Quitting my 9-to-5 office job of 24 years to become a digital nomad changed my life. The decision to escape the office took me two years to where it felt comfortable to commence the nomadic lifestyle.
For the last six years, my travels have taken me to countries like South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Prague, Helsinki and Ukraine. Living in cities for 30 to 90 days, immersing myself in the local culture and learning more about the world we live in.
Let’s learn what you need to know before becoming a digital nomad.
When you search ‘digital nomad’ online, the first thing you see is a ton of photos of people sitting on the beach, working on their laptop, sipping a cocktail. This is not the reality of the nomad lifestyle.
Of course, you can take your laptop outdoors and check a few emails, maybe browse the internet. To be productive, you will need to be indoors, sitting in your apartment, coffee shop or co-working space.
How much money you need to live will depend on how often you are travelling and what lifestyle you want to live. Most digital nomads will have to work 8 hours a day to bring in a good income to live comfortably.
What is living comfortably to you?
Personally, you will find me living in comfortable one-bedroom or studio apartments, dining out a few times a week, and staying in local neighbourhoods for 1 to 3 months.
Through the year, you will find me in cities like Seoul, Tokyo, then affordable cities like Bangkok,Kuala Lumpur and Eastern European cities.
You will find some digital nomads who can only afford to live in hostels and stay most of the year in cities like Chiang Mai.
While there is nothing wrong with this nomad lifestyle, it isn’t for everyone, so you need to think about how you would like to live while working remotely and travelling.
Expect unplanned events
When you’re living the nomad lifestyle and travelling regularly, unexpected events can occur which are often out of your control. You could lose your job, your bank card could get stolen. Your flights could be cancelled, leaving you stranded.
You have to be able to keep calm and deal with any issues head-on. Where possible, have a plan should these events occur.
Always travel with a 2nd debit card and a credit card should you find your primary card is lost or stolen. If you lose your job or freelancing clients dry up, have an emergency fund to live off until you find new work.
You have to think on your feet and make big decisions from time to time. You must become familiar with the places you are travelling to and make sure you know the common scams aimed at tourists.
Also, research prices so you do not get ripped off when out shopping.
Research your destination
Before you book flights or accommodation, spend time researching your destination. Where you are living must be well connected so that you can get work done. Does the place have power issues? What is the time zone compared with the company you are working for?
Think about the weather while you are there, i.e. do not travel to the Caribbean during the hurricane season. Don’t head to Vietnam during the rainy season, etc.
What are the common scams in the destination? Read up about them, so you are less likely to fall for the tricks on tourists.
Find out the neighbourhoods you should avoid at night. Make sure you are not living in areas where crime is high. All of this information can be found online.
Buy travel or health insurance
Healthcare abroad can be expensive, so it’s a wise factor in the cost of travel or health insurance to make sure you are financially covered. Have pre-existing conditions? Make sure your insurance covers you. It will cost you more money, but it is worth it if you are taken ill while travelling.
If you are British and travelling in the European Union, apply for a Global Health Insurance Card through the NHS. You will receive free or disconnected health cover should you be taken ill.
Final advice for digital nomads
Access to the internet is critical when working remotely, so make sure you always have a backup. Use an unlocked phone or a 4G MiFi with local sim cards while you are travelling. These devices can then be tethered to your laptop so work can continue when WiFi goes down.
Cannot stress enough how important it is to have a network within the niche or industry you are working in.
You need a group of people who you can call upon if freelancing work dries up or when you are looking for a new remote job. In all honesty, without my network, the digital nomad dream could likely have ended in only six months.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand what you need to know before becoming a digital nomad. Please take a minute to subscribe to my free weekly remote work email called the Hive.