What Is A Digital Nomad?

“Digital Nomad” is a term for a lifestyle that has become more and more popular over the last years. Thanks to the arrival of the Internet, someone who would like to live nomadic is more and more possible to do so. Thank the lord we’re living in 2018 and not in 1918. Although the term itself explains a lot, not everyone is aware of what it really is.

As you see, Digital Nomad, is made up of two words: Digital and Nomad.

  • Digital simply refers to anything related to the internet and its technology.
  • Nomad refers to someone who doesn’t live at one permanent place, but moves from one place to another. They often move places for a longer period of time, making it more of a lifestyle than something short term.

Combine the two explanations and you get someone who lives and works from wherever they choose to be, using the Internet and its technology to make money online. Making money along as they go is simply necessary to survive, just like someone who lives a more regular life, in the town they were born.

Characteristics Of A Digital Nomad

Although everyone is different, I think most Digital Nomads have some characteristics on how they differentiate from other people. Not everyone can and would like to be something like a Digital Nomad. You need a certain mindset to be living this nomadic lifestyle. Often it’s people who love to travel, explore the world very independently and love to work on something to build their future. Let me go into those characteristics a bit more.

  1. Digital Nomads Are Always On The Road
    This is what makes them “Nomads”. Digital Nomads are easily noticed by their ability to move from one place to another. They are often not tied to one specific place to be live and earn their money. It can be done from (almost) everywhere. They can have a homebase where they sometimes turn back to, but most of the time they are found in different places than that. No matter if that’s traveling, house sitting, co-living or anything else what brings them on the road.

A Digital Nomad is always on the road. 

A backpack, a laptop and some clean underwear is all they need

  1. Digital Nomads Are Social And Friendly
    Quite obvious. Digital Nomads socialize with other. With locals, travellers and preferable with like minded people. They often have to depend on people, ask for directions in unfamiliar places. No one helps an angry bird, so yes, we try to be friendly as often as possible. We try to look for each other around the world and join Digital Nomad Meetups, Local Meetups, Entrepreneurs Meetups. Work from Coworking spaces and join Workations, where Digital Nomads go for a working trip while having fun together and learn from each other. No matter if someone is more introvert or extravert, they look each other up.
  2. Digital Nomads Are Flexible
    Not everything goes as planned, especially not when you’re not in your safe environment, especially not when you’re not in a first world country. Most Digital Nomads already anticipate on this, as they know what’s coming. They know how it is to deal with the sudden, unexpected changed.
  3. Digital Nomads Travel Light
    A way to differentiate someone on a business trip and a Digital Nomad is the “luggage” they carry. Digital Nomads learn how to live on only the most important things for as long as they should. They carry around a smaller laptop, often a Macbook for what I’ve seen. Not those bulky Dell laptops often used by business man. Traveling light is very important for most Digital Nomads I know.
  4. Digital Nomads Avoid Attachments
    If you’re thinking of the “attachments” in emails, well, that’s not the attachment I’m talking about. I really mean attaching oneself to things and people. It is something most Digital Nomads do for the obvious reason that they will be moving away sooner or later and might have the problem of never seeing something again, so why attach yourself to it and making the leaving part harder for yourself?
  5. Digital Nomads Go for Success
    As most people in a more regular lifestyle will look to spend their money on everything they can buy, Digital Nomads will look more to invest their money. They will try to find ways to make sure that money will be more value in a couple of years as they know they can live on a smaller budget currently but would love the freedom later in live as well.
  1. Digital Nomads Have A Good Work-Life Balance
    Digital Nomads try not to work the same amount of time as the regular office person. At least, for most this is one of the reasons they actually left that office job. They prefer to enjoy life a bit more while exploring another country.

  1. Digital Nomads Are Always Online
    You will recognise this typical Digital Nomad, that person who’s always online. On Social Media, E-Mail as well as by phone, Skype, Slack and so many of the other tools, often used by Digital Nomads. They reply your messages within seconds, no matter what time zone they’re in. They are often online at the weirdest times, as their friends,

    no matter if they are their homebase friends or Digital Nomad friends are at the other end of the world. The are most likely found in a different time zone. Being online helps them to stay connected with them, even when they are10.000 miles away.

Types Of Digital Nomads

Now that we have discussed what Digital Nomad means, as well as what kind of Characteristics a Digital Nomad has, we can discuss the various types of Digital Nomads we have.

Freelancers

Digital Nomad Freelancers are often Graphic Designers, Writers, Translators, Virtual Assistance and Developers. They have the freedom to work with almost anyone at any time from anywhere in the world. This makes freelancers a great section of Digital Nomads. Digital Nomad Freelancers differentiate themselves to other Digital Nomad as they can be hired by several employers for short-term contracts and projects.

Entrepreneurs

Digital Nomad Entrepreneurs are different from freelancers because they are not just independent. They run legal entities or enterprises irrespective of the size or location. Some entrepreneurs run most or all of their business from the internet and do not need to be present at certain places physically to get work done. Digital Nomad Entrepreneurs come in many different ways. A very common version is Drop Shipping, Online Coaching, Amazon sellers and so on. Such entrepreneurs are a good sample of Digital Nomads.

