How to Become a Digital Nomad: A Beginner’s Guide

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Becoming a digital nomad allows you to travel and work from anywhere. Digital nomads choose to do work from a laptop, which is location independent. The flexibility in this way of making money online can create the opportunity and excitement of traveling the world! This freedom means you can work in the morning and by the afternoon be relaxing on paradisiacal beaches, hiking in the jungle, or skiing down mountains!

The Digital Nomad lifestyle

A nomadic life of travel and work is possible for everyone. However, you will need to find a way to use your skills to earn money in order to support your new lifestyle financially. A digital nomad job is not only being an Instagram influencer or Website Developer. We’re going to expand your knowledge of what a digital nomad can be.

Besides transforming your job, preparing to do so is an important factor. And finally: believe in yourself, believe you are able to reach your goal of being nomadic.

Preparations – 5 Steps to take Now

It is a big, and sometimes, scary step to become a digital nomad. Preparing well helps you to better succeed in your goals, and avoid any unnecessary problems.

1. Start Saving

To begin your exciting digital nomad journey, you’ll need to start saving in order to travel. Not knowing where you’ll travel next is extremely exciting. However, it also means that sometimes it’s a good idea to have savings in case of unpredictable events. For example, you want to join your new-made friends on an incredible trip but it’s a bit out of your budget.

Tips to reduce spending:

It’s an amazing feeling to travel with money in your pockets and no responsibilities at home! The first fairly easy step to do this is to reduce spending. For instance:

  • Instead of eating out, cook at home. This can be much healthier, inspires creativity, and is loads cheaper!
  • Sell some of your unwanted things. If you’re traveling long-term, you might be able to sell your furniture, unwanted clothing, or maybe even your car.
  • Instead of buying new, buy second hand. This is normally cheaper and a great way to be more sustainable. 
  • Cancel any unnecessary memberships or bills. For example your mobile phone contract or subscriptions to apps. This is an easy way to reduce outgoings.
Save on rent

The beauty of not having a set base as a digital nomad is that you’ll save money on your rent, mortgage, and house bills. However, it’s good to keep in mind that what you’ll save in rent you may spend on accommodation traveling. Despite this, depending on where you are going, your costs could be greatly reduced!

Renting out your apartment is another good method to earn money. But you need to check if you are allowed to do so.

2. Pick a destination to live & work from as digital nomad
Nomadic Lifestyle - Pick a destination to live & work from as digital nomad - Vagabond Joe

One of the most exciting parts of becoming a digital nomad is choosing your first destination to work from. Have a look at ‘Nomad List’, which gives you a useful rating and filters reviewed by other digital nomads. By doing this, you are sure to meet other digital nomads.

Finding your digital nomad accommodation.

Websites such as Trivago and Hostelworld have great deals when booking for a monthly period. Another great option is free accommodation by house-sitting through TrustedHousesitters.

Did you know? Budapest is one of the top cities in the world for digital nomads!

Co-Working & Living Spaces.

Because of the ever-growing popularity of the digital nomad lifestyle, co-living spaces are now available worldwide. This is an easy way to become part of the digital nomad community in your area, as well as living in a shared space with new people!

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3. Important documents

As a digital nomad, you are location independent, however, you always need the necessary documents and accounts to travel and do business.

  • Nomad insurance – The most important thing is to always get good insurance, so you are covered in case of damage, loss, or theft.
  • Passport – One that doesn’t expire soon and a lot of empty pages to fill! 🙂
  • Credit card – To confirm hotels, flights, and pay bigger expenses. Some companies will not accept your national bank.
  • Banking solutions – Wise (formerly Transferwise) is an incredible solution to get payed, pay anywhere, and move money around in different currencies with the lowest rate. It is a must-have when doing business abroad.
  • International Driver’s license – This allows you to drive a car or motorbike in most countries. You need to get this license in your country.
  • Visa – Get the necessary visa for the length of your stay.
4. Travel Equipment

Equipment is a pricey investment but is so worth it. These items will help you live your life as a digital nomad.

Laptop or Tablet.

As a digital nomad, a laptop or tablet will most-likely become your most valued and used piece of equipment. In order to keep your devices, and other equipment, safe while traveling it is best to do/buy these things:

  • Laptop backpack – Ideally, with lots of padding for protection and rain-proof. Douchebags are a good option and they look great too! (Shop them here)
  • Screen protector/laptop cover – (Shop here).
  • Back up data – It will minimize the risk of you losing important work. Backup on an external SSD hard drive which is shockproof or backup your data online. (Get it here)
  • Password protect your computer – This protects all your data, in case you lose your laptop or it gets stolen.
  • Keep your laptop close – Carry your laptop in your hand luggage, so the risk of it being stolen or broken is minimal.
Universal adapters.

This is an adapter that works in most countries in the world. It’s an absolute must-have, and it will save you from having problems charging your devices, for example, during a layover. (Get a travel adapter here)

Wifi everywhere.

If a constant good internet connection is a requirement for you throughout the day, then investing in a Wifi hotspot is a smart move. Cafes do not always offer great consistent wifi, and it’s especially helpful if you’re traveling to a remote location.

Mobile hotspot.

Get a local sim card and use your phone as wifi hotspot. Unfortunately, it will drain your phone’s battery, and sometimes providers don’t allow a hotspot.

Stand + Mouse + Keyboard.

Bad posture while working affects your energy and eventually can cause physical issues. There are many good articles about an ergonomic workspace but an easy first step is to carry a foldable stand, mouse, and keyboard with you. (The Nexstand is a must-have)

Earplugs / Headphones.

