9 Digital Nomads Share Their Advice For Working Remotely & Traveling The World
The idea of traveling 365 days a year may sound too good to be true, but there are thousands of people who do it, and they're known as digital nomads. They are entrepreneurs, writers, and pretty much ever profession under the sun. What they have in common is that for varying reasons, they realized at some point that staying in one place just didn't work for them, so they decided to make a change.
Making that change is not simple. Becoming a nomad requires finding steady remote work, making tons of travel plans, detaching from your possessions and everything else back at home, and accepting that you're going to end up in some chaotic situations. But people do it all the time. I did.
I put off becoming a nomad for a year because I didn't feel ready or know how to go about it. Then, I realized I didn't have to. I threw out the form necessary to renew my lease and forced myself to figure it out as I went along. For something done with so little planning, it's gone surprisingly well. So my advice is: If you want to be a nomad, don't overthink it. It's not much more complicated than planning a trip (the only difference is that you'll then be planning another trip... and another one).
Here's some advice from other nomads that might help you master the whole digital nomad life — or at least figure out if you want to do it.
"Make a schedule for yourself and keep it. Errands are going to come up: Laundry, emails, texts, and even friends and family asking for favors because you 'don't have to go to work.' You have to carve out work time and stick to it. Say 'no' more often! Inform people that you do, in fact, have work, just like everyone else. When you are a nomad, you do not have a boss giving you that structure. You have to provide it for yourself.
"Make plans 'after work' — a dance class, meeting friends, an actual physical activity you have to go out and DO. Otherwise, you'll be ordering [takeout] on your couch for days and wondering why exactly you started living the nomad life. You have to create the structure. I would also say to diversify. Do not make all your money doing just one thing. And save your receipts, scan them into your computer, and save them in a file called 'taxes.' Trust me, you'll be glad you did."
"Make your resume stand out from the pack by giving it a design makeover. Long gone are the days where just a boring black and white piece of paper with your job experience is acceptable. If you want a hiring manager for a remote job to see your application, put some color, personality, or even a photograph on your CV and watch how much more interviews you get offered for taking a chance and showing them you dare to do something different and interesting."
"No matter how exciting the the place you find yourself in, prioritize work first, pleasure second. Knowing you put in a full day (whatever that might mean given your project, field, or career) makes your downtime all the more fulfilling."
"I would recommending staying in one place for an extended period of time rather than bounce around from country to country. This allows you to experience the culture and deepen the connections you make. When I first became a digital nomad, I would bounce around from country to country — one week here, another week there. It soon became both exhausting and lonely. Right now I'm in Seoul, South Korea for three months, which is enough time to start learning the language and make stronger friendships."
5. Kari DePhillips, Owner Of The Content Factory And One Half Of Workationing
"Get involved with the digital nomad community! There's a great subreddit that answers a lot of questions re: international insurance, visas, and other considerations that are unique to digital nomads (read: your friends probably won't have the answers, and it can take a while to research it all online yourself). There are also awesome DN [digital nomad] Facebook groups, both for DNs in general and DNs in a particular city. The Medellin DN Facebook group is especially active, and are always people looking to meet up to share costs of apartments, activities, etc. It'll save you money but also help ward off loneliness, which is a common issue with DNs."
"In terms of online work: stay focused and create a routine because it is easy to get distracted while in new countries.In terms of traveling as a digital nomad: try to stay in countries for a longer period of time. I found one month at each country was sufficient for me to make myself at home, meet new nomad friends, and create a routine."
"Use Airbnb when you land in a new city, but don't book for a long period. Instead, make sure you have a spot for a week or two and then spend those first few days searching for a longer-term option. Local rentals will be cheaper than Airbnb, but the site is a great way to get your feet on the ground with minimal risk. If the apartment isn't as advertised, for example (which happened to my boyfriend and I once), Airbnb will have your back. But seriously — you can find cheaper options once you're actually IN a new community."
8. Chris Backe, Travel Blogger And Game Designer
"Become comfortable with the feeling of not knowing everything. Even after years in a place, stuff will still surprise you."
9. Kelly Chase, Digital Strategist at The Content Factory And One Half Of Workationing
"My number one piece of advice for digital nomads would be to make sure that you are giving yourself enough time in each location. It's easy to underestimate how exhausting travel can be, and if you're moving around from place to place too quickly, you can run yourself down.
Staying longer in each location also allows you to get more work done without missing out on everything you'd like to do there. After all, being a digital nomad means relying on your digital career for income, so work has to be your priority. Make sure to give yourself enough time so that if you're suddenly swamped for a few days, you'll still have some time left over to see the local sights and enjoy your surroundings."
If there's one takeaway from this, I think it's not to treat digital nomad life as a series of vacations. Digital nomads can still have roots — they'll just be spread all over the world.