“Travel, As much as you can, As far as you can, As long as you can. Life is not meant to be lived in love place.”
“But how?” you ask me.“How can I travel so far and so long when I can barely miss a day of my work if I am to make the ends meet at the end of every month?” That is a very good question!
As I am sipping a coffee sitting in my small villa beside a vast green stretch of rice field in Bali, I am going to tell you how exactly you can travel as much as you can and as long as you can. The answer, simply, is to be a Digital Nomad.
“Digital nomads are people who are location independent and use technology to perform their job.” – Investopedia
I am a Digital Nomad. (I did have some issues with that term at first, but I have grown to like it!) I can work wherever in the world as long as I have my laptop and a good enough internet connection.
After I completed my Bachelor’s in English, I pursued a career in the PR and Marketing field, working in some very reputable companies which made me quite some money and gave me a few rapid promotions with a few big titles that felt like quite an achievement for my age. Honestly, I had everything I could have asked at the time and a little more. (Now brace yourself for the “but” that is coming).
BUT, I was not happy.
I was working long hours on projects that really did not bring me joy. I never really had any nightmare coworkers, but I despised having to work for someone else. I did make money, but then I never seem to have the time to spend it as I was working all the time. Amongst all this, I noticed that there are some things I can do that did not actually require me to be present physically at an office. Most of my work included consulting, and almost all my big clients were from overseas. One day I was on vacation and had to log in to respond to some urgent work, and I suddenly thought, “well, why on earth don’t I do this more often?” Thus, I became a Digital Nomad.
I often travel to countries I love and settle for a month or two (as the countries’ visa regulations permit) and I work. I keep on moving when I feel bored, and sometimes I come back to the places I loved as well. It is a free life. Especially if you are earning in USD and traveling in a more affordable part of the world like South East Asia, it is quite a comfortable life as well!
Now let’s see how YOU can do it. Here I am listing down a few practical steps that you have to take if you are seriously considering of starting a Digital Nomad lifestyle.
1 – Find a strength that you can offer as a service remotely
I have always been fond of writing, and that is the strength that I first found I can offer as a service remotely. In my travels, I meet fellow Digital Nomads very often, and I keep feeling awed at the amazingly creative services that they are offering remotely. Following are some of the areas which are very common in the Digital Nomad community, and there are plenty of work you can find online even if you do not already have a set client base.
- Programming and Development (Web, Mobile, and Software)
- Design and Creative Projects
- Admin Support
- Writing and Translations
- Customer Service
- Sales and Marketing
- Blogging and Content Creation
These are only a few possibilities. With the power of the internet and social media, there are ample opportunities out there that you can go for.
2 – Reduce Your Debt
Being a Digital Nomad is all about freedom. You have a crippling local debt that keeps you stressed, it will be difficult for you enjoy a proper Digital Nomad life. As someone living a nomad lifestyle, the only essential things you will be needing are your laptop, phone, your passport and some clothes to go. You can pack all that into one backpack. The intelligent thing to do is to sell all the excess you have and use that money to settle your debt obligations. Being a Digital Nomad does not mean that you need to be debt free, but reducing it as much as you can definitely help you enjoy this new freedom even more.
3 – Research and Network
You are going to start living a very minimalistic lifestyle in a country that you most probably know very little about. Therefore, you need to equip yourself with as much as information and local knowledge you can before you actually go. When you do your research, be detailed on the things that you feel comfortable in. For an example, as someone who loves silence and calm, I never stay in the “party” areas of tourist towns since I just cannot focus on work when there are too many people bustling around making noise. Remember that as a DN, your work is one of the biggest priorities you have. You need to set yourself in a location that you can work at least a few hours a day.
There are many online Digital Nomad communities in popular Social Networks such as Facebook and Reddit that you can join in. No place out there is completely unknown thanks to the power of social networking. I have experience in feeling like I have lived in that place for a very long time even before I moved there as a DN thanks to the social media communities that I am a part of. Try and talk to DNs who have been there for some time and know their way around. They always know the places with the best internet and the best coffee!
4 – Make financial goals and a budget
Being a Digital Nomad may not feel like a difficult job, but if you do not have a good work ethic and a financial discipline, you are going to put yourself in extremely difficult situations as a DN. First of all, you need to create solid financial goals for the work that you will be doing on the road. Research the minimum about money that is required to live in the country or the area you are willing to go as a Digital Nomad and make sure you have enough work to cover that cost and save some as well. Before you set off, you need to have savings to survive at least 3 months before you establish yourself well as a DN with consistent work.
5 – Get a good travel insurance
Being a Digital Nomad is extremely different from going somewhere for a vacation. You will be out there mingling with the locals, eating local food and simply living like a local. Even though we always wish that problems would not come, when you live somewhere long term, problems can and do arise. In those situations, since you are away from your home and the normal support system, you can use all the support you can get. Cutting corners and saving money are good habits as a DN, but not when comes to your travel insurance. Do your research and sign up for an insurance that goes with your budget and gives you the best coverage. This will give you that much-needed peace of mind when it comes to healthcare that you will definitely be needed when you are away from home and everybody you love.