Are you dreaming of a life of freedom and flexibility, where you can work from anywhere in the world and explore new cultures and experiences? If so, you might be considering whether the digital nomad life is for you.
As someone who has been living and working remotely for almost two years, I know firsthand the challenges and rewards that come with the digital nomad lifestyle.
I’ve made tons of mistakes and learned so much along the way, and I want to share some tips with you that will help you make your transition to digital nomad life smoother and easier.
Whether you’re still in the planning stages or you’ve already hit the road, the tips I share in this blog post will help you avoid common pitfalls and maximise the benefits of this lifestyle.
So, if you’re ready to take the leap and join the ranks of digital nomads around the world, read on!
1. Have work secured ahead of your trip
Although it may be tempting to just quit your job cold turkey and immediately book a flight and move to a new country, that’s usually not the best way to start your digital nomad journey.
Unless you have a significant amount of savings to live off of while you figure things out, it’s advisable that you start setting yourself up for the digital nomad life before you’ve left your old job.
Whether you’re planning on working as a freelancer or starting your own business, new ventures take time, often several months, to generate income.
Start lining up work ahead of time. Research digital nomad jobs, build up a skill base that allows you to get remote work, and grow your client list. That way you will be already generating income by the time you leave home.
This approach will alleviate the stress of launching a new business and travelling at the same time. Trust me, life’s much better when you do a bit of planning in advance.
2. Travel slower and stay in one place for longer
One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make in the beginning of their digital nomad journey is treating it like a holiday trip and jumping from place to place.
We did the same at the start and during our first 2 months of full-time travel while working, we didn’t stay in one place for longer than 4-5 days.
I wanted to see and do as much as possible in the time we had. And while we had lots of fun and we really enjoyed ourselves, it quickly became quite exhausting.
This was in the summer of 2021 and since then we’ve set the intention to travel slower and stay in one place for longer to reap the full benefits of living in a different country.
This way you have enough time to settle, get into a healthy routine, do productive work while still having plenty of time and opportunities to explore, socialise and connect with others.
3. Pack light
The biggest trap that new digital nomads fall into is thinking that travelling for a longer period means you need to pack more stuff.
Let me break it to you – your luggage is often a burden. Especially if you’re planning to move around often, the less luggage you’ve got the easier your life will be.
Tip: Analyse what you use and don’t use during your trips. Try to offload things that you don’t wear or need as you go. Don’t attach yourself too much to your possessions. Trust me, coming from a serious over-packer – travelling with less is a blessing.
At this point, we try to reduce our luggage with each trip we take. We started with having two big suitcases and two backpacks on our first trip, to now travelling with a backpack each and a small suitcase that we share.
4. Pick destinations with a digital nomad community
Community is one of the most important factors for getting used to a new place and feeling at home.
Whether you’re travelling solo or as a couple, meeting up with like-minded people in your new destination can literally change the way you see a place.
We’ve travelled to places with established nomad communities and such where it’s mostly holiday-makers and short-term travellers and we can really tell the difference.
The best way to find whether there’s a good community in your destination choice is to look up Facebook groups. Search for “*Destination* Digital Nomads” and have a scroll through the groups you find.
The key factors I look for are: how active is the group, are there a lot of regular meet ups and events advertised, are there mentions of group chats where more activities are organised?
You can also make friends and find a community based around your hobbies. So look up activities that you enjoy doing and see if there are local groups that get together for that i.e running clubs, hiking groups, board game groups etc.
Again, Facebook and Google are your best friends!
5. Take time off for holidays
You may be thinking, you already travel full-time, why would you need to take a holiday to travel more?
Contrary to what your family and friends at home might think, working remotely doesn’t mean you’re on a never-ending holiday.
While living in different countries is exciting and you get to visit tons of new places on the weekends, at the end of the day you’re still working – even if it’s at a beach bar instead of an office.
One of the mistakes we made was not taking any time off work for holidays in our first year as digital nomads. Apart from weekends and the odd day here and there.
Deciding to start taking 3 weeks off at a time in the summer and in winter allowed us to fully switch off work. It meant we could plan adventure trips in places with no signal and fully enjoy ourselves without thinking about work.
So even though you may be travelling full time and visiting new places regularly, it doesn’t mean you don’t need a proper holiday from work!
6. Plan your budget right
Similar to a lot of digital nomads, when we started our nomad journey, we sought out places to live with low cost of living to be able to sustain a good lifestyle without spending a fortune.
However, living in affordable places can also increase your spending habits. When things seem to be more affordable than in your home country you may feel tempted to spend more than you usually do.
Before we knew it we were eating out 2-3 times a day which even in lower cost countries can quickly add up!
The key here is to create a budget tracking system where you document your monthly expenditure and income to be able to see where your money is going each month.
I can guarantee it really puts things into perspective and makes you more mindful of your spending habits, especially if your goal is to save more for the future.
Another tip to cut down the costs of travel is to sign up for a cash back programme that lets you get money back on your travel purchases. One of the best ones out there is WayAway which allows you to get cash back on your travel basics like flights, hotels, rental cars, activities and more!
While there is a free version of WayAway, their Plus membership is what allows you to make the most of your travel savings and save tons on all your travel bookings. And if you’re a regular traveller, it can be really worth it as it can literally pay for itself within your fist cash back booking. It really is that good!
7. Get travel cards suitable for digital nomads
Banking is so important when moving abroad. It’s something that we’ve been seeing other fellow digital nomads struggle with, as their banks at home charge them extortionate fees for every transaction.
Setting up your travel bank accounts in advance can help you save tons on international transaction fees, ATM withdrawals and exchange rates.
These are mostly digital banks that offer flexibility, multi-currency accounts and zero or very low fees for international transactions. Literally life-savers when it comes to travelling and working remotely.
If you’re unsure on which bank is best for you, you can read my full blog on the best banks for digital nomads here.
In conclusion, becoming a digital nomad can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own unique set of challenges.
By following the tips I’ve shared in this article, you can avoid common mistakes and make your digital nomad life more sustainable in the long term.
Remember to start slowly and build your client base before hitting the road, do your research when it comes to deciding on your destination, and take your rest when you need it.
With these tips in mind, you can create a digital nomad life that is fulfilling, sustainable, and rewarding. If you have any questions about life as a digital nomad, feel free to send me a message on Instagram or write a comment on this article. Bon voyage!