How To Become A Digital Nomad

As I prepare to completely enter the digital nomad life, I thought it would be a good idea to document how to prepare for this lifestyle. It’s a big adjustment with lots of things to consider.

If all goes as planned, this page will become a living resource guide for others, with lots of informational links added. But for right now, we have to start at the beginning because that is where I am at the moment.

Grand Canal and Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy and sunny day. An example of what you can see in real life as a digital nomad.
Photo Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock.

What Is A Digital Nomad?

A digital nomad is a person who can work from anywhere. They go where life takes them because they have the freedom and ability to do so with a job that is location-flexible.

There are many types of digital nomads. In fact, it’s fair to say that it’s rare to find two digital nomads that live this life in the same way. But that’s the beauty of this lifestyle. You become the captain of the ship, so to speak. You decide where you work from and sometimes, depending on your work, even how many hours you spend working.

Can You Become A Digital Nomad? Assessing Your Skills and Interests

The first thing to consider is why you want to be a digital nomad and how it may benefit your life. There are some downsides to being a digital nomad, so it’s important that the benefits outweigh those.

Benefits Of A Digital Nomad Life

The perks of the DN lifestyle can be many. Just a few of the ones I’ve found so far are:

  1. You can work from anywhere in the world, as long as there is a good internet connection. But some folks don’t even need that. Living anywhere is a definite perk.
  2. You get to see amazing places during your off-work hours. Places that many people only dream of seeing in person.
  3. Your days are literally your own. You basically become your own boss, even if you have a boss you report to.
  4. You have a freedom that most people will never know.
  5. You will meet so many new and amazing people. It’s amazing to be able to say you have friends all over the world.
  6. Your friends and family can visit you in the most amazing of places where you’ll create incredible memories together.

Cons Of A Digital Nomad Life

  1. Life as a digital nomad can be lonely at times, particularly if you live in an area with a heavy winter. If you are an introvert, this can be even more difficult.
  2. You will often miss the special events and milestones of those you love back home.
  3. Some relationships you have back home will dwindle from lack of attention.

One last thing I’d like to mention that is a con at first is the fact that, as a new digital nomad, you may feel a little strange at first not having a true home base. A place to call home. But this eventually turns into a benefit when you realize the freedom that it truly is.

Don’t I Need Paperwork?

One of the hardest things for me to wrap my head around was the fact that I only needed my passport to start living this way. I was so sure I would need more paperwork for constant travel. But honestly, a passport is all you need.

The other thing you need is well-researched knowledge about how long you are legally able to stay in the area you are heading to.

For example, 27 countries in Europe are part of the Schengen Zone. So you are only allowed to be in that zone for 90 days at a time. Then, you must leave the Schengen Zone for a country that is not part of the zone.

Some people call this the Schengen Hop, others the Schengen Shuffle. But no matter what you call it, you better get to know it well if you plan to spend a lot of time in Europe.

In fact, all countries have a limit on how long you can stay. It is of vital importance that you keep track of this, and it’s best if you make plans to leave the country about two days prior to your exit date. This will help you avoid getting stuck due to flight cancellations and other travel issues. I guarantee you that immigration doesn’t care if your flight gets canceled. If you overstayed, you overstayed. No excuses. So, plan for mishaps because they do happen.

In the Schengen Zone, you must leave the zone for 90 days. For other parts of the world, you can do what they call a “visa run” and leave the country for a day to reset the time on your visa. Each country is different and has its own laws. So make sure you know your parameters and stick to them. Otherwise, you risk getting kicked out of the country with little to no hope of ever being able to return.

There are apps for your phone that will track the number of days you are in a country. That way, you don’t have to plot it out on a calendar.

Working Remotely – How To Find Remote Jobs

If you have a work at home job, meaning, you make money from home, then there is a very high likelihood you could also be a digital nomad.

Yes, jobs that let you work remotely are out there. They aren’t always readily available, but they are out there and it is totally possible for you to find one. But how?

For starters, Facebook (love it or hate it) is a fantastic resource for all things abroad. There is a Facebook group for every country and every situation. Are you a left-handed nose-picker living on a remote island in the middle of the Atlantic? There is probably a Facebook group specifically for you. I’m not even kidding.

