Unlike expatriates, many digital entrepreneurs—such as travel bloggers and webmasters—do business in several locations within a given span of time. They are called ‘nomadic entrepreneurs,’ and the advent of the Internet and mobile devices has made this business lifestyle very plausible. To them, the workplace is anywhere, as long as there is Internet connection and electricity. Here’s an article from Income Diary on how to start a nomadic entrepreneurial endeavor:
Imagine visiting a new town every day, skipping from one country to another over the course of a few weeks.
Sounds like an ideal vacation… but it’s an even-better job.
More and more people are making the decision to become a location-independent, traveling entrepreneur. Below I’ll walk you through how to become a “digital nomad” in five steps.
#1 Save up Money
Before you jump out of an airplane, you strap on a parachute. Before you hop on the nomad trail, you make sure that you have some cash saved up so that you can ride out the rough patches.
“Put your head down and put away some money,” advises Matt Wilson (Under 30 CEO). He continues, “You need some savings… as a buffer if you are going to make a long-term habit of living outside of the United States.”
How much Money Should You Save?
The answer depends on (A) the cost of living per month where you’re going, (B) the cost of travel to/from this location, and (C) how much your willing to go without luxury and security. You’ll also want to consider the travel cost of renewing your visa every 30, 60, or 90 days.
Let’s say I want to begin my nomad life in Costa Rica. I’m going to need at least enough money for the flight to and from Denver (about $600). Then I’ll need about $500 for the first month of food, lodging, wifi, and bus fare. Then it’s just a matter of how much I would want for luxuries (about $100) and a “rainy day fund” (let’s say $2800).
For this example, I would save up $4000 before buying my ticket to San Jose. Depending on where you’re at in life, that may seem like a fortune or chump change.
Given the risk of your laptop breaking, you needing medical attention, or your best friend getting married back home… it’s always a good idea to save up more money than you think you’ll need.
“Leap and the net will appear.” -Zen saying
Like to take risks? Thrive under pressure?
If so, you don’t have to save up much money before you start. John Bardos of Jet Set Citizen had just $1000 dollars to his name when he arrived in Japan and began his life as a nomadic entrepreneur. Bardos hit the ground running and never looked back. He says, “It was easy because I had nothing to lose.”
Not having a financial safety net will motivate you to succeed, since you won’t have any other choice. Still, I recommend you have at least enough money for one month’s rent and transportation to get home at all times.
#2 Get the Essentials
Some items are no-brainers. If you’re a photographer, obviously you’re going to need your camera. Most everyone is going to need a laptop and a padded bag for it. Of course, you won’t forget your toothbrush.
Here are some essential items and resources that you may not have thought of:
External GPRS/EDGE/3G USB Modem
These little doodads plug into a USB port and turn a cell phone data network into an Internet connection. This vastly expands the number of locations you’ll be able to work while traveling.
Theft Protection Software
For most digital nomads, their laptop is their livelihood. But the value of electronic devices also makes them attractive to thieves.
If your laptop, tablet, or smart phone is ever stolen or misplaced while traveling you’re going to wish you had a way of locating it remotely. Prey anti-theft software is just that. Registering up to three devices is free and it only takes a couple minutes.
Services like Mozy offer regular cloud-based backups in case anything goes awry. For one computer, it can cost as little as $5.99 per month (about $72 per year).
External Hard Drive
As a video producer, my work eats up Gigabytes like PacMan eats dots. For me, an external hard drive is the cost of doing business.
But even if you don’t need an external hard drive for the storage, you should have one for a backup. Online backups are great, but you won’t always have access to a consistent, high-speed Internet connection.
You can pick up a 1TB external hard drive for under $100.
When you’re hiking the Himalayas, you may not have your laptop handy. Ditto for when you’re laying on the beach.
But those are both times when you’re likely to feel inspired and creative. Always have a notebook on you and you’ll always be able to catch lightning in a bottle for your business – even when it strikes in the most remote of places.
A Grasp of the Language
A few important phrases in the native language goes a long way. I’ve personally used DuoLingo to sharpen up my Spanish. It’s amazingly robust (and free!) language learning software.
Unless you’re fluent, pick up a travel-sized phrasebook. Once you’ve settled in, look around for a tutor. One-on-one lessons are highly effective and may be surprisingly inexpensive.
Eliminate the Unnecessary
I just listed some of the things you’ll need to have as a digital nomad, but the list of things that you’ll need to lose is even longer. It’s important to travel light. You’ll probably have to shed the majority of your possessions unless you’ve got some generous friends/family with a big garage.
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