What is a Digital Nomad and How to Live Like One?
What is a Digital Nomad and
How to Live Like One?
There is a famous saying in Buddhism, “Home is the here and now!”
It resonates deep within the ideology of always being on the go. It means that travel, progress, and forward movement should be the norm. In a way, it hints towards a nomadic lifestyle.
Add a laptop and an internet connection to that. And voila! You are looking at a digital nomadic lifestyle now.
You travel like I do. You don’t have one house/apartment to call home. The world is your oyster. And you are a free bird, bound only with the wires that connect with your laptop. Yes, your chargers, earphones, and OTGs, if you please, are your connecting cords (literally!) to the world.
Trading your cubicle for an on-the-go work base and a fixed office schedule for working on your terms is fast gaining ground. It is currently being estimated that there will be a billion digital nomads by 2035.
Think of every possible downside that you have with your on-site, from-office job — poor work-life balance, burnouts, rigidity, no freedom, limited exposure, and stagnant life.
Now, reverse all of that. A great work-life balance, higher productivity, complete freedom, a chance to see the world, and a progressive lifestyle. The digital nomad lifestyle offers you all this and more.
And that’s why I became a digital nomad and more and more people are ditching the office for freedom, flexibility, and financial liberty. Guess what? Digital nomads are 13% more productive than their in-office counterparts. Workers already had plenty of reasons to ditch the desks and now even the management and business owners have enough reasons to let their employees work from halfway across the globe.
But, wait a minute…
What exactly is a digital nomad? Or rather, you should ask who a digital nomad is? Are they freelancers? The working from the home tribe? Travel bloggers? Who exactly qualifies to be a digital nomad?
Defining digital nomads
A digital nomad is a term used to refer to that part of the independent worker population who choose to embrace
(a). a location-independent, and
(b). a technology-enabled lifestyle
Research suggests that 4.8 million independent workers describe themselves as digital nomads.
These people travel to different locations and work from wherever they feel comfortable. Coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces, they can set up bases anywhere.
All they need is a device, like their laptops or smartphones, and the Internet. And while it is obvious to assume that it is the creative, younger lot that is into this sort of lifestyle, you’d be surprised that IT and marketing professionals are among the frontrunners in this movement.
And 54% of the digital nomads are over the age of 38. So, the digital nomad lifestyle is not just a fad for the young and reckless. Around 17 million people want to become nomadic sometimes in the future. It is the future of working and because I love the digital nomad lifestyle, I encourage all my staff at ClickDo Ltd. and SeekaHost to live this way too. You can see how we work and live the digital nomad lifestyle in the digital nomad lifestyle revolution guide and on our social media channels and blogs.
I share my digital nomad wisdom and experiences also in my blog articles like “How to become a digital nomad”. Manuela, who works remotely writing web content, shares some insights on her blog about her favourite London hotels to work from.
Who does not qualify as Digital Nomads?
Now that you know what or who is a digital nomad, let us outline the fine line of difference between digital nomads and somewhat similar working arrangements.
First of all, it is crucial to understand that digital nomads are a type of location-independent worker. That does not make all location independent workers digital nomads. If you are working from the couch in your living room, you are NOT a digital nomad. You need to satisfy the nomadic aspect to become one. That’s right, you should be travelling or moving.
This brings us to another similar job profile — the travel bloggers/vloggers. These are the people who get paid to travel — a lucrative career option for everyone bitten by the travel bug.
The digital nomad does not get paid to travel. They are paid for the online work that they do – content writing, graphic designing, digital marketing, or whatever else it is that they do – you can read more about online jobs and careers you can do as a digital nomad in some of our other guides:
Travel bloggers and vloggers are paid for travel or earn from travelling. Digital nomads travel because they are passionate about being free and independent.
How to determine if being a digital nomad is the right option for you?
It can be confusing to decide if being a digital nomad is the right option for you or you just need a week-long vacation to blow off some steam. And making the right call is extremely essential. If you buy that one-way ticket to a far-off island in the Pacific, it will get tough to get back.
Well, financially, to say the least. So, I suggest you don’t take that plunge until you are really, really sure that’s what you want.
Here is a simple, straightforward checklist for you. When you check all the points in that list, that’s when you will be ready to embrace the digital nomadic lifestyle like I do.
