Bought a plane ticket, packed a laptop. Occupation: Digital nomad
Digital nomads are people who make use of telecommunication and information technologies to make money, moving from one country to the other and by that traveling the world. This would be the pedantic definition provided by Wikipedia if asked who digital nomads are.
Written by: Tanczer Viki, Picture Credit: Varga Nóra, Translated by: Rita Macskási-Temesváry
But is somebody who is teleworking abroad already a digital nomad? Not completely, but she has already done the first step towards the possibility of becoming one.
What are the features of a digital nomad?
According to webworktravel.com, for one she can post at least one picture of herself sitting on a sandy beach with palm trees and her laptop, working there with a cocktail in her hand under an umbrella. This is a cliché of course, as it is not really drawn from life. People working at such places often go outside only for shooting a picture and then return to their airconditioned (hotel) room, where they don’t get sand into their keyboards, where the WiFi is strong, where are no tourists to work effectively.
Latter, focused work, is one of the biggest challenges for those who live this lifestyle. Without self-discipline, effective self-organization and scheduling it is relatively impossible to keep any job, client or company. In this regard, the work of a digital nomad does not differ much from work in its usual sense. When the job needs to be done and time is of the essence, one has to get down to work, regardless of time zones.
According to TheGuardian, at the same time there is the possibility to immerge into a completely different culture which can be very adventurous as one needs to buy groceries, find those coffeeshops and restaurants suitable for working at and establish new friendships. However, all of this is very energy-draining. The digital nomad does not have as much time as a typical tourist to map every street and explore every detail, but needs to establish herself for everyday work life in order to feel at least partially at home. If only, it could also happen that one will be in need of a doctor or will have to take care of administrative issues.
Webworktravel.com sets the record straight right at the beginning: there is a substantial difference between a digital nomad and somebody who works in a geographically independent way. In reality, not every digital nomad earns enough money to make a living in virtually any place in the world. That’s why it is no coincidence that there are that many pictures with palm trees in the background. In south-east Asian countries one can make a living out of far less money compared with the Western world. In contrast, to be able to afford living and working in pricier global cities and be truly geographically independent, one needs much more, this is the next step in the online working world.
Who can become a digital nomad?
Somebody could jump right into the world of digital work, but what if somebody cannot switch right away or does not know if she is suitable for this kind of nomad life? Apparently, this kind of freedom can be tasted more easily than we would imagine. One does not need to prepare much or have an adventurous personality. A laptop and a job or hobby, that can be done partially or fully online, with the help of modern technology, is more than enough. Many people work in offices solely on their computers. If one’s employer is flexible and allows it, such jobs can be tried to be done from home office or tele work to find out whether one can work diligently even when we are our own boss.
Those who cannot afford to resign their classic job but would like to start building up their digital work, can try to be online entrepreneurs in their free time. By that it becomes visible which skills and knowledge are (still) needed for being able to think more seriously about the work and travel around the globe lifestyle.
For the sake of completeness, we would like to mention that if somebody would like to enter this world very fast and has some cash on the side, it is possible to literally buy online businesses, which are already generating cash. We now refrain from risk analysis as it is evident that this is not the step stone into the digital nomad world, still it is good to know about this possibility.
For those who want to play it safe and neither tele work nor establishing a business is an option, they can try to take an online course or even online university to try out how it is if one does not need to physically get into a specific building to get ahead and grow further.
Having saved enough money, one can even think about moving to a digital nomad hub such as Thailand. Over there, life is cheaper and one can live longer of a European salary. During this time, one can network and learn new skills from other nomads.
Moving abroad can also push somebody towards world traveling/working. Many people work as language or ski teachers, diving instructors or work on a ship and by that taste the feeling and possibilities of living abroad and its personality-(trans)forming effects.
The base of digital nomadism can be established by digitalizing already existent and working jobs/businesses. By using PCs, webcams, online and cloud applications, a wide array of tele work becomes possible.
Advantages and disadvantages
Being a digital nomad can be definitely a large adventure – who does not want to travel the word and earn money while doing so? It sounds very promising to maintain a good standard of living in an exotic country for less money.
For sure, one needs to get used to constant change, new acquaintances, tastes, smells, people, traveling, packing, being constantly on the road. However, one learns so much during such an adventure and from fellow comrades, that afterwards the aim of geographical independence might not even seem so far away anymore. Once one has set up a working strategy, only the job and money will limit when deciding on the next country of destination.
TheGuardian further points out that another advantage of being a digital nomad is that the many experiences and traveling inspire people and as a consequence also their work. For interested looking about and experiencing cultural differences leads to broadened horizons, and as a result more creative solutions.
As to webworktravel.com, it is best to keep in mind that after some time even the most mobile nomad will settle down somewhere, and this needs to be prepared in time and with money. Thus, a more complex strategy is needed. For this reason, if one wants to become a digital nomad only for the sake of traveling, it might be more suitable to book a larger tour every year and by that satisfying the inner explorer and at the same time to keep one’s regular work.
One thing is for sure, this lifestyle won’t make for a good retirement job and life-long way of life. However, it is definitely a life-altering experience, reference and adventure.
Sources and photos: www.vargaphoto.comwebworktravel.com, theguardian.com