Digital nomads: who are they and how to become one?

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Living in constant travel and working completely wireless from your computer is possible for those who choose this type of life

Digital nomads: who are they and how to become one?

We live in an age where technology has got to a point in which we can communicate with someone in China, being in South America, in just a few seconds. Moreover, we can post in most parts of the world photos on Instagram, Facebook or Tumblr, letting others know where we are or what we have done. This was unthinkable just 50 years ago.

Leer en español: Nómadas digitales: ¿quiénes son y cómo hacerse uno?

Being able to use all these remote tools to maintain communication with others, including enterprises, have begun to let loose the typical schedule  and have focused more on making sure tasks are completed. What it is important about this is that to fulfill a job you do not have to be physically present, you just have to do what was assigned to you.

Taking advantage of the potential that remote working has created, many people have seen it as an opportunity to travel the world and living for some amount of time in different countries. This life on the road is what digital nomads are looking for. Who are they and how to become one?

Maybe you are interested: 4 essential Apps that every traveler should have

What is a digital nomad?

According to the Nomads World portal, digital nomads “are basically people who earn their living by working online, while being able to travel constantly and change their location quite often.” Their working places tend to be “from coffee shops, public libraries, and co-working spaces, which is exactly what makes their lifestyle so specific”.

As they are constantly changing from one place to another, they tend to have some determined characteristics:

  • Avoid attachments: as they will not stay in a place for long, their friendships and objects are not meant to last the whole life. They just live the experience while it lasts and then leave.
  • Minimalist lifestyle: it would be hard to move from country to country is you plan to take every object on your house. That is why digital nomads do not carry much in their backs, just what is necessary.
  • Hanging out on digital hubs: as being digitally nomad has become trendier, there are some countries and cities that are sought by people with this lifestyle (i.e. Bali). So hubs have been created to unite the community and promote co-working
  • Focus on personal goals: working remotely is not as easy if you do not have a clear plan, therefore this lifestyle requires you to have a clear mind of what you want with your life while abroad and the places you want to visit.

How to become one?

As the digital nomad work will be made online, you have to make sure you master digital skills that can help you get more jobs. According to Web Work Travel, knowledge in marketing, proofreading, and transcription are some of the basic ones. The bad thing about this type of jobs is that they tend to be underpaid, as Stephany Lee’s confession of a digital nomad on Growth Lab let us know.

She also mentions other ‘conditions’ that tend to be obligatory for those who want to work around the world:

1) You should be single and do not have any dependents as kids, so that you can worry only about yourself.

2) Financial obligations such as debts, students loans or mortgage should not exist, as most of the money will be spent on your personal needs during your travel.

3) You should be able to have a consistent income, as you will constantly need money for your expenses abroad and without anyone to lend you money easily.

4) To be ok with solitude as most of the times you will be alone and moving by yourself, something that requires being able to manage instability and change, not only of new people, but also of new spaces and food.

Finally, regarding practical aspects, according to a New York Times article by  Kristin Wong, you must take into account the documents needed to visit each country, getting good health insurance, paying attention to your taxes, having bank accounts and payments online and always planning your budget.

Advantages and disadvantages


According to the testimonies of the digital nomads in the documentary made by 2geek1city, the biggest advantage of this lifestyle is freedom. In the words of one them, “for me the biggest advantage is to have the ultimate freedom on three layers: working from everywhere you want, working on everything you want and working whenever you want.”

This freedom on what you desire to do seems to be the most attractive part of this lifestyle. Obviously from this freedom of action comes out the opportunity to visit amazing places, to change of climate throughout the year, to meet people from all over the world. In just a few worlds, it allows you to open yourself to constant new experiences and new cultures.

Maybe you are interested: What do you need to do a backpacking trip?

Nevertheless, being a digital nomad is not for everyone and it has some disadvantages. On the professional level, the same testimony adds that even if where you are staying are “the most beautiful places in the world, but there you have to be productive, you have to be structured, you have to be professional, to work on your projects, so it’s all about getting focus and staying focus and getting things done also in the best places in the world.” This means it is not a life full of glamours and cocktails by the beach, it also requires effort and concentration to earn money to be able to enjoy your surroundings. It requires a lot of discipline to balance the pleasure aspect with the professional one.

On the emotional level, to be a digital nomad requires a lot of emotional strength and adaptability to change, as the people you know and the places you visit will always be temporary. This constant out-of-the-routine requires an ability to grasp experience and let them go constantly. As Stephanie Lee confesses, the most difficult part is that there is “just one giant, misleading problem: I’m tired. So damn tired. Tired of the expectations that people somehow have of me to keep up this lifestyle for their own voyeuristic pleasures…Tired of the way people either put me on a pedestal or make me feel alienated upon learning how I choose to live…Tired of having to say goodbye to people I had just started to bond with over and over again…But most of all, I’m tired of the things most digital nomads won’t tell you beyond those videos of them scuba diving in the Maldives or zip lining through the Costa Rican jungle.”


LatinAmerican Post | Juan Gabriel Bocanegra
Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza


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