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How to Become a Digital Nomad [Complete Step-by-Step Guide]

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Being a digital nomad provides a lifestyle that offers many benefits, such as traveling the world while still earning an income. Imagine you’ve been working a traditional 9-to-5 (or 8-to-8 job if you factor in commuting and dinner) job for years, and you’re starting to feel slightly restless. Here is how to become a digital nomad in a complete step-by-step breakdown.

You’ve always wanted to travel the world but never had the time or money. Thanks to the digital age, there’s a new way to do things. You can work from anywhere and make money online with a laptop and an internet connection. All you need is a little bit of discipline and some basic skills.

Many people are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age. It can be tough to juggle work, family, and social obligations while also trying to stay connected online.

The good news is that there’s another way to live and work, and it’s called digital nomadism. A few common challenges exist when people attempt to become digital nomads. Perhaps the biggest hurdle is learning to make money online and staying productive while traveling.

Adjusting to a new environment can be challenging, and getting sidetracked by all the new sights and sounds is easy.

In order to stay on task, you’ll need to create a daily routine and stick to it. Additionally, it’s crucial to find a healthy work-life balance.

Don’t forget to explore your new surroundings and have some fun! You’ll need some essential equipment and skills first, but once you have those, the world is your oyster.

How to Become a Digital Nomad (+ Key Tips)

1. Find the Ideal Remote Job

Find the Ideal Remote Job

How do you become a digital nomad? First, you need to have a job that can be done remotely. This might mean working as a freelancer, having your own online business, or it could mean finding a full-time job with a company that allows telecommuting.

As a digital nomad, you can work from anywhere worldwide with an internet connection. This means you can travel to any country and still earn a living.

You’ll need to be able to stay productive while working from coffee shops or other public places, but with a little practice, this will become second nature.

You’ll also need to be comfortable living out of a suitcase or backpack, as you’ll likely be moving around frequently. But what kind of work will you do? Start your own business? Perhaps your own freelance business? Where will you find freelance clients?

If any companies or organizations interest you and are available outside your home country (or even just overseas), look into how they might be able to help with visas and other paperwork issues. But don’t stress too much about finding something right away; this is just one step towards ensuring everything is set up properly later on when it comes time to move abroad!

To get started as a digital nomad, there are a few things remote workers will need:

  • A laptop or tablet with internet connectivity
  • A means of income, whether that’s freelancing, a full-time job with remote work options, or some other source of making money online
  • Basic organizational skills and the ability to stay on task
  • A sense of adventure to embrace the full nomadic lifestyle

2. Find an Optimal Situation and Destination

Digital nomad

Now that you know what it takes to become a digital nomad, it’s time to start planning your nomadic lifestyle. Your goal is to become completely location-independent. If you’re not sure where to go, consider checking out some of the most popular digital nomad destinations:

Bali and Chiang Mai, in particular, are bustling digital nomad hubs. Keep in mind the varying time zones of these different countries.

Many online digital nomads must adjust their work hours to suit their bosses or potential clients. If you’re living in Southeast Asia, you might have to be available from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. if you work for a company in the USA. Be prepared for potential situations like this.

Another thing worth considering at this point would be finding a place to live, whether through an Airbnb rental or staying with friends/family until finding somewhere permanent (which doesn’t necessarily mean buying property).

Those who prefer renting over buying could use Booking.com’s vacation rentals or VRBO because these services offer cheaper rates than hotels or hostels during high-season periods (i.e., summer vacation weeks) when prices increase considerably due to demand being higher than supply on both fronts.

When planning your trip, research the cost of living in each destination. You’ll also want a good internet connection and plenty of things to do in your spare time. Once you’ve found the perfect place to call home, it’s time to start packing your bags.

See Related: Insured Nomads Review: Is it Legit?

3. Prepare For Your Journey

Packing for a digital nomad

The first thing you need to do is get your finances in order. You’ll need to save enough money to support yourself while you travel and work online from different places. This can take a while if you don’t have enough money saved up or the discipline to save money.

But getting as much money as possible beforehand is worth it for digital nomad life’s freedom and flexibility. Unless you have an online job lined up before you leave, you’ll likely need to support yourself for at least a few months while settling in your new destination. Keep this in mind when factoring in how much money you’ll need.

And before you finally set off on your digital nomad adventure, you should brush up on your internet and computer skills. If you’re uncomfortable working online, now is the time to learn.

There are many sites online that provide a digital nomad guide relating to using computers. Additionally, ensure you have all the necessary equipment, such as a laptop, charger, and portable internet device.

See Related: World Nomads Insurance Review: Is It Worth It?

4. Start Reducing Location Ties and Expenses

People should start paying attention to and understanding why they’re attached to certain places. Long-term rental agreements are only one of the many issues that must be dealt with first.

You may want to eliminate excess expenses, such as membership fees and subscriptions, so your income can go towards other things you’ll enjoy while traveling.

Digital nomads often travel light, eliminating anything you won’t use on your journey. This is also a good time to repay any debts you have accumulated up until this point.

