How to Become a Digital Nomad
It’s always been my dream to travel the world. I love learning about new cultures and seeing the beauty of the world firsthand. During my 20s, I traveled a lot, from New Zealand and Australia to Europe to Israel. Then I met my partner and we settled down to have kids in the U.S. We love traveling, but is it really possible now that we have a child?
With fewer jobs attached to a physical workplace, there are more and more workers who are 100-percent remote, either as freelancers or as members of a remote team. There is no way to determine how many of these workers have become what are called digital nomads — location-independent people who are able to travel while working full- or part-time.
One Family’s Journey to Location-Independent Photography
My friend and her husband had a successful wedding photography business, and he would travel around the country almost every weekend to shoot weddings. By the time their son was three, they wanted to spend more time together as a family. They sold most of their possessions, didn’t schedule any weddings for a few months, and hit the road.
The family spent an entire summer in an RV — first in Turkey, then on to Hawaii.
To do this, they made their business location-independent by doing client calls via Skype or phone and signing paperwork through Adobe Sign. They tweaked their business strategy to focus on specific clients who interested them, rather than accepting all offers. In the year prior to their travel, they booked 53 weddings, so they weren’t lacking in choices for clients.
They put down $3,000 for the RV. Their monthly expenses on the road were around $2,000, including her husband’s student loan payments. She found it was cheaper to live on the road than stationary, “since the campground fee is essentially rent plus utilities plus internet all in one, and we both worked some on the go, so we had enough coming in to keep us afloat.”
How to Become a Digital Nomad 101
To be a digital nomad, you’ll obviously need a remote job. Luckily, there are many jobs that cater to this lifestyle — not just writers and traveling business people. Nurses and teachers can move around while they work, picking up jobs as they go or conducting work online.
If there is one thing that you need to take care of while seeing the world while working, though, it’s health insurance. The options could be travel health insurance, expat health insurance, or even pay-as-you-go (meaning no insurance), since healthcare is very cheap in many countries. The U.S. State Department provides a list of both U.S. and foreign insurers to help travelers figure out which is best for them.
Wondering what to do if you have school-age children? Many kids are homeschooled. Families who are slow-traveling (staying in one place for a month or more before moving on) may connect with other families to set up temporary schools.
And contrary to the general perception, many of these digital nomads are not rich. Parents who travel with kids — or even couples without kids — need to work in order to finance their lifestyles. You can find some of their stories on World School Adventures. Hearing their stories fills me with hope. Now it’s only a matter of how — and when — we will do it.