Becoming A Digital Nomad: Tips, Checklists And Places To Visit

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Experiencing different cultures, broadening horizons, and never having a dull moment while traveling and working around the world sounds very tempting and somewhat utopian. But believe it or not, it’s actually doable! If you are a freelancer interested in becoming a digital nomad, traveling and working full time at the same time is easy with a little planning. The most important thing you need to become a successful digital nomad is to prepare yourself before starting your new lifestyle. Discover how to become a digital nomad and learn to work while traveling.

Who or what is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad is someone who is location-independent and uses technology to do their job. Due to the freedom working remotely provides, digital nomads will keep in contact with their clients and/or colleagues via the internet and phone calls, while working from anywhere in the world.

As a freelancer, taking the step to become a digital nomad is often very easy, as you’ll already have the freedom to work from anywhere – the next step is to just prepare yourself for taking your work on the road.

Checklist for digital nomads: Things to do before hitting the road

Checklist For Digital Nomads
Checklist For Digital Nomads

We’ve listed a few of the top things you need to get prepared for before setting off on your new lifestyle as a digital nomad. Check them out down below:

#1 Get your work lined up before leaving

Digital nomads have a lot of obstacles in their way – faulty internet and an entire world of distractions being the most common ones. And so, if you’re planning on waiting to acquire clients as a freelancer once you’re already on the road, you may want to rethink that plan.

Having a routine and a good working relationship with your clients before you hit the road will ensure you already have a stable income, a good understanding of the work expected of you, and an expectancy to perform to the same standard you always do – no matter where you’re working from. 

Once you’re on the road, the temptation to sit back and start applying for jobs the next day – or the day after that – could get a lot stronger, and leave you out of pocket in no time!

#2 Pack the right technology

On the road, your laptop will be your lifeline. You’ll be working irregular hours if you’re in different time zones, and will need to be contactable online should something go wrong with your clients. Before setting off for digital nomad life, you need to get the digital side of things right!

Make sure any programmes you need are downloaded and updated on your laptop (especially if you’re a freelance web designer or programmer who relies on these programmes!), and that you’ve packed a hard drive, a mouse to support your wrists, and any other tech that will make it easier for you to work and concentrate on your clients.

#3 Make sure you have stable internet connection

The digital nomad lifestyle provides the ultimate freedom, allowing you to travel the world while taking your work with you. However, the one limitation is that you can’t disappear to a remote island for months at a time – or at least, you can’t disappear to a remote island without the internet.

To be able to keep working and keep in contact with your clients on a regular basis, you need to make sure you have a good internet connection wherever you go. Many places around the world have good internet connection and free wifi in accommodation, cafes and restaurants, but you could also consider purchasing a wifi hotspot to ensure you have a connection wherever you go.

#4 Inform your clients

Working from the other side of the world is going to mean your clients will receive emails at strange hours, and may no longer be able to call you when it’s the middle of the night where you are. Inform your clients that you will be travelling, but also provide them with a full, detailed plan of how you will still get their work done.

Remember, your client doesn’t care much that you’re going on an adventure around the world – they just want you to deliver their work on time and to a high standard. As long as you’ve put plans in place to keep your work to the same consistency, and keep a strong communication with them, you’ll soon find that your clients don’t mind where in the world you are!

#5 Have a work plan

Having a plan of how you are going to work is important not only for your clients, but also for you. This could be anything from setting out the hours you will work each day or week, to having applications installed in your laptop that will make working a more efficient, comfortable process.

Many digital nomads rely on a range of apps to help them keep organised and in regular communication with clients and colleagues alike. These can include Trello for project management, Slack for instant communication, Google Hangouts to host virtual meetings, and of course, a calendar to keep all your meetings, deadlines and projects accounted for!

Tips for digital nomads

Being a digital nomad isn’t always going to be easy. But with the following tips, you’ll be able to adapt to this new lifestyle fairly quickly without compromising your professional career as a freelancer.

