9 Tips on How to be a Digital Nomad

by | Dec 17, 2016 | Digital Nomad

So you decided to become a Digital Nomad…Virtual High Five!!

In this post we are going to tell you the top tips you need to know before you begin. These are some of the top things we have learned from our experience on how to live the Laptop Lifestyle.  After we sold our businesses, we found ourselves in an opportunity where we felt the “right” thing to do was to start having kids and buy a bigger house.  BUT being the Entrepreneurs we are, we decided we are not ready to grow up. So starting now (December 2016), through our Blog, we are going to share our experience from 2 Digital Nomads while on an adventure of a lifetime.

From an Upwork Digital Nomad Survey in 2014

%

Happier

%

New Nomads this Year

%

Make More Money Since becoming Nomad

WE WILL COVER THESE 9 DIGITAL NOMADS TOPICS

(KEEP SCROLLING DOWN):

  1. Best businesses for Digital Nomads to work remotely.
  2. How much money you need to live on.
  3. Top digital nomad destinations to Live and Work.
  4. Affordable Travel Tips.
  5. Healthcare while travelling abroad.
  6. Renting a Motorbike for Transportation.
  7. Limit all of your expenses.
  8. Create your travel blog and get paid to travel.
  9. Your cell phone while travelling.

1) BEST BUSINESSES FOR DIGITAL NOMADS TO WORK REMOTELY

Of course the best type of business is one where you are not trading dollars for time. This really is a 9-5.  However a lot of Digital Nomads are able to setup successful freelancing options that are still trading dollars for time, but on their own terms.  For most of us, in order to cover your monthly expenses and create a revenue stream that allows you to embrace a digital lifestyle, you will want to consider these 4 options to explore:

Create a Product

Either a Physical or Information Based Product

Sell Someone Else's Product

This is classified as affiliate or licensed based marketing

Blogging

We call it the Art of Blogging to earn money off content.

Freelancing

Learn how to Outsource or Sell digital, design, content, or programming.

Either way, I think it goes without saying that all 4 of these options will require you to learn a new skill.  Full disclaimer, despite many websites that tell you this can happen overnight, in most people cases there is a learning curve required. You can expect to learn how to create a website (yes this is easy with drag and drop builders like Clickfunnels), how to attract organic traffic by SEO, how to create ads and monitor your ad spends, and even how to grow your business by Social Media.  All these things require learning and time spent to learn and implement in order to grow your digital nomad business.   Lucky for you we have a free 7-day course that shows you the top secrets on how to launch a profitable business in 7 days with no technical skills.

To speed up your process to market, you can (and should) along the way delegate these tasks. Read our article here about 10 things you need to know before outsourcing.  This is usually the lowest cost and fasted way for a newbie digital nomad

2) DETERMINE HOW MUCH YOU NEED TO LIVE ON (FRUGALLY BUT AWESOME)

After spending 6 months in Thailand, we put together here all of our monthly expenses for living in the amazing Island of Koh Samui, Thailand.  For under $1,500 CAD this includes house, scooter, gas, insurance, food, supplements, gym, phones, hydro, water etc.  And this is where we get to live:

Doesn’t this make the idea of being a digital nomad THAT much more appealing?  Now you can travel and live a great lifestyle that’s very affordable. But you also have to make much less money a month to live.  Then when you are making more money, you are able to save a bunch of money or do even more cool travel.

3) TOP DIGITAL NOMAD DESTINATIONS TO LIVE AND WORK

We decided that we were to make a home base in Koh Samui, Thailand and this has been an amazing choice so far.  It has enabled us to travel around South East Asia and keep a home so not constantly on the road.  Both of these destinations are extremely affordable, had a thriving tech community, and tons of adventures to accomplish.

