What is a digital nomad?
Digital nomad is a relatively new term that describes those lucky so and sos who aren’t tied to a fixed location through work. They typically work in the creative and digital industries and make use of remote commuting techniques to take their work on the road with them.
The best description of a digital nomad is someone who is location independent and able to take advantage of the cheaper cost of living overseas. Graphic designers, copywriters, web developers, SEO execs and the like can conduct all of their work remotely, communicate with clients via the web and never need to be in one place for a specific length of time.
Because many digital nomads choose to travel to where the cost of living is much lower, they have smaller overheads and are able therefore to offer cheaper rates to their clients as a result. A win win.
What are the benefits?
The benefits are pretty obvious. You get to travel, live overseas and explore the world while working. You can pick and choose your work, invoice your clients from the hostel or hotel and generally live a great, adventurous lifestyle without having to save up or losing money as you do so.
But it’s not a complete picnic. There are sacrifices and challenges too. So we asked Twitter’s army of digital nomads to give us their best tips for living the location independent lifestyle.
Alan Donegan, founder of @popupbusiness school had this to say.
wifi is so important! Costa Rica nearly killed me as the wifi was so bad! #digitalnomad
— Alan Donegan (@AlanDonegan) July 21, 2015
Travel blogger and digital marketing expert Tom Bourlet offered a great tip for staying productive while away from home.
having a dongle, buying a backup laptop battery & phone battery, keep all docs saved on Google Drive as well as laptop — Tom Bourlet (@tom_bourlet) July 21, 2015
Freelance photographer and PR genius Kate Stewart gave us some less glam, but equally useful tips for staying connected.
She also recommends @aircharge1 for finding which places do wireless charging.
British entrepreneur in Australia Anita Lee gave us some good advice on running your life as a business.
Keep in *regular* touch with ur team to maintain some structure and momentum in your business. & Use time zones to advantage.
— Anita Lee (@Anita_M_Lee) July 21, 2015
Meanwhile, ‘sextech’ entrepreneur Darren J Smith implores digital nomads to take full advantage of their fortunate circumstances.
find the right balance of work and social interaction. Life is no longer scripted. You have full control! :)
— Darren J Smith (@Darrenux) July 21, 2015
Productivity Hacks for Digital Nomads
We caught up with Alex Perron, head of growth at Canadian startup Pressly – a new content marketing platform – to get his insights on living the professional life on the road.
“I’d say the most important thing when you work online is a good wi-fi connection. And there are lots of places out there where it takes a minute or more to load a web page, which is both frustrating, depressing, and kills your productivity.
In most cities I used to find a five-star hotel nearby, get a room for one night and find a cooler-than-average employee who would give me the staff wi-fi password in exchange for a good tip. It helped a lot.
“The second thing you need to be careful about is productivity. When you work for yourself, especially from a place that you always wanted to go visit, it is very easy to get distracted and spend most of your time wandering around and lose focus on your deliverables.
I used to wake up every morning at 9, and see the coffee shop or the hotel bar next door as my office. I would get dressed, and go there before 10 to start my day. I’d stay there until 4 or 5 and leave. That’s the way I found to structure my days in that type of environment.
“Logistics: get a few chargers for every of your devices on Alibaba. I tend to lose stuff all the time. I once lost my laptop charger in Essaouira, Morocco. Lesson learned. This is why you want your current work to be saved in the cloud at all times. Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud. Whatever it is, save your stuff online!”
Digital Nomad Survival Tips
- Keep everything backed up in the cloud. That way, if any devices get stolen you can still access your work. This applies to copies of your important documents too.
- Check out free wifi availability before traveling. Seoul, Tallinn, Paris, Stockholm and Mountain View, California are among the best-served cities for free wifi in the world.
- Send your stuff home as you collect it. If you spot something on your travels that you simply can’t live without, don’t lug it about. Use an an affordable excess baggage service like ours to send it home where it’ll stay safe.
- Be disciplined. You’ve got to work to keep up this amazing lifestyle, so keep on top of your hours. Use a free time-tracking app like Toggl to monitor your productivity.
- Invest in good quality mobile broadband when you’re heading to remote locations. Global Gig offers low cost, reliable mobile broadband for a fixed price.
- Get good health insurance. Speak to your current provider to see if they’ll do a good deal as an existing customer or use a travel insurance comparison service to get the best deal.
- Enjoy it. Not everyone gets to live this sort of lifestyle.