The life of a digital nomad is a dream for many and despite how prepared you might think you are, it presents a unique set of challenges. Nevertheless, here are five tips for digital nomads based on my personal experiences over the years.
1. Identify expat hubs.
Odds are you are interested in becoming a digital nomad because it gives you the option of moving around as you please. And while it is nice to hit all of the travel destinations and tourist sites, it's also good to be aware of expat hubs. These are perfect places to be based out of and travel from. Here are few to explore:
- Medellin - Friendly locals, great scenery, nice weather, low cost of living, reliable WiFi... there are plenty of good reasons to visit Medellin.
- Bali - It is highly developed, has great beaches, is a beautiful location, and is cost effective.
- Chang Mai - A lot of expats that go to Chang Mai end up staying for longer than they ever thought they would. It's laid-back, there's plenty to explore, and it's inexpensive to live there.
2. Find suitable accommodations and workspaces.
Your first inclination as a digital nomad might be to save on expenses and stay at hostels. Hostels can be alright, but they don't always make for conducive work environments, and could even prove stifling to your productivity.
When you need some alone time to focus on your work, or if you're a little burnt out from constantly moving around, renting with Airbnb is a solid option. When you're looking for a suitable place to stay, make sure you are aware of your own needs. If you enjoy a bit of privacy, it's best to search for "entire place" or "own room".
Another option is to spend your days in cafés or co-working spaces, especially if you enjoy the travel vibe or social aspect of staying at hostels. There are several apps out there that can help you find co-working spaces in your locality such as ShareDesk and LiquidSpace.
In some cases, you can ask to test out an office space for a day for free - it can't hurt to ask. Other than that, remember to look for a place that has the tools you need, has a culture that you can fit into, and has flexible lease terms.
3. Get a high quality backpack.
If you're a digital nomad, you're going to need a high-quality travel backpack. After all, you'll be carrying the majority of your possessions in a single pack - it needs to be durable, comfortable and long-lasting.
If you're wondering where to look, let me save you some time by pointing out some of the best brands: Osprey, Berghaus, The North Face and Arc'teryx are all worth investigating.
Don't forget - you're going to be living out of your backpack for a while. Don't be afraid of spending a little bit of money on it. These days, even quality backpacks don't necessarily cost a lot of money. Also, as a digital nomad you'll also be carry around a lot of expensive gear so make sure you are covered and read this guide to backpacker insurance for more information.
4. Manage your loneliness.
When you're constantly on the go, and working while traveling, you won't necessarily have as many opportunities to connect with people and make new friends. Sure, you will almost certainly meet some interesting people on your travels, but constantly putting yourself out there can be a little exhausting, and it isn't always an option when you're engaged in digital nomadism.
Don't forget to leverage your network while you're travelling. Post to Facebook or Twitter, and you might be surprised to find some friends or extended friends in some of the places you go to.
Additionally, don't underestimate the value of small talk. You never know when a quick chat could quickly turn into a long lasting friendship.
5. Take advantage of these resources.
If you're interested in learning more about digital nomadism, here are some additional resources for you to explore:
- Tropical MBA podcast: Dan and Ian share valuable tips on how to build your location-independent business. If you want to learn how to create a profitable business that frees you up to spend more time traveling, you should subscribe to this podcast.