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Inside the Life of a Digital Nomad

Inside the Life of a Digital Nomad
Credit: Alex Brylov/Shutterstock

More people are working remotely than ever before. With help from technology, such as project management software and video conferencing systems, it will keep growing. Enter the age of digital nomads.

"A digital nomad is someone who, through freelancing or remote work opportunities, decides to leverage their flexibility to work how and where they want," said Eric Goldschein, staff writer for Fundera.

Being a remote worker may seem like a dream, but what is it like to travel the world while working? Business News Daily asked several members of the digital nomad community about the pros and cons of the digital nomad lifestyle. Here's what they said.  

There are many upsides to working remotely, such as avoiding the Sunday Scaries and long commutes.

"As a digital nomad, you're not tethered to the normal constraints of working life," said Goldschein. "You don't have to deal with a commute, stringent work hours or unpleasant co-workers. You decide when, where and how you work."

There is no set schedule for digital nomads – they choose their hours. This allows them to channel their work through their adventures and experiences.

"Being a digital nomad means you have complete freedom," said Jen Ruiz, Jen on a Jet Plane. "You set your own hours and work from anywhere, so Monday could be spent at the beach or in the jungle somewhere. I look forward to my week now instead of dreading it."

Jason Myers, senior account executive at The Content Factory, also enjoys the freedom of not having to commute to an office. "I've saved thousands of dollars on the costs associated with commuting, including gas, auto insurance, and wear and tear on my car," he added.  

Being a digital nomad may seem like a dream job – you may picture them working on a beach with their laptop perched on their lap. But that's not always the case.

"It's not all travel and excitement," Goldschein said. "There are still many hours of work devoted to the tasks that get you paid. We often look at digital nomads as always 'living their best lives' – mostly because no one posts on Instagram themselves bent over a laptop at 2 a.m. trying to meet a deadline."

When you're on the road for most of the year, you sometimes miss your family or special events. "It is difficult to be far away from family," said Ruiz. "Sometimes you miss important events."

Digital nomads also face more uncertainty than people who have a full-time job, such as making sure you have a solid cash flow or a strong Wi-Fi connection.

"Your entire life will revolve around having a strong internet connection," Ruiz added. "It's the first thing I look for in hotel reviews now."

"It sometimes becomes a challenge to keep the cash flow coming," said Sumit Bansal, founder of Craft of Blogging. "Also, for people who work on a project basis, it can be difficult to have a continuous flow of work. Other things I miss are perks and benefits that most of my friends in job get, such as health insurance or reimbursements."

There is no set schedule or "typical day" for digital nomads. It varies depending on the nomad. Since they create their own schedule, they typically don't work 9 to 5. That doesn't mean they sleep until noon, work a few hours and party all night. However, it does mean they can choose a schedule that's best for them.

"I prefer working early in the morning and during the evening time," Bansal said. "I have noticed that I am not productive during the noon time, and I take the time to relax. Since I often work out of coworking spaces, I use this time to network with people."

Ruiz wakes up and teaches English online every morning, and then spends the rest of the day building a passive income from new books or blog traffic.

There's a clear hurdle in terms of perception that remote workers must overcome. Just because they lack a permanent location or can pack up and go wherever and whenever they desire does not mean that digital nomads don't complete their work.

"Despite the flexibility that digital nomads may get, they need a lot of discipline to be successful," Bansal said. "While I have the flexibility of choosing my work hours, I also need to make sure that I am reading and responding to important email and getting the important work done on time."

If you're thinking about taking the plunge into the digital nomad life, Ruiz suggests finding steady remote work before you quit your full-time gig. "It's difficult to rely on your own marketing and sales efforts to generate constant income, especially in the beginning," she added.

However, while you have steady remote work, continue to build your brand, because it's a better investment in the long run. "And, if you're going to sell a product as a digital nomad, start collecting email addresses as soon as possible," Ruiz said.

Goldschein suggests finding communities of like-minded people you can look to for support and advice. "Isolation is a real concern when you're working remotely," he added.  

Both Goldschein and Bansal agree that it's important to invest in tools and software to stay organized and manage your time and finances. "Your projects, deadlines, invoices and responsibilities are easily mishandled otherwise," Goldschein said.

Additional reporting by Sammi Caramela.

Saige Driver

Saige received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. She is the social media strategist for Business.com and Business News Daily. She also writes reviews and articles about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie.