With the rapid rise in mobile technologies and the availability of online job opportunities, the freedom to explore the world while working is becoming more accessible every day.
Being a digital nomad comes with many exciting adventures, lessons to be learnt, and skills to grow. But what does it take? What are the benefits of this lifestyle? How do you plan? Where do you stay?
Keep reading and learn how you can satisfy your wanderlust by becoming your own office on the move!
What exactly is a digital nomad?
Digital nomads are people who work remotely while travelling. As long as there is an internet connection to get work done, a digital nomad has all they need.
Because there is no obligation to be based in any particular location, digital nomads can choose to work anywhere, from a hotel room to a beach! Again, as long as there is a decent internet connection. It’s an experience-rich lifestyle for those who crave to keep moving and growing while still managing to sustain themselves.
This isn’t for everyone – being on the road constantly can become exhausting and isolating for some – however, there are a number of benefits to becoming a part-time explorer while on the job that we’d like to highlight. We hope that these may help you decide if this is the change you’ve been looking for.
Benefits of being a digital nomad
1. You get to choose where you want to live and work.
No longer will you be bound by a traditional office that dictates where you need to live. No more commutes in traffic, or unhealthy office politics. You choose where you want to open your laptop and get productive.
2. You have more control over how you spend your time.
While it’s important to figure out a schedule, however loose it may be, to help you strike the perfect balance between enjoying the country you’re in and earning a living, one of the most appealing aspects of becoming a digital nomad is being the one who gets to design this schedule. If you work best early in the morning and prefer to hang low in the afternoon, go for it! If you like to take frequent breaks and work late, no one’s stopping you! It’s a great compromise for people who battle to follow the strict 9-5 prescription.
3. You’ll grow your skill of adaptability.
In today’s world, things are moving so quickly, that adaptability has become one of the most important skills to practice constantly. With a regular dose of travel, you’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone, introduced to new environments, people, and cultures, which in turn, will continue to open your mind to future experiences and make your life on this Earth richer for it.
4. You’ll spark your creative spirit with perpetual inspiration.
Creativity happens when individual concepts collide to make something new. To feed this process, you need new experiences to draw from. Having a constant change in surroundings will offer you a wealth of sensory resources to work with and may ultimately boost your productivity.
5. You have more opportunities to learn new skills
Ever wanted to try surfing, learn another language, cook different cuisines? Living in a variety of places will afford you the chance to try things you may have always wanted to, or never knew existed! You could even awaken a talent or passion you didn’t know you had, leading to a world of new possibilities and opportunities.
6. You’ll form lifelong bonds with people along the way
One of the most beautiful aspects of being a digital nomad is the people who form a part of your journey. If you’re travelling with others, your connections will only get deeper and stronger as you navigate the seas of change, while the friends you haven’t yet met are waiting for you all over the globe. You’ll form a network of friendship and support to hold onto as you continue to move.
If any of these have spoken into your heart or piqued your curiosity, you may be asking what you could do while travelling the world…
Types of jobs suited to digital nomads
Maybe you love your current job, but are dying to see more of the world at the same time. Maybe you feel stuck and would prefer to jump ship completely and start afresh. Whatever the case, in today’s increasingly digitised world, you have options.
If you fall under the former, you’ll first need to prove to your boss that you will still be able to get done what you need to, even though you aren’t permanently based anywhere. A good way to do this is to try working remotely in your own country for a few months to see if you really are cut out for a laptop-and-me life. With the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been the reality for most people anyway and employers are recognising that for a lot of jobs, an office space isn’t necessary for productivity to occur. If your boss feels comfortable having you travel while working, plan a one-month trip to see how well you adjust to the lifestyle. From there, you’ll both have a much better idea of how to make this work.
If you’re looking to quit your job and try something new entirely, start by asking yourself a few basic questions to figure out how you could sustain a nomadic lifestyle: What are your strengths and skills? What do you enjoy doing? Is there a need for your skill? Can you do your job completely online?
Here are just a few popular options that fit the bill for many digital nomads the world over:
– Graphic design
– Web design
– Digital marketing
– Managing social media
– Product photography (taking pictures of products and landscapes)
– Creating online courses
– Accounting or bookkeeping
– IT and software development
– Quality analysis (QA)
– Teaching or tutoring
– Recruiting and HR
– Customer service
– Virtual assistance
Things to consider before becoming a digital nomad
Before you rush into packing your bags, take some time to think about and plan out a few essentials…
Although you won’t know for certain whether or not the nomadic lifestyle will suit you, you probably know yourself quite well already. Moving completely online may require working strange hours, meeting deadlines in different time zones, and keeping tabs on multiple clients at once. Think about the realities alongside the dream when making your decision.
