Answer the following: Is the daily interaction with your work colleagues or clients virtual or could it be? Do you work coordinating work tasks through email or chat (and often answer emails from your cell phone while you’re in a taxi, subway or taking a walk)? If your answers are partly yes, then you are closer to becoming a Digital Nomad than you imagine.
In essence, the factors that define the lifestyle of a Digital Nomad are:
- Location Independence.
- Long-term trips by personal decision.
- The ability to produce and sustain financially while traveling.
With that being said, let me clarify the following:
- Taking a couple of weeks of vacation to travel and relax does not mean having the lifestyle of a Digital Nomad because it’s not being produced, financially speaking. That’s being a tourist.
- Being a remote employee who works only from home doesn’t make a person a Digital Nomad either because he’s still sedentary. In a nutshell, that’s a remote employee who has a home office.
This clarification is necessary because, from my own experience, my mind often associated the word “vacation” with the image of a swinging hammock, a beer and the beach. And on the other hand, the word “work” was associated with an office, a schedule and the long-awaited Friday afternoons that would give way to the weekend and entertainment.
Does this sound familiar to you? If so, then don’t feel bad. It’s part of the culture in which we live, however, it doesn’t mean that we are obliged to follow that script to the letter.
Opting for another lifestyle, in this case the Digital Nomad lifestyle or just trying it out briefly, creates immense opportunities for personal growth. Just imagine a scenario where we put ourselves in situations where we visit a country or city unknown to us, which we arrive to discover, and at the same time, we decide to be productive with our daily tasks.
This scenario produces a mental stretch, a re-configuration in the way we see life and we can no longer see it with the same eyes. As Thomas Carlyle said:
“Once the mind has been expanded with a great idea, it will never return to its original state.” – Thomas Carlyle
This is the essence of my passion for travel. With each new landscape, food, aroma, music and culture that I’m a viewer of, my mind is transformed.
How did this lifestyle originate?
Humans began as nomads from our appearance on the planet and we continue to be for 99% of our history. In fact, it’s estimated that the sedentary lifestyle we currently practice is no more than 12,000 years old.
Those nomads of the past had only a few hunting items and clothing for cold places, but aside from those items, they were extremely light travellers.
According to Yuval Noah Harari and his interviewees in “Sapiens, A Brief History of Humanity”, the nomadic attitude of our ancestors began to change due to agriculture, whose tasks demanded so much maintenance time that people were forced to settle permanently to the next to their wheat fields. This was what changed the paradigm completely. Humans didn’t domesticate wheat. Wheat domesticated us.
Over the centuries, we come to the First Industrial Revolution, where people used to have to physically transport ourselves to a factory to get our work done. This was the norm for our great-grandparents, grandparents, and our parents for sure. But, things changed with the Digital Revolution, which requires different skills than those needed in factories.
As Peter Drucker says, today we are Knowledge Workers and, thanks to the Internet and the digitization of many industries, our mental abilities and the work we do do not necessarily require us to transport our bodies to a specific place.
It was this opportunity to work without a location that led many people to travel, mainly in search of Good, Nice and Cheap places to live.
Exploring is part of the human DNA, and thanks to technology, we are currently returning to our nomadic origins.
But, I must eat! How do I make this lifestyle financially sustainable?
The first concern I hear from people who have never heard of this lifestyle is: “…and how do you make money to give yourself those trips?”. I can’t blame them. I also asked the same question for many years. I found it somewhat fascinating to be able to travel without having to worry about when I was going to run out of money.
Currently and thanks to the internet, things have changed radically, offering new ways to generate wealth.
Most of the Digital Nomads I know were working online as Freelancers, or are remote employees who decided to pack their bags, coordinate work schedules that work for both their teams and clients, and hit the road without a second thought. On the other hand, there are also nomads who are entrepreneurs running their own businesses, or I even found nomads who, without having to work online, used the internet and local contacts in the cities where they arrived to find informal jobs with flexible hours. I even met nomads who didn’t need to earn an income since they decided to exchange house and food for their work on farms, something called “wwoofing”.
How to start in this lifestyle?
Please don’t think you have to drop everything you’ve known so far, grab a backpack and laptop, and walk out the door right now. Nope!… Even though that’s exactly what I did, what I recommend, in fact, is to test if this lifestyle is for you or not.
For that, let’s design together a Nomadic Life Prototype in 7 steps:
- Choose your destination
- Choose a destination near your city where you would like to spend 2-4 weeks.
- Write down the activities, places, events, etc. What do you plan to discover while you are in that destination?
2. Create a budget
- Make a budget of the cost of living plus activities that you would like to do in your chosen destination. I suggest using numbeo.com, a website that allows you to estimate the updated cost of living for hundreds of cities on the planet.
3. Select your source of income
- If you have a job that can be done remotely, great. Otherwise, you can find a job in your destination that will help you support yourself for as long as you are there. The goal is not simply to make money, but to be able to be productive while in a place you plan to discover.
4. Coordinate the earrings on your base
- If you currently live in a house or apartment (your base), find someone who can help you during the time you will be away with paying utilities, watering plants, feeding pets, etc.
5. Buy your ticket
6. Find accommodation
- I suggest doing this after buying the ticket, that way there is no way to back out of the plan. Reserve a place where you will stay for the stay in your selected destination. It can be from a hotel, a hostel, an airbnb, etc.
7. Pack up
- I won’t give any suggestions here because you will surely pack more than you need, … and that’s fine! This is how you learn about what’s really essential. This is how you become “Light”.
With these steps, you are on your way to an adventure that will most likely change your life!
Note: You are probably reading this in a post-Covid-19 time, a time when remote work is the norm and being a digital nomad is common. If so, wait for my article on how to be Sedentary Without Connectivity… (ha! I’m kidding!). Remember that it’s not necessary to appreciate our freedom when we are in captivity. We all have the opportunity to live the lifestyle we want and it’s only enough to take the first step in that direction.
Good! This was a look at what it means to be a Digital Nomad and the first steps to becoming one.
Are you attracted to this lifestyle? Follow me online at jjruescas.blog to learn more about being a Digital Nomad and about topics related to personal and professional growth 🙂.
Keep on Learning and traveling like a nomad….
Note: this article was originally published on Brissia Benavente’s blog.