The Digital Nomad Handbook - Deepstash
The Digital Nomad Handbook

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The Digital Nomad Handbook

by Lonely Planet

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Top Trades For Digital Nomads

  • Deciding how to make a living while you trot the globe is the biggest single decision you’ll have to make as a digital nomad. Start with what you know. It will almost always be easier to find work in a field where you already have years of experience.
  • You don’t have to be limited to just one thing. Plenty of digital nomads have several business ventures in play.
  •  If you can’t find enough clients for one part of your business, shift attention to areas that are making money. If a formerly successful venture dips, try something new.

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  • You already know plenty of people in your own industry, so approach contacts before you head off, either directly or via networking sites like LinkedIn. Let people know that you’re going freelance and looking for work.
  • Most people have a string of talents that could be leveraged to make money while they travel. Do you play guitar? Why not offer online lessons?
  • Consider taking refresher courses before you set off, so your business skills are in tune with what clients are currently looking for. And keep an eye out for new skills that could grow your business once you’re on the road.

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Top Digital Nomad Jobs (I)

  • Software developer. Remote working is a standard part of development, so it’s a small leap to being a coding nomad.
  • Web designer. A perfectly portable profession, where what matters to clients is results, not where you are based.
  • Travel Blogger. Writing about your travels to pay for your travels is a perfect partnership.
  • Language Teacher. Thanks to distance learning over the internet, the world is your classroom.
  • SEO Specialist. Learn how to optimize content for search engines and make money helping companies up their game.

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  • Social Media Expert. Managing social media accounts is a business that works from anywhere.
  • Technical Support Representative. You don’t have to be physically in the room to keep tech ticking over smoothly.
  • Virtual Assistant. Companies need remote support in everything from accounts and invoicing to project management.
  • Freelance Writer. Writing is one of the most portable ways of making a living, whether you blog about wellness or write manuals for microwaves.
  • Graphic Designer. Some simple tech can transform your laptop into a portable design studio.

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Choosing A Destination

The five vital attributes for a digital destination:

  • Highly connected 
  • Has lots of cafes, co-working & community
  • The best nomad destinations offer inexpensive visas or visa-free travel lasting several months.
  • Abundant accommodation. If you plan to stay somewhere for a long time, it’s essential that you can find a room or flat to rent without having to join a queue.
  • Low-cost living. Look for cities with inexpensive food and accommodation, free public wi-fi, cost-effective co-working spaces, and low-cost public transport.

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  • The Tech Metropolis: Some of the best hubs for digital nomads are vibrant, modern cities – often in Asia – with young populations, cutting-edge tech industries, and well-established networks of local entrepreneurs
  • The Merging Capital: Europe is dotted with small countries that are emerging as dynamic places to do business, away from the red tape of the big European powers. Typical characteristics of these hubs include easy visa regulations, innovative co-working spaces, and centuries of history, but more focus on work than play, which will appeal to some nomads more than others.

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Digital Hubs: The Second City, The Backpacker Hangout, And The Resort Hub

  • The Second City is typically the second-largest in the country – where local politicians are pulling out the stops to make things easy for business, the cost of living is manageable, and competition for space and resources is that little bit less cutthroat.
  • The Backpacker Hangouts offer loads of activities, cheap food, oodles of short-term accommodation, and intense nightlife, but can be lacking in local atmosphere.
  • The Work-Hard, Play-Hard Resort: there are plenty of digital hubs in beach resorts known for surfing and other wet-and-wild activities.

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  • Visit your doctor for a general check-up
  • Go to the dentist, and visit your optician for an up-to-date glasses prescription and a general eye health check 
  • A month or so ahead of travel, get any vaccinations you need for your trip. 
  • Make sure you have enough medication and know the generic, non-branded name for your meds in case you need to find them in another country
  • Getting travel insurance with comprehensive health coverage is essential.

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Managing Your Money Overseas

  • Carrying cash: make larger withdrawals less often, to avoid repeated bank charges
  • An emergency stash:  store a supply of cash in US dollars, UK pounds or Euros hidden somewhere safe as a last-ditch emergency fund, in case you don’t have access to your accounts
  • Credit and debit cards are easy to use and simple to cancel if lost or stolen. But pre-advise your bank if traveling to a fraud-heavy destination to prevent your card from being blocked,  and monitor statements regularly in case of card cloning.

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Bank accounts tend to be designated in a particular currency and operate in a particular jurisdiction, under a particular tax regime. Whenever money moves between banks, countries or currencies, there are fees to pay.

