Combining work and travel has always been a dream of mine. And now thanks to the internet, the changing nature of work and affordable travel options I have been able to make my dream a reality. Over the last seven years, I have successfully lived, travelled and worked across six continents.
Being a digital nomad is no longer restricted to writers, teachers and flight attendants, either. Anyone can work overseas. You just need to be willing to do the work, be flexible, adapt quickly, and occasionally go without good coffee and Wi-Fi.
Do you dream of being a digital nomad? Here are my tips to help you get started.
Build a global network
We’re more globally connected than ever before. Yet for the majority of us, our professional contacts are still tied to where we currently live or work. Having a global professional network is one of the easiest ways to find work while you travel. When you’re heading to a new city or region ask your contacts to connect you with relevant people: those in your sector and those who would be interested in your services.
Offer to take your new acquaintances out for coffee and while you’re there explain succinctly what you do, what work you’re looking for and the types of people you’re trying to meet. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to meet people and find opportunities. Don’t forget to nurture your new relationships once you’re back home.
Seek out locally-based projects
While many people enjoy working remotely from exotic locations, there’s a lot to gain from working with local organisations. Locally-based projects help you to immerse yourself in the culture as you’ll often be required to have a working knowledge of the language, use local transport, and learn new norms and customs. And as an added bonus, your local organisation will often provide additional support while you settle into your new home. Find locally-based projects through your global networks or look out for advertisements in local newspapers, websites and community groups. Staying in one location for a longer amount of time will often help you secure more meaningful work.
Create an online service
If you don’t want to be restricted to one location you need to create an online-based service. Building an online presence and shop front has never been easier. However, if you’re still paper-based and rely heavily on phone calls, you’re going to need to adapt your back-end processes too. To ensure your global clients can contact you whenever they want, consider creating a more detailed online contact form that lets your clients know about your timings and availability. Also, update your service page to include specific details about what you offer so they don’t need to call you for more basic information. Guarantee your client has a smooth and coherent customer experience by moving your payment system, documents, and communication channels online. You’ll also save money on your business running costs.
Plan your schedule in advance
It’s fun to fantasise jet-setting off to the Caribbean at a moment’s notice. But it’s just that; a fantasy. In reality, you need to be extremely organised and plan your schedule months in advance. Planning ahead not only allows you to save money on flights and accommodation, and other travel-related expenses, it also helps you build in extra time to complete your work. Time zone differences, Wi-Fi issues, flight cancellations, travel-related illnesses and public holidays can all affect your ability to complete daily tasks. Being organised, having processes, and confidently meeting and setting deadlines are all necessary skill-sets if you want to be able to balance work and travel. Before you set off, do your research to avoid any unexpected issues.
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