How To Become A Digital Nomad


A digital nomad is someone who travels nationally or internationally while working remotely from their laptop or smartphone. 

Like every community out there - there are people in the digital nomad community who will scoff at the idea that a digital nomad can be nomadic only part of the year, or working part-time, or basically doing anything other than what they're doing. 

These are the people that scoff at sunsets and puppies too. Call yourself a digital nomad if you want to, and don't let those crusty travelers tell you otherwise.

Get A Fully Remote Form Of Income

 The "digital" part is a big part of digital nomad. That means finding some sort of remote form of income, whether that's full or part time, and whether you're employed or self-employed.

There's no one correct answer when it comes to this. It depends on your skills, goals, current savings and the countries you want to visit. 

Digital Nomad Jobs

For a deeper dive into finding a remote gig to fuel your nomad lifestyle, check out our guide to digital nomad jobs.  When you're looking for jobs or freelance gigs, remember to take time zone differences into account**

Common Types Of Jobs For Digital Nomads

Some of the most common digital nomad jobs include;
  • Web developer
  • Programmer
  • Graphic designer
  • Social media manager/strategist
  • Marketing strategist
  • Content creator
  • Consultant (in their area of expertise)
  • Customer service rep
  • Translator
  • Podcast producer
  • Virtual assistant
  • Online language teacher
Digital nomad using phone and laptop by Pacific Ocean
Digital nomad using phone and laptop by Pacific Ocean
^Photo by Daria Mamont on Unsplash

Where To Find Digital Nomad Jobs

Remote Job Boards
Some common remote job boards include;
Freelance Jobs Boards

Digital Nomads: Employed Vs. Self-Employed

Employed As A Digital Nomad
Being employed means a regular paycheck, a defined list of tasks, and overall more general stability.

Self-Employed As A Digital Nomad
Being self-employed means making your own schedule, work on the projects you want to work on, and broadly speaking, being self-employed brings with it more freedom as a digital nomad. 

Which Should You Choose?
Do you have an area of expertise you can monitize? Do you have some savings while you get things off and running? Are you ok living with uncertainty and do you like hustling for jobs? Are you into high risk, high reward? Sounds like you'd enjoy self-employment.

Are you comfortable with a regular paycheck, a regular schedule work and do you want nights and weekends off? Employment sounds right up your alley.

This isn't a "digital nomad" question - it's a "you" question. Which scenario will make you more fulfilled?

Working Full-Time Vs Part-Time As A Digital Nomad

Digital nomad on laptop in trendy workspace
Digital nomad on laptop in trendy workspace
This largely depends on your current financial situation and your longer term goals. 

I've seen DNs with one part time, one full time, two part times, and even a full time and a part time on the side. 

It's all about your current skillset, your current financial situation, and how much time you want to work vs play.

Working Part-Time As A Digital Nomad
Depending where you're at, working one part-time job as a digital nomad is great if you have a modest budget and are just looking to break even. Or maybe part-time even means you're self-employed and limit the amount of jobs you take to ensure you only work 20 - 25 hours per week.

Working part-time as a digital nomad sometimes - but not always - means you're probably more focused on enjoying your travels than you are on your future career trajectory in the present moment. Which is ok - there's a time and place for both of those.

Working Full-Time As A Digital Nomad
Working full time as a digital nomad is for people who are usually thinking about their careers from a long-term perspective and want to balance exploring with work. 

If you're planning to go full-time - it's important to set your expectations correctly. The whole, "digital nomads frolicking around the tropics drinking margaritas at 10am on a Tuesday while working" is an Instagram fairytale, and if you don't set your expectations correctly, you're going to be disapointed.

Plan The Trip

What's Your Timeline?

Building a timeline is a crucial part of becoming a digital nomad. Are you planning to travel indefinitely? If so - how's your savings/earnings looking for that?

On the other hand - are you only looking to DN for three months? If so - do you need to work full-time on this trip? Or are you able to swing a couple part-time gigs while you travel so you can turn on "Explore Mode" more frequently during these months.

Where Should You Go To Digital Nomad?

This is the question of the day. Wondering where you should go to digital nomad? Think about a couple things;
  • The time of year you're visiting
  • The local cost of living (lots of digital nomads travel to enjoy lower costs of living - just don't be a choch about it).
  • The local geography/climate
  • The local culture (social norms and party culture can vary WILDLY depending on where you go)
  • Local activity interests (You like surfing? Mexico/South Africa. You want to train martial arts? Brazil/Thailand. You're a photographer? Iceland. You like skiing? Japow.)

Resources On Where To Digital Nomad

  • Nomadlist
  • NomadicMatt's Travel Guides
  • Atlas & Boots list of 100 ditial nomad cities

Check Visa Restrictions & Vax Requirements

How To Check Visa Requirements

A nightmare scenario is arriving in a country only to be rejected by immigration and forced to take the next flight out. 

While you're planning your destinations, use’s travel visa checker to figure out whether you need a visa. If you do, probably best to get to it.