#1 Do your research

A lot of people tend to underestimate the cultural differences between countries. It is extremely important that you do your research before visiting a new country, especially if it is far removed from your own culture.

In Germany, for example, most shops are closed on Sundays. And if you’re a digital nomad unaware of this information, you may waste a lot of time looking for a supermarket, therefore limiting both your work and leisure time. This is just a small trivial example, but basic things like this are very important and can save you a lot of hassle down the line.

Internet access is also another thing that you should research before visiting a country. Do you have a Wi-Fi connection in your hotel/apartment? Is there usually public WiFi in most cafés? It’s important to find out answers to questions like these and make sure you have a solid plan before embarking on your next trip.


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#2 Combine the pleasant with the useful

No matter what country you are in, there are always a lot of interesting places to visit and explore. Combine the pleasant with the useful, this can do wonders for your career.

Look for countries that have interesting events and ones that can benefit your business in some way, such as conferences, product presentations, freelance meetups, etc. These events will allow you to grow your network, market your services and possibly put you in touch with potential clients.

#3 Stay focused

You could fall into the trap and think that this will be like your travels when on vacation, but your clients will most definitely not see it that way. They will hope that everything remains the same with the quality of your work and it will be your responsibility to continue presenting yourself as a true professional.

Spend a lot of time on your job, even abroad. Missing the chance to visit a few new places is certainly not as bad as coming back from your trip and reading an email from an angry client.

#4 Choose the right time to travel

Before choosing when to leave, it’s a good idea to analyze your work and find out when you have the least workload during the year. Traveling during these months will make up for the time you need to adapt to the new environment and cope with all the work.

#5 Find your community

Nomadic life can be lonely – when you’re always moving, it’s difficult to find a place to lay down roots and surround yourself with friends. 

It’s important therefore to find your community on the road, and to surround yourself with likeminded people to avoid feeling isolated. Find digital nomad communities online, mix with locals, and make an effort to connect with people in each new location you visit.

#6 Never use your trip as an excuse in front of clients

If you choose to travel for a month or two or even fully adopt the lifestyle of a digital nomad, never use it as an excuse in front of your clients, no matter how much you might be tempted to. You could end up losing clients and may even garner a bad reputation!

#7 Get health insurance

This is one of the most important things to do to protect yourself as a digital nomad. The last thing you want is to fall sick when you’re travelling but in case it does happen, you need to make sure you’re covered. 

Your best option is to look for a plan that can be customized according to what your needs are or one that covers you no matter where you are. We would recommend getting insured by Safety Wing since it has plans that have been made specifically for remote workers and nomads.

Nomad Insurance

Things you will learn as a digital nomad

Contrary to popular belief, being a digital nomad doesn’t always mean that you’ll be sitting at a warm beach somewhere with your laptop in one hand and a cocktail in the other. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Here are some other things you’ll eventually learn when living the nomadic life:

#1 You’ll learn more about yourself

Nomadic life provides an unprecedented amount of freedom. Not only can you choose your work pattern, but you can also choose where to go – your workspace can be anywhere in the world!

This lifestyle gives you a lot of room to get to know yourself – your likes and dislikes, the means of travel you prefer, how you like to spend a day. Being a digital nomad does come with a fair amount of isolation as you might expect, but it is important to take advantage of this time to really get to know yourself and define what you want. 

#2 It isn’t all glamour

There are aspects of nomadic life that are, of course, hyped up to the extremities you see on social media. Everyone wants to share their photos of stunning sunsets, out-of-this-world beaches, and the amazing privilege that is being able to choose where in the world you can wake up. 

However, that does mean that there are a lot of elements of digital nomad life that are not shared. The fact, for example, that you’ll spend many days locked inside your hotel room, probably working on your bed because you don’t have a desk, frantically trying to connect to the WiFi to meet your tight deadline.

#3 Motivation is great but discipline is essential

Most people who are nomadic are also in turn self-employed. To be successful in this lifestyle you need to have the discipline to hold yourself accountable to do the things that need to be done.

