How to Become a Digital Nomad – Everything You Need to Know

by Georgi Todorov

Becoming a digital nomad has become many people’s goal as it allows you to travel the world, explore new horizons, and also live in cheaper countries than back home and, therefore, save you lots of money.

However, is everything as easy as it seems? Make sure to read until the end to be aware of the best, the worst, the essentials, and the challenges of being a digital nomad.

What is a Digital Nomad?

A digital nomad is a simple person that performs a remote job online working anywhere in the world. From the comfort of their own house to working on tropical islands, you can find them anywhere. Digital Nomads are location independent and all they need is a stable internet connection and electricity. 

A report by MBO Partners shared that there were, in 2018, as many as 4.8 million workers that define themselves as Digital Nomads, and 17 more millions aspired to become one someday.

In this article, we will go through the best tips to remain healthy and productive as a digital nomad on the other side of the world. Other than that, you’ll get to know the best internet backup solutions, and how much you can actually travel as a digital nomad.

What Job Can You Do as a Digital Nomad?

While there is certainly no need to introduce you to the digital nomad world anymore, it can be very useful to know what they do as a job. To be a digital nomad, you don’t need to be a highly educated individual with several years doing a master.

In fact, a report by Digital Nomad Help found that 14% of digital nomad only finished high school and 55% went to college. Only 29% did a master, graduate, or a doctorate. Rather, you only need to find a job that will allow you to work from anywhere.

A report by writer Katherine Conaway on Medium.com revealed the most common primary jobs for digital nomads. With 22% of digital nomads working as software engineers, there are many more job titles that have their place in the list. A big percentage of the primary digital nomad jobs is occupied by writers, ecommerce, and consultants.

In addition, 

Also, Market Inspector shared a complete infographic related to their research, showing the most common digital nomad jobs that you can find below.

To sum up, whether you find a permanent full-time job, you start getting clients and projects as a freelancer, or a contractor job, there is a place for you in the digital nomad world.

Equipment – What Digital Nomads Need

Equipment when working remotely from home is essential to comfortably remain online, and it’s definitely not an exception as a digital nomad.

In fact, there are a few items (apart from your laptop and its charger) that you will need to take with you all the time. 

First of all, you should always carry noise canceling headphones or earbuds everywhere you go. In fact, whether you decide to work from your apartment, hotel, a co-working space, or from the beach is possible, you’ll need peace and concentration and headphones will eliminate the noise around you.

Secondly, why not take a power bank with you? While power outages might not happen often back home, they sometimes happen all the time where you’re going to go. A power bank will allow you to keep your laptop and cell phone batteries running. On top of that, it can sometimes be a must-have if you work in customer support while talking with clients, or teaching English and can’t be interrupted for unnecessary technical issues.

Moreover, purchasing a anti-theft backpack is definitely a good move when traveling as a digital nomad. It will keep your belongings safe and will avoid ending up in situations that you don’t want, especially at the other side of the world.

Last but not least, you should always travel with an internet back up, and this brings us to the following point.

How to Stay Connected all the time

Staying connected to the internet when you’re a digital nomad is the priority number one, over productivity, communication, and more important than the rest of the equipment.

In fact, it doesn’t take long to understand that if you have no internet, there’s no money coming, and without it coming in, travels need to stop.

While you might travel to countries where the internet is slow and unstable, there are backup solutions that you can use in every (or almost) country in the world.

Nikola from Brosix tells us his own experience with internet backups. He said “I try to get a mobile internet package that includes a healthy amount of data on my phone in case of outages or slowdowns. I can then use my phone as a hotspot in an emergency. This has worked quite well for me so far.”

In fact, buying a local sim card from a provider can get you far for only a small amount of money. For instance, several Gb of mobile in Asia or South America will only cost you a few dollars and it will last you numerous days in case the internet is slow or if there’s a power outage.

Moreover, you can purchase a device with a virtual sim card that will function in many countries at once without the need of buying a different sim card in every country. The best example is the portable hotspot device Glocalme that works everywhere in Europe, Southeast Asia, and other continents with only one data top up.

Lastly, booking an apartment, a house, or a villa is much better than booking a hotel room for stability and safety reasons. In fact, the internet in hotels tend to be less stable depending on the other guests, slower, and less secure as other people will be using the same connection.

The state of remote work by Owllabs revealed that internet speed and connectivity are 14% more challenging for digital nomads compared to their colleagues at the office.

Can You Remain Healthy While Traveling?

Remaining healthy while traveling is a little more challenging than in a normal setting back home. In fact, as a digital nomad, you’re always on the road and finding a gym with proper gear is sometimes not easy, depending on the country.

According to an extensive report by Indeed, 50% of remote workers said that working from home decreased their amount of sick days, and 56% said it reduced their absences at work. 

