Traveling to new and exotic locations has always been my dream. But I never knew the specifics of how to actually accomplish it. During my college days, I used to search for volunteering options and travel careers that I could take on later but the concept of digital nomad never did strike to me then. It was only when I had a job with flexible timings and WFH facility that I understood that this could be a brilliant option for traveling.
And then, I did try it out for 2 weeks while backpacking in Kerala and those happened to be the best two weeks of my life till date. I have a lot of people ask me how do I do this and how did I start out. So, I have prepared this extensive guide to highlight how anyone can become a digital nomad.
What is a Digital Nomad?
Before we start, let us first understand what does being a digital nomad even mean.
A digital nomad is a person who travels to different locations while generating money online using their smartphones, laptops, and Internet connection. Yes, it is that simple. Basically, to be a digital nomad, you need:
- An online paying job
- Travel frequently
One thing to keep in mind is that anyone who has a remote/location-independent job doesn’t automatically become a digital nomad. They have to travel while working to actually be called a digital nomad. Also, if you travel a lot and get money from local job also doesn’t mean you are a digital nomad, it means that you are just a nomadic person.
And to be a digital nomad, you need a good Internet connection and a quiet and safe environment to work.
Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad
Now, you might be thinking is being a digital nomad really worth it? Or is it going to cause more pain and insecurity in your life? Well, as is the case with most things in life, being a digital nomad has both its upside and downside.
Pros of Being a Digital Nomad
I am sure most of you already know about the perks of being a digital nomad. So, I know I don’t have to go into a long list of why this is the best life ever. That is why I have listed a few major pros of being a digital nomad for you to focus on.
Freedom at Work and Life
One of the most amazing benefits of having this lifestyle is that you have freedom over your work hours. You can take up projects that interest you and do them at your own pace. And you don’t have to compromise on your social life or travel life.
Also, you are your own boss (most of the days), so there isn’t any deadline pressure most of the time. And you can just take a break for a month or two if things get too overwhelming.
Ability to Travel Anywhere You Want
One of the best parts about being a digital nomad is that traveling isn’t an issue anymore. You don’t have to worry about not getting leaves now so you can choose a place for a long visit or a short visit, it is completely up to you.
So, you can backpack around Europe or spend a month cooped up in Iceland, it is entirely up to you.
More Creativity and Versatility in Life
Another great thing about being a digital nomad is that you don’t have to stick to monotonous routines anymore. You can work for a couple of months and then travel for the next couple of months or you could work 2 days in the week and travel the remaining day. There are just so many options to choose from but one thing is certain, you won’t feel monotonous anymore.
You don’t have to get up and go to an office cubicle daily at the same time and do everything same daily. So, you will be able to hone your creativity and imaginative skills better and will find more new ideas for your projects.
Cons of Being a Digital Nomad
As it is said, the grass is always greener on the other side, the same is true for being a digital nomad as well. While you will feel free and happy to be your own boss, there are some downsides associated with this type of lifestyle too.
No Job Security
One of the major issue with the digital nomad life is that you don’t have any job security anymore. So, one month you might have a good project which pays good and the other month, you might barely earn anything.
But as is with any new business, there are a few risks involved when you choose a more unconventional path. However, if you plan carefully and save some money for a rainy day, then it shouldn’t be that hard to get going.
Looks can be Deceiving
Life of a digital nomad can seem heavenly as you get to travel everywhere but this is not always true. Initially, it is a lot of hard work and sometimes you end up working long hours to be successful. Also, gone are the days when you could get a few days off and get paid for these holidays as well.
Every money you earn will be through hard work and no matter how beautiful the location is, you will always have to work productively.
Miss Important Events at Home
And finally, when you move from city to city, you end up missing a lot of events and happenings at home. You end up missing so many of your friends’ marriages, reunions, and achievements in life. And it can be hard to maintain relationships when you are traveling round the clock and are not available for calls or chats anymore.
So, make sure you really want this before continuing with this life because it is not as easy as it looks.
How to Become a Digital Nomad?
Once you are sure you want to give this lifestyle a try, then follow the below mentioned steps to get started.
Step 1: Start Reducing Your Expenses and Save Up
The first step in changing your lifestyle is to start cutting up your unnecessary expenses so that you can save some money as a backup for bad days. Don’t shop for unnecessary items and get a grip on your social expenses. This means you will have to reduce the amount of money you spend on shopping, partying, eating out, and so on.
