Tips for Surviving as a Digital Nomad

In so many ways, earning your keep as a travel writer is a dream come true. You get to make your own hours and choose your own projects — all while traveling the world! Your job is one of freedom, creativity, and boundless adventure.

But it’s not all fun and games, especially if you plan to make this a long-term career. Double that if you’re actually hoping to retire someday.

Indeed, life as a digital nomad can be pretty much idyllic. However, there are some practical tips you need to know not just to survive in this career and lifestyle, but to thrive.

1. Choosing Your Nest

Whether your next gig involves a short stint or a longer stay in new environs, you’re still going to need a place to live. Unfortunately, chances are you’re not going to have the opportunity to scope out your new digs in person. Renting a place sight unseen, though, poses a lot of risks.

That’s why you must learn to recognize the warning signs of a potential rental scam. The good news is that there are lots of red flags. For instance, if your potential landlord asks for an exorbitantly expensive background check or, conversely, requires no screening process at all, then you should probably walk away.

The same goes for anyone offering you an incomplete lease agreement — or no agreement at all. Never engage in a rental contract unless all the terms are clearly spelled out and signed by all parties.

2. Only Connect

You simply can’t survive as a digital nomad if you’re cut off from the digital world. So, in addition to getting your (rental) house in order, you’re also going to need to make certain that you will have a solid internet connection wherever you might go.

Of course, your travel writing adventures can take you to some pretty exotic, and pretty remote, locales, places where broadband isn’t exactly ubiquitous. That’s why it’s a good idea to ensure you have a backup plan for your digital life. After all, no connection means no pay.

The good news is that you don’t have to depend on the existing infrastructure wherever you may roam. Instead, you can carry your internet connection with you, using technologies such as a personal hotspot connected to your smartphone or even a portable router.

If worse comes to worst, you might even look for local internet cafes and public hotspots. This is a riskier proposition, however, and you’ll need to be careful to ensure your connection is secure.

3. Remember It’s Still a Business

As much as you may love your life as a travel writer, it’s important to remember that it’s still a business, and to protect yourself, your future, and the people you love, you have to treat it as such. That’s going to require you to focus heavily on the less fun aspects of being your own boss, especially the financial components.

When you’re an independent contractor, and especially when travel is a central facet of your job, then you’re going to need to become a master at making a budget — and sticking to it. This is also going to involve managing taxes, dealing with any additional fees or expenses associated with international travel, and creating a financial plan for your future retirement.

That’s a lot to deal with that doesn’t directly relate to your writing career. However, they’re all essential duties to attend to if you want to make a go of this career for the long haul, not to mention if you hope to retire in style someday!

The Takeaway

To live life as a digital nomad is, in many ways, to live a life that most people can only dream of. But it’s not all fun and games. To survive and thrive as a digital nomad, there are some pragmatic steps you need to take, not tomorrow, not next week, but today!