Thanks to an increase in flexible working, inspirational Instagram snaps, and eased Covid-19-related travel restrictions, becoming a digital nomad has never been more popular. With the freedom and flexibility to live and work on the road, you can earn while you travel.
So could you work from anywhere and live a digital nomad lifestyle? Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a digital nomad.
Is it easy to become a digital nomad?
Becoming a digital nomad is a big switch from working a typical 9-5 and living in your home country. You’ll need a flexible job, few family commitments (or buy-in from your family), and minimal desire for creature comforts.
Even if this sounds like you, it takes real motivation to overhaul your life and become a digital nomad. You need to prepare for this massive lifestyle shift by understanding the pros and cons of digital nomad life.
The pros and cons of digital nomad life
While working from anywhere sounds like a dream come true for a lot of people, there are certain drawbacks you need to be aware of. Here are all the pros and cons of the digital nomad lifestyle.
- You have the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want
- You can work at a time that suits you
- You’ll experience new places, cultures and languages
- You can travel with the weather
- You can even save money on living expenses if you stay in a campervan
- It only works if you can work remotely 100% of the time
- Travel fatigue may set in
- There can be limited stability in your income and lifestyle
- You may find you’re less productive
- Some people find expat life lonely
Overcoming these drawbacks is a big part of being a digital nomad. But if the pros outweigh the potential cons, here’s how you can become a digital nomad.
How to become a digital nomad
1. Decide on your ideal lifestyle
Digital nomads can work from anywhere with a WiFi connection — so where will you go? Will you move to another city or another country? Or will you build your own campervan and travel across the UK and Europe? Do you want to work full-time, or focus more on getting new experiences?
When you know how you want your new lifestyle to look, you can start to plan your new life as a digital nomad.
2. Speak to your employer — or become a freelancer
As a digital nomad, work will be a big part of your time on the road. If you’re already a freelancer, this won’t be a problem. But if you’re employed, you’ll need to get your employer on board with your plans.
If your employer is flexible, they may be happy for you to take off and work from anywhere. But even if they’re supportive of your plan, they may want to set expectations about productivity, remote meetings, and your availability. You’ll need to compromise on this, so go in with an open mind and a rough idea of how you plan to work while you’re away.
3. Start saving to become a digital nomad
Even though you’ll be working while you travel, you should still start your journey with a decent amount of money saved up. That way, if your campervan needs unexpected maintenance, or you need to get an emergency flight, you’ll have enough money to cover any unexpected expenses.
4. Decide on your first destination
Part of the joy of becoming a digital nomad is having the freedom to travel wherever you like. But to give you a little stability — at least for the first few weeks — it’s a good idea to have your initial destination(s) planned in advance.
Some countries require specific visas, which you’ll need to apply for well before you travel. Your insurers (not to mention your family and friends) will also want to know where you’re planning to go. If you’re not sure on your destination just yet, check out the best places to go in your campervan for some inspiration.
5. Sort out the paperwork
Unfortunately, planning to become a digital nomad isn’t just about researching fun locations and chatting with potential new friends online. There’s also plenty of paperwork to sort out. Here are the major things you need to sort before you go:
- Passport — make sure yours is in date and valid for travel
- Visas — some countries require them if you’re planning to stay and/or work for longer periods
- Insurance — this is essential; you need to make sure you have health cover, valuables cover (for your laptop), and the right insurance for your vehicle
- EHIC or GHIC card — UK citizens can apply for a card that gives you healthcare cover abroad
- Bank account — if you’re becoming a freelancer, it’s a good idea to set up a business bank account
- Travel money — most countries now favour card payments over cash, so make sure you have a travel card that gives you a decent exchange rate.
6. Arrange your travel
Now you’ve got the boring stuff in hand, it’s time to take the plunge. Book your first flight — or buy the campervan that’s going to be your home for at least the next few months. If you’re not sure which campervan to buy (or how to transform it into a living space) take a look at our guide to building a campervan.
7. Figure out what technology you need
When you’re working on the road, you’ll need the right technology to ensure you stay connected. This includes an overseas phone plan, VPN, and a reliable laptop.
You’ll also need a reliable WiFi connection. This isn’t always available in cafes or hotels — so you need to make sure you have fast, reliable internet access from your campervan. Invest in a specialist campervan WiFi router that enables you to take online meetings and stream videos without interruption.
You may also want to consider a satellite system that gives you more TV options for relaxed evenings in your campervan.
8. Decide what to do with your belongings
Whether you’re a homeowner or a short-term renter, you probably have quite a few belongings you don’t want to take with you on the road. Now’s the time to decide what to do with your double bed while you’re away.
If you’re committing to becoming a digital nomad indefinitely, you may want to sell your items. This is easy with sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace. Alternatively, if you’re planning to return in a few months, you can put your items in storage until you come back.
9. Find friends in digital nomad communities at your destination
Loneliness can be a problem when you’re away from home, especially in the first few weeks of travel. Finding potential friends before you go can offset this.
Look online for digital nomad communities at your destination, so you’ll have some friendly faces to meet up with when you arrive. This can help if you feel homesick or lonely in your first few months on the road. Sites like Meetup and Reddit communities (see r/digitalnomad in the first instance) are great places to find like-minded worker-travellers before you set off.
10. Hit the road
When all your plans are in place, there’s nothing left to do but go! Pack your bags and/or load up the campervan with your must-have items, then set off and travel the world while you work.
Get the tech you need to work from anywhere
Sourcing the right technology to ensure you can work from your campervan is one of the trickiest parts of becoming a digital nomad.
At Maxview, we’re experts in providing WiFi and satellite systems that are purpose-built for campervans, caravans, and motorhomes. We can even help you find an installer to ensure your system works correctly, giving you maximum connectivity and speed. Find out more about our campervan technology products for keeping you online.