How Can You Design a Digital Nomad Lifestyle?

Ever since I was young, I always dreamed about traveling the world. But I wasn’t satisfied with just a one or two-week-long vacations. I wanted to immerse myself in different cultures. As I browse the internet today, I find there are lots of people who feel this same way and long for the digital nomad lifestyle. But how realistic is this lifestyle and how can you design it?

So how can you effectively design a digital nomad lifestyle? You can design it by creating good routines that balance work and play, implement focused work habits so that there is a level of success in your work, and manage your time, energy and money well. When it comes down to it, the digital nomad lifestyle is attainable for anyone who wants to work for it. However, you must make sure that you are willing to put in the hours and effort.

GOOD ROUTINES

Living out of a suitcase can get tiring very fast, and when you make your life’s work about traveling, you can start to feel the stress out of not feeling settled. Here are some ways to make sure that you keep good routines, even while you are traveling.

Exercise

When you are on vacation, it is easy to let your good habits fall by the wayside. One of the first things to go for most people while they are on trips is their exercise routine. However, it is essential that you remember although you are traveling, you are not on vacation. Keeping a regular workout routine in your life will make you feel more stable as well as give you more energy and strength, which is vital when you have a rigorous schedule.

Exercise is an important part of designing your digital nomad lifestyle – Digital Nomad Explorer

If you plan on visiting any local sites by walking or biking, you will be thankful that you kept up a good exercise regimen throughout your traveling days. Many of the best places to see and discover are off the beaten track and demand walking or hiking to reach them. Without the right level of physical conditioning, you might be too tired to enjoy the place you found.

Many temporary housing apartments or extended stay style housing will have a gym, but there are plenty of exercise-at-home workout plans that you can find online. You can find specialized workout programs that don’t require weights, which are expensive and not easily transportable.

Diet

Having a proper diet while you are traveling can be equally as challenging as working out regularly while exploring the world. It is challenging to have a steady diet when there are so many different kinds of foods from different cultures. It is tempting to try all the restaurants or cafes in each area, but this can be bad for your diet as well as your bank account if you’re not responsible.

Once you have your options listed and the things you have to accomplish in your work, everything opens up. You can go by yourself or with a friend or a local guide. Take a walk, bicycle, take a tour, and you have the option to go back again if you want to spend more time there. Or you can go there, find an air-conditioned cafe or small restaurant and deep-zone work for 2 hours and then slowly head back knowing that you filled the day to the maximum – deep-work plus adventure and the evening is free to do something too.

Set some standards for yourself before you start the digital nomad lifestyle. Maybe you want to allow yourself some treats, but you probably shouldn’t visit a different pastry shop each day. Making the right decisions like these will help your body stay healthy and fit as well as keep your funds.

Design a digital nomad lifestyle that lets you travel and work – Digital Nomad Explorer

FOCUSED WORK HABITS

You might be tempted to play hooky on your work days and leave every project for the last minute so that you can have adventures. Hey, I get it; I’ve been there. But you have to put in the work to make sure you have a steady income to support your explorations. Here are some ways to help you focus on work when you want to be out seeing the sites.

Create a Work Space

If you are a digital nomad that works entirely remotely, then it is essential to have a clean workspace carved out in your living area. Many people who work from a laptop might be tempted to work in bed, but studies show that people who get dressed in something more than sweats and sit down at a desk are more productive and focused.

Make sure you have somewhere to sit that is free of clutter and devoid of distractions. One of the many great things about the digital nomad lifestyle is that in many of these job opportunities, you work by the project and not by the hour. As long as you can get your work done, you can use your extra time however you see fit. So having space free of distractions should be a huge motivator to get you finishing your work and moving on to see the world.

Check the Weather

Most people want to check out the local digs when the sun is shining. If you are a part of the digital nomad lifestyle, you may find the most effective use of your time is to work on days when the weather is miserable and going out when the days are beautiful. You may find that the best ways to be productive are to plan by the week instead of the day.

