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Digital Nomads: What They Are and How to Be One

In this day and age, many different types of work can be done without ever stepping foot in an office. In fact, all you need is a computer, an internet connection, and the ability to self-manage. Then you can really work from anywhere to perform most internet-based work.

Sound appealing? You might be interested in the digital nomad lifestyle—one in which an individual works remotely while traveling around the world. If you’re considering it, you’re probably wondering how it’s even possible to make it happen. Sound familiar? We have you covered—start here:

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Determine how you’ll make money

If you’re already working in a remote position right now, you’re pretty much set with this part. But if not, you may have some thinking to do. If your job is digitally-based, you’ll need to think about how you can effectively do your work remotely, and present a compelling argument to your boss about why it’s a good idea. Sometimes, this requires a shift in pay or benefits, but not always. If your job might be a little tricky or even impossible to do while traveling, think about other types of work you could take on. Are you a good writer? Big on social media? A great researcher? Or maybe you have excellent data analysis skills? As long as you can do the work on a computer, you can find a way to make it work. These days, websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer will hook you up with projects, or you can put out the word to your own networks and see what’s out there.

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Decrease your overhead

Once you have your income source locked down, or at least have some ideas in mind, the next thing you’ll need to do to get on the digital nomad track is set yourself up with low overhead. By that, we mean eliminate all unnecessary expenses during your travel time, especially the ones you won’t need once setting off on your adventure. These expenses include gym memberships, app subscriptions you won’t be using, and, of course, rent payments. Make sure that, even if you’re only traveling for a few months, you sublet your apartment so someone is paying your rent and utilities while you’re away. This will give you so much more freedom and peace of mind when you’re traveling.

Also, travel insurance can help you save thousands if a travel or medical emergency come up during your trips. Instead of racking up unexepected costs because you broke your arm or had to decline a job offer because a loved-one died, travel insurance could cover the bill. Check out our blog post for more tips on how to avoid spending extra money when traveling the world for long periods of time.

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Prep (and maintain!) a budget

This one isn’t very fun, but it’s so important. Once you’ve decided how you’ll make money, you need to determine how much of it you’ll likely be able to make using your skillset. This will help you think through your plan, because where you’ll go will depend largely on how much money you’ll need to travel and live there. To create a real budget, you’ll need to factor in existing savings (and/or how much you’d like to save), debt, income, and your own lifestyle and needs. Once you have all of that information lined up and you know how much you have to spend, you can start thinking about which destinations will allow you to live how you want to while staying within your budget. Luckily, when it comes to travel destinations, it’s safe to say there are a lot of options available to you.

Oftentimes, when something unexpected or an emergency happens, budgets can go out the window. Our recommendation: purchase a comprehensive travel insurance plan before you depart. This way, if a flight delay, lost baggage, or illness occur, your travel insurance policy will reimburse you for expenses you didn’t plan for. Check out this article we wrote on what travel insurance does and doesn’t cover.

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Pro-tip: Once you have your budget in mind, we highly recommend downloading a budgeting app to maintain that budget while you’re traveling. It’ll really help keep you in line, as well as gauge how you might need to adjust your income or budget moving forward–if you repeatedly have trouble staying within it.

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Think about bartering

Though online work is often thought of as being the most sustainable way to work and travel at the same time, it’s not the only option. In fact, you can do a lot to supplement your lifestyle by going the old-school bartering route. Do you have a talent or craft that you could sell or trade for food or accommodations? Hit the streets and spread the word—even a few bucks here and there could make a difference. Another option to consider is participating in eco-tourism. You can find eco-resorts and farms all over the world who are looking for helping hands in exchange for accommodations, and sometimes even meals. It’s a much less expensive way to stay in an area for more than a couple of days!

Are you a digital nomad or do you know someone who is? We want to hear about it! Send us a message here if you’d like to share your story.

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