5. Research Your Health Insurance Options

Health insurance

You’ve sold your house, quit your job, and bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok. You’re ready to embark on the next chapter of your life as a digital nomad! But before you land in Thailand, there are some important things to consider. First and foremost: health insurance.

Health insurance is arguably one of the most important aspects of being a digital nomad because it will protect you financially if anything unexpected happens while abroad—and it can be expensive to get sick or injured while traveling.

Many countries require visitors from certain countries to have proof that they have adequate medical coverage before entering the country; this is especially true for countries that see many tourists from certain parts of Asia where residents may not be able to afford health care in their home country due to its expense or lack thereof.

Health insurance policies vary by country, as well as sometimes by state within each country (some states offer lower premiums for certain plans). Age plays into how much money an individual should expect to pay for coverage; meanwhile, occupation and income may also determine certain details of whatever insurance plan you are looking into.

Always read the fine print and double-check! Generally, you can consider notable nomad insurances like Safety Wing and Insured Nomad.

See Related: Best Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads

6. Get a Visa

Image of a passport

Visa requirements vary wildly from country to country. Some countries are more welcoming to digital nomads, while others will require you to have a home address in the country.

Most digital nomads constantly deal with the varying requirements of different countries’ visas. The best way to get a visa quickly is by using a service like iVisa, where you can get full service on the entire process to secure access to your destination country.

Depending on your nationality and your passport, some countries don’t require a visa for entry. However, some require a visa even if you only plan on staying for a few weeks or months while working remotely – so check with your destination country before planning your trip.

Suppose you end up needing a visa before heading abroad. In that case, many different types of visas are available: business travel/tourism visas (for short-term stays) or employment visas (for more extended stays).

You can apply online or through your target country’s embassy or consulate near where you live, whichever method suits your schedule best.

See Related: Things I’ve Learned From Becoming a Digital Nomad

7. Plan for the Unexpected

Image of a digital nomad

As a digital nomad, you’re not immune to the unexpected. You need to be prepared for it. There are plenty of things that can go wrong while traveling: your flights could get canceled or delayed; your phone might die, and you won’t have access to any maps; you might get sick and stuck in bed for days with no medication; your laptop might break down at an inconvenient time…

So what are some things you can do? I suggest having an emergency kit with ibuprofen, bandages, pain relievers (or whatever medications you need), extra water bottles, snacks like nuts and protein bars, and maybe even a spare pair of shoes!

If something happens to me when I’m abroad on my own (which happens quite often), one thing that helps is knowing that there’s someone back home who knows where I am and how much money I’ve got left over. It also helps if they know my plans by asking questions before going away – so make sure they’re keeping track of all this information, too!

See Related: Best Travel Jobs to Make Money

8. Embrace the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

The digital nomad lifestyle can be an adjustment, but embracing it and enjoying its freedom and flexibility is important. One of the best things about being a digital nomad is that you can work from anywhere worldwide.

If you tire of one location, you can pack up and move to another. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people and experience different cultures. So go out and explore.

9. Get the Right Equipment

Equipments for a digital nomad

The right equipment is essential for becoming a digital nomad. You’ll need a laptop and an internet connection to work remotely. Make sure you have everything you need before you start your job search. Having the right equipment will make it easier for you to transition to working remotely.

Some digital nomads also recommend getting a separate phone line for work to keep your personal and work lives separate. This can be especially helpful if you work remotely for an employer in a different country.

10. Create a Daily Routine

Image of a To Do list

When you’re working from home, it can be easy to let your days become a blur. This can lead to a lack of focus and productivity. To avoid this, it’s important to create a daily routine and stick to it as much as possible.

Successful digital nomads can stay on track and focused. A daily routine for your location-independent business can include things like:

  • Getting up at the same time each day
  • Having specific hours set aside for work
  • Taking breaks every few hours
  • Eating regular meals
  • Staying organized
  • Setting aside time for exercise

Creating and following a daily routine can be key to being a successful digital nomad. It can help you stay focused and productive and keep making that money online while ensuring you care for your physical and mental health.

See Related: Best Travel Agent Tools to Use

The Logistics of Nomadic Life

Digital nomads are not just about being digital. With location independence, things you didn’t think of come into play: wireless accessibility, company registration, banking, and communications – where to stay is also important. Do you want to be around other digital nomads and like-minded people?

If you’re a digital nomad, you must be prepared for anything. You may not know where you’ll stay from one week to the next—and that’s okay. It’s part of nomadic life. As long as there is a reliable connection to the internet and you have a laptop, any place can become home.

Taxes for Digital Nomads

Image of tax papers

What are your tax plans as an online nomad? Depending on your home country, you may still have to pay taxes while living abroad in other countries. If you are a US citizen and plan on living abroad for an extended period, you should look into the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion on the IRS website.

If you qualify, this exclusion prevents you from paying taxes for a sizable portion of your income. It won’t be the case in all other countries.

Many people are starting online businesses in digital nomad-friendly nations like Singapore to cut taxes. If you want to enter the digital world and get into digital life, a good accountant should be hired to help with a lot of work.

