Tourism may have slowed down a bit, but digital nomad-ism (is that a word?) continues to grow, especially as more people with “normal” jobs start working from home.
But while it may come as a surprise to some, the digital nomad lifestyle isn’t all exotic beaches, boutique hotels, and quaint little coffee shops, no matter what social media may have led you to believe.
It can be confusing, stressful, and yes, there is hard work involved. With that in mind, here are 8 tips for succeeding as a digital nomad.
More Work, Less “Nomad”
Being a “digital nomad” doesn’t mean you have to jump on a plane or bus every week – or even every few months. In fact, if you want to actually be successful, you probably shouldn’t.
Because each time you relocate, you have to find a new flat, get a new phone and internet plan, scout out the best cafes and grocery stores, and a whole host of other things.
So, just because you have the freedom to move – and don’t have to pack up a whole house’s worth of belongings to do so – doesn’t mean you should take it lightly.
Invest in Your Workspace
Your workspace has a big impact on your productivity.
So, while you might occasionally hammer out some work by the pool or in a busy airport, in the long run, you’ll be way more effective if you put a little effort into creating a space that’s conducive to work.
That doesn’t mean said workspace has to be a traditional office – or even a static location. But getting a decent wireless mouse and a pair of noise-canceling headphones, for instance, can turn a noisy coffee shop into something a little more suited to focus.
Logistics, Logistics, Logistics
You might think “working from home” means you don’t have a commute. But you kinda do. Especially if, like most digital nomads, you rely on taxis and/or public transportation to get around.
Every time you need to go to your favorite coffee shop, to the supermarket, to the gym, that’s time (and money) that you’re investing. And depending on what city you live in – and how good your logistics are – it can become an unwanted hassle.
For instance, riding the packed skytrain in Bangkok or avoiding taxi scams in Latin America can evolve from “slight annoyance” to rage inducing when you have to put up with them every. single. day.
So, pay attention to logistics both when you’re searching for an apartment – and when you’re actually choosing a city to live in. You want somewhere that gives you access to all of your necessary amenities with minimal commuting.
That doesn’t mean you have to live smack dab in the center of the biggest city either. In fact, sometimes smaller cities – or the outskirts of bigger ones – have better logistics.
Maintain a Routine
Whether you’re remote working from your suburban home in the US or an exotic foreign country, it’s easy to watch your routine go out the window.
Rather than waking up, starting work, and stopping work at set times each day, you can end up in this weird place, where you wake up at noon, goof off online all day, and then get all your work done between midnight and dawn. Or something similar.
Now, no one’s saying you have to wake up at 6am, but it’s still a good idea to maintain some sort of normal routine for both work and life.
Always Know the Internet Situation
One of the hidden pitfalls of the remote worker lifestyle is internet.
Because on one hand, you rely heavily on the internet to work. But on the other hand, the internet in many of the best countries for digital nomads can be rather, well, inconsistent.
And it always seems to go out – or become painfully slow – right when you’re trying to finish up a big project.
With that in mind, a savvy nomad is always aware of the local internet situation, whether it’s the idiosyncrasies of their apartment’s connection or the cafes with the fastest (and most consistent) WiFi. You should also invest in a mobile internet plan that can be used through a separate WiFi hotspot – or just by tethering your smartphone.
Stay in Shape
Between a busy work schedule, travel, and social life, it doesn’t take much to “let yourself go” – or at least forget to exercise. This is especially true during Covid, since many gyms and parks have been closed or otherwise restricted.
But regular exercise, whether it’s lifting weights, hiking, or a local dance class, not only keeps your mind sharp, it’s a great way to maintain some sense of normalcy and discipline as a long-term digital nomad.
Do a Little Networking
No matter how good your internet is, you can still find yourself feeling disconnected as a digital nomad.
You don’t have any coworkers. Your “boss” – or clients – live in a whole other country. And most of the people around you are working normal 9-5 jobs. Not to mention the whole foreigner in a foreign country thing.
To avoid – or at least minimize – that, try to network a bit with the other expats and digital nomads around you, both offline and on. Not only can it keep you sane, it can open up opportunities or ideas for your business. Making friends is always a good idea too.
If you’re something of a minimalist, it can be easy to get complacent as a digital nomad.
After all, you make your own hours, have a good quality of life, and get to travel as much as you want. What more could you ask for?
But you don’t want to let that current contentedness become a rut. How? By setting goals, whether it’s starting a new business or site, growing your existing one, or just learning a new skill. Personal goals are great too, whether it’s learning a language or reading more.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories