Digital nomad life is more than a physical journey through the world as a remote worker.
It also develops you through questioning and research as you become a digital nomad and live the nomadic lifestyle.
The lessons learned from facing unique challenges in the pursuit of freedom apply to every part of life.
Digital Nomad Life Starts With Questions
Most nomads don’t wake up one day, immediately buy a plane ticket, and embrace a new life of digital nomadism.
Instead, your journey begins with all kinds of questions from yourself and from those around you.
Most Digital Nomads Question Traditional Life
Being a digital nomad usually means you prioritize experiences and freedom. This is in sharp contrast to traditional societal values of materialism, security, and comfort.
Is being a digital nomad worth it? Nomad life vs. settled life can be a difficult trade-off. You’re embracing uncertainty and adventure over stability and comfort.
Ultimately, taking the plunge is a question of your personal values and risk tolerance. Are you happy with the way life is now? Would forgoing a year adventuring as a digital nomad leave you with regrets?
Other People Question Most Digital Nomads’ Decisions
The nomadic lifestyle advantage isn’t immediately apparent to many people. Almost every digital nomad has a long list of – often frustrating – questions from others.
“Are you on vacation 24/7?”
“When are you going to grow up and settle down?”
“What are you running away from?”
“Isn’t traveling dangerous?”
These questions can be irritating. However, taking a step back to consider these questions about nomad living actually provide immense value.
They help you discover your values and decide if the nomadic lifestyle is right for you. These questions also expose the values and fears of others that often keep them from experiencing freedom. After all, you’re questioning the core foundations of their worldview.
Becoming a Digital Nomad Requires Practical Answers to Your Questions
Once you’ve decided that digital nomad living is for you, you’re suddenly faced with a massive number of hard questions. Becoming a digital nomad usually requires long hours of research.
Our world isn’t designed for nomadic living. Issues like taxes, permanent addresses, and visas mostly assume that you work a job at a physical location and live in a single house.
On top of that, embracing digital nomad life adds an extra layer of complexity to the typical travelers’ problems. Finding minimalistic but sturdy travel accessories, tech gear, and software all add to the challenge of living as a digital nomad.
Tools for Digital Nomad Travel
You can’t embrace the nomadic lifestyle without the right tools to that provide the answers to your questions and needs.
Utilize Online Digital Nomad Communities
If you’re becoming a digital nomad, Reddit can often answer many of your different questions. Many blogs and Facebook groups also offer excellent digital nomad resources.
As a bonus, these social networks also help keep you from becoming a lonely digital nomad and can help you physically meet others on the same path.
Don’t Forget Travel Accessories and Gear
Some useful digital nomad tools to get are:
- A lightweight but sturdy laptop. Repairing broken equipment can be difficult in some parts of the world. Since the risk of theft and damage are also much higher, your computer doesn’t have to break the bank.
- A reliable backpack. It doesn’t have to be huge. Often, you need less than you expect. It’s especially helpful if it fits carry-on dimensions for airlines. This reduces the risk that an airline loses your checked bag – along with everything you own – the day before a work deadline.
- Apps to help with travel and productivity. Every digital nomad needs software that provides offline maps. Simplify your journey with apps for finding flights, buses, and other rides. Websites to find hostels, apartments, and hotels are also useful.
Digital Nomadism is All About Remote Work
Remote work is what distinguishes the digital nomad from a traveler or expat.
Travelers tend to be on an extended vacation. If they work, they pick up a short-term local job – for example, at a hostel. Expats are more likely to be retired or working longer-term local jobs, although they can also be remote workers.
Since digital nomads work online, nomadic survival skills for digital nomads look a bit different.
Digital Nomads Need to Be Experts at Finding WiFi
Obtaining reliable WiFi to do work can be a challenge in many parts of the world.
Some types of digital nomad jobs only need an occasional internet connection to upload work or communicate with their job or clients. Many others need constant high-speed internet access.
Digital nomad life often teaches you how to:
- Use maps and reviews to spot cafes with a higher chance of reliable internet.
- Locate co-working spaces.
- Compare and buy the right portable hotspot.
- Plan work schedules around travel activities and locations.
- Slip into hotel lobbies for emergency WiFi access.
Balancing Work and Life Is a Must for Modern Day Nomads
As one nomad put it when describing the digital nomad community,
“I feel the tendency is more about sitting in front of a computer 2000 hours, drinking coffee, and eating cheap from restaurants.”
Maintaining discipline is key to making digital nomad life an enjoyable experience. It’s all too easy to let the chaos of full-time travel turn into a bleary-eyed work fest in front of the computer.
For some, this might mean becoming extra productive to make the time for socialization and adventures. Others might struggle to structure their life to get work done instead of having fun 24/7.
There Are Many Types of Digital Nomad Jobs
Talk to ten digital nomads about their location independent jobs. You’ll often find ten people working their completely different jobs for nomads.
Some digital nomads work full-time for remote companies. While this offers some security, it can also reduce their freedom. Timezone differences can also be challenging in some cases.
