I think I was born a “nomad.” I have always liked to explore new places and to challenge myself in new environments. At the age of 20, I left France to Spain with one suitcase and ended up spending eight years there. Then, curious to discover something new, I took my suitcase again and moved from Barcelona to New York. But less than one year ago, I become a true digital nomad: I don’t have a home or office anymore. I just move from place to place, every two or three months, depending on my projects and clients, or depending on conferences related to my work, like WordCamps.
Since I definitively left the keys of the room I rented in Brooklyn, just one year ago, I have taken close to 15 flights and have been to 9 different countries. How cool is that? But after living the nomad life for a few months now, I realize that sometimes it’s not as cool as it sounds. Don’t take me wrong. I am very happy with the choice I made, but like everything in life, it has his pros and cons. So, if you too are thinking of getting out of your comfort zone and taking your laptop on a journey, here’s my little survival kit for you.
If you want to be a digital nomad, you have to be a fairly flexible person. But you are not a “road tripper.” Before going on a digital journey, you should consider this:
- Set up a “back-up base” somewhere. Even though the idea behind digital nomadism is to have no apartment or office, you’ll need a back-up place in case of crisis or to simply take a break between two destinations. Luckily for me, my parents are always happy to have me back home and to store my few belongings while I am away. Every two or three months, I like to go back there.
- Choose a Digital Nomad friendly country. Particularly if you are a woman, traveling alone, like me! Digital nomad friendliness is measured by different factors: Easy access to internet, cost of living, weather etc… Nomad List is a great listing that will help you to find out all this data.
- Get yourself a good insurance. I use April International. It is a little costly. But, better safe than sorry.
- Buy a good phone. SIM Free or get an international plan. In some countries, it can be difficult to move around. If you can connect to the Internet, at least with your phone, you’ll make your life easier.
- Always have some work ready to do offline. Right before traveling from one place to another, make sure you have all you need in your computer, not in the cloud! Not all airports offer free wifi, unfortunately.
- Stay at least one month in each place. First, because you’ll get better deals on your hosting and then, because traveling takes time off of your work. So the less you travel, the better. If you set up somewhere for sometime you’ll get more time to both work and discover.
- Find a good ratio between hanging out with other fellow digital nomads, local people and not going out at all! It’s very easy to feel isolated when you travel alone. It’s also very easy to end up going out only with foreigners. So get out! Learn the language and don’t be shy! Watch out for nomadbase. A new app, only available in Thailand, Bali and Germany at the time of writing this article, but I am sure you’ll soon be able to chat with your remote friends from almost everywhere.
- Don’t set up the office in your hotel or apartment. Find Public Libraries, coffee shops or coworking spaces. These are becoming more and more popular. They usually offer hourly, daily, weekly or monthly plans. You can find plenty of them with the Work Hard Anywhere app.
- Attend local events like conferences or meetups. You’ll get to meet with both local people and foreigners and to do some networking. I find the most of my clients in such events. Good ones to go to are the Digital Nomad Summit or the DNX Camp.
- Practice sports, like yoga or mediation. Being away is not a valid excuse to stop exercising both your body and mind. What I recommend is to start your day early with meditation. This will help you to clean your thoughts. Before starting to look at your emails, work out your body! This will give you energy. There are great apps for that. I use insight timer and doyogawithme.com
- Set up your schedule based on the time zone you are in and the one of your clients. Asia is the best if you work with European or Americans. While there, I liked to wake up early and get two or three hours of work - after my meditation and yoga session, of course - then, I could take a break for some visits or sightseeings while my clients are all sleeping. Late afternoon, I’m ready to answer emails or calls until late night!
As I said earlier: true digital nomads have no apartment or office. But try to come back to your local bases (Before: 1.) every now and then. After being away for a long time, it’s always good to come back to familiar places, where they speak your language and eat the food you like! Take this opportunity to:
- Do all medical checkups needed.
- Rest a lot.
- Catch up with family and local friends.
- Stay in touch with the friends and contacts you made abroad.
- Plan and get ready for the next destination.
So, what are you waiting for? Take your laptop and jump on a plane now! Just make sure you follow these basic points and should be OK. With experience, you’ll probably end up making up your own list. All in all, it’s all about personal experience. Safe travel!