What Does It Mean To Be a Digital Nomad, and How Can You Become One?

The pandemic changed the way we think about work forever. Before 2020, everyone considered “work” to be the place where you go every morning from Monday to Friday – an office space where you meet with all your co-workers, and you virtually spend 70% of your life. However, in March 2020, that all changed and a large percentage of the people who worked in offices suddenly got exposed to another way of getting work done – from home.

Initially, most employees and companies were pretty skeptical about this “work from home” idea – everyone simply considered it to be a way to keep things going while protecting the health of others. However, after more than one year of this new work model, almost all businesses and people figured out that it’s possible to get work done remotely and that this work model could be the future. That led to the opening of numerous online-only positions and people working for companies that are based thousands of miles away from them.

It also led to the birth of a new type of job – the digital nomad. In this article, we will be talking all about digital nomads – what it means to be one, how you can become one, and why you might want to consider it.

What is a Digital Nomad?

To explain it in the simplest way possible, digital nomads are people who work remotely and often travel to different parts of the world while working. They enjoy working in new environments and choose spaces like coffee shops or co-working spaces to get their work done. Of course, being “digital,” they entirely rely on technology to keep them connected with co-workers and family members. This enables them to work from any part of the planet that has a stable Internet connection!

Statistics show that 34% of remote workers work outside of the office four or five days every week, so for those who aren’t burdened by responsibilities, the so-called “nomad” lifestyle is an exciting opportunity to explore the world without losing your job and while still making money. If you’ve got the travel bug and you’re willing to take the risk and go exploring different continents and experiencing new cultures, becoming a digital nomad just might be the thing for you.

In order to help you decide if that lifestyle fits your character and aspirations, we will be taking a look at all the benefits, job opportunities, and struggles of this new way of living. Let’s see what they are!

Five Benefits of Becoming a Digital Nomad

There are numerous benefits that come with working remotely. The most important one is freedom – the freedom to choose where you want to work and how you want to get things done. As a remote worker, you carry the entire responsibility of getting your tasks done – there’s no to remind you of tasks you need to get done and being irresponsible will only damage your reputation and make you an unattractive hire for other projects. However, at the same time, you’re also the person that decides where to work from and when to do it. If you ask us, this is one of the biggest positives of working remotely. Additionally, there are several other key benefits that make being a digital nomad sound like a dream.

Increased Productivity

When you work from the office or from your home, you’re constantly wasting time – chatting with co-workers, making coffee, having a one-hour-long lunch break, browsing the Internet, etc. However, when you’re traveling to new places, you don’t want to waste the time that you could use for exploring by procrastinating and not getting work done. In fact, for digital nomads, productivity is key. You want to get as much work done as possible, as quickly as possible, because that gives you more time to explore the new city you’re in!

More Creative Ideas

We all know how inspiring traveling can be – you’re meeting new people, experiencing different cultures, and seeing new lifestyles. All of that sparks our creativity and broadens our minds, as it makes us more aware of how vastly fascinating the world is. Scientists say that creativity occurs when you mash unrelated concepts together. It’s a process called “synaptic play,” and the more incongruent the concepts are, the more synapses appear in your brain. Working from a different city every week gives you the opportunity to taste a lot of new experiences that you can later use for more creative ideas and connections.

When your brain is exposed to new information day after day, you are more attentive and much more engaged in the outside world, unlike what happens when we get stuck in a routine at home and we feel like every day is a repeat of the previous one as if we’re living in a Sims video game.

It Becomes Easier to Adapt

Constantly going to new places pushes you to get out of your comfort zone and forces you to adapt to new environments quickly. Each country is a new opportunity to meet different people and engage with their cultures. This allows you to be more open to others, more adaptive to new challenges, and more experienced in the ways of the world.

Traveling also improves the way your brain reacts to change. The more you travel, the more the stress of being in a foreign place evaporates. Soon, new and challenging situations become something that you’re used to and that you readily accept instead of fighting them. On the contrary, staying at home and in your comfort zone makes it more difficult to come to terms with changes in your life and makes you less adaptable.

More Time For The Things You Love

No matter how much you love your job, you still work to live and not the other way around. Regardless of how awesome your job is, your other life experiences tend to be a lot more memorable and valuable. Getting to explore the world, make new friends, and get acquainted with new cultures will likely be something you remember for the rest of your life, unlike the Excel sheet you’re spending an entire afternoon on.

Of course, being at home and with family can also create plenty of joyous moments. But if you’re at a time in your life when your only responsibility is you, perhaps it’s better to spend the time in foreign places, where you get to learn more and broaden your perception of the world.

Great Friendships

How many people do you know who can say that they have friends from all over the world? Likely not that many. Well, thanks to working remotely, you can easily fill your life with people from every corner of our planet and have friends in cities far away from your hometown. Living alone in a new country is always a scary and challenging experience, but itis likely going to help you forge strong connections with people who may not even speak your language.

Typical Digital Nomad Jobs

Now, as you’ve probably already guessed, not every job will enable you to become a “digital nomad.” If you want to be a school teacher or an engineer, you will likely have to work in one place only and not be able to move all around the globe. The cool thing is that a lot of companies nowadays accept digital work and encourage it. In fact, 43% of American employees spent their time working remotely last year, and that number will only go up. If you’re looking to get a remote job, you can quickly filter out those positions on any job search site, and you will see that there are quite a few available to apply for! If you’re planning on becoming a digital nomad and working outside of the country for large portions of the year, it’s mandatory for you to discuss that with your future employer. Being a freelancer is a terrific option for digital nomads. You should be good to go if you have enough gigs to earn you money. However, it would be best if you remain realistic with yourself; before you head off to another part of the world, you need to asnwer the following questions:

  • What are you going to do?
  • Can you do it online?
  • Will it make you enough money?

Once you know that you can live well with the gig you have, you can start mapping out your travel plans.

Seven Tips for Life as a Digital Nomad

Being a digital nomad sounds like an exhilarating adventure . However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. You still need to do a lot of planning, and you need to consider a lot of factors in order to be able to live comfortably. Let’s take a look at seven must-follow tips for digital nomads.

Have a Budget

A budget is key for your life as a digital nomad. You need to create one and follow it so that you don’t get into a money crisis while you’re on the other side of the world. For a reasonable budget, consider how much you need to spend on living, the cost of traveling from one destination to the next, the cost of your stay, and how much you need to pay for the activities you want to take part in.

Have a Plan for a Worst-Case Scenario

Hope for the best, but be ready for the worst. When you’re traveling and living abroad, you always need to make sure you have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. Not everything will likely be smooth sailing, and if something bad happens, you need to know what to do.

Join a Digital Nomad Community

Having the opportunity to create friendships with people who follow the same journey as you is priceless. Their experience and advice might help you in tough situations, and you might also share tips and tricks that can help make other nomads’ lives easier. If you’re new to the lifestyle, people who have already practiced it for years can answer all your pressing questions and make adjusting to the situation that much easier for you.

Always Ensure You Have Cell Reception or Wi-Fi

As a digital nomad, your life and job now depend on technology and an Internet connection – most notably on your phone or laptop. As a remote worker, not having Internet access is never a good excuse for not getting work done, so you need to consider a way to ensure you’re always able to go online. One way is to invest in a cell phone booster or a mobile hotspot device.

Consider How You Will Communicate With the Locals

It’s always good to start your journey as a digital nomad in countries where you can comfortably communicate with the locals – either because they also speak English or because you happen to be fluent in their language. You should avoid going to places where you “assume” someone will be able to speak English and where you don’t know the local language – falling into that kind of situation can quickly turn into a disaster.

Research Your Travels

Decide where you want to travel and where you will stay when you get there beforehand. You don’t want to rush into new plans every few weeks – that will only make the entire process more stressful and likely more expensive. Having a plan is always a good idea, and it will ensure that your journey is as pleasant as possible.

Use ATMs for Withdrawing Cash

Exchange rates at airports are always ridiculously high. If you need cash, withdrawing from an ATM is always a better option. You will still get charged with fees, but they will be a lot lower than what you will need to pay at a currency exchange desk.

Before You Get on The Plane

Even though being a digital nomad sounds exciting, it’s definitely not for everybody. You need to assess whether you can get used to having this kind of a “move non-stop” lifestyle. For others, however, the lack of routine and the fact that they’re not close to family and friends is a big problem, quickly making this lifestyle unsuitable. For some people, traveling, meeting new faces, and getting acquainted with new cultures is inspiring, and it makes them better at their jobs.

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