This article was written by Michelle Custodio.
Today’s technology and the abundance of business being conducted online means working remotely is more feasible than ever.
Not only have digital nomads seen increases in income as recently as 2014, but most respondents to a recent survey were satisfied with their location-independent lifestyle.
If the alternative is sitting in an office every day of the week, who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity?
But it’s not all kicking back with your laptop on a sunny beach (an incredibly impractical way to work, it should be noted). Every aspect of your life is in constant flux.
And while that’s part of the point, it can also make the most mundane tasks very complicated.
Still, that you’re here means you understand the importance of doing your research. Read on to discover some of the most frustrating pitfalls to overcome.
1. Have an emergency fund before you start.
This might be the most straightforward and important piece of advice. If you take nothing else away from this piece, take this: Always plan for the worst.
Income can be spotty when you’re working remotely, especially when just starting out. And of course, there’s always a chance you’ll decide this isn’t the life for you.
Thus, you should always have enough to survive on for several months while you find work – and, of course, in case of an emergency.
Yes, this might mean working your current job or getting paid peanuts for a bit longer.
But at least you have an end goal to strive toward: a location-independent life.
2. Know how to stay connected at all times.
When you’re at home or in the office, you almost certainly have a reliable internet connection.
But without that permanent space? Public internet can range from lightning fast to hair-pullingly frustrating, meaning something as simple as checking your email could become a lot trickier.
Not only that, but your connection is your lifeline for getting work done and maintaining contact with clients and customers.
There are ways to plan for this, of course.
If you’re looking to stay in an Airbnb or hotel, you can always ask those in charge to run an internet speed test to get a sense of the connection there before you book.
It might be worth just getting yourself a hotspot, though. Expensive? Sure, they can be.
But the cost probably doesn’t come close to that of being without a connection for multiple days.
Travel insurance: simple & flexible
You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
3. Actually, you have to take it with you.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “You can’t take it with you.”
While that’s true in a metaphorical sense, when you’re a digital nomad you have to.
I’m a big fan of lists (if you couldn’t tell), so planning out what your most essential items are – and aren’t – is key.
Try consulting lists online to see if there’s anything you might have missed. For instance, things like charging cables and a tablet are probably obvious – but have you considered business cards?
Bring your most versatile items. Clothes that you can layer and wash easily, a lighter tablet instead of a laptop.
It’s also important to recognize what you can do without. Remember: you’re carrying everything with you at all times, so that weight adds up fast.
4. Know what environment works for you.
Understanding where you’re most productive is important for doing any kind of work away from an office.
For instance, some people need a bright, sunny window or a nice view. Others might need something more isolated.
Do you work well in busy coffee shops? Or would that kind of noise and activity be too distracting?
Know your needs, and make sure productive work environments exist (several, if possible) before booking a ticket to your next destination.
5. Social connections matter.
I’ve covered internet connection issues above, but I wanted to touch on one last hurdle you’ll need to consider and address before making this change in your life: personal connections.
Staying in one place makes it a lot easier to form and maintain close friendships and be near family, and having coworkers can give you a sense of comradery in your work.
Obviously, these relationships are hard to form when you’re constantly moving around.
You might consider joining a coworking space at each of your destinations. While generally not free, this gives you a workspace and, importantly, contact with people who share your lifestyle.
Naturally, there are plenty of online resources to help you out, too. Nomad Stack is a great source of information in general, but, crucially, they also list groups and activities on their website that can help you stay connected.
As with everything else, it’s important to understand what you need socially and to find out what resources are at your disposal to prevent isolation from ruining your experience.
There are many more complications than what I’ve discussed in this list, of course. Becoming a digital nomad is difficult in almost every facet imaginable.
But the bottom line is that it’s possible, not least because of the endless resources that are readily available to help you get it all figured out.
So read up – books, interviews, and, yes, articles like this one. Soak in every detail you can find to fully determine if this is how you want to live your life, and plan ahead as much as possible.
Because becoming a digital nomad isn’t as simple as a job change – it is, in every sense, a complete overhaul of your life.