Almost everyone has seen the incredible images of digital nomads on the beach. They are sipping the coconut water directly from the coconut and sand between their toes.
The truth is, though, that to become a digital nomad, you need to know how to work hard and play harder.
While on the surface, it looks like they are relaxing all the time, they’re not. They are making sure that they earn the cash before they lay down on the beach.
Sure, some are all about selling expensive courses so that you too can become a digital nomad (and this pays for their travel), many have a range of clients they handle as they travel.
The true digital nomads aren’t shy about telling you that sometimes it gets a little tricky, and they will also tell you that you need to have more than one income stream.
So how do you make it work? If you want to travel to 40+ countries and work as you go, what do you need to do to make it happen?
Let’s take a look.
Before you pack up your laptop and head off into the great beyond, you need to make sure that you have your framework ready to go.
One of the most important things is that being location independent is often cheaper than running an apartment and staying put. But you should still try to bank as much cash as you can before your expected leaving date.
When you are employed full-time, you need to start losing those reigns and having a side hustle or two.
The side hustles will need some time to become fully established.
Here are three posts to help you get started on your hustle:
Get your money up; aim for over $1000 a month just from your hustles. As you explore extra income options, find a few that take the least time but make the most cash. Those can be the bread and butter for earning, and you travel.
Test it out
As part of your preparation, you need to test it out – is this really what you want, and do you have the mentality to make it work. Not everyone can see the blue ocean three minutes from working and not be tempted to ditch work and go.
So try out the location independently, working in several places. Try somewhere in the middle of the woods, a cabin, or something similar. Nature is great for us, but this can be the perfect option for many. Then try an Airbnb rental in the middle of the city you have always wanted to go to. Finally, (and as a treat) look for singles all inclusive holidays – this might be the biggest test.
Can you handle the balance of having to work hard and play harder?
Of course, you can. But test it out first, and see what you like.
If you are employed in a job with transferable skills, you’re off to a great start. After that, you need to work on your other skills. Each skill that you have is something that you can sell.
Of course, you don’t want to be working more than enjoying your time, but any skill you have can make extra cash.
But once you have everything prepared, it’s time to make the leap to actually doing it.
You have a big decision to make – do you choose a location as far away as possible? Or do you choose one closer to home?
It is really up to you, but in a digital nomad location, you should be looking for a place that has a lot of digital nomads with who you can connect.
Usually, if an area is flush with freelancers and nomads, then they have co-working space, good internet, and are relatively safe.
Leaving home usually means you are leaving behind your support network, and you’ll need to build a new one as you go.
There are some popular digital nomad locations including Bali, Thailand, and Mexico. Use those research skills to find the places you want to see.
Forums like Reddit offer a lot of information from people who are currently digital nomads and those looking for more information.
The bank you have now might not be offering you the best rates when you’re spending money abroad. Take a look at accounts like those with Wise (formerly TransferWise) as with these you can travel and accept payments in multiple currencies.
You can also pay for whatever you need since their card will work with any currency too.
If you want a credit card, they can be very useful in some circumstances – but not every county will accept them. Look for credit cards that are specifically for travel – just keep in mind there might be a premium to pay for the ability.
Credit cards can come in handy when you need to quickly book hotels and are doing it on the internet, and often provide purchase protection.
Opt for cards and others that allow you to collect and use Airmiles too, these can help reduce the costs of flights as you travel.
Travel insurance is nice to have because we can’t predict the future. And, the last thing you want is a huge medical bill.
You are the one in charge of when and where you work – which is the goal! But it means that before you jet off, you need to take a look at the calls and deadlines you have coming up so that you can be available. Booking calls in Japan for clients in the UK, or the US to Sweden need allowances made for the timezones.
Use luggage that keeps your laptop, camera, and hard drive safe and protected. Keep wires in Ziploc bags to stay organized as you travel.
No matter where you land, get a physical map. Some locations don’t have great GPS between landing in the airport and then your hotel, co-living space, or hostel. This is doubly important if you aren’t well versed in the local lingo.
As you travel, remembering hotel numbers, locations, travel times, locations and more will pile up. Save yourself from the overload.
Use apps to help you get as organized as possible.
- Be focused pro or Time Timer – to keep you in deeply focused periods and on track to complete work quickly and efficiently.
- Your inbuilt calendar, as soon as something comes up add it. Then make sure that other apps you choose have the calendar integration.
- Evernote is incredible for creating and note-taking on the go. It’s saved in the cloud so you can access it from anywhere.
- Todoist is perfect for people who prefer shortlists, with some personalization – their newsletter is super helpful though, filled with thoughts and organizational tips.
- Otter voice notes offer a speedy transcription, so your thoughts can be in (almost) perfect written form – Just Press Record is another option.
- Asana or Trello for working as a team, or if you manage multiple projects at once.
So if you are thinking about shaking off the norms of society, and forging your own path, becoming a digital nomad is completely possible. Rather than focus on what you need to pack in terms of material items – focus on personal and professional growth and the rest will begin to align.