Have you recently taken the plunge to become a digital nomad? Or maybe you're figuring out a way to make money online so that you can change your working lifestyle in order to travel more? Whether you're already a digital nomad or just thinking about it, the following tips will help make your time on the road a little easier.
Equipment and Packing
Travelling as lightly as possible makes all the difference. Stick to the essentials you need for work, a few clothes, and a few luxury items, such as a nice camera or hiking boots. Depending on where you're based, you can usually pick up toiletries and any extra clothes while you're there. Each time you move on to your next location, it's a good idea to have a clear-out and give anything you don't use or need away.
Finding a nice place to work is great for establishing a routine, not becoming sick of being stuck in your apartment all day, and getting to meet other digital nomads. A lot of locations have reasonably-priced options with facilities such as fast internet connection, meeting rooms, and tea and coffee-making facilities.
Even if you choose not to join a co-working space, there are plenty of other ways to meet locals and other digital nomads. There are usually Facebook groups that'll enable you to connect with others and also meet-up events. Making new friends can be daunting but there'll be others in the same position as you and making the effort will stave off feelings of loneliness and increase your confidence. You might even make some good business contacts too, or at least have people to do activities with.
There's no point working all the time; you may as well have stayed at home. When you're finished for the day, what do you like to do? Choose a location where you can enjoy an existing hobby, or pursue one you've always fancied trying, and make sure you find the time to enjoy your new base.
Always make sure you have a little money put away for emergencies, such as having to fly home last minute, or replacing equipment if it gets broken or stolen. No-one wants to be the ‘independent' digital nomad who then has to call up their folks to bail them out when something happens and money is low.
Make sure you have the right visas for staying and or remote working. Nomad Girl has a great article on the countries having digital nomad visas or programs in place.
Save all your work regularly on an online cloud service, or an external hard drive, or preferably both. Having problems with your laptop abroad is bad enough, let alone having to deal with lost work as well. Being able to access ongoing projects and work from an internet café will give you peace of mind, as well as knowing you can continue to work until you fix or replace your laptop.
Choose somewhere you can work from if you want to without too many distractions and which is quiet at night to allow you to sleep well. For this reason, renting an apartment is often preferable to staying in a hostel where you might find it hard not to get involved in the inevitable ongoing festivities. AirBnB properties often have discounts for stays of a week or a month.
One of the benefits of being a digital nomad is the flexibility it brings. However, most people find that setting some kind of routing for themselves is better for productivity and also allows more free time to enjoy the location. Setting yourself a work schedule is also a good way to avoid over-working, which can be a problem for digital nomads who tend to be workaholics.
Remember that you may be required to pay tax even when working away from your home country. Researching this before leaving will avoid any nasty surprises later down the line.
For freelancers using websites such as Upwork, spending a little time on your profile and including as much information as possible will really help with getting work. Adding samples of previous work will mean a much higher chance of getting hired, as well as writing a friendly and error-free cover letter catered to each job you apply for.
When there's no office to clock into, no boss waiting with a stern face if you're late, and no team meetings where you have to update everyone on your progress, are you be able to make yourself get up and start work every day? If you're finding motivation a problem, set yourself small goals with regular breaks and appropriate rewards, such as working for a couple of hours and then taking a walk to a local park, or grabbing a coffee.
Without your friends and family around you, or even work colleagues to pop out for lunch or a coffee with, life as a digital nomad can get lonely. You can combat this by registering with online digital nomad groups based in the area, and joining a co-working space where you're bound to meet other remote workers. If you struggle to meet new people, it might be worth signing up for an organised digital nomad program where you'll be able to join organised social activities.
It can be hard to say no to work, and before you know it you may have multiple projects and deadlines on the go. Learning how to manage your work, and communicate to clients about deadlines is a really important skill for a digital nomad to have, and will make sure the work keeps coming in. It's also crucial to be able to turn down jobs if you have too much work on.
Local SIM Card
You can usually pick up one of these for pretty cheap and if your internet packs up inconveniently, you can hot spot using the local phone network, depending on how good it is where you're based. It'll also give you a way to keep in contact with new friends when you're away from an area with Wi-Fi.
You'll want a policy with extensive medical cover at the very minimum, as well as cover for any expensive items such as laptop, camera, hard drive, etc. Some policies will only insure you for trips of a certain length so make sure you read the small print. I good company specialising in insurance for nomads is world nomads.
Dealing with a different currency and falling into the ‘I'm on vacation' mind-set can play havoc with your budget. Estimate how much you'll need per month and keep a record of your spending if you need to. Using an app for this can really help. For IOS users there is the Trail Wallet, for Android users a good one is Trabee Pocket.
Knowing when to move on can be a difficult decision to make. Hopping from place to place too much will interfere with getting into any kind of routine, and there's nothing wrong with choosing to stay longer in places that you fall in love with. However, be wary of getting ‘stuck' somewhere just because it's easy and you're nervous about settling into a new location.
When starting out as a digital nomad it can be tempting to accept low rates, especially when living in a country where the cost of living is cheap. Know your worth and stick to it. Agreeing to a low salary will decrease your sense of worth and also affect the market for the skills you have.
Moving to a new country, you'll likely want to experience the food, the nightlife and the culture. However, eating out constantly may have a detrimental effect on your health so consider accommodation with cooking facilities in order to be able to prepare healthy meals. You could also invest in a temporary gym membership or exercise in other ways, such as walking tours, hikes or runs along the beach, depending on where you're based.
Using your time wisely will help you to get the most out of each place you visit. For instance, if you know you're going to be on a long plane or train journey, prepare some work that you can get done off-line while you're waiting around and travelling. That way you'll have more time to enjoy yourself when you arrive.
Sometimes when you're on the road, things don't go to plan. If the weekend comes around and the weather takes a turn for the worse, why not work instead, and save your days off for better conditions. Being flexible with your schedule will enable you to get the best out of the location you've chosen, especially when visiting attractions as they'll be far less busy during certain times. Consider working in the mornings and evenings for instance, so you can go out and see something new every afternoon.
It can be easy to get distracted as a digital nomad, and spending hours at your laptop and then feeling like you haven't achieved much, is not a nice feeling. Taking regular breaks, finding an appropriate space to work, and limiting your time on social media can all help to increase productivity and leave you more time for the fun stuff.
Taking into account some of the tips above will help enable you to lead the digital nomad lifestyle you've always dreamed of, with the peace of mind that you're prepared for any eventuality.