Digital Nomad Lifestyle: Tips From An Existing Digital Nomad
The world is waking up to the idea of work and travel. More and more people are becoming fed up with the 9-5 and chasing that laptop lifestyle. And why wouldn’t they? Live anywhere, choose your own schedule, make money AND meet like-minded people doing it…
Sounds too good to be true, right?
But it’s being done! There’s a whole community of Digital Nomads who get to have their cake and eat it. I’m one of them! And you can be too.
It’s not all rainbows and lollipops of course. Life has a way of throwing roadblocks to test how much you really want something, and the path to levelling up your life is a worthy adventure! You’re going to have days where you throw your hands up and scream, “I QUIT!”
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
When you do breakthrough, look back, and realise you’re living the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of, you’ll know how worthwhile it all was.
Joe, Founder at Digital Nomad Adventures, has written a great post about How To Become a Digital Nomad that dives into goal-setting, budgeting, networking and more. Today I want to explore the lifestyle related to working remotely and offer some advice from someone who’s doing it.
If you dream to create the Digital Nomad Lifestyle for yourself, then enjoy these tips and learn from my many mistakes! It’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. After all, jobs fill your pocket, but adventure fills your soul.
Find The Balance Between Travelling Around & Staying Still
You know those memes: Instagram vs. Reality? That’s what becoming a Digital Nomad can be like at first. You’re so fixated on making it work—on funding the dream—that you forget to be living the dream!
Work/Life balance is an integral part of happiness whether you’re on the yellow brick road or still stuck in Kansas, but picking up your 9-5 and moving it to an island is not what we’re aiming for when we talk about living the Digital Nomad Lifestyle!
Sometimes you need to remind yourself to stop and smell the flowers.
Why, just this morning, I allowed 3 hours to join my friend for an outdoor workout, ice bath, breakfast and swim in the sea. I’m currently in Koh Phangan, but I’m from Australia…
I could do all those things in Aus, but I don’t, I go to the office and slave away because it’s “work time.” It’s a work culture. I still work hard here in Thailand, but being on an island reminds me to enjoy island life.
There’s also the balance between travelling around and staying still.
Sometimes you’ll want to fix yourself in a place and grind away because you’ve found a great co-working space with reliable wifi and good coffee! Nothing wrong with that. For me, it’s about finding adventure in the mundane. Personal growth comes from getting out of your comfort zone, so if I ever feel a bit static, I move.
It could be as simple as going for a walk in a new area to stimulate your creativity. You’re immersed in a foreign culture, how fascinating! Or it could be as big as changing countries entirely. You’ll desensitise yourself to change if you try this, and prove to yourself how effectively you can handle unexpected challenges.
Feel the fear, but do it anyway!
Make Sure You Have Work Set Up For Your Move
Now, you’ll want to make sure you’re as set up as possible for an optimal Digital Nomad Lifestyle. Ideally, you will already have a job or skill that is transferable to your laptop.
Popular remote careers can be found in digital marketing (with social media management being a growing sector), coding, graphic design, animation, cybersecurity, sales, teaching, shipping, writing, communications, the list goes on.
If you see someone sitting at a beach cafe with a laptop, ask them what they do! You might be in for an interesting conversation.
Being set up for work abroad will involve having the equipment you need. You would assume a laptop is mandatory, but I’ve met resourceful people working off their smartphone!
A camera might be required for what you do. Maybe external hard drives. The ability to make calls is always useful, and a power bank is a handy accessory.
Having a remote job can help you a lot
The other thing you might want to set up before taking off is actually having work! Mind you, I know people who have taken the leap without a net, expecting the net to appear.
It’s risky, and you’ll want to have at least $5000USD in savings, but sometimes having a fire under your ass can really get you moving!
For those who would prefer to have something lined up, you can find online work inspiration on these platforms: Fiverr, Upwork, Behance & Workew. Also, never underestimate the power of your network!
Reach out to old employers to see if they have some remote work for you. You’ll be spending less on rent, food and fun if you’re in a developing country, so you can negotiate a lower wage as long as it means having some work.
Try And Build Out a Digital Nomad Community To Stop Loneliness
The most common complaint from Digital Nomads is that sometimes it can get a bit lonely, especially if you transfer from an office environment where it’s inherently social. But I like to see this as an opportunity rather than a threat. Moving around opens you up to making friends more frequently and with ease… you’ll inevitably get better at being social!
Or maybe you’re like me and you never actually found your people in the workplace? Even when I worked at a fun job in a theme park, I thought I’d be best friends with everyone, but they were just normal people in a cool place. I’ve always felt a bit different and struggled to connect with “normies.” Not many of those on the road!
Either way, my favourite part about the Digital Nomad Lifestyle is the connections you make along the way! It’s a community of like-minded go-getters who want to live their best life; who wouldn’t want that? Bit of a change from the conversations around the water cooler about cars, girls and what was on TV last night!
Join groups, be real, contribute if you can, say ‘yes’ to invitations and make best friends along the way. The connections you make while travelling from fast and deep.
Work Hard During The Day And Party During The Night 😆
You’ve heard of “work hard, play hard?” Well there’s no time that’s more relevant than when you’re in Medellin, Prague, Cape Town or a party island in Thailand. We’re Digital Nomads, not hermit crabs! Part of finding the balance is about integrating the exciting nightlife into your lifestyle.
One friend of mine works in Forex while travelling. For him, sticking to the 9-5 schedule is how he maintains discipline. Enjoying the weekend is his liberation from the discipline!
At the end of the day, you’re in charge of your schedule. Nightlife differs from country to country, city to city… if you’re travelling to these party places, it’d be a waste not to enjoy them. You can start late the next day 😉
Go Off The Beaten Track And Experience The Local Feel
When I was 21 I moved to London, like a good Australian. I remember asking a friend where I should move to and he told me about Shepherd’s Bush and Clapham Common, both notorious for Australians. So I moved to Camden. I like my people, but I didn’t move to the other side of the world to be surrounded by home.
Ask yourself, why do I want to take my work with me travelling ‘round the world? It might be to experience different cultures, try foreign cuisine, meet distant friends, see world wonders or simply try something new. Whatever the reason, you’re becoming an intrepid explorer in the process so you might find yourself wanting to get local!
Learn the language of the country you’re in—even the smallest effort goes a long way. Slow down and have a conversation with someone sitting in public—it’ll be a good exercise in patience and you’ll learn something new. Be open to locals and friendly in your approach—it’s a good way to live in general.
Enjoy The Local Cuisine For Affordable Cost Of Living
This also goes for eating local! You’ll not only save loads of money, but you’ll be experiencing the real deal. We always laugh in Thailand that this country is home to some of the most exotic food in the world, but travellers are always eating the toasted sandwiches from 7/11.
Street food is the best! It’s usually something you’ll never find in your home country and tastes amazing. With the added advantage of helping locals by supporting their small business, instead of supporting a multi-national.
Warning: be sensible. If you’re in a rural area and can’t see an electrical outlet, maybe don’t eat meat! Locals are used to it, but the bacteria can be a bit uneasy for our Western tummies. I got a stomach bug in Ethiopia and the doctor said it was Typhoid! Maybe he was being dramatic, but whatever it was it affected me for a few months.
Here’s some safety tips for keeping safe worldwide.
Check Out Coworking Spaces To Meet Other Nomads
If you’ve looked into the Digital Nomad Lifestyle, then you’ll have noticed the increased availability of Co-Working Spaces. You’re truly never short of somewhere to work. These are often started by foreigners who found their forever place and have the budget to start a bricks and mortar business. Always an option for the future 😉
For us, a little search online can land you in a social setting around fellow remote workers. You could even challenge yourself to strike up conversations with strangers at your hostel by asking them about Co-Working Spaces. There’ll be someone who knows something or is also looking for somewhere… make friends.
A helpful website with information for Digital Nomads about cities all over the world (it even puts them in order of popularity) is nomadlist.com.
We’ve got an awesome blog on what is a coworking space here!
Use Facebook Groups To Find Nomad Events
Of course we’re lucky these days that we have social media at our disposal. You’ll be wise to make the most of Facebook to look up Digital Nomad groups in the area you choose.
You can find Digital Nomad meets, events and tours easily on Facebook. Even though your Grandma might be on there, it’s still useful for connecting with the digital world!
Instagram can be a useful tool too. Most establishments, be it cafe, bar, hostel, party venue or co-working space will have an online presence, and Instagram can be useful for fast access to information like opening hours. Covid unfortunately killed a lot of travel-related businesses, so if they’re up-to-date on Insta it’s a good sign they’re still operating.
Make Sure You Sort Out Medical Insurance
Ok, this is going to be one of those ‘do as I say, not as I do’ areas… I currently don’t have travel insurance, which any of my fellow Digital Nomads will tell you is very foolish of me.
You’re (somehow) WAY MORE inclined to hurt yourself while travelling! Even a little infection can end up costing thousands in medical bills.
Just do it, just get travel insurance! Factor it into your costs from the beginning. Medical services can vary dramatically in developing countries and you don’t want to be caught in some of those “hospitals” out there.
Some reputable insurance brands that offer specific “nomad” packages are: World Nomads, MedicalForNomads and Insured Nomads.
Travel Light If You Move Around a Lot
Now this is where I’m a viking! The general tip for new travellers when it comes to packing is to lay everything out on the bed, then cut it in half! It’s simple, but not easy.
Becoming a minimalist is one of my favourite unexpected outcomes of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle. It’s liberating to learn how little you need!
Always keep in mind, unless you’re going to really rural areas, you’re probably going to be able to find what you need. Clothes? No problem. Chargers? Too easy. Devices?
As long as you’re not too picky, you can find a smartphone or laptop without too much trouble. Online shopping is so good these days you can even have most things delivered to your bungalow!
I’m a carry-on guy. I have a strict ’one-out/one-in’ rule. I save loads of money on baggage and useless crap! The more you travel, the less you need. Don’t be surprised if it starts to impact your entire life!
Choosing to become a Digital Nomad might be the best decision you ever make. If you crave the lifestyle of working and travelling and everything that comes along with it, then what’s stopping you from giving it a go?
I hope there’s been something in here that has stimulated you into considering this exciting existence. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not always easy, but living life on your terms comes with sacrifices.
If you want to share some of your own experiences or have any questions for us about our own Digital Nomad lifestyles, then drop a comment below.