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How to Prepare to Be a Digital Nomad in 6 Steps

Travel Team | May 11, 2022

Friends working remotely at a cafe.

The life of a digital nomad can be quite romantic. You wake when you want and take breaks as needed — no boss monitoring your progress on a project. You can hang out in cafes sipping coffee while simultaneously checking email and watching the busy street. You mingle with the locals, explore exotic parts of the world, and have an impressive collection of passport stamps.

When you're ready to make the switch, you have to do more than grab a passport and head overseas. Life as a digital nomad tends to be smoother and more successful when you spend some time planning the transition from the traditional 9-to-5 to a location-independent lifestyle.

Get Your Travel Documents in Order

If you don't have a passport, you need to apply for one and pay the appropriate fees. This can take eight weeks or more, so plan ahead.

Find out if the country where you plan to stay requires a visa, and determine if you can get a visa upon arrival or if you'll need to apply for one in advance. You may need to appear in person at the country's embassy in the United States to get your visa, or you may be able to apply by mail. Each country has its own process, so consult its official government website or embassy in the U.S.

Line Up Work Before You Go

The months leading up to your new life as a digital nomad are great for thinking about the type of work you do and don’t want to do. This doesn't mean you have to find a new job. If you're already working remotely or have a job that doesn't require being in the office, your current employer may have no problem with you taking your work overseas.

Some digital nomads start their own businesses. If you choose this route, line up work before you go so you'll be less likely to take a job that doesn't work for you just so you can pay the rent.

Choose a Location

Girl working remotely from chilly beach.

For many digital nomads, figuring out the best places to work remotely and choosing where to go is the best part of the lifestyle. The key is finding a place where you can balance your work and life demands. You need a place where you have access to reliable internet and that appeals to your interests.

One important consideration is the type of climate you prefer. Do you like hot, humid days with rainy afternoons? Would you rather be in a place where you need a jacket in the early morning or evening? Do you want to bask in the sunlight? Is dry air better for your health or your hair? You want to be as comfortable as possible, so look for places with the type of weather you like best.

Consider the environment and opportunities for recreation and learning that you'll enjoy. For instance, do you want to live near the ocean so you can scuba dive, surf, or sunbathe? You might prefer a large metropolitan area where plenty is happening at all hours of the day and night, or you might want to have a quieter retreat in the countryside while you work. If you enjoy history, consider a location that has plenty of museums, ancient architecture, or opportunities for archaeological digs.

Where you choose to work as a digital nomad will have a large impact on your happiness and quality of life.

Familiarize Yourself With the Culture

Living in another country can be a culture shock, and it may take some time and experience to learn how to navigate everything from how to stand in line at the coffee shop to when and how to renew your visa. If you're going someplace where you don't already know the language, consider lessons to at least pick up some basic phrases or try these 10 tips to help you learn a new language.

Alternatively, you may decide to go to a country that's completely unfamiliar to you so you can immerse yourself in the local customs and language. Some digital nomads arrange their travel schedules so they're in a specific part of the world for a big event like Brazil for Carnival or India for the Holi festival.

Take Care of Your Obligations

When you make an inventory of all of your local obligations, you may be surprised to see how many you have. Check your calendar for events you agreed to attend and determine if you need to cancel or make arrangements to return for the engagement. Cancel or put on hold your gym membership, subscriptions, and internet service. If you're leaving an apartment, you have to decide whether to break the lease or sublet the space. If you're quitting your job, you need to give them enough notice.

This may not be a requirement for life as a digital nomad — and you may meet people who choose this lifestyle because it lets them pay down their debt — but being debt-free means you have one less expense to worry about. You'll have more flexibility in your budget and lifestyle. If you have a slow month or find yourself in a place that you really want to explore, you can do so without worrying about making enough money to cover your rent and a credit card payment.

Protect Yourself

Life as a digital nomad can be exciting, but you can't predict everything that may happen. Working remotely from anywhere in the world can be easier and safer when you have trip protection to help out with those unexpected surprises. Let Seven Corners help you find the right travel insurance for your new adventure.

About the Author

Allison Hache is a professional copywriter who has been freelancing since 2006. She specializes in subjects that range from travel to finance and insurance. In addition to providing content for a variety of businesses, her work has been featured on popular websites such as Credit Sesame and GOBankingRates.

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