The Secret to Success as a Digital Nomad

I had one of those “pinch me” moments recently while sitting on my balcony and working on my laptop. In front of me was a jaw-dropping stretch of Portugal’s Algarve coastline. This was my office for the day.

Seeing the world as a digital nomad (someone who works online while they travel) is a wonderful experience. You can travel at your own pace, live like a local, and, unlike tourists, you’re not losing money, you’re making it.

Before laptops, cellphones, and apps, this kind of lifestyle was impossible. Today’s freedom to earn from anywhere in the world has presented a new, and arguably better, way to manage the work-life balancing act. Taking your job with you as you travel couldn’t be easier or more rewarding. Whether traveling solo, staying in each destination for days or months at a time, or working through a bucket list of travel plans, chances are you can easily incorporate a go-anywhere income into your lifestyle.

When your goal is to travel and continue to earn an income, trip-planning steps will include a few extra considerations. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

When researching destinations, include your budget preferences. For example, you may be interested in digital nomad favorites like Lisbon and Barcelona, which are very affordable. But even if your destination preference doesn’t seem affordable at first, you’d be surprised how affordable it can be when you learn more about living the digital nomad lifestyle.

Thanks to a go-anywhere income, I’ve enjoyed living for three months in Nice, France, six weeks in the Algarve, Portugal; three months in Florence, Italy; and other top spots.

Be prepared for unforeseen technical complications. Consider taking a tablet to back up your laptop, and make sure your mobile phone is capable of handling necessary tasks. At some point, you may have a technical issue, putting your laptop out of commission for a couple of days. Having a backup will ensure that you can stay in touch with your clients or employer.

Choose at least one business communication tool. For remote conferencing and phone contact, you’ll need to have Skype or something similar. You should also determine if you need to change/add-on international capabilities to your current mobile phone package. You may want to consider purchasing an inexpensive “burner” phone at your destination for local phone contacts.

Live like a local. If you plan to stay in one place for a while, living like a local, rather than a tourist, will be a big advantage. You’ll spend less, shopping where the locals go, and renting in more residential areas. You’ll also connect with neighborhood vendors, grocery stores, and shops, which can provide assistance, if needed, along the way.

Allocate weeks or months to your destination. To maximize and leverage the benefits of having more travel time, you should stay at least two weeks per destination. The longer the stay, the more “local” you can live. There’s less pressure to get out there as a frenzied tourist trying to squeeze in a fast-paced agenda.

Participate in the digital nomad community. Consider joining your destination’s digital nomad Facebook group(s) and Internations.org (a social network for global-minded people). You can also find events for digital nomads and expats on Meetup.com.

Make sure your apartment comes with WiFi. Most places you go will have plenty of options for free WiFi, including cafés, libraries, trains, etc. However, to ensure you never miss a conference call or deadline, it’s useful to have your own WiFi when possible. This means checking that it comes with your rental from day one. Of course, another option is to rent a workspace at a co-working office.

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