Since the dawn of humanity, travel has been an integral part of our culture and history. As society moves forward at a rapid pace, and the world becomes more connected than ever before, increasing numbers of people are finding ways to live a life entirely dedicated to exploration and global travel – but how can you make this happen for yourself?
A life dedicated to travel might seem like a romantic ideal, but for countless scores of people this is now very much a reality, and it’s easier to achieve than you might think. ‘Digital nomadism’ – working remotely as you travel, staying in one place only as long as you feel like, and constantly exploring new countries and destinations – is becoming an increasingly popular way of living.
Would Digital Nomadism Suit You?
Before you quit the 9-5 and sell all of your possessions, you should ask yourself ‘is the travel life really for me?’ While many if not most of us will have experienced travel in a transient, fleeting way – with a one off holiday, or possibly a backpacking adventure – an entire lifestyle dedicated to travel is pretty different from a week by the poolside or hiking.
The life of a digital nomad comes with a few caveats that might not be to everyone’s taste. Culture shock is something you’ll need to learn to embrace, and if you value routine, security, and stability, then the wild ride that is the travel life might not be for you. No two days will be the same, and work is never guaranteed (unless you’re lucky!).
Similarly, you need to be adaptable and quick-thinking – life on the move can change on the turn of a coin, and unpredictable challenges are part of the deal. If you tick these boxes, and think these things would excite rather than scare you, then digital nomadism could be your calling.
You’ll need to earn as you explore:
The next thing to think about if you’re thinking of embarking upon your own travel adventure is how you’re going to sustain yourself. While it’s true that many places digital nomads frequent are incredibly cheap, they certainly aren’t free – and neither are flights, food, or the drinks with which to wind down after a long day.
You’ll need a source of income that is stable enough to fund both your stay in each destination and your travel between them. Creative industries such as graphic design, web development, and things like copy writing can all lend themselves to this, as all they require is a computer, an internet connection, and some skill and drive.
You could even consider travel blogging as a source of income. However, while this is a wildly popular option, it can also be challenge to generate enough of an audience and to turn your blog into a money-maker. This certainly shouldn’t put aspiring bloggers off though, and it’s a fantastic thing to work on and build as you travel.
If digital isn’t your thing, you could still fund a life of travel by simply finding local work in the countries and destinations that you visit. From fruit picking to bar work, this tactic can provide some of the most authentic and memorable experiences. You will be leaving elements of your trip to fate, though, requiring a little more luck than other methods.
You’ll need somewhere to stay:
With the whole world at your feet, deciding where to stay next is one of the most exciting things about living a travel lifestyle. There are plenty of ideal places in the world to call home, though your choice of country and location will largely be down to your own tastes and aspirations. You’ll just need to make sure you’ll be able to work and make money there – it’s easy to take simple things like internet access for granted.
In terms of accommodation, there are a few particularly popular candidates. Hostels and affordable hotels can be found in most locations, and millennials are also frequently turning to innovative sharing options like ‘couchsurfing’ or Airbnb. A smart move is to do some research on your destination – you might even be able to rent a room or flat for an affordable rate, and it could even save you money.
Where to work?
Before you pick a location, you’ll need to plan where you’re going to work. While a lot of places offer internet connectivity, the speed of the available connection varies greatly from place to place, and you’ll need to do your homework before you set off to make sure you don’t get stuck in a digital dry patch.
There are plenty of places that make great makeshift offices, from cafés to beach bars – but one of the best options to have emerged in recent year is the ‘digital hub’. Coworking spaces like KoHub offer nomads the perfect place to set up on a daily basis, with consistent internet access, dedicated workspaces, and other handy facilities – you could go from designing a website in the morning, to researching the best snorkeling and diving spots in Thailand over lunch, and then exploring them in the afternoon – all from the same spot.
Where to begin?
Now the big question – once you’ve decided you want to embark upon a life of travel – is where do you begin? It can be a little overwhelming, but the key thing is not to make any hasty decisions.
Do plenty of research, and don’t be too ambitious to start with. Do a bit of investigating, pick a destination, and ensure you’ll be able to earn once there (you might want to begin transitioning to more freelance-based remote work gradually first). Factor in things like visas, as well as likely living costs, until you find the perfect place.
It’s also a good idea to save a decent amount of cash as a safety net. Through no fault of your own, things may not go to plan, and you’ll want to have some savings. It’s also sensible to try phasing remote working in – perhaps a month or so abroad to start with – to see if the lifestyle is something you want to pursue long term.
The most important thing to remember is that there’s no rush. Once you’ve made the leap and are settling into your new life, there’s no reason to leave within a few days, or even weeks. Many remote workers spend months on end in each location – if you love it, you can stay as long as you like (visa-depending!). The world is your oyster; good luck!