There’s something extraordinary about how the labour model is evolving. Whereas the generations before us couldn’t comprehend employment outside of the traditional 9-to-5 setup, our generation is documenting the rise of a dynamic, flexible, and highly ambitious working class: that of the digital nomad.
For those who are yet unfamiliar with the term, “digital nomad” pertains to someone who earns from remote work while they travel around the world. Fields like e-commerce, digital marketing, web design, translation, and virtual assistance already lend themselves easily to this lifestyle choice, as work output can be monetized even when one is outside of an office setting. As such, a growing demographic of creative and hard-working professionals now choose this model in order to be their own bosses, cultivate a better work-life balance, and discover all that the planet has to offer.
In turn, for those who have embraced this title and the opportunities that come with it: congratulations! The digital nomad lifestyle can be very challenging, but it also comes with its own exceptional rewards. However, such a change in your routine requires a little prep work and a lot of dedication to pull off. If you want to make the best out of your upcoming journeys, iron out the practical details first. Here’s a list of eight action points that can help you transition into the life of a bona-fide digital nomad.
- Open a mobile bank account for your savings and expenditures. First things first, you will need to straighten out your personal finances. Some of your foremost concerns going into this major lifestyle shift are quick access to funds, efficient management of your future income stream, and options for cashless payment (the latter now being widely accepted for different commodities around the world). Choose a banking partner to facilitate mobile account opening so that you can benefit from these services anywhere in the world, as long as you have your mobile phone.
With a mobile account, you can consolidate your current and savings accounts in a wide range of currencies and make fast and safe digital payments regardless of your location and time zone. The security afforded by mobile banking lets you enjoy products, services, and programs that would otherwise require your handwritten signature—which can be difficult to give when you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away from home.
- Plan along feasible travel timelines. Next on the agenda is planning your travel itineraries. If you are not used to being on-the-go, it’s best to err on the conservative side while planning your first trips. Opt for locations that provide some of the same creature comforts as your home base, so that transitioning won’t make you too tired or homesick. It’s also a good idea not to stray too far from your original time zone, as the sudden change to your diet, rest hours, and mobility might affect your physical health. Resist the urge to cram lots of travel activities in just one trip. Take your time; the rest of the world isn’t going anywhere.
- Complete all the stops on the paper trail. Once you’ve made your plans, you will need to acquire all the necessary documentation in a timely manner. Be conscientious about doing the following: renewing your passport, applying for visas, securing health and travel insurance, and undergoing medical check-ups. For every set of paper documentation that you collect, make sure that you file away a digitized copy and save it on your mobile device or computer. This is so that you can have the files on hand any time you need them, and so that you have backup in case something untoward happens to you while you’re travelling.
- Sell or give away possessions you don’t need. As a full-fledged digital nomad, you’ll need to adhere to the philosophy of packing light. Bring only what’s necessary for the trip, leave behind anything that can weigh you down, and transfer ownership of certain items to people who might have better use for them at home. You can donate extra clothes, accessories, or gadgets to charity organizations, or you can sell some items and save the money for a rainy day abroad.
- Draft an emergency contact plan. Even if you do all your planning by the book, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be smooth sailing for every single trip. There’s still a chance that you’ll get into an accident, get sick, get lost along the way, or be pickpocketed. Try to list the possibilities and draft a contingency plan for each of them. Keep soft copies of your passport and IDs on your person; invest in anti-theft travel gear; and make a list of emergency contacts including the nearest hospital, police station, and embassy to each of your locations.
- Stick to your goals for your work output. Constant travel means that distractions and detours are rife, but try not to let it all get in the way of your productivity. It’s doubly important that you sustain this lifestyle with your income stream, and that means that you have to be diligent in putting out the work. Come up with daily, weekly, and monthly goals for your output; make a calendar of deadlines; ensure that your travel location provides the logistics to make completion of your work possible. You’ll feel great about being able to tick off your work-related goals as well as the items on your travel bucket list.
- For every location that you’ll be visiting, orient yourself on the community’s way of life. When you travel to a different country, different laws, sociocultural norms, and beliefs immediately come into play—and that is something that you always have to respect as a visitor. Pay attention not only to the country’s laws, ordinances, and currency exchange rates, but also to the countrymen’s language, values, and habits. Visit travel forums and ask questions ahead of your trip, or better yet, talk to people you know about the experiences that they have had in those countries.
Being a digital nomad will have its ups and downs, and some days on the job will prove particularly exacting. But to some, the extra time, the allowance to move freely, and the opportunity to count the stars from halfway across the world will be worth it.