A Guide to a Life as a Digital Nomad


Leaving behind that 9 to 5 job in a cramped and stuffy office for a beautiful beach may appear to be a dream come true, yet behind-the-scenes, this takes lots of preparation and hard work. Digital nomads are the types of people that become used to temporary homes, round-the-clock travel and learning how to work throughout consistently.

Yet for a few, this type of lifestyle is well worth it, otherwise “digital nomadism” would not be increasing.

The founder of the Nomad List, Pieter Levels has predicted that there will be as many as 1 billion Digital Nomads by the year 2035, all working and living remotely from across the globe. It has been made very possible due to cheaper travel, much faster Internet speeds along with the collaboration tools like Trello and Slack.

Digital nomadism has the potential to offer many benefits when it comes to both the nomad and the employer. However, it requires extensive planning in order to achieve a seamless working practice in any location.

Conducting Research Before You Travel

Research is essential when you travel and you work simultaneously. In the book known as Anywhere which was compiled by AND CO it features top-rated tips from more than 100 digital nomads, Joshua Hayford introduced the 70-20-10 rule. Used for when starting a lifestyle that is nomadic, it is based on a principle where you should be doing 70% research, 20% preparation along with 10% improvisation.

In the way of conducting research beforehand, it offers you with accurate information on what countries you should be visiting, a more cost-effective way in which to travel, as well as where you can live and work. It also allows you to decide if you will be moving around frequently or if you will stay in a single location over a longer period before you have to move elsewhere. More importantly, it can assist you in making sure your work stays consistent, when you have researched the best Wi-Fi and working spaces beforehand.

Separating Your Personal Life From Your Work

Lines between a personal and work life will often cross, when you are traveling a lot. However, it becomes essential when it comes to your overall mental wellbeing and the quality of the work you are producing, that you set aside a specific time each day for non-work activities and work.

The Pomodoro technique works well for some when it comes to balancing a working day, while others use the Workstation Popcorn where you will assign certain tasks that need to be achieved in various work spaces. For example, you can write your blogs and answer emails in 1 coffee shop, before you move onto brochure design and marketing strategies in another.

Some of the nomads find it preferable to rather work in the place where they live (especially if it is in an Airbnb that offers great Wi-Fi). Other nomads prefer the co-living or co-working spaces. In the year 2017, there were around 13,800 co-working spaces that served 1 million remote workers and nomads.

Using a co-working dedicated space offers a boundary that is clear when it comes to play and work, along with typical office perks such as reliable Wi-Fi , a desk and even other people that you can talk to.

Get Accountable And A Community

Finding motivation to begin work, particularly in those vacation-like destinations can be difficult. There are various online accountability groups where you are able to connect with remoter workers and digital nomads which will help you stay on-track.

These are also the groups that can keep you company while traveling. They also offer handy tips to the newbie nomads. Certain groups like Nomad List’s forum and Digital Nomad Girls even arrange in-person get-togethers.

Constant Communication

Communication when you are a Digital Nomad is crucial as you won’t be in the office or a timezone that is the same as the client or your employer.

The instant-messaging tools like WhatsApp, Skype and Slack can assist you in staying in touch. Anyone that you work with, which will include your fellow team-members, need to be informed on the timezone you are in and when you are working.

Also ensure that your colleagues and clients know when you are traveling so that they won’t be expecting immediate answers or replies from you while you are in-transit. It is also recommended not to plan any deadlines for at least 48 hours after or before catching your next flight. This is to safeguard you from any unforeseen circumstances.

Using Technology To Your Advantage

By definition, a digital nomad uses technology such as Facebook in order to conduct their work. Asana and Trello can assist you with keeping track of your projects, while Evernote will sync your to-do-lists across all your devices.

It is also a good idea to keep a backup of any work that you do on either external hard-drives or on the Cloud. Using something like Google Drive will sync all your work across various devices along with minimizing downtime in case your equipment is stolen. This functions also make it a lot easier when it comes to collaborating with colleagues or clients.

A VPN which stands for Virtual Private Network is a must when working on the public WiFis available at airports or cafes. So is up-to-date malware and firewall protection along with your anti-virus.

Packing For Your Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Packing for this role is entirely different from packing to go on a holiday. To begin with you need to prioritize everything you will need for work. This will typically include your laptop, the charger, a portable charger, a smartphone, external hard-drives, camera equipment, and a universal adapter along with additional plug points.

Depending on your plans and your destination, you should think about investing in the mobile Wi-Fi-system such as Skyroam that covers more than 130 destinations that is free from roaming charges. A portable and lightweight laptop-stand is also useful while traveling. Spend a couple of weeks or even months hunched over coffee tables and in uncomfortable seats in a plane and you will soon discover the importantce of a laptop stand.

Finding Work While You Travel

The digital nomads typically fall under one of two categories: the type that works remotely for a single company and they are classified as permanently employed, while the second type include the freelancers or they own their own companies or businesses. If you are in the second category, it is important that you have enough work lined-up well before you set off.

However, there are many ways that you can secure work while you are traveling. Certain online groups for digital nomads feature posts for the remote positions, or even jobs that come from the fellow nomads. You can also consider the standalone job-boards such as Working Nomad or freelancer platforms that include Upwork. Keep in mind that it may take a bit of time before you become established.

You can also consider what is known as a passive income approach that has been lauded by Tim Ferriss in the book he wrote known as Four Hour Work Week. Certain nomads make use of a passive income in order to offer a bit of security and supplement what they are earning. This may include a vlog or blog that generates ad-revenue, providing online courses through services like Skillshare or even a dropshipping type business.

This Unique Lifestyle Comes With Unique Challenges

Benefits of the Digital Nomad lifestyle is only achievable through a lot of hard work. Some of the challenges that are unique that digital nomads often experience when working remotely, is associated with Wi-Fi that is sometimes sketchy and differing timezones. Yet there are many technology solutions, tools and the nomad-specific services which can help. Some of these include co-working spaces, global-mobile Wi-Fi and cloud-based apps.

Due to these benefits it is now easier than before to turn into a successful digital nomad. With determination and planning, the world can really become your oyster.