Before I decided to completely change my life and travel the world, I hit snooze on my alarm everyday until the last possible minute. I’d throw on an outfit, which I assumed was clean, run a comb through my hair, brush my teeth and roll into my office parking lot at 7:59 am. This happened, Monday through Friday, for three years.
Now, I travel the world and work wherever I have Wi-Fi. You may have heard of the term - digital nomad. In the last two years, I have traveled to over 20 countries while building a successful business. The only thing I brought with me was a carry on backpack and a laptop. I lived on $50 a day or less and had the best time of my life.
Is this guide for you?
First, let me tell you my story on how I changed my life in pursuit of a traveling lifestyle.
How the Digital Nomad Life Found Me
It was just another day. I remember listening on a conference call and “multi-tasking”, when I came across the term - digital nomad. A digital nomad, what does that mean? I quickly began scouring the internet for references and found several digital nomad blogs to help me get started.
Digital nomads use wireless internet, smartphones, Voice over IP, and cloud-based applications to work remotely wherever they live or travel. Digital nomads also often use co-working spaces, cafes, house-sitting agreements, and shared offices in major cities around the world.
Now, THAT sounded much more exciting than my currently dull and unfulfilling life. I became obsessed with this idea of being a digital nomad. The fact that I didn’t HAVE to be sitting at a desk or living in the same city to do my work was exhilarating. It pushed the boundaries of how we were supposed to live our lives. To me, that was thrilling.
My Plan to Be a Digital Nomad
I set myself a deadline of 8 months. I was going to quit my job, sell everything, and board a plane in that time. I had a lot to do:
Making Money as a Digital Nomad
I knew my company would never approve of me working for them on a “nomadic basis,” so I began to explore other options. I spent hours applying for remote jobs, but it began to get disheartening. Even though I was experienced, most companies wouldn’t let you go remote unless you had already worked with them for a few years. Ok, scratch that idea.
If no one was going to hire me then why don’t I make my own job? I liked the idea of working for myself. Not knowing what I was going to do, I began making a list of all the jobs I could do virtually:
- Teach English - I’m not exactly a person of patience, I don’t think I could be a teacher.
- Virtual Assistant - I do have a Type A personality, but I prefer to be the boss, probably not a good fit.
- Translator - If i thought my current life was boring, this would probably be worse.
- Social Media Manager - This had potential, but I couldn’t see myself being passionate with it.
- Writer - I don’t mind writing, but I couldn’t imagine writing about things I’m not passionate about.
- Videographer - Sounds like I’d need a lot of expensive equipment, plus a pain to lug around.
- Build Websites/SEO - Ok, this has some promise…
I began to do more research on building websites and learning search engine optimization (SEO). When I wasn’t working or sleeping, I was teaching myself this new skill. My drive for a new lifestyle is what propelled me and motivated me to continue. I found courses online and started joining Facebook groups so I could make connections and learn from other web developers and digital nomads.
I figured the best way to learn a skill that I could monetize would be to fully immerse myself in it. I began creating my own websites. Things started out rough at first. I had no idea what I was doing, but each website became easier and easier. By connecting with businesses locally and digitally, my business began to spread through word of mouth. Awesome! I have a source of income to fund my travels.
Preparing to be a Digital Nomad
Being a digital nomad is completely different from normal life. Instead of jumping into the water head first, I figured it would be a good idea to test the water a bit. I did this by planning small weekend trips by myself with just a backpack. Of course, I was incredibly nervous for the very first weekend in a new city by myself, but it was also exhilarating.
One of my very first weekenders I went to Montreal. I stayed in a hostel, kept a tight budget, and explored a new city. Many people in Montreal speak French, so I pretended that I was an ocean away from home, even if I was only in Canada.
I pushed myself to try new things and meet new people. It’s important to test your comfort zone. Traveling will always be pushing your limits and you need to learn how to embrace it. These weekend trips helped me build more confidence as a solo female backpacker!
Tip: Check out Exploreinspired's Travel Resource Directory!
10 Ways to Save Money for Your Adventure
Traveling around the world can be done on a budget, but it’s always nice to have a bit of savings just in case you run into a rainy day, or a monsoon. Here are a list of tips that helped me put $20,000 in my savings account before I quit my job to be a digital nomad:
- Needs vs Wants - Determine the things that are necessary and what is superfluous in your lifestyle. Every time you swipe your card or pull out a $20, ask yourself if you could live without it.