Needless to say, you’ll definitely be healthier as a digital nomad as you would normally be working at the office.

On top of that, there’s also the mental health to consider. 

In the work-life-relationship survey by FlexJobs, 86% of respondents thought that a flexible or remote job would reduce their stress, and 89% said they think they would be able to take better care of themselves.

Dennis from Serptrust shared his travel experience as a digital nomad. During our interview, he said” I work best from my own home here in Laos, and wake up around 11AM each morning. Every two or three months I go on a trip to extend my visa and turn it into a small holiday.

How to Stay Productive as a Digital Nomad?

Staying productive when working from home is sometimes not easy, let alone as a digital nomad when you can go to the beach or visit new places at any moment.

There are several ways to remain productive as a digital nomad.

First of all, you should try working in a co-working space to be in a professional environment with other people working just like you. While socializing in co-working spaces is not of course not necessary, it certainly helps being close to professional individuals with your same job title as you can ask them second opinions.

On top of that, being in a corporate setting will keep you focused and that is certainly a great help.

Secondly, trying the Pomodoro technique will certainly benefit you in terms of productivity. This productivity technique was developed in the 80’s by an Italian student and consists of working efficiently for 25 minutes and taking a 5 minutes break.

While this does indeed result in many breaks during the day, it is a proven method to remain focused the whole day, making the most of your time at work, and enjoying a short break every 25 minutes.

A study by Stanford University found, over nine months, that digital nomads, and more particularly remote workers, took fewer sick days and ended up 13% more productive than their colleagues at the office.

In addition, another survey by CoSo Cloud revealed that 23% of remote workers would want to be scheduled extra hours to finish their work-related duties. 

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Miriam Herst, Beauty Editor at All Things Hair US shared how she remains productive at work. She said “It’s easy to get caught up in work and forget to get outside and take a break from staring at the computer all day. I’ve been using my lunch break to walk to the park to get some fresh air. I come back to my at-home work station refreshed and reenergized. It’s easily my best tip for staying productive while working from home!”.

What Are the Biggest Challenges as a Digital Nomad?

The challenges as a digital nomad are numerous and you’re never enough prepared to combat them all. In fact, from distractions and internet issues to visa problems or missed flights, the list is big.

However, what is the absolute biggest challenge you can encounter as a digital nomad? Nikola from Brosix raised the number one challenge as a digital nomad and it is without a shadow of a doubt Loneliness.

Nikola says “I’d have to say that the initial loneliness of moving to a new place before making social contacts is a big challenge. I’m a very social person in general, so when I’m on my own for too long I begin to feel a bit down. Nowadays I try to make contacts well before any move so that I can hit the ground running.”

The State of Remote 2020 by Buffer also raised the same issue, with loneliness being the second biggest struggle, straight after communication.

How long can you actually travel as a digital nomad?

One of the biggest assets to being a digital nomad is to travel the world while working, but how long can you actually travel? That is an interesting question that doesn’t have a precise response.

Everything depends on your job, your schedule, and how far you’re willing to go. For instance, if you’re a freelancer that often needs to meet clients’ deadlines and only has a day off per week, you’re probably not going to go on a long and tiring adventure that day. For this reason, you might take less projects and enjoy more, or stay close to the beach or the mountain to enjoy nature and relax on your day off.

However, if you’re a full-time employee that works 8 hours a day with the same schedule the whole year, you’ll have at least 2 days to travel per week. In addition, think about the vacation that will allow you to travel even more.

Dennis from Serptrust also talked about his travel experience as a digital nomad. He mentioned” I work best from my own home here in Laos, and wake up around 11AM each morning. Every two or three months I go on a trip to extend my visa and turn it into a small holiday.”

To sum up, traveling is relative and you can travel as much as you like when you’re a Digital Nomad. That being said, you might fall in love with a country and you’ll stay there much longer than initially planned.

How to become a digital nomad – The Conclusion

These were the most important things to know before starting your new life as a digital nomad. While 2020 is certainly not the best year to travel, getting ready and knowing as much as you can is definitely a good start.

Whether you’re a freelancer with a few clients, a full-time employee lucky enough to work from home, or a consultant, taking the step to leave your comfort zone and travel the world is easier than you think.

Now that you know the must-have equipment, the biggest challenge and how to fight it, and how to remain productive as a digital nomad, you should start practicing it.

To conclude, being a digital nomad is fantastic and will give you many opportunities wherever you decide to go in the world (preferably after the pandemic). There are some hiccups on the road, but just like an office job, anything can be resolved.

Whether your friends or colleagues are attempting to start a new digital nomad lifestyle working from anywhere, or if they found a remote job, share this article with them in order to know the best tips and tricks before leaving their home!

Contributed by: Georgi Todorov of DigitalNovas

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