Passport Index is good at keeping up with changes, but visa requirements change regularly. Before applying, give it a quick Google to make sure nothing has changed in the past few days.

How To Check Vaccination Requirements

The most common vaccination requirement you’ll run into is the Yellow Fever vaccine. 

 To see if you need this, visit the CDC’s list of countries and select your country. 

 At the bottom, look for Yellow Fever and whether or not it’s required (below is an example of a country you need the Yellow Fever vaccine to enter).


Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride

You know how you're going to make money, and you know where you want to go. Now it's time to do the damn thing. Time to find flights and accommodations.

Finding Accommodations For Digital Nomads

Digital nomads working together in living room
Digital nomads working together in living room
Just like there's no one-size-fits-all solution for income as a digital nomad, there's no one-size-fits-all for accommodations either. 

You can check out our full list of 30+ sites for digital nomad accommodations here, but to name a few...


This one doesn't need much explanation huh? One of the more popular options for digital nomads. 


Some people love rocking hotels their whole trip because of their convenience, safety and location. Or, you can use them as a home base for a couple days while you scope out the area. 


Hostels get a bad rap. But I'm telling you - booking a private room in a mid to high-end hostel is one of the best ways to find yourself in a great location and be instantly injected into a social environment. Selina comes to mind as one such place.


Coliving is a "shared house" concept. Basically, you get your own room in a house with 5 - 15 rooms, and these generally have a very social vibe. Most are geared toward digital nomads, so there's great internet, shared cooking space, and like-minded people. 

Tips For Digital Nomads Booking International Flights

Alright - you know where you're going and when you're going. Time to buy the ticket. 
Digital nomad on laptop booking cheap international flights
^via Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Tips For Booking Cheaper International Flights

Transfer Credit Card Points To Airline Partners
Get yourself a good travel credit card with good airline transfer partners, and buy the tickets using points. Your points go much further this way, and it dramatically reduces the cost of a plane ticket. 

Book 2 - 8 Months In Advance
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but generally speaking – the best time to get the best prices on international flights is booking 2 – 8 months ahead of your trip. Beyond 8 months, you likely won’t find much price variation.

Travel On Tuesday, Wednesday Or Saturday
Generally speaking, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. This is to fly – not to book. There is no “best day of the week to book a flight” anymore. 

Use Google Travel "Explore" Mode
Google Travel “Explore” will show you the cheapest places on Earth to fly to on any given day, from any given airport. 

Using credit card points to transfer to airline partners is going to be the best way to get flights. But if you're paying cash, getting creative with finding inbound and outbound flights using Google Travel's Explore can save you a lot. 

Google Travel Explore Tutorial

Say you want to fly from Chicago to Bangkok. Instead of just throwing Chicago>Bangkok  into Google Flights (~$900), use Google Travel “Explore” from Chicago.  

You find that Chicago to Manila is only ~$500. Then, you see that Manila to Bangkok is only $150, so you book that cheap flight from Manila to Bangkok separately. You just saved $250.

Screenshot of Google Travel Explore on mobile, with the Explore function circled circled
^mobile view of Google Travel Explore
Screenshot of Google Travel desktop functionality, Explore button circled to show users how to get to it
^desktop view of Google Travel Explore

Tips To Make Long International Flights More Comfortable

I flew LAX > Singapore (17 hours, 50 minute flight) and came up with 12 tips for comfortable international flights. Here are some of the favorites;
  1. Get a lumbar & neck pillow (inflatable are best, as they pack down)
  2. Bring noise-canceling headphones
  3. Bring comfortable wax earplugs (Mack’s silicone earplugs rock)
  4. Bring an eye mask
  5. Have your shows, books, podcasts, musics and audiobooks downloaded
  6. Bring that thing you’ve continually been putting off, and finally do it
  7. Get up and walk/stretch every 2 – 3 hours
  8. Drink 1 liter of water every 3 – 4 hours of flying (throw in some electrolyte packets too) 
  9. Bring a change of socks (+ empty bag to put your dirty socks in)

Nail Down The Details

Get A Solid Digital Nomad Debit Card

Stack of debit cards for digital nomads on table
A solid debit card for digital nomads charges you little to no fees for international withdrawals or transactions, and has great fraud protection.

Some of the best debit cards for digital nomads include;
Check out the full list of the top 5 debit cards for digital nomads here

Get A Solid Digital Nomad Credit Card

Travel credit card on laptop next to US passport
Finding a travel credit card suited to the digital nomad lifestyle is crucial for saving money and racking up credit card points (which eventually become credit card miles).

The best families of travel credit cards? 
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Amex
Check out our intro to travel credit cards here. 

Pick Up Travel Medical Insurance

Travel insurance is not always travel medical insurance. 

Travel insurance covers ticky tack stuff. Airline lost my bag. Flight got canceled. Annoying, but as digital nomads – manageable. 

Travel medical insurance covers, “I broke both of my legs and had to get airlifted to the nearest hospital”. Travel insurance may not cover emergency medical treatment. Travel medical insurance does.

Here are some of our favorite travel medical insurance providers for digital nomads....

