What is a Digital Nomad?

What is a Digital Nomad?

Got an urge to travel the globe, but still need to earn an income? Perhaps you’d make a good digital nomad.

What Exactly Is a Digital Nomad?

Digital nomads work from anywhere in the world and use technology, communication tools, and online resources to complete work or operate a business. They frequently travel abroad, perhaps spending this month in the heart of London and the next in an Italian coastal town.

Such a lifestyle certainly isn’t for everyone and definitely has its share of challenges. But for those with an adventurous spirit and the self-discipline to make sure work gets done, it can be an extraordinary experience.

“The best part of being a digital nomad is traveling the world,” says Erika Yost Kumar, operations and strategy manager for EPW Small Business Law PC. “This year I have worked from Guatemala, Kenya, and France. I’ve avoided the monotony and wasted time of commuting to the same office every day. Co-working spaces are fun to explore, and they are popping up all over the world!”

The downside? “Different time zones can be tough—nighttime meetings instead of those during normal business hours,” she says. “And unpredictable internet. You can do your research ahead of time about internet speeds, but particularly in developing countries, there may be some unwelcome surprises.”

Advice for Digital Nomads

Kate Gilbert became a digital nomad after quitting her job as a healthcare marketing executive in 2014. She and her husband sold their home and began traveling, while she works part-time as a freelance consultant. For aspiring digital nomads, she offers this advice:

“Reduce your living expenses as much as possible, and get rid of clutter and unimportant things in your life. Being nomadic is much more enjoyable if you don’t have possessions and financial obligations weighing you down. Traveling can be very inexpensive if you do it the right way and don’t behave as if you are on vacation. We have found it much less costly than owning a regular ‘sticks and bricks’ home. By reducing our expenses, we can have a full and rewarding life without the old pressures of having to bring in a large income.”

Brian Davis, co-founder and lead real estate blogger at SparkRental.com, visited 10 countries in the last year and currently lives in Abu Dhabi. He stresses, though, that the life of a digital nomad is “not all vacations and champagne corks.”

“It takes a lot of discipline—you need to be 100% self-motivated,” Davis says. “You need routines and systems to maintain productivity and results. And it can be lonely. There’s no water cooler to congregate around, no quirky, funny colleagues to swap stories and jokes with.”

He recommends that anyone considering becoming a digital nomad first try telecommuting a few days per week with a more traditional job. If you find you’re genuinely productive and content working outside the office, you may be ready to make the bigger leap.

“My experience has been that most people are not disciplined enough,” Davis says. “But for the few who are, there’s incredible freedom in being untethered from a specific location and specific hours. The world really does open up and become your playground.”

Interested in finding a job that lets you travel the world? Browse our remote job board.

By Beth Braccio Hering | Categories: Why Go Remote

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