This week, Chris Backe, a long-term traveler and the blogger behind, One Weird Globe, explains what it means to be a digital nomad. He also offers up a list of useful questions to ask yourself before deciding if the digital nomad life is something you would want to pursue.
If you’re reading this site, you may be interested in long-term travel. And, if you’re interested in travel, you may have come across the term, ‘digital nomad’ before. Maybe a friend has posted something on Facebook about their ‘office’ by the beach or teased where their next trip will take them.
And now you’re curious. Can I do that? What would it be like to get away from everything and live life on my terms?
The answer, more often than not, is YES! There’s a lot to unpack and consider, of course…
But let’s back up for a second. What is a digital nomad? It’s one of those questions that would get you 100 answers if you asked 100 people, so let’s keep this as simple as possible:
A digital nomad is a person who lives nomadically and works digitally.
Need more? OK, try this slightly longer definition:
A digital nomad is a person with the freedom to travel, to go where they like (subject to each country’s laws and rules, of course). They travel by themselves or with the people they choose. They make money by completing projects, working with clients, creating products or services, or any number of other ways.
The key difference in most cases is that the work is location-independent — one need not be in a specific location on Earth to deliver their work.
Also worth noting: the digital nomad lifestyle can be as temporary or as permanent as you want it to be. I’m here to encourage you to test this lifestyle out, and ultimately transition into it… if it’s for you.
Is it for you?
No one can stop you — and you don’t need any expensive program to help you become one.
Let’s start by asking yourself some questions. Feel free to print this off, write down your answers in a notebook, or just talk this out.
Section 1: Who are you?
- Seriously — who are you? Take note of how you describe yourself.
- Where are you at in your job?
- Where are you with your partner / spouse / family?
- What are your passions?
Section 2: What do you want?
- Really. Materialistic stuff? Bucket-list stuff? Experiences?
- Why do you want it?
- What is motivating you to get this / do this?
- What will keep you motivated through times of difficulty?
- Why is this the time? OR Is this the right time?
- What about the status quo are you unhappy about?
- What’s changed recently, or do you just feel ‘stuck’?
Section 3: Let’s get specific
- When do you want to go? OR When would be the right time?
- Are you waiting for something? Someone?
- Do you need to finish or complete something?
- What do you feel like you were put on earth to do?
- Assuming you can have it all, where do you fantasize about going?
- What about your city / country do you like? Love? Hate?
Section 4: Your stakeholders and companions
I define ‘stakeholders’, by the way, as the people you trust to have your needs and desires at heart.
Whose advice do you trust / listen to?
Who’s coming with you? Who’s not?
What needs to be considered to keep your companions happy through this transition?
Wow, that’s a lot of questions!
Take heart – this is a big life change we’re talking. When I counsel people about the digital nomad lifestyle, I liken it to the process we use when dating or looking for a life partner. It’s not a decision or process you work through in a day.
The next steps involve researching, clarifying your desires, acknowledging limitations, and figuring out how to make money… but we’ll save those for another post.
Chris Backe is the blogger behind One Weird Globe, a nomadic counselor at Your Life Abroad, and a game designer over at Entro Games. He’s lived abroad since 2008 and traveled through dozens of countries. He’s written dozens of guidebook and itineraries, and is working a book entitled Becoming a Digital Nomad, scheduled for release in March 2018.