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July 30, 2010

Life as a digital nomad

alone. Photo: Giorgio Montersino / Flickr Creative Commons

alone. Photo: Giorgio Montersino / Flickr Creative Commons

In case you need any more motivation to figure out how to work remotely, here’s one more: 50 photos to inspire life as a digital nomad.

Of course, having the dream is the easy part. Wishing for something isn’t the same as working to get it.  If only we had a road map, so at least we would know if we’re going in the right direction.

The good news is that somebody created a road map. Writer and vagabonder Christine Gilbert has a detailed guide up at her blog,

30 ways in 30 days to redesign your life and travel around the world

It’s one of the most extensive write-ups I’ve read of all the practical steps necessary to become a digital nomad. She even covers life challenges, such as convincing a significant other to come along, dealing with pre-trip anxiety, etc.

Entrepreneur magazine had a handy list of web-based services to help you run your virtual office: Start a business for nothing. Often these services can replace the need to buy expensive equipment.

Digital nomads like to emphasize that work is still work, no matter where you operate. It takes time and sweat to test a market, establish a business, and build up a steady stream of income. In fact, one danger is that you can end up working harder. You’ll face tight deadlines or try to prove that you’re working just as hard as your cubicle-bound friends back home. What looks like an easy life on the surface is actually the result of hard work, thoughtful planning, and laser-like focus on a goal.

Are you a digital nomad? Have advice for others looking to become one? Got a favorite tool that we forgot to mention? Share your advice and experience in the comments.

Posted by | Comments (7) 
Category: Expat Life, Images from the road, Lifestyle Design, On The Road, Vagabonding Advice

7 Responses to “Life as a digital nomad”

  1. Kirsty Says:

    I’ve been a digital nomad since November 2007. t took a lot of hard work and a ridiculous number of hours to get where I am but, in a way, I was lucky because I started early (in 2001) and most of the work I put in early on was as a hobby and because I wanted to learn more. Back then, nobody small was really making anything from the web and it didn’t look like things would chance.

    Now I think people see the potential for making money, even just a relatively small amount to be able to live somewhere cheaply, and they might not realize that it’ll still take a lot (maybe even a year or two) before you make your first buck.

    But I think there’s plenty of money to be earned online and think we;re still in the early stages so people who get to work now will be reaping the rewards and hopefully living a much freer life down the road.

    Countless people start with big dreams but give up too soon. Stick with it!

  2. Erin Says:

    We’ve been travelling as digital nomads for five months and are slowly building up our income. We saved enough to keep us going for a year so that we would have time to grow the business as it does take time. At the moment we are balancing periods of travel with renting an apartment for a month or two to get some work done.

  3. Christine Gilbert Says:

    Thanks for the mention Marcus!

    I’m actually filming a documentary this year about digital nomads. We’re traveling across 6 continents and interviewing young people, families with little kids, couples — many different types of people who make money in very different ways (it’s definitely not all online with websites- some people have businesses, others work remotely etc).

    My husband has been working 100% remotely for a company for 6 years this fall. He maintains east coast hours everywhere we go.

    Anyway… there are lots of free resources out there to help figure it all out if it’s something that sounds interesting!

  4. Kirsty Says:

    That’s great advice Paul. I didn’t quit my job until I was making around $500 a month steadily. I know that’s not much but, because I had lots of ideas on how to make more money, I figured I just needed the time to concentrate on my business. I couldn’t live on $500 a month in London, but by heading to Asia with some savings behind me, I was able to put that 8 hours a day plus commuting time into my web work instead of toiling away in the office.

    I wouldn’t say for people to wait until they’re making their target amount before they take off… get to a point you’re comfortable with and then go for it. Having the time to invest in your business will, in theory, move things forward.

  5. Rebecca Says:

    Being a digital nomad is fantastic. If you move from state to state or country to country, you can still write. You’re office is where you go with your laptop. It may take time for some people to make a decent living online. Having part-time jobs here and there can help to supplement your monthly income.

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