The digital nomad lifestyle has become increasingly popular in recent years.
do you know why? Following the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more work can be done remotely.
Did you know there are 35 million digital nomads worldwide? The best part? Most nomads earn an average of $50,000 to over $200,000+ per year.
If you’re looking for a career that lets you work remotely and travel around the world, become a digital nomad. In this free beginners guide, you’ll find everything you need to start your nomadic journey, including;
- What is a digital nomad
- Expert tips on becoming a nomad
- Best places for nomads to stay, and much more
Are you ready? Let’s jump into the details.
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is a person who works remotely and travels to different locations while working. They mostly use their laptops or smartphones to work remotely from anywhere in the world. A digital nomad can be anyone, such as;
- Remote workers
- Self-employed people
More than half of digital nomads worldwide are from the United States, and the average age of most nomads is 32 years old.
About 70% of nomads work 40 or fewer hours per week, which is about 5 hours per day.
That’s why the nomadic lifestyle is becoming so popular these days, because you can work less and make more money while traveling around the world.
How To Be a Digital Nomad And Work Anywhere [10 Steps]
Step 1: Identify your skills
The first step to becoming a nomad is to do your research and decide what type of work you want to do. This is extremely important.
If you’re already making money, you already know what you’re good at. If not, you need to recognize your skills.
- Are you good at writing? If yes, you can offer writing or proofreading services.
- Are you good at design? If so, you can try offering web design services.
- Do you have any expertise in SEO? Many businesses need high-quality SEO freelancers for keyword research, site audits, PPC ads, link building, etc.
Here are a few high-demand skills, especially for nomads;
- Graphic design
- Teaching English
- Web design
Take your time to identify a skill that’s ALWAYS in demand and can help you make money remotely.
Step 2: Create a Portfolio
Once you’ve identified your skills, you should start building a portfolio soon.
Creating a portfolio means creating a website showcasing samples of your work, client testimonials, etc. It’s a must-have for every nomad who wants to find remote work.
Here are some quick tips for building a strong portfolio as a nomad.
- Make sure to create a visually appealing portfolio website that is easy to navigate. Hundreds of portfolio templates are available if you’re using the WordPress platform.
- Choose high-quality work samples to showcase. Whether you’re a graphic designer or content writer – try to show your BEST work to attract high-paying clients.
- Write compelling descriptions of your work samples, skills, and experience. You can analyze other freelancer portfolio websites to get inspiration.
- Include testimonials from past clients or employers. It works as a social proof, which helps you attract potential clients.
- Make it easy to contact you, so make sure to include your contact information, such as email address (or phone number).
Once you’ve created your portfolio, be sure to promote it.
You can use social media sites, optimize your website for related keywords, and make connections on LinkedIn groups.
You can also include a link to your portfolio website in various places like your social media profiles, resume, email signature, etc.
Step 3: Start Making Money
If you’re already making money remotely, that’s fantastic. And… you are ready to start your nomadic journey whenever you want.
If not, there are many ways to make money online as a digital nomad.
If you’re just starting out, we recommend the following two options;
We recommend that you start your own blog, even if you are earning remotely from your job.
A blog offers a lot of benefits, like;
- The ability to earn money
- You can use it as a portfolio site to attract clients
- Connect with other nomads
- Build your online reputation and more
Step 4: Network with other digital nomads
If there’s one thing you need to learn and master, it’s this: networking with other nomads.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you should find online communities to interact with other nomads.
Luckily, there are plenty of online and offline communities where nomads can connect and share information. As a nomad, you can use these communities to get recommendations for destinations, accommodations, and activities.
You can also get real advice from people who have already traveled to (or are still living in) the place you want to visit.
Here are a few amazing online communities for digital nomads;
Step 5: Build an emergency fund
It’s a good idea to build a 6 to 8 month emergency fund, especially if you’ve decided to become a nomad.
Why is an emergency fund important for nomads?
