15 Jun Become a Digital Nomad (Lite)
Do you have a college pal who constantly posts pics from exotic locations around the world while claiming to be a “digital nomad”? Do his or her selfies from white sand beaches and Peruvian jungles get you down?
Well, don’t let it. Being a true digital nomad sucks. It’s lonely, chaotic and for most people an unsustainable way to live. For those of you sitting under florescent lights at your office questioning if this is really what being a grow-up is like, the answer is: it doesn’t have to be. It’s not too late to keep your current job, but temporarily bring it to a new location. People with some wanderlust shouldn’t quit their day job–they should become “digital nomads (lite)”. If you’ve ever had to work while on vacation, this post is directed at you!
Being a Digital Nomad
Digital Nomads use telecommunication to work remotely from cafes and coworking spaces while they travel the world. Often these digital nomads tear up their lease, sell their car, downsize their belongings and set out to travel the world. For those with an office job and a bit of wanderlust, this can sound like paradise. Who wouldn’t want to work from an exotic location and avoid the winters and high prices of North America and Europe?
But the digital nomad life comes with a lot of drawbacks…constant travel can be exhausting rather than rejuvenating and a steady stream of goodbyes can leave you numb. But what about finding the sweet spot? The ideal amount of travel that gets you out of your routine and into an energizing new environment that sparks creativity and renewal? This sweet-spot is what I call being a digital nomad lite–that is spending 1 to 2 months working remotely in a new city or cities every year.
Digital Nomads have proven it is possible to travel the world while working remotely and many office workers have proven that they can also work remotely. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, 24 percent of employed people did some or all of their work at home. With the ability (and sometimes responsibility) to work away from the office comes a great opportunity to shift work culture away from the office.
Being a Digital Nomad (Lite)
As workers and companies continue to push the boundaries of the office, the case for working remotely for a few months per year will increase. Here are 10-steps to get ahead of this trend and become a Digital Nomad (Lite).
Step 1 – Determine if you actually want to travel
The Instagram generation glorifies travel…and while travel is wonderful, people should understand their motivations for wanting to leave their city and work remotely. It’s going to be a lot of work, so make sure your desire travel is strong enough to warrant such a massive change.
Step 2 – Test drive remote work
If you find that you are working while on vacation, you should probably be able to make a case for working remotely when you’re not on vacation. If you can log on remotely to your office desktop, you probably have the ability to be a digital nomad (lite). Socialize the idea and then prove that you can work away from the office.
Step 3 – Research Cities
Do research on the cities you’d like to visit, keeping in mind safety, digital infrastructure, timezones, friendliness to coworking and they type of weather you want. Check out nomadlist to see how your chosen cities rank for digital nomads. Addtionally, Digital Nomad groups on Facebook are incredibly friendly and a great place to get information — join one in the city you want to visit and ask questions about the best places to stay.
Once you have found the cities you want to visit, find the best area to live, then pick the best co-working spaces and accommodation options in that neighbourhood. Once you’ve established home base, don’t forget to look into the best gyms, restaurants and grocery stores in the area too!
Pro Tip: The act of researching and planning can actually boost happiness, so take your time and savour researching where you will go.
Step 4 – Put together a remote working proposal
Put together a remote-working proposal for HR and see if they are willing to let you work remotely from another country.
Step 5 – Get organized at home
Organize your work-flow at the office so that you can work remotely. Make sure people can take meetings with you via Skype, Google Hangouts or any one of the numerous digital conferencing platforms. Once you have your work sorted, organize what you will do with your car, house, pets, etc. Consider getting an account with Airbnb or Homeaway and list your place–if you live in a high cost city, renting out your residence might even pay for your travel! [Write article on renting your house out on airbnb and travelling to link to]
Also, don’t forget to book your flight a month in advance for the best price and to get travel/health insurance and any visas or vaccinations you’ll need. And whatever you do–make sure your smartphone is unlocked!
Step 6 – Pack your laptop and go
Once you arrive, get a SIM card for the country you are in. Your smartphone is your map, taxi hailing service, translator, as well as the answer to any question you might have. Once you’re on the ground, here are a few tips that I think make a big difference:
- Always get a spot at a coworking space.
- Go to a digital nomad event within your first week and get plugged in to digital nomad community (Digital Nomads are some of the most friendly people you’ll meet and it will be easy to make friends from all around the world).
- Meet up with locals (get a Tinder or Bumble account and go on a few dates or find a hobby popular in the country you are visiting that interests you and sign up for a class.
- Find a schedule that works for you and then stick to it! Without a schedule things can get a bit hectic in a new city. Lots of digital nomads are freelancers and can work whenever they want…as an office worker this probably is not the same for you. Try your hardest to get into a routine!