When I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, I had absolutely no idea about travel, blogging, or working online. Fast forward to 2011 and my passion for fashion had taken a backseat and been replaced for the love of travel.
I joined the growing number of digital nomads in search of a way to earn money online while traveling around the world. Becoming a digital nomad was an unexpected “career change” that completely transformed my life and my ability to continue chasing my dreams of world travel. If you’re wondering how to become a digital nomad, this is my story.
How to Become a Digital Nomad
Transitioning From Corporate to Blogger
I used to work for a big corporation in the fashion industry and when the recession hit they squeezed me out instead of promoting me so I left and started traveling.
I originally planned to take a three-month sabbatical before starting at a marketing agency in Venice Beach but as it turns out I fell in love with travel and changed my purpose for living.
I sold the designer shoes, left my apartment, ditched my BMW, and embarked on an endless journey of backpacking budget travel. That was in 2008.
In order to fund my travels I’d return home every year or so and work for a few months as a tour manager for national marketing campaigns. I also freelanced from “home” as a marketing account executive, too.
In 2011, I decided to try to work while traveling originally perplexed at the idea, as I had no skills that could be useful to make money on the road. As I searched online for ideas I came across the idea of blogging and soon created a travel blog called Wanderlust and the Girl, which would later pave the way for something greater when I launched my second blog Travel Fashion Girl.
Although I’ve been working on Travel Fashion Girl since 2011 I’ve only been working on it full time since 2013. I originally didn’t think about how to become a digital nomad. However, I kept on reading stories about other travelers blogging for money so I figured that if they were making it on the road perhaps I could, too.
I gave it a shot and as it turns out I made it! I dedicated all my efforts into my blog full-time and my hard work paid off.
Digital Nomad Issues
The potentially surprising “problem” with becoming a digital nomad and wanting to make a full time income while traveling is that you actually have to work full time. You have responsibilities and that’s exactly what travelers, in theory, escape.
I know what traveling was like before iPhones and Facebook so this was the biggest challenge for me. Being online all the time changed the way I traveled. It was no longer “in the moment”. My focus was on a new passion: my blog.
One of the things you don’t take into account when considering how to become a digital nomad is that many times you end up working long hours. Before you know it, you’re cooped up in a hotel room more than you are actually experiencing your destination.
It’s not always the idyllic image of coconuts and beer on the beach. As a digital nomad you work hard, possibly even harder than you did at home.
But you know what? It’s all worth it, especially if you love what you do. You just have to find a balance.
Finding a Work Life (and Travel) Balance
So how to become a digital nomad that doesn’t get stuck in front of a laptop all day? You need to find a balance. It’s absolutely essential and you’ll be more efficient allowing you to work less and play more.
To combat this problem (when I’m not in one destination for an extended period of time) I try to balance my work, life, and travel by working 2-3 days a week and traveling 4-5 days per week.
I invest a portion of my blogging income into hiring a team so I can focus on experiencing travel worry-free while maintaining my blog. Even though this cuts down on profits, it gives me the freedom to enjoy my lifestyle.
On dedicated work days, I go to a restaurant with the best wifi or stay at a comfortable hotel and spend the entire day working non-stop getting as much done as possible.
On travel days, I don’t work or check email and social media but I do get most inspired to write while I’m on the road so I usually just grab my phone and jot down a quick blog post on bus or train rides and send them to my Blog Manager so my drafts will be ready for me when it’s time to get to work.
Nowadays, because I’m a long-term traveler that has hit many of the big items on my bucket list I stay put in places much more than I used to.
I’ve spent half my time in Thailand the past four years and the rest of it between Los Angeles, England, and everywhere in between. Most recently I’ve settled into an awesome digital nomad location: Playa del Carmen.
When I stay put it might be for four weeks to four months and this acts as a catch up and planning time to execute new projects and implement new ideas on my site. While I can afford to live in Europe or the US I much prefer the budget and lifestyle that Southeast Asia and Central America offer a traveler/digital nomad.
Instead of freezing in a chilly flat or coffee shop in England I’d much rather work at a restaurant on a Thai beach and eat amazing meals for $3 while sipping on fresh coconut juice.
Instead of spending $1000 in LA to rent or share an apartment I rather spend the same amount of money on one month’s living expenses while eating and drinking what I want and living a few minute walk from a warm turquoise ocean in Mexico.
Planning how to become a digital nomad is not easy. It takes alot of hard work to get started but once you’ve made the original investment of time (more than money) it truly pays off.
What are your tips on how to become a digital nomad? Share in the comments below!
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