If ever there was a dream work/life balance to be had, then becoming a digital nomad could well be the ultimate lifestyle we all wish we had.
Imagine traveling the world and calling in at whatever ports of call take your fancy. Or maybe putting down roots for months at a time, living as the locals do and enjoying everything about the day to day experience of the city, as opposed to feeling like you're only just getting the usual 'holiday experience.'
Wouldn't it be great to escape the rat race and city, to hit the countryside or coast, to learn a new language, and be exposed to new people, flavors, and experiences?
Whatever your motivations are, the 'digital nomad' way of life is a lifestyle that's grown hugely in popularity over the past few decades, as technology has made running or starting a business, from all corners of the globe an actual reality.
Here at the Go Solo blog, we've been motivated by the need for a change of scene and to start planning for a 'Post-COVID' life. Read on for some great advice and best practices of how you can make being a digital nomad work best for you.
Embrace minimalism and 'say goodbye to stuff'
If you're thinking of how to become a digital nomad, then this really does start at home with 'shedding the excess fat' from your bloated lifestyle. The likelihood is that over the years you've accumulated all manners of junk that quite frankly is weighing you down.
So in order to really travel the world with minimal hassle, you should start by clearing out all aspects of your physical life which serve you no-more. The more you chuck out, the less reason or need you have to come home again anytime soon.
If you're halfway around the world, do you really want to be worried about the possessions that you clearly aren't missing and needing in your new day to day existence? We think not, so get your garbage can bags at the ready, it's time to get busy!
Of course, there are many treasured memories that you will probably want to keep, but now is the time to unleash your inner Marie Kondo and look to reduce your 'baggage' by embracing the minimalist that you know lives deep inside of you.
Ultimately you need to get ruthless. Think about your new future remote life, and what you wish life to be like when you get back home. Will you need all these clothes, electronics and possessions?
Move any treasured memories to friends and family (or pay for storage), and then get thinking about what can go on eBay, be donated, or can help others in your neighborhood. Why pay for storage for things you likely won't need now, and in the future? After all, you may decide that you won't come back home and have to pay even more to ship it all to your new location.
Build up your savings and hope you don't need to use them
If you're planning on becoming a digital nomad, then it's likely you won't be planning on just traveling the world and spending your days logging into Facebook and Twitter. You're probably setting off on the digital nomad trail, having solid freelance experience, and a skill set that lends itself to remote work, as well as not being overtly timezone sensitive.
However, unless you're leaving for the airport tomorrow with a job in hand, or are ready to get working from day one in the sun, you'll probably need a decent and realistic slush fund just in case your plans don't run as smoothly as you're hoping.
So we'd recommend saving up 4-6 months of required living expenses and learning the noble art of budgeting. This way you'll be able to establish yourself as a digital nomad and won't have to return home with your tail between your legs if work starts to become thin on the ground.
Make sure you research and plan your hotel costs, where you'll stay, and what you'll eat. What other hidden costs are there in terms of visas or internal flight/train costs that you need to figure out? You'll want to enjoy yourself whilst on the road too so get planning, get saving, get budgeting and add on an extra 20% to your expected spends just to be safe.
If of course you run your own business as an entrepreneur and are ready to hit the ground running, then great work. But definitely still make sure you have a strong bank balance on departure, for any potential hiccups along the way...
Digital nomads plan everything in advance
Not everywhere on planet earth is set up to be suitable for the life of remote working. However, there are many places perfect for the digital nomad, with great working environments, high-speed internet, and communities built up around the independent worker.
So before you leave for the airport, plan your potential trip and the countries you may visit. Work out the travel costs involved between these places and the visa and health requirements. You'll want to make sure you have the very best travel insurance and of course all of your vaccinations done well in advance in a country with highly regarded medical facilities.
Make sure your phone is unlocked, that you have a great international roaming plan (or are aware of how to use local cell services), and get all your technology adapters set up so as you can hit the ground running from day one.
Check that you have bank cards that are accepted all over the world and sort out those backup physical and digital banking facilities. There's no need to be paranoid or pessimistic, but do always plan for the worst. Expect the unexpected and you'll be pleasantly surprised when you have a solution for all things that could possibly go wrong!
When you arrive, grow into your area and daily working life
Wherever you end up, make sure you set yourself time to acclimatize to the weather, culture, and change of scene.
By giving yourself the best possible start to your new life and not laying on the pressure to get working straight away, you'll find that you can easily ease your way into the digital nomad lifestyle.
Look to join online and offline digital nomad community groups. Find out where the ex-pats hang out locally for a beer. Work out for yourself the best and worst places to get your work done each day.
