Seeing the world and making money while you’re doing it sounds great and all, but it isn’t for everybody. Even many folks who’d love being digital nomads may not really be able to hack it.
Digital nomads who are truly successful at living that lifestyle are relatively rare, and these are the 10 essential characteristics I see as commonalities among those who knock it out of the park.
1. They do work they love
If you do what you love (or close to it!), you’ll enjoy your spurts of work almost as much as roaming the streets of Rome or trying ramen in Tokyo. If you don’t like the work, you won’t do it.
2. They are flexible
In life, things don’t always go the way you’ve planned. All sorts of shenanigans can happen. Successful digital nomads know this and don’t get all wound up if they need to hunker down for one more day to finish a project, cancel a tour, or get up early to show a deadline who’s boss.
3. They schedule work time
Yes, sometimes the schedule gets tossed right out the window, but portable careers work out best when you actually put aside time for them. And unless it’s urgent, that time is for work (and maybe some coffee and a local specialty at a cafe with Wi-Fi).
4. They plan ahead for internet access
Not every hotel, hostel, and Airbnb will have (good) Wi-Fi. Pro-level nomads carefully read accommodation descriptions and reviews to see which places have the hookup and which do not, and then they pick accordingly. They may also have other ways to get online access…
5. They B.Y.O.Internet
This means smartphones with tethering, mobile hotspots, and the occasional broadband dongle. International digital nomads who really rock it have unlocked smartphones that are ready for local SIM cards.
6. They have lightweight tech
Carrying around a big, bulky laptop can wear you down. I did it, and it stunk! Pro-level gear is lightweight. Ultrabooks are an option, but tablets with a keyboard case can do the trick too.
7. They look for more
Digital nomads don’t let their money dry up. Success with this lifestyle depends on more work coming in, so these folks are regularly seeking out new clients and additional opportunities to keep work (and money!) flowing in.
8. They are frugal
It gets expensive on the go. You could work more, but that means seeing and doing less. It’s far better to be thrifty and do more with less.
9. They don’t work all the time
Something, something, work-life balance. You won’t really be enjoying and experiencing the places you visit if you are staring at your smartphone, constantly answering client emails. Take a time out every now and again.
10. They didn’t dive in
Yep, some folks who just “make the plunge” make it work, but saving money, building up clientele, and reducing debts ahead of time help you transition into this lifestyle without a hitch. This takes some of the risk out making you less likely to find yourself sleeping in the airport for a couple of days and eating packets of crackers, waiting until it’s time to use your return ticket home.