Block out any distracting noise you might have in a cafe, or when traveling on public transport by getting some noise-canceling headphones.

5. Join a Digital Nomad Community

The digital nomad lifestyle can be isolating, especially if you are journeying solo. To avoid this, join a Facebook digital nomad/ex-pat community in your new area. Within these groups, there is the opportunity to meet like-minded people and find answers to FAQs. For example: How do I get a visa? Where are the best cafes to work from? This is a really helpful way to get to know your new area and can open up exciting opportunities to meet new people.

Tip: Traveling in a country that doesn’t speak your native language? Use language exchanges as an opportunity to learn a new language and meet local people. This is an exciting way to learn a new skill, make new friends, and get some insider tips on the area!

How to earn money as a digital nomad

Digital nomads typically earn their money in one of these three forms: Working remotely for a company, being a freelancer like a writer or designer, or as a digital business owner. (Entrepreneur)

Digital Nomad jobs you can do.

It’s commonly mistaken that digital nomad jobs are only graphic designers or app developers. There are numerous ways to transform your skills or passions into work that you can practice online. Whether it’s remote work or starting your own business from scratch – believe in it!

How much does a digital nomad earn?

There is no set number that a digital nomad earns. Depending on skills and the demand for it, the income varies. It depends on what job he or she does and the amount of money they need to live their lifestyle.

It’s good to remember that digital nomads are not one kind of person. You will meet people who want to make a lot of money whereas others simply want to live freely and get the minimum income needed.

Cost of Living as a Digital Nomad.

The cost of living can be important when choosing a location, especially if you want to travel as much as possible and get the most out of your savings. For example, by living in Thailand or Budapest your rent will be exceptionally cheap. However, if you choose a city in Spain, your rent may be higher but your food costs will be very low.

Tips to save on expenses.

Be a smart digital nomad by saving easily on expenses so you have extra cash for those once-in-a-lifetime trips.

Find the cheapest flight possible.

The price of a flight ticket is a large cut in your budget. There are numerous tricks to save on tickets, but the easiest one is searching for flights through Jetradar.

Digital Nomad Banking.

Traditional banking is not convenient if you’re going to be handling several currencies. They charge high fees for receiving money in different currencies and withdrawing money in other countries. But there’s an incredible solution named Wise Borderless.

Wise (formerly Transferwise) waives fees by allowing you to set up a local bank account, for example in Australia, without needing a local address. You can receive Australian Dollars without fees and convert them into US Dollars at the live exchange rate that Google displays.

Food & Beverages.

Eat as the locals do and save an enormous amount on your budget! The costs of food and beverages quickly rise when eating out every single meal. Visit markets, get to know the local dishes, and research by asking locals.

Work at cafes.

Co-working spaces generally charge a fixed price per week or month. They aren’t the cheapest option, so if you’re not after the amenities of a co-working space, then decide to work at cafes instead. Check with the cafe staff if it’s okay with them if you work there for a few hours.

Save on accommodation.

Another great way to keep costs low is by looking for discounted, or even free, accommodation.

House-sitting.

House-sitting and pet sitting through TrustedHousesitters have become popular ways for digital nomads to find free accommodation. These can be tasks like looking after someone’s pet or watering someone’s plants while they are away. Imagine living in a beautiful beach house with an adorable furry friend for company, free of charge!

Long term rental.

Renting an apartment via Airbnb is a great choice to have your own private space. Typically if you stay at least one month, the cost of rent is much lower than a co-living.

Exchanging homes.

A house swap is also another great way of changing your location for a period of time. There are numerous house swap websites offering short, or long term swaps.

Be a digital nomad legally

Working as a digital nomad may mean working remotely for a company or being self-employed/freelance. Either way, it’s good to work out what the legalities are. For example, which country are you spending the most time in? This might affect where you pay your taxes. You will also need to apply for a visa in the various countries that you visit. Make sure to check whether you need a tourist visa or work visa depending on your situation. Last but not least, always make sure to have insurance!

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The Benefits of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

The positives of being a digital nomad are endless:

Travel.

Travel as much or as little as you’d like, while still earning money. This can help you to get to know new cultures or even learn a new language!

Freedom.

Not being tied to a specific place, or office creates the freedom to choose from any number of incredible locations. The blissful beaches of Bali this week? The heavenly islands of Thailand next? It’s all possible!

Flexibility.

As a digital nomad, you’ll normally have flexible work hours and flexible choice of holidays. Because of this, if you can combine travel with a job you love, life can feel like one big holiday! After all- ‘choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’.

Inspiration.

By changing your scenery, your perspective will grow, which keeps things fresh and exciting. This, in turn, will inspire your work and allow you to be more creative.

Health.

All the benefits of working as a digital nomad, result in far less stress. This massively improves mental health, and physical health, which means you will be happier and healthier overall. Plus if you’re living that glorious tropical lifestyle, get ready for more vitamin D from the wonderful sun, and loads of vitamins from all the delicious local fruits!

Meet new people.

Traveling is the best way to meet new people from all over the world! Additionally, people are realizing the benefits of working remotely, which means there are now digital nomad communities all over the world. Becoming a part of one of these friendly communities is a great way to form bonds with like-minded people!

DISCLOSURE: Support Vagabond Joe – Some of our articles may contain affiliate links or sponsorship’s. When you click on a link we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). For more info please read my policy page. Thank You. 

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