So you want to be a Digital Nomad?
Your ultimate guide, based on experience
I remember the first time I heard the term “digital nomad”. Out of all places, it was on a dating app. Cannot remember which one, probably Tinder as it was so long ago and early days of dating apps. What I do remember is this foreign chick in my hometown (at the time) of Sydney, Australia. Her profile read something like:
Digital nomad in Sydney for two months
I swiped right. But mainly because I wanted to know what a digital nomad was. Nonetheless, I consulted Dr. Google and it explained to me the concept of digital nomadism whereby one could do their work from anywhere and thus be free to roam the world. I was flabbergasted (like that word?) to say the least.
At the time I was working a sales job inside an office, having recently been released from a hefty stint in rehab. I knew that if I kept up an office, 9 – 5 (more like 8 – 6) lifestyle, before long I would sink into a deep despair, self medicate and end up back in rehab. I had to find another way of existing.
My answer was to learn how to become a digital nomad. Now, it wasn’t easy. It took me years and years to get to the kind of freedom that I enjoy now. But was it worth it? You betcha!
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I didn’t match with the digital nomad chick, unfortunately.
Empowering You to Take Control of Your Life by Pursuing Location Independence
This is my “why”. Why I do what I do and why I want you to also. In a world that often feels limiting, the notion of being anchored to a single location for work or life can be stifling for many. If you’re anything like me, and you’re working in such a situation, you probably asked yourself on a regular basis, “Is this all there is?
And the answer is a big phat resounding NO! There’s a whole world out there to discover. And an inner world of personal growth to also discover.
The 9-5 grind, the daily commute, and the predictability of a fixed location can make life monotonous. I believe that the freedom to choose where you live and work is not just a luxury but a birthright; a pathway to a fulfilling life. By embracing location independence, you ghetto work and travel; the opportunity to take charge of your own destiny.
What taking control truly means
Taking control means breaking away from societal norms (fuck the system) that dictate how we should live or work. It means deciding that you are the master of your own time, the designer of your own life, and the author of your own story. Whether you want to explore the world, spend more time with family, or simply live life on your terms, location independence enables you to do so.
For me, and many other nomads, location independence is the closest thing to freedom you can get. And if you can achieve financial independence also, then that’s absolute freedom.
Three Core Values: The Heart of the Guide
1. Freedom: To live life on your own terms
The concept of freedom is very subjective. Meaning, it’s meaning can differ significantly between many people, depending on their circumstances. For example, someone who’s locked up inside prison on a life sentence, freedom can mean simply escaping the confines of the outer walls. Or, for someone who lives in an oppressive state, I won’t mention any names but let’s say their ruler/dictator was named Kim, freedom could mean migrating to a democratic country like South Korea, for example.
But for those blessed of us who can realistically see the digital nomad existence a reality, we can take freedom to a whole other level.
For us, freedom is more than just a state of being; it’s an ongoing journey to design a life that aligns with your truest self, also known as your higher self. For me, freedom is the cornerstone of the digital nomad lifestyle, allowing you to break free from conventional norms, such as the fixed schedules and locations that traditional jobs often require.
I believe that everyone deserves the chance to live life on their terms, pursuing their passions, and carving out their unique path in the world. I understand that freedom doesn’t look the same for everyone, which is why I offer a versatile range of advice and resources, from financial planning to skill acquisition, to help you find your own form of freedom.
I’ll share practical advice and real-world case studies that demonstrate how you can gain greater freedom through location independence. We also offer tips on how to handle challenges and uncertainties, allowing you to navigate the complexities of a free lifestyle confidently.
2. Autonomy: Being able to work from wherever and whenever you want
Autonomy is about having the control and flexibility to choose your work environment and schedule, whether that’s from a beach in Bali or a café in Berlin. An autonomous lifestyle enables:
Better work-life balance
Fosters higher productivity
When you control your schedule and environment, you can tailor your life to your natural rhythms and personal commitments, leading to a more fulfilling existence. And Total life fulfillment is what life’s all about.
3. Adventure: Experiencing new environments and cultures
Adventure to us isn’t just about extreme sports or wandering into the unknown; it’s about embracing the joy and growth that come from new experiences. This could be as simple as trying a new cuisine, learning a new language, or getting yourself out of sticky situations..
Stepping outside of your comfort zone and immersing yourself in new worlds and cultures expands your worldview, enriches your life, and contributes to your personal growth. Adventure adds a layer of excitement and discovery that makes the digital nomad lifestyle uniquely rewarding.
I’ll share some of my own recommendations for off-the-beaten-path experiences that can enrich your digital nomad journey.
Who's this for?
While this guide is primarily aimed at aspiring digital nomads and remote workers, its teachings are applicable to anyone who wants more freedom and autonomy in their life. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or still a student, this guide offers valuable insights.
Through this guide and the content that follows, I aim to equip you with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to take that leap towards a location-independent lifestyle. I want you to go beyond dreaming and start living the life you’ve always envisioned for yourself.
How to Become a Digital Nomad
First step to learning how to become a digital nomad is to sort out your remote income, whether it be by freelancing, business ownership or entrepreneurship, or working a fully remote job. Any option is okay, it’s more about what suits your personality best.
Skill acquisition: Which skills are most in demand for remote work?
But one thing is constant; the kind of skills required to go remote. Now, I’ve met all kinds of nomads; from freelance writers like myself to language teachers and even virtual psychologists. There are so many career paths out there for learning how to become a digital nomad now. And as the digital age progresses, the demand for remote-friendly skills is skyrocketing.
However, it’s not enough to simply have a skill; it’s about having the right set of skills that employers or clients in remote settings are looking for. In this section, we will dive deep into the types of skills that are highly sought-after in remote work environments and how you can acquire them, no matter how much money you have to spend on your education (you can learn most for free).
Categories of skills
Tech-Savviness: First and foremost, the basics like knowing your way around a computer, cloud storage, and various software applications are a given.
Coding and Development: Skills like web development, mobile app development, and software engineering are evergreen in remote work settings. If this is your chosen path, start learning and practicing how AI can assist. ChatGPT already knows how to write python code.
Digital Marketing: From SEO to social media marketing, a broad understanding of digital marketing techniques is a big plus. There are so many free resources on digital marketing out there so you really have no excuse. And again, AI like ChatGPT can assist with this.
Data Analysis: Knowing how to interpret data can make you an invaluable asset to your team. You can find free courses online such as Google Analytics Academy so again, anyone can master this if they apply themselves.
Graphic Design: As more businesses go online, the need for compelling visuals grows, making graphic design a key skill. Again, there are free graphic design courses out there.
Content Writing and Copywriting: Effective communication is crucial in remote settings, making writing a highly valuable skill. Yes, this is an area where AI has largely disrupted, but the AI still needs promoting and the writing tweaking to align with a business’s brand and unique tone of voice. In short, practice writing and learn to use AI to assist.
These are just only a few of the many options that are out there for you to upskill in to become more valuable and in-demand as a fully remote worker. The above skillsets set you up for the best digital nomad jobs out there.
Establishing remote income is crucial before travel
Unfortunately, how to become a digital nomad is not as simple as buying a plane ticket and taking off. The financial aspect is a foundational pillar you must establish first. Here’s why it’s essential to secure a steady remote income and how to do it.
Starting as a freelancer is often the quickest route to earning remote income. It allows you to leverage existing skills, build a portfolio, and start making money relatively quickly. Additionally, it teaches you to run your own business (even if it is a one-man show) and be solely accountable to yourself. However, the freelance market is competitive, and you’ll need to distinguish yourself.
How to Do it:
Skill Development: As discussed in the previous section – focus on acquiring in-demand skills that can be performed remotely, such as AI, coding, digital marketing, or graphic design.
Portfolio Building: Create a portfolio website to showcase your skills, past projects, and testimonials. This will serve as tangible proof of your abilities for prospective clients.
Networking: Use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with industry professionals and look for freelance communities where you can gain insights and job leads.
Jump in the deep end: Don’t be afraid to sell yourself on platforms like LinkedIn – if you are studying coding, then list your profile as a coder.
Some of you may be thinking that you need a lot of money to get the education you need to become a digital nomad. But the truth is that you can learn a lot of these skills for very little online and sometimes even free. Just type a skill you want to learn into YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.
What you really need more than money is commitment. You just need to apply yourself and have the discipline to see the courses through to the end. And then to put those skills to practice and promote yourself to whoever you meet that this is your gig.
