Deciding to quit your 9-5 and leave your traditional life behind is an enormous step. But how do you set yourself up for success in your next step? Today we’re discussing some helpful tips for international digital nomad life and long-term travel.
Top Tips for Extended Travel and Digital Nomad Life
Digital Nomad and Location Independent are two terms that are becoming more common every year. I don’t have to tell you that, thanks to the internet, the traditional way of living life (trading time for money, climbing the corporate ladder, ass-kissing your boss, etc) are no longer necessary for living a happy life in which your basic needs are met. With an increasing amount of online opportunities and low barriers to entry for new business ideas, many people are swapping their corporate climb for a more untethered way of doing things.
Don’t get me wrong; making the decision to live as a digital nomad is a HUGE step. It involves a lot of trust, fear setting, and planning. So if you need some inspiration about quitting your job or kicking off your freelance career, we’ve got you covered. However, for those of you who are ready to live the life of a digital nomad or even those of you who have saved up enough money to travel long-term, we’ve got some helpful tips for digital nomad life and getting the most out of your extended travel.
One-Way Ticket? Not So Fast
I’m sure you, like us, love the idea of floating around the world without a timeline or plan. In my opinion, that’s one of the most alluring parts of this lifestyle. Getting “stuck” or “lost” in another place truly means that you connected with it.
However, it is super important to know that, in order to avoid any issues with Customs agents, you must provide proof of onward travel. We actually didn’t know about this digital nomad tip previously. We had originally planned on buying a one-way ticket to Colombia until we found out about this, and I’m glad we did. The agent asked for proof of our onward travel before we even left LAX. Can you imagine what a bummer it would have been if we missed our flight because of this hiccup? If you need some ideas on how to provide proof of onward travel, check out this blog.
Choose the Place You Live Strategically
Even back in the US, there are so many important factors when it comes to choosing a place to live. Is it affordable? Quiet/not quiet? Is it close to the places I frequent? Etc.…
In previous travels, I typically stayed at the popular hostels, so I could meet other travelers. I made sure to stay in popular areas near the nightlife. But what about extended travel? Well, we realized that it’s important to pick your new home wisely.
To do this, think about the things you do every day. Do you frequent the gym like us? Will you need to go to the grocery store every couple of days? Do you enjoy working at cafés or co-working spaces? What is your budget?
We’ve learned that it’s best to have walkable access to the places you go to the most. In our opinion, this is worth paying more. For instance, Medellin has a great metro system, but we didn’t want to have to use the metro for grocery shopping or gym time. Additionally, we spend most of our days working on our business, so we don’t want to spend hours walking from place to place.
To decide on the best location, we recommend literally printing out a map. Mark the areas you would like to stay (we did extensive research on the best, digital nomad-friendly, safe neighborhoods in Medellin). Then, mark the nearest cafes, gyms, grocery stores, or anywhere else you need to go multiple times per week. If that’s your private salsa classes, then live close by, you’ll thank yourself later.
Once you have pinpointed a general location, then finding an Airbnb or short term apartment will be much easier. It takes us four minutes to walk to the gym and eight minutes to walk to the grocery store. We’re a 15-minute walk from most of the nightlife and restaurants and 20 minutes away from the closest metro station. And we’re really happy we did that!
Find Your Community
For us, community is huge. It’s part of the reason why we started Year Disrupted in the first place. We want to meet and learn from other inspiring digital nomads who have swapped a life in the office for one of exploration and world travel. Not only will you make new friends, but you might find a new business partner or mentor.
Use Facebook. Before I step one single foot in Colombia, I joined several Facebook groups that included Expats in Medellin, Female Expats in Medellin, and Female Digital Nomads. I started posting and messaging people to get the lay of the land. It’s kind of like online dating; setting up dates and meetups with potential new friends. Pretty soon, you’ll realize that a lot of ex-pats already know each other and the community is already here.
Another option is to find local coworking spaces. These can get expensive, so it will depend on your budget. If you don’t want to pay for a monthly spot, get a day pass and meet as many people as you can during coffee breaks.
Finally, check out where Remote Year sets up their coworking. For those who don’t know, Remote Year is a program that helps digital nomads figure out the logistics and community of their time abroad. You don’t have to join Remote Year to meet the people involved.
The main takeaway of the community part is to put yourself out there. Go grab coffee with a new friend. If you guys don’t vibe, don’t hang out again. The whole point of extended travel is professional and personal growth so give yourself the opportunity to meet new people.
Find a Work-Life Balance
Most of us are used to this term in the opposite text. When I say work-life balance, you may think of taking the time to not work and do something for yourself. This is super important. But when you live in a new place, full of excitement, it’s important to make sure that work is a priority.
This is 100% a mental game. If you’ve ever traveled before, you understand the giddy feeling that washes over you when you’re in a new place. It’s like being a kid in a candy shop. New restaurants, new places, new sights to see.
However, if you’re serious about making a new country your home or temporary place of business, you must force yourself to find balance. Depending on your goals, of course.
We took this year to develop professionally while doing what we both love: travel. Therefore, we must truly give ourselves that space to do both. While this balance is hard, it can also be fulfilling because when we do explore, we do not take it for granted. For example, we’ve found setting a work schedule to be very advantageous. Once a week, we take a full day off of work and explore a new part of the city, doing and eating whatever we want. We prioritize getting out into nature once a week, hikes, walks, etc. We also just got into salsa, so we will be spending a weeknight dancing. It’s great so far because when we’re on, workwise, we’re on. But when it’s time to explore, turn off our brains, and eat new food, we’re doing that and enjoying every minute of it. Work hard, play hard, I guess.
If you are going to embark on extended travel or digital nomad life, think through it. I (Gabrielle) am a die-hard non-planner, I love spontaneity and going with the flow. However, when it comes to your new home and business development, it’s important to be strategic. Follow just a couple of key tips for digital nomad life and you will set yourself up for success down the road.