What is a digital nomad?
Let’s define the digital nomad and what one does.
Did you know one of the number one questions many young people are asking today is – how does one become a digital nomad and the pros and cons of living the lifestyle?
What is a Digital Nomad?
According to the urbandictionary the definition of a Digital Nomad is:
One who derives income remotely and online, rather than from commuting to an office. This enables the digital nomad not to need a permanent home base, and she/he can travel anywhere at any time.
For example, they do not need a permanent home base, which is true.
But you may choose to have a home-base – maybe even two.
If you’ve heard of or read the book, 4 Hour Work Week, you’ll be familiar with the image of a laptop and a palm tree.
The idea of working on the beach and not having to move all day is an obnoxious image to paint of a digital nomad.
Where do they operate?
Digital nomads are business owners and freelancers.
They do jobs that allow travel and they are reliant on technology, mainly the internet and their laptops.
They frequent co-working spaces, cafes, and shared offices in major cities around the world.
People want to work in more flexible ways than how they’ve been working ever since the industrial revolution… Peter Wall
Having arrived at this lifestyle myself, after a lot of trial and error; I’d say that working from your laptop while you’re on a beach is definitely possible.
Digital Nomad Misconceptions
However, this one of the biggest misconceptions of the way digital nomads operate.
Like many things we see online, how the digital nomad lifestyle is portrayed to the public is not always a true representation.
These images are merely snapshots of a moment in the life of a digital nomad. They can entice you and make you feel you’re doing something wrong in life.
Is this possible? Yes, of course. Just don’t expect it to be productive or even sustainable.
Little did I know, I actually was operating as a digital nomad since 2013.
I never realized there was a whole cult-like movement around this way of living. I never considered myself a digital nomad.
However, I find it fascinating and have learned a lot through the way this community operates.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of the digital nomad lifestyle.
Being a Digital Nomad Benefits
What are some of the benefits of being a digital nomad?
Be Your Own Boss
Do you like the idea of being your own boss? We need to understand that digital nomads have the responsibility of running a business.
Just like any other functional business, you find on the internet, which is why a good internet connection is crucial.
Running businesses online can allow the freedom for you to be wherever you choose. This is a crucial difference from a street business.
Working from anywhere is an attractive component to most young people today.
Being a digital nomad gives you the freedom to work from anywhere. Location Independence, on the other hand, gives you total freedom.
Meaning you can afford to be anywhere at any given moment in time.
Meaning both time and money are not a limiting factor for you.
All this is made possible because you have nothing to tie you down to a location. You have the resources to be wherever you need to be, even in an emergency.
- Digital Nomad Jobs
- How I became a Travelprenuer
- Digital Nomad Gear
- Book Every Digital Nomad Should Read
Being a Digital Nomad – The Pros
Below are some of the pros of living a nomad lifestyle:
You Can Stay Minimalist
Digital nomads are usually minimalists; they have to be. They must be smart about what they carry.
Some carry a backpack, a large suitcase, or both.
Most true digital nomads are forced to become super selective in what they carry, which is a challenge.
No Rental Agreements or Utilities
This is one of the greatest pros for some. Why get tied up in long contracts when you can use AirBnb or find a sublet from a fellow digital nomad?
Other digital nomads have a home base. Having a home base allows you to find a balance between being a nomad and living a sedentary lifestyle.
Meeting like minded people
If you’re doing solo travel and/or living like a digital nomad, you’ll find it rewarding to meet with others. Most use Facebook groups and forums forums like this one.
You can also find communities of digital nomads in places like Chaing Mai in Thailand, and parts of the world like Medellín in Colombia.
Being a Digital Nomad – The Cons
Below are some of the cons of living a nomad lifestyle:
Having No Homebase
Although this is not even an issue for the traditional nomads, packing and unpacking your life from time-to-time can feel like a drag.
It also depends on how much of a minimalist you are. At the worst of times, digital nomads have to think about their birthplace or hometown.
Having a fixed home is counterintuitive to the nomadic lifestyle. This is where location independence and open-mindedness can bring you a balance.
Heavily Reliant on Wi-Fi
Digital nomads rely heavily on their internet connections. It’s like needing oxygen to breathe.
That connection must also be a decent speed. Having said that, this is where working smartly comes in.
I like to plan the bulk of my work to do offline. This is where location-independent thinking can save you from being a slave to your connected devices.
Are you health conscious? A true digital nomad won’t rely on their birth country to seek medical help. This means looking after you.
Everything down to what you eat, what activities you do, and even the way you travel. You have to learn to minimize risk.
Some type of insurance is imperative. I use the World Nomads insurance, but I never want to actually use it.
For me, travel insurance is there to have as a safety net for flight delays more than anything.
If you’re inside a new culture and spend a long period of time alone, you have the option to learn how to connect with locals and even learn the language.
If a nomad has no interest in learning the local language, it’s like removing themselves from the culture.
Especially if you consider how much more you can learn just by knowing a few local phrases, but it’s not a necessity to be a digital nomad.
Self-Discipline is a Must
A tall order for most. Remember, digital nomads still have businesses to run, and there are daily sacrifices that have to be made.
This is where the concept of working smartly comes in again. So, while you’re sipping your Pina Colada by the side of the pool with your laptop, be careful.
This is blurring the lines between work and leisure time.
If you can’t distinguish between the two, it may just catch up with you. You could begin to feel like a slave to your laptop or smartphone.
But there is still one thing that they all have in common. Digital nomads have the skills and ability to sustain an income online.
Digial Nomads: Final Thoughts
Feeling confident? Familiarise yourself with some of the travel obstacles that make it difficult for digital nomads today.
Remember, whether you live at your parent’s house for three months of the year or still visit the same dentist back home.
You can still qualify as a digital nomad, what are you waiting for?
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