Here are a few online learning resources:
These are just a few of the many ways you can learn the skills required for going fully remote for as little or no money at all. So, no excuses, go learn some new skills!
Establish reliable cash flow for your business
If you’re an entrepreneur, having a business that generates a consistent and reliable cash flow is paramount. Unpredictable income streams can lead to financial stress, affecting your freedom to travel and live life on your terms. Sort the cash flow first!
How to Do it:
Business Model: Adopt a business model that is conducive to remote work, such as e-commerce, affiliate marketing, or consulting/coaching.
Scalability: Ensure that the business can operate and scale without your physical presence.
Automation and Delegation: Use software solutions to automate tasks, and consider hiring remote staff or outsourcing to maintain operations efficiently
For those choosing the freelance route, I strongly recommend establishing yourself a solid portfolio and client base before roaming the globe. When it come to clients, go for quality, not quantity. It took me a long time to learn this but all you need is just a few great and loyal clients that provide you with regular work in order to sustain the nomadic lifestyle. Do not spread yourself too thin with as many clients as you think you can take on. It’s not worth it, and you are bound to get some difficult ones who will do your head in.
I will not go too much into freelancing as I have already written extensively about it. You can read about how to set up a freelance business here, and how to price yourself as a freelancer here. You will also undoubtably experience imposter syndrome, which I also provide tips on managing and overcoming. Anything else you are unsure of, feel free to shoot me an email.
It’s a tough gig becoming a successful freelancer, but the personal and professional growth that comes with it is worth it. You can find out whether is freelancing a good career option for you here.
Finding a fully remote job
Securing a fully remote job gives you the financial stability of a regular paycheck, along with benefits like healthcare, which can be a concern for digital nomads. However, they can be hard to come by and extremely competitive when they do. Nonetheless, if you have acquired the right skills and can prove you are self motivated and can work autonomously, then you are in for a good chance. But you need to jump on the job opportunities quickly.
How to Do it
LinkedIn: On LinkedIn remote jobs worldwide (and most job boards) you can set alerts for remote only positions that you are qualified for.
Company Policies: Some companies that previously required office presence have switched to a remote-first approach. Research companies in your field to see if they offer full-time remote positions.
Networking: Tap into your existing network to get referrals, as internal recommendations can sometimes get you fast-tracked to a remote position.
Baby Steps to Becoming a Digital Nomad
While the digital nomad lifestyle often conjures images of exotic locations and long-term travel, it doesn’t have to start that way. Before you sell your belongings and book a one-way ticket to the other side of the world, consider taking baby steps. The idea is to ease into this lifestyle by starting with shorter trips to familiar places. This incremental approach can provide invaluable learning experiences without the commitment or potential overwhelm of longer journeys.
The Benefits of Starting Small
By opting for shorter trips initially, you minimize the financial and emotional risks involved. If things don’t go as planned, you’re not stuck in a foreign country with dwindling resources while still learning how to become a modern-day nomad.
These short-term experiences give you the opportunity to build essential skills for remote work and travel, such as time management, communication, and adaptability.
A shorter trip allows you to test out various aspects of digital nomad life—from work-life balance and productivity to coping with loneliness or cultural differences—without making a full plunge.
How to take your first baby steps
Choose a Comfortable Destination
Start with a country or city that you’re somewhat familiar with or that shares similarities with your home country, such as language or culture. This makes the adjustment phase easier. For me, coming from Australia, it was New Zealand, just for two weeks. New Zealand is close to Australia (one of the only) and has a very similar culture and is also English speaking.
Set a Timeframe
Begin with a trip that lasts a few weeks to a month. This is enough time to work through initial challenges and get a feel for the lifestyle, but not so long that you feel trapped if it’s not for you. I worked remotely on one of my first paid screenwriting gigs while in Queenstown, New Zealand. Did I know what I was doing? Fuck no. But it was a milestone and gave me the confidence to venture further afield for my next trip to Bali for one month.
Plan Your Work Setup
Before you go, make sure you know where you’ll work. Whether it’s co-working spaces, cafes, or your accommodation, having a reliable workspace is essential. Before you book your accommodation, contact the host or management and ensure you have a working space (desk) and reliable wifi.
Establish a Support Network
Connect with other digital nomads or local communities, either online or in-person. This network can offer emotional support, advice, and even business opportunities. Arguably, one of the best reasons for booking a coworking or coliving space is the connections you make and the opportunities that arise from them.
The Path to Longer Journeys
As you gain confidence and iron out the kinks in your remote work setup, you’ll be better prepared for longer trips to more distant and diverse locations. Think of it as working a muscle – with each successful short trip, you can gradually extend your time away, explore new places, and eventually live the full-fledged digital nomad lifestyle you dream of.
Top Ten Destinations for Digital Nomads
Some of the following destinations might surprise you. That’s because, when you think of digital nomad hotspots, cities like Bali, Barcelona, and Medellin often come to mind. However, in my opinion, these places have become overrun, overpriced and overvalued. And the world is full of lesser-known gems that offer incredible experiences without the crowds… for now. Here are my top 10 under-the-radar destinations that young digital nomads should consider.
I base my decisions on many factors, the three main being:
Cost of living
However, you should do your own research before embarking to make sure your chosen digital nomad destination is suited for you.
1. Tbilisi, Georgia
While it has surged in popularity in recent years and is flooded by Russians fleeing the scene back home, Tbilisi still holds its own. Known for its unique architecture and rich history, Tbilisi is fast becoming a digital nomad hub, especially with its new visa program specifically designed for remote workers. This makes it a good option for those still learning how to become location independent. The cost of living is affordable, and the city offers a blend of traditional and modern lifestyles. Georgia also has the winning combination of mountains and beaches on the Black Sea.
2. Da Nang, Vietnam
This coastal city in Vietnam offers beautiful beaches, a vibrant city and a growing community of digital nomads. With its low cost of living and fast internet, Da Nang is a paradise for those looking to work and explore Southeast Asia. Da Nang also includes Hội An (pictured), a charming coastal town with canals and a beautiful old town consisting of Chinese, French Colonial and Vietnamese architecture. Another great Southeast Asia digital nomad destination is The Philippines, but prices have rapidly risen there, so Vietnam wins the race.
3. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka was recently named (at the time of writing) as the most affordable country for digital nomads. While you may prefer more quiet beaches such as Unawatuna or in the jungle city of Kandy, Colombo is where the action is at, the best amenities and most reliable internet. Sri Lanka is a small country, making it easy to explore the island on weekends from Colombo. Great for surfers as you can find breaks without the crowds around the island.
4. Valparaiso, Chile
This colorful port city is known for its bohemian culture, street art and stunning seaside views. With a growing startup ecosystem and a reasonable cost of living, Valparaiso is perfect for those looking to work from South America. And excellent beaches can be found in nearby Viña del Mar (pictured).
5. Diani Beach, Kenya
With its pristine white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and lush coastal palm trees, Diani Beach also boasts a burgeoning community of freelancers and remote workers, attracted by reliable internet, affordable cost of living, and a range of comfortable accommodations. Add to that the cultural richness of the Swahili Coast, and you have an ideal locale for those eager to balance productivity with the pursuit of adventure and relaxation. Then, of course, you have access to world-class safaris further inland. Usually my first African choice would be as a Cape Town digital nomad, but like other nomad hotspots, it’s become too popular for its own good.
6. Lombok, Indonesia
Indonesia is also rated as one of the most affordable countries for digital nomads to live. But while Bali has become overcrowded, congested, and full of too many life coaches, its neighbour Lombok is the new kid on the block. Known as Bali 30 years ago, Lombok is attracting serious investment with infrastructure and internet improving by the day, yet is still relatively untouched by the masses. If you’re a surfer, it’s not hard to find a break all to yourself (refer picture above).
7. Cluj-Napoca, Romania
While Bucharest has had its time in the limelight lately as a digital nomad hotspot, this vibrant little city offers a strong internet infrastructure and a burgeoning tech scene. The cost of living is even more affordable than its big brother, and the city is rich in history, making it an attractive destination for digital nomads. Oh, and for the lads, the women are gorgeous.
8. Riga, Latvia
Eastern Europe is popular for remote workers because it’s more affordable than western Europe. Riga offers a rich cultural experience along with excellent infrastructure, including super-fast internet speeds for digital nomads. Its Baltic charm, modern amenities and relatively low cost of living make it a must-visit for those looking for something different in Europe.
