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September 28, 2017

We round up the best and worst things about taking your work on the road in the Digital Age.

If you’ve got a nine-to-five office job, there have probably been many times you’ve gazed out the window and dreamt about the big wide world. Maybe you’ve already done a lot of travelling on a gap year; maybe you get to do a few trips overseas each year with work. Maybe that annual summer holiday is enough to satisfy your Wanderlust these days.

But if you’re anything like us here at Strongbody, you can’t help that uncontrollable urge to find ways to get outside and explore. To do everything in your power to plan the next trip and book the next flight. But to do these things, we need money. And to get money, we need to work.

Enter the digital nomad lifestyle.

What is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad is someone who manages to solve the above conundrum by combining their work with travel. Often working in creative industries such as marketing and advertising, digital nomads can set up their office anywhere from an exotic beach to a coffee shop. Providing they have a stable internet connection, a digital nomad can make a living wherever they wish.

With the rise of contracting and freelance roles in the workplace, the digital nomad lifestyle is growing rapidly in popularity. And why wouldn’t it? Just imagine it. You’re sat on a beautiful beach with your laptop sipping a Pina Colada as the waves lap against your feet. Bliss.

Ok, maybe it’s not quite this picture perfect. Despite all its benefits, the digital nomad lifestyle equally brings with it a set of challenges. But before we get to looking at the pros and cons of becoming a digital nomad, let’s take a look at how you become one in the first place.

How do I become a digital nomad?

It’s all well and good dreaming about how amazing it would be to take your work on the road, but the reality of making it happen can be a lot harder. It’s possible you’re already working in an industry that has the opportunity of allowing you to work remotely. If so, you’ve definitely got a head start. But even if you’re not, don’t be disheartened. It’s of course always possible to change career entirely or at least gain an additional one.

Focus on gaining a skill that can you can work on digitally wherever you are. This could be becoming a freelance blogger, or a SEO Specialist. Perhaps you could take an evening course in graphic design or IT to become an expertise in a new field.

Once you’ve gained your exciting new skill, your next challenge will be to find your clients. After all, just because you’re hoping to no longer have a boss in the traditional sense, in many ways your clients will become your boss. This can be even more challenging than gaining the new skill itself, as it will require you putting yourself out there and networking constantly. Focus on building up a social media presence, as you won’t get very far without one in the Digital Age.

digital Nomad

Pros of being a digital nomad

So now you have an idea about what a digital nomad is and how to become one, you probably want to weigh up whether the New Age lifestyle choice is for you. Well, there are definitely plenty of reasons why you’d want to become a digital nomad, but we’ve narrowed down some of the best.

You get to travel. A lot.

Let’s face it, this is at the crux of why anyone would want to give up their routine and become a digital nomad. A love for travel is at the root of wanting to take your work on the road with you, so the good news is that by becoming a digital nomad you’ll get to travel. A lot. Whether you’re keen on exploring the varied cultures of Europe or Asia, the digital nomad lifestyle will make your dream come true.

You don’t have to abide by the nine-to-five rule.

Another key reason many people are trading in their cubicles with aeroplanes, the nine-to-five rule just doesn’t work for everyone. The beauty of becoming a digital nomad, or a freelancer in general, is that it allows you to set your own schedule. So if you’re someone who likes to start working a bit later and working into the night, that’s fine. Or if you’re one of those rare birds who wakes early and manages to get all their work done by lunchtime (if you are, we applaud you), then that’s fine too.

There’s no limit to the work you can take on.

Even if the work seems quiet at first, an advantage of becoming your own boss is that there’s ultimately no limit to the amount of work you can take on. As long as you’re able to manage the workload, you can keep building on your client base so that you don’t only parallel the money you were making in your permanent role – but you surpass it. Now, there’s an incentive for you!

Cons of being a digital nomad

Like with most things that seem too good to be true, the digital nomad lifestyle also comes with a set of disadvantages. So, despite the allure of packing up your things and taking off on the next plane with nothing but your swimwear and a laptop, you might want to ensure you’ve thought your new globe wandering lifestyle through properly first.

Health insurance can be an issue.

Ok, paid annual leave might not be so important as in a way it’ll feel like your whole life as a digital nomad is one big holiday. But health insurance might be a problem. This is because it can be difficult maintaining international health insurance with coverage globally, which is definitely something you should factor in to your digital nomad lifestyle strategy.

Poor internet connections and time differences.

It goes without saying, but a decent internet connection is truly an essential for taking your work on your travels. Sure, there might be some things you can do without WiFi, but even without having to show up in an office you’ll probably need to be on emails and even attend some meetings via Skype. Both a poor internet connection and time differences can stand between these factors.

It can be lonely.

Putting all the practical pros and cons aside, one of the things many digital nomads describe as the hardest about their lifestyle is how it can get very lonely. Sure, we all love getting away from it all from time to time. And many of us enjoy a bit of our company. But to travel continuously with little contact with other people can be isolating; you’d be surprised how much you’d miss those trivial talks about the weekend by the water cooler! Shared office spaces or cafes are often a good solution to this.

Final word

We all love to travel. We also all need to work (well, not everyone. But for the sake of rounding up this article; let’s just say everyone does). This is why the idea of becoming a digital nomad might be so appealing. But before you start sharpening up your writing skills and scanning SkyScanner for your next flight, make sure you weigh up the different pros and cons of the nomad lifestyle. 

And remember, even if you give it a go for a couple of years, a year or even six months, you can always return home. At the very least you’ll have amazing stories to tell, not to mention awe-inducing Instagram pics.

Not sure you're ready to commit to taking your whole life on the road? Check out our roundup of 5 fantastic wellness retreats to recharge here. 

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