The remote working lifestyle boomed during the last couple of years, and many people now prefer it. But maybe you still need to ask: what is a digital nomad? They are online workers who travel anywhere a good internet connection can be found. If you work at a computer, this exciting lifestyle could be for you, if you plan wisely.

Are you now thinking of asking how to become a digital nomad? You would need to organize your time away from a regular office, making sure you will have suitable work and can do it efficiently. If you are already a freelancer who works online at home, you will want to know how working can mesh with traveling. If you have a regular job you don’t want to quit, you also need to persuade your bosses you can work for them as a nomad, and maybe get an idea about when they want you back again.

Here are some key facts about the digital nomad lifestyle:

  1. How many digital nomads are there in the US?
    In 2021, there were 15.5 million members of the US digital nomad community, more than double the 7.3 million who were active in 2019; of these, the number of regular, non-freelancer, employees rose from 3.2M to 10.2M (MBO Partners).
  2. What is the typical age of the US’s digital nomads?
    In 2021, the average age of the digital nomads was 32 years old (ProjectUntethered).
  3. What are the most common professions for digital nomads?
    Digital nomads commonly work in fields such as business services, IT, marketing, writing and finance (StorageCafe).
  4. How educated are USA’s digital nomads?
    Around 72% of USA’s digital nomads have a bachelor’s degree, while 33% have a master’s degree. (Passport-Photo.online).
  5. Does the remote working community offer advancement opportunities?
    Yes. For example, no less than 29% of companies that are fully remote have women CEOs, founders or presidents; this is compared to 6.6% of CEOs who are women in S&P 500 companies (Remote and Catalyst).
  6. How likely are digital nomads to be working from recreational vehicles?
    The number of digital nomads traveling in recreational vehicles hit 2.6 million in 2021; this represents a 37% increase since 2020 (MBO Partners).
  7. Will the digital nomad community continue to grow?
    It has been predicted that by 2025 the number of Americans working remotely will be around 40.7 million, approximately double the number that were doing this before the pandemic (Upwork).

Doing your online job while traveling abroad is an exciting idea, but many places in the US also offer great weather, fun activities, and maybe a lower cost of living than you currently experience. Rent short-term accommodation near a Florida beach, an Arizona desert or the Rocky Mountains, or travel in an RV for even greater flexible. Good internet connectively will always be necessary, but fortunately it can now be found not only in cities but also in remote places. To maximize all these factors while nomading, get well organized and make sure you have alternatives.

Recreational Vehicle in Rocky Mountains
Recreational Vehicle in Rocky Mountains

Plan your finances both before and after you take your leave

If you are a regular employee hoping to be a nomad, do all your research before you submit a request for leave of absence from work. Freelancers and newbies have more flexibility. All potential nomads, however, need to figure out roughly how much money they will be making while away. So, before you take off, reassure your business contacts and look at any short-term economic forecasts relating to your industry.

The first few months of digital nomading can be the most challenging, with unforeseen financial hits such as vital RV repairs or investment in new IT equipment. Then there are the blips in your work schedule that traveling can easily create, which can put employers off and affect your cash flow. It is always recommended, therefore, that you don’t leave before you have built up some bank savings — and try to maintain a significant sum there, if possible.

The digital nomad lifestyle is fun abroad but simpler at home

You might now be asking: can I work remotely in another country? Exciting destinations beckon in places like Mexico, Thailand, Bali and Spain. Established communities of digital workers from all over the world can be found there, plus sufficient internet and healthcare provision. However, you need to plan well, ensuring you have all the visas and other documentation necessary for any country you visit. If you are in a 9-5 job, you may have difficultly persuading your employers this will work — but at least when doing Zoom calls from a Cancún beach you’ll be in a similar time zone!

Digital nomad life in the US can be a much more straightforward alternative, with destinations as diverse as Tampa, Buffalo and Kansas City proving to offer great deals to digital nomads.