Stay Connected

Image of wifi

Tell me about the biggest and most common question that digital travelers often ask. How much bandwidth does a WiFi connection provide? You can’t become a digital nomad without a good WiFi connection. Thankfully, the internet is available at almost all of your sites today.

There is plenty of internet speed testing software to determine the speed of your current connection. Virtual phone numbers such as Skype and Google voicemails have become extremely helpful. It also allows you to use US numbers for something like 2FA authentication.

See Related: SafetyWing Review

Making Friends

Image of a group of friends

Can a digital nomad feel lonely? It depends. For some, it may. But there are things you can do to reduce the feeling, prevent yourself from being too isolated, and have an actual social life while being a digital nomad.

Depending on your chosen city, a prevalent digital nomad community may be under your nose. Pop open Google Maps and visit any highly-rated coffee shop, and you’ll likely spot digital nomads working.

Backpacker hostels are great for bringing people together, but it is often tough to get work done in what sometimes turns into a heavy party environment. Working in cafés or co-working spaces can allow a person to meet others.

Plenty of great digital nomad Facebook groups and other online communities related to digital nomadism exist. You can even join the ViaTravelers Facebook group to learn more about how we live as digital nomads.

See Related: Friend Vacation Ideas

Emergency Backup Plans

When traveling abroad as a digital nomad, it’s important to be prepared for any situation that might arise—from being mugged and having your wallet stolen to being unable to find a place to exchange money.

A quick return flight and the right accommodation are your primary concerns. It’s important to have a stash of reserve funds in a secondary account that you can easily access if things go wrong.

Banking for Digital Nomads

What about digital nomad banking? It is highly recommended that you sign up for a Wise or Payoneer account or both! Use the best travel credit card: Chase Sapphire Preferred! It has no foreign transaction fees, and free flight rewards help make this a low-cost card for travelers.

For US citizens, Charles Schwab has a checking account that reimburses you every month for any ATM fees you incur at any ATM worldwide. Your fees will be deposited into your bank account at the end of every month.

Picking A VPN To Stay Secure

While connecting to the internet in various locations abroad, it is a good idea to protect yourself from intruders and viruses by downloading a reliable VPN or Virtual Private Network. Atlas VPN is a go-to option for me.

If you’re traveling abroad, it is highly recommended that you download a VPN. A VPN allows you to browse the internet privately and securely. It will also allow you to access content the government may block in whatever country you travel to.

Insurance for Digital Nomads

Accidents happen. Without insurance, they can cost you dearly. One of the best things about being a digital nomad is that there are many health care insurance and travel insurance options from which to choose—including SafetyWing, one of the most popular health insurances for digital nomads.

If your dream is to become a digital nomad, to be successful, you’ll need to be disciplined and organized. You’ll also need to manage time and stay on task well. Additionally, it’s very important to find a work-life balance that makes you happy.

After all, what’s the point of traveling the world and living abroad but being bogged down with endless work? It defeats the purpose of the nomadic lifestyle. So, explore your new surroundings and make sure to have some fun!

See Related: Best Cancel Anytime Travel Insurance

FAQ

What is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad uses technology to earn a living while also taking advantage of the location flexibility of working online. This lifestyle allows you to work from anywhere worldwide, as long as you have a laptop and a reliable internet connection.

What are the benefits of becoming a digital nomad?

There are many benefits to becoming a digital nomad. More freedom. Fewer office politics. But perhaps the most appealing aspect is the ability to travel and see the world while still earning an income.

Additionally, digital nomads enjoy a high degree of freedom and flexibility regarding their schedules. They have far more work-life balance choices than typical workers in one in-person location.

What do you need to get started as a digital nomad?

First, you’ll need a laptop and an internet connection. Additionally, you should have some basic writing, graphic design, web design, or programming skills. Don’t worry, though.

These are just a few examples. Many office jobs can be turned into remote positions. Any job that uses computers can theoretically be done remotely. Many digital nomads are freelancers, bloggers, or work in remote sales positions.

Once you’ve studied all the resources, have the necessary equipment, and all the skills, you can start looking for work. There are several ways to find work as a digital nomad.

You can search for remote jobs on various job boards. Sometimes, the job description clearly states they are looking for a remote worker. You can also contact companies directly and inquire about opportunities for location-independent workers.

How much does a digital nomad need to make?

The income range required for a digital nomad depends on many things. It depends on your lifestyle and which country you plan on traveling to or living in.

Some people can get by with just $1,000 – $1,500 per month in certain Southeast Asian countries, while others in Central and Western Europe will need more money, upwards of $3,000 – $5,000 per month. Make sure to thoroughly research the cost of living in your target countries.

What do digital nomads actually do?

As a digital nomad, you’ll be able to do just about anything. Regarding remote work, there are numerous possibilities to earn a steady income. You can be an entrepreneur.

Some digital nomads start online businesses or blogs. You can learn to invest for passive income. Or maybe you want to freelance and work as a consultant with clients all over the world.

Maybe you’re a programmer who wants to work remotely from exotic locations where the weather is perfect year-round. Maybe you need some time off from your job and want to live in Thailand for a while before returning home. Whatever it is that inspires you—the possibilities are endless.

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