Becoming a digital nomad was the single best decision I could have made in my entire life. Which is why I’m thrilled that you’re here today to learn how to become a digital nomad and live a nomadic lifestyle.
I’ve been able to travel to over 40 different countries basing myself out of some of the world’s most beautiful places. This was all while making all of my money online.
But when I first started living the digital nomad lifestyle in 2018, there was so much I didn’t know and it frankly brought about many struggles. So buckle in, friend. I’m about to to tell you ALL of the things I wish I knew before becoming and digital nomad and some tips on how you can become a digital nomad, too!
What is a Digital Nomad?
Digital nomads are remote and online workers that make money independent from their location. They are people who aren’t bound by a brick and mortar job, and can make money while traveling regularly.
I personally have gone through stretches of travel that are fast paced and let me see 3 different countries in a month. However, usually I like to settle into a new country for a month or two, exploring it casually while getting my online work done.
Some people get caught up on how often digital nomads travel, where as I think the location independence aspect is what really defines a nomadic lifestyle.
You’ll often see digital nomads congregating at coffee shops with fast wifi, hostel common areas, and even in Airbnbs around the world.
But the reality is, there are many different kinds of digital nomads around the world. Some live full-time out of RV’s, others sail around the globe while working online, and others may choose to not really travel much at all. There is a digital nomad lifestyle out there to suit almost anyone.
We were actually featured on PBS discussing the digital nomad lifestyle, and what it has looked like for us! Check it out:
The Pros and Cons of the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Why it’s GREAT!
Being a digital nomad has been one of the best aspects of my life. If I had to sit here and list all of the reasons nomadic living has changed my life for the better, I’ll be here forever. I’ve compiled a more comprehensive article on what my full-time nomadic lifestyle has really been like, that you can read here. But here are a few reasons why becoming a digital nomad would be the right decision for you:
- Escaping the 9-5 is THE BEST
- The flexibility of creating your own schedule
- Taking advantage of the lower cost of living in other countries and SAVE money
- Choosing where you want to live and when you want to leave
- Learning to become highly adaptable
- Ticking of your bucket list while making money
- The networking opportunities while traveling are huge
- It’s a great lifestyle for people who want to learn new skills and languages
- Learning many new things and becoming more open-minded
- Never being stuck in a cold bitter winter again!
- The absence of a rent or mortgage payment frees up a lot of capital
Want to learn how to become a digital nomad and live a nomadic lifestyle? Register for my free mini-course, 30 Days to Nomad!
Why it’s NOT
Traveling all over the world is definitely a dream. But I have always been extremely honest when I say that the digital nomad lifestyle is not for everyone. As a matter of fact, I have a whole video on all of the reason the digital nomad lifestyle wouldn’t be for you that you can click here to watch. But in summary:
- Traveling all of the time can get old
- Eventually you might want to accrue more things
- It can get lonely at times
- Meeting new people all of the time can keep friendships superficial
- You can be away from family and friends for long periods of time
And I’m not going to lie, after several years of traveling, the pandemic in 2020 was a welcomed break from travel. Although I may not choose to be a digital nomad for the rest of my life, that’s okay. Learning the fundamentals of a digital nomad lifestyle, even if you don’t do it forever, can change your life.
But back to the fundamentals…
What You NEED to Know to Become a Digital Nomad
To Become a Digital Nomad, You Need to Make Money From Anywhere
Becoming a digital nomad means that you can live anywhere in the world all while making money independent from your location. Though I know this might sound difficult, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Believe it or not, the pandemic has brought about tons of opportunities to work online. Many businesses that used to have brick and mortar locations, are now transitioning to the online space.
The reason for this is that it is so much cheaper to operate a business remotely. And after the pandemic forced everyone to stay home, employers realized they can have their employees work remotely and save costs.
This culminated is a HUGE influx of digital nomad jobs!! So if you’ve ever considered making the leap into a work-from-home job, so that you can earn money and travel, now is the time.
So, How do Digital Nomads Make Money?
The fact is, there is a multitude of digital nomad careers available to choose from. Some digital nomads work in traditional tech fields like web development and graphic design.
However, many others don’t! There are many digital nomad jobs available in non-tech fields like customer service, and administration.
I have personally done tons of digital nomad jobs just to figure out what I liked. I’ve been an online English teacher, started a tour company, worked as a freelance graphic designer, sold merch, and have leveraged my YouTube channel for partnerships.
So, if you have some grit and persistence, it doesn’t matter how inexperienced you are, you can find a digital nomad job that works for you. I’m living proof.
