So this one’s a bit different…
After dozens of guidebooks (and others I could still write), I’ve been seeing a lot of questions related to the digital nomad lifestyle. We’re several years into being digital nomads, and that’s after five years of teaching English in South Korea. I began answering questions where I could — Facebook groups, the Digital Nomads subreddit, and via e-mail. A lot of questions fit in a few fairly neat categories, with several questions being most frequently asked.
OK, what exactly is a digital nomad?
a digital nomad is a person who lives nomadically (or travels at will) and works digitally while traveling. There are two thoughts at play here. A digital nomad lives nomadically — traveling as they like, where they like, for as long as the place interests them. Some nomads will choose to travel for a part of the year, then use an apartment or house as a base for the rest of the year.
Can I become a digital nomad even if I can’t code?
Absolutely. The stereotype that digital nomads work from laptop on beaches is just as wrong as the notion that all nomads are computer geniuses that write code in their sleep.
Aren’t I too old to be a nomad?
Can you still move? Get to the airport / train station / bus station? In short, nope. You might have to adjust how and where you travel, naturally, and you may or may not be as into climbing mountains or skydiving. That’s fine. I’ve heard of nomads in the 60’s, and met some expat teachers in South Korea that were easily that old.
Is the nomad lifestyle just for Americans?
Egad, no — in fact, I’ve taken great pains to include people from around the world in the book. While several nationalities are mentioned, most anyone can become a digital nomad.
I thought having a family would make the nomad lifestyle impossible…?
It doesn’t – at any given time there are plenty of nomads with families out there — multiple children, young children, married with children, single with a child, you name it. Arguably, there’s more to think about and an couple of extra balls to juggle, but it’s a choice that plenty of families are making right now.
How do I make money as a digital nomad?
I dedicate an entire step to this in the book — there’s well over 80 main categories listed that nomads have or are currently making money. They’re sorted into the following categories:
- Sales and marketing
- Teaching jobs
- I’m a people person!
- Technical jobs
- Artsy jobs for the creative types
- Pound the keyboard jobs
- Money and legal jobs
- Help people travel better
- Offline service jobs
There’s also a section on volunteering, which can offer you room and board in exchange for your work. As I’ve learned from some nomads, one can volunteer part-time and leave you enough time to work with clients or make money online in plenty of ways.
Can I move to just anywhere I want?
Sadly, no. From visa restrictions to the reality that some countries are very expensive, there are definitely places that are harder to make it work as a nomad. The good news: there are plenty of digital nomad ‘hubs’ (nine of which are listed in the book) and plenty of advice on how to identify worthy places to go.
How do I get started in the lifestyle?
Hold your horses there. Sure, you could just buy a one-way ticket to Thailand and aim to figure it out as you go. Plenty of nomads have learned to make it work, but naturally they’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way.
Becoming a Digital Nomad offers a step-by-step process to test and transition into the digital nomad lifestyle. It’s one part how-to guide, one part self-help, and one part travel guide with seven steps:
- Step 1: know yourself and what you want focuses on you, good reader. We have some work on do on understanding you, the person you see in the mirror.
- Step 2: clarify your desires and acknowledge limitations does two important things in gearing you up for your journey.
- Nomadus interruptus: just a test, please is an interim chapter dedicated to setting up a good test of the digital nomad lifestyle.
- Step 3: making money puts together a list of the many ways digital nomads can make money along with some notes on how to manage your money across borders
- Step 4: get affairs in order focuses on what needs to be done before leaving your country.
- Step 5: gear up and slim down focuses on what to pack and how to deal with the rest of your stuff, depending on your choices from earlier steps.
- Step 6: the big move and settling in counts you down from your last few days at your old place to your first few days at your new place.
- Step 7: start enjoying your new life helps establish new habits, make new connections, and helps to make the lifestyle a sustainable one.
Is it worth it?
Yes, absolutely. Whether you’ve followed my step-by-step program to learn more about yourself and what you want out of life, and even if you just did a test of the lifestyle, you took control. Grabbing the wheel and taking things off of cruise control means getting ready for something bigger and better, be it your own business, going for a new job, a new lifestyle, etc. etc.
Available March 22nd.
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Also published on Medium.