There are a number of reasons why people choose to pursue the lifestyle of a digital nomad. Whether you want to travel and see the world or whether you want to break out of the 9-to-5 grind, being a digital nomad affords you certain freedoms.
Before you jump into this laptop lifestyle though, some planning should be involved. There are a few things you can do to help you on your quest to become a digital nomad.
Simplify Your Life
When you think of a nomad in the traditional since, you think of a person who travels from place to place. Owning many possessions isn’t something nomads are known for. So if you have a house full of things and you’re serious about making the transition, you might want to start thinking about simplifying your life as much as possible.
An important part of becoming a digital nomad is getting rid of unnecessary baggage and expenses. When I first started my journey, I gave up my car and all things that I didn’t view as essential. It was a gradual process. You’ll want to be honest with yourself about what things are necessary and what you can give up. If you envision yourself traveling to different countries months at a time, do you really need that gym membership, magazine subscription, or Sam’s Club membership?
Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed. Having many prized possessions can do that to you. Take baby steps. Two things that were really difficult for me to give up were my television and Vitamix. I actually tried to figure out a way to bring them with me. How crazy was that?
When it comes to simplifying your life, that includes your spending habits. Cutting down on your spending will not only save you money but will help keep unnecessary items out of your house that you’ll eventually need to give up anyway. When you’re traveling in countries where a dollar goes a long way and living is cheap, you’ll appreciate having more money in the bank.
Freelance or Start An Online Business
Consider your skills and how you can carry them into online work. Writing, design, editing, and software development are common skills that lend themselves to freelance or remote work. Joining a freelancing community will expose you to work opportunities and resources used by other location independent entrepreneurs.
If you want to start your own online business but don’t have the confidence to leave your 9-to-5 job right away, you can try to get remote freelance work in your spare time. The point is to establish yourself as a freelancer so it can become a viable source of income. As a digital nomad, you won’t need a ton of money, but you will need a steady amount to get by. If you don’t have a lot of money saved in the bank, traveling without having clients or an established online business can make your life more stressful and the laptop lifestyle nearly impossible.
Consider the Logistics
If you already have health insurance, double check that you’ll be covered while you’re in other countries. If your health insurance doesn’t cover you while you’re abroad, you should consider travel insurance that is specifically for digital nomads. One insurance company that I absolutely love, and am also an affiliate for, is World Nomads. Depending on your needs, their comprehensive insurance plans could cover some combination of dental, emergency health, trip cancellation, delays, lost luggage, tech and gear and the list goes on.
Research the country, city or town you want to travel to before you go. Find decent lodging, whether it’s an affordable bed and breakfast or other reasonably priced place to stay. You’ll want to feel comfortable and safe in the place you’ll be lodging, so thoroughly look into the neighborhood you plan on residing in, especially if you plan on staying there for at least a few months. Figure out where all the essentials are—hospitals, grocery stores, coffeeshops, metro stops, places of worship, coworking spaces and so on.
Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, it’s important to make sure you have the cell phone reception and wifi you need. Consider getting a local SIM card in the area you’ll reside. You may also be able to rely on your cellular network and use your personal hotspot for internet connection if you find yourself without wifi.
Consider Avenues to Diversify Your Income
As an online business owner, I can tell you that it’s crucially important to diversify your income by building multiple streams of income. Passive income can make life a whole lot easier for a digital nomad, especially at times when work is inconsistent. If you have the money, investments and dividend-yielding stocks might work for you. Others prefer going with something like an E-commerce business. If you already plan on documenting your travels through blogging, Instagram, YouTube, or other social media, placing ads, affiliate links, or sponsorship posts could be a possibility for you.
There are many affiliate marketing programs like Shareasale, of which I am an affiliate, CJ and Amazon affiliates just to name a few.
Digital Nomads Still Need a Schedule
It’s important to schedule your time, even as a digital nomad. Schedule time for work and time for leisure. That way you can stay productive and also enjoy your leisure time exploring your new environment.
Maintaining a work-life balance will make your new lifestyle more sustainable. Letting work take over leisure time will create stress, and failing to block out consistent work time will affect your productivity. Make goals and give yourself deadlines to meet so you can make progress on your work.
Becoming a digital nomad can seem like a big, intimidating change. But if you’re really interested in the lifestyle, there are steps you can take to make the transition easier and to minimize stress. And if you do eventually decide to settle down, you can still stick to freelancing instead of returning to an office job because of the work you did as a digital nomad.