- Pick up a side job - I was an Uber driver for a few months to get extra cash. Was I a good driver? Absolutely not, but it gave me some fun money for later.
- Cut the fat - Things like getting your nails done, grabbing a coffee every day, taking taxis, etc. will add up. Stop right now. That money could be spent on a beach in Thailand. Buy a coffee maker and make your own drink every morning. Try walking or taking public transportation instead of taxis or driving.
- Stop eating out - You can save so much money by cooking for yourself. Bring a lunch to work and cook dinner for your friends.
- Sell your stuff - I made the most money from putting my stuff on Craigslist. That juicer I used a total of two times put $15 in my pocket.
- Forget gifts - I asked for cash, Airbnb gift cards and travel supplies instead of presents for birthdays and holidays.
- Get a travel credit card - Of course, I don’t recommend racking up a ton of debt, but you can get a lot of free travel with the right rewards card. Personally, I use the Capital One Venture card. It’s my favorite because you aren’t limited to your travel purchases. You can just go into your account and hit redeem!
- Cut your bills - Do you have any monthly subscriptions or extra bills? You’re not going to have cable when you’re backpacking, might as well get used to not having it now!
- Surround yourself with financially responsible people - It’s hard to make good money choices when your friends are going to dinner at wallet-gouging restaurants. Now’s the time to start being cheap and finding cheap friends!
- Look for free things to do - It costs money to go to the movies and check out concerts. See what free events are going on in your community. You’ll be surprised how you can entertain yourself without spending a dime.
Even though I was about ready to go on a backpacking adventure, I still had an entire apartment full of stuff. I had rooms of furniture, closets of clothes, and a fat cat named King Henry. None of these things were going to fit in a backpack, especially the cat. Thankfully, my sister adopted King Henry and gave him a good home.
I started taking an inventory of all the useless junk I had collected over the years. I posted things on Craigslist and offered bulk deals to try to entice buyers. I scheduled appointments for my friends to come and raid my closet. Finally, I was down to the last few items, which I donated to Goodwill. When it was almost time for me to leave, I was sleeping on an air mattress, because I had already sold my mattress and bed frame!
Note: Always be careful when meeting someone you don’t know. I never anyone into my apartment and would usually meet him or her in a well-trafficked parking lot.
Where Should I Travel To?
The next thing you need to do is decide, where do you want to travel? For most Americans and Australians a good jumping off point is Europe, especially for solo travelers, but also more expensive. Southeast Asia is a place that backpackers flock to because of the cheap cost of living and beautiful beaches. South America is another cheap location, but lower on the “safe scale.”
I use the term “safe scale” to gauge how safe I feel in a city or town. I consider a place very safe, if I can walk around by myself at night and the public transportation is reliable and easy to use. Here are the some of the safest cities I’ve been to:
My favorite travel plan is to not have a travel plan at all. When you are backpacking you may instantly click with a city or culture and want to stay longer. Maybe your destination is not all that it is cracked up to be. When you do not have a plan, you also have the freedom to come and go as you like.
As you travel, you’ll meet other really cool people that you may want to meet up with or tag along on their next adventure. Keep an open mind and see where the wind blows you. I like to buy a cheap flight to somewhere and then see what happens!
Your Next Steps to Jet Set
Find Your Perfect Travel Luggage
You luggage is your constant companion when you’re on the road. It’s crucial that you have the perfect baggage to accompany you. Travel Meets Happy has called in experts from around the globe to find the best luggage for your trip!
Learn How to Pack for Your Adventure
Once you have found the luggage of your dreams, it’s time to start packing! This can be stressful for most, but do not worry we are packing pros. In these guides, we will help you determine what you need to bring for an epic adventure.
Travel Tips, Cheap Flights, and More!
One of my passions is finding cheap airline deals. Once I found a flight from London to Copenhagen for £7, departing in less than 24 hours. I’ve flown transatlantic for under $100! Cheap flights exist; let me show you how to find them.
You don’t have to give up your home and career to travel the world. You can still be a jetsetter and take weekend trips or maximize on your vacation time. Let me teach you how to be a more savvy traveler. Pack your bags. We’re going on an adventure!