Employees

This might surprise you, but not all employees are required to be present at their workplace to do their work, though they may be full-time employees. For instance, some companies let their employees work home or even (partly) remotely. “Field workers” such as reporters and investigators can be Digital Nomads as well. Employees make a good section of Digital Nomads but differentiate themselves as they are connected to one employer with a fixed contract for a longer period of time.

Remote Teams

Remote Teams of companies that do most of their work remotely and meet from time to time can be good example of Digital Nomads as well. And this is a raising group. More companies see that not everything has to be done in the office and Customer Care Teams or Development Teams is very often something you come across as a Remote Team.

Is Digital Nomad The Same As “Traveling The World” Or “Remote Working”?

Now, that is a popular question I hear or get asked a lot. My short answer is, No.

So what is the long answer? When you travel the world, you simply take a vacation outside your working time or retirement to visit interesting places in the world for relaxation or tourism. Working remotely means doing your active work or part of your work outside of your workplaces such as your rental apartment, a coffee shop or public library. Remote working does not necessarily include travelling just as travelling the world does not necessarily include working.

However, a Digital Nomad actually combines “travelling the world” with “remote working”. Imagine being both a full-time worker and traveller, working from similar places like a remote worker (apartment, public libraries, coffee shops, community parks and sometimes airports) while living in a foreign country.

How Does A Digital Nomad Work?

Since a Digital Nomad usually “lives” in his or her host location (usually a foreign country), most of his or her work is done online. Thanks to the internet and mobile electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, work can be done from the most remote place.

A lot of free and very affordable “cloud” services (God, I love Google Drive, Google Docs, Spreadsheet and so on!) and collaboration tools are available to take your work with you everywhere you go. The fast moving technology today simply makes it easy to live in different places at the same time. Basically, all that a Digital Nomad needs to get work done is a laptop and good internet connection.

Why Do People Become Digital Nomads?

Different people choose the Digital Nomad lifestyle for different reasons. As I said earlier, the Digital Nomad Lifestyle is not suitable for everyone. However, people (including me) choose this lifestyle for the following simple reasons:

Freedom and Independence

Freedom and Independence is the greatest benefit and the most common reason to become a Digital Nomad. Working in the same way at the same workplace for a long time makes one’s career boring. To some people, they almost appear as “slaves” to their “9-to-5” job. Becoming a Digital Nomad helps them to feel independent again.

In terms of freedom, you do not have to follow strict company rules, culture or long boring hours of meeting and commuting. You can choose to work from anywhere possible (including beaches, cafe’s or your current home) and schedule your own times, whenever suits you best, whenever you’re most productive. In the early mornings, before everyone is awake, or in the middle of the night, when not even the birds can disturb you. Personally, I love the feeling that I can work from anywhere at anytime. It gives me the freedom I want in life.

It’s not only the work freedom, I think it’s the freedom of a lifestyle. We Digital Nomads often follow our dreams, create our own little perfect world. Not the world others like to see. It’s what we like to see ourselves doing. We make the decisions, not society.

Minimalist Lifestyle

Imagine a lifestyle where you do not have to worry about owning a lot of material stuff that you can barely use efficiently. A minimalist reduces most of the “flashy” and “nice-to-have” things from his or her life to the point where only a few very important things are needed to live a meaningful life.

A Digital Nomad automatically becomes a minimalist. Though they may have a lot of things, they can only take the most important things with them. For instance, I only carry a hand luggage, which contains all my valuables. This doesn’t mean I don’t own anything anymore. I just own the most necessary or best nice to have things I can carry. Which also include a travel coffee maker and portable mixer to make my daily juices, as that is what is important to me.

Explore The World And Become A True “International Citizen”

As a Digital Nomad, it doesn’t matter where you go. They can go to this one place they have always dreamed off without having to wait another year until they can take their two week vacation. They can see the world, meet new cultures, learn new languages and meet amazing people. Such an experience is simply priceless.

Digital Nomads often travel much slower than other travellers and stay in places for a longer time. Sometimes a few weeks, sometimes a few months others even for a year. This gives them the opportunity to really live their new lives like the locals would.

Explore The World

Become An “International Citizen”

No Long & Boring Commute

Who doesn’t hate the long hours spent in traffic when going to or leaving from work? We all do. Thankfully, you will have no transport to work in most cases as a Digital Nomad as you often walk to your nearest cafe to work from. You don’t spend hours and hours in your car or bus to reach the office. Extra hours you save can be used for more important things like learning a new language, reading a book or anything else you like doing.

Why Is Digital Nomad Lifestyle So Popular Lately?

As strange as it may sound, the term “Digital Nomad” is not new. According to Wikipedia, a man called Steve Roberts was an early Digital Nomad as far as 1983 even before a book publication entitled “Digital Nomad” was written about the term in the 90’s (1997).

So, why is it popular recently? Growing access to internet is a major factor as well as the recent surge in the “sharing” or “gig” economy. More people are getting connected to the Internet than before which makes today the best time to become a Digital Nomad. Nomadism is growing, and according to many, it’s just the beginning. As who can resist a lifestyle on the road? No matter how long people make this lifestyle theirs, it’s definitely one of the most growing lifestyles out there at the moment. 

To conclude, I am sure this gives you a quick overview of what it means to be a Digital Nomad. You have also been introduced to why people like myself chose to become Digital Nomads. The question now is, when will you give this lifestyle a try?

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