How to Become a Digital Nomad

HOW I STARTED DIGITAL NOMADING

Somewhere between five and six years ago, I was employed by an American company that operates 100% remotely. Their work culture was such that it does not matter where in the world their employees are, or what time their employees clock in and clock out. The only thing that mattered was that the work gets done on time.

PLACES I HAVE VISITED

Some of my most frequented places prior to the pandemic are Croatia and Serbia. I used to visit Croatia annually and spend between two weeks to a month and I would take one week off to travel exclusively. The break will be used to visit all the amazing islands in the south of the country.

MEETING PEOPLE

Back when I used to actively “digital-nomad”, I would switch locations every month. I chose co-living spaces to stay in while traveling and this allowed me to meet all kinds of people from all over the world. I was exposed to foreign cultures that I would never have been able to experience had I simply stayed in Malaysia and worked.

WHY BEING A DIGITAL NOMAD KICKS ASS

First and foremost, I love the freedom that comes with this lifestyle. You work to earn a living but you are not confined within a cubicle, looking at the same things every day, waking up at the same time, facing the same traffic situation day in and day out.

HOW SAFE IS IT?

Due to the fact that digital nomads tend to stay in Airbnb’s and co-living spaces, even as a single woman, it is pretty safe as compared to staying in hostels as a backpacker. However, tourist hot spots in any country come with their own set of dangers. From pickpockets to muggers, situational awareness is paramount.

WHAT KINDS OF JOBS CAN BE CARRIED OUT AS A DIGITAL NOMAD

Most jobs can be carried out remotely. From software engineering to marketing, I have even met people who are attached to the HR and finance department who are running their work from the other side of the world.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Aspiring digital nomads need to be prepared for minor and major culture shocks. Minor ones range from silent train rides in some countries to seeing babies being left outside by themselves sleeping inside strollers. One thing that could possibly be categorized as a major culture shock for Malaysian Malays would be the unavailability of bidets in bathrooms. Be prepared to switch to toilet paper as soon as you can!

PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION

This whole digital nomad concept is modern and might not be widely accepted by your loved ones. A person who is employed full time by a company while digital nomading might be regarded as being more stable by their peers. On the other hand, a freelancer might be living paycheck to paycheck as they travel and this leads to family members worrying about them back home.

MAINTAINING A GOOD WORK/LIFE BALANCE WHILE TRAVELING

It is your own responsibility to manage your time as a remote worker. If you are unable to do this then perhaps being a digital nomad is not for you. For me personally, I will make sure I wake up in the morning, get breakfast and hang out for a few hours at my favorite cafe while getting work done.

FOOD

When staying in a foreign location for a long time, a sure fire way to save money is to cook your own food. This applies pretty much anywhere, unless of course you are a multi-billionaire with unlimited funds, in which case, get your private chef to serve you caviar on toast for breakfast!

GROWING YOUR NETWORK

Digital nomading is a fantastic way of growing your network. I have been lucky enough to be able to rub shoulders with high level executives during my travels and socializing with them have translated into gaining clients for my freelance work. If you are an introvert, fret not! So am I.

YOU WANT TO BE A DIGITAL NOMAD. NOW WHAT?

First thing you need to do is figure out what online based jobs fit your needs and skills. Be mentally prepared for this adventure as it will be nothing like working in the office. It can be tiring as you attempt to balance both work and leisure but once you get the hang of it, it will be so worth it.

Freelance Technical SEO Consultant. Previously @Zapier @Monster. Internet ninja. Food lover. Certified introvert. Music advocate. World Traveler.

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Asad Zulfahri

Asad Zulfahri

Freelance Technical SEO Consultant. Previously @Zapier @Monster. Internet ninja. Food lover. Certified introvert. Music advocate. World Traveler.

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