9. Kigali, Rwanda
While Cape town has historically been the go-to digital nomad destination, Kigali is becoming known for its cleanliness, safety, and burgeoning tech scene. As one of Africa’s up-and-coming digital nomad destinations, it offers a unique experience for those willing to venture off the beaten path. You can also tick-off your bucketlist seeing the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
10. Oaxaca, Mexico
Oaxaca offers a vibrant local culture, delicious cuisine, and a growing digital nomad community. With its affordable cost of living and rich history, it’s a fantastic alternative to more crowded and massively overrated Mexican destinations like Tulum or Playa del Carmen. Additionally, it is the home of mezcal…Mmm, Mezzzcall…
Must-have tech for working while traveling
Now, before you get all excited with wanderlust and book your one-wy ticket to some exotic location, there’s some prep to do. Let’s make sure you’re equipped with the right tech gear. Trust me, the right tools can make or break your digital nomad experience. Here’s a rundown of the essentials:
1. Reliable laptop
Captain Obvious, I know, but you need a laptop that won’t let you down. Consider something lightweight, fast, and with a good battery life. Whether you’re a MacBook aficionado or a Windows loyalist, make sure it’s up to the task. Many nomads even have a back-up laptop, usually a cheaper option in case your main unit breaks down.
2. Smartphone with global capabilities
Your phone is your lifeline, especially when navigating foreign lands. Make sure it’s unlocked and capable of global roaming. Download essential apps for travel, translation, and currency conversion to make life easier (more on that later). Get a phone with both dual SIM card slot and eSIM capability, if you can. Like laptops, many nomads carry a back-up phone.
3. Noise-cancelling headphones
If you’ve ever tried to concentrate in a noisy airport lounge or bustling café, you know the struggle is real. Investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones can be a game-changer for focus and productivity. If you can focus in noisy environments, good for you! But noise-canceling headphones can also be good for sleeping on a flight if you happen to luck out with a crying baby near you.
4. Portable Wi-Fi hotspot
While many places offer free Wi-Fi, you don’t want to gamble on a shoddy connection when there’s work to be done. A portable Wi-Fi hotspot gives you the freedom to work from almost anywhere. Ensure your local SIM has this functionality when purchasing it.
5. Multi-USB charger and universal adapter
The last thing you want is to arrive at your dream destination only to find out your chargers are incompatible with local outlets. A universal adapter and a multi-USB charger will keep all your devices juiced up and ready to go.
6. External hard drive and/or cloud storage
Back up, back up, back up! Whether you opt for an external hard drive or cloud storage, make sure you’re safeguarding your work. You don’t want to lose important files while you’re halfway around the world. I back my work up on both Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.
7. VPN subscription
Working on public Wi-Fi networks can expose you to security risks. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) will help you keep your data safe and secure. Additionally, it comes in handy if your employer or client prefers you to work from a certain country. Finally, a VPN will enable you to keep using your streaming account such as Netflix, Prime, etc.
Software for seamless remote work
That’s the hardware. There are also a number of software and apps for digital nomads to make life on the road easier. Apps and software can be the magic carpet that floats your digital nomad dreams into reality. Here’s my ultimate toolkit to keep your remote work game strong, no matter where in the world you find yourself.
Communication: Slack and Zoom
Time management: Toggl
Time flies when you’re having fun, but not when you’re missing deadlines. That’s stressful and sucks balls. Toggl helps you track time spent on tasks so you can prove to your clients—or yourself—that you did actually work today.
Project management: Asana or Trello
Choose your own adventure here—Asana for those who love a good list and Trello for the more visually inclined. Organize tasks, deadlines, and collaborations in one easy-to-access place. Monday.com also deserves a worthy mention. And my current employer uses Click-Up which I find intuitive and has integrated AI.
File sharing: Google Drive or Dropbox
Keep your files in the cloud, and you’ll never have to worry about losing them in a sea of…well, actual clouds. Whether you’re team Google Drive or team Dropbox, these platforms will keep your files accessible and shareable. In case you wonder, I’m part of the Google Workspace which, along with Drive, gives you their entire suite of docs, sheets, Meet (video conference calls), etc. In fact, if I was to recommend one software from this list only, Google Workspace would be it. You can also link your personalized email address/domain name to your Gmail account.