You could spend winter on a Florida beach, spring seeing the cactuses bloom in Arizona, summer in the mountains of Colorado and fall watching the trees change color in New England — all the time enjoying great weather. Alternatively, some nomads find plenty to do in their own state, and it will be easier to visit the people you work for, if they require this. Everything will be more understandable for you in the US, so fewer unseen challenges arise.

Woman Hiking New England in Fall
New England in Fall

Digital nomading in a recreational vehicle ticks many boxes

Domestic travel can be done with flights, but baggage restrictions are a hassle when you want to be away for long periods. Traveling with an motorhome or caravan is a trending lifestyle, with younger people and families now RVing more often than before. Your employers may be more willing to see you working on the road, as you can not only get back to the physical office more easily but also to services you may suddenly find you need. The best RV for working on the road is a reliable one with enough office space inside.

The RV Industry Association reports that ownership of recreational vehicles increased by more than 62% between 2001 and 2021. If you choose a motorhome or a caravan as your office, consider the practical implications concerning how you like to work. And if don’t already have an RV, you need to plan well ahead as the market for these vehicles is hot right now, so don’t assume you can pick up a good second-hand one straight away.

Plan to always have great internet access

When traveling in the US, you can get online in one way or another almost everywhere, although connectivity varies across the country. Before you book any accommodation, check it has broadband. Alternatively, many cities have coworking offices where you can turn up and plug in. They may also provide extra business services such as photocopying machines, coffee and a lounge area where you can hang out and talk with other digital nomads.

RVers can get WiFi at many campsites, and can also use mobile hotspots, but they might like to spend a few hundred dollars on the hardware and subscription needed for satellite internet — this should achieve full nationwide coverage next year — which can keep you online in even the remotest locations. It is always good to have several internet options, and this will reassure employers, so plan all this before you hit the road.

What are the best digital nomad jobs?

You may be asking which jobs a remote worker can do. Our survey of digital nomading revealed that large proportions of the mobile workforce are engaged in business services, IT, marketing, writing and finance. Others were able to teach or work for government departments while on the road. For pursuing these careers, get as much information as you can digitalized before you start, then you won’t have to carry books or large amounts of paperwork around with you.

Adding to the mix, there are also now increasing numbers of professionals who give advice online, including medics, psychologists and legal experts. And the solo digital nomad worker or couple is being increasingly joined by families who are homeschooling their kids — we probably now don’t need to tell you that really is a proper job! — but this may also require planning to fit in with exam schedules.

Boy Doing School Work in an RV
Homeschooling in an RV

Nomad side-hustles include blogging, surfing and ‘costuming’

Online workers can always branch out into other areas that involve their computers. Blogging is an obvious creative outlet when you are visiting new and exciting destinations — one day your posts about all the places you have seen could set you up for a career in the media! If you want to pursue this idea, think about organizing your leave so you can fit the places you visit into a schedule that makes thematic sense to your readers.

Also, a hybrid working lifestyle is possible once again, with temporary jobs at resorts and theme parks providing side-hustles away from the laptop. Do some research about what might be available before you choose your destinations. Then, as you are making your plans, organize your leave with tourist seasons in mind — maybe teaching windsurfing or putting on a Mickey Mouse costume at the weekends would be something you’d enjoy!

Teaching Windsurfing
Teaching Windsurfing

You now know how to be a digital nomad and you can decide if the lifestyle is for you. Plan well how to do your work so your employers will always be happy, whether they are the crowd back at the office or a diverse group online you never meet. And make sure you will always have the internet you need. When you decide to hit the road, rent a self storage unit and keep your possessions there more cheaply than in a residential space. Good organization will help secure your cash flow so you can enjoy all the great nomading destinations out there.

Avatar
Author

Francis Chantree is a writer for StorageCafe and other divisions of Yardi. He is a former programmer and researcher who has exchanged computer language for his greatest passion, human language! When not writing and proofreading text, he spends his time gardening and reading.

Write A Comment