Other online jobs while traveling fall into the freelancer or consultant category. These can offer more flexibility but add stress when finding clients.
For both types of workers, one of the biggest challenges is staying in contact with clients and coworkers. Fortunately, any kind of remote worker can use Krisp to help communication by enhancing call quality.
There’s a third type of remote work particularly favored by location independent workers: entrepreneurship.
Digital Nomads Are Often Entrepreneurs
Scroll through the digital nomad life hashtag on Instagram. You’ll see not only pictures of beautiful sunny beaches, but also constant references to entrepreneurship.
Nomadic Workers and Entrepreneurs Frequently Share the Same Values and Skills
Starting and running your own business requires a particular type of personality. An entrepreneur needs to thrive on uncertainty, possesses massive self-discipline, and have plenty of energy.
As an entrepreneur, you also value creating something that benefits yourself and others. This is usually accomplished by creatively solving a problem.
This personality describes digital nomad values. Most nomads are working hard in an uncertain life to create their desired lifestyle. It comes as no surprise that many remote workers choose to be entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship as a Digital Nomad Has Pros and Cons
Running your own business offers an unlimited ceiling of success. This gives it some advantages over working for a remote company or freelancing.
However, it can add a layer of financial uncertainty. Overwhelming stress also often comes with the lifestyle. That said, entrepreneurship and the nomadic lifestyle are perfect companions in the quest for location independence.
Digital nomad life also offers entrepreneurs some unique advantages. Low living costs can free up extra financial capital to re-invest in the business.
Running your own business also often offers more flexibility with dates and times. This makes can make hopping time zones and catching transportation less of a challenge.
Digital Nomad Life Often Revolves Around Budgeting and Money
Travel can get expensive. Prices often soar in many digital nomad destinations during tourist season.
Transportation can drain a digital nomad’s savings in no time. Things don’t always go as planned, and many tickets or rentals are non-refundable.
Acclimating to cash-based societies and intermittent access to ATMs makes budgeting difficult. Nomads often need to track expenses by hand, since automatic budgeting software can’t handle cash purchases.
Depending on your line of remote work, fluctuating income can also make budgeting even more challenging. A healthy budget saves during profitable months to cover more painful months.
Most self-employed workers, freelancers, or digital nomad entrepreneurs need some accounting knowledge. Knowing how to make the most of complex tax laws can also pay well.
Lessons and Tips from Digital Nomad Life
Nobody ever returned from life as a digital nomad without learning many valuable tips and lessons. This knowledge applies to life in general – not just digital nomad life.
Vagabond Life Helps You Realize You Don’t Need Much to Be Happy
Many digital nomads come from societies that focus on material possessions, comfort, and a vague definition of success.
A digital nomad might find themselves half-starved in a dingy room lit by a single lightbulb. Maybe they’re watching their bank account bleed, or working eighteen hour days.
Meanwhile, they realize experience and freedom make them happier than a comfortable house and the latest luxury car model. The reality isn’t always this grim. Still, the digital nomad life of memorable experiences tends to be more rewarding than chasing materialism.
Just make sure you have the travel accessories and software, especially for clear communication while remote working.
Managing Yourself in a Nomadic Lifestyle Can Be Harder than You Expect
Freedom comes with its own set of challenges. It can be hard to focus on your goals when the entire world is your playground, adventures are everywhere, and your schedule is flexible.
Using to-do lists, schedules, and journals are useful tools to help design the life of your dreams.
Don’t Be a Lonely Digital Nomad
It’s safe to say that almost every digital nomad has found themselves lonely at one point. Language and cultural barriers often pose a challenge. It can be challenging to develop meaningful relationships during a nomadic lifestyle.
This time alone can offer a chance for introspection – rare in today’s hyper-connected world. This gives you the opportunity for personal growth.
However, forcing yourself away from your laptop, going on adventures, and meeting new friends keeps things in balance.
Investing In Yourself Pays Dividends
Travel doesn’t have to be a string of disconnected activities where you’re checking boxes off a bucket list. Instead, digital nomad life allows you to develop yourself in unique ways.
Many people live in prisons created from their own fears. Digital nomads often need to face those fears. Discomfort, financial instability, the chaos of travel, and being taken advantage of are common.
Overcoming these challenges develops a sense of confidence. This confidence carries through to the rest of life.
The extra time and flexibility from digital nomad life also give time to invest in yourself. Reading digital nomad books that teach useful life and business skills is one way. Experiencing different cultures and meeting new people also gives a broader perspective on life. Don’t forget that budgeting time is as essential as money.
Digital Nomad Life Can Take Many Shapes, But Always Teaches You Something
The old cliches of questioning, searching, and hustling are still pillars of the nomad lifestyle. These offer a chance for accelerated growth while having memorable experiences.
Ultimately, digital nomad life is a powerful teacher for those with strong character who are ready to seize the day through an untraditional lifestyle.