According to Wikipedia, “digital nomads are a type of people who use telecommunication technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their lives in a nomadic manner.” People who belong in this category often work remotely either from a different location locally or from a foreign country. Most often, digital nomads use laptops with internet capability to perform their jobs but these days’ smartphones and tablets can also be used.
So how do you explore new places when working as a digital nomad? When checking out a new country or city as a digital nomad, you have to consider internet reliability, cost of accommodations and food, how long you can stay and how to schedule your work with the time zone difference.
Just like any other job, there are advantages and disadvantages when you choose to become a digital nomad. But the best advantage a digital nomad has is the flexibility of their workspace. Most often digital nomads travel to different parts of the globe to explore and tour. However, travel can pose some drawbacks too. So to prevent you from disappointing your employer by not delivering what you promised, here is a list of critical things for you to consider.
The place you want to visit may have some restrictions when it comes to touring. You can opt for the non-visa countries first if you are itching for a change of location. The best recommendation is for you first to travel locally then work your way up to going to different countries.
First world countries require a visa before you can enter, and this visa can determine how long your stay should last. Other countries may let you stay indefinitely by applying for an extension, and others offer some form of working visa for self-employed persons in their territory. In my article What Kind of Visa Does a Digital Nomad Need?, I outline some of the key considerations and visa types needed to help you with your decision.
Make sure you find out the documents you need and if you need to be vaccinated first before you plan your trip.
Most hotels offer internet access through a wireless network. It wouldn’t hurt you to still check on it. Third world countries still have low-cost accommodations without Wifi.
If you have relatives or friends in the area, you can ask for them to house you during your trip. Most likely, at their house, you will be able to connect to a stable internet connection. This guide How to Choose the Best Accommodation for Your Digital Nomad Lifestyle? will help you learn more about your options, complete with comparison tables too!
Length of Stay
Check your visa to determine how long you can stay if you’re planning to travel abroad. It’s also important that if you are going to spend weeks at a time in one country, you can determine how much money you will need to finance your stay if you are in a hotel.
If you are visiting relatives, split your visit times to different households if you have more than one relative in the area. By breaking your visit times, it will allow you to bond with them and also cut back on your accommodation expenses.
The moment you travel abroad, there is a big chance that you will experience some jet lag due to timezone differences. You should consider this because it will affect your work schedule dramatically. Adjust your tasks accordingly to make sure that you deliver on time.
One trick that works for many digital nomads is that they retain their original timezone on their laptops and create a different clock to show the time and date of their employer/s.
The timezone changes as you travel abroad, and this also reflects on your work schedule. If you are going so that you can explore you must have a balanced work-play plan. Once you’ve listed your tasks and scheduled them into your calendar, you will have to work your way into scheduling your play activities around those working schedules you make.
A balanced schedule can prevent a lot of hassle in the future so make sure that you adhere to it as much as you can.
Crunch those numbers and see how far your allotted travel finance can get you. Your steady income from your job can significantly help in this aspect. As a digital nomad, the importance of regular income during travel is apparent. Your cash flow can determine if you are ready for a long journey or you still need to work a little bit more.
It is also a must to know the taxes and laws for running your business abroad. You don’t want to break the law due to ignorance inadvertently. Visit the web and read up the tax rules of the country you want to visit. Follow them accordingly to avoid headaches in the future.
As you travel, your safety should be a primary concern. Unforeseeable scenarios can or may happen during your travel; it is here where the value of your insurance can save the situation. Travel insurance keeps you and your family at ease knowing that in an event an accident occurs you are fully insured. Also, it is a good idea to apply for insurance for your business while you travel. It would prevent the total loss of your income and ensure that you still have a business to continue. Check out my article Top Insurance Options Suited For the Digital Nomad Lifestyle to find the right coverage for you.
As a digital nomad, you are working while traveling a lot. Knowing how to live out of your suitcase is a skill most have mastered. It is not advisable to bring large amounts of your belongings into your travel not just because it’s burdensome but also because it is expensive.
If you’re considering being a digital nomad, you can start downsizing while you’re still at home. Get your suitcase out, put everything you want and need in it and then use only those items for a couple of months. You’ll get the feel of how it is to live out of your suitcase and can then assess if you are up for a digital nomad lifestyle. You might want to consider if a streamlined and minimized lifestyle will suit you. I cover multiple topics and give suggestions in my article Is Digital Nomad Minimalism the Right Lifestyle for You? Check it out for some solid option ideas.
Most articles have been sensationalizing the wonders of living a digital nomad life. They forgot that digital nomad’s, also have to follow the rules and meet deadlines. The fact that there are successful digital nomads out there preaching of how they are free to travel and explore means that they also successfully managed how to compartmentalize their time so that they have a steady flow of income from their jobs.
The time management skills of these digital nomads should be something that readers should know. It is something that an aspiring digital nomad should possess. Yes, it is a flexible lifestyle, they get to see the world, travel and explore exotic places but the “how” behind all of it gets muddled up with too much positive feedbacks. Positive feedbacks are good but just as the saying goes “too much of a good thing is bad”.
For a person to make a conscious decision regarding a life-changing judgment, both sides of the coin must be explored. Seeing the positive side and the negative side would give you the proper knowledge to base your assessment. It’s not the wrong choice if you want to become a digital nomad and you feel that you want a change. The question you should ask yourself is “Are you ready?” and “Is becoming a digital nomad for you?” Also, you should consult with your family before you make this decision because it will not just affect you but also the people surrounding you; especially your loved ones. I have written a lengthy article 15 Tough Questions to Ask Before Starting a Digital Nomad Lifestyle which may help guide you through some of the key questions to ask yourself. Be prepared.
To sum it all up, digital nomads have certain advantages when it comes to work, most of all they have the freedom to choose. Digital nomads decide where to work, how long, and in what kinds of projects they are willing to work. And just like any other job, there are disadvantages. Some of them are timezone differences, lack of stability, losing one’s focus and the possibility of choosing the wrong location when traveling. There will always be pros and cons when making a decision. It is your responsibility to weigh them and see where your choice leads you accurately.
Where are the best places for Digital Nomads?
For a place to be considered as a good place for digital nomads, cost of living, internet speed, weather, and other factors are observed. Some of the top countries that usually show up are:
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Medellin, Colombia
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Tallin, Estonia
How to become a digital nomad?
Becoming a digital nomad is not a light decision. For you to live the life of a digital nomad, you will need to determine what kind of job you are willing to do remotely, look for possible remote employers, quit your nine to five job, and then plan your travel.
What are the characteristics needed to become a successful digital nomad?
There are many, but the basic ones are time management skills, self-marketing skills, focus, sense of responsibility and reliability. If you look at the list, you will see that these are the same as the characteristics needed for even non-digital nomads. So look deep inside yourself and determine which ones are lacking, then work on improving it.
I’m the owner of Digital Nomad Explorer. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and been an expat in Scotland, Finland, and China. I was a digital nomad while having my own robotics company and traveled throughout Europe and China working remotely. Currently, I’m location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.