5 Things to Consider if You Want to be a Digital Nomad
Long term travel and a career—the life of the Digital Nomad. To work remotely and leave behind the 9 to 5 grind. To hit the road and travel the continent (or more!). While either one of these accomplishments may be what some employees dream about while sitting in their 6 x 6 cubicle, balancing a life of travel and the responsibilities of work can be tricky. That’s why we’ve started the Work Vanlife Balance series to help share experiences on how it can be done.
And it can be done! Maybe not today, next week, or next year, but if you want to do it, you can. To travel long-term, you will need your finances and commitments in order. To work remotely you will need to transition to the right job, have the right motivation, and get the right technology. It isn’t something you can just move into overnight. Planning, research, and a little courage will be necessary to be successful.
Here are 5 things to consider if you want to work from the road:
Okay, this is directed a little bit more toward the nomadic lifestyle than remote working, but it is still important. When living a nomadic lifestyle you can’t bring everything with you. Make sure you have what you need and what you use. If you don’t need it our use it, don’t bring it! It may be hard to give up your favorite recliner, flat screen, and microwave, but if you’re not looking for a simpler lifestyle—this may not be the life for you. It will take some getting used to. You will miss some things. But if this is the life you dream about, those things won’t matter after a while.
This is the one that may take some time. There are careers more conducive to nomadic remote work than others. It would be tough to be a dentist on the road. However, there are tons of design, writing, and teaching gigs you can do online and remotely. Here is a list of some top remote careers to give you an idea. I recommend looking at your current job. Could you do it remotely? Could the meetings you go to be done over the phone or video conference? Many organizations are moving towards providing more opportunities to work remotely. Maybe yours is too! Here is a list of best sites for finding remote work. Let the search begin!
3. Assess Technology
This is where a little research and budgeting can come in handy. I needed an expansion monitor, a few (expensive) computer programs, and—because I couldn’t rely on 4 gigs of data and free WiFi—internet access. This means money, possibly more money than you want to spend. There is a saying, “you need to spend money, to make money,” and to some extent I agree. However, make sure you are getting a return on your investment. How much does it all cost? How long will it take for me to recoup my costs? These are important factors before jumping in.
4. Consider your Work Space
It’s a nice thought that every day you can set up your work space, look out over the amazing mountain or ocean view, and get down to work. This may be the case sometimes, but other times it’s windy, rainy, and cold. This means hunkering down in your vehicle/home. Make sure you have the room to do what you need to do. If you are traveling with a significant other, there needs to be room for them too! Think about this when you are building your van or mobile home. Our next rig will be built with a comfortable work space in mind.
5. Slow Down
This is one thing I am still working on. While on the road it still seems like I’m on vacation and I need to jam pack every minute of every day or I am going to miss out. I think they call this condition FOMO. This is where the Work Vanlife Balance comes in. My advice. Stay an extra day. Stay an extra week. Take some time to just relax. Take some time just for work. The cool stuff will still be there. Maybe you’ll enjoy it more knowing you are financing your travels without killing yourself. Isn’t that what you wanted to leave behind?
There are probably some people who are thinking, “yeah, that could work!” But I am sure there are more people shaking their head saying this is out of the question. I know…. family, mortgages, commitments, “I can never do that with my life.” And right now, you may be right. If you want something you have to make it happen for yourself. Houses get paid off (hopefully) and kids move out (hopefully). There is a lot of life to be had once those commitments have been fulfilled. In fact, the longer you plan and the longer you prepare to be a Digital Nomad, the more likely you will be to create a sustainable Work Vanlife balance.
Have you ever thought about working on the road? What would your dream career be?