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What Does it Take to Become a Digital Nomad?

by Nina Smith

The term digital nomad has appeared frequently in the last few years, through various articles about freelancing, the gig economy, and the development of the entrepreneur lifestyle. However, many people still don’t understand what this phrase really means. More importantly, few people know what it takes to become a true digital nomad and pursue a life of traveling and creative freedom.

Unlike freelance and remote workers, digital nomads aren’t defined exclusively by their ability to work from home. You can work remotely without being a nomad. The thing that makes these professionals different, is their commitment to combining a travel-focused lifestyle with their career. As a digital nomad, you actively travel around the world, taking your career with you wherever you go. Some spend a few months of the year abroad and come back home for the rest of their year. Others move constantly from one country to the next. This gives these travelers an opportunity to see the world, without losing out on earnings.

Can Anyone Be a Digital Nomad?

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Digital nomadism is an appealing lifestyle for some, but it requires a specific kind of attitude, and a certain set of skills. For instance, one of the benefits of this lifestyle is that you can explore the world and work from anywhere you like. However, there’s also a chance that you could end up unable to change your position if you’re not earning enough from a certain location. You’ll also need to ensure that wherever you go, you can continue to be as productive as you’d be at home.

Digital nomads often have a certain set of talents which make them desirable as freelance consultants or experts. For instance, if you’re a financial consultant who can advise any business on making no money, then it doesn’t matter where you are, people will still want to hire you. However, you do need to feel confident constantly advertising yourself, building your personal brand, and attracting new clients. Some digital nomads even go through courses and earn certifications in business development to learn how to find consistent clients.

If you don’t have any significant skills that make you more appealing as a freelancer or member of the gig economy, then you’ll need to pursue your education before you jump in. You can click here to get insights into some of the personal loans you might be able to get to fund your higher education. Remember, the key is to choose a degree or certification that’s well-suited to remote work. Engineering or languages might not be a good idea if you want to explore the whole world. However, you could have a job as a digital marketer from anywhere.

What Do You Need Aside from the Right Skills?

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Aside from a degree proving your talent in a specific industry, and the expertise to market your skills and earn clients online, you’re also going to need a few other things to become an effective digital nomad. For instance:

  • The right technology: Technology is a must-have investment for anyone working remotely. A reliable laptop that you can work from wherever you go is crucial here. You might also need back-up batteries for when you can’t find outlets, and access to offline software for when you can’t get on the web. A smartphone to keep you in touch with clients wherever you go is essential. Dependent on your role, you might also need extra tools too. For instance, graphic designers need subscriptions to important design software.
  • Savings: If you suddenly lost internet connection and couldn’t do work for your clients for several days, you might not be able to access any earnings. This is a common concern for many freelancers, who need to work to live. The world can be an unpredictable place and having savings can help to keep you safe. Your emergency savings will come in handy when you need to get a flight first, pay for a laptop repair, or even replace stolen equipment.
  • The right attitude: Digital nomads face a lot of challenges when pursuing their lifestyle. They’re always dealing with the risk that they may end up in a location that has no internet connection, which means doing their full workday at a café, or finding a local library. You might struggle to pay for high-quality accommodations at times, which means that you don’t always have the best night’s sleep or living conditions. You’re also running the risk that someone could steal your laptop, and your livelihood. A digital nomad knows how to live with all these challenges and resolve problems creatively.

Is Being a Digital Nomad a Good Idea?

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If you’re the sort of person who loves travel, and you don’t feel the needs to put down any roots in a specific location or country, this could be the lifestyle for you. You can start a career as a virtual assistant, digital marketer, graphic designer, or another member of the digital gig economy, and begin traveling the world tomorrow. However, not everyone is made for this way of living. If you’re the kind of person who will miss people back home when you’re traveling, or end up feeling homesick from time to time, it can be lonely to pursue a travel-focused existence. If you constantly worry about having enough money to pay for things, or you want to live in a home that you can really call yours long-term, you might want to consider another route.

If this does seem like the right solution for you, remember that you don’t necessarily have to pursue your traveling career as a freelancer right away. If your boss is already starting to offer remote work, ask them about your options to travel as you work. See how easy it is for you to keep track of your timing and projects when you’re on the move this way. Having an employer can remove some of the stress of this lifestyle, by ensuring you have a consistent source of income. Once you know for certain that traveling while you work is a good experience for you, then you can look into things like freelancing, or even starting your own business as a digital nomad.