1. You are ready to travel the road less traveled
If you think you can make your own path and be successful even if you don’t have footsteps to follow, the digital nomad lifestyle is the right pick for you.
I knew that I wanted to lead a flexible and self-governed life while working from wherever I fancied. So, I traded my 9 to 5 job for a SEO consultancy business. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but I now work while hiking in the mountains or relaxing by the sea (insert photo of you with smartphone by the beach), because my online business is partly automated or my staff handle operations.
2. Your office or workplace suffocates you
Not literally. But on a deeper level. You don’t want to waste the prime years of your life following the same, boring to-and-fro between home and office. And your office or place of work feels like it is limiting your growth and happiness. If yes, go ahead.
If the routine keeps you happy, I guess this isn’t exactly your thing. Because I love the fact that I can wake up in a new place every day. I am inspired by new impressions, new people and different cultures and routines (you can insert images of places you have traveled to, e.g. Venice, Ibiza etc.).
3. You are independent
If you are planning on traveling the world and not settling anywhere, you should know that it means being completely independent. You need to be able to take care of yourself.
You need to be good at organising, planning, delegating, money and time management. And you need to ensure that you can handle things alone. If you are confident that you can actually do that, you can be a digital nomad.
It can be challenging to not have a regular income like some digital nomads working as freelancers or self-employed people like me. You have to set yourself a travel budget, research affordable accommodation and transportation while keeping on top of your workload.
You can find some useful tips in our “How to travel the world as a digital nomad” guide or some of our other related articles:
4. You have a backup plan
Okay, so, here is a mantra for life.
No matter how enticing the sky is, and no matter how much you want to feel like you are flying, you don’t jump out of a plane without a parachute.
It is basic common sense. Never think that becoming a digital nomad can help you run away from work or responsibilities. You still have to work; you still have responsibilities. And you still need a backup plan. If things go down south, you’ll need your parachute ready so that you don’t fall face first.
I want to stress that I never doubted that my online venture would do well. However, I had to plan for all eventualities, especially once I hired staff. As a freelancer you will also have to consider shortfalls in income as the pandemic has shown.
But that does not have to stop you from living a nomadic lifestyle as that can actually often end up being cheaper with couch surfing, eating discounted meals etc. The current share economy offers plenty of affordable options for digital nomads.
Are you ready? Do you want to give it a go? If you think you can make the cut, you can get online and start living the digital nomad lifestyle.
Understanding the other aspects of the digital nomadic lifestyle
Being a digital nomad is not a destination that you’ll reach one day. It is a journey that keeps going on.
And this path, that you want to embark upon, is a path laden with roses. No, I am not joking. It is true. The only thing is that roses have thorns. But a skilled florist is the one who knows how to pick up the roses without letting the thorns cause harm.
Here are some of the probable thorns that can come your way (and ways to navigate through them!)
1. Fluctuating finances
Your paychecks aren’t always going to be steady and you might have to struggle if you spend all your earnings each month. Save as and when you can and try to strike a financial balance. In our Make Money Online Book we provide guidance and tips on how to make and retain money earned online.
2. Management misadventures
When you have to do so much (pretty much everything) on your own, you are bound to make some mistakes. It could be financial mismanagement or a lack of time or organisational management skills.
The simple solution – learn to manage the mishaps. Take things in your stride and look for solutions. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
Being independent and running your own business is challenging, but you will grow with the lessons you learn, and you should never stop learning new skills. I have taught myself many skills by trial and error. That’s why I have created online courses so that people who want to become digital nomads can learn the digital skills that will support their online career.
3. Lost and lonely
There will be times when you will feel lost and lonely. Nomadic lifestyle not just gives you freedom, but also takes away your ability to build lasting, and close relations in person.
However, during social distancing everyone has realised the potential of video and online chats. In times like these, you just remember that physical distances cannot come in the way of your bond with your people.
Okay, so that was a lot of advice on dos and don’ts. Time for some tips, tricks, and tools that will make your digital nomad life easy.
What tools or guides you need for being a digital nomad?
When you embrace a technology-enabled lifestyle, you also need to know about the right technology that can be of help to you. There is an application or platform for everything today.
You just need to know which is the right one to get the maximum output in the least possible time. Here are some tools that would come in handy when you and your laptop live the nomadic life.