A digital nomad is someone who works online while travelling from place to place. Digital nomads usually rely on free wifi or a wifi hotspot and work using a laptop in shared spaces like coffee shops, co-working spaces or libraries. Becoming a digital nomad is an exciting prospect if you love travelling since you can work and travel at the same time while escaping the shackles of 9-5 office life.
My girlfriend and I have both been full-time digital nomads since March 2017 and I am often asked about how we travel full-time and also earn a living. In this blog post, I will share the benefits of being a digital nomad and also explain how you can enter this alternative lifestyle.
Benefits of being a digital nomad
1. Freedom to travel
This is of course usually the number one reason people want to become a digital nomad. As long as there is internet, you can do your job. That could mean sitting on a beach in Thailand or at the top of a volcano in Guatemala. These might not be the most realistic places to get work done as no one wants sand inside their keyboard or the glare of sun on their laptop screen, but if you want to work in a hammock on the beach, it is possible!
2. Become more productive
Since you are constantly exposed to new places, new cultures and new people, your surroundings will motivate you to work hard and finish your tasks for the day so you can get out and explore.
3. Become more adaptable
Leaving your home country and being exposed to a new language, new city or culture can be really scary. However, it also makes you stronger as a person since you need to problem solve and navigate in order to survive. These skills you develop will help you in all aspects of your life.
4. More time doing things you love
Perhaps you currently waste 2 hours each day commuting to and from your office. If you work in your rented airbnb on the beach in Mexico or at a cafe around the corner from your townhouse in Barcelona, there is no need to waste hours each day commuting. You can also stay in destinations where you can do activities you are passionate about such as street photography in Melbourne, surfing in Hawaii or bird watching in Costa Rica.
5. Meet lifelong friends
There are many other digital nomads travelling the world and it’s likely you will meet some of them, perhaps at a hostel, on a day tour or even at a meetup event. Making friends from around the world or even from your own country is a fantastic way to expose yourself to new cultures and push yourself out of your comfort zone. If you hadn’t become a digital nomad, you probably would never have met those people or had those experiences.
How can I become a digital nomad?
There are usually two ways people become a digital nomad
Option 1: Work remotely for a company which allows you to travel.
Your current company might already allow you to work remotely and it might be possible to ask if you can spend a month in Okinawa for example while continuing to work remotely.
Nowadays, more and more companies are hiring employees to work remotely since it saves them paying rent for offices. You can check recruitment websites which advertise positions which allow remote working.
Option 2: Work for yourself.
You can become a freelancer or set up an online business like an ecommerce store and this will provide you with an income to support your travels. This option usually provides more freedom but can be very challenging since you are 100% responsible for your earnings.
We recommend working on becoming a freelancer or setting up your business alongside your current job for at least 6-12 months before you start travelling. This will mean you build a steady client base and reach a goal of making a certain amount of money per month which will be enough to fund your lifestyle once you start travelling.
Freelancing is a very common job for digital nomads, but before you decide to start freelancing you need to be realistic with yourself and answer the following questions.
- What am I good at doing?
- What do I like doing?
- Does anyone need my skills?
- Can I do this job online?
Once you know how you will be able to make money as a freelancer, you can join gig economy websites like upwork and fiverr which allow you to post a profile with the services you offer. You can then apply for jobs posted by clients.
You might feel like you don’t have any skills to offer, if that is the case, you could always do an online course to develop skills in an area you are interested in. For example, building websites, graphic design, illustration, video editing, teaching, proofreading, transcription, translation, basic accounting or customer service.
My story of becoming a digital nomad
When I decided to become a digital nomad, I started teaching Japanese to foreigners online since I speak native Japanese. I could also speak English which helped me secure beginner students. I was able to explain basic Japanese grammar in English even though I didn’t have any teaching qualifications or high-level teaching experience . I worked very hard to become a good online teacher and I have helped many students improve their Japanese over the past few years while making money at the same time.
Becoming a digital nomad is not easy and requires a lot of determination, motivation and effort, especially if you decide to work for yourself. It can be an extremely rewarding way of life but also very challenging at the same time. If you have a thirst for adventure and are willing to adapt, then this lifestyle could provide you with an exciting and fulfilling change. Since becoming a digital nomad in 2017, I have never once looked back!