Deciding who will pay these fees and charges adds an extra layer of complication to fee negotiations with international clients. Most freelancers grudgingly swallow the bank charges to avoid alienating clients with complicated payment procedures, instead of negotiating a fee that accounts for losing some of the lump sums in costs and charges.

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Work-Friendly Visas

Traveling on a standard tourist visa can cause problems for digital nomads. Most are valid for between one and three months and, officially, should not be used for working while in the country.

Similar rules apply to visa-free entry, for which you may have to show evidence of enough money to support yourself during your stay, or an onward plane ticket – all of which stand in the way of the fancy-free lifestyle you were signing up for.

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  • Always make sure that your policy covers medical treatment and evacuation in the event of a medical emergency or a natural disaster.
  • Keep the hotline number handy – your insurer may be able to advise on reputable local medical facilities as well as handle claims. 
  • As a digital nomad, you’re likely to be toting some expensive tech. Make sure your policy covers the full replacement cost of valuable items, such as laptops, cameras, and mobile phones.

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  • A universal travel adapter plug
  • Surge protection 
  • A multiplug or power strip
  • An external hard drive, USB stick, or memory card for critical backups.
  • A 1m ethernet cable
  • Spare USB leads
  • A spare laptop power supply
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • A battery power pack – essential kit for keeping your phone or tablet alive when you can’t find a socket.
  • An unlocked, backup phone 
  • Earphones with a microphone
  • An external mouse 
  • A folding keyboard
  • A portable laptop stand 
  • Universal card reader.

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Online Safety Tips

  • Use a PIN or password to lock your phone, laptop, and other devices when not used for a few minutes.
  • Update passwords regularly, and don’t use the same password for multiple sites.
  • Upgrade to biometric ID checks wherever available.
  • Turn off auto-connect to avoid unsafe wi-fi.
  • Turn off Bluetooth and-fi when not in use.
  • Enable two-factor authentication and verification to protect sensitive accounts.
  • Confirm which is the correct network before you log in.
  • Disable automatic file sharing, unless you actually need to share them with someone.
  • Download and activate tracking apps for your devices. 

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Arriving At Your Destination

  • Do plenty of research ahead of time and work out a seamless route from the airport to your first overnight stop.
  • Fly overnight, land in the morning
  • Don’t arrive after dark: things will be closed, taxi fares are higher, and you’re more at risk of crime and simply getting lost.
  • Pre-book the first night’s accommodation. You don’t want to be wandering around lost in a strange city.
  • Arrange an airport pick-up
  • Research internet access and mobile phone coverage ahead of time.
  • Change enough cash to get you through day one (or use an ATM) and worry about the big transactions later.

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  • Take a walk at first light
  • Find somewhere great for breakfast
  • Get acquainted with public transport
  • Hunt down a street food lunch
  • Relax in a local park
  • Investigate local co-working spaces
  • Find an authentic local meal
  • Find your new local. Skip the traveler hangouts for locals’ haunts and go native in the best possible way.

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Accommodation

Accommodation will be the biggest single cost of nomadic life, so plan ahead. Being a temporary resident isn’t like passing through on holiday; hotels and hostels drain budgets, and you’ll need your own living space to feel fully at home.

Location is key: if you have to travel halfway across a city to reach cafes and co-working spaces, transport costs may outweigh savings on rent

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That idyllic image of working at your laptop on the beach is a bit of a fantasy – you won’t be able to see the screen clearly, and where is the wi-fi coming from? Real-life nomads choose a workspace with free wi-fi and a quiet environment. 

Some options:

  • The coffee shop boardroom
  • The (rented) home office 
  • Co-working spaces.
  • Other public spaces: public libraries almost always provide desks for working and a famously quiet work environment. Bus and train stations, airports, museums and fast food restaurants are also good (if noisy) places to find free wi-fi.

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Adjusting To A Strange Land

Being a digital nomad doesn’t have to mean being a recluse, even if you’re working for yourself rather than being part of a team.

Plugging into the local nomad network is a great way to find out what other people are doing and get tips for great places to eat, sleep and work, as well as finding a new social circle.

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The first rule of fitting in anywhere is communication. Even if all your digital business is with people back home, learning some of the local languages will help with the logistics of running your business overseas, as well as making you feel more grounded and part of the local community. 

You could try learning online – there are hundreds of apps and sites that promise fast results with minimum effort – but you’ll progress faster by talking to real people. 

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CURATED BY

ang_wang

The older I get, the more I realize what really matters in life.

CURATOR'S NOTE

Learn how to live and work on the road