How To Become A Digital Nomad In 2018: Ultimate Guide

This is probably the most practical guide to becoming a digital nomad you’ve ever found. I’m going to explain exactly how you can become a digital nomad, and how you can live and work from anywhere in the world in 2018.

Before we begin, let’s clear up a few things. Firstly, this will not be easy otherwise everyone would be doing it. That being said once you’ve set up these systems and learned the ropes, you’ll never go back. You’ll never be able to go back to your old mindset and this will shape you.

A digital what?

What is a digital nomad? Well, it’s someone who lives and works from anywhere. Someone who has the freedom to be able to say ‘I’m going to India for the next 6 months’ and then they do it. It’s being able to choose how to live your life, and still make money while you’re on the move.

Digital nomad

Sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it, so why doesn’t everyone do this? Well it could be a mixture of things. Maybe they don’t know that this is an option? Maybe they don’t know how to start?

The truth is more and more people every year are turning to this lifestyle, and taking to the road. It’s just a better way of living, you get to experience whatever you want, you’re never tied down and you can work on what you love doing and get paid for it all.

How to become a digital nomad in 2018

Firstly, this isn’t going to be easy because you’re likely building an entirely new set of skills. This isn’t something you’ve done before and so it will feel strange. don’t panic, realise this is normal.

Step 1: Work out how you’re going to pay for it

This is probably the most important part and I’ll start with this because I don’t want you to get bored and click away from this article without learning the most important stuff. To become a digital nomad, you’re going to need a way of making money from ANYWHERE.

There are actually a number of ways you could do this, such as: 

  • Getting a job wherever you travel to and ‘job hopping’
  • Learning a skill and getting paid for that skill online (such as writing, design work or sales)
  • Building a passive income stream so that you get paid while you’re sleeping (or on a plane)
  • Finding cheap places to go that even pay you to stay there (it’s possible)

So there are lots of options. There are more options than the ones I’ve put there, but I want to focus on just a few of these. so the easy and obvious ones are getting a job in the place you travel to.

The trouble with that is that you’re still sort of tied down and reliant on an income from a job. This means you have to show up for work, you could get fired, you’re tied to THAT place (until you move to somewhere new) and so on.

It’s good but it’s not ideal, and it’s harder to move around FAST like this because you need to constantly set up in a new place and get a new job. If you had a passive income however, you could move through places like a butterfly, staying where and when you like.

The best way in my opinion of being a digital nomad is to have a mixture of PASSIVE income and ACTIVE income (online). 

This means you can earn money while you sleep, by selling either ebooks, digital products, FBA products with Amazon or getting advertising revenues from a YouTube video.

COMBINE that with active income from doing freelance work on sites like Upwork and you’re flying. You’re free, and your income is not coming from only one place. This means you have more security and more freedom.

So you need to figure out a way of building passive income. That’s for another post but for now, just consider how you’re going to pay for your travels. You need a way of either saving a large pot of money BEFORE you go or building or creating a way of making money while you’re there.

Step 2: Choose where to go and how to get there

This is an important one. Don’t just go to the airport and pick a random place (although when you’re more experienced, this can be fun). Plan out where you want to go and for how long.

Look long and hard at the map and then do some research on where you think you want to go. Look at the news around the place and what’s going on there NOW. It’s all well and good reading a Tripadvisor post from 2004 but it’s 2018 now. Things change and places change. Learn what’s going on there NOW and then make your decision.

At the moment one of the best ways to travel is through a room rental site called Airbnb. This lets you choose the place you want to stay and they offer HUGE monthly discounts, if you book more than a month at at time.

Plan where you’re going to go and always look at the details of the room on Airbnb:

  • Is there Wifi? As most of your work will be done online you NEED good internet
  • Message the person before asking for an extra discount. The chances are they’ll be happy to fill the room or apartment and will offer a good discount if you just ask
  • Are they at least nearby the apartment in case you need help with anything? If you’re moving somewhere you don’t speak the language and something goes wrong with the gas or electric, what would you do?

Step 3: Think about how long you’re going for

This is a big one. Basically, the longer you go for the more money you can save. If you look on Airbnb the best discounts pop up when you book more than 4 months or so. The ‘per night’ cost might be $30 but if you book a whole two months they give you 70% off or more. That’s a huge saving!

before you go, plan where you want to go and how long. It’s best to stay in any given place for about 4 months or more, as this lets you make the most out of where you’re going and save money on discounts and travel etc.

Plane tickets are also a huge cost, probably one of your biggest apart from rent so carefully plan where you’re going. Ideally, go to one place for 4 months and then move to another place FAIRLY NEAR to the first place so you don’t have to pay hundreds in air fares.

Step 4: Think about the details (before you go)

You should think a little bit about details before you go. There are certain things that you’ll probably want to leave in your home country. You sort of want to have a ‘base’ in your home country, assuming that it’s safe and you enjoy living there.

The things I’m talking about are:

  • Dentistry: If you need work done on your teeth, where will you go? Normally people are registered in their home country and its difficult to change that, so will yo pop home for appointments twice a year?
  • Tax status and letters: If you run a business you’ll no doubt need to use an address to things like email marketing, and many other forms of communication. What address will you use, and how often will you be able to check it? If you receive checks, where will they go and when will you cash them?
  • Health care: If you need some operation or even just a prescription, how and where/when will you get it? For example if you need inhalers but aren’t able to stock up on them, that’s something to think about
  • Pets? If you have any pets at home you’ll need a plan for how they’re going to be looked after while you’re not there
  • Car? If you have a car, same thing

And there are of course other details but hopefully that’s helped you think about the details you’ll need to take care of when you’re going off on your travels!

Good luck! And don’t take my word for it, see how awesome this lifestyle is yourself. Even if you just test it for a month or so, book a cheap flight and Airbnb, save up a bit and bring your laptop. You’ll never want to go back (and you don’t have to!)