HERE ARE THE TOP RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DIGITAL NOMADS THAT WE ARE CONSIDERING FOR OUR NEXT DESTINATIONS BECAUSE OF THEIR POPULARITY:

  1. Chiang Mai.We visited Chiang Mai for the weekend and this city is on the top of our list for 2017 digital nomad destinations.  It was by far the most affordable place we have visited in Thailand, but had wonderful city flare.  Walking down the street at night you are bound to find the coffee shops packed with nomads working away.  It’s a wonderful place to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs.  If there aren’t popular co-working or tech coffee shops around it’s harder to find that atmosphere. We struggle with this on Koh Samui. Biggest downfall in our opinion, there’s no beach, albeit there is a ton of outdoor activities you don’t find as common on Islands.  A popular Digital Nomad Thailand Island is Koh Phangan.
  2. Bali. This is also on our list for 2017 in combination with Chiang Mai.  We loved Bali!  We thought it was so amazing we went back twice in 2016.  Ubud and Changu are two of the most popular digital hot spots in Bali with Sanur also on the rise with a lot of Entrepreneurs we met living here year round.  Personally, we preferred the food here in Bali and as Yogi’s and Foodie’s, this makes a difference!

We will keep adding to this list, but don’t want to include information on locations that we ourselves haven’t visited and would recommend.

4) THE MOST AMAZING TRAVEL DEAL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

Getting around by Taxi?  Negotiating looking like a tourist will generally cost you quite a bit, or you can skip the hassle and call a Grab or Uber taxi, which in our experience have been 50-60% less than even was a tuk-tuk driver will offer.

Getting around from country to country?  Yes, by bus can be the cheapest but definitely not the most comfortable.  If you value your time, just fly.   Air Asia has some very affordable flights and watch out for their deals, you can get flights as low as $3 when they go on sale!  If you are wanting to travel around Asia, you HAVE to check out the AirAsia ASEAN pass.  For the $160 ASEAN Pass, you get 10 credits for flights.

5) HEALTHCARE ABROAD AND WHAT IS “ACTUALLY” COVERED

Disclaimer, figure out what is applicable to you as every country is different for travel insurance. We are from Canada, and in the underwriting clauses, in a very typical plan we found exclusions such as:

  1. Motorbike accidents. Some plans do not cover if you are not practicing safety precautions (aka not wearing a helmet) or if you do not have the proper license to ride a motorbike in your home country.
  2. Any hospital bills caused by alcohol or drugs (in some cases even if it’s just in your system)
  3. Acts of god or natural disasters
  4. Acts of terrorism or violence
  5. Do not insure doing extreme sports (i.e. trying Muay Thai in Thailand)
  6. You are not insured if you do not have a plan in your home country (we paused our Medical Service Plan in Canada that allows you to do it up to 1 time)
  7. Any pre-existing conditions

When looking at Insurance, each company is different so read the fine print, get multiple quotes, ask the questions above, and make sure you understand what your insurance actually covers.  You may want to consider expat insurance instead of travel insurance if you are committing to living abroad for long periods of time. World Nomads Insurance is the Lonely Planet recommended Insurance provider.

6) RENTING A MOTORBIKE – GET YOUR INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENSE

I do not know how anyone ever traveled before scooters, I rent them everywhere!!  We have so much fun exploring cities by motorbike, and for travel in Asia, I wouldn’t do it any other way.  For the same price as a 1.2 kilometer ride in Chang Mai from the airport, we rented a bike for a day, including gas, and drove everywhere! Even though most rental companies rents to you with very little requirements. In the end, it will probably save you money to invest in a International Drivers license.  Nothing beats driving through roadblocks, and after showing our international drivers license for motorbikes cruising through while others are being fined.  It cost us $30 CAD at BCAA, and paid for itself in the first week.

HERE ARE SOME OF OUR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RENTING A MOTORBIKE:

I do not know how anyone ever traveled before scooters, I rent them everywhere!!  We have so much fun exploring cities by motorbike, and for travel in Asia, I wouldn’t do it any other way.  For the same price as a 1.2 kilometer ride in Chang Mai from the airport, we rented a bike for a day, including gas, and drove everywhere! Even though most rental companies rents to you with very little requirements. In the end, it will probably save you money to invest in a International Drivers license.  Nothing beats driving through roadblocks, and after showing our international drivers license for motorbikes cruising through while others are being fined.  It cost us $30 CAD at BCAA, and paid for itself in the first week.