Writing and editing: Grammarly
Whether you’re sending a professional email or penning the next great novel, Grammarly is like having an English teacher peering over your shoulder—but way less creepy. This app checks your grammar and tone, making sure you come off as polished as possible. You can most likely get by with the free version, however, if you want suggested sentence structure improvement, go with pro subscription.
Personal assistant: ChatGPT
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard of the latest tech phenomenon – ChatGPT can assist you in a myriad of ways. Advice on must-have tech, looking for the best less-known destinations, or want tips on acing the digital nomad lifestyle? GPT has got you covered. It can even help you draft emails, blog posts, or any other written content you might need for your remote work. But it goes much further. If you are developing a business, ChatGPT can help you form a business plan, brand positioning and creating a marketing and sales funnel. As the tech evolves, there’s no telling what its capabilities will be. You can get by with the free version, but to get the most out of it I suggest subscribing to ChatGPT-4 which connects to the web, giving you up-to-date information. Think of it as your global personal assistant.
Notes scattered across various notebooks and devices? Get it all under one digital roof with Evernote (my favorite) or Notion. From daily to-dos to that random stroke of genius you had at 2 am, keep it organized and searchable.
Essential phone apps for digital nomads
Guess what? Your phone isn’t just for Instagram selfies and food pics anymore. When it comes to living the nomadic lifestyle, there are a few essential apps that make life on the road as smooth as your morning pumpkin-spiced latte.
Say goodbye to insane currency conversion fees and hello to Revolut. This app allows you to hold multiple currencies, making it a breeze to pay for things without losing money in the exchange. It’s basically your own personal international bank in your pocket! What’s also great, if you like to dabble in stocks and crypto, then Revolut is your one-stop-shop for that as well.
Moving money across borders? Wise is your go-to app for international bank transfers without the international fees. It uses real exchange rates and charges low fees, making it a wallet-friendly choice for freelancers paid in different currencies. Additionally, you can set up a foreign bank account. For example, I contract to an American company but I am Australian and I live in different locations around the world. But to avoid hefty conversion fees from my local Aussie bank, I get paid in American dollars into my American bank account in Wise.
Ah, the jet-setter’s best friend. Skyscanner scours the internet for the best flight deals, and who doesn’t love a good deal? This app is your golden ticket to hopping continents without breaking the bank. Tip: set up price alerts for a route that you’re sussing out. Another tip: you don’t necessarily have to book with the travel company provided. You can book directly with the airline by going to the airlines website and searching for the same dates.
Switching SIM cards is so 2010. With Nomad eSIM, you can buy data plans in over 100 countries without needing a physical SIM. Talk about a game-changer in staying connected! This prevents you from having to get a local SIM and data plan every time you enter a new country.
You’re already familiar with this bad boy, but it’s worth mentioning again. Slack keeps you in touch with your team while you’re touching down in exotic locations. It’s the work-meets-play app we all need, great for when you’re on the move and not keen on busting out your laptop.
Whether it’s Uber, Didi or Bolt, do your research on the most common rideshare apps used in your chosen destination and set them up to use before you fly. This will ensure you get a fair taxi fare from the airport to your accommodation. It will also be easier for you to get rides during your stay and avoid getting ripped off.
While Airbnb is not what it used to be – prices seem to have skyrocketed, it can be good for the interim while you find better and more affordable long-term accommodation. Book month-long stays that offer a decent discount. If you are patient with your search and book well in advance, you can still find some gems. Plus, you get that “living like a local” or, experiential travel experience.
The art of minimalist travel
The art of minimalist travel isn’t just a trend, it’s a lifestyle. And for me, it’s a necessity. Let me tell you, once you go minimalist, you never go back—mainly because you literally can’t fit anything else into your suitcase!
I used to travel with large luggage that I had to check-in for flights and lug around cities. It’s stressful. Especially if you are in a hot environment. Like emotional baggage, having less physical baggage just feels… well, lighter. I even managed to travel around the world once with cabin luggage only.
Here is all you need to pack into one cabin-sized suitcase and carry-on hand-luggage (a small backpack):
Pick clothes that can do double or even triple duty. A pair of dark jeans can be casual for daytime explorations and dressy for a night out. Same goes for a crisp, white button-down shirt—your best friend from beach to boardroom. Buy quality that lasts. No fast fashion here!
