With the recent increase in remote work and freelance jobs, becoming a digital nomad is easier than ever!
However, the process of going from a desk job to digital nomadism can feel overwhelming, so this article will provide five tips to successfully launch your career as a digital nomad and begin traveling the world.
Of course, making a career switch of any kind always requires a polished resume. Consider using a professional resume template to jumpstart your nomadic adventure and set yourself up for success as a freelancer or remote worker.
5 Tips for Launching Your Career as a Digital Nomad
Reduce or Eliminate Ties to a Specific Location
Often the biggest hurdle for those wishing to become digital nomads is giving up the things that tie them to one place, such as mortgages, apartment lease agreements, vehicle ownership/payments, debt, gym memberships, clubs or activities, and so forth.
Start reducing or eliminating these ties well in advance of when you plan to start traveling – it will generally be easier to make the lifestyle adjustment if you phase things out gradually and it will free up your income to spend on items you need for traveling, flights, accommodation, and so forth.
Before you leave, you may wish to consider selling your car if you have one, paying off as much debt as possible, and selling or donating belongings that won’t be traveling with you.
The less that you have to worry about back home, the more you will be able to enjoy your time as a digital nomad.
Identify Your Skills
If you don’t already have a remote position or freelance work that lends itself to travel, you’ll likely need to figure out a way to make money on your computer while you’re abroad.
Start by identifying your skills, strengths, and what you like to do. Then you can peruse remote jobs and/or freelance gigs to find a good fit for you.
You can also take up online programs to get certified in a specific skill, ie a project management certification program and digital marketing online training.
Some common digital nomad positions include freelance writing, blogging, marketing, photography, website design, teaching English, graphic design, editing, transcription, social media management/marketing, and animation.
However, there are infinite ways in which you can support your digital nomadism, and any jobs that can be done remotely are generally viable ways to support yourself.
Apply for Freelance or Remote Positions
Once you’ve found a position or a niche that you are interested in, create your resume, tailor it to each job application, write a custom cover letter, and submit your application.
For security’s sake, it’s a good idea to start this process well ahead of when you plan to start traveling so you have a solid source of income and you can take some time to adjust to the new position and ensure that it’s a good fit.
You might start out by taking on a side gig on top of your regular position for a few months before you leave, which will not only generate extra income but also ensure that you have your income stream for traveling established before you quit your regular job.
Alternatively, you could ask your current employer if, instead of quitting altogether, you can take your work on the road with you by going fully remote.
Draft a proposal that outlines how you will handle the transition without neglecting any of your job duties, and be sure to frame the switch as a positive for the company as well as for yourself.
Choose Your Destination and Travel Modality
There are many different ways to be a digital nomad, from moving into a van or other vehicle and traveling domestically to flying to new countries periodically and renting an Airbnb or similar accommodations for a month or more at a time – or anything in between.
Some countries even have digital nomad programs where you can stay for longer than the duration of a normal tourist visa and avoid potential tax issues while still working your remote job that’s based in another country.
Choose how and where you want to travel, keeping in mind how much money you will likely bring in with your remote or freelance work and the cost of living in each of your destinations.
Your expenses will vary dramatically based on what you want to do. For example, if you choose to travel in a van or RV, you will have high upfront costs (to buy/outfit the vehicle) but relatively low monthly costs, especially if you choose to boondock.
Alternatively, if you choose to fly abroad and rent accommodations as you go, you’ll have fewer upfront costs but more bills to pay each month.
Figure Out the Details
Finally, work out the nitty-gritty details like health insurance, travel insurance, an international cell phone plan if you need one, visas, passports, emergency contacts, backup plans, and so forth.
One of the most important things if you decide to make the leap and become a digital nomad is knowing where and when you will be connected to the internet. Most of us don’t have unlimited data plans – and most of the time, they don’t tend to work globally.
You’ll need to decide how much internet you’re going to need and when. This will enable you to search for hotspot rentals and where your data plan might work.
The speed of your connection needs to be maximized too. You might be looking at a new laptop, minimal to zero apps, and adjusting your VPN usage (and you should use a VPN if you are working on the move).
You can also map out all of the co-working spaces, buy local sim cards, and use the wifi at the accommodation. Staying connected is one of the details you should spend ample time working out. Without it, you won’t have a good digital nomad experience.
By creating this safety net ahead of time, you can give yourself peace of mind and fully enjoy your travels.