what Is A Digital Nomad And How To Become One

what Is A Digital Nomad And How To Become One

If you use social media, you have likely come across the term “digital nomad” countless times. But what exactly does it mean? Many people believe that it can be similar to being a backpacker or a very different lifestyle than what we are used to. It is that? Let’s see.

Nomads are people who do not stay in one place for too long but are always on the move. For centuries, the reasons for adopting this lifestyle were related to the search for food and better weather conditions.

However, in recent years a new variant of these groups has emerged: digital nomads, who also don’t stay anywhere long, but their motives no longer have anything to do with gathering fruit or running away from snowfall.

Digital nomadism is a very 21st-century concept, like almost everything that has to do with the word “digital”. And although there is a lot of talk about it, there is still a lot of doubt and confusion. Some believe that nothing else is within the reach of people with a lot of money, but that it is impossible for ordinary mortals, and others think that it is about backpackers who wander around, without roots or fixed direction, but none of them both beliefs is true.

Being a digital nomad is a way of life like any other and it may be more achievable than you think, although I recognize that it is not for everyone. Now, if you’re here, I imagine it’s because you’re bitten by curiosity and you think that it could be for you, right? 

In this post, we are going to break down all those details that you must take into account to be able to delve into this thing of living with little, traveling light, and traveling the world while working from your computer

Of course, I warn you that this will be long because my goal is to answer all the questions that may cross your mind, so I recommend you find a little coffee and make yourself comfortable.

Shall we start?

What is a digital nomad?

Before going into details, it is necessary to define very well what a digital nomad is because, as I told you, things lend themselves to misunderstandings.

A digital nomad is a person who works on the Internet while traveling regularly so that he does not settle for long periods in a particular place. This does not necessarily mean having a full-time remote job, working hours, and receiving a fixed monthly salary. That would be more like teleworking, a slightly more closed concept.

On the other hand, when I talk about working online, I mean earning money through this medium, regardless of the way to do it. E-commerce, a YouTube channel, an online store, and professional services. Almost anything goes to be a digital nomad, as long as it allows you to generate enough income to be constantly on the go. In short, it is traveling with the office in the backpack.

How we got here

The topic of digital nomadism is quite popular nowadays. We see it on blogs, social networks, or YouTube videos, and we know that many people are dedicated to it. However, only twenty years ago it was something practically unknown. So how did we get to this point?

I do not have a single answer, but I believe that three essential factors came together for digital nomadism to exist as we know it today.

Internet and digitization

Without the irruption of the internet in our lives, working remotely would be a complete fantasy and we would always have to be in the office, workshop, or wherever our work is located. But, in addition to the internet as a means of connection, the phenomenon of digital transformation has an even greater weight.

Companies and the market, in general, have turned completely to digitization, creating thousands of jobs that have nothing to do with geographic location. To name just a few things, we now have customer service, banking, education, and shopping all online, which takes a lot of effort behind it, but can almost always be done from anywhere in the world. Point for digital nomadism.

Nonconformity

This is one of the words that most identify the millennial generation, from which the first digital nomads emerged. And it is that without this nonconformity with traditional jobs with strict schedules and repetitive tasks, this lifestyle might not exist. It took a bit of rebellion to break the mold and find more exciting ways to live.

Globalization

Geographical barriers are becoming less relevant and human beings now connect with people from anywhere more easily than we did a few years ago. It is very common to work for a company that is in a different country than ours, to meet someone who lives on the other side of the world through an app, or to take online classes with a teacher who is in a time zone that is far ahead. or behind.

In short, being from here or there no longer matters much, and we realized that there is much to discover.

Types of digital nomads

Although the general idea is always the same, that is, work while you travel, there is not only one way to dedicate yourself to this, but there are several types of digital nomads. Here I make a very general classification according to the way of working.

  • Remote employees: it is the category that I mentioned before, of people who have a contract or a permanent position with a company but do not need to attend an office, but do everything remotely. The most common is having to comply with a schedule, although it is also possible to work by objectives. 

Digital nomads who are remote employees combine the excitement of constant travel with the peace of mind of having a steady income each month. For this reason, this modality is perfect for those who feel attracted to this lifestyle and want to start in it, but without giving up the stability of a job.

  • Freelances: we are talking about independent workers who offer their services in a 100% offshore way through the Internet. There are no schedules, long contracts, or commitments, but it is the nomad himself who chooses when to work and in which projects to participate. 

Here time is still an important factor since it is necessary to do something to get money in return. And do what? Well, the possibilities are almost endless and range from creating a website, writing or running social networks to giving legal advice, editing videos, or teaching meditation online. 

  • Entrepreneurs – This is the category that I think all digital nomads should aspire to be in the long term. In it, people have an online venture or digital product that generates recurring income without having to dedicate time, or at least not actively. 
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For example, creating an ebook or an online course is something that requires effort at the beginning, but once it is ready it can be sold over and over again, reporting profits without doing anything more than updating and promoting it.

The basic requirements to be a digital nomad

How do we get here? Do you feel that this could be your thing? Well, although digital nomadism is a completely exciting lifestyle, the truth is that it is not for everyone. Of course, I’m not here to say who likes it or who doesn’t, but after a couple of years leading a nomadic life, I think four basic points must be present or else it will be quite complicated.

Desire to travel

This is the most important thing of all. You can earn money through the internet and can work remotely from anywhere, but if you have no interest in travel, then being a digital nomad is not for you. And it is perfectly valid!

However, anyone who wishes to venture into this must be open to learning about new places, cultures, and people. In addition, you have to face the challenge of constantly changing locations, packing again and again, and walking with few belongings. 

In any case, if you have a passion for traveling, you already have the motivation to be a digital nomad.

Relocation

Of course, to continue earning money without being in an office, you must have a relocated job. It can be in any of the modalities that I told you about in the types of digital nomads, but the essential thing is that your work is one hundred percent remote.

For example, some people have blended jobs, and although they indeed offer much more freedom, they are not the ideal setting for this. Because? Well, because there will always be the need to return to a specific place, which eliminates that independence typical of nomadism.

Recurring income

I wanted to make a section for this because, although being a digital nomad does not always imply having a lot of money, you do have to have a relatively constant income. Only in this way is it possible to travel with peace of mind and without unpleasant surprises along the way.

Let’s illustrate it a bit. Imagine that you are a programmer who has just finished your training and you are hired to make a web page for around $2500. You get excited, you see that it is a more or less important amount and you decide to pack your bags and buy a ticket to the first destination that leaves, without knowing if you will continue to have income like this. This is very risky because if you don’t get a new project or have an emergency fund or other cash flow, you’re going to be in trouble.

Therefore, my recommendation is that you have spent some time working remotely and have reliable estimates of your monthly income. Earning money online once is not always synonymous with continuing to earn in the future.

Responsibility

This point goes very hand in hand with the above. To be a digital nomad you have to be a responsible person and aware that you are practically on your own. For this reason, it is important to take provisions in various aspects that not only include money but also insurance, food, legality, and taxation, among others. Because in the same way that you have total independence when traveling, you also have it when it comes to taking care of your needs. Everything is balanced!

The most common jobs among digital nomads

Any work that can be done online already counts towards living as a digital nomad and traveling the world. However, there are some more common than others, partly because they are quite in demand in today’s market and partly because they tend to be well-paid and allow you to cover the costs of traveling regularly. The most repeated are:

  • programming.
  • graphic design.
  • Community management.
  • Translation.
  • Copywriting and web writing.
  • Blogging.
  • seo.
  • Video edition.
  • Online classes.
  • Affiliate marketing.
  • Youtube.

Anyway, on our website you have an entry with 25 of the most demanded remote jobs, so you can get ideas and find the one that best suits you.  

Steps to be a digital nomad

1. Find (or develop) your skill:

Evaluate what your talents are or what is it that you are very good at and that you can monetize. I suggest you take the time for this and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t have any skills, because we all do. And it shouldn’t be something super special like extreme flexibility or the ability to solve differential equations in seconds. Nothing of that!

Things as simple as writing, drawing, or being an extrovert can be your starting point. Believe me, there is always a way to take advantage of what we are best at.

Now, if you feel like there’s nothing, that’s no problem either. Internet is an endless catalog of education and you can learn anything you like. In this case, you just have to choose what most attracts your attention and spend enough time training and becoming an expert.

If nothing comes to mind, I am sharing a series of 31 ideas to earn money online in 2023 so that you can learn about some of the options available to be a digital nomad.

2. Work remotely

You already have something to offer the world, so now is the time to earn money for it. Fortunately, the digital environment gives us more and more opportunities for this. The usual thing is to start with a remote job that allows you to become familiar with the dynamics of working from home. However, you can also venture into offering your services as a freelancer or even go directly to a digital venture.

There is no one way to do it and the important thing is that you create a reliable source of income that allows you to travel knowing that you can afford it. If you need a little help with this, my no-experience remote work course can help. There you will find everything you need to go from having no idea about working online to getting that first opportunity to make money without leaving home.

3. Organize your finances

The monetary issue is very important, not because you need a fortune, but because it is very easy to cross the line.

First of all, create an emergency fund that allows you to sustain yourself for about three months even if you could not generate a penny (this not only applies to digital nomads but to anyone). Then, get in the habit of making a monthly budget taking into account your income and your usual expenses, and stick to it. If something slips out one month, nothing happens with moving it to the next, but the important thing is to build the discipline to respect limits and not put your finances at risk.

