This Is All You Need To Know About Digital Nomads
Among all the changes that the pandemic brought to our lives, one of them was actually broadly welcome: it pushed businesses to embrace remote work.
While there are some undeniable downsides to this work modality, there are plenty of upsides too. In particular, it gives employees geographic freedom. With this, there also comes the flexibility to choose where to live – which in turn may result in great financial savings, if relocating somewhere with a lower cost of living – and the opportunity to travel.
Chances are that you have heard of digital nomads. These are people who make the most out of their geographic freedom by frequently traveling to different places, all while continuing to work remotely. Some digital nomads travel for short periods of time, while others prefer to travel indefinitely, making “the road” their new home.
The bare minimum requirements to adopt this lifestyle is a laptop, a reliable internet connection and a means of income – either from freelancing, setting up your own online business, or working remotely for a company. However, some additional considerations should be made:
Depending on where you are traveling, it may become hard to find reliable WiFi and/or mobile signal. Also note that some websites and services may be blocked by the government or simply unavailable in that region.
You may also want to get a local SIM card on arrival, as roaming plans can get quite expensive, especially for data usage.
Power outages may happen for various reasons, such as storms, equipment failure or excavation work. Consider carrying a high capacity power bank, just in case.
Unless your work schedule is entirely up to you, you still will need to accommodate your company’s office hours. Depending on where you are traveling to, the timezone difference may translate to some wild schedules, e.g. working from 19:00 to 04:00. Ponder whether this will be a problem to you.
Probably one of the greatest challenges brought by remote work is remaining focused and productive, especially when you are in a new and exciting place. Here are some tips that can help:
- Eliminate distractions. Losing focus, even if only for a brief moment, not only will require you to spend additional time and effort getting back to what you were doing, but it will also increase the chances of you missing details related to your task, e.g. a typo caused by being interrupted amidst writing a word. Turn off social media notifications and try to work in an uneventful place. If you are staying in a hotel room, put on the “Do not disturb” sign.
- Dress for work. When going from home to the office and back, the environment changes and there is a clear line between work and personal time. While working remotely, this line can get blurry, since the environment remains the same. So you need to find ways to signal these changes. Getting out of your pyjamas and dressing for work – even if it is just some nice loungewear – helps you signal that you are in work mode.
- Try coworking. If your accommodation does not have a dedicated workspace and working from a cafe is too distracting for you, try a coworking space. Being around productive people, in a place intended for productivity, will likely inspire and motivate you to be productive as well.
- Exercise. Vigorous physical activity helps improving productivity in a couple ways. For one, it promotes blood flow to the brain, hence increasing glucose and oxygen levels. It also causes your brain to release “feel good” hormones, like dopamine and endorphins, thus boosting your mood. Happy people are more productive! Exercising for as little as 30 minutes is enough for you to reap these benefits, leaving plenty of time to go sightseeing. Better still, you can sightsee while running!
If you are a freelancer abroad, you still are a tax resident in your home country, so you will need to pay taxes on your income. However, as a general rule, if you spend over 183 days in a single country within a calendar year, you become a tax resident in that country. Specifics vary between countries.
Culture and Etiquette
As with any kind of travel, make sure to spend some time learning about major cultural differences and proper conduct guidelines for the country you are traveling to, so as to avoid inadvertently being disrespectful to locals, or even getting in legal trouble. Did you know that chewing gum is banned in Singapore?
Staying safe during the pandemic
It goes without saying, but you should try to minimise the risk of infection by following the recommended preventative measures that we all know by now. Remember that if you get infected this will disrupt travel plans that you may have, as you will not be allowed to fly.
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