It is important that you have some kind of savings to keep you afloat should there be unexpected expenses or months where there is a slower flow of income. This will require a bit of frugal living and wise choices before you leave. Shed any unnecessary expenses like subscriptions and memberships, and work to clear any debt. Cut down on the luxuries, like going out or buying new things (many of which you probably won’t be able to take with you anyway!)
Then, consider how you could generate a passive income. This is a way of making money, with minimal effort in the long term. Anything from creating an online course to renting out your home falls under passive income and will ensure that you have some kind of cash flow, even when things are a bit slow at work.
Think seriously about getting travel and health insurance. Accidents happen, you may get sick, or need to get immunised before entering a certain country. Depleting your savings because of unexpected medical expenses isn’t worth it.
A few last tips
In preparation for your journey, there are a few things you can ‘practice’ to make the transition a bit smoother:
Practice working away from home. Take a 1- to 2-week vacation to a place you’ve never been, and set a few work tasks to complete while there. This will help you evaluate how productive you were, if you were able to generate an income, and if there were any issues you should keep in mind and consider before embarking on the nomad life full-time.
Practice living out of a suitcase. Pack everything you would take with you into a case and try to live using only those things for a while. You’ll learn through this process how to prioritise, what you should have included, and what can actually be left behind.
Budgeting is key for digital nomads.
Because you might not be getting a constant flow of income, you need to think of everything when it comes to spending money. Calculate living expenses, travel costs, accommodation, activities, and working costs. Not only will your budget keep you financially afloat while moving about, but it will also show you how much you should realistically have in your savings in case anything goes wrong and you don’t have an income for a short while.
Know your way around laws and taxes.
Each country has their own rules when it comes to running a business online. Try to chat with a lawyer, or read up as much as possible before moving on to another country to make sure you don’t have any uncomfortable run-ins with the law.
Plan for all scenarios.
It’s best to plan and prepare for the worst-case scenario and have back-up ideas. What if your business falls through? You get ill and can’t work for a while? Consider everything and be thorough.
Research every place you move to and find accommodation you feel comfortable with.
Check that the area you will be staying in is safe and near essentials, like a hospital or clinic for emergencies, and that you will have an adequate internet connection to get done what you need to.
Join an online community.
There are many people in the world who have had the same idea as you and are either just starting their own journey, or have had years of practice. Online communities for digital nomads are invaluable for getting advice, support, and making friends to connect with along the way.
Set up a schedule.
It is really important that you remember you aren’t just travelling for fun, you also need to get work done. The only way to seriously balance the two, is by creating a schedule. This may shift and change in the first month or two as you figure out what works best, but once you have something that works, stick to it. This will ensure that you get the most out of your experience, while keeping up with tasks at the same time.
Stay in one place for a few months.
While moving is incredibly exciting, it also brings with it its fair share of stresses. Try sticking to one place for a good bit of time, so that you really have a chance to immerse yourself in the culture, grow a community, and settle into work. Don’t be too hasty to pick up and leave for the next place after just one month.
Get down the basics of local languages.
It is crucial that you learn a couple of basic phrases to communicate with locals wherever you go. It’s not a given that people will know how to speak your language, which can become quite stressful. Know how to greet, ask for places to eat, go to the toilet, and where the nearest hospital is. There are many great language learning apps to get you started.
Learn to approach life in a new way.
This might be a major change for you, and while there are ups and downs, learn to take them as they come and embrace the new life you are choosing to embark on. Enjoy each day and most importantly, have fun!
Looking to visit South Africa?
With South Africa’s growing interest in making room for digital nomads, it is becoming one of the best locations to visit on a nomad’s list.
Curiocity, a home for the curious traveller, caters to digital nomads by offering short- and long-term rentals in colourful Johannesburg, dynamic Durban, and the beautiful Cape Town. Learn about our country’s history and kaleidoscope of cultures, while enjoying the stunning scenery the tip of Africa has to offer!
With a heart of adventure, some discipline, organisation, and a mind open to learning, shifting to a life on the move could easily become one of the best decisions you make.