How to enjoy – and afford – the life of a digital nomad

 

Being a digital nomad

The increasing viability of remote work has made new opportunities available beyond simply working from home. Freelancers and “word workers” who are not tied to any singular location have the freedom to become digital nomads who travel as they work and work as they travel. Since most individuals in the workforce can rarely afford to take leisurely vacations, traveling to different destinations while also working can be a great opportunity to see the diverse beauties of the natural world and learn to appreciate different cultures along the way.

Read on for the ins and outs of living and working as a digital nomad.

Is the life of a digital nomad right for you?

There are many exciting benefits to working as you travel. This is the ultimate in work flexibility. You don’t have to feel ties to any one place or schedule or worry about toxic workplace culture. Workers with health issues can seek out environments where they feel better physically and mentally. In addition, you can learn more about human culture and history and broaden your horizons. If you are the type of person who easily gets bored or restless in one place and needs movement and stimulation to stay positive and productive, this life might be perfect for you.

The downsides of the nomad’s life.

The life of a digital nomad can be stressful. It’s not always guaranteed that you will be able to find affordable lodging. And travel can be uncertain even at the best of times. If you tend to thrive on routine and having a sense of home, this might not be a great option for you, at least not in the long term.

What kind of work do digital nomads do?

While not every wordsmith job lends itself to life on the road, you might be surprised to find out how many lines of work digital nomads occupy, as FluentU points out. Some are employed by companies, some do contract work, and others freelance. Popular work options for digital nomads include editing, marketing, website design, online teaching, and SEO content writing. Note that these traveling workers are dubbed “digital” for a reason: this is work that depends on having access to basic digital technology and reliable internet.

What if your work doesn’t lend itself to travel?

If you want to sample the life of a digital nomad but your existing job isn’t one that you can take on the road, you can look for exciting travel work, education, and internship opportunities. Another option might be to start your own writing or editing business. Even if you work in a non-digital industry, you might be able to translate your expertise in your chosen field into remote work as a consultant. If you are proficient at hands-on work such as cooking, design, or carpentry, consider creating online courses which will allow you to enjoy some passive income and work digitally on the road.

The basics of starting a business.

Starting an online business is not complicated or difficult. You should have a budget and a business plan, but these may not need to be complicated if you are operating with little overhead and your primary goal is sustainable income. You will need to choose a business name and entity and register with the IRS. If the name you want for your business is not available, one option is to formalize your business in your name, while registering your doing business as a DBA (doing business as), whichever better aligns with your branding.

How can you afford to travel as a digital nomad?

Some digital nomads use campers or RVs to travel so they don’t have to worry about finding affordable lodging. But they still need to access the internet, which is not always easy in remote locations, so, as Wifi Tribe asserts, having a mobile hotspot is a necessity. For nomads concerned about their carbon footprint, train travel is a great option in some areas. If you are looking for affordable lodging as you travel, consider Airbnbs and hostels, which are far less pricey than hotels -- just be sure to check to see if they have wi-fi!

If your travels take you abroad, say to Europe or China, it’s essential that you set up an account with a money transfer service. This is especially true if you travel from country to country to conduct your work, such as being a travel writer or destination photographer. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to send and receive funds thanks to services like Remitly. If your U.S.-based employer or work sponsor needs to securely send payment to you as you work in China, for example, they can do so with their smartphone and save big on transfer fees; there’s no charge when $1,000 or more is sent via Remitly.

Sure, the life of a digital nomad isn’t ideal for everyone. But if you have remote editing or writing work you are doing already, take it on the road and see if you enjoy it. You may find that exploring different cultures and destinations enhances your work productivity and boosts your overall life satisfaction.

Blog post by Sheila Johnson. Image via Pixabay

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