Once this is done, open a new bank account and start transferring your money into it. And make sure that you don’t touch this account until it is a grave emergency.
Step 2: Join Some Online Digital Nomad Community
The next step would be to join some online digital nomad community so that you can learn more about this lifestyle. Here, you can get a lot of business ideas and resources to use to start your own online work or business.
Also, don’t forget to ask current digital nomads about the challenges that they face and how they overcome it so that you get a better idea of what to expect in this lifestyle.
Step 3: Identify Your Skills and Work On Them
Next important step is to list down your skills and talents and decide which one you can use to make some quick online money. Frankly, there are a lot of options nowadays so you won’t face many issues to implement your skill. If you love to read or write then you could choose to be a copywriter, proofreader, article writer, blog writer, content writer, and so on.
Similarly, for every other talent, you have multiple work positions available online which you can apply for. But identifying your skills is just the half process, you also need to hone it to be able to earn from it. For this, you can take online courses and find resources to help you out.
Step 4: Find Freelancing Projects Based On Your Skills
Once you have identified your skills and worked a little on them, you can start finding jobs where you can use it. You can look for freelancing projects to gain some experience so that you can use this in your resume for future job hunts.
Step 5: Decide on a Backup Plan If It Doesn’t Work Out
One important thing to keep in mind is that always have a backup plan ready if it turns out that this is not a good choice for you. Look for other options to make money like starting your own blog, establishing a business, and so on.
Apart from this, also contemplate if you are planning to go back to your office job if the digital nomad life doesn’t work out for you. Trust me, you don’t want to be without a plan 1 year into this lifestyle and find that you actually don’t want to do this full time.
Step 6: Start an Online Business or Buy an Already Established Business
If you are planning to start your own online business then make sure that you start planning for it and gather the resources. Are you planning to start from the scratch or likely to purchase a well-doing business? This greatly depends on what kind of work you are looking to do.
Make sure that you research a lot about your business before going ahead with it.
Step 7: Gather Experience for Your Freelancing Jobs and Business
Once you have started your freelancing projects or online business, it is time to start investing money and time in it and gain some experience. Look for different kind of freelancing jobs and try new plans and techniques in your business.
This is the time you can experiment a little to learn what works the best for you.
Step 8: Do Your Job Remotely From Another City/Country
After getting the hang of your new side job, you need to test if this is something that you can do while being in a different country/city. If you are already a full-time employed worker then see if your company would allow you to work for a week from a remote location or not.
If no, then you can apply for a few day’s leaves and then go to a different location and test out your digital nomad lifestyle here.
Step 10: Decide on a Destination Suitable for Digital Nomads
To get a good idea of how a digital nomad’s life is, you would need to look for 2-3 different locations. Go and work for a few days in the mountains, near a beach, or near some jungle. You will understand how it is at different locations and what are the challenges you will face at each place.
Also, make sure that you have a good WiFi or Network signal when looking for a suitable destination.
Step 11: Determine If This is the Right Fit For You
After the trial run, sit and think if you actually liked being a digital nomad or not. If the answer is no, don’t force it and look for some other way to travel.
But if the answer is yes, then you have an important decision to make now.
Step 12: Decide If You Want to Become a Full-Time Freelancer, Business Owner or a Remote Location Worker
If you are planning to go forth with your plan of being a digital nomad, then you have to select how you are planning to earn money. Are you going to be a freelancer or a remote location worker? Or are you going to work on your own business and earn from it?
You will need to ask yourself a lot of questions and think carefully and calmly before coming to a decision. Remember, this decision will decide the rest of your digital nomad life so don’t be in a rush.
Step 13: Set a Goal For Yourself and Stick to It
Finally, make a plan for yourself and adhere to it. If you want this lifestyle to work for you, you have to be clear about what you want, the places you want to travel, the duration of your stays, and how this can happen. Make a checklist of the things that you are planning to achieve in the year and work hard to accomplish it.
Life of a digital nomad can turn out to be messy if you don’t have a definite routine so it is important you make one. Also, give yourself breaks in order to function well so hang out with your friends every now and then. Don’t be too obsessed with making money as well.
Being a digital nomad is not impossible but it is not a piece of cake too. You have a lot of things to think about and plan. Once you have a goal, you can start working really quick and with the help of a little hard work and luck, you could become successful in no time at all.