What is a Digital Nomad?
For those suffering from a serious case of wanderlust, the nomadic lifestyle can sound like the dream. Seeing far-flung areas of the world and being immersed for extended periods in a new and exciting culture is the ultimate goal of today’s travel nomad.
Backpackers have employed this nomadic lifestyle for years. Traveling from town to town, country to country, even continent to continent with only what they can carry on their backs. In turn, their lives have been enriched by these great adventures.
Traveling light and traveling cheap can allow for backpackers to stay on the road for extended periods of time. But, even so, the travel budget eventually runs out and backpackers are forced to take a local gig, or return back home for a period of time to build up their savings before going on their next adventure.
This work, then play, alternating lifestyle creates its own problems. When the backpacker is traveling, they are doing everything they can to stretch their budget to stay on the road. When they are working, they are doing everything they can to save for their next trip. It becomes a life of attrition with splurges for enjoyment appearing rarely and at great cost. Not to mention, this sort of lifestyle generally creates significant career disruption, resulting in underemployment and discontent in the workplace. And how many backpackers do you know with great retirement plans?
The Working Nomad
For those looking to experience the great benefits of a nomadic lifestyle without the drawbacks of the traditional backpacker- introducing the Digital Nomad.
Investopedia defines Digital Nomads as “people who are location-independent and use technology to perform their job. Digital nomads work remotely, telecommuting rather than being physically present at a company's headquarters or office.”
This combination of work while you play makes the digital nomad lifestyle the perfect balance for those with the strong desire to pursue their own inner wanderlust, but also want to continue to pursue their long-term career and financial goals.
Out with grey buildings, long commutes and 30 minutes of daylight at lunchtime. In with greener pastures, picture-postcard beaches and an ever-changing backdrop. Remote workers have the privilege to make any setting their office: from cafes in Paris, to hotel receptions in London, the beaches of Thailand, co-working spaces in New York, or the glacial plains of Iceland.
Working while traveling buys you enough time to truly immerse yourself in a culture, to hang with the locals and to see and do more than the typical tourist. It also means that rather than having a set travel budget that can be exhausted over time, digital nomads can set daily or weekly budgets that get replenished with their paychecks. A splurge for a show or rooftop dinner and drinks no longer means the trip has to be cut a week short.
Remote working also affords the ability to pursue career or financial goals WHILE traveling. This allows digital nomads the ability to further their careers, secure their financial futures and even start their own businesses.
Digital nomads have an unrivaled ability to live an enriching career lifestyle, while having the freedom to see the world.
The Changing Face of Working
Thinking this lifestyle is just for a lucky few? Think again. The working landscape has been revolutionized in recent years, making remote working more of a reality every day. Today’s technology and connectivity means that many jobs can be performed from anywhere as long as you have a smartphone, laptop, charger and adaptor.
As such, remote working is a growing trend, with over 50 percent of business people working 2.5 days a week from home.
Coworking spaces are popping up everywhere to accommodate remote workers without regular offices. And for those combining their love of travel with working, hotels, restaurants and bars are all starting to optimize their spaces for working nomads to use by the day. Those craving a more corporate setup can even benefit from hot desks and shared office space in places like WeWork – there’s more than 500 locations in 100 countries around the globe.
Tools of the Trade
Technology has made the world feel like a smaller place, and continues to make remote working easier and easier. With resources such as Slack, a collaboration hub that unites remote workers, and Zoom, which allows for video conferencing, digital nomads can effortlessly stay in touch with employers and clients. There are also a growing number of community forums like the reddit digital nomad space with tips, tricks and motivating stories. These have become very popular to help overcome the isolation that can sometimes occur when working on your own.
Accompanying the growth of remote working are gadgets and products to enable this lifestyle. This includes items that are fast and light, to optimize working anywhere and everywhere. Think small light battery packs fuelled by solar energy, and backpacks with cushioning for laptops, as well as digital notepads and Dictaphone apps. These are just some of the modern tools you’ll need to be equipped with as a digital nomad in the twentieth century.
But tools can’t handle the full workload. Being a digital nomad requires the discipline to knuckle down, manage your own hours, and get your work done - a difficult feat when something new lies outside of your window each day.
Are You the Next Nomad?
Here’s a few important points to consider if you’re thinking of becoming a digital nomad;
- Can you do your current job remotely? Have you approached your employer with a plan?
- What service can you offer and is there a market for it?
- Where will you find clients, and how will you retain them?
- Can you earn enough money doing the job you want to do?
- Where will you work from and will it give you enough comfort and space?
- How will working remotely impact your wellbeing?
- What equipment do you need to enable you to travel light and still get the job done?
- Can you manage clients in different time zones?
- What are your priorities and objectives in terms of career and personal fulfilment? How can remote working optimize these?
It’s clear to see that remote working is one of the biggest changes in working culture in the past decade. In a recent study by Deloitte, nearly 75 percent of millennials admitted that seeing the world is their highest aspiration
For those who wish to combine flexible working with this aspiration to see the world, the nomadic lifestyle is as good as it gets. Liberated by the endless possibility of technology, it is the modern way to embrace working while traveling.
If you’re interested in living the digital nomad lifestyle, please also check out some of our other related articles to help you on your way including How to Become a Digital Nomad and Top Travel Jobs of 2020.