Time and Energy Management

The benefits of knowing more about your energy level can make a significant impact on your time management. For instance, if you know your batteries are replenished not only by sleeping or sitting down doing nothing but instead by doing something social or adventurous or working out. You can put more variety and creativity into your day and have just as much energy without feeling tired – this has been my experience. When I traveled and have been under some stress because of a project deadline, it is easy to feel burned-out after only a few hours. I’ve learned to know the difference in myself of when I’m stressed or when I’m just tired. To remedy the stress, I go exercise. If I’m just tired, I can do something completely different like explore a museum for two hours, or I can take a nap and then have a coffee.

Although a routine is best in many people’s situations, you may find that as a digital nomad, you prefer to have your work routine determined by the weather (as mentioned above) and by the local events going on.

An effective way to manage your time is to plan each month, week, and day in as much advance time as possible. Sit down with your work goals and your adventure goals and design a schedule that works for you.

It is essential to be a self-starter if you live in the realms of the digital nomad lifestyle. You always have to stay on track. You have to be very goal oriented and appreciate your work opportunities almost as much as you love your exploring opportunities. If you find it challenging to stay on task or meet your goals, the best way to remedy this is to set small goals for yourself. If you can check small accomplishments off your list, you will feel motivated to reach your bigger goals.

It is easy to feel like your life is a vacation since there is always a feeling of something new and exciting on the horizon. However, it is still good to remind yourself that you have chosen this digital nomad lifestyle so that you have enough time to do it all. You can end up being disappointed after a typical week-long vacation feeling like you didn’t see everything you wanted. Remember that when you are a digital nomad, you are traveling, but you are not on a short vacation. You have time to pace yourself. You don’t have to see everything all at once.

Money management plays a big part in designing a digital nomad life – Digital Nomad Explorer

MONEY MANAGEMENT

Managing money can be very difficult when you travel. You always have to make decisions about where you want to go and what activities you want to do, because depending on your job, you may not be able to have everything that you want. Sometimes you have to decide between saving some extra money or spending it on your adventures. Above all, make sure that you don’t spend more than you have.

Never knew you could deep work for 2 hours straight “in the zone” in a noisy cafe restaurant with booming music? It wasn’t pressure that made you productive, it was the atmosphere! Can you duplicate this effectiveness again in other settings?

Set a Budget

Part of the attraction of having a digital lifestyle is that you have the freedom in terms of time and decisions of doing what it takes to find out what your real taste and interests are in your life.

Before you start your digital nomad lifestyle, you would benefit by breaking down your traveling time into a budget. Your income could be coming in irregularly, depending on what you are doing, so make sure you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario right from the beginning. Try to put some savings away before your trip and make sure that you have something substantial that will give you a steady income before you take off.

Make sure every dollar is accounted for when you are setting a budget. Allow yourself a sinking fund where you put money set aside solely for your adventures. It may mean that you have to choose between different traveling destinations, activities, or sites, but it is better to be financially secure and selective about what you see and do than to be broke and see everything.

If you have a hard time determining what you should put on your budget before you explore the world, here are the things you need to set money aside for:

  • Housing (apartment or hotel)
  • Furniture purchases or rentals (if not included in the rent)
  • Food
  • Day to day transportation
  • Airfare
  • Vaccines
  • Visas
  • Healthcare
  • Tourist activities
  • Phone bill
  • Internet (you can use Internet cafes or libraries)
  • Weather appropriate clothes

Free Events

If you want to immerse yourself in the culture of the country that you are visiting, you might enjoy finding community events around you. Many free activities can be crowded with tourists and locals, and you could get a better sense of a culture more by attending unique festivals, open-air markets, or parades than you would by touring ancient ruins, although both are fantastic experiences.

Ask the Locals

A great way to experience the culture on a budget is to ask a local where they go to eat or what they do for fun. This way you won’t fall into overpriced tourist traps, and you will get a more authentic taste for the food and activities of the area. A majority of world travelers prefer living as a local would rather than hopping from one tourist trap to another. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn languages, and experience different cultures.

IS LIVING A DIGITAL LIFESTYLE ATTAINABLE?

I know from my own experience that you can make a living and travel the world simultaneously.

As long as you make sure you prepare as much as you can and put a lot of thought into the digital nomad lifestyle, you will be able to make this way of life work for you. The digital nomad lifestyle is fun, but it isn’t all fun. You do have to put in the work. If you use your time efficiently, make good habits and plan for best and worst case scenarios, you can make the traveling life that you dream of a reality.


Michael Haralson

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.

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