By Amine Rahal, entrepreneur and writer. Amine is the CEO of IronMonka digital marketing agency specialized in SEO.
I have been working online for over ten years because the companies I lead have a strong focus in the digital space. So if I had to or wanted to travel, I just took all the things I needed to stay with work and set sail.
At the time, digital nomads were not part of our professional lexicon, or I would have never heard of it. As the years went by, I realized that I didn’t necessarily have to stay in one place all the time thanks to a non-physical, Internet-based venture. So I traveled a lot and enjoyed short stays in different locations in the country and the world.
I thought that if I wanted to be at the beach in the summer and in the mountains in the winter, I could do that as long as I had a stable internet connection. Today, these professionals are referred to as digital nomads: Internet professionals who work and travel as they see fit.
While it’s not a lifestyle that’s right for everyone, as the stress that comes with it is astronomical at times, it’s still enviable for many. If you think this might be for you, here are some of my top tips on how to become a digital nomad and get the best experience out of it.
1. Make a clear division between work and leisure.
Balancing your work requirements and your free time at your new destination will be vital to ensure your success while traveling. You will want to explore your new surroundings, get to know the place and enjoy new dishes or attractions.
So it’s best to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Outlining when you work creates the commitment to get the work done. This way you know how much time you have for your leisure activities. And you won’t feel guilty for doing the work you were supposed to do.
You can set multiple hours per day, but make sure those hours are at the same time every day. Or you can put yourself to work for a few days in a row and then take a day or two off. Whatever formula you choose, make sure you stick to it.
2. Get your work lined up before you travel.
If you have just started an online activity, make sure you have reached a level where you have enough work to keep you busy and ensure your lifestyle unless you have enough savings to live on as your business grows. I say this because living abroad or away from home can be expensive.
3. Travel slowly.
Some digital nomads change destinations every week or even every few days. I honestly don’t know how they do it. I’d rather spend a few months in a new destination; that’s how I get to know the place and live there. The experience is much more rewarding than jumping from one place to another without ever knowing the place where you stayed.
4. Check the Wi-Fi.
Fast Wi-Fi connections are paramount when working online. Check the destination internet service before making a move. Is it broadband? Is it easily accessible? Can you get a SIM card for data?
A good place to find information about the wifi speeds of all different countries is nomadlist.com† It is a great source for up-to-date data on the Wi-Fi situation in many countries. Also check with your host which WiFi connection they have. They can even send you a screenshot of the connection speed and bandwidth.
5. Download a VPN service.
Connecting to public Wi-Fi can be dangerous, even the Wi-Fi connection in your rental home may not be completely secure. So if you are on the go, it is a good idea to download a reliable Virtual Private Network. VPNs secure your internet connection by masking your digital signature. In this way, your private data is protected from the possibility of theft.
You may also experience problems because you are in a different location than your home country. Some internet services are not available or give different results if you are in another country. With a VPN, you should be able to set up the country so that it looks like you’re still home when you’re online.
Some VPN services are free; however, I feel that for an improved user experience it is better to pay a few dollars. Most services have prices below $10 per month, here is a list of ten VPN services.
6. Prepare travel and health insurance.
If you are on the road for a longer period of time, you should be covered in the event of adverse events. There will undoubtedly be minor accidents, such as lost luggage. This can be annoying, but at least you get something back in the insurance payouts. Other events can be more damaging, such as a stolen passport or wallet, so make sure you have a backup.
Health may not seem like a problem, and because we tend to stay healthy most of the time, we may not feel there is any risk. The problem here, however, are accidents. Knock on wood, nothing happens. But what if one day you severely sprain your ankle?
Will local health care pay for the care you need? Most likely not. Check whether your current health insurance offers coverage abroad. If not, make sure you’re covered, at least for accidents.
Being a digital nomad undoubtedly has its pros and cons. But for those of us who like to change places, see new sights and experience new cultures, nothing beats it. With a little foresight and preparation, you can make your digital nomad experience as a limitless digital entrepreneur even more enjoyable.