What is a Digital Nomad? What You Need to Know

If you’re wondering what a digital nomad is, you’ve probably looked into what that lifestyle is like. Well, friend, you’ve come to the right place! Since taking the leap into digital nomad life in 2017, we’ve become experts in showing others how to transition into the digital nomad lifestyle, too. Just a couple of years ago, however, we were in the same position. Desperately scouring the internet for any and all resources that would lead us to digital nomad life or at least explain “what is a digital nomad”. Often times coming up with more questions, instead of answers. Digital Nomad life isn’t as elusive as people make it seem. And it doesn’t have to be difficult, either! Becoming a Digital Nomad requires 20% knowledge, and 80% actually working toward it. Today, I’m going to be teaching you everything you need to know about what a digital nomad is so you can stop counting the days until Friday!

What is a Digital Nomad?

I get it! What does the term digital nomad even mean?! A digital nomad is a person who makes money online by one or more income streams. They also travel for many months out of the year. Digital nomads work in a variety of fields and you will find that no two digital nomads have taken the same path. Some may choose to take on a remote job and others will choose to become entrepreneurs. Some digital nomads may travel at a very fast pace, and others may choose a home base in a different country instead. There are many ways to monetize a travel lifestyle, and just as many travel styles!

One amazing benefit to the digital nomad lifestyle is that you truly have the freedom to create your own schedule. This freedom is what allows you to take days off when you want to. It’s what lets you travel when and where you want to. And my favorite, it allows you to pursue your passion.

The Digital Nomad Lifestyle is not All Sunshine and Rainbows

You have to keep in mind, however, that with this newfound freedom, you’re going to have to be disciplined to get work done. Since you don’t have a boss over your head telling you what to do, you have to take the initiative to work and stay focused. Although it is easy for people to believe that digital nomads just sit by a pool with their laptop all day, that’s not exactly true. Just like any other job and lifestyle, digital nomad life is hard work and it’s not for everyone!

Digital Nomad working on their laptop

How do Digital Nomads Make Money?

Digital nomads make money is dozens of ways. These include digital nomads jobs like blogging, dropshipping and teaching English. One thing is for sure, most digital nomads maximize their income by creating multiple income streams. For example, we have diversified our income streams through:

  • Freelancing
  • Partnerships with companies
  • Affiliate income
  • Advertising income from Youtube
  • Blogging
  • Hosting tours in our favorite countries (Join us on our next one here).

By diversifying your income streams, you increase your earning potential! More importantly, you reduce the risks associated with banking on just one source of income. The nice thing about being a digital nomad is that you’re often living in countries where the cost of living is very low. This means that a digital nomad earning $12,000 a year can live comfortably in places like Thailand, Bali, and Vietnam! So although you might earn less, you are usually saving more.

Teach in Block letters on a desk as an example of a digital nomad job

What Digital Nomad Jobs Are Available?

The options job options for digital nomads are pretty much endless. Digital nomads can work in technical fields like coding, web development, or even technical support. They can work as freelancers offering services like copywriting, social media marketing, and SEO optimization. Some digital nomads may even choose to build profitable online platforms like blogs, YouTube channels, and even Instagram pages.

A common misconception about digital nomads is that they have to work in a tech field to make money. Although some of the higher paid digital nomads find lucrative positions in tech fields, this is far from a requirement! Non-tech jobs that digital nomads do include: teaching English online, working as a virtual assistant, or even working as a customer service representative. My point is, no matter what field you’re trying to work in you can find a job that lets you make money while traveling the world.

15 Digital Nomad Jobs:
  1. Freelance Photographer
  2. Graphic Designer
  3. Customer Service Representative
  4. Web Designer
  5. App Developer
  6. Virtual Assistant
  7. English Teacher
  8. E-Commerce Store Owner
  9. Blogger
  10. YouTuber
  11. Digital Marketer
  12. Social Media Influencer
  13. Technical Support Specialist
  14. Call Center Operator
  15. Copy Editor

As a matter of fact, if you want 50 creative ideas to make money while traveling the world, download our free cheatsheet!

Related: 10 Best Location Independent Jobs That Let You Travel Full-Time

Watch the video below for even more ideas on how to make money and travel the world as a digital nomad:

Laptop on a desk

How much do Digital Nomads Earn?

A digital nomad’s salary varies based on the industry they work in. For example, digital nomads who work as online English Teachers can make anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000 a year. However, Digital nomads that pursue entrepreneurial routes like social media marketing, or e-commerce can earn over $100,000!

At the end of the day, the amount of money you will earn as a digital nomad will ultimately depend on what field you’re working in and how much you’re willing to work. If you decide that you want to build an affiliate linking site, you could passively earn thousands of dollars, and then work a full-time remote job earning a proper salary.

Related: How to Make Money While Traveling the World

Guy working on a laptop as a digital nomad

What skills do you need to become a digital nomad?

Digital nomads need certain skills to survive that you don’t regularly use back home. Two that are very important are critical thinking skills and adaptability. Since most digital nomads travel through developing countries, life can be challenging. Sometimes it’s hard to find reliable transportation, internet, and even food. In addition to the challenges that come with inadequate infrastructure, language barriers and different cultures also present a challenge for full-time travelers. This means that being adaptable is an absolutely necessary skill one must learn before being a digital nomad.

A skill you will need to get work done is self-discipline. Since this lifestyle comes with so much freedom, it can be easy to find excuses that keep you from work. There is always going to be a new place to explore, or a new restaurant to try. Self-discipline, however, is necessary if you are looking to make the digital nomad lifestyle sustainable. You’re going to have to be okay missing out every now and then so that you can keep this newly acquired freedom.

Technical Skills You Need to Become a Digital Nomad

Outside of those three, the main skills that you’ll need to be a digital nomad will be related to the field you’re trying to work in. If you’re planning on working in digital fields like marketing or web design, you’re going to want to have basic knowledge related to those fields. If you’re planning on working in customer service or as a virtual assistant, you’re definitely going to need organizational skills, and communication skills.

Related: Teaching English Online: A Guide for Digital Nomads

A Digital Nomad Girl, sitting on the beach

How do I become a Digital Nomad with no Experience?

Depending on the digital nomad jobs you’re going for, you won’t always need experience to become a digital nomad. Jobs that don’t require experience include customer service based freelancing and remote jobs, online tutoring gigs like Cambly, and Virtual assistant jobs. Just like when you apply for a traditional job, most remote jobs will have a training period where the company shows you how they do things. Although experience in the field is preferable, it is by no means a requirement.

What does a day in the life of a digital nomad look like?

If you’re wondering how to become a digital nomad, you’re likely wondering what that lifestyle actually looks like. A day in the life of the average digital nomad is like trying to describe a day in the life of the average entrepreneur. They all look different and it depends on the monetization path they’ve chosen.

What the Digital Nomad Lifestyle Looks Like for Travel YouTubers

For Travel YouTubers, like Daniel and I, we wake up at around 6 AM and start our work out. After the gym, we make breakfast and a cup of coffee and sit behind our computers until about lunchtime. Daniel edits all of our YouTube videos, and I schedule all of our marketing efforts via the blog, Instagram, Pinterest, etc… At around lunchtime, we take a break to eat and watch something on Netflix and then we are back at it again until about 8 PM. On the weekends, we adopt the same schedule but instead it’s filming content around whatever country we are based in at the time.

This schedule may sound a little intense, but Chase for Adventure is our passion. For us, it’s a pleasure to work our butts off toward our business. When you choose a digital nomad lifestyle, you have the freedom to work on your passion project. This may mean more hours of work, but it won’t feel like work! Also, you have the ability to work hard for two weeks and then take two weeks off exploring! As digital nomads, we take advantage of this freedom and you should, too!

Related: Full-Time Travel: What It’s Really Like to Be a Full-Time Traveler

If you want to know what this lifestyle looks like, watch this short video below 🙂

Where do Digital Nomads Live?

Digital Nomads can live anywhere as long as they have a strong internet connection. Most digital nomads, however, base themselves out of digital nomad hubs that have a low cost of living and western comforts. These digital nomad hubs include places like:

  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Bali, Indonesia
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Cebu, Philippines

Other, more adventurous digital nomads go for places like:

  • Medellin, Columbia
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Sao Paolo, Brazil

Passport on a map showing digital nomad lifestyle

Do Digital Nomads need Working Visas?

Not usually! Since most digital nomads make money online they travel exclusively on tourist visas. The only time that you will need something other than a tourist visa is if you’re planning on staying in the country long-term, or planning on getting a traditional job. Although it is technically illegal to do any work in a different country, if you’re making your money online, earning in your home currency, and depositing into your home bank account, you will not likely be discovered. Though we do not encourage illegal behavior, we have been digital nomads since 2017, and have been in the clear with the law.

How do I Become a Digital Nomad?

In short, you need to:

  1. Sell all of your stuff
  2. Find an income stream that suits you (click here for 50 ways to make money while traveling)
  3. Pick a country to start in
  4. Just do it

This may sound overly simplistic, but honestly, it’s the same route we have all taken. The hardest part about being a Digital Nomad that NOBODY can teach you is faith. Note that I didn’t say courage. Being “brave” has nothing to do with it. When most digital nomads buy their one-way tickets, they are just as terrified as you’d think. But it’s not about having courage, it’s about being freaking terrified and doing it anyway. It’s having faith that no matter what, you’re going to be okay and make it work. It’s about believing in yourself enough to give this lifestyle a shot. Because the reality is, if you fail you can always return to your old life.

Longtail boat in Railay Beach Thailand with Limestone cliffs in the background on Chase Your Adventure Tours

“What is a Digital Nomad” Takeaways

  • A digital nomad is a person who makes money online while traveling the world full-time
  • Digital nomads make money in a variety of ways and usually have multiple income streams to sustain the lifestyle
  • Digital nomads can earn as little as $12,000 and still live comfortably by choosing cheap countries
  • A Digital nomad salary can exceed $100,000
  • Becoming a Digital Nomad doesn’t take courage, it takes faith.

Related: Travel for Under $1000 a Month: The ULTIMATE GUIDE

If you’re serious about becoming a digital nomad and want our step-by-step system to making money while traveling, click here.

Why are you considering digital nomad life? Let me know in the comment below!

If you want more free resources on becoming a digital nomad, check out our Nomadic Monday playlist on YouTube!