Like I mentioned earlier, becoming a digital nomad is easier than now after the pandemic. Companies are hiring left and right for administrative assistants, customer service representatives, and regular remote management jobs.
Whether you choose to become a freelancer, an entrepreneur, or a remote worker, there are ample options available to you.
As a matter of fact, in my free mini-course, 30 Days to Nomad, I cover as many as 10 different careers fields and how to apply for them. So, if you were ready to make some serious leaps into the digital nomad lifestyle, click here to register now.
You literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Digital Nomad Jobs Examples (Even if you are beginner and have no experience)
- Teaching Languages Online
- Remote Customer Service Jobs
- Virtual Assistant
- Affiliate Marketing
- Selling on Amazon (FBA)
- Freelance Graphic Design
- Shopify Store
- Starting a YouTube Channel
- Freelance Writing
The beauty of all of these digital nomad careers is that even if you don’t have experience, you can learn just about everything online. Whether you want to learn the basics of graphic design on YouTube, or purchase a full on coding course, you can learn it online.
Out of the ones above, the easiest one to get started would likely be teaching English online. It’s extremely easy to get a TEFL certificate and most ESL companies have a simple application process.
I have a full guide on teaching English online that you can read here, but if you wanted a more comprehensive list of digital nomad jobs, get my FREE cheatsheet, 50 Creative Ways to Make Money While Traveling, below!
For an in-depth breakdown of the kinds of digital nomad jobs available and help choosing the right path for you, click here!
But in all honesty, if I had to list every single job suitable for nomadic living, you’d be scrolling for hours. Trust me, if you want to live nomadically, there is a job available for you. Especially in the post-pandemic world.
Entrepreneurship as a Location Independent Job
My personal favorite way of making money while traveling has been entrepreneurship. I’ve started a tour company, sold merch on Shopify, created online courses, and leveraged my YouTube channel for advertising partnerships.
But entrepreneurship is not a path everyone is willing to take. For one, it’s risky. So, if you’re someone that is risk adverse, or the thought of starting something from scratch isn’t up your alley, this isn’t for you. I thrive on building, marketing, and driving businesses to success – FOR FUN.
And if you’re someone that doesn’t mind failing 1000 times in order to make the big bucks, below are some resources that have helped me get to where I am today:
- The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra is by single favorite book on the planet. He sells it as the practical guide for achieving your dreams, but I literally call it my guide to life. This book will single-handedly change the way that you see the world, building affluence, and getting what you want out of life. Fun fact: I found this book in a hostel when I was backpacking India and thought nothing of it. I’ve read it over 10 times since and now use it to help coach my Worker to Wanderer students into achieving the digital nomad lifestyle. If you get nothing else from this article, let it be this book recommendation.
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill breaks your limiting beliefs and teaches you how to change your mindset to accrue the money you want in life. Keep in mind, this is an old book so his language is flowery, but the concepts in this book will change the way you see money. His teachings were what first inspired me to sell all of my stuff and travel full-time.
- On Fire: The 7 Choices to Live a Radically Inspired Life by John O’Leary is a book that will kick you in the gut and teach you to be brave. O’Leary survived a terrible fire when he was 8 years old. In his book, he shares with you the powerful lessons almost being burned alive taught him. Great, great book!
- How I Built This by Guy Raz shares the stories of some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs documenting how they imagined, launched, and grew their businesses to success. I love this book because it share company’s you’ve heard about, and how they all started with just an idea. It’s a great reminder that YOU are also capable of great things.
What I love about the podcasts below is that you can listen to them anywhere. I did much of my learning and mindset work from the back of a motorcycle while riding through Vietnam. Below I’ve linked my all-time favorite podcasts with my favorite episodes to get you started!
Podcasts about Entrepreneurship
- EOFire by JLD is the single most motivating an educational podcast in the online space for entrepreneurs. JLD interviews a new entrepreneur each time, sharing the specific steps they took to achieve greatness. Sometimes the episodes cover super specific topics like goal setting, and other times it documents the entrepreneurs journey and struggles. JLD preaches on “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” and let me tell you, JLD is one of the people you want to be the average of!
- Goal Digger by Jenna Kutcher is a podcast for my lady bosses out there that want to learn business from a successful big sister. Jenna Kutcher brings in inspiring women as well as personally teaches on powerful concepts in marketing and building a brand. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a mediocre episode of this podcast.
- How I Built This by Guy Raz is quite similar to the book I recommended above, just the book covers the most influential and powerful stories that Guy Raz features on his podcast. So, if you read the book and are itching for more inspiring entrepreneurial stories, head on over to his podcast for a listen.