Why carry separate devices when you can have one that does it all? Your smartphone can be your camera, your map, your entertainment center, your library and yes, even your phone! Consider ditching your favorite books and store them all in your Kindle, Kobo or iBooks app on your phone.
Packing cubes and vacuum packs
You can buy both of these bad boys from any two dollar shop, and they will save you a bag-load of space.
Your bag should be as minimalist as its contents. Opt for something durable but light, with compartments that help you stay organized. You’ll be amazed at how much more enjoyable travel becomes when you’re not lugging around a portable closet. There are now backpack brands that cater for the digital nomad such as Nordace and Solgaard which can be pricey but they’ll make your life easier. For more affordable options, check out Amazon’s range (my pic).
Financial freedom on the move
To ensure your globetrotting, nomadic life is sustainable, we’re diving deep into how to save, invest, and build multiple income streams, all while hopping from one exotic locale to another.
High-yield savings account
Your money should be working as hard as you are. Opt for a high-yield online savings account to stash your cash. Your future self will thank you when you see the compounded interest. This is your safest investment, and can also be your emergency fund, which is crucial for traveling the world. It also gives you what the Barefoot Investor calls Mojo; knowing you have a buffer gives you peace of mind and a certain kind of swagger 😉
Dabble in stocks
Got some extra cash and a solid Wi-Fi connection? Try your hand at stock trading or investing in ETFs. Remember, this is more of a long-term game—perfect for when you’re busy sipping cocktails on a beach. If you want to play the day-trader, then you need to do your homework and treat it as a fulltime job.
This is the riskiest option, and divides opinion. Whatever your stance, Bitcoin doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. BTC and other (worth) cryptocurrencies can be a worthwhile investment for the more adventurous nomads out there. Just make sure to do your homework and keep your virtual wallet secure!
Even if you don’t have a permanent home, investing in real estate can provide a steady income through rentals. Platforms like Airbnb make it easier than ever to manage properties from afar. For those who do not have the funds or patience to save for a deposit, consider real estate micro investing platforms.
Multiple Income Streams
Freelancing is the bread and butter of many digital nomads. Whether you’re a writer, designer, or marketer, offering your skills on platforms like Upwork or Freelancer can add a consistent income stream. Even if you are employed by a company, you can freelance as a side hustle.
Got a blog or a decent social media following? Use your platform to promote products you love and earn a commission for each sale made through your unique affiliate link. Just be transparent about it.
Online courses and eBooks
You’re living a lifestyle many people dream about. Why not create an online course or write an ebook to share your tips and tricks? It’s passive income at its best. Elearning is booming, with Cousera’s registered learners increasing by 438% in the last 5 years.
How the digital nomad lifestyle redefines success
We’re wrapping it up now freedom seekers and work-life balancers! Let’s get a little introspective. You see, the digital nomad lifestyle isn’t just about making money and seeing the world—it’s a transformative experience that can profoundly impact your creativity, well-being, and very notion of success.
The psychology of freedom
Being exposed to different cultures, environments, and experiences not only enriches your life but also stimulates your brain. This newfound creativity can be a huge asset in problem-solving and innovation at work. I know my travels fuel both my creativity, writing and ambition.
Travel has therapeutic effects. The freedom to explore the world allows you to escape routine, reduce stress, and gain a fresh perspective, all of which contribute to improved mental health. Okay, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but I honestly say the peaks massively outweigh the troughs.
In a world obsessed with 9-to-5 grind and climbing the corporate ladder, being a digital nomad allows you to redefine what success means to you. It’s not just about the paycheck; it’s about living a fulfilling life, both professionally and personally. And that’s what life’s about, right?
Balance, not burnout
When your office can be a beach in Thailand or a café in Paris, it’s easier to find that elusive work-life balance. The flexibility to set your own hours and take breaks when needed means you’re less likely to experience burnout. And when those breaks involve a snorkel off the beach in the turquoise waters of Koh Phi Phi… well, you get it.
And that's a wrap!
And there you have it, the essence of the digital nomad lifestyle boiled down to its practical and emotional core. Whether you’re in it for the freedom, the balance, or just to run away from home or avoid taxes, remember that this journey is not just about what you gain materially and experientially, but ultimately what you become as a person. And I can assure you, you’ll become a much better version of your current self.
I hope this guide has been helpful. Happy travels!