Are you starting out as a digital nomad? Or thinking of becoming one?
Perhaps you’ve been doing it for a while and just want to tune up your game.
If so, read my tips to make the most out of the digital nomad life!
1) They ask themselves why they are doing this
What for? I hear you ask.
Because knowing what you want from this lifestyle will allow you to make the best choices.
Some of the reasons people choose to be a digital nomad include:
- Wanting to travel the world while working
- Exploring other cultures
- Living somewhere hot
- To live in their dream country
- Taking advantage of cost-of-living differences
- To do a hobby they love
To give you an example of why this matters:
My friend Betty is an online English teacher. Her plan was to live in Thailand and go surfing regularly. Her company gave her the choice – book your lessons in advance and earn a bit more money, or keep a free schedule and earn a little less.
As the surf was not always good, she wanted the flexibility of a free schedule. So she was happy to work for slightly less money because surfing was her main goal!
Sometimes (like with most things!), being a digital nomad isn’t easy. So if you know what your priorities are, you can make the most of your time and stay motivated and happy!
2) They consider what tools they need
Depending on your job and your needs, you will have different requirements. For me, as a writer and video maker, (who is prone to carpal tunnel syndrome) I ideally need:
- A lightweight laptop
- A space suitable for making videos
- A kitchenette to avoid distractions when I’m in the flow
- A desk (when I stay in places long term, I buy an adjustable desk).
And because I spend a lot of time indoors, a balcony or outdoor living space is also very important to me.
Having the right tools will make you happier and more productive!
Other things you might need include:
- Fast/reliable wifi
- A place where you can hold video meetings
- Noise-canceling/isolating earphones – these come in handy in shared spaces such as:
3) Using co-working spaces
Confession time: I’ve never worked in a co-working space as I’ve never understood the point.
Because one of my main motivations to start my own business was to get out of the office! And I like to work without distractions, in my pajamas if I want! Also, co-working is not free. I would rather spend the extra money on better accommodation.
But I know a lot of people do like them.
So, while traveling in a hostel that had a co-working space (in Japan, where co-working spaces aren’t cheap!) I asked a fellow nomad to explain.
He told me his reasons why:
Working on his own all the time got lonely, and the attached hostel was a great way of meeting new people. He found that he got more done if there were others working around him. He also appreciated the work connections he could make from there.
So now I know. And so do you!
Tip: If you can’t afford a co-working space, then a nice cafe or community center can do the trick, all you usually need to do is buy a few coffees!
4) Take time in cities and hotels where they can focus
Now this one is a little specific to me but I think it can work for other nomads too.
Whilst I’m normally found on a remote jungle island somewhere, without many of the everyday comforts, I do like to mix things up a bit and from time to time – rent a nice hotel, in a city, with takeaway available, and some cool activities to do.
My jungle island is like a sleepy village where everything seems to take twice as long to achieve and you always end up chatting to people for hours. I love that, but sometimes I need a change, especially if I have a big project going on.
Right now, I’m in a relatively fancy hotel in Vietnam, with aircon, sitting on a couch, typing and sometimes looking up to enjoy the sea view.
I’ll probably order takeaway soon so I don’t have to break my flow. Last night I went to a theater improv class and tonight I’m meeting up with some new friends.
It’s great to have mod-cons, variety, and a bit of luxury from time to time!
5) Use social media to fit in like a local
If you’re staying in hostels then it’s easy to meet people and find out what’s going on.
But what if, like me, you prefer to have your own private space, (and you’re not into co-working)?
Facebook has been the most helpful of all the socials for me. There are always expat groups and others too. Like groups specifically for women, entrepreneurs or spiritual activities. And it’s easy to find events (that’s how I found the improv class!)
Also if you’re looking to rent somewhere longer term, you can usually get much better deals from Facebook than say, Airbnb.
6) Live in a place where income is higher than expenses
This should be an obvious one, and a rule for life!
There are many websites telling you the cost of living in different areas.
Although those guides are not 100% correct, (especially since people have different living styles), they give you an idea of where it is realistic for you to live, and have your needs met!
7) Think about timezones
For some of you who can work on your own schedule, this is less important, though still relevant for contacting family and friends back home.
Others will have meetings or need to be online during European, Australian, or US timezones. Considering this is important for your well-being.
For instance, if you’re an early bird, then you probably aren’t going to enjoy having UK or US work timezones whilst living in South East Asia.
Tip: If you do have meetings early or late, find accommodation where you don’t have to worry about disturbing people!
8) They accept the good with the bad
To many, working as a digital nomad might seem like the ultimate dream. And… I’ll be honest with you, for me, it is!
But as with anything in life, there are drawbacks such as:
- Many people you meet will be traveling or on holiday, and it can feel weird that you still have to work
- If you get sick or have an emergency, you will have to figure out how things work
- If you travel a lot, you will meet many people, but there will be times when you feel lonely
- It can be harder to find a romantic partner when your life is unconventional
- Eventually, if you leave your home country for too long, you will probably feel that you don’t fit in there, but you don’t necessarily fit in anywhere else either
Yes, everything good requires compromise and acceptance.
But if you are willing to accept these realities, then you can make the most out of your life – one that is rich with adventures, fulfilling your dreams, and an unparalleled feeling of freedom!