If you had to choose between travelling the world or your career, which would you choose? For digital nomads, there doesn’t have to be a choice. Being a digital nomad (or a digital entrepreneur) allows you to work from wherever you are, making working while travelling the ideal way to see the world. With your computer by your side and a passport in your hand, the world is truly your oyster.
What does it take to be a digital nomad and can it be a financially-viable way to live? Find out everything you need to know about the digital nomad lifestyle below.
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is a term you might start hearing more and more. With Millennials wanting to see the world while also carving out great careers, it was only a matter of time before both were combined. Put simply, a digital nomad works online and doesn’t need a base to carry out their job.
Not having a base provides people with the opportunity to work from anywhere, making travel a very real possibility. Providing you’re earning enough to pay your way, the world is yours for the taking. It’s becoming a popular lifestyle choice and is something that anyone can start with the right skills and determination.
What do digital nomads do?
There are a lot of different career options for digital nomads. Thanks to video conferencing and cloud-based work systems, anyone could effectively do their job from any location. Many digital nomads are freelancers, skilled in areas such as writing, web design or other types of online services that allow them to work at their own pace and for clients that suit their values and passions.
With many different ways to earn money as a digital nomad, there are a lot of possibilities. Many travel bloggers find that they are able to earn money without having to settle down in one place, with reviews and features on different location paying their way as they enjoy the travel lifestyle.
Can it really fund your travel?
Still not convinced by the thought of being a digital nomad? It’s ok to be sceptical. However, many people make a decent living from working online from their home base, so why not make it work for you on the move? It’s a lifestyle that works best if you have no ties, like a mortgage or rent to pay back home – but if you earn enough money from your online venture, you could even enjoy the best of both worlds.
To decide if it’s a lifestyle you can afford, it’s worth working out how much money you would need to travel for a year. The answer will vary depending on where you want to travel, but there are some areas which are more affordable than others. If you can project how much you can earn, you can plan for months or even years at a time as you make your way across the world and take in everything you can.
The financial advantages of being a digital nomad
While being able to travel is a big benefit of being a digital nomad, there are other advantages to consider too. Working and travelling in different countries could help you enjoy a lower cost of living, while still enjoying your UK wages. In places like Singapore, for example, you could find a house for rent below 2k sgd (approx £1100), which could be much cheaper than many of the rent prices in London and other major cities. Food, entertainment, and general living costs can also be much lower, so you could find that you get more for your money wherever you are.
Could it put your career on hold?
One of the key things that put people off travelling is the effect it can have on your career. Some people feel like they have to put their career on hold to travel, leaving many people to regret their choices later in life. However, by working as a digital nomad – you’re still working towards your career, growing your experience and potentially developing your own business.
Travel can have many benefits for your career, so if you do decide to abandon the nomad lifestyle, your experience could help you move up the ladder. As a new way to ‘have it all’, the digital nomad lifestyle isn’t something to be sniffed at.
Do you have what it takes?
Wanting to travel is one thing, but are you willing to work while you’re doing it? Unlike regular travel, you’re going to have to show discipline. Learning how to stay motivated while working on the road requires you to establish a routine, to find a balance and sticking to goals as you would if you were at home or in an office-based environment.
Is there a danger of working too much and not being able to enjoy the travel side of things? Of course, but how you manage your time will make all the difference to your experience. Plan out your working hours alongside things you want to see and do – you’ll be surprised at how much easier it becomes if you stick to a plan. You could use one week to focus on working, and the next week on enjoying yourself – providing you’re earning enough money to cover yourself, you can make it work.
How to get started
If the thought of becoming a digital nomad sounds appealing to you, then there are some things you’ll need to do before you get started.
Clear your debts
Make sure you become debt-free before you consider packing up to see the world. It will be far better to adopt a more fluid lifestyle if you don’t have any debts on your shoulders.
Free yourself of financial commitments
Get rid of any financial ties that you won’t be needing while travelling. If you have a mortgage, consider letting out your property to make sure it’s covered while you’re away. Sell your car, ditch the gym membership and cut your regular outgoings to as few as possible.
Before you quit your existing job, make sure you’ve got something lined up first. It’s worth trying to freelance alongside your job to help you build up some clients and to help you figure out how much you could earn. Your current employer might be flexible enough to let you work on the move, but don’t be surprised if your request is turned down.
Get some savings behind you
Even though you’ll be working while travelling, it doesn’t hurt to have some savings behind you as well. This will allow you to get settled in a new location, as well as cover you for any emergencies or lulls in work that could affect your finances.
Decide on where to go!
While you might want to adopt a more flexible approach to your new lifestyle, it helps to have a plan of where to go, especially in your first few months. Plot out where you’d like to visit and for how long and start making plans. Your new lifestyle could last anywhere from six months to years, with plenty of possibilities for places to go and things to do.
The digital nomad lifestyle is an appealing one, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re fed up with the typical office routine, then this could be the perfect solution to your itchy feet. Explore the possibilities and weigh up the pros and cons to see if the digital nomad life is the one for you.