Want to Travel the World While You Work? Become a Digital Nomad.
Digital nomadism can give you a sense of deeper meaning and purpose.
The proliferation of digital innovation over the past couple of decades has been nothing short of staggering. New technologies and solutions are introduced at a blistering pace. This has given rise to entirely new constructs and lifestyles within the business world.
At the core of this evolution, you’ll find freelancing and online entrepreneurship. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover a growing trend that millennials fondly refer to as “digital nomadism.” And though it’s not right for everyone, it could be something that fills your career with deeper meaning and purpose.
Digital nomads are best described as independent workers who voluntarily embrace a lifestyle of location-independent work that allows them to travel the world and conduct business remotely via connected technology.
The benefits of being a digital nomad
There’s a reason millions of people across the world gravitate towards digital nomadism. Some of the top perks and benefits include seeing the world and finding greater meaning and purpose.
Despite the fact that it’s easier and cheaper than ever to travel the world, it seems as if very few people are taking the chance to venture out of their own backyards. This has a lot to do with oppressive work scheduling and lack of paid time off. As a digital nomad, you don’t have to compromise. You get the chance to integrate work and travel.
Above all else, digital nomadism injects meaning and purpose into life and work. No longer are you stuck pecking away at a keyboard in a cold corporate cubicle. The world becomes your desk, and life takes on a feeling of excitement and value that you’ve never experienced before.
Every individual gets something unique out of being a digital nomad. Though there are common reasons people adopt this lifestyle, this is by no means a comprehensive list. You’ll undoubtedly discover your own set of pros.
The downside of digital nomadism
Not everyone is cut out to be a nomad — even if it does come with the comforts of modern technology.
People often forget that digital nomads have to work. And when you’re in a foreign country with lots of new sights, sounds, smells and experiences, squeezing in a few hours of work can lead to serious FOMO (fear of missing out). You constantly feel like you’re making a trade between work and adventure. This back and forth swing of emotions can be rough on your frame of mind.
Again, your experience won’t be the same as the next person's. While you’ll probably deal with one or two of these points of friction, you can also expect your own personal challenges. You need to counter the positives and make your own decision about the practicality of this lifestyle.
Should you decide to dip your toes in the water and find out what it’s like being a digital nomad, you need to be prepared. Here are some suggestions to thrive in your new chapter.
Choose the right destinations
Be mindful of where you travel. In the early days of your digital-nomad lifestyle, it’s best to stick with easy countries and regions that don’t command significant changes.
For example, it’s smart to start with English-speaking countries or countries where most of the locals speak English as a second language. This ensures you can always communicate with someone.
Use the right apps and software
Your smartphone is your most powerful resource as a digital nomad. In fact, without your smartphone, it would be nearly impossible to make this lifestyle work. With the right apps and correct setup, you can conduct business safely, securely and efficiently. Here are two specific recommendations:
- Evernote. This powerful app has so many different uses. It can be leveraged for note taking, photo storing, project organizing and dozens of other tasks. Best of all, it keeps everything in one place so that you don’t have to use dozens of apps to track down important information.
- Google Translate. There are various translation apps on the market, but Google’s version is simple, intuitive and free. You can speak or type and get instant translations. You can even snap a picture of a sign, menu or newspaper in a foreign language and have it immediately translated into English.
There are certain apps you can use to improve your workflow and productivity on a daily basis. Go ahead and find the ones you like best.
Find community and camaraderie
The worst thing you can do as a digital nomad is isolate yourself. Before long, the loneliness will set in, and you’ll long for the warmth of home. Thankfully, most major cities around the world have pockets of travelers and digital nomads who share similar ideals and lifestyles.
Make it a point to find community as soon as you get to a new location. If you’re staying at a hostel, this is fairly easy. The director of the hostel can probably point you in the direction of some different activities and meetup groups.
Disconnect and savor
By definition, digital nomads are highly connected. There is hardly a thing as too connected. But if you want to maximize your experiences while traveling, the best piece of advice is to disconnect and savor your surroundings.
Just as you set work hours, it’s highly recommended that you set hours away from work, email, social media and digital devices. This enables you to be fully present in the moment. Digital pictures are great, but mental snapshots last a whole lot longer.
Live and work on your terms
Millions of people consider themselves digital nomads. Millions more will adopt this lifestyle in the coming years. The opportunity and benefits are clear — as are the challenges. It’s up to you to determine whether or not this is something that fits your personality, career and aspirations.
At the end of the day, digital nomadism is all about living and working on your terms. It’s about building a career without sacrificing the opportunity to see the world, experience diverse cultures and build powerful relationships.
If it’s right for you, then, by all means, go for it.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor