Becoming a Digital Nomad

There is no one way to becoming a digital nomad. In fact, the term has become so popular that there isn’t even just one way of defining it. In simple terms, a digital nomad is somebody who travels while working online. To me, becoming a digital nomad is all about embracing a free lifestyle. We live in an age where it is more affordable than ever to travel the world and easier than ever to start your own business and make money online. Being a digital nomad is all about embracing these opportunities and the freedom they provide.

Every person who embarks on this adventure will have a different experience and potentially different challenges. Even though there is a lot of great advice to be given, I don’t think it’s possible to create a proper step-by-step guide that applies to everyone who wants to travel the world and work for themselves. Depending on how we choose to live our lives, where we travel and what kind of work we do, every case is different, and that’s kind of the beauty of it.

Despite all of this, I do think there is one thing that is similar for everyone who wants to become a digital nomad: the act of taking the leap. Even though we all face our own challenges along the way, the one challenge that everyone has to face is having the guts and motivation to take the first step. Taking the risk and putting yourself out there is without a doubt the biggest obstacle to overcome and is also the one that most people fail at.

I’ve always been passionate about travelling and have tried to take every opportunity to hit the road. But there is a difference between travelling a lot in your free time and turning travel into a lifestyle. For years I followed other travellers and their blogs, wishing that I was the one travelling around the world, working for myself and living the free life. I would always reassure myself that once I was done studying, I’d be free to do whatever I want.

But that’s actually easier said than done. The closer I came to finishing my studies, the more I could feel myself being absorbed by the 9–5 career world. The closer I came to graduating, the more digital nomadism seemed like a dream than a realistic option.

Since embarking on this journey, I have had to confront a lot of new challenges on my own, from building a livable income, to finding the right work-life balance, to figuring out my taxes. The hardest thing though, was to overcome the fear and fully embrace the fact that this lifestyle is not only real, but realistically achievable.

Even though there are more and more digital nomads, becoming one is still against the ‘social norm’. We are conditioned to graduate from school and jump right into a career, even if we don’t know what we want to do. The idea that we can truly do whatever we want, or that we can take our time figuring it out, is often discouraged and we are pushed to pursue goals that are generally accepted as being ‘realistic’.

Whenever you decide to break with social norms and do something different, you will be met with some resistance. For every person who thinks that you are inspired, there will be people who will view your lifestyle as immature, shortsighted or risky.

In my view, the problem lies in the fact that most people are not realists. Most people are pessimists. Not only is it possible to be successful doing your own thing, but it is a lot easier than you’d expect if only you open yourself up to the possibility and take any challenges head on. As the old Chinese proverb goes “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. Tomorrow is too late”.