Settling into a remote and nomad working lifestyle is something that many of us dream of. I’ve been a digital nomad for 3 years and Marielle started the journey shortly after. Hence, we want to break down what we have learned collectively on how to become a digital nomad in 2021 and the essential steps you need to know to make it through. Being location independent is a great feeling as you’re not tied to any place. However, the life of a digital nomad is not as easy as it looks. Despite the beautiful pictures and what seems like a dreamy lifestyle, we also have to work really hard.
With the global pandemic, maybe you’re here because you’re thinking of how to become a digital nomad. Perhaps it’s wanting a change of scenery given how far-off everything seems. Maybe you’re realizing how short life is and you want to make the most out of it when the world comes back after the pandemic. Or you’re currently working remotely with your company due to COVID and want to make it a permanent thing for the future.
Whatever it is, we’re here to give you some realities about how to become a digital nomad in 2021 and if it’s the right fit for you.
Defining Who Are Digital Nomads
Aren't Digital Nomads just remote workers?
The concept of a digital nomad is something that has been thrown around a lot in the last few years. But what does it even mean? Essentially, a digital nomad is a person who is location independent and can live anywhere while making an income. Digital nomads leverage technology (hence, the word digital) in order to live a more nomadic lifestyle, whether that’s travelling around the world, living life on the road in a campervan, or simply, escaping the 9 to 5 to live a freer way of life.
Digital nomads work a variety of jobs from freelancing as tech developers, website designers, copywriters, community managers, customer service representatives, content creators and so on. They can also be business owners or employees of a company with an agreement to work remotely.
In essence, yes, we are just remote workers but the main difference is: we’re all about living a more mobile and location-independent lifestyle. It’s more than just working remotely, it’s a way of life where travel is a long-term commitment rather than travel is just another vacation.
If the meaning of that just got you excited, then you’re probably wondering how to become a digital nomad? Well, keep on reading!
How to Become a Digital Nomad: Uncover Your Niche
Evaluate your skills and focus on developing it
To kick-start your journey on how to become a digital nomad, you need to evaluate what your strengths are. Perhaps you’re good at writing? Or designing a website? Or maybe you had a knack for growing and managing a community? Or you can speak multiple languages? Whatever it is, embrace it. Whether you’re an expert at it or not at this very moment, it doesn’t matter. Because these are things that you can continue to develop. Think of it as your unique selling proposition.
What’s important is focusing on something you’re good at and continually working on that. It’s okay to start small because as you get better and better in your niche, you increase your chances of landing higher paying jobs, attaining bigger clients or getting more customers.
Our tip: If you want to continually develop your skills in something that you’re already good at, we recommend taking online courses. There are a variety of great websites you can use such as Udemy or Coursera,
Find Work You Enjoy and Can Grow Skills From
Are you passionate at what you do and growing from it?
Once you’ve found your niche, you can leverage it in either starting your own business or finding remote work. One thing we must emphasize though is to ask yourself if you’re passionate at the work you’ve found?
The worst thing you could do to yourself is identify your strengths and channel that into a job or business that you have no passion for. If you have no satisfaction for the work that you do, you’ll only get burnout from it in the long-run.
It’s also important to ask yourself if you can actually grow from this job. Are you gaining real skills that you can utilise to your advantage?
At the end of the day, you don’t want to be doing a job just for the sake of having a job or starting a business just for the sake of owning one. It takes you nowhere in either success or passion. Being a digital nomad is not always a safe career so we recommend that you get involved with work that you can actually leverage for the future. So that when unexpected things happen, you can easily find something else based on the skills and experience you’ve gained.
Our tip: Make sure that you secure your job or income from your business BEFORE you embark on your digital nomad journey. There’s a common misconception that you’ll earn it once you’re already travelling. We’re not saying that you can’t but we recommend you should at least have it settled before you go. We also recommend that you be prepared with the necessary items to work better on the go during your digital nomad journey. You can read more about that in our article below.
Financially Plan and Be Lucrative
Don't live your life pay check to pay check
We understand the freedom is tempting and being location independent is the ultimate dream. It’s so easy to blow all the money you earn being a digital nomad. But we totally recommend against that.
For us, we like to keep our travels lucrative and on a budget. We do this through a variety of methods – finding flight deals, not always eating out, pregame drinks at our accommodation, taking advantage of promotions, renting for longer periods of time, choosing destinations with a lower cost of living, planning itineraries in advance to avoid surprises, recycling old materials for our van, among many other tactics.
Basically, our point is plan your finances well. We do things on a budget, not because we’re cheap but because we want to save more than spend more. By financially planning, we’ve been able to keep a healthy savings account for our future and in case of any unexpected situations. Because as we mentioned, the reality is that by becoming a digital nomad, you have to be prepared to have varying incomes month per month.
Our tip: To track our daily expenses as well as expenses we split during travels, we use this wonderful app called Splitwise. You can categorize all your costs in different bundles from accommodation, groceries, leisure, dining out and so much more. We’ve been using Splitwise for more than a year and it’s been so handy.
Be Realistic By Setting Future Goals
Goals can help provide you with better direction
We’re big believers of setting goals for ourselves. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but we like having them because they give us better direction for the future. Yes, we live in the moment and as digital nomads, we love it. But we also have to be realistic. We can’t live with no cares forever. Having an overarching goal that we reach for while also living a more carefree lifestyle sets that safety net for what our future plans can be. As with anything, it’s all about finding the balance between the future while also enjoying the benefits of living in the present.
Our Final Thoughts
So there you have it! We hope this helps you take the more mindful journey on how to become a digital nomad. We find that the beauty of this journey is that you’re taking control of your life and the way you want to live it. The way you organize your time and freedom does not have to fit any mold.
It’s a better quality of life that we definitely promote. It encourages you to see the world for what it is and uncover the different ways of life in a variety of countries. You get to discover different cultures but still make a living for yourself. Becoming a digital nomad is truly the best of all worlds. We hope this has provided you with inspiration on the essential steps you need to know on how to become a digital nomad. If you have any questions for us, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below!