How to become a digital nomad

It’s easy to get intimidated by the idea of becoming a digital nomad, since it’s a nontraditional lifestyle – the truth is, becoming a digital nomad is really simple: you decide to do it, and then you do it. 😉  Ok ok, there is a litttttle more to it than that, but don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it.

If you’ve found yourself wondering…

  • What is a digital nomad, remote worker, and a…location independent boss babe?
  • How will I make money and support myself while I’m traveling?
  • How do I become a digital nomad?

Then you’ve come to the right place 😝

What is a digital nomad?


A digital nomad is just someone who works and travels at the same time.
 

How quickly do you travel? That’s up to you! Everyone has their own personal preferences, though I’ve generally found that the longer people nomad, the more they tend towards slow travel or “slowmading” and staying in one place longer. You get to decide how long you stay in one place and define whether you “live” there.

You can be a remote worker AND location independent AND a digital nomad. A remote worker is someone who, well, works remotely. Generally this means they work for a company, or someone else. Someone who is location independent…you guessed it – is not dependent on their location to do their job. In all cases, this generally means you do all your work online. You could also go old school and be what I call an “analog nomad” – someone who works offline, and just shows up somewhere and finds an in-person job.

People have been digital nomading for over a decade. As technology evolves and the world gets ever more connected, working online – working from anywhere – is becoming easier and easier. I was lucky enough to become a digital nomad in September 2019 jusssst before coronavirus hit.

The covid-19 pandemic forced most companies to go remote and have their employees work from home. And if you’re already working from home – couldn’t you work from anywhere?

We’re looking at a new future full of much more flexible life/work balances and styles. Digital nomadism and remote work are only going to become more common. We’ll see people splitting their time between locations, taking long travelcations, and exploring new ways of living.

Are you going to be one of them?

If you’re thinking about nomading, sign up for inspo here

How will I make money and support myself while I’m traveling?

 

First things first, you have to figure out how you’re going to financially support yourself.

Generally, that looks like either:

  • Have (or get!) a remote, location-independent job.
  • Become a freelancer / start your own business.

LOCATION-INDEPENDENT REMOTE JOBS

If your job isn’t currently remote, that means you either need to negotiate to make it remote, or get a new one. If you already have or are going to get a remote job, make sure you think through the time difference between where you’ll be interacting with, and where you want to be. In Bali I met a dear friend working “vampire hours” for her job with Google in San Francisco (she worked all night and slept all day). Make sure you check on what the geographic requirements are for your company/job – “remote” might mean “in the US.” Many companies have legal, tax, and contractual obligations for where employees can and can’t be.

Starting your own business / becoming a freelancer.

This is what I did, so I’m obviously in favor 💁🏽‍♀️  My “day job” is helping aspiring social impact entrepreneurs launch their dream business in 90 days without letting overthinking hold them back (Duraca Travels is my fun side project)! So if you’re thinking about becoming your own boss, I’d love to help you achieve your business AND nomad dreams. If this is you…

Watch my free webinar, How to Launch Your Dream Business in 90 Days Withough Letting Overthinking Hold You Back

Starting your own business or becoming a freelancer is a great fit with nomading – you can make sure you create a business that supports a nomad lifestyle and choose clients that accept, admire, and appreciate the fact that you’re a nomad! I founded my business, Duraca Strategic, in 2019, and haven’t looked back yet! In addition to helping budding small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, I’ve done consulting for big companies and governmental organizations including Intel, Amazon, Facebook, The World Bank, EIT Health, and more.

How do I become a digital nomad?

Like yoda said, there is no trying…only doing! 

No I know, it’s really intimidating if you haven’t done it before, or known anyone who is a nomad. It’s a lot to think about to uproot your life and give up your things and think about working from somewhere maybe you’ve never been before, especially if you haven’t traveled a lot.

I got you.

Get my digital nomad checklist

I highly recommend downloading the checklist above so you don’t miss anything. But here are some general things to think about:

Your stuff.

What to do with any property you have and all your stuff. Rent it out? Get someone to manage it? Sell it?

Your permanent address.

