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Thinking of Becoming a Digital Nomad? Read This First

Mention of the word “nomad” may bring to mind visions of white-sheathed, camel-riding tribes roaming through sandstorms in the desert. However, a different type of nomad has emerged in the digital age -- and they’re rapidly growing in number. We’re talking about “digital nomads,” i.e., workers who combine remote careers with actualized wanderlust. Here’s a closer look at this phenomenon, along with tips for embracing your inner digital nomad.

Sep 6, 2023
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Thinking of Becoming a Digital Nomad? Read This First

Mention of the word “nomad” may bring to mind visions of white-sheathed, camel-riding tribes roaming through sandstorms in the desert. However, a different type of nomad has emerged in the digital age -- and they’re rapidly growing in number. We’re talking about “digital nomads,” i.e., workers who combine remote careers with actualized wanderlust. Here’s a closer look at this phenomenon, along with tips for embracing your inner digital nomad.

Defining Digital Nomads

“Digital nomads are people, described as ‘digital’ because they make their living by working online and using digital technology via wifi and Internet, and ‘nomads’ because they travel about the world,” according to TODAY.

While Millennials may have made digital nomadism into a movement, “[the lifestyle] is not a new thing, and it is not the preserve of the young,” contends fledgling digital nomad Marcus Holmes. Rather, it offers many benefits for people from all walks of life -- from “asset-light” Millennials to parents looking to spend more meaningful time with their kids to lifelong professionals looking for freedom “from the shackles of the conventional workplace.”

Continues Holmes, “There are many advantages to this lifestyle. The sell high, buy low disparity in currency purchasing power acts as a multiplier on revenue. This enables a lifestyle that would not be possible by living in the developed world. Wandering from city to city, experiencing amazing culture, making friends along the way, with everything they own in a single backpack.”

Five Tips for Aspiring Digital Nomads

If you’re currently reading this from the confines of a cubicle, digital nomadism may be sounding like a pretty sweet deal right now. Which begs the question: How can you make the leap to becoming a digital nomad? These five tips can help.

1. Look for jobs online.

The first step to becoming a digital nomad? Getting work. While it may seem obvious, online sites are fertile ground when it comes to finding remote jobs. Check out The Remote Nomad’s roundup of best sites for finding remote work to get started.

2. Follow the lead of others.

Not only are there an abundance of digital nomads out there, but many of them are blogging about their experiences. Sites like The Remote Nomad and Working Nomad offer great advice and insights into the digital nomad way of life.

And for a handy compendium of digital nomad experiences, don’t miss TNW’s article comprising seven interviews explaining how people live while working and traveling.

The Global Digital Nomad Network Facebook page is also an easy way to interact with others.

3. Think cheap and convenient when choosing locations.

Some locations are easier to get along in than others. To find them, check out Nomad List, a crowdsourced database which analyzes more than 250,000 data points aimed at helping digital nomads choose their locations. Top scoring cities? Bangkok, Barcelona, Chiang Mai, Budapest and Kuala Lumpur.

4. Make sure you have a plan.

While becoming a digital nomad is in many respects a leap of faith, there are also many logistics involved. In other words, while the photos may suggest otherwise, it’s not all sitting around on a beach with your laptop and a fruity cocktail. Wherever you are in the world, things like delivering on your services, understanding time zones, and behaving professionally are essential to succeeding as a digital nomad.

5. Join forces with other digital nomads.

The life of a digital nomad is exciting, but it can also be lonely. Not only can partnering up with other digital nomads help you stay connected, but it can also help you make the most of your professional and personal life.

Says Webworktravel.com founder Johannes Völkner, “At the beginning of my travels I hardly ever met anyone who was on workation. While I met hundreds of great people on the road I found it difficult to juggle work and my free time….This changed when I started Webworktravel. I met many nomads and we’ve been working together in many places around the world ever since. I found that the best way to fully enjoy this lifestyle is to travel with other nomads. Being able to bounce ideas off each other and work things out together is an incredible advantage to everyone and after we can do great things in our free time.”

The rise of digital has changed the way people live and work today -- and a growing number of digital nomads are among the beneficiaries. If traveling the world is on your bucket list but lack of independent wealth means a life of leisure isn’t in your near future, digital nomadism may offer life-changing potential.

Joanna Hughes

Author

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.