Want To Be A Digital Nomad? Here’s How To Pull Off The Nomadic Lifestyle

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I’ve dreamt of traveling the world for as long as I can remember. During high school summer breaks I’d have Samantha Brown’s Passport to Europe on repeat on the Travel Channel. My travel dreams weren’t realized until I graduated college and went on my first international trip to Ireland and Italy — and I can’t overstate how much I was in love with getting to explore new countries and the sense of adventure that awaited with each plane’s takeoff. So the question immediately sparked — how do I do this, like, all the time?


The Emergence of the Digital Nomad

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For all the woes of technology and social media and the ultra-interconnected world we now live in, there are obviously several positives. Chief among them (for me anyway) is the ability to make a living from your laptop. Given that laptops are super portable and it’s easy to get WiFi from pretty much anywhere, the digital nomad lifestyle was born — and it’s taking the global workforce by storm. 

You might be surprised to learn that digital nomad-ism isn’t an entirely new concept — the idea of the digital nomad lifestyle dates back to 1997, in the book The Digital Nomad by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. Given that internet use had just become more popular among the general public starting in the early ‘90’s, Makimoto and Manners were clearly ahead of the curve in predicting what would soon become the dream lifestyle for individuals around the globe. 

The freedom to work from anywhere in the world certainly sounds enticing. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

The Cons of Digital Nomadism

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The life of a digital nomad may seem like all glitz and glam, especially if all you see of the lifestyle is on well-curated Instagram feeds. Sure, it’s not that hard to convert a van/school bus (or to find someone to convert it for you), but life on the road is a bit rougher and more complicated than it seems on the surface.

First, if you want to hit the road permanently, you’ll probably still be working. This counts out too many long days of driving or flying from place to place. It also counts out doing a lot of tourism — it’s a little hard to sightsee if you’re glued to your laptop.

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We also have to think about the practical elements of life: eating, sleeping, and bathroom-ing. Now, these aren’t impossible to deal with on the road, but they do require some serious thought. If you’re going to be traveling and operating at full capacity, you have to be getting a good night’s sleep nightly and feeding yourself well. You’ll want your vehicle to have some form of electricity to hook up simple things like a toaster, microwave, mini fridge and hairdryer. Again, not impossible — just might be more planning than you’d thought!

Life on the road can also be hard if you’re a huge people person, like me. I already know I couldn’t do the digital nomad life by myself — I’d get way too lonely! I always miss my friends and family when I’m away from them, but at least I can always look forward to coming back to them. If this is the case for you, maybe a semi-permanent digital nomad lifestyle is the way to go (which we’ll talk about a little more in a bit).

Last but not least, travel can be expensive. Constant plane/train tickets and gas for your vehicle all have to be taken into account. 

How To Be a Digital Nomad

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Now that we’ve gotten some of the major cons out of the way, if you still want to pursue a digital nomad lifestyle, way to go! Here are some tips and things to think about to make sure the journey goes as smoothly as possible.


First, always be thinking about logistics. You’ll probably need a mobile WiFi hotspot (thank you, modern tech). Permanent digital nomads also have to consider things like doctor’s visits, dental visits, prescription filling — all that healthcare stuff. Plus you’ll always need to know where you’re going to make your next stop for food/water and what you’re going to do in terms of bathroom breaks. If you have a toilet on board, you’ll have to figure out where to empty that septic tank (sorry, it had to be said).


Second, you have to be super organized — especially if you’re a freelance worker. You might have clients in multiple time zones and you could be in multiple time zones on any given day. You definitely don’t want your life to contribute to missing deadlines and possibly losing clients. As a classic scatterbrained crazy lady, my favorite organizational tools are my iPad’s digital planner and Asana. They’re basically my brain, and because I have side projects in addition to my job, they’re 100% necessary. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a job that allows you to work fully remote and you don’t have to worry about this too much — if that’s the case, go you!

If you don’t want to be fully nomadic, you could also work toward building a semi-nomadic lifestyle (this is what I’m doing). My goal is to have a permanent small home, ideally a condo or small house that I fully own. My job is already totally remote, so that’s one obstacle out of the way. Then, when I travel (either via converted van or overseas somewhere) I can rent out my home on Airbnb and hire someone local to manage it — that way I’m earning passive income as well, and don’t need to stress about working full time on the road.

Income Tips

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Finally, I’m going to leave you with some resources to help you actually earn a living on the road!


If you’re a writer, graphic designer, marketing pro, photographer, or have a skill in some other digital/creative medium, there’s a good chance you can make a living as a freelancer. It will take some time to build up steady clients and income, but sites like Upwork and Fiverr are great resources to check out.

Passive Income

Aka, how to make money without actually working (much). Passive income gigs generally take a bit of time to set up and get going, and then you can leave them alone except for general maintenance. You could set up a drop servicing business or, as I mentioned above, rent out a property as an Airbnb. The most important thing to remember here is that these won’t be completely hands-off experiences. They’re very much dependent on your long-term dedication to actually generate a reliable income.

Well, there you have it! A very brief guide to digital nomadism. It’s not all glitz and glam but, when done right, it can be so worth it. Now get out there and see the world!


Do you already live the digital nomad life/are you considering it? Do you have any tips we missed? Share with us in the comments below!

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