What comes to your mind when you hear the term “digital nomad”? Maybe a guy on the beach somewhere with his laptop? A tired but excited traveler, taking a video call while balancing his luggage in a coworking space? Or a group of young people in a café-like place with their laptops in front of them and they seem to be discussing business?
Digital nomads and their life style are becoming more of a reality and less of a dream. You can tell, as countries are racing to welcome them with special visas, dedicated villages, events and tax breaks.
But do you know what exactly is a digital nomad and it differs from remote working or backpacking?
Here below we will answer 10 of your most frequently asked questions about digital nomads. Who they are, what they do and the reason they adopted this lifestyle.
1. What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is a location-independent individual who uses the internet and technology to work remotely, while travelling around the world. In other words, a digital nomad is someone who typically does jobs that can be done online, in order to be able to satisfy his love for travel and adventure.
2. How is this different from remote-working or backpacking?
Remote working means working remotely from the client or company that you work with. So, you can be working from your own home in the U.S. for a company in Brazil, but you are not travelling. A digital nomad works while travelling.
Backpacking is a common term for people who travel for pleasure out of their backpack. They are not necessarily working. Backpackers also travel for shorter periods of time compared to digital nomads.
3. Are there different types of digital nomads?
Yes! You can classify nomads by the way in which they work into:
- Remote workers who work for a certain company or client.
- Freelancers who are working for different clients per project basis.
- Entrepreneurs who own a startup and work with remote employees in different locations.
- Bloggers, for example a travel blogger can be a digital nomad.
- Investors who are using their profits from stocks or cryptocurrency trading to fund their travels.
4. Why is digital nomadism popular?
Freedom. Travelling the world and discovering new places while having the money to support your adventures is a dream come true for many. The 9 to 5 jobs are not the default scheme of work anymore.
There are other developments that made digital nomadism become more popular like:
- Increase in internet coverage and speed all over the world.
- More companies adopting the remote working option; and the increase in jobs that can be done online.
- Cities around the world supporting the trend by creating coworking spaces and special accommodation options.
- Easier travel, accommodation and transportation with the help of apps like Goggle maps, Airbnb and TripAdvisor.
- The rise of minimalism culture, and prioritizing experiences over material possessions.
- Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic which forced people globally to enter the world of remote work.
5. How did digital nomadism start?
Steve Roberts is considered to be the 1st digital nomad. In 1984 he set off on a computerized bike to travel across the U.S. while still doing his job as a writer. He had a computer and a cellular phone on him, much like a modern nomad!
It is widely believed that the term digital nomad was coined by Japanese Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners in their book “Digital Nomad” in the late 1990s. They predicted that this lifestyle will be so popular that it will cause nationalism and materialism to decline.
6. What are the possible benefits of being a digital nomad?
- You get to be in control of your life. You can work according to your own schedule and take time off when you want.
- Experience different cultures, places and people.
- Flexible lifestyle. You can live wherever you want for whatever duration you want and have more time to do what makes you happy.
- You can save money by living in countries with much cheaper cost of living.
- Higher productivity and creativity, as you will expand your horizons with the new experiences and places.
- Seasons will mean nothing to you. You can have summer or winter depending on your chosen destination.
- You will learn to adapt. The digital nomad life always pushes the boundaries of your comfort zone; Change will not be something you fear anymore.
7. Are there downsides to being a digital nomad?
As anything in life that has an upside, it also must have a downside. Digital nomads reported the below struggles:
- It could be difficult to maintain relationships if you are always moving.
- Lots of traveling can make it easier for you to be exhausted and thus burnout faster.
- Privacy can be an issue. If you are always on the road, or you stay in hostels you can suffer from lack of privacy.
- Bureaucratic struggles. Like dealing with different laws, having international health insurance and acquiring visas.
- Travel loses its excitement.
8. What jobs can I do as a digital nomad?
Any job that can be done remotely. Here are some of the common fields of work among nomads:
IT, customer service, language teaching, design, software development, HR and recruiting, translation, transcription, content creation, blogging, project management, marketing, editing, accounting, virtual assistant, sales and trading.
9. What are the popular destinations among digital nomads?
The list is a long one, it depends on your taste and preference. The most popular destinations include: Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, Spain, Colombia, Portugal, Argentina, Morocco, Greece, Malta, Poland, China, Egypt and Brazil. Recently Estonia, Croatia, Barbados and Bermuda joined the list of popular destinations as they started offering special digital nomad visas and tax breaks.
10. Are there famous digital nomads?
Several famous digital nomads are authors who wrote helpful books about digital nomadism. Among these are Tim Ferris, the author of “The 4-hour work week” and Chris Guillebeau, author of “The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World”.
Can your job be done remotely while travelling?