So you want to become a Digital Nomad?

Preface: This is part in a series of articles I am still busy working on, it may be rough around the edges and end abruptly.

Great, you are here. You’re taking the “First Step” to becoming a digital nomad.

Before we go any further let’s really define what it means to be a digital nomad.

Wikipedia Says:

“Digital nomads are individuals who leverage telecommunications technologies to perform their work duties, and more generally conduct their lifestyle in a nomadic manner.”

I think that’s a fairly accurate statement so let’s break it down.

Individuals who leverage technology to perform their work duties.

In today’s modern age, a great deal of us already leverage telecommunications technology to perform their work duties.

  • Receptionists utilise a telephone.
  • Personal assistants utilise telephones, email and often do online research.
  • A salesman uses a telephone and email.
  • A video editor uses a computer.
  • A travel agent uses a computer, email and telephone.

Then there are those professions where they don’t often leverage technology but can.

Tutors, for example, don’t actually need to be there in person, nor psychiatrists or dog trainers (seriously, I bet Doggy Dan isn’t pitching up to a 9 to 5 job every day).

You may need to adjust the mindset in which you complete your work, but trust me, a lot of seemingly non-digital jobs can actually be performed remotely whilst leveraging technology.

Those who do actual physical work, like a builder or personal trainer, for example, may need to think outside the box in order to become a digital nomad. Don’t be discouraged though it’s not extremely hard to train yourself to work in a location independent way.

Conduct their lifestyle in a nomadic manner.

This is very easy to sum up, and it’s a fantastic way to live.

Live in a manner that allows you to move around. This doesn’t necessarily mean living in hotels and hostels or going on an endless backpacking trip. It means building a life that is independent of you being in a particular location.

Working as a digital nomad. This is me working. Somewhere in the mountains in Chiang Mai.

This is me working. Somewhere in the mountains, and that’s my 4-Year old enjoying the view.

That picture represents a typical day in the life of a digital nomad, and the following picture represents a whole bunch of people who do the same work I do.

Definitely not digital nomads. This is what they say is a normal life

People who got tricked into working in an Office.

I bet a lot of these people are way smarter than me, but somewhere along the lines they fell into the trap of thinking that this is what success looks like. They fell into a position where their work requires them to be in a certain location.

Another important part of being location independent is to let go of all your “stuff” (or put it in storage if you just can’t let go yet). We all have tons of things we just don’t need but merely wanted at the time. They have no purpose but to burden you and drain your bank account. You have to insure them, clean them, fix them if they break.

Some people also get into the keeping up with the Joneses mentality. “Honey, Tim just got new mountain bikes and they’re so cool. We should go get new mountain bikes so I can place them in the garage next to the treadmill we never use.”

You should try playing Jones In the Fast Lane a few hundred times. That’s the life you have been sold on since you were born. Winning means having a high paying 9 to 5, living in an apartment where you don’t get robbed every day, eating food that doesn’t immediately kill you and owning nice things.

Jones is not a Digital Nomad. Jones in the fast lane accurately describes a "normal life"

Jones in the Fast Lane – A PC game that emulates a normal life.

You work all day to buy things you can’t use to fill your house, and then you die. Maybe you get few holidays in between the work to explore the world. And what’s the worst part of a holiday? Coming home. If your stuff was so great you would despise being on holiday and just stay home (Yes, I know some holidays can be a flop, we’ve all had those).

To some it up:

I’ll let that be my new official definition of a digital nomad (plus it fits in a tweet and you know what they say about things that fit in a tweet).

So now that it’s no longer a fancy phrase and holds a true meaning, do you want to become a digital nomad?

I see you are still here. Excellent. That means either your life is so boring you are going to carry on reading just for some entertainment or you actually want to become a digital nomad.

I’ve broken down the process of becoming a digital nomad down into 4 steps. So let’s look at them now.

The 4 steps to becoming a digital nomad.

Step 1: Be inspired and motivated.

Digital Nomad - Follow your dreams, follow your heart, follow your wanderlust.

That’s my wife, I’ll follow her anywhere in a heartbeat.

Inspiration and motivation? Is that even a thing? Why is that a step?

Step 1 is by far the most important step, without inspiration and motivation you would probably give up. The more you want something, the more likely you are to succeed. If you are already inspired and so motivated to become a digital nomad you know quitting is not an option, then great, you’ve already taken the first step. Your 25% there. Now pat yourself on the back and head to step 2.

Step 2: Earn.

entrepreneurship pays off

It’ll take some hustling, but smart work pays off.

Remember we defined a digital nomad as a person who uses technology to EARN an income. This is not the movies, you can’t magically hope on a plane with $50 in your pocket, land in a foreign country and have the adventure of a lifetime. Ok, so statistically this would be possible, but so is winning the lotto. (playing the lotto is NOT Step 2!)

In order to earn you need to take your existing skills, or acquire new skills and techniques, and leverage these skills to make money while being anywhere.

This may sound a little vague and complicated, but at the end of the day it’s really not. Lot’s of people have done this before, and you can too.

Earning and saving money is an important early step as the more you have in the bank the easier it makes things and the more opportunities it opens up.

If you did actually win the lotto, already have a location independent income, got blessed with a big fat trust fund, or bought a couple thousand Apple shares back in the 80’s you can skip straight over to step 3.

Step 3: Prepare

Digital Nomad Prepared - Sometimes this just means letting go

This is what prepared looks like. We sold some and gave the rest away.

The amount of preparation required really depends on your situation and what you plan to do. While it is possible to hop on a plane, bus or train and see where you end up, It’s probably not advisable.

You will need to get rid of your “stuff”. Cancel all your subscriptions such as cable and the gym membership. If you have medical insurance then you are probably going to cancel that and switch to travel insurance.

Where are you going to go? Who are you going with? These are all important considerations.

Step 4: Explore

Digital Nomad - We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.

Go. Do it. This is the fun step. Travel, have fun, meet new people, try new things, eat new foods, see new places. You did not become location independent to just sit on your beautiful behind reading what I have to say.

Step 4 to becoming a digital nomad is about sharing knowledge, helping you realise new opportunities for excitement. Making sure you travel smoothly, and saving you some money in the process through shared experience.

If you are ready to take the leap, explore the world and improve your life. Head on over to Step 1 and get inspired.