Becoming a digital nomad
Vacationing for a week or two during the course of a year is a terrific way to take a break and recharge. But when your travel time is limited, it doesn’t offer you the ability to truly immerse yourself. Wouldn’t you love to just drop everything and travel for a year or more?
If you’ve always dreamed of traveling in a meaningful way without going broke, it’s entirely possible. The trick is making it a lifestyle, blending work and play to become a digital nomad. Here are four steps to prepare yourself for living out your dream.
1. Figure out your income
For most people, money is usually the biggest barrier to traveling. Unless you’ve won the lottery or inherited a large sum of money, you likely can’t afford to ditch your day job and take off a year or two without an income. This means figuring out your earning capabilities is one of the first items on your to-do list if you want to make your wanderlust dreams a reality.
- Talk to your boss. If you work for an employer that allows you to work remotely, you’re in luck! You can talk to your boss and see if they’re willing to let you go 100 percent remote for a designated period of time. You might even try bargaining with your boss, offering to attend trade shows during your travels to promote your company to new audiences or in broader markets.
- Launch a business. Many digital nomads successfully run their own businesses from the road. Sit down and figure out what you’re passionate about and can see yourself doing. There are numerous small businesses you could launch, many for under $1,000.
- Freelance. Do you have a talent such as editing, writing, consulting, art, photography, or writing code? Pull all your talents together and promote yourself as a freelancer to establish several streams of income.
If you’re like most digital nomads, you’ll need to have a backup plan when it comes to your paycheck. Try not to put all your eggs in one basket where you could find yourself struggling financially if a big client moves to another company, your boss decides to downsize staff, or any of your miscellaneous income sources dry up.
Whatever you do and wherever you are, be sure to follow local laws to the letter so you don’t get into trouble. It’s worth taking the time to research what you’ll need, especially if you’re doing some of your traveling overseas. Also, remember that no matter where you are, you’ll still need to reconcile every April with Uncle Sam. Be sure to keep your tax calculations in order with apps and online tools that can help.
2. Settle things at home
Now that you’ve established how you’ll earn money, you can move to the next step: figuring out what to do with your apartment (or house) and your possessions, along with ironing out any other responsibilities.
- Lease your place. Rent out your house or apartment by listing it on sites like VBRO or Airbnb. (As a bonus, this can be another lucrative revenue stream!)
- Cut off the bills. Cancel the utilities and subscriptions you’ll no longer be attached to, including electricity, cable, telephone, trash collection, and any other services you won’t be using.
- Nail down your mail. Ask a trusted family member or friend if they would collect your mail and forward anything of importance. You can ask to use their address or open up a post office box that they can check for you.
- Get rid of stuff. You can’t take everything with you, so you’ll need to downsize. Sift through your belongings and set up separate piles to donate/give away, take with you, and put into storage.
Once you’ve settled things at home, you’re one step closer to hitting the road.
3. Set a budget
When you hit the road, you’ll have ditched many of the usual stationary expenses such as rent or mortgage, and utilities. However, you’ll also discover that you accumulate other expenses, ones you didn’t have before. Be sure to prioritize your current expenses and cover all the associated logistics. This way you can make sure you don’t find yourself broke and/or stranded.
- Assess your revenue. Make sure the income streams you set up can pay for the travel you want to do.
- Estimate your expenses. Calculate your projected costs including accommodations, transportation, food, an ample data plan, along with any travel gear you’ll need for different excursions.
- Balance your budget. List all your income and all your expenses, and make sure the totals balance out.
- Add a cushion. Once you’ve arrived at a balanced total, account for emergencies (or can’t-pass-up opportunities!) by adding 25 percent to your budget to ensure you’ll have enough funds to respond to unexpected events.
After you’ve addressed things on the home front and created your budget, you can move on to the fun stuff: making your travel plans!
4. Select your route
When planning your route, there are several factors you’ll want to consider. Ask yourself the following questions.
- What specific cities or landmarks are “must do” destinations?
- How long do I want to stay in each place?
- What are the best seasons to travel to each destination?
As you answer these questions, you definitely want to keep cost in mind. Remember, it ends up being cheaper per night to stay in one place for a few weeks than just a few nights. If you plan to set down temporary roots anywhere, choose an affordable and well-positioned city, such as Tampa, to help you stretch your budget. (Consider the nearby beautiful beaches and the fact that it’s less than 90 minutes from Orlando and other terrific vacation spots.)
One last tip: Make sure you do your research to get the best deals and choose the smartest options. For instance, make plans to visit cities during their off-season times of the year. Also, see what online deals you can find on Groupon or travel sites to get discounts on attractions or experiences.
Traveling for an extended period of time is an enriching experience, well worth the time and energy it takes to make preparations. What are you waiting for? Get started on planning your digital nomad adventure today!
Written by: Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life