“See the world.”
“Meet interesting people.”
When it comes down to it, everyone who is considering becoming a digital nomad wants to get out into the wider world. There’s a song of adventure and wanderlust playing through their heads, and they just can’t resist its call.
Hearing the call is one thing however, learning how to actually become a digital nomad is something else entirely. It’s not as simple as packing up your bags and buying a ticket to some fun and interesting locale; there’s a certain amount of preparation involved. If you’re wondering where to start with all this, continue reading.
What Is A Digital Nomad?
The term Digital Nomad was originally coined in the book, Digital Nomad by authors Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners to describe the worker of the 21st century. Makimoto and Manners theorised that modern technologies would allow people to travel by giving them the ability to work remotely anywhere in the world. Digital nomads often work in cafes, hostels, and coworking spaces, anywhere with an available Wi-Fi connection.
It can be difficult to determine who qualifies as a digital nomad because the world is full of people who travel while working remotely. What sets digital nomads apart from other remote workers is their motivation: to travel and experience the world.
The work they do merely finances the experiences they’re seeking to have. This is different from other working travellers like expats who tend to travel but settle down in a foreign location. So, if you’re looking to take the leap and want to know how to become a digital nomad, keep reading.
The Pros Of The Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Becoming a digital nomad is a great way to scratch that wanderlust itch. You get to see sunsets all over the world, explore exotic beaches, and sample cuisines folks at home may not have even heard of.
1. Travel Opportunities
Travel, see the world, eat the foods, and talk to interesting people; these are the goals of anyone looking to become a digital nomad. Unlike expats and consultants who travel as part of their work, digital nomads get to choose where they want to go and when they go there.
They just need a Wi-Fi connection. Digital nomads tend to choose their destination according to their personal goals; they don’t have to worry about commuting to the office or making an in-person meeting. Instead, they get to prioritise swimming with the dolphins, going to festivals, or whatever interesting whim pops into their head.
2. Expansive network
Networking is a prerequisite for being a successful digital nomad. Finding new travel and work opportunities is highly dependent on who you know. As you travel, you will naturally meet more nomads, expand your network and seep deeper into the Digital nomad community.
This network has the potential to serve you the rest of your life, even if you decide to end your nomadic adventure and settle down.
3. Cost of living
The majority of nomads tend to travel to countries with lower costs of living than their home countries. The low cost of living is one of the factors that makes being a digital nomad possible.
Typically, it is more expensive to travel to the country you want to visit than living there day to day. Digital nomads are pros at taking advantage of this discrepancy to make the digital nomad’s salary go as far as possible and explore countries to their heart’s content.
4. No office stress
One thing the majority of the digital nomad community has in common is their natural avoidance of being in an office. Nomads prefer working in cafes and workspaces instead.
Once you leave the office and all its trappings behind, you’re probably not going to want to return anytime soon. No office means no commute, no politics between coworkers, and no one stealing your lunch from the company refrigerator.
The Cons of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
But learning how to become a digital nomad isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Like every sweet thing out there, it comes with its own set of cons. It’s a lifestyle anyone can have, but it requires some knowledge of knowing what you’re getting into.
1. Internet is everything
Digital Nomads want to travel anywhere and everywhere, but unfortunately, they are limited by Wi-Fi. You can’t start living as a digital nomad if you don’t have an internet connection, which means there are certain places you can’t travel to while working. Thankfully, as technology improves and the world gets more and more online, the internet is becoming more available even in the remotest of regions.
2. Loneliness (mental health)
Travelling far and wide lets you meet new people, but at the end of the day, the nomad is only a visitor and is destined not to meet friends regularly. This can lead to long periods of loneliness, which for some can be a burden on their mental health.
A nomad has to take precautions against this and protect their mental health with very few support structures. That’s why it is important to be plugged into the digital nomad community, where you can find resources such as telecom therapists or meetup spaces to socialise.
There are many answers to the question: What does a digital nomad do? The answer tends to vary from person to person, but paying taxes is consistent for all nomads. Every country has their own tax laws that apply to digital nomads, and you’ll have to look them up to make sure you’re operating legally inside said country.
While most developed countries are addressing the issue of taxing citizens who live and earn abroad, the US is a special case. Digital nomads pay US taxes on all their income, no matter where it’s earned.
4. Income stability
Unless you are a nomad with a very understanding remote job, you will probably have to face the reality that your income is infrequent and unstable.
Nomads spend a lot of their free time hunting down new jobs and meeting deadlines. This increases the burden on financial planning and restricts your ability to explore new destinations. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality of becoming a digital nomad.
Is the Digital Nomad Lifestyle for you?
Before you quit your job, terminate your lease, and run off to start living as a digital nomad, make sure that it is the right lifestyle for you. It isn’t all sunsets and rainbows.
