We all dream of travelling the world, few of us, however, consider the option of working while we travel. Learn how to be a Digital Nomad and work around the world. Read on and find out how to successfully travel and work.
Travel and Work – A Combination for Success
When most people think of travel, a few things may come to mind! Perhaps a mountain retreat in the Alps or the Himalayas, a sandy beach in Bali or Thailand, the green expanses of rural Britain, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – just to name a few. Many of us would like to visit these places, but often being stuck at a desk job, doesn’t allow much time for travel. Then there’s also the added factor of cost.
What if we told you that there’s a new wandering traveller known as a ‘Digital Nomad’? Someone who’s able to travel the world while making money and most often than not, documenting it for all to see on her social media accounts? Could you be this person?
What exactly is a Digital Nomad?
In simple terms, a Digital Nomad is a person with a digital-facing skill such as a travel blogger, videographer or graphic designer, with access to the internet and time-independence. In essence, a person can complete a job in a given time frame, away from an office (remotely) and then upload her work to the cloud using an internet connection. The internet connection does not necessarily have to be her own, nor does it have to be consistent. She can check her emails and briefs intermittently, keep in touch with teammates and clients via apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams or even direct messaging apps like WhatsApp – the Digital Nomad is free to roam. Being able to both travel and work does seem like a dream come true!
How Do Digital Nomads Make Their Money?
A Digital Nomad’s portfolio is her income. To bag the next job, she needs to make sure she met the needs of her customer on the job before. She works on a project to project basis. While this is freeing, a good Digital Nomad knows that referrals, consistent social media posts and an impressive but professional online presence go a long way. She is away from her network of friends and family, so she needs to leverage the digital sphere as much as she can.
Once paid, her finances are handled through online payment platforms like PayPal, Payoneer or Skrill, and in exchange for all that freedom, she gets to do the work she wants, when she wants, while also seeing the world.
The Digital Nomad may even choose to augment her income with traditional jobs such as bartending, working as a hotel concierge or working at backpackers. However, these types of posts may tie such a traveller down in the short term, especially since many people are unemployed and managers expect a certain level of loyalty from their employees. This is why it is advisable that anyone augmenting her primary income as a remote worker be clear with employers about how long she plans to stay in a city or country so that there are no unmet expectations. It all sounds too good to be true, right?
Two Pitfalls of Working and Travelling
It would be irresponsible to paint a rosy picture of the Digital Nomad’s life without sharing some of the pitfalls that may befall you if you choose this line of work:
Financial Insecurity and Expenses
If a Digital Nomad is not smart with money and travel plans, she may face financial hurdles. For example, a travel blogger’s output is seasonal. Summer does not last all year round, so it may become necessary to “chase summer” by changing hemispheres at the right time to keep to continue content creation. Alternatively, she could produce seasonal content, such as writing about skiing in winter versus surfing in summer; otherwise, she will run out of content fast. No content means no jobs and no jobs equals no money.
Then again is the matter of choosing your countries correctly. Currency is not always a friend. A native currency can be stable in one country and allow someone to live like a king, but weaker in another country, where they will live like a pauper. The dice is genuinely in the traveller’s hand, and she needs to do research and choose destinations wisely.
Travel Induced Stress
Depending on the frequency of travel, there may be high stress involved. Waiting around at airports; the nightmare of checking in; the long flights; and checking in at hotels, Airbnbs or guesthouses can leave a person feeling lost, tired and dejected. This could also lead to feelings of loneliness as the person doesn’t take the time to get to know people in a new locale before moving on. Although social media can help her to keep in touch with friends and family, familiarity and proximity are missing.
How Do You Become a Digital Nomad as Well?
The easiest way to join the ranks of paid remote workers is to upskill yourself in one of the skills most prized by companies, who hire Digital Nomads. Whether you decide to be a travel blogger, graphic designer or otherwise, there are plenty of online resources such as videos and short courses which can align with your needs.
For example, if you want to become a graphic designer, you can take a graphic design online short course, which will equip you with the latest skills most relevant to your industry. Currently, Adobe Illustrator is the must-have digital toolkit for visual artists and being able to use it – and use it well – will mean more money in your pocket. You will be able to see a direct correlation between your graphic design skills, understanding of visual theory and your income. In this way, not only will you be able to generate beautiful content, but you will be able to bill your hours and value your work accordingly.
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This article is written in collaboration with Clive Baker at MLComms.co.za.