terms. These sites are more likely to post traditional employment opportunities rather than contract work.
If you’re a developer or designer, Gun.io lists both freelance and salary remote jobs on their site. If you’re a freelancer, Upwork and Fiverr are popular job boards for finding contract work. Of course, you can also consider opening your own business if you haven’t already.
Plan Well, See the World
For self-disciplined planners with a little money in the bank, transitioning into the digital nomad workstyle could be the ideal way to shake off a year of feeling stuck in place. With a little research and preparation, a location independent lifestyle is certainly within reach. Consider the pros and cons of truly remote work, and if the benefits sound worth the effort, give it a try!