How To Make the Transition to a Nomadic Lifestyle8 min read
There’s a lot more to a nomadic lifestyle than cool Instagram pictures and working from quaint cafés around the world. Despite living in constantly changing locales, from luxurious to exotic, nomads know that the work goes hand-in-hand with the lifestyle. So, if you’re ready to make a move—and ready to build your career from anywhere—the next step is to think about how you plan to transition into a full-time nomadic lifestyle.
What Does It Mean To Be A Digital Nomad?
A nomad is a member of a community that travels, moving from a place to another, in order to sustain their basic needs. “Nomad” is a word from a world and a culture that was here way before us, before the internet and before civilization as we know it today.
For that reason, it’s necessary to re-define the term “nomad” in the context of today’s digital nomad movement. Digital nomads are not driven by necessity, fleeing the elements or chasing the promise of another region. Conversely, digital nomads are motivated by freedom and an inner urge for exploration and discovery.
Instead of chasing their living, as was the case with traditional nomads, they are chasing something else. What will you chase as a nomad? Experiences, memories, perspectives and new ways to see the world.
First Stop: Transitioning Your Career
If your current job doesn’t allow remote working, you’ll need to find a new job. It’s also important to work on your personal brand and create a great resume that can define you better than a first-person interview can. Work on your portfolio, talk to old colleagues, network your way into the position you want.
You can find thousands of posts online about finding a fulltime remote position or about performing contract work remotely across one or many clients. Many job boards (such as Dribbble and AngelList) include built-in search functionality for remote positions. There are also several lists of fully-remote companies like Zapier, Invision and Buffer that are hiring on an ongoing basis. If you prefer contract-based work across several partners, you’ll want to communicate your move with clients well in advance.
In any case, it’s important to have a full-time remote opportunity or contract work lined up (with a healthy pipeline!) well ahead of packing your bags to move. The process of scouring job boards, lining up interviews and kicking off projects will undoubtedly become much harder once you move. Perhaps the most important step in your preparation should be to ensure you have a steady pipeline of work to sustain you while you’re away from home.
It's important to have a full-time remote opportunity or contract work lined up before you start packing 💼 Click To Tweet
Store Or Shed Your Material Possessions
Organizational consultant Marie Kondo would have a lot to say about this next section, but perhaps a good starting point is writing down the title of her book: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” (available on Amazon). Kondo’s book has ushered a decluttering movement that is, quite appropriately, growing in parallel to the rise of digital nomadism. Indeed, aspiring nomads have much to learn from her best practices for living a more minimalistic existence.
Aspiring nomads have much to learn from @MarieKondo's best practices for living a #minimalistic existence. Click To Tweet
Top Tips For A Minimal Lifestyle
- Pile and purge: Gather all of your items in one heap, and then remove items one at a time and make the decision to lose or keep.
- If you don’t love it, lose it: Chances are, if you have to think twice about keeping an item, you really don’t need it after all.
- Let go of nostalgia: We all have items with sentimental value, but not everything we own needs to be tied to a memory. Your memories are your memories, and they live in your mind, not in your belongings. Let go.
- Respect your stuff: With fewer possessions, you’ll learn to treat them better. That new shawl? Maybe not best stored in a ball at the bottom of your suitcase.
- Learn the art of the fold: Kondo points out that folding is a lot more space-efficient than hanging. Folded clothes are also much easier to transport!
In Kondo’s words, “You don’t need more space; you need less stuff.” So, let’s start with physical things. As a nomad, you’ll have to be able to pack your entire routine and sometimes, apartment, into a backpack or suitcase (and sometimes that suitcase is a carry-on!). Being nomadic, therefore being relatively portable, means leaving behind the comfort of your home to embark on a trip during which you’ll encounter several homes with varying degrees of comfort and familiarity.
For this there’s really only one best practice: Bring with you only what you really need. Moving around with heavy luggage is very expensive and inconvenient. As someone who prioritizes exploration and adventure over “things,” going minimal will be a manageable exercise. Promise.
Tips For Managing The Chaos
Something you will learn as soon as you hit the road is that you cannot enjoy a new city if you procrastinate the same way you did in your grey office back home.
If your remote gig doesn’t mandate that you clock-in during set hours, a good rule of thumb is to divide your day in blocks (called “time-blocking”). Choose the activities you want to fulfill during your day, and make sure you leave enough “blocks” of hours during the day to complete your projects with the right amount of focus and participate in your employer’s preferred communication channels.
Organization is key
Nomadic doesn’t equal chaotic. It’s all about organization. Lacking the right organizational tools and mindset, you risk losing precious time in a beautiful, foreign city. Make the most of your work hours to make the most of your leisure time.
#DigitalNomad pro tip: make the most of your work hours to make the most of your leisure time. Click To Tweet
Embrace new social relationships
As you say your goodbyes to friends back home, you might question your decision or feel anxious about the prospect of re-constructing your social web. But as you spend time away, though you’ll miss your friends and family–sometimes terribly so—you will get the opportunity to make new connections every single day. The commonly-held drive among nomads can be a source of community. In a co-working space, for example, you’ll likely meet other professionals who share similar experiences as you. You can join virtual or IRL communities of freelancers or remote workers in the city you’re visiting. Some people organize meet ups wherever they go, from professional reside chats to bar crawls with dozens of people from countries around the world.
Digital nomadism is a new and perfect opportunity to connect with the world. You’ll find how much the word “friend” can stretch to fit in all the new people you’ve just met yet feel so familiar to you.
Creating Your Game-Plan
Now that we have taken a closer look to the nomadic lifestyle, it’s time to ask yourself a series of questions that will determine the next steps to follow. Let’s kick off with the dreaded budget plan.
Your budget plan begins with a series of choices. Let’s review some of these questions to ask yourself. The answers will lead to several conditions to keep in mind if you intend to carry a nomadic lifestyle.
- About the work: Will you work remotely for the same company you work today? Will you find a remote position? Will you quit your job and freelance? Will you start your own brand on the road?
- About the company: Will you travel alone or are you joining a nomadic group? Is there someone in your life you’ll be bringing with you? Are you more comfortable pursuing a curated experience, which might charge a premium?
- About your destination: Will you stay in the same place for a long period (one to three months)? Will you stay less than a month in a single place before packing your bags and heading to the next destination? Which destinations will you prioritize first? How will you get around?
- About your budget and bureaucracy: What do you expect to spend during one month away? What passport do you currently have and what visas do you need? Will you work from your accommodation? Will you find a co-working space? Do you have or need travel insurance?
Transitioning from your current lifestyle to that of a nomad is about learning to let go of the things (namely, material possessions) you do not need, and opening yourself up to the experiences that will define your life as a nomad.
For more info on being a digital nomad, check out our ebook, Anywhere – written by digital nomads, for digital nomads.