5 tips to succeed as a digital nomad

You live to travel. You love your job. Why not do both? With the right skills and a good internet connection, you can make a living anywhere. Hit deadlines from Delhi, present in Paris and Skype from Stockholm. Forget 9-5, take your office around the world. Soak up the sun on a pristine sandy beach or inhale crisp mountain air deep into your lungs – all while satisfying your passion for work and wanderlust. 

What is a digital nomad?

Somebody who works online and doesn’t need to be tied to an office. A digital nomad uses technology to work remotely in foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries or co-working spaces – wherever the mood takes them.

So what skills do you need? Anything you can use to sell online and earn an income. Here are a just a few profitable skills that are useful when living as a digital nomad:

  • Copywriter
  • Blogging
  • Graphic design
  • Web design
  • Translation
  • Social media marketing
  • SEO
  • App development
  • Email marketing
  • Customer service
  • Illustration
  • Animation
  • Video editing
  • Data analysis
  • Bookkeeping

Things to consider before you set out

Got what it takes? Great. Here are 5 tips worth noting before embarking on your journey.

1    Be shrewd with money

You’ll need a steady source of income before you set out on your travels. Essentially, you want enough money to fund your travels. This means lining up projects, contracts and clients before you take off.  Dry spells do happen, so you’ll need to aside some savings. Try reducing and eliminating as many bills and expenses as possible, like rent, gym memberships and subscriptions. If things get tight, find a destination that’s relatively inexpensive and stay there for a while.

2    Make the most of your technology

You need to three tools to get the job done: a mobile phone, a laptop and an internet connection.

Keep an eye out for strong internet connection wherever you go. Fire off a few email emails as you indulge in pizza in Pisa or a paella in Pamplona. When booking your accommodation, check, check and check again that there’s fast and stable Wi-Fi connection – read some online reviews or call and ask at reception. No dice? Poor connection? You could always tether the internet or use a hotspot.

There are other ways to work smart. Use internet video call systems or VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) apps to give status updates and attend meetings. Make your work accessible using shared documents, storage clouds and online drives. Ask your clients what suits them best.

Yep, the internet is pretty important. However, a phone is a digital nomad’s lifeline. It needs to work wherever you go. Bear in mind, if your phone is locked to a network, simply swapping out a SIM card might not be an option. Plus, these new-fangled smartphones can drain battery fast. Go old-school with a cheap, no-frills phone with long-lasting battery.

3    Understand your banking fees

Few people think banks are fun. However far away you go, you can’t escape them. So you’ll need to consider a few things like international transaction fees and exchange rates. Most importantly, can your credit and debit cards be used abroad?

Some FinTech companies are making it simpler. For example, Monzo offer a pre-paid-style VISA debit card which can be ‘topped up’ with an existing bank account. This means it can be used across the world and doesn’t charge fees for withdrawals or transactions.

4    Book suitable accommodation

Love the outdoors? Bit of an adventurer? Fancy yourself as the next Bear Grylls? Either way, you’ll need a roof over your head at some stage or another. As a digital nomad, accommodation will probably be your largest cost. Your best bet? If you’re staying somewhere for a week or two, check out sites like Airbnb which tend to be cheaper than hotels. Plus, you might be able to negotiate a better rate.

Just passing through? Grab a short-term deal at a hostel or hotel for a night or two. Check sites like CouchSurfing, they can arrange accommodation with locals all over the world. Remember, do your research before setting out. There’s nothing worse than turning up somewhere with nowhere to stay…especially during monsoon season.

5    Apply for visas in good time

Sometimes you need to buy a visa online before you’re even allowed to board the plane. Each country can be different in their attitudes towards visas – so don’t miss that flight, make sure you apply for visas well in advance and check the small print.

There are two overarching visas that apply to any country: immigrant (in which you become a citizen of that country) and non-immigrant (you’re just there for temporary travel).

There are four specific types of travel visas:

  • Tourist visa
  • Immigration and naturalisation visa (including by marriage)
  • Student visas (for studying abroad)
  • Business/working visas

Most digital nomads tend to choose a tourist visa – this is a temporary stamp of approval that shows you’re allowed to travel in in that country for a certain time period. Most countries don’t mind if you do some online business. However, if you’re soliciting local business in that country, you should probably apply for a work VISA. How can you be sure? Visit forums and message boards. Ask other digital nomads about their experiences of working in this country.

Bon voyage

Making that scary leap is sometimes the toughest part of becoming a digital nomad. But with good planning and a passion for working and travelling, there’s no reason why you can’t make it happen. After all, you’ve got the skills to pay the bills. If you’ve been in your role for a while, the chances are you know how to keep clients happy – that’s valuable experience you can take wherever you go. So pack your bags, you’ve got this.

Start planning today

Make sure everything’s in order before you go. Find out about a range of services including accountancy and insurance cover at Contractor Supermarket.