Nomadic life is full of wonderful distractions, but that can also mean your responsibilities can easily slip. 

#4 It’s okay to slow down

If you’ve grown up in the Western world, you’ll know the feeling of guilt when you step away from your work to do something just for you – even if it’s just taking a walk around the block to clear your head.

However, living your life on the road will teach you that it’s okay to slow down every now and again. It’s okay to decide to spend the day exploring a new city, tasting new foods, and getting some well-deserved Vitamin D outdoors instead of locking yourself away in a coworking space. There’s always time to work – so make sure you give yourself time to live, too.

Top cities for digital nomads

Picking out the cities you visit and live in is not a task that should be taken lightly. Finding just the right mix of affordability, networking opportunities, good weather and any other aspects you might consider requires extensive research. To give you a little nudge and set you on the right track, we made this list of cities that you should definitely consider if you want to be a globetrotting freelancer.

#1 Chiang Mai, Thailand

According to a recent study published by Club Med, Thailand is at the top of the list of countries that are good for digital nomads. And Chiang Mai, which is the most important city in northern Thailand, is the perfect place to consider seeing that it is now a sprawling freelance hub. 

It is also very much on the lower end of the cost scale – a month there will be roughly 600-800 US dollars. This estimate, as all others in the article, include a hotel, hostel or apartment in the city plus three meals a day. Definitely a city to consider for those of you who love pleasant sunny weather, green spaces, and rich history and culture.

#2 Prague, Czech Republic

Next stop? Central Europe. If you’ve never been to Prague, it is absolutely a destination to recommend, for both remote working and travel. Its ease of access and affordability make it one of the top digital nomad cities in Europe.

This beautiful city will be a bit more taxing on your finances, with a rough estimate of 2000 US dollars but this may vary a lot depending on your accommodation and eating habits.  Internet connectivity is amongst the highest from this list, with an average of 38 Mbps.

#3 Singapore

One of the most beautiful countries of Southeast Asia, Singapore is safe, clean, and internet-friendly. It is also a good platform if you want to travel to the rest of the Southeast Asian countries.

However, living in Singapore can be quite expensive. The cost of living in a one-bedroom apartment in the centre of the city will be around 2140 US dollars. If you can afford it though, the city’s superb lifestyle makes the cost worth it.

#4 Taipei, Taiwan

Our next journey leads us to the wonderful island known as Taiwan and its capital Taipei. Here you will find an incredible mix of traditional Chinese and Japanese culture with influences of Confucianism beliefs and Western values. If you’re interested in that, Taipei should be on top of your list. 

It will cost you a pretty penny though, with a monthly estimate of about 2000 which can, again, vary a lot. Warm weather and great internet connectivity wrap it up for Taiwan’s capital.

#5 Bangalore, India

Next off we will be flying over to India and the capital of the Karnaka state, Bangalore. With 12.34 million (World Population Review), it is quite a large city and something you might want to look into if you’re more the metropolitan type. 

Known as the Silicon Valley of India, this city has a lot to offer if your work is anything connected with technology. It is also the cheapest destination on our list, hovering slightly below 600 dollars a month. 

#6 Tokyo, Japan

Japan as a country is incredibly warm and welcoming. It is also highly accommodating to tourists – making it the perfect destination for digital nomads. Plus, we all know Japan is leagues ahead of other countries in terms of its technology, internet speeds and modern facilities.

The only downside of living in Tokyo is the cost. Apartments and accommodations come with a slightly higher price tag. Ofcourse, the smaller space you get, the lower rate you pay.

Are you a freelancer thinking about taking the step into a digital nomad lifestyle? Let us know what steps you’re taking to make it happen in the comments below!

Yasmin Purnell

Yasmin Purnell is a content creator at freelancermap.com. She has a great deal of experience working as a freelance copywriter and has enjoyed the Digital Nomad lifestyle. She is in charge of bringing you amazing freelancing tips and experiences that will help you boost your freelance business.

By Yasmin Purnell

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