How to start life as a digital nomad

It's not the time to make the jump now, but living and working independent of location may be the life you dream of in future. So, how do digital nomads do it? Here's how...

2 mins

Many travellers are attracted by the idea of being a digital nomad – what’s not to like about life on the road, working wherever you want? Part of the appeal is the freedom to set your own goals for a flexible life. It’s also a great way to extend trips, getting beneath the surface of a place to uncover its daily realities. 

But if you want to try the lifestyle out, learning to support yourself is key. Clients can ghost, and work can dry up – or build up to the point that sleep becomes a distant memory. First, ask your boss if remote working is possible, but if not, update your skillset and try freelancing.

IT consultancy, website design and programming are all skills in demand on the road, but you might also try sales and marketing, blogging or writing posts for tour operators. Find your niche, shout about it online and create multiple revenue streams, so you always have something to fall back on.

Work on the go... and make the most of some amazing outside offices (Shutterstock)

Work on the go... and make the most of some amazing outside offices (Shutterstock)

A reliable clientele – and income – is vital for any freelancer. Take time to build your base and figure out the best way to communicate. From WhatsApp to Trello, there are plenty of apps for staying in touch and on top of your to-do list, while LinkedIn helps you find people in your field wherever you are.

Consider the logistics, too. How will you run your finances? Before you go, organise to have your post sent to a UK address, find an accountant to sort your taxes, and take out a pension and health plan. Cull your belongings back to just hand luggage to make regular ‘office moves‘ time- and budget-friendly.

Don’t just rely on WiFi, either – a free connection may be difficult to find. Always buy a local SIM card when you’re living abroad to ease communication and reduce roaming bills.

Time is precious – especially if you’re taking a partner or family with you. You need to respect their space and your commitments, setting up boundaries if necessary. But the most important thing is resilience. You can make it happen if you really want it.

Meet the Nomads...

Interested? Read these top tips from people who combine work with travel...

Kelly and Adam Peck 

Destination Addict bloggers

"Align the lifestyle to a niche – what you’re good at. Support that with multiple income streams; we have a blog and our sustainable clothing range Nature Threads. We also offer digital coaching, IT and social media support through The Green Thread and SoulMadic."

Larch Gauld 

The Silver Nomad

"I set up a business after learning how to hand-code websites, and then worked wherever I was in the world. I struggled as a single parent, but by offering web design, hosting and domain registration, I didn’t rely on one income. I’ve added my travel blog to the mix, and I’m an Airbnb host, Amazon seller and drone pilot, too."

Shiree Francis 

Digital coach

"I own an agency and coach women, helping them get started on their journey to making money online. Running your own business has its highs and lows, so use a spreadsheet or budgeting app to track what’s going in and out of your bank account, filter out the things you do and don’t need and know your worth."

Note: This article originally ran in an earlier issue of Wanderlust magazine

More ways to make money while travelling: 

Get paid to be a travel writer

The 12 best jobs in travel and how to do them

How to make money from your travel photos

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