Your 9-5 job pays the bills, and you’re not unhappy with it, but there’s something about it that unsettles you. You feel like you’re stuck in a box. You want to go out and see the world, not be in a cubical for most of your life.
You’re not alone in this feeling of being stuck. Many people quit their job in favor of becoming a digital nomad for this reason. You can do it too.
We will warn you that deciding to put in your two weeks to travel the world working remotely isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s a lot that you should consider before taking the plunge.
We’re here to help you weigh the pros and cons, as well as give you tips for making this career choice work for you. Keep reading to learn if you have what it takes.
What Is a Digital Nomad?
Before we get into becoming a digital nomad, let’s talk about what it is. It pretty much is what the name suggests. Remote workers take their computers on the road with them and travel from place to place.
There are many different types of nomads out there. Some choose to gas up an RV and drive around. Some would rather hop on a sailboat or take a plane to different countries.
Speaking of travel destinations, you’re not limited to where you go. Some choose to stick to the country they were born in, and others would prefer to see the entire world.
Pros and Cons of This Lifestyle
Like any job, there are plenty of pros and cons that you have to weigh before you jump in. Glamorous as it may seem, there are plenty of cons of the digital nomad lifestyle.
We’re going to go over the pros first. You would think that traveling from place to place would get expensive but it’s not as bad as you may think. If you’re smart about where you stay, you can keep prices down to a minimum.
Other than that, you’ll have the power to stay wherever you want. You don’t have to worry about the stresses of office drama. You’ll get to experience many other cultures and make lasting friendships with people that you wouldn’t get to talk to normally.
You set your own schedule, so you can take days off whenever you want to explore the destination you’re in. At the same time, this can be a little dangerous. It makes staying productive difficult.
Moving your things from place to place all the time can get pretty exhausting after a while too. You also lose the ability to have a private space that you can call your own, and the transition can get pretty lonely.
How to Become a Digital Nomad?
If the cons don’t bother you, and you think that this might be the career path for you, it’s time for you to learn how to become one. You can’t simply drop your day job and hit the road the next day. There’s quite a bit of setup involved.
Pick Your Job
There are tons of digital nomad jobs that you can choose from. Blogging, freelance writing, customer service, marketing, SEO work, education, bookkeeping, selling, software development, website designing, and creating online courses are some of the more popular options available.
We will warn you that you may have to go to school to get into some of the fields. You don’t have to go big and enroll in college, but if writing is your thing, for example, taking a proofreading course couldn’t hurt. It will only strengthen your resume.
Register Your Business (If Needed)
If you’re starting up your own business, you’ll have to register it in the United States before you hit the road. It’s recommended that you sign up as a sole proprietorship first.
Once you’re more established as a company, you can change things up. As far as going through the process of registering, there are websites out there that can help you get the job done.
Keeping Tabs on Your Taxes
Perhaps the hardest part of going remote is keeping up with your taxes. You’ll still have to pay the government. It doesn’t matter if you’re halfway around the world or not.
There’s only one exception. If you spend the majority of the year outside of the US, you may qualify for something known as the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. You won’t have to pay taxes in the United States up to a certain amount of income.
We also recommend that you use some of your funds to invest in a good accountant. Taxes are complicated when you’re a digital nomad. They can make things a little less stressful for you.
Set Up a Bank Account
Getting paid when you’re in another country can be a bit complicated. You can’t go with a traditional bank in most cases because they’ll cancel the card when you’re spending money in another country every other month.
Companies like PayPal and Payoneer are your best option. As long as you have an email address, you can receive and send money. It’s also nice to have a travel credit card.
This way, you can still spend money in places that only take a card without having to worry about any transaction fees. You’ll also be able to take advantage of points and perks.
Get a VPN
Being a digital nomad, you’re going to be accessing the internet in a variety of different places. While many corners of the world have protections in place in regards to your personal information, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The last thing you need is for someone to get your passwords. That’s what VPNs are for. Having one will hide your online activity from any would-be hackers.