The life is filled with challenges that arise from having to take care of everything yourself. It can be helpful to read about the experiences of other successful nomads and learn some insider information.
No two nomads live the exact same way, but they all face the same perils, such as access to healthcare. If you do decide that the lifestyle is right for you and you have what it takes, the next step is to understand how to begin.
How To Become A Digital Nomad?
Anyone can become a nomad at any time; it’s not just a young person’s game. Even 30 isn’t too old to become a digital nomad. In order to successfully make the transition from standard office worker to digital nomad, you have to make some preparations.
They’re manageable, but they aren’t something that can be completed overnight. Just keep reading though, and we’ll give you a simple guide to help you get started.
Skillsets & Portfolio
How much a digital nomad earns is dependent on their ability to gain employment remotely. This means that you will have to invest a lot of time and energy in keeping your skillset and portfolio up to date.
As a remote worker, being proficient in basic computer skills like MS suite and email is a given. But you should focus on a niche, such as SEO, web development, content writing, etc. and develop a specific skillset within it.
Once you start booking gigs, save your best work in an online portfolio. Some niches have free places to host your work, but you can always upload your best work to a public-facing Google Doc. The most important thing is that your portfolio is easy to access and simple to read.
Finding a job is the most challenging trial when beginning your digital nomad journey. You will always be focused on finding more work as a nomad. Thankfully, there are a plethora of job boards, freelance services, and social media sites that can help the process.
There is one available for just about every type of niche you can think of. If you can’t find a place posting jobs that fit your skillset, try to look for certifications. Most skill sets have supporting certifications to prove your capability in the field.
Typically, any organisation that offers a certification will have some connection to the job market and some tie-in to the digital nomad community, which can point you in the right direction.
Get your insurance in place
Gainful employment is a must for every nomad, but travelling is a hazardous business. No one is invincible, and accidents happen. That’s why the world invented traveller’s insurance, a key factor to qualify as a digital nomad.
There are a variety of travel insurance options available, and you just have to find what works for you. Good travel insurance packages don’t just cover health services; they also help protect your equipment when it’s stolen or damaged.
If you nomad around long enough, you will encounter a situation where something happens to your computer, and you want to be prepared for that.
Calculate your finances
After you get your insurance and know what income to expect from your job, it’s time to calculate your finances, as this is the key factor to becoming a digital nomad. Your total financial situation will determine where you can afford to go and what you can afford to do. There are two types of income to consider when making this calculation: passive and active.
Your passive income comes from any investments or assets that can regularly grant you revenue. This can be a rental property you own, stocks, royalties, etc. Your active income, on the other hand, is revenue you actively earn from employment. Combine your total income and use that to determine how much money you have available monthly, and it will give you a good idea of what your travel options are.
Where should you go?
Actually deciding where to go is determined by more than just your income. There are also visas. Before you buy a ticket to go anywhere, you need to determine if it’s legally possible. Visa requirements vary from country to country, and a lot of airlines won’t even let you on the plane if you don’t have the proper visa.
Recently, some countries have been providing digital nomad visas, which makes things easier. If you’re unsure about prospective visa requirements, check your country and the destination country’s consulate pages.
Join the digital nomad community.
Networking, Find Your Community
Even when using official sources to make sure all your paperwork is in order, you may still be unsure of what’s needed to reach your desired location and thrive there. That’s why you should be sure to plug into the digital nomad community. You can typically find local members of the community through social media. But there’s a wider community out there that strives to provide resources and information helpful to all digital nomads.
Optimise And Simplify Your Lifestyle
Once you arrive at your destination, continue to keep things simple. If you’re planning to stay long-term, rent a pre-furnished apartment to avoid wasting money on furniture that you’ll have to abandon. And make sure you’re using digital and cloud services as much as possible to avoid having to lug around extra devices.
The final step in starting your digital nomad journey is to simplify your lifestyle. As a nomad, you can’t take everything with you; in fact, you can barely take anything at all. Try to reduce everything to a single carry-on bag and an easily transportable suitcase. There are a lot of options for backpacks and day bags preferred by the digital nomad community.
If minimising your life seems like a daunting task and you’re unsure where to begin, CabinZero has you covered with our new CabinZero Classic Tech backpack.
It’s an upgrade to the original CabinZero backpack that was made to meet the demands of the digital nomad lifestyle. With the added potential of 28L of storage combined with its sleek exterior and compartment spaces, you can easily pack all your necessities for a weekend trip in one bag.
These are just some of the steps needed to prepare you to be a successful digital nomad, but not all. Ultimately, everything depends on the digital nomad itself and their particular goals.
Don’t feel discouraged or overwhelmed though; the desire to become a digital nomad stems from the thirst for adventure. You now know how to become a digital nomad, so pack your bags and get wandering.