As a digital nomad, you’ll be more likely to encounter unexpected expenses, such as:
- Travel delays or cancellations
- Medical emergencies
- As a nomad, you’ll NEVER have a stable income
- Theft or damage to your belongings such as laptops, smartphones, and the list goes on
Here are some QUICK tips for building an emergency fund in 2024.
- Set a savings goal: Firstly, find out how much money you need to save to cover 6 to 8 months of your living expenses. Be realistic while setting this goal.
- Create a budget: You need to create a budget and track your spending if you’re NOT doing it yet. Why? It will help you identify areas where you can cut back unwanted expenditures and save more money.
- Make small sacrifices: No matter how much you spend, you can always cut back on unnecessary expenses, such as eating out, removing premium subscriptions like Netflix, etc.
- Sell your stuff: As a nomad, you’ll mostly leave your existing stuff such as bikes, cars, TV, etc. Consider selling such stuff to build your emergency fund faster.
Remember, an emergency fund can give you peace of mind, especially when you’re traveling as a nomad to other countries.
Step 6: Learn to be frugal
Want to become a successful digital nomad? Then, learn and adopt a frugal lifestyle.
Digital nomads are often frugal and budget conscious. They keep careful track of all their expenses and save money wherever possible.
A frugal lifestyle helps simplify your life. Remember, you will leave 99% of your luggage behind (when traveling as a nomad).
That’s why it’s important to spend less, simplify your life, and become a minimalist. If you’re struggling to save money and live a frugal life as a nomad, here are some tips for you.
- Cancel all your current OTT subscriptions, including Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, etc. When you’re traveling around the world, paying for an OTT subscription is worthless.
- Choose a budget-friendly location to travel, especially when you’re starting out. You can visit many places, like Thailand, India, Bali, etc., where the cost of living is less than $2000 a month!
- Stay longer in a place (or country) to save more on transportation expenses such as flights. This is the reason why most nomads stay at least 6 to 8 months (on average) in one place.
- Get a travel credit card, as you’ll earn rewards or cashback points on purchases such as personal expenses, flight charges, etc.
Step 7: Set up your remote work environment
One of the biggest challenges of becoming a digital nomad is this: staying productive while working.
There will be a lot of distractions, especially when you are traveling to different places for work.
So you need to create a remote work environment where you can work without distractions. Here are some things you should consider;
- Equipment: You need proper equipment as a nomad to work productively. So make sure to get the BEST gear, such as an Apple laptop, smartphone, etc.
- Workspace: No matter where you plan to travel, find a productive workplace. It could be anywhere, including your hotel room lobby, a co-working space, or even a coffee shop. Just make sure to choose a location without any Wi-Fi issues.
- Routine: If you already have a work routine, you can stick to that. If not, you should create a work routine, as it will help you stay focused, even when you are traveling.
- Use cloud storage: As a nomad, you need to invest in cloud storage platforms like Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, etc. Why? Your laptop’s or smartphone’s storage can become full while traveling. Cloud storage will solve that issue and allow you to access your files from anywhere in the world.
Above all, take breaks throughout the day, even when you are working remotely. The whole point of becoming a nomad is to enjoy your work-life balance. So, get up and move around!
Step 8: Start planning your travels
Have you ever wondered how nomads plan their trips?
Planning your next trip as a nomad is a tough task. If you want to become a nomad, there are a few things you should know to plan your digital nomad itinerary perfectly.
Here are some of the most effective tips for planning your trip.
- Set a budget and timeline. Before planning for any trip, you should be mindful of the budget you want to spend. How much duration do you want to stay in a place? What activities do you want to do? Plan all those things and set aside enough budget.
- Choose destinations based on your interests. What do you like most? Beaches, village life, or mountains? Nomads often consider factors such as the cost of living, climate, access to reliable Wi-Fi, etc, when choosing destinations.
- Research accommodations and transportation. Nomads typically book their accommodations in advance, especially if they are traveling during peak season.
Last but not least, be flexible and adaptable. You’ll never know what problems you will face (such as visa issues). So, always have backup travel plans in mind.
Step 9: A few must-have tools for nomads
A nomadic lifestyle seems daunting at first. With access to the right tools, your life becomes much easier.
