The digital nomad lifestyle has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Do you know why? After the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more jobs can be done remotely.
Did you know there are 35 million digital nomads around the world? The best part? The majority of the nomads generate over $50,000 to $200,000+ on average a year.
If you’re looking for a career that lets you combine remote work and travel around the world, become a digital nomad. In this free beginner’s guide, you’ll discover 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.
Table of Contents
- What is a digital nomad?
- How To Be a Digital Nomad And Work Anywhere [10 Steps]
- Step 1: Identify your skills
- Step 2: Create a Portfolio
- Step 3: Start Making Money
- Step 4: Network with other digital nomads
- Step 5: Build an emergency fund
- Step 6: Learn to be frugal
- Step 7: Set up your remote work environment
- Step 8: Start planning your travels
- Step 9: A few must-have tools for nomads
- Step 10: Collect all your documents
- Pros and Cons of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
- 10 BEST Countries for Digital Nomads (Most Affordable)
- FAQs on becoming a digital nomad
- Final thoughts on how to be a nomad in 2024
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is someone 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. Digital nomads can be anyone, such as;
- Remote workers
- Self-employed people
Over half of digital nomads worldwide are from the United States, and most nomads’ average age is 32 years.
Nearly 70% of nomads work 40 or fewer hours every week, which is around 5 hours a day.
That’s why the nomadic lifestyle is becoming so popular these days, as you can work less and make 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 kind 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 must identify 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 creating a portfolio soon.
Building a portfolio means creating a website showcasing your work samples, client testimonials, etc. It is essential 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 have built your portfolio, make sure to promote it.
You can use social media sites, optimize your website for related keywords, and build 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 earning money remotely, that’s fantastic. And… you’re 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 getting started, we recommend the following two options;
- Offer freelancing services
- Or start your own business (like a digital marketing agency)
We recommend you start your own blog even if you’re earning remotely from your job.
A blog offers so many benefits, such as;
- 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 is this: networking with other nomads.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you should find online communities to interact with other nomads.
Fortunately, there are a ton 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 already traveled (or are still living) in a place you want to visit.
Here are a few amazing online communities for digital nomads;
- Digital Nomad World
- Nomad List
- Work Wanderers Hub
- Facebook groups such as Nomadbase and Digital Nomads Around The World
Step 5: Build an emergency fund
It’s a good idea to build an emergency fund of 6 to 8 months, especially when you’ve decided to become a nomad.
Why is an emergency fund a MUST for nomads?
As a digital nomad, you will be more likely to face 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 be a successful digital nomad? Then, learn and lead a frugal lifestyle.
Digital nomads are often frugal and budget-conscious. They carefully track ALL their expenses and save money wherever possible.
A frugal lifestyle helps you simplify your life. Remember, you’ll leave 99% of the stuff you own behind (while traveling as a nomad).
That’s why spending less, simplifying your life, and becoming a minimalist is important. If you’re struggling to save money and lead 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: being productive while working.
There will be TOO many distractions, especially when you’re traveling to different places to work.
That’s why you must create a remote work environment where you can work without distractions. Here are a few 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
Ever wondered how nomads plan their trips?
Planning the next trip as a nomad is a daunting task. If you want to become a nomad, you should know a few things to plan your digital nomad itinerary correctly.
Here are some of the most effective tips to plan your travels.
- 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.
Here are the top 10 choices if you want affordable options;
- Thailand: Best choice if you’re looking for affordable living, friendly people, and delicious food. It also has a famous city called “Chiang Mai,” which is famous for most digital nomads.
- Bali: If you like beautiful beaches, exclusive surf spots, and yoga retreats – you shouldn’t miss out on Bali.
- Portugal: It is known for its low cost of living, digital nomad communities, and stunning scenery.
- Spain: Spain is known for providing a safe and welcoming environment for tourists. It’s also popular for its affordable cost of living with beautiful tourist destinations.
- Mexico: If you’re a food lover who wants to try delicious cuisines, Mexico is a great choice. It also has a rich culture and dazzling beaches.
- Colombia: This is another popular destination among nomads, where you’ll find friendly people, beautiful beaches, and affordable living.
- Georgia: If you want to explore the European architecture and breathtaking mountains, Georgia is a must-visit destination.
- Croatia: Want to explore charming villages and a beautiful coastline? Then, you should check out Croatia. It is also known for its affordable cost of living, and it is closer to other European countries.
- Vietnam: Vietnam is known for its beaches. It is also famous for several things, from ancient towns to UNESCO heritage sites and more. This is another budget-friendly travel destination for most nomads.
- Malaysia: If you’re looking for a value-for-money destination with a rich culture, Malaysia is a must-visit. Food, lodging, fuel, and internal transportation costs are very affordable.
FAQs on becoming a digital nomad
Here are some frequently asked questions about how to be a digital nomad.
It depends on the person’s skills and experience. Most full-time nomads earn between $ 5,000 to $15,000+ per month.
No, 30 is the PERFECT time to become a nomad. In fact, the average age of most digital nomads worldwide is 32.
There are many different ways to find remote work as a nomad. You can use platforms like Upwork to find freelance gigs. Find and join companies that let you work remotely. Or start your own digital business to make money online.
It depends on your lifestyle and the places you plan to travel to. However, having an emergency fund of at least 3-6 months before starting your digital nomad journey is a smart idea.
Some of the challenges of being a digital nomad include:
– Finding reliable WiFi access
– Staying productive while traveling
– Staying connected with friends and family
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Final thoughts on how to be a nomad in 2024
The digital nomad lifestyle is an excellent career choice if you’re looking for an adventurous work-life balance.
The nomad lifestyle has a TON of benefits, such as the freedom to work from anywhere, explore new cultures, and enjoy your travel life to the fullest.
Also, 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? Let us know in the comments.