So, you wanna be a digital nomad? You’re not alone. Indeed, there are many for whom the life of a digital nomad seems idyllic. Think of it. The chance to make travel more than just an occasional treat that you enjoy once or maybe twice a year. To weave it into the fabric of day-to-day life. To eschew the 9 to 5 and the four blank walls of the conventional workplace and make a living from the road. While some of us thrive in a conventional workplace, there are many for whom this is a stifling and inhibitive working environment. There are many why simply cannot be at their best while packed into offices. They want to be free to go where they want and see what the world has to offer, while working on our own terms in the hours that they choose.
For those with a love of travel, and a desire for more freedom in their working lives, what could be more appealing than getting to fund your international adventures in real-time, working and earning as you go. But the life of a digital nomad, while potentially thrilling and fulfilling, has its caveats. If this lifestyle appeals to you, however, you need to know exactly what you’re getting in for.
What is a Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is a self-employed freelancer who travels the world working… wherever the heck they feel like it. Without the need to worry about rent and bills, they are free to spend their income on travelling to new locations, seeing new sights and marking down items on their bucket list without incurring massive credit card debts.
The world is a big place, after all, and we only get so many vacation days in which to explore it. Digital nomads get to enjoy the integration or work and travel in a way that can be both exciting and edifying. This is a great way of life for those who are single, or maybe with kids or perhaps even an empty-nester!
Still, digital nomads have a unique set of troubles even among their fellow freelancers. They need to be firing on all cylinders and at peak productivity, not to mention maintaining a close eye on their spending to ensure that there are no budget deficits. Run out of money as a digital nomad and you could find yourself stranded. The good news is that you have plenty of time ro save and plan if you want to adopt this career and lifestyle.
Here, we’ll look at some ways in which you can remain productive and protected as a digital nomad…
7 Tips on Living as a Digital Nomad
Load Your Devices With All the Right Apps
It goes without saying that a digital nomad needs to rely on their tech. Not only does it allow them to get the job done, it also prevents them from getting into stressful scrapes and misunderstandings. So that their downtime can be spent in a more relaxing way, and that their working hours are free from trouble and distraction.
Take a look at some of these iPhone & Android travelling apps which should be considered essential for digital nomads. From translation apps to apps that help you to find cheap flights and hotel rooms, the list contains everything you need to travel the world with peace of mind.
You should also find a good currency converter and communications apps like Slack. These allow you to keep all of your communications with clients in one place so you don’t need to trawl through pages of emails finding a quote or recalling a particular section of a previous conversation.
Find the Right Spot to Work
Digital nomads, like all freelancers, face a daily battle for productivity. After all, if they’re not at peak productivity, they can’t make as much money, and if they can’t make as much money, it may seriously curtail their travel plans. But while most freelancers are able to deck out their own home offices in order to make them more conducive to productivity.
Digital nomads, however, have to find the right working environment. Working away in a Spanish taverna or on the steps of the Taj Mahal might seem like a dream come true, but rarely are you able to get the peace, quiet and digital connectivity you need to get your work done.
Look for a place to work with reliable Wi-Fi, easy access to a power point and relative quiet. Coffee shops are good, but be aware that you might find yourself spending a lot on coffee and snacks while you’re in one. If you’re worried about the security risks of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, you can always tether your laptop or tablet to your phone data. However, you’ll need to make sure you’re on a plan with unlimited data. You’ll also probably want to plug your phone in as using this feature can expend a lot of battery power.
Ideally, you should look for hotels or hostels that have business facilities where you can set up shop and work without distraction so that you can enjoy seeing the sights in your downtime. Unsure where might be the best place to work? Try crowdsourcing some suggestions the night before. Ask your Twitter followers or Facebook friends for any recommendations close to your location. Don’t forget to add hashtags and you might also get some suggestions from obliging locals.
Always Backup to the Cloud
Your work is your livelihood, and if you can’t deliver to your clients on time, you won’t gat paid. With that in mind, it’s essential that you aren’t solely reliant on physical storage. USB storage drives and portable hard drives can go missing when you’re always on the road. Even laptops and tablets can get lost or stolen. Replacing them is a horrendous enough concept. But can you imagine having to replace them and lose the revenue from the work that’s on them? For most, this would be crippling enough to bounce them right back home with their tails between their legs.
While you may have to pay a small monthly fee for robust cloud storage, you’ll likely find that the peace of mind alone is more than worth the expense.
Insure Your Devices (and Yourself)
Speaking of lost laptops and devices, make sure you have a policy that covers them while you travel in the event of theft, damage or loss. Keep in mind that some policies may have restrictions in terms of which countries they’re valid within. So if you already have a policy in place on your devices, it may not extend past international waters.
Here are some affordable policies that will keep you covered all over the world. While laptop insurance is an overhead expense that you may not welcome, it pales in comparison to the expense incurred when you lose a laptop, tablet or smartphone.
It’s also vital that you insure yourself. While nobody plans on falling ill or getting injured while travelling, there’s always an inherent risk when you’re out and about. And getting injured or falling ill while overseas can be an extremely expensive prospect. Don’t leave the country without a travel insurance policy in place.
Find Ways to Save Money on Accommodation
While you may not need to pay for your rent and bills back home, you’re certainly going to need to keep a roof over your head. As tempting as it may be to set yourself up in a swanky hotel with amazing facilities, this can eat significantly into your cash flow.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways in which you can save money on accommodation. Air BnBs are affordable and plentiful and can afford you a quiet and relaxing place from which you can work. Hostels are also pretty affordable and a great place to meet interesting fellow-travellers whose insights and local knowledge may be valuable to you. There are also couchsurfing apps that allow you to find low-to-no cost accommodation at a pinch.
Although relying too much on this may result in a bad back!
End Every Day by Planning the Next
The key to being productive is to plan how you’ll spend every day. When your days are unscheduled, you may be astonished at just how much time you lose to procrastination and general timewasting. Especially when your in a new and unfamiliar environment.
Using your calendar and task management software like Trello or Asana, you should set up a relatively detailed itinerary for the next day at the end of every working day. This should go beyond your working activities. It should also include sights to see and people / places to visit to ensure you get the most out of your free time.
Prepare to Feel Homesick
Finally, no matter how much you love your globe-trotting, it’s perfectly natural to feel a little homesick, which is why it’s so important to check in with your friends and family every now and then. They can help you to feel more connected to home and remind you just how incredible your life and career are as a Digital Nomad.
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