Here are a few must-have tools for digital nomads in 2024.
A laptop: A proper laptop with a 10+ hour battery is a MUST. Go for a Macbook Air (or Pro), as Macbooks are known for all-day battery life.
Portable SSD: As a nomad, you’ll be taking many pictures and videos of your travel life. Also, you may need lots of storage space to store your work files. That’s why it’s essential to buy a portable SSD. You can try something like the Samsung T7 (2 TB or above), as it’s indestructive, lightweight, and affordable.
Productivity tools: Staying productive is the key to getting things done more as a nomad. You can use productivity tools like Trello, Asana, and Todoist to plan your work ahead.
Virtual Private Network (VPN): Invest in a premium VPN as it encrypts your internet connection, making it more secure and private. VPN is a must for nomads as you’ll use public Wi-Fi often when you go out.
Step 10: Collect all your documents
As a digital nomad, you’ll need to always carry a few essential documents with you.
Make sure to store them somewhere safe, including cloud storage platforms like Dropbox, Google Cloud, etc.
Here are a few essential documents you’ll need to carry as a digital nomad;
- Ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your planned return date and has at least two blank pages for visa stamps.
- Visas and travel permits for each country you plan to visit
- If you plan on driving in your new country, you will need to get an international driver’s permit.
- Some countries may require digital nomads to provide proof of income in order to obtain a visa, so carry income proof.
- Travel insurance is a MUST for digital nomads, as it will protect you in case of lost luggage, theft, medical emergencies, etc
Pros and Cons of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
- The nomad lifestyle is an excellent way to travel around the world while making money
- You can work from anywhere, including beaches, coffee shops, co-working spaces, or public libraries
- You’ll have much more flexibility in your work schedule, which can ultimately help you with a better work-life balance.
- As a digital nomad, you can find many jobs, including web developer, software engineer, content writer, graphic designer, social media manager, virtual assistant, online teacher, photographer, travel blogger, and YouTuber.
- You’ll learn and appreciate “minimalism.” As a nomad, you’ll need very few things to survive and move around the world.
- You’ll live within a budget as most digital nomads choose to live in countries with a lower cost of living, which can allow them to save money and live a more comfortable lifestyle.
- It will help you with personal growth as you discover new cultures and meet new people. As you roam around the world, you’ll feel more energetic.
- There is a large and growing community of digital nomads from all over the world. So, if you’re looking for a career option to meet new people, make friends, and build a network, the nomad lifestyle is perfect.
- Dealing with time zone differences as you might travel to a country with a completely different time zone
- Managing your finances
- Difficulty navigating your visas as visa terms vary from country to country
- Staying productive as you’ll be traveling and having fun a lot in new places
- Dealing with the loneliness as you’ll be staying away from home, family and friends
10 BEST Countries for Digital Nomads (Most Affordable)
There are a TON of countries that are safe and friendly to digital nomads.
Top 10 Affordable Destinations for Digital Nomads
Here are ten fantastic options if you’re looking for budget-friendly destinations for your digital nomad journey:
- Pros: Affordable living, friendly people, delicious food, famous digital nomad hub “Chiang Mai”
- Cons: Tourist-heavy in certain areas, hot and humid weather
2. Bali, Indonesia:
- Pros: Beautiful beaches, iconic surf spots, yoga retreats, digital nomad community
- Cons: Tourist-heavy in certain areas, visa requirements for long-term stays can be complex
- Pros: Low cost of living, thriving digital nomad communities, stunning scenery
- Cons: Language barrier for non-Portuguese speakers, limited job opportunities compared to some other destinations
- Pros: Safe and welcoming environment, affordable cost of living, beautiful tourist destinations
- Cons: Tourist-heavy in popular areas, slower pace of life may not suit everyone
- Pros: Delicious cuisine, rich culture, bustling cities, dazzling beaches
- Cons: Safety concerns in some areas, language barrier for non-Spanish speakers
- Pros: Friendly people, beautiful beaches, affordable living, growing digital nomad scene
- Cons: Safety concerns in some areas, limited infrastructure in certain regions
- Pros: Affordable cost of living, stunning mountains, European architecture, friendly people
- Cons: Limited job opportunities, language barrier for non-Georgian speakers
- Pros: Affordable cost of living, charming villages, beautiful coastline, close proximity to other European countries
- Cons: Tourist-heavy in peak season, limited job opportunities outside major cities
- Pros: Budget-friendly travel, beautiful beaches, ancient towns, UNESCO heritage sites, diverse culinary scene
- Cons: Tourist-heavy in certain areas, limited infrastructure in some regions
- Pros: Value for money, rich cultural heritage, diverse cuisine, affordable living costs
- Cons: Limited job opportunities in some sectors, hot and humid weather
Remember: This list is a starting point, and your ideal destination will depend on your individual preferences and priorities. Research each location carefully to ensure it aligns with your lifestyle, budget, and work requirements.