You never know what’s going to happen to you while you’re away in another country. You don’t want to feel your stress levels rise every time you have to take a ride in a wee-woo van or go to the doctor. The good news is that health insurance exists with digital nomads in mind.
You should also invest in some good travelers insurance. Between lost luggage or theft, you’ll want to make sure that your valuable possessions are covered.
Obtain a Visa
The last order of business is to obtain a visa. Many nomads go with a tried and true travel visa which you’re not technically supposed to do. In some corners of the world, you can get a work visa specifically geared toward being a digital nomad.
There aren’t many of these places, however. If getting a travel visa is your only choice, go ahead and do so, but if anyone asks, you’re a tourist. Don’t go into a crazy amount of detail about what you do.
Tips for Mastering Being a Digital Nomad
Getting the legalities out of the way and setting yourself up to be a digital nomad is one thing. Actually succeeding and building a career is another.
It’s not an easy thing to accomplish. Many people quit after a while because it gets to be too much. Here are a few tips that will keep you going when you feel like you want to quit.
Don’t Leave Right Away
As much as you would love to quit your 9-5 today and start your new career as a nomad tomorrow, it’s not the best idea. It takes some time to make any real money with most remote careers.
For example, if you choose blogging to be your thing. It will take years before you begin making a profit with it. That will make traveling difficult unless you have some savings to work with.
Take the time to establish your career before you head to your first destination. It’s also important to have some backup cash. If the digital nomad life doesn’t pan out, you’ll find yourself stuck in another country unless you have the funds you need to leave.
Create a Calander
The biggest problem most digital nomads have is staying productive. When you’re in a beautiful new country, you want to take plenty of days off so you can explore. The problem is when you’re taking in the sights more than you’re working.
Having a calendar can help you out with this. Pencil in yourself a few days off during the week where you can take in the attractions. You can also plan half days where you do some work and some sightseeing.
Whatever works best for you. Make sure that once you write down your schedule, you stick to it. If you veer away from it, you’ll be stressed because you can’t seem to get anything done.
Spend Plenty of Time in One Place
If you jump from place to place every other week, you’ll be hurting in terms of funding. You’ll feel like you don’t spend enough time in one place to make the most out of it.
Moving around is also pretty exhausting. If you’re not careful, you will end up burning yourself out. To this end, it’s best to stay in one place for at least a month, maybe even two.
This will allow you to save up plenty of money to head to the next destination, and you’ll be able to see everything your current one has to offer.
Check Wi-Fi Speeds
One thing is true for all digital nomads. Having a slow internet connection is bad for the business. This is especially true if you work with large files like photos and videos.
So before you choose a destination, take the time to find out what the internet situation is like. It can vary from country to country, and some regions have better a wi-fi connection than others.
The biggest problem with traveling all the time is that it gets lonely. You can make some friends in different countries, but you never stay with them for too long.
It’s not like you have co-workers that you can chat with either. Even if you’re an introvert, the lack of human connection will wear on you after a while.
When it gets to be too much, join a co-working space. This will allow you to work in the same room with a bunch of other people. While you might not get into deep, meaningful conversations, you won’t feel quite as isolated.
Social media is another great source for human interaction. There are Facebook groups, for example, that exist for digital nomads to meet and chat with each other.
When you’re in charge of when you work and how much you work, it’s easy for you to overdo it. You tell yourself it’s only checking a single email or you’re only going to look at your work page for a few minutes. Even when you’re off work, you’re thinking about your next big project.
Don’t fall into this trap. Being a digital nomad is all about freedom. It’s hard to actually enjoy being in another country when your mind is always on work.
Enjoy the Freedom of Being a Digital Nomad
Are you tired of being held back by your 9-5 office job? Do you want to get out there and see everything that the world has to offer? Go remote with your work and become a digital nomad.
There are many cons of this lifestyle, but once you do it, you’ll see that these are overshadowed by the many advantages. Make the switch and start planning an adventure today.
If you can’t figure out where you should head to first, we might be able to help. Check out the Travel section of our blog to weigh your options.