For many individuals, being a digital nomad sounds too good to be true. But, with today’s available technologies being a nomad is the reality of many people and it could be your reality too. It’s not as simple as buying a plane ticket and jumping on board, but it can, nonetheless, be done with the right planning.
If you currently hold a work position that could easily be done without heading into the office, then you’ve got the first part covered. In order to be a digital nomad (or remote worker) you need to have a job that can be done anywhere, e.g. writing, coding, graphic design, editing, translation, marketing, SEO, social media, financing.
If you, on the other hand, have an operational job e.g. a chief engineer in a plant, then you might need a career switch in order to live the digital nomad lifestyle.
Steps to Become a Digital Nomad while Keeping Your Day Job
1. Get your boss on board
If your boss isn’t on board with you fulfilling your tasks remotely, then you won’t be able to become a digital nomad and keep your job. Luckily, there’s a lot of research out there that shows the benefits of flexible work policies, including allowing employees to work remotely.
You have to make a compelling case and you need to be able to clearly state how you and the company can benefit from such a change. You’ll need to talk about productivity, wellness, increased loyalty to the company, company culture, etc. In some cases, you might need to compromise (you can work remotely most of the time but have to come into the office for specific activities or meetings).
2. Get your documents in order
This means you have to make sure your passport is valid for at least another 6 months. Also, depending on where you’re planning to go, you might need to apply for a visa. Some countries recommend you get special vaccinations before visiting, so make sure you’re up to date with that. Make sure you pay all of your bills before you set out and that you have your online banking ready to go. Though you’ll be travelling, you will still have several financial responsibilities, especially if you keep your lease.
Pro tip: make sure all of your credit/debit cards are approved for international use and talk to your bank before you head out so that they know you’ll be travelling. Also, set up paperless statements and ask your employer to pay you through direct deposits.
3. Hire a virtual office
You will need a physical address where you can receive important mail: bills, employer records, banking information, etc. Though many digital nomads use their parents’ or a friend’s address, virtual offices tend to be a smarter choice because the handle and forward your mail nationally and internationally. Some virtual offices now use digital mail in order to send email snapshots of the mail you receive so that you can determine if you want them to toss, open, or forward your mail. Virtual offices also come in handy if you need a place where you can work a few days a week, or if you need the right tech infrastructure to participate in a virtual meeting.
4. Pick a destination and set a budget
When picking a destination, you need to make sure you’re going somewhere with reliable electricity and internet network. You should also set a budget to figure out where you can afford to travel, keep in mind that sometimes airfare for certain destinations is cheap but living there is costly and vice versa. Based on your budget, you also need to decide how long you will stay where (most digital nomads aim for at least one month in each destination so that they can truly get to know a place).
5. Get insurance
Get insured, not just health insurance, but travel insurance that covers missed flights, lost baggage, hospital visits, etc. You’ll want an insurance that will cover the most minor of health issues all the way to life-threatening emergencies. There are various travel insurance companies out there or you can revise and update your existing health insurance.
You’re ready to go!
A few final words
A lot of people have idealized the digital nomad lifestyle. Though you will be travelling, you will be working most of the time and it’s not all beaches and sunsets (quite the contrary, many people will tell you that working on the beach is no fun at all: sand gets in your keyboard, the sun makes it impossible to see your screen, and it’s so hot you can’t focus).
Here are some of the challenges many digital nomads have to overcome:
- Flight delays
- Lost or delayed baggage
- Figuring out time zones and dealing with jet lag
- Isolation and feelings of loneliness
- Work-life balance: many digital nomads end up working more than they did while going to the office.
- Missing out on important events from loved ones.
But don’t let this scare you from pursuing the digital nomad lifestyle. Try it out and see if it’s a fit for you or not. Worst case scenario you got to see a couple new places and meet new people.