Thankfully, these groups of freelancers, independent contractors, and like-minded people are usually very good sources of information.

I will give you one word of caution, however. In each of these groups is a subset of people who are rude and will laugh at you for asking the most basic of questions. Ask me how I know. But these groups also have a lot of good people in them who truly want to help. So it’s worth ignoring the trolls and taking the good information where you can get it. It’s not always easy when these trolls are so good at getting under your skin. But I assure you, responding to them is a waste of your time. Take the information you need and delete the post if you must. But do ignore the trolls. Their life is smaller than yours.

What Kinds Of Jobs Do Digital Nomads Have?

The sky is truly the limit. But most digital nomads have one thing in common. They work online. Making money online is just about the only way to fund this lifestyle unless you are independently wealthy. And if you are, can we be friends?

Whether you run your own business, have a work-from-home job like publishing a blog (like me!), or work for a company that doesn’t care where you work from, the types of jobs that digital nomads have are varied and diverse. But all of them are generally fully remote jobs.

Some examples of digital nomad jobs are:

  • Freelance Writer
  • Copywriting
  • Translators
  • Software Engineer
  • Customer-support
  • Self-employed
  • Project Management
  • Software Development
  • Proofreading
  • Editing
  • Graphic Designer
  • Web Developer and other positions in web development
  • Social Media Managers
  • Online Tutors
  • Online Teaching
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Digital Marketing Consultant
  • Travel Blogger
  • E-commerce Entrepreneur
  • App Developer
  • SEO Specialist
  • Copywriter
  • Remote Customer Service Representative
  • Virtual Event Planner
  • Travel agent
  • Independent contractor
  • Video Editor
  • Language Translator
  • Online Fitness Coach
  • Podcast Producer
  • Remote Sales Representative
  • Virtual Accountant
  • Bloggers
  • Remote call-center work
  • Content Creator
  • Data Entry Jobs
  • Transcriptionist
  • Bookkeeping
  • Web Design
  • Work at home jobs
  • Remote part-time gig
  • Affiliate-marketing
  • Typing
  • Tutoring

Needless to say, if you want to become a digital nomad so you can travel the world, the first place to start is with a remote working job. The Facebook groups I mentioned above often have job postings or job listings. So it’s worth jumping into all the groups you can find that focus on that subject.

Two other websites you can check out are Upwork and

Also, be sure to do your research on the company before you apply. Make sure they are legit. There are a lot of scams out there in the remote jobs arena.

If you are employed, speak to your boss to find out if your job is location-dependent or if there is some creative way you can work from the road. As being a digital nomad becomes increasingly popular, you will find that more and more companies relax their policies and let their employees work from anywhere worldwide. You’ll never know if you don’t ask!

Your Workspace

No matter where you go in the world, you will need a basecamp to work from. Many need an office environment to get work done. A place with no distractions. Some place where you are able to do your best work.

To make money, you first need to figure out your workspace. This can be a challenge in some situations and depending on your job. My full-time job is food blogging, so I need a good Wi-Fi connection and a kitchen.

Remote work can be done from many different types of spaces.

  • Cubicals
  • Hotel rooms
  • Airbnbs
  • Coworking spaces
  • Coffee shops
  • Libraries

If you don’t need this type of extra accommodation, there are workspaces all over the world set up for digital nomads. Not only do you have a safe place to work with reliable wifi, but you also have the benefit of meeting people like yourself. They are worth checking out if they exist in the area you are staying at.

Some considerations to set yourself up to work anywhere are:

  1. Is your workspace efficient and ergonomic?
  2. Are you able to have all the tools you need with you as you work?
  3. Do you have a secure and reliable wifi connection?
  4. Do you feel safe where you are working?

Managing Digital Nomad Finances and Budgets

While we all have to follow some sort of budget (even if it’s a haphazard budget), it becomes more important as a digital nomad.

Know your budget and do everything you can to stick to it because unexpected things ALWAYS happen, and they usually require some extra money. Either budget for that or keep your budget tight enough that you can financially handle things when they arise.

Lastly, make sure your budget is a bit fluid. You can’t have a budget that is written in stone when you travel all the time. It won’t work. Things happen, and special occasions arise. Life happens on the road. You need to be able to be a bit fluid with your budget as needed. I’m not talking about irresponsible spending. I’m talking about bailing yourself out of a bad situation if it happens.

For me personally, the things I have to make sure of are:

  1. To always have enough money in savings for a return ticket home for emergencies or to fly my kiddo out to me if he needs it.
  2. Have extra in the budget in case I need to book a last-minute accommodation that costs more than I planned.
  3. Set a realistic budget once I arrive. It’s okay to set a new budget at each location based on the local cost of living. I’ll save money where I can, but I’ll budget for some happiness too. Otherwise, why am I even doing this?

Just a note on budgeting: Make sure you do your research well before you move on to a new location. It can be fun to fly by the seat of your pants, but if the seat of your pants can’t find an affordable place to stay for the night, you won’t be having all the fun you thought you would be having. Preliminary research is a requirement for the digital nomad life.

Maintaining Work-Life Balance

It does no good to do all that traveling if you don’t get to step outside and enjoy the area you are in. Having strict rules in place for yourself can become critical really quickly. Combining work and travel can overwhelm some people in the beginning until they learn to set boundaries for themselves.

I tend to be a workaholic, so I really have to force myself to step away from my laptop. Sometimes, it’s incredibly inconvenient and might even put me behind a bit in work. But I’ve learned that if I don’t take care of my non-work life, then life in general will go downhill pretty quickly.

One method that works well for me is to figure out the traditions of the local culture. For example, Italians love their “passeggiata,” which translates to “an evening stroll.” This is a time to meet and chat with neighbors, get some fresh air, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. So, when I’m in Italy, I make sure to join in daily on this amazing tradition.

All-in-all, you’ll be happier if you force yourself to keep a good balance. It’s more important than you might think.

Overcoming Challenges on the Road

Some common issues that can arise for digital nomads are:

  1. Internet Connectivity
  2. Isolation and Loneliness
  3. Work-Life Balance
  4. Time Zone Differences
  5. Healthcare and Insurance
  6. Visa and Immigration Issues
  7. Cultural Adjustment
  8. Security Concerns
  9. Financial Stability
  10. Work Environment
  11. Logistical Challenges
  12. Maintaining Productivity
  13. Equipment and Technology
  14. Relationships and Social Connections
  15. Environmental Factors

The best thing you can do is to go through this list, figure out what each one means for you personally, and then have a plan in place for how to address each issue as it arises. Because at some point, most, if not all of these will pop up in your digital nomad journey.

Embracing The Digital Nomad Community

The good news is there are a LOT of digital nomads out there, and our numbers are growing. So unless you actually want to be alone, you don’t have to be. Quite the opposite.

I would argue that getting out and meeting other people, digital nomads or not, is a critical component of this lifestyle. You can’t be an island in a strange place. Thankfully, most people are pretty welcoming abroad. So get out there and meet people, because your life will be much fuller for it.

Social Recommendations

Join digital nomad groups. Many have meetups in all areas of the world.

Network with other digital nomads in workspaces when appropriate.

If you settle in one place for a while, get to know the locals and your neighbors. One trick I use is to visit the same coffee shop every single morning. It’s a great way to meet locals, and everybody seems to want to know everything about you when you’re the new person in town.

Join digital nomad organizations. Many of the ones I’ve heard of offer meetups, seminars, and events.

Is The Digital Nomad Life For You?

It’s easy to read an article like this and feel like it’s too general to actually apply to you and your specific situation. But I promise you, if you go through each point and really use each one to make a plan, you’ll be far better prepared to start your digital nomad life.

As I said, I’ll be adding to this page over time. It will become a larger resource with many links to groups and organizations that I come across as I travel. So check back often. That said, this should at least get you started on considering everything you need to think about before entering this way of life.

Some of you will have families you would have to leave behind, and some of you may have to change careers in order to accomplish it. But in my personal experience, it’s worth it. The way I see it is I can always go back home. But in the meantime, what an adventure it is to travel the world! Being remote and having the freedom to work from anywhere around the world is a true blessing.

Facebook Groups For Digital Nomads

Further Reading

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