1. WorldTrips Travel Medical

I've used the Atlas International several times on my travels, and I've so far had a generally positive experience with them. 

TrustPilot rating: 3.5

2. SafetyWing

While the costs of other travel medical insurance vary based on how long your trip is, Saftey Wing’s Nomad Insurance is ~$45/month rate (not including coverage in the USA). 

Plus, you can purchase this coverage if you're already on your trip. If you’re a digital nomad without a set start or end trip date, this is huge.

TrustPilot rating: 4.2

3. World Nomads

World Nomads is an industry standard when it comes to travel medical insurance - these guys have been doing it forever. 

I personally haven’t used World Nomads, but i’ve had friends use them, and their reviews were generally positive. World Nomads has “extreme sports” packages for people who want to whitewater kayak, rock climb and really get after it – activities that are not normally covered by traditional travel medical insurance.

TrustPilot rating: 3.5

Get The Gear

Getting geared up for life on the road is full of strategic packing decisions. It's important to pack right the first time, as some things are much more expensive on the road than they are in the States. 

Here's a full digital nomad packing list that I developed after several months on the road in varied climates that will help you get started.

Pick A Cellular Data Plan

As a digital nomad, you need a data backup for a hotspot in case the internet goes out. Why? Your internet will probably go out

If you're in Japan or Portugal, your internet probably won't go out as frequently as it will if you're in The Philippines or Mexico (emphasizing will go out in these places).

Remember - we're talking about data plans abroad. Check out our blog here if you're looking at keeping your US number abroad

But for data abroad, here are a couple options;

Get A Local SIM

SIM card tray laying on passport

This is what I do when I go to other countries. It's kind of a pain, but you can legitimately save $40 - $50/month over other options. For non-European countries, you're looking at around $20/month for unlimited data with hotspot capability.

Most countries have SIM card kiosks at the airport on arrival, and these people will likely speak english. If you're comfortable with the local language, you can wait until you get into town to get a SIM. But honestly, the $5 premium you'll pay for purchasing htis at the airport as opposed to a convenience store is worth it in order to understand the package you're buying. 

Remember - you may need to keep you US number abroad to handle 2FA. You can do this as long as your phone supports dual SIM cards. I personally have it where my US number is on eSIM and I pop the local SIM cards I purchase into the physical SIM slot. Your call.

Get Google Fi

With Google Fi, you get unlimited data anywhere in the world. 

Once you’ve ported your number to Google Fi and have installed your Google Fi SIM card – that’s it. You don’t need to change out your SIM card every time you change countries, and it’s very hassle-free. 

The only catch is this service will cost you $65/month and is only guaranteed to work for a maximum of 2 months out of country. After that, it's kind of a gamble as to whether it will work. 


Nomad is an app that essentially acts as an eSIM for countries around the world. You just download the app, and then you select which data package you'd like. Pricing will be a bit more expensive than local rates, and may not be quite as reliable, but it does work. 

Additional Miscellaneous Tips For Digital Nomading

Get Comfortable, Not Grammable

Ok, something that needs to be addressed is the LACK OF LUMBAR SUPPORT IN INSTAGRAM PHOTOS OF DIGITAL NOMADS. 

You see a guy pull his laptop out on top of a mountain (because why connect with nature when you can connect with the absolute lack of signal at that elevation) like he's working. He's not. It's a stock photo. That is not real life. And working for 5 minutes sitting legs-crossed on an uneven surface balancing your laptop in your lap like that will age your spine 30 years. 

The photo of that guy laying on his back on the beach using his laptop? Other than the absolute sand and saltwater vapor apocalypse that's going on inside that dude's motherboard in that photo - just get a chair. Proper lumbar support. Don't be a choch. 

Loose Plans & Loose Morals

Ok - I added "loose morals" because its catchy but I generally don't recommend that approach.

Scheduling your trip and days down to the last minute leaves no room for the magic to happen. For you to spend time in that place you fell in love with, or that person you fell in love with. 

Now for large international flights, you probably want to plan a few months out. But there are many countries in the world where the difference in price for plane tickets purchased 4 months in advance and 4 days in advance is negligible. 

Get your big, continent-crossing flights with plenty of time to spare, and have a loose outline of where you want to go. But leave some room for the magic. 


After a couple months of nonstop traveling to different places, spending a week in each one, you'll probably be burnt out. Finding your go-to coffee shop every time, your favorite cafe, which room has the best wifi, how to work the hot's a lot. 

For me personally, I enjoy spending a couple months in a place. Really getting to know that place, picking up some of the language, making a local friend or two. Those were far and away more memorable experiences for me than rapid fire city hopping. 

Stay Happy & Healthy 

Call your friends and family back home often. Make time for it. Say yes to going out to that awkward group meetup where you don't know anyone. Take care of your body. Drink water. Stretch. Excercise. Don't overdo the booze. Eat healthy. 

Digital nomading is full of constantly new stimulation - people, places, ideas, tastes, smells, cultures, paradigm shifts. But if you get complacent, it can also be lonely. Don't get complacent. 

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