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4. Define your essentials

Although a laptop is a common point among all digital nomads, each one has its basic tools and objects without which they cannot carry out their activities. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you will surely need a graphics tablet, while if you are a video editor, portable hard drives will be an extension of your hand to store videos, which are usually very heavy. 

Make sure you have everything you need to be able to work, and in case you are missing something or don’t have a portable version, make a shopping list and gradually complete it. Doing this will be an investment in your future and will allow you to move with the peace of mind that you can do your thing no matter where you go.

As many asked me, I wrote a detailed list of everything I carry in my suitcase as a Digital Nomad, which I have been updating as I grow or change my equipment.

5. Plan your first trip

The time has come to pack your bags! When you have recurring income through the internet, finances in order, and all your work tools, you can start the journey. 

What remains for me to recommend is that you dedicate the necessary time to plan everything, find good prices and prepare yourself. In my blog, you have a lot of content and cheap travel tips, but the truth is that, from now on, everything depends on you.

6. Learn and keep learning

Digital nomadism is not a destination in itself, but a way to discover the world. It is a mistake to believe that you have already seen or know everything because it is always possible to improve. Therefore, constantly educate yourself, both in your profession and in the nomadic life, so that you keep up with the advances, learn new ways of traveling and working, and get the most out of your time and money.

How much does it cost to live as a digital nomad?

If they gave me a euro every time someone asks me this question, maybe I could be a digital nomad with just that. 

The reality is that when it comes to money, the answer is always “It depends”. And what? Well, whatever your preferences, needs, and the style of travel and life you prefer. I give you two examples.

On the one hand, we have a person who likes to travel in business class, stay in hotels and take guided tours of all the iconic sites in each city. On the other, there is a more austere traveler who flies on low-cost airlines, stays in shared hostels or Airbnb, prepares a good part of his meals, and travels around the city on his own, either on foot or using public transport.

Logically, the first will spend a lot more than the second, right?

For that reason, it is impossible to give an exact budget, since it varies a lot from one digital nomad to another. However, I can summarize the basic expenses that you should consider:

  • Plane tickets.
  • Accommodation.
  • Food and hygiene products.
  • Transportation in the city (rental car, taxi, train, subway, subway, etc.)
  • Visits to tourist sites or monuments, guided tours, and entertainment in general.
  • Local SIM card.
  • Travel insurance.

Of course, you also have to take into account the disbursements of the activity you carry out. For example, if you are self-employed and an external manager handles your taxation or you have a website with some type of hosting subscription or plugins, you will have to write down these charges. And after all this, it is best to leave a margin of 10% or 15% extra, because you never know what unforeseen events may arise and it is better to be safe.

If you want to get a clearer and more detailed idea of ​​everything, I have an article on my blog in which I tell you what my monthly expenses are as a digital nomad. I am sure that it will help you to have references for what it could cost you.

Why live as a digital nomad

It seems that the life of a digital nomad is something dreamed of just for the fact of living and traveling, and of course, that is reason enough to try it. However, I think there are several things that we don’t have in mind right off the bat, but in them is the true magic of all this.

So here is a list of the reasons why I decided to become a digital nomad and maybe it appeals to you too:

Your time, your rules

Unless you are a full-time employee and you have to meet schedules (which is less common among nomads) it is you who chooses how to organize and occupy your time. You can adjust your obligations according to the moments in which you feel most productive, without anyone imposing anything on you.

Some people are better at working at night, while others are up early. Some prefer weekdays, others weekends. Whatever your rhythm, you will have the possibility to adapt your life to it to get the most out of the hours.

Experiences and not things

When you live as a digital nomad you start to realize that you don’t need to accumulate too many belongings to be happy. You notice that everything you need can fit in a hand luggage and then you part with material things a bit and value experiences much more. With this lifestyle, photos, and videos will be your true treasure, and you can always keep them digital.

Open mind

Traveling is something that allows us to expand our vision of the world and realize that there is much more than what we know. Completely different cultures, places that have nothing to do with what you have seen so far, and customs that may surprise you. In the end, all this serves to forget about prejudices, have a more open mind, and be more empathetic with others. And yes, it might sound cheesy, but ultimately traveling makes you a better person.

Goodbye to the routine

As a digital nomad, every day is a different challenge and almost none of it is quite like the last. You will always have something new to do or discover and it is difficult for you to fall into a routine (unless you want that). It can be said that it is a life of adventures, so if you do not like monotony and are always looking for experiences that surprise you, you will enjoy it a lot.

The B-side of being a digital nomad

Although it may not seem like it, the life of the digital nomad is not a path of roses, far from it. And I’m not talking about the process to become one, but the day-to-day itself.

I know you’ve seen thousands of photos of people with their computers on their laps while enjoying paradisiacal landscapes. What could be wrong with all that?