FAQs on Becoming a Digital Nomad
Here are some frequently asked questions about how to become a digital nomad:
1. How much do digital nomads make?
The income of digital nomads varies greatly depending on their skills, experience, and work style. On average, full-time nomads can earn anywhere between $5,000 to $15,000+ per month. However, some highly skilled individuals and successful entrepreneurs can earn significantly more.
2. Is 30 too old to be a digital nomad?
Absolutely not! 30 is a fantastic age to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle. In fact, the average age of most digital nomads worldwide is 32. Many people find that their thirties offer a unique opportunity to pursue their passions and travel the world while leveraging the skills and experience they’ve accumulated.
3. How do I find remote work?
Several options exist for finding remote work as a digital nomad:
- Freelance platforms: Upwork, Fiverr, and Guru are popular platforms for finding freelance gigs in various fields.
- Remote-first companies: Many companies now offer remote positions, allowing you to work from anywhere in the world. Check websites like Remote.co, FlexJobs, and We Work Remotely for opportunities.
- Start your own business: If you have entrepreneurial aspirations, consider starting your own digital business. This option offers the most flexibility and control over your income but also requires significant effort and dedication.
4. How much money do I need to be a digital nomad?
The financial requirements for being a digital nomad depend on your lifestyle and travel destinations. It’s advisable to create a realistic budget and consider factors like:
- Accommodation costs: Research average housing prices in the locations you plan to visit.
- Food and transportation expenses: Determine your average daily spending on meals and local travel.
- Health insurance: Ensure you have adequate health insurance coverage while traveling.
- Visa and entry fees: Research visa requirements and associated costs for each country you visit.
Experts recommend having an emergency fund of at least 3-6 months of living expenses before embarking on your digital nomad journey. This provides a financial safety net in case of unexpected situations.
5. What are the challenges of being a digital nomad?
While the digital nomad lifestyle offers many benefits, it also presents some challenges:
- Finding reliable Wi-Fi: Access to stable and fast internet is crucial for digital nomads. Research local internet infrastructure in your chosen destinations.
- Staying productive: Working remotely requires self-discipline and organization to maintain productivity amidst travel and distractions.
- Staying connected: Maintaining meaningful relationships with friends and family can be challenging while constantly on the move. Utilize technology and prioritize face-to-face interactions during visits.
- Loneliness: Adapting to new environments and cultures can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation. Actively seek out social connections through online communities, local events, and co-working spaces.
Remember, the digital nomad life is a journey with both rewards and challenges. By researching thoroughly, planning effectively, and fostering resilience, you can successfully navigate these obstacles and embrace the incredible opportunities this lifestyle offers.
Final Thoughts on How to Become a Nomad in 2024
The digital nomad lifestyle is an excellent career option if you are looking for an adventurous work-life balance.
There are many benefits to the nomadic lifestyle, like the freedom to work from anywhere, explore new cultures, and enjoy your travels to the fullest.
Additionally, there are some challenges, as it can be difficult to be productive while traveling to different places in the world. What are your thoughts on becoming a digital nomad? have any questions? Tell us in the comments.