- Online Marketing Made Easy by Amy Porterfield is AMAZING if you plan on marketing your own business. I swear, it’s like going to business school in podcast form. Amy cuts the BS and goes straight to the point on marketing topics and how to execute them. This is excellent for digital nomads that want to become entrepreneurs without hiring a huge team.
Podcasts about the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
- Zero to Travel by Jason Moore is for people who are serious about the digital nomad lifestyle and want to hear stories from other travelers, too. Jason actually interviewed my husband and I in 2020 to discuss how we managed to pay of $70,000 of debt in three years, and still managed to save $15,000 before our full-time travels. This episode goes deep into our dedication to the hustle, and how it was beyond fruitful.
- Amateur Traveler by Chris Christensen shares a new destination each week that you may not have heard of before. What I love about this podcast is that it adds places to your bucket list by giving you an actionable itinerary. I was featured on his podcast to discuss my favorite place in the world, Krabi, Thailand. Never heard of it? Just take a browse through my Instagram to see why it’s the most beautiful place on earth.
- The World Wanderers by Amanda K. and Ryan F. is another great podcast for my wanderlusters out there. Amanda and Ryan have been full-time digital nomads since 2014 and share their journey around the world. We’ve been featured on their podcast multiple times to discuss our own digital nomad journey, how you can become one, and how we survived the pandemic in the middle of a Thai jungle.
Freelancing as a Digital Nomad Career
Whenever my Worker to Wanderer students ask me what digital nomad career path they should go after if they have no credentials, I steer them toward freelancing. Not because freelancing is easy or because people will hire duds, but because you can learn anything online!
Many people who hire freelancers aren’t doing it because they don’t know how and can’t learn how. They would rather hire someone who knows what they’re doing than figuring it out themselves. It saves them time and gives someone else a job.
With freelancing careers, you can learn a profitable skill online (sometimes for free on Youtube) and then pitch yourself as a freelancer in that field.
Take video editing for example. You can go to YouTube, or purchase a course that teaches you how to video edit, create a few practices pieces for your portfolio, and then leverage that knowledge on Upwork. It sounds simple, but the reality is that if you have the dedication to do it, you could make up to $60 an hour from anywhere.
But if you’re wondering what the most profitable skills to learn are, or where to get started, I have an amazing cheatsheet on making a good income online that will really help you on this journey. Sign up below and I’ll send it to your inbox right now so you can get started today!
Freelancing as a Digital Nomad in the Post-Pandemic World
Unfortunately, many people believe that because of the pandemic, the digital nomad lifestyle is not possible. This could not be further from the truth. And if you’re in the bunch of people who think that remote work is only a trendy thing of today, here are all of the reasons why remote working is here to stay!
The pandemic has brought about an overflow of online jobs from people moving their businesses to the online space. This has benefited freelancers with an abundance of opportunity when it comes to finding online jobs.
The key here is making sure you find the right jobs so that you’re not being overworked and underpaid. If you’re serious about finding work online, but are struggling figuring out which job is for you, I’ve got you! Download my free cheatsheet, 20 Effective Ways to Make Money During the Pandemic, and get on the right track.
Websites for Finding Remote Jobs and Freelancing Gigs
- Upwork (If you need help building a successful Upwork profile, click here to get my masterclass, Upwork for Dummies, inside of my workshop)
- Working Traveller
- We Work Remotely
How to Pick a Digital Nomad Hub for Nomadic Living
One of my favorite aspects of being a digital nomad is getting to choose where to live. I have lived in over 20 different countries since 2018, loving every second. But not every place is created equal.
What to look for in a Digital Nomad Hub
Like I mentioned earlier, the nomadic lifestyle can get lonely. If loneliness is a concern for you, it’s important to choose a city with a strong expat community. Some amazing digital nomad hubs with strong expat communities include:
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Playa del Carmen, Mexico
- Medellin, Colombia
- Bali, Indonesia
- Vienna, Austria
Something that is an absolute deal breaker for digital nomads is internet speed. It doesn’t matter how beautiful a country is. If there is no internet connection for you to get work done, you won’t be able to live there very long. As a matter of fact, I struggled using Sri Lanka as a digital nomad hub for this very reason.
All of the places I have listed above are known for having internet that is enough for nomads. Most surprisingly, Thailand boasts up to 1GB of upload and download speed. Even in the jungle!
When we were living in Koh Chang, Thailand (tiny island off the coast of Cambodia) during the pandemic, we were amazed with our internet speed. We regularly got 600mbps in the middle of a national park with a waterfall in my backyard. That’s better than what I get at a Starbucks in NYC.
Cost of Living
Another important consideration for the digital nomad lifestyle is cost of living. One of the biggest perks of this lifestyle is getting to make money in western dollars, and spend it in a weaker currency. This has allowed us to save thousands of dollars over the years.
And as a matter of fact, we got to live in a beautiful villa overlooking the sea that we called “The Glass Palace” in Thailand for only $500 USD per month! Don’t believe me? Check out this video and see for yourself (and subscribe while you’re at it 😉 )!
Digital Nomad Lifestyle Logistics
There’s more to the digital nomad lifestyle than making money online and choosing a place to live. Other things you may not have considered include banking, taxes, finding accommodations, what to do with your stuff back home, and more. If you’re serious about becoming a digital nomad and want a step-by-step walkthrough on how to become one, register for our 100% free mini-course, 30 Days to Nomad. Click down below for instant access!
If you’re not ready for that next step, here’s an overview of what to plan for as a digital nomad.
Banking for Digital Nomads
Finding a solid way to get paid while oversees and managing your money is essential for nomads. If you’re based out of the United States, there is simply no better bank than Charles Schwab. I have been using them since 2017 and love them because:
- They have 0% foreign transaction fees
- You get refunded every ATM fee at the end of the month (which can add up to over $50 in some countries)
- If you lose your credit card, they will send you a new one anywhere in the world within 48 hours. This happened to use while we were in Vietnam, and they had our new debit card in Hanoi two days later with no hassle.
- Depositing checks is a breeze with their mobile app
Two other essential payment/banking tools for digital nomads include Paypal, and Wise (TransferWise). These will allow services like Upwork, Fiverr, and other clients pay you for your work easily and safely. I personally like Wise (TransferWise) better because their fees are much lower than Paypal’s. Just FYI.
If you are not from the US, Payoneer would be the best option for you!
Best Credit Cards for Digital Nomads
The best credit card by far for digital nomads and frequent travelers is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Before I get into, I’m going to be up front in saying that this credit card is $550 a year. But I will also say, if you’re a frequent traveler it more than pays for itself. You’ll get:
- $300 in travel credit every year
- TSA precheck/Global Entry Credit
- Travel Insurance
- 3x points on travel
- My favorite: Unlimited Priority Pass lounge access
If the Chase Sapphire Reserve is out of your price range, an amazing second best is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. At only $95 per year, it boasts some of the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits without the cost.
Do I need an International Data Plan for Nomadic Living?
Absolutely not. Some people prefer to travel with international plans because they want to keep their number, or they’re locked in at an inexpensive rate back home. With that said, getting SIM cards abroad is generally inexpensive and can boast better signal and wifi than your home country’s plan.
SIM Cards in Thailand run about $10 a month and give you unlimited data that allows you to hotspot. In 90% of the other countries we’ve traveled to, with the exception of Japan, data and call plans were just as cheap.
To call friends from around the world using wifi, I use WhatsApp which lets me call anyone with the app for free. If you absolutely have to call American US based numbers, I personally use Skype for my calling needs. I refilled it with $20 in 2018, and still have plenty of balance left.
How do I Get Health Insurance as a Digital Nomad?
Some people choose to get a comprehensive health insurance for when they travel abroad. Personally, I have never gotten a full-on expensive health insurance because medical care abroad is usually affordable.
However, for emergencies and now for COVID-19, I use SafetyWing. Although I wish the unexpected didn’t happen, it does. In early 2020, I was in a serious motorbike accident and didn’t have insurance. The bills came out to hundreds of dollars that I could’ve saved had I just gotten insurance. Even a basic one.
SafetyWing is great for me because it covers the basic things that can happen while traveling and it’s super affordable. Also, it now covers COVID-19 which is often a requirement before entering countries now.
If you want a more comprehensive health plan that is designed for digital nomads, I would look into Remote Health. This is a traditional health insurance that covers preventative care anywhere in the world. I also have more information on insurance here.
Keep in mind, I’m not an insurance broker. I’m just a digital nomad that has done research and decided on this insurance plan. Please consult a professional if you have any questions or doubts regarding insurance plans that are right for your specific situation.
What to do With All Your Stuff When you Become a Digital Nomad
You’ve got a few options here and I can’t tell you what’s best for your situation.. Personally, I knew when I became a digital nomad that I wasn’t planning on coming back for a long time. For me, the option that made the most sense was to sell everything I owed.