Think about your working pattern and whether you need to adapt this to your clients or customers. Or even just for yourself so as you can make the most of your new home town or city. The beauty of being a digital nomad is that every single thing you do is up for debate. Want a new life? Why not start it on the other side of the planet!
Start your own business as a digital nomad
As mentioned earlier, it could well be that you have a great job lined up which will support a new sense of geographical freedom, or you may think you have the skills as a freelancer or gig worker to make a success of living the remote life.
But have you thought about taking control of your own destiny in many ways at once, by starting a business as a solo entrepreneur?
There are now so many ways to survive and thrive by setting up your own business and running this remotely, whether your customers need to be aware of your location or not.
For instance, if you're a yoga teacher, you could well travel the globe and teach lessons in each location you visit, which in turn supports your living standards and lifestyle. However, the truly creative yogi could extend out their services to include yoga videos on-demand, live online classes or run a paid podcast each week, where your growing community follows your adventures across the top yoga destinations around the planet.
Or maybe you're a chef, that's decided to chuck it all in and has always wanted to spend a year traveling the world and gaining inspiration to take home. To earn an income as a food entrepreneur you could teach online cookery classes in new cities, in tandem with local cooks who then share their secrets with the world. The potential for you to create a full 360 brand selling local produce, writing a cookery ebook, and interviewing local chefs, could well be the perfect way to integrate with a local lifestyle as well as building a growing and sustainable business.
Whatever business you potentially do start, the opportunities are endless in terms of using digital assets to work remotely. Have a plan, stick to it and build up your following as you take your vision, literally, to the world!
Our top ten benefits of life as a digital nomad
Being a digital nomad can be a great existence, with so many extra benefits beyond the obvious change of scene and opportunities to see new places. Here are some of our favorite reasons for cutting loose and waving goodbye to the same old faces and places...
- Never worry about low vitamin D levels again! It's now your secondary job to chase the sun exactly where it goes. But if you don't like the sun then just do the opposite and chase the parts of the world with less sun on average each day.
- Never get bored of the same food again. If you're tired of a countries' food then clearly you've been in the same place for too long this time around. Get moving and treat the world as one large Las Vegas world food buffet...
- Find your tribe. People like you are out there, you just have to find them. Thankfully, living life as a digital nomad will put you into the same orbit as these folks and mean you cross paths in your new day to day life. Your new deeply shared experiences could well set you on the path to meet lifelong friends and romantic interests.
- Never get stuck in a rut. Unless you're completely bored of everything planet earth has to offer and Mars is the only place that will satisfy, you're in total control of where you end up. Fed up of Europe? Move on To India! It's monsoon season in India? Well, now it's time to head Down Under.
- Learn new skills from other people. Co-working remotely with other cool digital nomad types is a great way to skill swap and be exposed to new ideas and resources. Learn new digital nomad skills from other people, then share the wealth with other people coming your way.
- Finally launch that startup or small business. The beauty of working remotely is that the cost of living is so much cheaper in India or Thailand than it is in the western world. If you've always dreamed about getting an idea off the ground then why not test it out right now by giving yourself the lowest startup and personal living costs possible.
- Get to see more of the world before you 'settle down.' As soon as you start gaining commitments like marriage, mortgages, children, and more, it becomes more and more difficult to break away and live a life full of variety. If your dream has always been to see 50, 75, 100 countries or more then remote working before these life events take over could well be the way forward!
- Defeat stress by choosing when you work, how you work, what you wear to work, and ultimately decide to work on. Your job and your career are exactly what you make it, just make sure you don't forget about the actual work bit, amongst all those beautiful and distracting sunsets and beaches...
- Live a healthier life when traveling. From diet to lifestyle. From no commute to the mental health benefits of having variety in life, the joys of a nomadic digital existence all add up to give you a healthier and happier day to day existence, as opposed to being stuck in the same place all the time.
- Smile a hell of a lot more! Just read our tips from one to nine again and we guarantee you'll be excited about your new future life as a digital nomad.
Let's get moving
As a species, we're supposed to live a nomadic lifestyle. So if you find yourself developing wanderlust and longing for a different kind of everyday life, then now is the time to start planning it. Because whilst COVID-19 is here right now, it's not going to be here forever thankfully.
In fact, if anything, COVID is helping us all define exactly what we want out of life. It's helping us build up a desire and need to get away from our homesteads once all this is over... Plus - we have plenty of time to plan and get prepared once we defeat this coronavirus. Let's all get our passports at the ready in anticipation of that!
Until next time...keep winning...
If you like what you've read here, have your own digital nomad success story, or want to join the conversation around entrepreneurship then hit me up on Twitter or check out our YouTube channel - I'm always around!
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.