Well, you have to know that, although in theory, it is possible to work like this, most of the time it is an illustrative image and nothing more. Yes, you can work from anywhere, and you will most likely choose beautiful places. However, you will hardly manage to have a good deep work session if you are sitting in front of a beach with turquoise waters and white sands, don’t you think?

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In short, being a digital nomad, like everything, also has its not-so-good points. I summarize the most outstanding ones.

Concentration

This hardly needs to be said. When you are in a new place, with so much to see and discover, it is more difficult to concentrate. There’s always the excitement of shutting down the computer and going outside, plus the environment itself can be a source of distraction if you’re not fully familiar with it.

Productivity

Amid travel, moves, and schedule changes, it’s no surprise that the quantity or quality of work takes a hit. Four hours at a desk that you already know and where you sit down to work every day is not the same as four hours in improvised offices that are constantly changing. It takes the brain a bit of time to get the hang of it and the result is decreased productivity.

Workspace

Speaking of makeshift offices, one of the most difficult challenges of being a digital nomad is always having a comfortable place to work in peace. Again, the beach is more marketing than anything else, because in reality you always need a clear area, with enough electrical outlets for all the equipment, good lighting, and without too many distractions. 

Wifi

Without the internet, there is no digital nomadism, but many times we find failures that get out of hand or we arrive at places that we expected to have Wi-Fi and it turns out that it does not. It is also possible to run into slow connections that make us have more than a hard time. In short, any problem related to the internet is a real nightmare for a digital nomad, and it is more common than we would like.

Recommendations to become a digital nomad

We are nearing the end of this post about digital nomads, but I didn’t want to end it without giving you some tips that I’m sure will help you on your way to the nomadic life.

Start small

You don’t have to make a radical change and go from a traditional job and lease to living in a different place every week. The best thing would be to first take a trip of one or two months in which you visit several cities or countries, and then return to your usual home to assess the experience. Thus, you will know if this is your thing, and little by little you will be able to increase the frequency until you finally take the big leap.

Travel light

Get used to carrying only the essentials in your luggage and forget about all those objects that you keep “just in case”, because the reality is that they will almost always stay in a corner of your suitcase. And believe me, when you have to go with her from plane to plane, from car to car, or from train to train, you will appreciate carrying a few belongings and being able to fix them in a matter of minutes.

Have an agenda

It is very common to want to keep everything in your head or just make notes, but you will realize that it is better to leave everything on a support that you know you can trust. It can be digital or physical, depending on your preferences, but be sure to write down everything important there to avoid having it on your mind. Itineraries, pending tasks, work issues, and reservations. The fewer things you entrust to your memory, the more you can enjoy.

Choose your destinations well

Don’t choose a city or country just because it’s trendy or travel bloggers are talking a lot about it. Remember that, whatever it is, you are still working and you are still you, so try to go to destinations that suit your philosophy of life and your tastes. You must take into account the culture, customs and traditions, iconic places, and language.

Likewise, verify that you will have the basic accommodations to carry out a fairly normal routine, such as high-speed internet, and well-lit areas, among others.

Socialize

I believe that the true magic of living while traveling is meeting people who are very different from us. Therefore, do not stay locked in your apartment, hostel, or room, and try to integrate into social life as if you were one more local. It is the best way to come out of the tourist shell and feel that this is your life, creating important connections and memories that you will treasure forever.

Learn to manage your emotions

Being a nomad can become an emotional roller coaster. For some, the routine is torture, but for others, it is necessary to have some peace of mind. If that is your case, you must take time for yourself, to understand how you feel and adapt to the process and the changes.

Meditation is a very useful option, but there are many others and you just have to discover the one that best suits you. It is also important that you seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed and think that the situation is beyond you. Remember that you are a nomad, not a superhuman!

Being a digital nomad: a lifestyle with an office on your back

Now yes, we come to the end of this mega guide on digital nomadism. It was a little longer than I had imagined, but it’s a main theme for me, so I didn’t want to leave anything out.

What I want is for you to see the life of a digital nomad as something that, although it has its ups and downs, is perfectly achievable if you put your mind to it. It is not about some rare species of human beings, but ordinary people who decide to do things a little differently than usual and nothing more. 

You must take it like any other project, assessing if it is what you want and then weighing the pros and cons, as well as considering the moment in your life you are in. It is not the same to do it in your twenties as in your thirties, alone or in company, and having children and family or not. In any case, it is possible, but first, you must evaluate your situation to make the perfect plan for you.

So, do you dare to try life as a digital nomad? Tell me in the comments what attracts you the most about this and what slows you down the most or causes you to distrust. Of course, if you still have any questions or you think I missed something, you can also comment on it so we can all collaborate and make this post much more complete.

Don’t forget to follow us on InstagramTwitter, and my YouTube channel, where I’m always sharing content on digital nomadism, entrepreneurship, and travel, to help you get the most out of the internet. 

See you!

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