I kept very few sentimental things like old journals, and mementos from my wedding and that was it. I gave those belongings to my parents to keep in a closet until whenever I’m ready to get them back. For most people who become nomads, this is enough.
Other people choose to put their stuff in storage. I think this is the best option for people who know they’re only going to be nomads for a short period of time. The problem with this is that when you come back from traveling you may be a totally different person.
Keeping stuff in storage can also be costly and at the end, you may not want that stuff anymore. So whether you choose to store or sell, consider what you might want in the future.
Getting a VPN
A VPN is important for digital nomads for a multitude of reasons. For one, it keeps your data safe, especially when you’re suing coffee shop/ hostel wifis. But also, VPNs allow you to access internet pages that may be censored in other countries.
A big example of this is Netflix. Believe it or not, Netflix is not available in every country. And some shows that are available in the US, are not available in France, or Thailand. A VPN ensures you have access to the shows you want when you want them.
How to Get Around Countries as a Nomad
One you fly to your destination, you’re probably how you get around the country and city you’re visiting. Flights within places like Europe and South East Asia are extremely cheap. Many cities in Europe also have excellent public transport that can help you get around.
If you’re in a country like Thailand, that doesn’t have a public transport, you can always get around using the country’s version of Uber.
In Thailand, it’s called Grab. In Indonesia, it’s called Gojek or Bluebird. Once you decide where you’re going, do some research on what getting around the city is like, and you will find tons of blog posts telling you the best and cheapest ways!
Lastly, renting a motorbike (our favorite way to get around), or renting a car is much cheaper than the US and Canada! We have rented motorbikes for $100 a month!
Finding a Place to Live as a Digital Nomad
It can be scary arriving in a country where you know nobody and finding a place to live. Coworking/coliving spaces are great options if you want to find other expats. Thankfully there are several good options for finding accommodations if you want your own space, too.
My personal favorite way to find accommodations is Facebook groups. Just join the local expat group of the town you want to stay in, and look for rentals there.
Gear You Need for Becoming a Digital Nomad
If you’re going to be traveling on a regular basis, it pays (literally) to be a minimalist. Not only will it make it easier for you to move from place to place, but it will save you money. Flights can be as low as $15 in some places, but that price will drastically increase if you’re having to buy a baggage allowance. Save yourself hundreds (to thousands) of dollars a year, and only pack the bare necessities. I’ve actually compiled our full, minimalist packing list (literally everything we own) in this article complete with reviews on everything. But if you want a straightforward, printable digital nomad packing list, get my free packing list below:
But a quick overview of things that have made my digital nomad life 10x easier include:
- Reliable Laptop (I used an ASUS Zenbook 15 after 15 years of using a Macbook Pro and I have no regrets. Literally have the price, with twice the features)
- Laptop Stand
- Shockproof Hard drive
- Osprey Farpoint 55L Backpack
- Packing Cubes
- Leak-proof toiletry tubes
- Quick Dry clothing and towel
- Hiking Sandals (My husband’s, and Mine)
Visas as a Digital Nomad
Like you saw in our PBS documentary, getting the right visa as a digital nomad is a bit complicated. When you’re a digital nomad, you’re usually traveling on a tourist visa, under which working is illegal. But because digital nomads aren’t usually taking jobs from locals or working in a brick and mortar location, we’re in a grey area. So, you have a couple of options:
- Work sorta illegally from your apartment or coffee shop from whatever country you want (and don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself)
- Go to a country that offers a digital nomad visa
Countries that Offer a Digital Nomad Visa
Since the pandemic, there has been a huge influx of remote workers. This has encouraged countries to find ways to keep their expat workers and keep the foreign dollars coming in lieu of tourism. Below I have a list of some of the countries that offer a digital nomad visa/remote work visa.
- Antigua and Barbuda
Becoming a Digital Nomad Takeaways
As you can see, becoming a digital nomad doesn’t have to be scary, hard, or complicated. To be successful and do it long term, does require sacrifice, time, and effort, but for those of us who love the lifestyle it’s well worth it. If you’re seriously considering becoming a digital nomad, but you don’t know where to start, I have a free video series called 30 Days to Nomad that is designed to teach you the step-by-step process to starting this lifestyle.
This video series goes beyond the introductory and actually gives you something you can take action on today. It even comes with a free workbook that you can use to plan your digital nomad journey from start to finish.
Don’t let another day slip by you just wishing you could live this lifestyle. When you watch my 4-part video series you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Click here to register now.
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