It’s helpful to have one for so many reasons – voting, taxes, a place to send mail, etc etc. I’m lucky to be able to use my mom’s.

Travel papers.

Passport and visas. Make sure your passport is up to date – and, sis, that can take TIME. Many places require your passport to be valid for at least six months after you leave, and have enough pages – so renew it now if you need to! Research visa and vaccine requirements for any country you want to go to beforehand. Some countries now have visas just for digital nomads!

Taxes.

Fun fact: if you are out of the US 330 days of the year, you qualify for the ‘Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.’ Less fun fact: If you want to continue being a US citizen, you have to file taxes…always. And if you have your own business, you need to file QUARTERLY estimated tax payments. No joke…state AND federal. I do not pretend to know, like, anything about taxes…which is why I have an accountant. Definitely recommend getting one familiar with nomad tax issues – like mine,  Nomad Tax.

Your phone.

Two-factor authentication seems like it’s making you safer until you’re on a motorcycle trip in Vietnam and can’t access your bank account because it’s sending a verification code to a phone number you don’t have access to! Check what countries your current phone plan works in. I started with Google Fi, which instantly works in most countries – but, despite marketing to digital nomads, they’ll kick you out after four months. Now I use Fi for my US number (for two-factor authentication and to keep my same number) in combination with an Airalo esim so I have data wherever I am. I have a dual-SIM phone. And don’t forget to get your phone unlocked!

Financial ish.

It makes a bigggg difference having the right financial products, and you want to do this before you leave. You want debit cards and credit cards that: don’t charge currency conversion fees, don’t charge ATM fees, are accessible all over the world, have travel rewards, and have good customer service (preferably accessible 24/7, and not just by phone), and won’t expire soon. I cannot recommend Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking enough; this is what I use for my checking accounts. The only drawback is you can’t deposit cash, but in three years, I haven’t needed this. You can deposit checks and withdraw cash anywhere for no ATM fee  – I use cash abroad a lot, and simply withdraw cash wherever I go to avoid paying currency conversion fees. For credit cards, I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (the Preferred is great too)! I’ve booked many a flight with my travel points. For more on finances, check out this page.

Health insurance.

This depends a LOT on whether you’ll be in the US or not, where healthcare is more expensive than anywhere else. When I’m just abroad and don’t need US coverage, I use Safety Wing – it’s been good for me so far (especially for the price!), but it’s mostly just coverage in case something happens – nothing preventative. When I’m in the US, I sign up for coverage via my state’s insurance exchange. You can also get more comprehensive international plans that cover preventative medicine, and even cover the US; you’ll just be paying for it. If you have a travel credit card, this will usually have some protections as well – check out this page.

Travel insurance.

I don’t have specific insurance for my stuff – it’s a big risk (thieves, please ignore this section). If you have a travel credit card, this will usually have some protections – check. I have Safety Wing, and that has some protections as well. If you have home / property insurance, that can often give you some coverage as well, or you can ask to extend it. Ultimately, if all my stuff is stolen, I might have to pay out of pocket to replace it all – but that’s not a sure thing. Sinking $ into an insurance company every year, which may or may not pay my claims after a lotttt of paperwork is a sure thing. I may yet get travel insurance, so if you have any recommendations, let me know!

Driving.

Planning to drive abroad? Make sure you get your international driver’s permit first (in the US, you can do this at AAA). Planning on renting a scooter abroad? Get your motorcycle license first, then get an international driving permit for motorcycles.

This is just the basics. I cover a lot more in this checklist, so if you’re planning to go nomad, get that here:

Get my digital nomad checklist

Ok, now you know the basics of nomading! Do you feel ready to become a digital nomad? Where are you at in your journey? Did this answer your biggest questions?

Hit me up on Instagram @t.prad and let me know if this was helpful,
or what questions you still have!

Disclaimer: You'll find some affiliate links throughout the site - along with real talk about what I do/don't like about the product/service. I don't recommend things I don't like. If you decided to act on my (free!) advice (you're welcome 💁🏽‍♀️), this means I'll get back some coffee money on my efforts - so it's a great way to show your support for this multicultural creator 🙂

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