  1. Always read the contract to see what it requires
  2. Pay the deposit, don’t leave your passport as a deposit for the bike.
  3. What is the replacement value (if lost or stolen). We have heard horror stories of places that come at night (when you leave your address) and use a second key to steal it. We have seen contracts that you pay 3x over the price of the brand new bike if it’s stolen.
  4. Take pictures and/or video of the bike’s current condition with any scratches or damage.
  5. Be super careful. Our friend had his bike parked..yes parked. With 10 other bikes in front of a restaurant. Someone clipped him…then called the police. In Thailand they have an unofficial rule that, if you were not travelling in their country, it would not have happened, so it’s your fault. They were forced to actually pay to fix the motorbike, of the person who hit them.  This all happened while they were enjoying lunch inside a restaurant.

7) LIMIT ALL OF YOUR EXPENSES

No need to keep ongoing monthly expenses from home.  We cancelled cell phones, tv subscriptions, grocery memberships, insurances etc.  We wanted to keep a Canada cell phone number (for business) so we choose Fongo.  This was $1.90 a month and even though only works on wifi is an app that allows for people to call or text us on a local Canada number.

8) CREATE YOUR TRAVEL BLOG

You are travelling, on the road, being a digital nomad. Why not share your story and experiences along the way.  Most of our friends at home enjoy following along with our story and you begin to realize, a lot of other people do too.  Plus, taking your experiences and either creating a video or creating a blog post, is a process for me that really allows to me to take a moment of gratitude for these experiences.  And hey, maybe it might form a business for you one day.

HERE ARE SOME OF OUR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STARTING A TRAVEL BLOG:

  1. Choose a good domain name. Search at Domains At Cost for your new domain (don’t search on GoDaddy until you are ready to buy.  Often if you search and don’t buy, when you return those domains can be purchased by their bots)
  2. Choose your WordPress or blogging template. We recommend Divi from Elegant Themes, this builder allows you to edit your website on the front end – skipping the process of learning the WordPress editor.
  3. Do keyword research and write content. Learn more about this here in our free 7 day course.
  4. Social Media, get social media setup, it’s free marketing and as a travel blogger can be a wonderful source of traffic.

All that’s necessary is your cell phone to start taking pictures.  One of the best times we having is editing videos or photos from our travel experiences and sharing it with others, so consider a gopro or a decent camera to capture your travel.

9) YOUR CELL PHONE WHILE TRAVELLING ABROAD

Prior to leaving your home country, unlocked your cell phone.  SIM cards are super cheap and a cell phone plan is just as cheap. Expect to pay between $4-10 a month for your cell phone plan, and that normally includes unlimited wi-fi on the go. My Thailand plan is $9/month for data, texting and calling.  If you don’t have an unlocked phone, you can buy really affordable cell phones in Asia. We just purchased (yes a no-name brand) cell phone for $90 USD.  Works with any sim card, came unlocked, no contracts, 18 mega pixel camera, full android operating system and much more.

Wherever I travel, I purchase a SIM for that country and buy a plan for my time their.  We have made this mistake in the past, of not buying a cell phone for countries if we are travelling for short term, a week or 2.  However, the savings of having a phone number will pay for itself right away. For example, you can use your local number to call the 2-3x more affordable taxi’s through Uber or Grab.  But you need a local number, so get it at the airport for convenience or slightly cheaper get in the first city you arrive in.  And keep your new sim card in your wallet, for when you return to that country, new digital nomad!

IN SUMMARY

One of the best decisions we ever made was to become a Digital Nomad. We have seen and done some of the most epic things since making the decision to sell our house, pack up our stuff, and set sail on a one-way ticket with 2 suitcases in tow.

Wherever I travel, I purchase a SIM for that country and buy a plan for my time their.  We have made this mistake in the past, of not buying a cell phone for countries if we are travelling for short term, a week or 2.  However, the savings of having a phone number will pay for itself right away. For example, you can use your local number to call the 2-3x more affordable taxi’s through Uber or Grab.  But you need a local number, so get it at the airport for convenience or slightly cheaper get in the first city you arrive in.  And keep your new sim card in your wallet, for when you return to that country, new digital nomad!

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